Absolute Write Hoax Continues: No Quals, Tabloid Trash, One Troll Theory, Bash Marla, Going Mad Dog, Max Ashkenazi Acts Like Garth from Wayne's World

Vision and taste mean far more than experience in the mechanics of publishing (which can be learned by anyone), but the hacks of Absolute Write won't acknowledge that. They set an arbitrary standard their victims can't meet, then the blood bath begins with editors and their staff smeared on Internet where everyone can see it.
                                - Anon Victim of AW

Absolute Write moderators and defenders have insisted for years that Absolute Write is a great place to get advice if you are a writer, but a bit of casual investigation on Google shows that the owners, Lisa Spangenberg (aka "Medievalist") and Melodi Sherman (aka "Macallister Stone"), have no qualifications whatsoever to operate an advice board for fiction writers and poets, much less actually give them advice. This goes a long way to explain the poor moderation and lack of adequate moderation in crucial areas of the forums where amateur writers thrive with a multitude of opinions that desperately need someone to sift through and clarify. But this doesn't happen. 

Below are screenshots that demonstrate the "qualifications" of Absolute Write's owners, Lisa and Melodi. Lisa has demonstrated some skill with tech manuals and Melodi has demonstrated skill with nothing at all. She once "edited" a defunct writer magazine but we're not sure of her actual role given her background as a horse farm operator. Neither one of these people has ever worked in the literary or commercial side of publishing, and neither one has ever published a creative work in any genre; and yet, they continue, to this day, to give silly and counterproductive advice to new writers. 

When asked directly what qualifies her, Melodi "Mac" Sherman states, "I own the site. It's not a public utility." And she is telling the absolute truth. Her only qualification is that she owns the site.

Below we have a screenshot of one sample of the rotating tabloid "flash trash" that circulates around on every Absolute Write Water Cooler forum page. There are literally thousands of these being flashed at new and naive young writers. We can't help but ask if the more mature writers actually wish to be associated with a website that makes a living selling trash advertisements. This lack of culture and sense demonstrates clearly that the owners of this website are simply in it for the money. It reminds you of the way an unscrupulous health care clinic poorly treats patients because it isn't about care, it's about dollars.

Trashy advertising on AW - Money made from clicking. What kind of people promote this tabloid flap?


As everyone now knows, Victoria Strauss posted a "Haters Gonna Hate, etc" post on her blog in an attempt to make AW look spotless and blame all negative activity on one single person (while never revealing the troll's identity). She fails to reference specific smears and unwarranted attacks by Absolute Write mods and owners noted here on W.A.R. and in other forums, and if you patiently read the comment thread, she dodges questions put to her that demonstrate she is clearly making misleading statements and lies of omission about Absolute Write (which is no wonder since the forum serves as the primary marketing vehicle for her self-published work) but she does make sweeping statements like this with reference to W.A.R. posts:

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 (I know this because I know some of the people involved) 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
The above comment, like many others by Victoria, are laced with misleading and false statements. Since she pushes the stupid conclusion that everyone online who gripes about AW is the same person, therefore, all the scores of comments at W.A.R. are the same person: LIE #1. The misleading statement that follows states that we made a mistake about the ID of AW mods, when in fact that isn't the case. The ID of only one mod, Old Hack, might still be in question, but nowhere online will she tell us who Old Hack really is. So what is her name? They still withhold while claiming we are mistaken. They cannot or will not prove we are mistaken. As far as the dox of AW's owner, that was accomplished prior to our posts by another blog unrelated to us (Absolute Wrong--and a big thank you to them). And for LIE #2, nowhere on W.A.R. do we note anything about owner Melodi Sherman's parents. As far as "AW admins" go, there is only Lisa Spangenberg. Everyone knows her, so she never needed to have her disguise ripped away. And no one wishes to interfere with livelihood, but it was discovered by another blog that Lisa and Melodi operate a horse farm in WA state. No one cares what they do, but any fallout consequential to their horse business results directly from their own behavior on AW, noted here on W.A.R. and on dozens of other websites. It is their responsibility. Also, keep in mind that AW mods have never stopped to consider the ruination of the livelihood of others as evidenced by their smears of legitimate presses, writers, agents, and organizations not on their favored list (see examples here at W.A.R.).

Aside from all above, aside from the victim hoax "conspiracy of one troll" maintained by Victoria, aside from our rebuttal to her comments, ask yourself this question and consider the logical answer:


And if you will bother to read our Sad Truth of Hate post, you might also ask the question, WHY DID THE NEGATIVITY TOWARDS ABSOLUTE WRITE ONLY BEGIN AFTER JENNA SOLD THE SITE TO MELODI SHERMAN AND LISA SPANGENBERG? 


A Scary Note to Marla re Google Soon to Trash Her
If you click on the above you will see a bigger graphic you can read. This is a slice of a thread wherein AW regulars were dissecting and ripping at Marla Miller. The bigger point here is Theo1 making a revealing statement about the power of AW to ruin someone's reputation.


This is from a blog post from a former agent who wishes to remain anonymous due to the retaliation record of Absolute Write. This agency was driven out of business by the bullies on Absolute Write. Please read this entire post if you are still neutral on the subject:

He made the mistake of going on AW and announcing himself.

We took on another full-time agent who was also an attorney. This was a business decision. New York based literary agencies do this all the time and, of course, no one on Absolute Write’s Bewares, Recommendations, and Background Checks challenges their decision or their right to do so. If they say anything it might be a note of congratulations to the new agent. However, because we were small, not located in NYC and because they are bullies, their Head Bully believed it her duty to question our decision and thus check our ability to make a business decision. She, this head bully, asked what our new agents qualifications were to be a literary agent. Unbelievable.

In an ordinary world, who would think of doing such a thing? But this was, and still is, a bully’s paradise.

Our new agent, being a smart and gracious lady, answered the challenge by stating she Princeton graduate, finished law school, was an author, had taken courses in intellectual properties law, had handled contracts and had been a practicing trial lawyer. In typical bully fashion, all comments ceased. This usually happens when someone more powerful enters the fray. Could it be they feared reprisal if they said more? There was no doubt. It was that close.

This, however, was not the case when we took on an agent trainee. He made the bad mistake of going on AW and announcing himself. And let’s just say he was pounced upon, challenged by every howling watch dog on their Beware et al pages specially dedicated to us. When they challenged him, he tried to stand up to them—tried to explain that he just a trainee, which again was none of their business. The poor guy actually thought he was dealing with reasonable people instead of packs of slobbering, howling idiots.

From this first encounter, he was continually harassed. Before its end, it had even boiled over onto our blog. Finally, he’d had enough and resigned his agent training because he felt he had brought us harm.


We recently received the provocative letter below from one of the AW cronies attempting, like others, to goad us into a pointless email exchange. He calls himself the name above (almost like ask-a-nazi). This one seeks to somehow validate the smear forums of Mac and Lisa while invalidating the concerns and complaints with a combination of false statements and bad logic. 

Our comments are in red:
Dear AW victims,
I was reading through your blog and had some questions about your allegations about AW (bad writing--sounds like Lisa Spangenberg). You have said that AW these days is essentially for mediocre writers (no, never said that-where is the link?), unless I am mistaken (yep!), but it seems like there are still some successful writers who post there (seems? why passive voice? and he forgot Stacia Kane) , i.e. Vincent Morrone (who?), Jamie Mason - known as Perks on AW, Cathy Clamp and others (okay, so the alleged presence of these people invalidate our claims or ...?). In addition, have heard that it is mainly for frustrated writers (heard from who? a case of projection?) but it seems that many regulars are in fact from other successful backgrounds and are not really wannabe writers (so they're whatever and they're authors? huh?). One of the AW regulars, for example, is a Yale Law School grad who it seems spent years as a successful attorney in NY before getting into writing [her posting name is CassandraW I believe] (tell her to leave) and there are others who were/are owner of martial arts studios, former police and other successful professions (so if cops and karate dudes are there then... ummm?). And so it seems like AW still does attract people who are successful and on top of their game in some ways (but it's never too late to learn even if filming porn is your speciality) and so it seems like it is wrong to say that it is (OMG, this writing is painfully bad!) only for failed writers who do not have a life outside AW (that is wrong, whoever said it).  Am I missing something? (yes, all kinds of things).
And it does seem like now there is diversity of opinion (seem? passive again).  On the AW water cooler there are posters like William Haskins, CassandraW, highttimer, rugcat, robeiae and others who do not simply echo what the Mods say all the time and in fact often fundamentally disagree with them (their banning is coming). And so it seems inaccurate to say that AW only allows for those who agree.  AM I missing something here? (yes, reality, and the ability to write well)
Thanks for any response you may have.
Thanks, Garth, but you have your answer. Btw, how old are you? And a note to the Absolute Write Roundtable. You have to send better knights than this to slay the Truth Draconis. 

Courtesy of Absolute Banning

Here are a few examples of AW regulars, who had posted at least 500 times, who were then banned by the owner or her admin, Lisa Spangenberg. This solidly contradicts owner Melodi Sherman's claim that writers banned from AW are "trolls and sockpuppets."

The size of the forum is unimportant. We're dealing here with the estimated percentage rate of banning at AW (35%), as compared to most other forums (2%).

The fastest way to get banned is to disagree with the mainstream.

MEMBER                                POSTS                       THREAD

Scarlet Peaches                       48,359                        Airlines forbid men from sitting to....
Wayne K                                   21,681                        Contract Termination
Yorkist                                         1,974                       Kelly's Soft Asylum & Home for Way...
Sarah Dalton                                  927                       Publishing Diary: First Year Sales
RJLeahy                                         568                       Airlines forbid men from sitting to....
Blarg                                            2,497                       Americans Don't Kill Children...
RobJ                                            2,682                       Something I Can't Understand
Axler                                            1,052                       Cryptozoica illustrated novel ebook
Billythrilly7th                               11,813                      Should We Celebrate Columbus Day
Amsterdam Assassin                   1,734                      Teaching Derail From BWQ
Glutton                                         1,521                       Interesting Article I Found
Paul                                              4,508                      A Place For Off Topic...
Freelancer                                       997                      Derail From Book Promo...
Sarpedon                                      2,702                      Famed Astrophysicist...
Wayne K                                     21,681                      Terry Jones Death Threats
Spookywriter                                 9,726                      William's House of Hate...
Ruv Draba                                     5,114                      The Never Ending Religion...


  1. And unfortunately I'm not also on that banned list.:/ Oh believe me, I see other people banned for disagreeing all the time (or at least ripped to shreds in their own threads), yet for whatever odd reason never banned me specifically.

    Which says allot more than if they just banned me right away.

    Also seriously? She's complaining about stalkers, even though she puts up advertisement stalkers online. (Ads tracking your behavior isn't really news though.)

  2. I think the better question, is whether a writer would want to really work with the agents that frequent these boards.

    It's only these that inhabit here, that seem to have a knack for slamming writers on Twitter. Everyone is so professional and nice.

  3. I can't believe Scarlet Peaches was banned! I had a lot of interaction with her back in the day and I liked her a lot.

    Lisa S has written a lot of non fiction and she's certainly qualified to run a writing forum, more so than Melodi.

    I do want to defend Uncle Jim (who hasn't been on the forum for a year). Online he's never been less than professional and helpful. Without him, I never would have been published. I can't defend the rest but Uncle Jim has helped my writing style enormously.

  4. Dear A,

    You can post a difference of opinion here without being attacked (unlike AW). Lisa S has written tech manuals, yes, this is so, as we note above, and this is as different from writing fiction or poetry as you can get, and yet, she advises fiction writers and poets while slamming other writers, presses, etc., as if she knows better? As for Uncle Jim, we don't deny what you're saying, however, he provides in our opinion a lot of questionable advice, and some of it we find almost infantile. He also joins in the smearing club when convenient along with Melodi, Lisa, and their various flying monkey socks.

  5. It's true. There is no other writer board with such an avalanche of criticism chasing it down the mountain. I've received some useful information from the Water Cooler from time to time, but the petty arguing and sledgehammering moderation make the place nearly intolerable. Those who are complaining about it have a right to complain. Only the Write Agenda takes it too far, IMO, way too far. But if Ms. Strauss is going to make such accusations against WAR regarding harassing the owner's parents and acts of libel against mods and members, then she should link to these posts--which she does not. I've been all over this blog and I see nothing of the kind. This supports what WAR contends: Victoria creates her own reality. Her credibility is hitting bottom in my opinion, and I used to think well of her.

  6. I'm also one such writer. I pretty much had to write under a pen name--of which I won't disclose--to avoid the pointless monkey poo toss from AW. They never prove any of their allegations, and yet--supposedly, only according to AW--are highly taken seriously in the publication industry.

    Let's put this in perspective. There is another writing board I used to inhabit more frequently. While they are just as rude, it's very telling how even that place doesn't have so many hate sites.

    They even make issues about companies they aren't even remotely like vanity publishers. Evidently if your not submitting queries with a million rejections, and waiting two years to be published your not really published apparently.

    The bonkers thing is blogs are suppose to be about stating your opinion. If one calls out AW, rather than analyze why, they prefer having one of their cronies make a snide comments about them.

    I'm strongly advising my best friends to avoid this place like the plague--especially if they already have far out writing opinions anyway.

    I should have followed my gut, and not joined.

  7. And now a forum post about whether authors should respond to reviews, advertising for Ann Rice's book about cyberbullying.

    Interesting timing to resurrect an old issue when the controversy about their antics is increasing.