Where Are The So-Called Publication Professionals? Sad Commentary, Character Assassinations, Does Absolute Write Owner and Chief Admin Lisa Spangenberg Seriously and Truly Believe She's a Druid Witch?

[TO THOSE PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT ABSOLUTE WRITE: in this post and others, we are not talking about the non-predatory aspects of a group board like AW, we are discussing an end to the predatory aspects. It is like we're talking about Philly or Oakland in the context of ending rampant corruption and crime. We know there are good places to eat and Streisand will concert tour, but we want the mayor and city council arrested. And because there are those who have expressed puzzlement, here is a page that lists all the reasons why we maintain this blog. Thank you.]

The omnipresent Absolute Write advertising claim designed to lure naive writers: "At Absolute Write you will find a wide variety of publishing industry experts and professionals: literary agents, publishers, editors..." So where are they? Why not name them? We've explored this exaggerated claim by Absolute Write already and nothing we've seen since on AW has arisen to contradict us. To this day we still can't locate all these "experts" who are supposed to be just hanging around on AW waiting to help new writers. And btw, don't they have jobs or real lives? Even the "experts" we did manage to identify are of dubious worth and teetering on irrelevance. A few are even known to be cyberbullies.  Despite the presence of these "experts" the Absolute Write forums are dripping with bad advice. It's omnipresent. We've explored this issue in detail already and other websites have touched on it.

It appears the "experts" just look the other way while the amateurs run amok.

And btw, don't accept any advice on the matter of "Absolute Write query letter hell" or anything else concerned with the writing of query letters. Accept advice only from known professionals such as literary agents who are identifiable as such and not allegedly hanging around on bizarre chat forums disguised as beasties and elves.

(to the right, bottom to top: defender Janet Reid, Uncle Jim, Teresa "Hapi" Nielsen Hayden, Doyle Hack, Stacia Kane, apologist Victoria Strauss, owners Lisa Spangenberg and Melodi "Mac" Sherman) 


 Excerpts from text and comments re AW
From the "Haters Gonna Hate" post by Strauss wherein she states that critics of AW are all just one troll

(a very recent note written 6/20 to Victoria Strauss and not answered): 

I've appealed to you in the past with regards specifically to the very large lie told about my faculty member Robert Bausch on Absolute Write's forum. Perhaps the lie remains because your motto is to respect the writer. That means the powers at Absolute Write respect the writer making the accusation, not the accused, so this negates the apparent hypocrisy? When will this lie be removed? Robert proved himself that TNH was making false and libelous comments, and later on the same thread, yet no one removes the false and libelous comments and to this day they still exist. 

      -  Michael Neff - Haters Gonna Hate Comment Thread

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.

      - Gatekeeper's Diary

@Fiendish writer, no one is lying about Absolute Write. That place is a almost a sewer of negativity. The mods are bullies. They bash self-publishing. They are so pathetic. I don’t know why writers even bother going over there- to have themselves kept in check by a bunch of bums. That’s just my personal opinion, of course. I’ve never been in trouble there or been banned, but I saw how volatile that place was and got away quick. Nobody is lying. Everything they say about that place is true.

      - "The Last of Us" (comment thread)

I'm one to lurk before joining in, and after watching the mods tear apart people for NO reason, then egging on others to bash those people, then carrying on long after they chased the person from the site...yeah I think I will pass on joining in. I've never seen anything so vile. There is a definite "clique" there. The site is great for them, but it looks like it's near impossible to become part of their "in club". Whether I could get in with them or not, I don't think I'd want to because I won't stand behind such poor behavior. This has to be the worst writing community I've ever encountered.

     - The Complaints Board

I was lured in by their marketing people who are also members of the Absolute Write forums. One of them was Victoria Strauss who is a formerly published author, now a self-published author. At first, I received what I believed was fairly good advice from a couple of anonymous people in the short fiction forum, but in the novel forum I was uncertain of the quality of advice there. I'd been warned by other people about Absolute Write and I'd read the many critiques online. The novel writing advice turned out to be lousy. I copied five things people were saying there and was able to show all of them to be erroneous. There were no mods around or professionals hanging out to help, like Strauss has claimed. It was just a free for all.

     - The Complaints Board

I went to Absolute Write seeking community and received in return a determined assault of absurd accusation and juvenile contradiction for truthfully speaking my mind about a conference I attended in New York which was wonderful and life changing for me. An Absolute Write member named Francis Bruno kept returning in an effort to make me look as if I were a cross between a fool and a hireling of some sort for daring to contradict the infallible opinions of the Absolute Write social club led by Macallister Stone who in fact is the worst hypocrite imaginable. The woman appears to delight in being a bully shepherd. She knew full well that the Bruno person was a huge liar, but when I pointed out his lies, one by one, I was chastised by her. Ridiculous. How long can you roll in the pig slop before it gets on you? At the end I was dubbed a "sockpuppet with a vendetta" for refusing to bow to the tireless Bruno man.

      -  Babs Stevens - Write Absolute Reviews "iPredator" Comment Thread

It's pretty much just what you'd expect. A lot of bad-to-mediocre writers giving bad-to-mediocre advice to bad-to-mediocre wannabe writers... The mods are powertripping jerks, just as many of the other posters have said. I met a handful of nice people, but no reason to stick around. I never posted any work to be critiqued because honestly, so much of what was posted in the critique section was so bad and the advice that was given equally amateur... I just didn't feel like I'd gain anything from it that I didn't already know. And most of the advice from different critters was conflicting, anyway. 

     - Rachel W. - The Missing Sitejabber Reviews

Ironically these “websites / authors” are doing what they claim others are doing, taking advantage of people who are looking in good faith for facts and information, truthful information about the publishing industry. Their responses are reduced to internet babble. A mix of half truths, alleged facts and very personal un-professional remarks and behavior. They tend to be abusive, Holier then thou, and totally off the mark. ALL they have to do is PROVE what they post. Just saying they have “hundreds” of complaint isn’t going to cut it. People are fed up with that attitude. Courts are leaning heavily toward companies and individuals who are entitled to face their accusers and their alleged facts.

One poster stated that they’re “reaping what they sow” how true. All of sudden people are asking them questions about who they really are, besides mutual friends.

So why don’t they just tell the truth?

     - Publishing Facts

I’ve only been a member briefly, and found this blog by searching how to leave the AWWC. It’s horrible. I thought it was an open, honest forum to exchange ideas and learn. I found myself in the middle of backbiting, condescending, bitter people (including two Mods) who were not helpful at all and hide behind screen names.

How am I supposed to take career advice seriously from someone called SuperModerator, when I can’t tell if they’ve ever published anything? I asked a specific question, and when I questioned politely but firmly the uninformed and negative advice an anonymous writer gave, she harangued and condescended like a fishwife.

On another thread, she jumped into a productive discussion and tongue lashed not only me, but every contributor! Lord, it must’ve taken her half an hour just to quote every single one of us LOL It was a ludicrous critique: she said we “had to” provide evidence for everything we said. This, immediately after telling me one of her pets doesn’t have to provide any, and I am rude for asking. 

     - The Cult - Absolute Write Water Cooler (comments)

Now that I reflect upon it, the websites critical of you two
[Lisa Spangenberg and Macallister Stone], and the AW in general, are in some sense, hate sites. I've never in my life seen or heard so much utter loathing for any other two people, or any other website. In retrospect, no one hated Jenna. She worked hard to out the bad fellows, but no one hated her. She was respected. She was reasonable and a nice person who didn't like to bully. Whereas you are hated. Hated. Is it because you are hostile bullies with a sense of ridiculous entitlement? Or because you are just doing your jobs and the haters are really just one ex-member who you justifiably gave the boot to?

     - Lesley Cameron"Haters Gonna Hate" (comments)

I will give give "Absolute Write" credit for one thing though, they're very intelligent people. You see, they solved the mystery of my age. Using their version of commonsense and deductive reasoning, they were able to figure out that I am a withering and wilted old man. In a thread on their forum, they were talking about me. As everyone who has been following me knows, my age has not only been a bully obsession, but has baffled them for centuries. It's really all they can talk about... I will go on record and say that I am not one hundred percent positive that "Absolute Write" is a scam, I have no concrete proof of it, but when the owner of the site lies about her real name, and address, and has been sued on multiple occasions, then all of the signs point to ---> Buyer Beware!

     - Carroll Bryant

The main focus of Absolute Write is the "Water Cooler", a huge forum which addresses authorship of any kind. It has begun to suffer from a typical ailment that creeps in most long-standing Internet forums: the dreaded Clique Mentality. This occurs when a relatively small set of users contributes the vast majority of posts, combined with a set of unwritten rules--which are often rather unclear to anybody else than the clique itself. Hapless outsiders who violate these clique conventions will often find a mob of old-standing users pounce upon them like a group of ravenous wolves. I'm not joking--it's not a pretty sight when it happens. I have seen posters on Absolute Write being bullied merely for disagreeing with a clique member on a fairly minor matter. 

 The mob will pull any trick to discredit an outsider: ridiculing, twisting words of out context, and fairly often rather nasty personal attacks. People with few to no publishing credentials will get told that their opinions are unimportant and that their writing "likely sucks."  The irony is that most clique members are themselves writers of mediocre fare dwindling in the lower parts of the midlist, if that ...

     - Anon : The Missing Alexa Reviews

As far as I'm concerned, if a site is run this way it has no value so I will ignore it and encourage everyone to ignore it. It is run by a bunch of lower mid-list (and that may be being generous) old biddies who have nothing better to do than to dictate their rules to others. Free speech does not exist on Absolute Write and where free speech does not exist, I will not go. They talk a good game about "respect your fellow writer" but take umbrage at things in an oversensitive way and pull that respect from you without a second thought.

    - Mark Breuer : No Irish, No DGs


"Is your name or business or anything about your background now suddenly out in public, index-able by the biggest search engine in the world, thus easily allowing future landlords, mortgage bankers, employers, social directors, neighbors, enemies and friends alike to find you after typing your name in Google?... With just one click anyone can see you out there being trashed and humiliated, perhaps even lied about. And make no mistake, there is no appeal. You can't win against that mob."

If you've taken the time to click around, google the search strings about Absolute Write, you will have found dozens of personal blogs, forums, and websites critical of the cyberbully practices and bad writing advice found there. Like our blog, most of these websites include links that document the truth we have all been saying repeatedly; and now we can easily put a face to those who unflinchingly host the hostiles and sociopaths of the Absolute Writer Water Cooler (Sherman "Mac Stone" and Lisa Spangenberg).

So what are the risks to you?

And are they really worth whatever reward you believe can be gained by hanging out on their forums and chumming with potential future victims? Of course, there are a lot of former members who passed through to glorious self-publication and who never encountered the wrath of AW mods, members, or owners. That's great news. Thank the heavens they made it through unscathed. But what about those who didn't? Their stories are here. Their stories are everywhere, and more to come as the victim toll mounts.

Let's list the many risks below following a typical Water Cooler scenario that will catch you unawares and scare the shit out of you. Let's say you've taken part in a discussion about writing or another subject that causes an oversensitive or arrogant geeky moderator to go after you. What did you say? You may have simply disagreed politely, added something to the conversation, counterpointed logically because you believed it would be okay? Now, your unexpected doom arrives like a hurtling freight in the night.

Let the cyberbullying begin:
  • The moderator slaps you down with punitive measures that include humiliating you, badgering you, insulting you, and stripping your identity for public view.
  • Same as above, but a long-time or inner-circle member goes after you and does the same thing.
  • Same as above, but an owner or one of their cronies goes after you and does the same thing.
  • Same as above, but a whole mob of AW members, looking to impress the mods and owners, decides to make an example of you for days.
Is your name or business or anything about your background now suddenly out in public, index-able by the biggest search engine in the world, thus easily allowing future landlords, mortgage bankers, employers, social directors, neighbors, enemies and friends alike to find you after typing you name in Google? 

There you are. No hiding. Top of the page! 

With just one click anyone can see you out there being trashed and humiliated, perhaps even lied about. And make no mistake, there is no appeal. You can't win against that mob.

Does The Administrator of Absolute Write, Lisa Spangenberg, Actually Believe She is a Druid Witch With Powers?

An odd set of circumstances, this one. We came upon a quote by Lisa Spangenberg recently wherein she reveals herself on someone's blog as the mod who banned a particular user of Absolute Write. Then it gets rich, as follows:
"I'm the mod who banned you. I'm the person who suggested, strongly, that you research your own religion. I did that, by the way, as someone who has read somewhere around a thousand spells, and incantations, and invocations and curses in roughly eight languages, and has been invited as a witness by followers of a variety of traditions, including Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Wiccan, and two family trads, as well as more Neo Pagan druid events than I can count."
She's read around a thousand spells, incantations, curses, and so forth, plus she has attended a considerable amount of druid events. So btw, who spends gobs of time in arcane books pouring over curses and invocations to raise demons unless... 

Next we have this comment in a book review about Druid magic which states:
"Worse, there is a harsh critique of the book by Lisa Spangenberg, a noted Druid..."
A "noted druid." Okay, and now we have pages of research and writings on Druids by Lisa Spangenberg, becoming obvious as soon as one searches Google with the right search string. Look it over, will you? It really is fascinating stuff! You'll see that at times it becomes very difficult to separate a Druid from a magician or witch. It appear that Druids are inherently steeped in the imaginations of magic to one degree or another. 

Well then, what of it? If you're the least bit superstitious you might not want good old Lisa casting a spell on you. There are many sources online, but here is a primer for learning what types of magic the Druids practice (including shape shifting). 

Does this mean Lisa turns into a wolf at night and goes in search of her enemies? Or perhaps she just possesses a parakeet and flitters amongst the leaves.


  1. Uncle Jim, Hack, bully Hayden, and the self-styled experts like Macallister and Spangenberg who are fools, plus a few other authors who post in order to promote their snoozey books--Victoria Strauss for example.

    And don't forget an occasional visit from Janet Reid who dons disguises in order to trash people, plus a lot of e-book authors who write poorly but flatter each other like groupies on the Water Cooler forums.

    1. And don't neglect one of our all time favs, the snide Stacia!


      She does write a snappy narrative at times, but her actual storytelling is girly and juvenile. Course, comic books sell too--there's a readership for almost anything.

  2. PN Elrod posts there under a pseudonym but that's all I know. Uncle Jim was amazing, I can't speak highly enough of him. Too bad he's not posting anymore.

  3. You mean, this "amazing" Uncle Jim?


    Maybe he's not posting any longer because he doesn't wish to be associated with a pack of hyenas.

  4. OMG, I've heard rumors, but didn't really believe it until I saw this blog post and Lisa Spangenberg's retort: http://christineolinger.blogspot.com/2007/08/banned-at-absolute-write.html ... It really really looks like Spangenberg thinks she's a witch! And I quote:

    "I'm the mod who banned you. I'm the person who suggested, strongly, that you research your own religion. I did that, by the way, as someone who has read somewhere around a thousand spells, and incantations, and invocations and curses in roughly eight languages, and has been invited as a witness by followers of a variety of traditions, including Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Wiccan, and two family trads, as well as more Neo Pagan druid events than I can count."

    Is she or isn't she?

  5. Can we officially consider Absolute Write Water Cooler to be evil?

    "The place is just EVIL! Some of the warnings are legit, but 90 % of that site is BS. I only trust a few of the well known posters there. The attack and destroy mentality of these authors amazes me. Lurk--for the love of God--only lurk!"


  6. I was kicked off AWWC because I posted a shitty critique on twitter (never said where it came from and removed the poster's name. But now I'm banned and they called me an incurable tosspot.