Is Victoria Strauss The Tariq Aziz of Absolute Write? Critic Bashing Allegations Debunked?

Type "absolute write complaints" in Google and see the article, "Haters Gonna Hate" by Victoria Strauss to get the other side of this ongoing debate regarding the validity and cyberbully nature of Absolute Write. The writers associated with this blog would like to thank Victoria Strauss for battling the troll so bravely and also for advertising our blog and the many other websites calling out the owners and mods at AW for their behavior.

"So that's where the anger comes from."
- Victoria Strauss

And now that we're fighting back, we're all just tossed under a label (trolls/sock puppets) and all we say is condensed under a label (propaganda), both categories chosen and 
stamped legitimate by Victoria Strauss.

Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware has finally entered the Absolute Write debate, predictably on the side of Absolute Write, but to such an extreme and critic-bashing degree that it surprises all of us. In her article, which we shall discuss at length, she only goes so far as to admit the moderators at AW can sometimes be tough, but she steadfastly denies and omits any specific instances of abuse, bullying, or any other reprehensible behavior. Victoria Strauss has a great reputation online with many people, and we must frankly admit, she deserves it in many respects. She HAS done good, there is no question! So why, oh why, does she dig in, again and again, to demonstrate her huge blind spot when it comes to Absolute Write? Is she actually a business partner who gains from advertising revenue? Is it because she is friends with the owners and mods? Or is it because she has defended this website for so long, hell or high water, that there is no going back? Like a devoted follower of Bush or Obama, she is dug in too deep. She refuses at all costs to view anything negative or hostile with a realistic lens. And btw, haven't we seen this behavior repeatedly from AW mods and owners?

According to Victoria Straus, obvious bullying is revised to become nothing other than "tough moderating" necessary on such a large forum. She refuses to examine textbook instances of AW hostility and bullying--a good sampling of which are noted on this blog--but then again, as noted above, she has no choice but to avoid such specific examples. She must steer the debate to a higher plane where she alone holds sway. As such, she becomes a personality functioning in a role much like Tariq Aziz, the former deputy defender of Saddam Hussein. He had a way of avoiding or denying anything evil that Saddam ever did, and he was personable, as well as believable. Tariq struck out with fury against enemies critical of the regime. He called them names, dismissed them, said they had agendas. And now, Victoria Strauss, in similar fashion, has written an article doing the exact same thing. In a sense, she is functioning as Absolute Write's Tariq.

Of course, Absolute Write does not have people killed or tortured, so Victoria cannot possibly descend to the pit of historical infamy like Tariq. However, Absolute Write, as we've seen, does effectively smear the lives and livelihoods of innocent people, and we might add, with a relish that Tariq would have appreciated if he were an AW member.

She repeats the perennial Absolute Write dodges and defenses made popular by Lisa Spangenberg and Melodi Sherman (who are utterly guiltless in Victoria's world), namely: detractors and critics making observations or engaged in dialogue unfavorable to her Absolute Write associates are all, all sockpuppets and trolls (of course!); nearly all of the websites critical of AW are run by one person (If Victoria has the facts why doesn't she name this sneaky lying Darth Vader woman?) who also happens to run this blog you are reading, writes all of the posts, and makes ALL of the comments; the entire collection of commentary, observations, examples, and all else from AW critical websites are all simply a smear campaign (inferring no credibility to anything because it's all part of an agenda) and labeled by Victoria as propaganda.

Just propaganda, agenda, smear campaign. No credibility here. No real people's lives smeared by Absolute Write. No one bullied. No presses or writers unfairly mocked and accused. Not a single thing out of place. Nothing wrong. Just propaganda.

In this way, Victoria Strauss engages in world building favorable to Absolute Write. She creates her own reality with her friends and associates as guiltless, hard pressed heroes, and all detractors are evil trolls with a smear agenda of dispensing only propaganda. She defines the origin of these trolls quite clearly: 1) people who have been rightfully banned for being out of control; and 2) scammers exposed by AW, and 3) as Victoria says, "An especially volatile aspect of this forum is the often-harsh analysis of new small presses, especially those started up by amateurs with weird ideas about publishing."

In summary, Victoria states, "So that's where the anger comes from." 

So it is all resolved. Victoria has spoken! Already, anyone familiar with the excesses and high octane nastiness on AW will laugh at this. No anger from anyone but the bad guys, and oh yeah, those "amateurs with weird ideas about publishing." According to who exactly?  Where is a link to this allegation? You mean all us poor trolls who tried to start a legitimate press to publish books we really like but were lied about and mocked by AW mods and their usual sycophant parade of vapors, cats, fairies and whatnot who surrounded us and engaged in personal attacks and acts of blatant bullying? Yes, I guess you're talking about us, the collective us, the victims of your friends. Course, we all have it coming, don't we? And now that we're fighting back, we're all just tossed under a label (trolls/sockpuppets) and all we say is condensed under a label (propaganda), both categories chosen and stamped legitimate by Victoria Strauss.

And then she takes it one step further. She halts the defense and goes on the attack. So let's ask Victoria some logical and fair questions, beginning with verbatim quotes from her blog post:

1. "Right now, though, the most concentrated attack comes from a group of anti-AW blogs: Absolute Blight, Absolute Banning, Forums Review, and Write Absolute Reviews of Bully Boards (the "s" at the end of "Boards" is cosmetic; the only board discussed is AW). If they seem similar--not just in format, but in the circular way they all reference each other--that's no coincidence: there's substantial evidence that they've been set up by the same individual ..."

The most "concentrated attack" we have. Okay, Victoria, so present the "substantial evidence" then. Where is it? It's substantial. Are you holding back for the same reason police withhold information from the press? But why would you do that? The truth is, there is no substantial evidence.

2. "These anonymously- or sockpuppet-run blogs (check out the origin story at Write Absolute, which includes lots of fanciful detail but neglects to supply any verifiable specifics) ..."

It reminds you of the line from DOCTOR STRANGELOVE when the Soviet ambassador refused a cigar from the American general by saying, "I don't smoke cigars made by capitalist stooges." Whereupon the general replied, "Oh, only communist stooges, eh?"  Victoria has no problem with the horde of anonymous sniping avatars on Absolute Write, but then again, they are absolutely right. It's just us gals who are the trolls, so we must be sockpuppets. Or are we trolls? Or are we sock trolls? Or troll puppets? It's all so confusing! Why can't Vickie stick with just one label?

And we included "fanciful details" about the attack on our press by Hapisofi, but we did not provide a direct link for a very good reason, and everyone who knows the dirt factory at AW understands the reason.

3. "... and libellous unsourced allegations about AW members and defenders (again, I know some of the people involved). More unpleasant pastimes include attempting to doxx AW's owner, her parents, and AW admins, and to interfere with their livelihoods (Absolute Blight is the worst offender in this regard). 

Two words in a row misspelled, Vick. Where is your link to a single libelous allegation? Why not provide the reference? The mods and owners we expose are all public figures. And the "doxx" of AW's owner. Well, congrats to Absolute Wrong. And why shouldn't we pierce the carefully erected disguise of Melodi Sherman? We have the right, and we would argue, even the obligation given her years long trail of naked hostility towards posters on AW. As far as "her parents" thing, we have no idea what this is about, but why isn't there a link to this? You provide lots of links, but these several accusations have no substance. We wonder why?

And now AW admins. You are talking about Lisa Spangenberg specifically. Why don't you mention her name? Or for that matter, why do you refrain from mentioning the name of the owner, Melodi Sherman? And no one is trying to interfere with their livelihoods. They have to take responsibility for their actions. Everyone has a right to know where their horse business is located for purposes of potential legal action, which we assure you, WILL be forthcoming. They have no business license for their horse business, or for Absolute Write business in Washington state. In other words, they have no legitimacy. This is verifiable.

4.  "They're replete with sockpuppet comments (the blogs' owner likes to talk to herself) and larded with misinformation, including mistaken guesses about the identities of AW moderators."

Okay, fair enough Vick, so why didn't you provide a link to support these allegations? Which comments specifically are "sockpuppet comments" of the blog owner talking to herself? Point them out. We all want to know. And where is a link to the misinformation?  As for mistaken guesses, we know who Old Hack and Hapisofi are. There is no guessing.

Nice attempt to salvage their disguises. Sorry, it won't work.

5. " ... if AW were really the cesspit of evil that it's alleged to be by the anti-AW crowd, wouldn't members be fleeing in droves? Wouldn't they stop posting? Wouldn't AW be on its way to becoming moribund, like the unfortunate WritersNet?

 Perhaps members have fled in droves over the years. What is a drove anyway? But we have no way of verification. First of all, there is no proof of the membership claims of AW. At best, whatever their real number, they are based not on active members, but on anyone and everyone who allegedly remains on a mail list from the time of Jenna Glatzner. So in a country of over 300,000 est active writers, they have an active membership of a few thousand, at most? Maybe? We have no idea how many stop posting, leave, and are replaced by others. AW maintains the fiction that the community is constantly growing, but we believe that to be false. It's up to the individual to decide this issue. 

What keeps AW ruthlessly in the public eye is their act of creating conflict threads that rank high in Google, as well as their outreach marketing gimmicks and efforts, and efforts by members like Victoria Strauss who argue for their legitimacy.


  1. This is a smear blog according to Victoria Strauss just because it criticizes Absolute Write. Then she attacks this blog, and without refuting its content in any direct way, but she isn't smearing.

    A double standard, it appears.

  2. She's a narcissist and self-martyring at the same time.

  3. It's harsh to compare her to Tariq Aziz. She does perform the same function, as we can all see. Actually, I feel sorry for her in a way. As I read elsewhere the word "self martyring" has come up. It might seem that way; and all these hot bubbles blown by her that everyone who has a beef with a mod or member on AW is a troll, and most likely the same troll, is beyond silly! It stops short of addressing any real concern or experience.

  4. She's playing dodge ball on the Writer Beware thread.

  5. She can't defend the the bad people forever like a Mafia attorney.

  6. "As for mistaken guesses, we know who Old Hack and Hapisofi are. There is no guessing."

    You've guessed Old Hack is Debra Doyle. You've guessed wrong. They live on different continents, for a start.

    1. Fair enough. Since you're an AW insider because you know so much, then tell us who Old Hack really is. What is Doyle's avatar on AW?

      You could easily be lying. That's biz as usual on AW.

  7. I saw Old Hack give a talk about how to get published at a writing festival in the UK a couple of years ago and she used to have a very useful blog about publishing. Her name is Jane Smith. She works in publishing in the UK and was really nice. She spent a lot of time talking to a few of us after her talk, which she didn't have to do, and was very helpful and kind. I don't know why you think she's Debra Doyle. She's very easy to find online if you bother to look.

    1. Alright then. You saw Old Hack give a talk. About what? How to ruin careers and reputations using chat forums? What was the name of her blog? Where does she work in publishing? "Jane Smith" is suspiciously commonplace, a little too commonplace. We can't find her online so what is the website where we can find her/ Why don't you post the info link?

      And who is Debra Doyle then on Absolute Write forums?

      And if Jane Smith isn't a secret, then why isn't her name attached to the Old Hack avatar on Absolute Write?

      And why isn't Jane Smith or Debra Doyle here to set the record straight rather than one of their AW stooges?

  8. Like I said, Jane Smith's talk was about how to get published. She was very helpful, and I do not understand why you're being so hostile towards her or why you think she's Debra Doyle. I can't remember where she works, but when I met her at the York Festival she was with several literary agents and editors and they all knew her, and were talking about books they'd worked on together. It was obvious that she worked in publishing.

    Perhaps it hasn't occurred to Jane Smith to put her name on her avatar. I don't see anyone else doing so on Absolute Write, so I don't see why you would expect her to do it.

    Perhaps Smith and Doyle aren't here setting you straight because they don't realise that you think they're the same person. Or perhaps they don't care, because it doesn't hurt or worry either of them.

    If you can make such a basic mistake, which is so easy to discredit, then it throws doubt onto everything else you've written here. So perhaps they're leaving you to it. That might be possible too. I don't know, I'm not them. I was just trying to help you out, that's all.

    1. Hello, Victoria. Nice to have you here.

      If you think "Jane Smith" or whoever she really is doesn't deserve criticism if she is indeed one of the worst cyberbullies on AW known as Old Hack, then you lack a moral compass. But that isn't surprising. Victoria Strauss obviously lacks a moral compass despite pretending to have one.

      We could have made a mistake regarding the real identity of the Old Hack, but for you to jump to the conclusion that all we've posted here is then in doubt, that marks you as an Absolute Write shill with an obvious agenda. That marks you as Victoria Strauss.

      Nice try. Won't work. All anyone has to do is follow the links, do the math, add up the hundreds and hundreds of negative reviews that all tell the same story, regardless of whether any particular monstrous adult bully at Absolute Write happens to be party X or party Y.

  9. Just to clarify, I'm not Aw advocate. Hope this is helpful:

    What is telling to me is that I can't seem to find Old Hacks blog. Even if Jane Smith were not old hack, I find it interesting how she closed comments.

    Now I'm not saying definitely she is Old Hack, but it is curious.

    Love the blog.

  10. Stauss needs to defend the legitimacy of Absolute Write because it is the major vehicle for marketing her poor novels. Just look at her sig blocks on the forum. She is constantly appearing like a gadfly and advertising her work.

  11. Back in the day, Jenna Glatzer was advocating cutting off the testicles of some unfortunate literary agent she had found in her sights(using some screen name to hide her identity.). Now she wrote a bullying book with Dr. Joel Haber. What a joke. Adams Media, the publisher, obviously does not vet its authors. Any "doctor" who tolerates that kind of behavior is really not someone I would go to .