Nathan Bransford, Author

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fun Times in Atlanta

After returning from my first trip to Atlanta, I would like to file this report: holy crap the people there are nice.

From the lady who walked half a block to help me buy a MARTA ticket out of their bizarre machines (I think it might be easier to buy a ticket to the moon), to all of the people on the street who said good morning to me as I walked by (I ummed a halting "good morning" back as it slowly dawned on me they actually weren't crazy), to all of the awesome people at the Atlanta Writer's Conference.

Nice nice and nice!

And I especially want to thank those amazing and talented blog readers I had the opportunity to meet at the conference. It was really great to put faces with blogs and screennames, and thanks for such a warm welcome.

I would also like to report:

- The Georgia Aquarium is really something to behold. Whale sharks, belugas and drawling schoolkids losing their freaking minds aplenty.

- At the conference I had the pleasure of meeting fellow agents Nat Sobel, Tina Wexler and Amy Hughes, and we had a really fun panel Saturday morning in which we pretty much agreed with each other on the increasing necessity of authors building as much of a platform and network as possible, on the desirability of a novel to go with a collection of short stories, and on how at the end of the day there are no hard and fast rules in this business. Any writer would be fabulously lucky to have Nat, Tina or Amy as their agent.

- Little did I know you have to pay to go to the living commercial that is the Coke Museum! And if you go to the World of Coke, do not expect to see any mention of New Coke. Apparently still a sore subject.

- The Flying Biscuit may be the best breakfast spot in America. After a redeye to Atlanta, those biscuits, cheese grits and coffee were mighty appreciated. Oh, and the people there were really nice, although you probably already knew that.

- Did you notice I said "mighty appreciated?"

- I had my ration of fried food -- fried shrimp at Atlanta institution Manuel's Tavern.

All in all a very fun and too-brief weekend. I already can't wait to go back. Thanks to everyone who made the conference happen.


SL said...

Sounds like you had a lovely time. :)

Just out of curiosity... how many conferences like this one would you say you attend in a given year? Do you mind going across the country to participate?

LeeAnn Flowers said...

It's wonderful to hear the South talked about in glowing terms rather than the stereotypical hillbillies and rednecks that the media loves to play up. I was born and spent my first two years in the Gulf Coast, and even 36 years later, that little bit of Alabama drawl still presents itself.

Thanks, Nathan for noticing that not everyone in the South is toothless and runs around barefooted.

(Although I still run barefooted sometimes. Hehe.)

Keri Ford said...

Here, here Leeann! I was coming in here to comment on that myself.
Bless you Nathan for showcasing our southern gentility in such a positive light.
Keri--who has lived in Arkansas her whole life and also occasionally runs around barefooted!

Joseph L. Selby said...

This was your first trip to the South, wasn't it? :) When I'm at breakfast at Jackie's Diner (the greatest breakfast place in the world, although it lacks a few Southern essentials like biscuits and grits), I say "thank you" at least a dozen times. Probably more. I said "Yes ma'am" to someone and she stopped and exclaimed "That's so cute!"

Furious D said...

While I've never been to the American South myself, I do have relatives who live there, and I've met many tourists from down there, and I have yet to encounter a "redneck."

I do plan to visit the South someday, mostly due to my love of barbecue and I do plan to visit the Coke Museum. There is a room dedicated to New Coke, but it's hidden by the furnace in the basement.

Glad to hear that you had a good time.

Shannon said...

Atlanta is a true gem of the south. When you have time, take the 30 minute flight to Savannah sometime. Talk about nice! Best seafood ever!

Or the 30 minute flight to Memphis. Not AS nice, but the fried food is da bomb! And the barbecue is even better.

Nathan Bransford said...

leeann, keri and joseph-

I do love the South and Southerners (and am, in fact, marrying one), but I have to be honest that there are some Southern traditions that scare this California boy to death. These include:

- desert after lunch
- being called "sir"
- people moving in slow motion
- the belief that the only proper use of fruit is to make desert out of it, and a vegetable into a casserole that involves butter and/or mayonnaise and/or lard
- a pronounced fear of San Francisco

Anonymous said...

you should sign this woman up! (no, not me)

Ulysses said...

I love aquaria. So far, I've only been able to visit the ones in Vancouver and Boston. There's something about the beauty of these animals live and up close (but safe! Sharks are not your friend).

I've been no further south than RTP North Carolina, and my only observation at the time was that almost everyone was bigger than me. So was the steak I had for supper one night.

I'm glad you had a good time.

Maya Reynolds said...

When my younger brother and I were ten and twelve respectively, we moved from New Jersey to the South--there were still parts of Florida at that time not occupied by Yankees {grin}.

After a couple of weeks of being constantly corrected in school, we both learned to say "ma'am" and "sir" when addressing adults.

The first time I said "sir" to my father, he thought I was sassing him.

Talk about cultural shock.

I now live in Texas where we always smile and nod at strangers on the street or in an elevator. Despite the love of George Bush that my neighbors express, I would not think of living anywhere else. I have NEVER had a car breakdown that four people haven't stopped within three minutes to offer help.

Anonymous said...

please give us a heads up ahead of conferences so we can sign up where you are too!

Elissa M said...

When my husband was stationed in GA, the first thing we noticed on our arrival in Atlanta from Germany was how nice everybody was. They usually couldn't help us, but they were extremely nice about it. That was until we got to the DMV in Columbus, GA. The employees refused to help us, and weren't at all nice about it. Some rule about working for the DMV must require rudeness, even in the South.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I am terribly envious of your trip to the aquarium. I shall now go read the rest of the post as well.

Mark Terry said...

For the record, I'm from Michigan, which is the north, and my friends, we have plenty of rednecks here.

Dessert is with two s's--or as my 3rd grade substitute teacher said, "for two helpings."

When I spent a week in Atlanta my mission was to find a southern accent. I didn't find one. I think in downtown Atlanta everybody comes from somewhere else.

Nathan Bransford said...

mark terry-

Come for the blog, stay for the typos.

Southern Writer said...

Glad you had a good time, Nathan. Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Adaora A. said...

Tina Wexler is ICM NYC I think. I've heard good things about all of those agents.

The people sound lovely. I have family in Atlanta but I've never been.

No deep fried mars bars to be had Nathan?

Nathan Bransford said...


Yeah, Tina's with ICM.

And actually, I have it on good authority that the fried Mars bars at the Chip Shop in Brooklyn are the best in the US. They're up there with the best food I've ever had anywhere, although if there are any experts out there I'd love to hear a breakdown.

Tanja said...

  I hope to woo you to the BEA Conf. in Los Angeles, selfishly, so I can meet you and you will be so taken by manuscript you will beg to represent me.  But if that doesn't work out here are few other nominal reasons, 
-no one will call you sir, in fact they might call you a myriad of other things, sir most likely will not be one of them.
-dessert after lunch is of your own doing, it often involves lattes and requires you to tip someone who added the whipcream before securing the lid to your drink.
-people will move quickly, so quickly in fact you might get sucked into the vortex of their aftermath. Subsiquently you might mistake this for an earthquake but since you are from California it will not faze you. 
-fruits and vegetables are the base of most diets and are rarely marinated in anything other than ones own saliva,often accompanied by sushi.
-San Fransicos too far to surf 

Always rest assured no stranger will be nice to you, lest they know who you are and need representation.

Adaora A. said...

I thought that was her.

Oh really? I've heard it was the south. I'm from Connecticut (and go back very often) but I've never tried Brooklyn's deep fried mars bars. I never even knew they made them in NY. That's just over the border from Toronto for me. Hmm. I'll have to get on that now.

Just_Me said...

First, congrats on the upcoming marriage :o)
Second, I was born in San Diego (waves back at old friends) and have lived all over the US in the past 20+ years. The southern hospitality thing is not only lovely but it's always fun to watch someone from a northern city die of shock and try to avoid eye contact when you say hello. When I started college in Florida I met a guy from inner-city NY who spent the first few weeks trying to figure out why people wanted to make eye contact. It was cute.

Atlanta aquarium is in my travel plans. We tried to see it over spring break but arrived just in time for the tornado. Not perfect timing on my part.

And now I'm going to go hunt down these agents you've named because none of them are ringing a bell. I always like more names to add to the hit list, er, query database. Yes, query database :o)

Julie Weathers said...

Nathan, so glad you enjoyed yourself.

desert after lunch
- being called "sir"
- people moving in slow motion
- the belief that the only proper use of fruit is to make desert out of it, and a vegetable into a casserole that involves butter and/or mayonnaise and/or lard
- a pronounced fear of San Francisco

This is interesting. I'm not quite sure why that would be remarkable, but it is interesting.

Now, I really am afraid to go to California.

Jan said...


Glad you found a good southern bride. After living in Florida for ten years, Arkansas for 4, Kentucky, and Virginia - I guess there is a little bit of the southern girl still left in this Washington/Pacific Northwesterner.
(I even attended graduate school in Arkansas!)

There is something to be said about that Southern Hospitality, sipping sweet tea on the Veranda (and sweet tea is pronounced as one word)!
Glad you enjoyed it...

I must admit that it scares me to think that any one could have a pronounced fear of San Francisco!

Personally - I do enjoy eating spinach and broccoli souffle at the holidays (and my mother's recipe did have mayonnaise in it).

Hope to meet ya' one day at a conference


Lisa Molson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan Field said...

There are some great bars down there too!!

ORION said...

Biscuits and GRAVY??? SAUSAGE GRAVY???
Be still my fat clogged heart...

But aquariums? no biggie. I got a huge one of them under my boat...

Shelli said...

I found your blog recently, and I'm really enjoying it. Thanks for all the good information. Since I live near Athens, GA, I have to comment and say I'm glad you liked your visit. When my friends from the West (I lived in Las Vegas for 12 years) come to visit me, they can't believe how nice the people here are. Though after living here for 12 years, I have met ALL KINDS.

Sharon said...

Jan, I was wondering why there was no mention of sweet tea. How does anyone go down south and not have sweet tea? Another thing to add to your list, Nathan: when they've added enough sugar to something, they always add more, "just to make sure there's enough." At least that's how my Louisiana aunts explain it.

Hope Clark said...


I so enjoy your blog and the resulting comments. It's my favorite, and I'm not a blog lover. Having been born in Mississippi and reared in South Carolina, with six previous generations in one of those states or the other, I can vouch for the hospitality. It's beaten into our heads from the time we speak "mama." Now...somebody needs to cook Southern for you. Your tongue will slap your head silly. Oh, and spend some time on a southern college campus. Best looking honeys in the US of A. Or so all my sons tell me.

Hope Clark

Caryn said...

So glad you had such a fun time! I've spent some time in Savannah, GA, and the people there are the nicest I've ever met anywhere, so I suppose I'm not surprised that Atlanta would be the same way. And I've heard the aquarium is amazing.

Tricia Sanders said...

And the sweet tea... Yum! To all the yanks who say, "Yeah, there's sugar on the table." It ain't the same folks. It's all in the chemistry--solution versus suspension.

I love Atlanta, the Marta, the Bellsouth building, that carving at Stone Mountain where you can park a bus on the horse's back, peachbuds candy, Magnolia trees, and Peachtree everything. But you can keep the traffic and the grits.

Melody said...

on the desirability of a novel to go with a collection of short stories

Could you clarify this?


Robyn said...

Tears in my eyes! I am a native Atlantan currently living in South Africa...and my friendly "Good mornings" aren't exactly encouraged on the streets of Joburg. Read all about it at

Thanks for reminding me of what I love about home (where my Mom is most definitely scared of San Francisco...sorry about that).

Conduit said...

"Any writer would be fabulously lucky to have Nat, Tina or Amy as their agent."

I can certainly vouch for Nat Sobel - seeing as he's now my agent. :D

Julie Weathers said...

Biscuits and GRAVY??? SAUSAGE GRAVY???
Be still my fat clogged heart...

Ain't that the truth. It ought to be outlawed it's so addicting.

Icarus said...

The Flying Biscuit Cafe? Cool!


Are you by any chance an Indigo Girls fan? Or did you stumble on it by accident?

(FBC is owned by IG's Emily Saliers.)

Taylor K. said...

As someone who was born in Alabama, and who has lived in Virginia, North Carolina, and now lives in (and married a woman from) South Carolina I am glad you enjoyed your trip into the south. As someone who has always been a bit out of his element in the south (my Dad was born in Michigan, and raised me with his Yankee ways) I know how odd it can be for someone who wasn't raised around here. At least you know we Southerners can read now.

La Gringa said...

And how many times did you get lost on the endless variations of "Peachtree Street"? :-)

Lisa McMann said...

I love Atlanta. Sounds like you had a great time. :)

Nancy Beck said...

Do you mind going across the country to participate?

Considering that Nathan flew from San Francisco clear across the country to Atlanta, I'd give that a yes. ;-)

Nancy Beck said...

When hubby and I took our trip out west (we're both from Jersey) back in the 1980s, we were shocked but delighted when we came off the highway into Knoxville, TN - people stopped their cars! Without a light telling them to! We proceeded through the intersection - bewildered, for sure, but very appreciative.

Try doing something like that in Jersey, and you'll get honked and yelled at.

judi said...

Frankly, it's startling how nice everyone is in the South, says the surly New Englander. But no matter how many times we do visit, I always make a jack@ss of myself. I can't take it, all the niceness, and I can't shed my rude east coastness. I nearly tackled a man at Target in Houston once. I just wanted my one item rung up. But no. He wanted to hear alllll about my day, and share his, and count every coin three times. It took twenty minutes. The he looked at me and said, you're from the east, aren't ya? Always in a rush, you people. *sigh* Great to visit, but my head would explode if I stayed.

extraface said...

So glad you had a good time here. If ever you need restaurant/coffee shop/neighborhood suggestions, feel free to drop me a line.

Adaora A. said...

@robyn- Should have gone to Anambra State, Nigeria. The people are friendly and would eagerly respond to your hellos (so say my parents). I'm going in December (first time)and I'm so sick with excitement I can hardly stand it. And for the writer in me: the pinacle of all writing resources.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

well, I did that (u-tube) wrong, but it is for all you shark fans

copy and paste

Anonymous said...

"and we had a really fun panel Saturday morning in which we pretty much agreed with each other on the increasing necessity of authors building as much of a platform and network as possible,"

Interesting. Would you say that the author's network is more important than, say ... writing good books?

Nathan Bransford said...


These days it's not a question of which is more important because you need both.

Ulysses said...

Nathan, are you speaking of non-fiction only, or do you find a writer needs a network for fiction as well?

Nathan Bransford said...



Anonymous said...


I, too, would like to be added to list of folks thanking you for showing the South in good light. We are "nice" folks. We say "Hi", "Good Morning" or just "Howdy". We smile. We open doors for other people (irrespective of gender).

When you drive down the backroads you lift your hand slightly off the steering wheel, or raise your chin in "hello" to passing drivers (yes, I'm serious - they'll know you're a "yankee" if you don't). :)

Not sure about the pronounced fear of San Francisco, though. I'm coming there for 10 days in August. I love your beautiful city. It is one of my favorite places on the planet. Can't wait to see it again! I go barefoot as often as possible, but I'm bringing my shoes to SF in August. :)


John C. said...

Hey, Nathan,

It was great to meet you at the conference's Mixer on Friday. I'd just read about the AWC in your blog that afternoon and saw it was only 4 miles from my house, so naturally I had to crash it.

I was the tall guy who said he knew you immediately by your hair. That was a few seconds before another woman pounced on you exclaiming how cute you were, lol.

Sorry I didn't chat longer at the time but you looked hungry and tired after your flight and tour of the sights.

I met Tina as well, and she's a hoot to talk with.

Sharon said...

I met with you this past week-end to pitch an idea for a book and your advice was invaluable--you're going to be a star! Thanks so much for coming to Atlanta.

R. Jill Fink said...

Mr. Bransford, please come back anytime!! And soon! I'm a tad disappointed that I didn't get to speak to you while at the conference, but maybe next time. Amy Hughes was super-awesome, and I've heard that you were, too. Sounds as if you had a good sampling of some of our best restaurants and attractions. I'm very glad you had a great (albeit short) visit.

stephe said...

Well, what do you know. I don't have to lambaste any homeboys/girls on my blog. :-) Awesome.

Glad you enjoyed it here.

Disco Mermaids said...

Hey Nathan,
I spent my first 25 years in Atlanta and now live in California. I still have not gotten over the fact that I can't order sweet tea at a restaurant. (I have to sweeten it MYSELF!?)

Glad you enjoyed Georgia. (Go Dawgs!!)


Atlanta Attractions said...

"... mention of New Coke. Apparently still a sore subject." ... yes it is

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