Monday, October 17, 2005

Atlanta Nights in One Tidy Package (or, Hey! This Post Has a Title!)

(I'd forgotten that Blogger doesn't have a title feature, unlike Typepad. This post is a gallery of everything I had posted about the Atlanta Nights frenzy, including the indispensible guide to the list of authors)


About a year ago SF writer Jim Macdonald asked a bunch of authors to contribute chapters to a really really really bad novel which he would then try to sell to (wait for it) PublishAmerica. I was lucky enough to be able to contribute chapter 30, and I'm sure that soon you'll be able to head over to find out which chapter Jena wrote.

Anyhow, PA bit and the book has sold. If you have an FTP program, you can go find the manuscript here, and the contract here. Obviously the book will not go any further than this, at least with PA, but there is talk about printing off a few copies of the ms and having the authors sign their chapters so that it can be auctioned off for the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund.

Jim mentions that the characters in the book are named the following: Penelope Urbain; Bruce Lucent; Isaac Stevens; Henry Archer; Margaret Eastman; Richard Isaacs; Callie Archer; Irene Stevens; Andrew Venic; Arthur Nance; Isadore Trent; Yvonne Perrin; Rory Edward; Steven Suffern. The first and last initials of those characters spell out PUBLISHAMERICA IS A VANITY PRESS.

I've written about the flakes at PA before (search through my "Publishing" categories if you wish to see them all), and so I'm obviously very pleased that this has happened. It amazes me just how difficult it is for many PA authors to see just how lousy their situation is, and so this is a nice shot across the bow. Not that it will convince anyone who chooses to not be convinced.


A few hours after news of the sting broke, PA mysteriously withdrew their offer, cleverly stating:

Dear Mr. XXXX,

We must withdraw our offer to publish Atlanta Nights. Upon further review it appears that your work is not ready to be published. There are portions of nonsensical text in the manuscript that were caught by our editing staff as they previewed the text for editing time assessment pending your acceptance of our offer.

On the positive side, maybe you want to consider contracting the book with a vanity publisher such as iUniverse or Author House. They will certainly publish your book for a fee.

Interesting that they specifically mention two vanity presses in the second paragraph. Almost as if they wish to distance themselves from such a place, hmm? I'm also intrigued to see that they don't actually have anyone editorial look at the book until after they've sent the author the contract. Quite the business process, that.

The book itself is now for sale here, and I suggest that if you don't recognize the name of the author at first, speak his name out loud, maybe slur the first and last name together. Profits from the first 32 copies of the book sold will go to pay for an ISBN (they have to buy them in the US), and after that royalties will go to SFWA's Emergency Medical Fund, a worthwhile charity.

Finally, if you would like to read some of the book but couldn't FTP if from my previous post, and don't wish to drop $11.94US on it (although I have to say, that's a bargain for such a bad book), then try this site here, where there's a PDF version.

We're collecting blurbs for the book, mostly from the co-conspirators. When they're placed in a public forum of some sort I will be sure to point you all to them. In the meantime, Adam-Troy Castro says:

Maybe once in a lifetime, there comes a book with such extraordinary characters, thrilling plot twists, and uncanny insight, that it comes to embody its time. Atlanta Nights is a book.

And my own blurb is:

... this... book... makes... for... wondrous... reading...

Update: I neglected to link to Jim Macdonald's own site, so I'm fixing that now.


I have yet to see anything from PA authors on the sting (they're all very nicely cocooned), but here is a nice series of posts on the recent spate of news articles. I've been thinking about this for awhile, and believe that I will for the first time in a long time link to PA's front page to see if anyone agrees with me: these guys are like a cult, like Scientologists or J-dubs or something even more lacking in self-awareness.

Metafilter has picked up the story, and an official press release will be out tomorrow. has mentioned Atlanta Nights in their monthly newsletter as a "Notable New Release," which I think says more about the interest being generated than in the quality of the writing. But that's just me.

I hope to soon receive permission to blog all of the authors' names here, so check back in a day or so.


Chapter 1. Sherwood Smith
2. James D. Macdonald
3. Sheila Finch
4. Charles Coleman Finlay
5. Julia West
6. Brook West
7. Adam-Troy Castro
8. Allen Steele
10. Mary Catelli
11. Andrew Burt
12a. Victoria Strauss
12b. Shira Daemon
13. Vera Nazarian
14. Sean P. Fodera
15. Teresa Nielsen Hayden
16. Ken Houghton
17. Charles Coleman Finlay
18. M. Turville Heitz
19. Kevin O'Donnell, Jr
20. Chuck Rothman
21. N/A
22. Laura J. Underwood
23. Jena Snyder
24. Paul Melko
25. Tina Kuzminski
26. Ted Kuzminski
27. Megan Lindholm and Robin Hobb
28. Danica and Brook West
29. Rowan and Julia West
30. Derryl Murphy
31. Michael Armstrong
32. Pierce Askegren
33. Deanna Hoak
34. Computer generated
35. Catherine Mintz
36. Peter Heck
37. M. Turville Heitz
39. Brenda Clough
40. Judi B. Castro
41. Terry McGarry

I know that Teresa Nielsen Hayden wrote a chapter, but she won't own up to which one it is. (Update: that obviously changed. I brought in what I knew from the comments and elsewhere. Still incomplete, so I'll poke around and find the answers, I hope.) Some of these people are spouses, some are children, and Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm are the same person. Obviously, I couldn't find a site for every writer listed, which is too bad.

Here's the press release. The book now has a series of blurbs on the back cover, which can be viewed better here, since you can magnify it.


Unless some PA author's head pops off, there will likely be no more posts on the matter after this. The book is now available in a free e-version for your e-books over at Embiid, complete with a lovely new cover. I don't know if the spelling is intentional or if it's a tragic irony, but see if you can spot the error here.

What in h-e-double-toothpicks is the coy babe on the new Atlanta Nights cover cuddling up to? A yeti? A mop? A woman in need of a new do?
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