Registration opens for next Atlanta Writers Conference


Registrations are now being accepted for the premier conference for writers in metro-Atlanta. The next twice-yearly Atlanta Writers Conference will take place May 3-4, 2019. My recommendation to those who even think they might be interested is to go ahead and register now.

Do not wait until February or March. The way these conferences work is that organizer George Weinstein brings in a very good group of literary agents and acquisition editors. The literary professionals speak in panel discussions, and if you’re willing to pay for it, you can pitch your manuscript or book proposal to them during one-on-one sessions. It’s a great opportunity if you’re looking to be published through the traditional route. (And it’s still a very helpful conference if you’re contemplating self-publishing.) Even if the agents aren’t interested in representing your work, you will receive valuable feedback about what is and isn’t working.

The agents and editors often have very specific categories or genres that they are willing to represent or publish. George does a great job ensuring there is variety and diversity among the dozen or so agents/editors. This May he’s bringing in even more than usual–sixteen of them! Still, you want to make sure that those to whom you are pitching actually represent the genre you’re writing in. Specific agents book up quickly. That is why I suggest you register now. If you wait, you won’t get a slot with the agent you want and you’ll end up pitching your cookbook to somebody who usually only represents upmarket historical fiction.

George also brings in solid guest speakers that you can listen to in between pitch and critique sessions. And of course you have the opportunity to network with other local and regional writers, in addition to mingling with the publishing professionals during a cocktail party which always takes place the first night of the conference.

If you’ve got a solid manuscript and query letter, you may even get a request to send your full or partial manuscript to one of the agents. Several past attendees have found their agent and have become published authors as a direct result of the conference.

And you may get an award during the conference, which is a great boost and a signal that you may be on the right track with your work. I attended the November 2018 conference and received a certificate from John Rudolph of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret for “Best Pitch” for my thriller, Coin Flight. He made some nice remarks about my query letter and I appreciated his feedback. The Atlanta Writers Conference brought a smile to my face, as it will to yours.

2018 Nov Atlanta Writers Conference - Russ Madison with John Rudolph

John Rudolph recognizes Russ Madison for “Best Pitch”

Literary contest announces winners


A novel that I’m writing has won second place in the Joanna Catherine Scott novel excerpt competition!  The prize is part of the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, a global contest.

Judges based their decisions on the first twenty pages and a synopsis.  In my financial thriller, Coin Flight, a not-so-innocent salesman must stop his boss from pulling off a million dollar bitcoin scam.  I’ll post an excerpt from my manuscript at some point, but in the meantime a quick overview of my book is here.

All of the prizewinners are listed the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition’s website here including Ellen Herbert’s Paris in the Dark and James Kingston’s The City Island Messenger.  Congratulations to all, and I hope I get a chance to read their works.

Award winners are invited to read a sample of their work at a reception in San Francisco this March.  Although I probably won’t be able to make the trip, it’s an honor to be recognized.

The contest is named for Joanna Catherine Scott, author of Indochina’s Refugees: Oral Histories from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, among several well-regarded works.

4 job interview tips for veterans

  • Know your own military story cold.  Be self-aware.
  • Show how your military experience/story addresses the needs of the employer
  • Use compelling, easily understood language that resonates with the hiring manager
  • Get your selling points across quickly using phrases the interviewer can write down

This solid advice and several other good points come from Peter A. Gudmundsson in U.S. News and World Report yesterday:

Veterans: Learn to Tell Your Story in a Job Interview

Knowing how to describe your best traits is critical to a successful meeting with a potential employer.

Have you ever wondered what the hiring manager across the table is thinking during your job interview? The chances are good that they are asking themselves two questions: “Who is this person, really?” and “Can they fix my problem or solve my need?”

As the discussion continues, the interviewer’s inner dialog will perhaps expand to: “Can I see myself working with this person?” and “Will this candidate cause me any difficulties?”

In order to successfully navigate the interview, the veteran candidate needs to show that they can do the job, will do the job and that they will fit in the team and company cultures. The candidate must know their own story cold and show how that narrative addresses the interviewer’s questions.

For military veterans, telling your story is an especially critical task. Coming from an often misunderstood, underappreciated or plain incomprehensible series of experiences, it is up to the veteran job seeker to tell their story in a way that resonates with the interviewer.

As with any story, a job seeker must address the who, what, when, where and why of their veteran service. This does not have to be exhaustive, just logically consistent and compelling. Focus on the facts and feelings that match the job and career for which you are applying.

For example, a veteran applying for a technology role might say: “I joined the Navy for three reasons: the satisfaction of national service, to travel the world and to get first class technical training and experience. I realized all of those goals and more during three deployments to the Pacific and Indian oceans on a cruiser, working as a radar technician. I rose three rank levels by passing examinations and receiving stellar reviews from my seniors. I learned how to keep complex machinery working but also how teamwork and creative thinking are critical to performance. I can honestly say that the Navy provided me with the best possible preparation for the role you seek to fill.”

Remember, the key is explaining your story in a way that is compelling and appropriate to the company need. You don’t need translator software and you must avoid the use of too much military jargon and acronyms.

Each personal narrative needs the following subjects addressed:

Who: Who are you? What is important to you? Are you self-aware and comfortable in your own skin?

What: What are you good at doing? How can you prove that to the interviewer?

When/Where: What are the basic facts of your relevant experience?

Why: Why did you do the things you did and why should the interviewer care?

Use non-cliched headlines and soundbites that the interviewer can write down and digest. For example, goal-oriented, team-oriented, competitive and great attention to detail are all phrases that connote certain desirable traits (if accurate). Think like a campaigning politician who has only a few sentences to get an idea across. Don’t waste time or words when you can get right to the point…