15th Annual Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award

15th Annual Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award

Since 2008, the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards have recognized the best stories from the previous year told through various media utilizing the elements of mystery, thriller, and/or suspense. Judges are professional writers, book reviewers, librarians, academics, and—in specialized cases—specific industry peers.

Eligible works must have been first published in English between January 1, 2021 and January 1, 2022.   They must be readily available to a North-American audience (print or digital format).  Judging makes no distinction between self-published, indie-published, and traditionally published works.

2021 finalists will be announced July 30, 2021. Killer Nashville will contact all finalists using submitted information alerting them to the honor. Finalists will be honored and winners will be announced at the Killer Nashville Awards Dinner on August 20, 2022.

All entries will also be eligible for the 2022 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Readers’ Choice Award. This is a separate award that is not judged, but rather voted upon by fans of the author’s work. A sharable link to the ballot will be available after the contest closes on June 15, 2022. The results of this contest in no way affect the results of the other Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards. 

All registrants for the 2022 Killer Nashville International Writers’ Conference are entitled to one free Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award entry. In order to claim your free entry, you must register for the conference BEFORE submitting to the Silver Falchion Award. We cannot retroactively refund entry fees.

Authors: Deadline for entry for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award is June 1, 2022


Ninth Annual Online Thriller School

Ninth Annual Online Thriller School

In their ten-week program, International Thriller Writers Organization sponsors online programs led by a master in the craft of thriller writing.  Each instructor will teach some aspect of thriller creation during a two-hour Live Zoom session, will provide written materials for further reading along with study suggestions, and will offer an entire week of online Q&A with the registered students.

If you are unable to attend each week you will still be able to view the broadcasts and review questions that were asked. If you are unable to attend an entire week you will be able to review the Q&A from the other students and that week’s instructor.

2021’s instructors: Jeffrey Deaver, Lisa Gardner, Anthony Horowitz, Liv Constantine, Alexia Gordon, Adam Hamdy, Cate Holahan, Steven James, Tosca Lee, Jaime Levine, David Morrell, Samuel Octavius, Alex Segura and Jerri Williams.

Space is limited so contact Christopher Graham at ITWOnline@thrillerwriters.org to be added to the wait list.   Date has not been finalized.  Tuition is $495.  Attendee requirements are Facebook and Zoom accounts.


I AGREED TO WHAT?

I AGREED TO WHAT?

Is Your Tax Info Being Sold?

Do we ever read the privacy policy statements of sites?  How about terms and conditions?  The answer is probably no – and that includes me.  Courtesy of the Washington Post here are the reasons why we need to start.

You may use Turbo Tax or H&R Block online to file your taxes.  It’s easy.  It’s quick.  But did you know that by clicking “agree” to some of their privacy prompts, you may be allowing sale of your personal data?

A Washington Post reader dug into the agreements after starting his taxes with one of the online tax services.  After agreeing to the primary privacy agreement, the website requested permission to access personal data to “optimize your experience.”

This second permission stated: “If you agree to share your tax return details, after you file, we can provide many benefits.”

Your benefits were labeled as “personalized services” and “quicker product support.”  It became clear that the tax filing software industry advanced from returns processors to profiteers of personal data.

The U.S.  is skimpy on privacy laws, but it does have one that prevents tax filing companies from disclosing the contents of your tax return. For online processors, that means they can’t automatically use the contents of returns for purposes other than preparing taxes.

With this new add-on agreement, Turbo Tax and H&R Block Both companies are asking special permission to supersede federal protections and use your information, including your income, investments and mortgage details to help them upsell you on other financial products.

In addition, H&R Block wants your permission to share some of the content of your return with two independent companies in the Philippines that help them do customer service.

Clicking yes for the “personalized service” or “offers” request means you’re probably going to receive marketing from H&R Block or Intuit that’s eerily specific to your financial situation.

H&R Block stated it vets their partners, and to its knowledge they haven’t suffered from a data breach. But it can happen.

If you agreed to these requests while preparing your taxes and have now changed your mind, you can try to revoke access. But they’re going to make you jump through some hoops.  For TurboTax, you have to email privacy@intuit.com.  You must mention you’d like to revoke your “consent for use of tax return information.” H&R Block said customers would have to contact the company, but didn’t specify how.


Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller – Many Books Interview With The Author

Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller – Many Books Interview With The Author

I was recently interviewed by Many Books.  I am sharing a few insights here with a link to the complete Q&A at the end of this post.

What inspired you to write about someone who loses an old friend to what appears to be suicide?

When journalists get too close to exposing corrupt government officials, their lives are in peril. The inspiration for Rita evolved from a 1970’s unsolved murder near Washington, DC with events from more recent journalist murders in Mexico and Slovakia woven in. In all the cases, colleagues took on investigating the killings as personal; they became crusades.

Tell us more about Rita Mars. What makes her tick?

Rita Mars has been an investigative reporter. She’s quick and she’s smart. She does not tolerate fools. She can be abrasive. She’s the daughter of a policeman, a Viet Nam vet with definitive rules. While she rebelled against the rigidity, the lessons learned prepped her perfectly for her role. As she got older, she wanted more a hand in the justice she sought as a reporter, hence her leap from writing about wrongs to having a hand in “righting” those wrongs.

You used to work as a crime reporter. How have your real-life experiences in crime reporting influenced your work?

Immediately out of grad school, I became a reporter for the Fort Smith Times-Record on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border – home of the famous “hangin’ judge” Charles Parker of the movie True Grit fame. There were several murders, including one that remains unsolved today, but the highlight of my stay there was my getting to meet and interview Sam Ervin, Senate lead on the Watergate investigations. I was hooked then on writing about the back-channel manipulations of underhanded politicians.

Learn more about Valerie Webster, her current work and her new book, Objects of Desire, coming in the fall of 2022.


Where to Donate Safely to Ukraine

Where to Donate Safely to Ukraine

Civilians and veterans of Ukraine suffer injury, displacement and the need for the basics of life.  In this brief we offer ways to #StandwithUkraine and support the people, soldiers and sovereignty of the country.

To Date

  • 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine since the war began
  • 13 million have been impacted by Russian aggression
  • 1.5 million are currently refugees in Poland
  • 1,300 Ukrainian solders have died in the conflict
  • 1,761 civilian casualties in the country – Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) 
  • 5 million people in total could eventually be displaced

Our donations can help ease the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine and support the efforts for the country to remain free of Russian subjugation.  As we consider support, we want to ensure that our donations are properly channeled.  Charity Navigator has compiled a list of responsible nonprofits engaged in relief efforts in Ukraine and the surrounding areas. 

Below are more than 30 organizations that have earned trust as being financially effective and transparent.

Medical Services
UNICEF USA
International Medical Corps
Heart to Heart International
Mercy Corps
World Vision

Medical Supplies
Americares
Project C.U.R.E.
World Vision
MAP International
Heart to Heart International
UNICEF USA
MedShare
Direct Relief
Project HOPE
Operation USA

Non-Medical Supplies
Operation USA
Mercy Corps
Americares
Matthew 25: Ministries
MedShare
International Relief Teams
World Help
Project HOPE
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Operation Blessing International
GlobalGiving
ActionAid USA
UNICEF USA
Save the Children
Episcopal Relief & Development
Catholic Relief Services
World Hope International
Good360

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
Heart to Heart International
Catholic Relief Services
GlobalGiving
World Hope International
Convoy of Hope
UNICEF USA
ActionAid USA
World Help
Operation Blessing International
International Relief Teams
Water Mission
World Vision

Emergency Housing
World Vision
UNICEF USA
A Chance In Life
World Help
Islamic Relief USA
GlobalGiving
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Catholic Relief Services

Other (cash/cash vouchers, logistic supply)
World Vision
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Islamic Relief USA
Heart to Heart International
Church World Service
ActionAid USA
Americares
Samaritan’s Purse
UNICEF USA

Long-Term Assistance
Center for Disaster Philanthropy
Catholic Relief Services
World Help
Operation Blessing International


What They’re Saying About Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller

What They’re Saying About Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller

Jersey Girl Book Reviews: In her debut thriller novel, Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller, author Valerie Webster transports the reader to the locales of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C., for an intriguing thriller that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

The story centers around Rita Mars, ex-investigative journalist turned private investigator, who is determined to find the killer of her friend and ex-journalist co-worker, Bobby Ellis. Rita was supposed to meet up with Bobby at a Harpers Ferry hotel, but when she got to the hotel, Bobby was found hanging by the shower rod by a hotel maid, and the coroner concludes the cause of death as a suicide. Rita knows that Bobby didn’t kill himself, so she embarks on an investigation that will lead to the halls of Congress, determined to piece together what Bobby had been working on, and who would shut him up permanently before he could reveal what he knew in a newspaper article. Rita also has a new client, Karin Van Dreem, a PR Consultant, who hires her to provide security because of her psychotic ex-husband, Dr. Douglas Servier, who has been stalking her, and she’s afraid that he’s going to kill her. And if that isn’t enough, Rita is dealing with her own personal issues that continue to haunt her. Can Rita find who killed Bobby while keeping Karin safe from the psychotic ex-husband, or will this driven private investigator put herself in danger as well?

In her debut thriller novel, author Valerie Webster weaves a slow-building and suspenseful tale written in the third person narrative that follows Rita’s investigations into Bobby’s killer and Karin’s psychotic stalker of an ex-husband. As the reader follows Rita’s investigations, incidents occur and flashbacks to her traumatic past reveals an interconnection that has a lot of drama, tension, and a threat of danger around every corner, and where everyone is considered a suspect. 

The reader is easily drawn into this well written story with its richly descriptive plot and setting. It is filled with enough family drama and secrets, motives, possible suspects, action, and intriguing twists and turns that definitely keeps the reader guessing until the surprising conclusion.

This was a really interesting story to read! The author does a wonderful job of providing enough clues to engage the reader, and I found myself so caught up on trying to figure out who is behind Bobby’s murder, and the craziness behind Karin’s stalker. I loved how Rita used her expertise as an ex-investigative reporter to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I was absolutely stunned by the conclusion, I never saw it coming! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I was also intrigued by Rita’s backstory, she is a broken person who is still trying to overcome her traumatic childhood and ex-relationship issues. I look forward to reading Rita’s next investigative adventure.  

Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller will definitely take the readers on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.

RATING: 4 STARS