James D. Macdonald of Absolute Write - Writer or Sort-of-Writer or No Writer At All?

"She is the prose lady ..." He's the plot guy. She's Hack, he's Sage. He calls himself the "Congenial Sage" and he tells new writers on Absolute Write how to write. But according to the clip above from the Viable Paradise website, he isn't an actual writer. He's "the plot guy." Btw, there is no other instance of this revelation on the web, though this quote by him above says it all. And are his plots really good or just mediocre, or awful? You have to judge for yourself. If you go to Amazon and choose one of the books he and Old Hack (Debra Doyle) have disgorged, you'll see a big divide between reviews by his friends and sock puppets and those by real readers. A good example is a poor book about a boy who goes to wizard school (yawn):


Is this fair? Might some of the incredibly positive reviews be legit? You decide. And do you want these two telling you how to write now? Maybe. Maybe not? Hack and Sage bill themselves on Absolute Write as accomplished authors. Okay. They are the expertise available on-site that Melodi Sherman and Lisa Spangenberg (AW owners) are always crowing about in marketing copy. As a matter of fact, Hack and Sage are on the boards over there so often that they've amassed many thousands of posts, well over ten thousand. But how do real authors have time for hanging around notorious cyber-bully forums? And why would they want to? Perhaps if they hadn't spent so much time there grinding other authors, presses, and business professionals into raw submission they might not have become bottom-listers (in terms of sales) at Tor Books for the past several years?

Only speculation. Only their therapist and editor knows for sure.

It might also account for why Hack and Sage formed their own self-publishing company known as Madhouse Manor (look up the books found in the next link on Amazon) to churn out their latest masterpieces. Great covers too:


Maybe sales are good, maybe they are not. We just wonder what accounts for the sour expression below? Say hello to James, the Congenial Sage. If you want to be a "writer" like James or Hack, go to Viable Paradise Writing Workshop where you will learn the abc's of doing it their way. After all, they started the workshop and they have a right to tell you whatever they wish, and maybe they will hint at what great authors they are.


  1. My favorite cover is Holly and Ivy. Argh!!!!!!!

    Sure enough, the book on Amazon turns up their self-publishing company. How hypocritical can you be? Absolute Write has made a point of whupping up on self-publishing for years!

  2. Jim's a better man than you.

    1. High school comment. I'm sure he's at least a better self-publisher than most people.

  3. I copied and I'm reposting this from another post.

    Good ReadsMay 20, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    Learning Writing With Uncle Jim

    I just scanned the first page of his bogus writing workshop on Absolute Write, and only the most dull-witted and trusting of newbie writer could possibly go for this.

    See comments by him below. The first one here, he plays God and redefines in the dumbest way imaginable how to define a novel. I had to see this to believe it!

    "Okay, and after that pompous lead off, let me say that I'm not going to be talking about novels at all. I'm going to be talking about romances.

    Not romances in the Fabio-on-the-cover paperbacks, not the Romance section at Borders, not Harlequin (though there'll be things useful in that genre). Not category romance, or genre romance.

    I'm talking about romance in literary theory.

    A novel is: A book length work of realistic prose fiction.

    A romance is: A book length prose narrative treating imaginary characters involved in events remote in time or place and usually heroic, adventurous, or mysterious.



    Next, his stupidly simplistic 25 steps to becoming a published author. He takes the most rudimentary things and stretches them out to 25, not even including something as basic as LEARN YOUR CRAFT or KNOW YOUR MARKET before you start writing!

    There are twenty-five simple steps to becoming a published author.

    Here are the steps:

    1. Black ink on white paper.
    2. Place your name and address in the top left-hand corner of the first page.
    3. Place the title and byline, centered, half-way down the first page.
    4. Put a running head (your name, the title, and a page number) in the top right hand corner of every page.
    5. Your pages should have one-inch margins.
    6. Doublespace your text.
    7. Use Courier 10 or Courier 12 only.
    8. Type on one side of the paper only.
    9. Continue until you reach "The End."
    10. Rewrite.
    11. Rewrite.
    12.....21. Revise
    22. Obtain the guidelines for a market that accepts material similar to what you have finished.
    23. Follow the guidelines scrupulously when you submit your material.
    24. While you are waiting for your rejection slip, start again back at step 1 for your next work.
    25. When the rejection slip arrives, send the manuscript to the next market on your list, that same day.

    He's trying to be funny, in a way, but it's a huge time wasting bunch of bullets he is spitting out. What an ass, no kidding. I'm beginning to believe he is actually senile.


    HE IS DEMANDING COURIER FONT!!! Didn't that go out with Hemingway, or James D. Macdonald.

    However, when you print out your book to submit to a commercial publisher, you shall print it out in 10 or 12 point Courier.
    Uncle Jim's Writing Class at Absolute Write.

  4. An interview with him on writing found on this blog. He tries very hard to be clever but it falls flat. It's painful.

    1. What in the heck did I just read. Talk about false equivalence in his interview.

  5. The brilliance of Yog's law does not outweigh the dullness of his writing workshop.

  6. I recommend the reading of the novel P O D, which is a take on an unscrupulous publisher and an ineffective writers' board. It's titled P O D and you can find it here... http://www.amazon.com/P-O-D-F-Mazur-ebook/dp/B01AWPTBF2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1459893087&sr=1-1&keywords=P+O+D