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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Holloway

"Three Houses on a Hill" Wins Killer Nashville Claymore Award

I first came across the Killer Nashville Claymore Award after submitting my debut novel, The Loop, for the 2020 Silver Falchion.

I read the requirements for the Claymore, a submission of the first fifty pages of an unpublished manuscript. And while Three Houses on a Hill was still in its infancy, I had about a hundred pages already written.

I figured, Why the heck not? I certainly have nothing to lose.

Having been trained in screenwriting, I was used to creating beat sheets and outlines for my creative work, but this time, I took a different approach. In Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, he talks about his process – he devises a simple one sentence idea for a story, and then, he just begins. He allows the story to lead him on the journey and has no idea where it will end up on the other side. I decided to try King’s technique for myself, and thus began the ascent of the mountain that would become Three Houses on a Hill.

It was a grueling process, to say the least, and one I may not replicate in the future. I was nervous about receiving my critique from Killer Nashville but was pleasantly surprised when it came back with a primarily positive review.

I thought, Maybe I have a shot at this thing, after all.

And so, I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I knew there were dozens, if not hundreds, of other hopeful authors submitting their work for the Claymore, and I began to feel like a single shiny fish in a vast school of others that were potentially much shinier. There came a point where I had to force myself to just give it up to the universe and stop thinking about it.

I pressed on, and I continued writing.

Toward the middle of the summer, an email from Killer Nashville popped into my inbox. Those familiar feelings of hope and dread welled up inside me, and I didn’t open it for two days. When I did, I was through the roof. I had been named one of the Top 20 Finalists.

For me, that was good enough. That satisfaction was enough to make me want to finish Three Houses on a Hill. So, I kept on writing, and found that the contentment I felt broke down the looming walls of writer’s block, and the story began to tie up its own loose ends.

Then came the email titled Killer Nashville Awards Announcement. When I received it, I was enjoying a game night with friends, and more out of curiosity of who won (because I didn’t expect to win), I opened it up. I scanned the contents of the email, set my phone facedown, and looked around at my friends.

“I won."

I re-read the email. I passed my phone around to my friends. They confirmed I wasn’t hallucinating. Three Houses on a Hill won the 2020 Claymore Award. I was speechless.

While unboxing the Claymore Award (this thing is huge, y’all) in the mail was an incredible experience all its own, I silently cursed COVID-19 for causing the Killer Nashville Conference to be cancelled. I wanted to thank everyone in person, to shake hands with the people who deemed my story (my baby, really) as award-worthy.

Winning the Claymore provided such amazing affirmation knowing this particular story (which took me on an emotional ride of its own) was so well received by different readers. It encouraged me to continue on in my pursuit of getting my name and my work to more and more readers. To make them feel something.

Because, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about – to make readers feel.

** Three Houses on a Hill was published by JPM Publishing Company on December 29, 2020. Paperback and Kindle ebook versions are now available on Amazon.

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Feb 27, 2022

I love the way the story starts. Many mysteries start with police investigation, which is a distant and not very involved point of view. But here I learn things about the character right away, drinking too much, thinking he's writing his life away, deliberately trying to look rugged to get women to like him, etc. The reader knows right away who they're dealing with. 😎


Mar 24, 2021

Congratulations and very well deserved!

- alittlemixofvix

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