The First Years After Jenna Sold Absolute Write to Melodi "Mac" Sherman and Partner Spangenberg


In a sadly prophetic post about Jenna Glatzer's founding, building, and eventual sale of Absolute Write, author Ted Gross states:
We miss you, Jenna!
If the new owner(s) and moderators choose to use it for their own personal ends, something that Jenna never did, AW will fall by the wayside. If they choose to allow a differing of opinions then AW may flourish. They will need balance and wisdom. They will require certain innate qualities which no one can know they have until it is put to the test. They will have to learn the elements of respect and fear and know how to understand each. That only the future will tell, and thus no amount of discussion will do any good...
A poignant observation on how Absolute Write became the central forum of the writing industry. For a bit of background, Ted Gross was an active, supportive member for years. His glowing recommendation from 2005 can still be seen.


A bare few months pass with the "new guard" in charge. The same Ted Gross, who spoke so highly of Absolute Write community, becomes one of the first targets of mob mentality. When a member of Absolute Write used a swastika in his signature line and the moderators did nothing about it, Ted, who is of Jewish descent, took offense. The questions he asks may sound familiar to some readers:
[W]here the hell are the police mods who seem to be all over when heaven forbid, someone says something not to their liking? Where the hell are the "open-minded" people who run this board? Could it be that if you say something not kind about Absolute Write you will get banned but showing a swastika is considered "freedom of speech"?
Lisa (yes, that Lisa, a la Spangenberg) feels it her duty to lecture Ted on what he is and isn't allowed to be offended about, and how the swastika had meaning for centuries before the Nazi's began using it. I would love to see someone post "gay people suck," and then lecture Mac and Lisa on how the word "gay" had meaning for centuries before homosexuals starting using it, and then tell them they aren't allowed to be offended because it means "happy people suck." I'm too big of a coward, but someone should do this. I'd watch. With popcorn.

So anyway, the AW moderators continue to bash Ted, his feelings, and his beliefs for months and defend the use of a symbol one of their members found offensive. One commenter even blames Jews for allowing a few decades of hate to obliterate the wonderful meaning of the swastika.

Yeah, we're not kidding. It's there in the last link.


Money troubles abound at Absolute Write, starting this year and spilling into next. Part of the financial woes could stem from Barbara Bauer's regular tantrums (she got the web host shut down in 2006, sued in 2007, and filed amendments in 2008).

Class instructors turn to Writers Weekly as a neutral third to arbitrate disputes over not receiving payments for services rendered. Not all writers know about the possibility of arbitration, though (ironically, the reason communities like Absolute Write exist), and at least one writer is forced to take a loss.

Look at Them
In a blow for the writing community at large, having Barbara Bauer (a proven fraud) attack Absolute Write shored up the AW community and made it appear more legitimate. We suspect that if no lawsuits were filed, Absolute Write would have faded into obscurity. However, their heroic battle against the evil Bauer agency resuscitated and introduced the forums to a new generation of writers.

Some of those financial woes might also link to MacAllister's (aka Melodi Sherman--her real name) new business ventures. It's hard not to speculate where some of the money might have gone when at the same time Absolute Write was financially struggling, MacAllister "Melodi Sherman" Stone was aggressive expanding her own personally branded site,, and online magazine, Coyote Wild.

Written in Stone - stone engraving business

(Not) Written in Stone (now defunct and deleted) - forum touted as "sister site" and actively pedaled to new members:

Per Internet Wayback - Registration turned off between 10/17/2008 and 11/20/2008, members dropped from 217 to 115; before 2008, was a simple Blogger blog, between 6/2/2014 and 7/14/2014 went live with new content - Content now resides at /wis subfolder

Absolute Write Amazon Store + Absolute Write newsletter called Absolute Markets


Beginning in January, the servers behind Absolute Write experienced intermittent outages throughout the year. The core group, who couldn't survive an hour without bashing someone, migrated among a Starchat channel, a temporary forum hosted by Roger Carlson, and MacAllister Stone's own website (presumably because allowing someone else to own the site host for the forum was unbearable for her).

The forum at Absolute Write flourished without the participation of the owner and her band of cronies. Lisa and Mel popped in only rarely to ban people or attempt to discourage beginners; Old Hack worked on her self-publishing review site, redesigned her personal "God's answer to writers" website, and started a brief (pun intended) flash fiction blog; and Hapi "Teresa Nielsen Hayden" Sofi lent her particular brand of vitriol to the forum.

The rest is still unfolding history, ugly history. Thank you, Macallister Melodi Sherman-Stone.


  1. As of midnight last night, they had 99 active members on the site. That's 99 out of a reported membership of 60,000.

  2. I realize this post is old, but...
    I joined AW when Jenna was in charge and it was a great place for getting help, or opinions on a work you were doing or lend a hand to someone else. However, when the Pug-Uglies took over it went to shit in hurry and I left.