Sunday, September 8, 2013

Internet Scams: Absolute Write

Okay, this is my second installment of "Internet Scams". I'm thinking this might be a regular topic around here, on The Looking Glass. We'll see. Regardless, I wanted to bring to light another possible website trying to scam unsuspecting people. In this case, new or aspiring writers. What better group of people to prey on than someone with a dream, right?

But before we get into why I hold reservations about this website known as "Absolute Write" and why I suspect them to be a scam, allow me to tell you a little story. I got to thinking that someone out there might be asking themselves, "How would Carroll know what a scam is? What makes him such an expert?" And to that I would say, "Very good question."

You see, I have an older brother, and he is a natural born con man. When I was a teenager, I looked up to him. I thought he was the cats meow. Cool, sophisticated, and everybody seemed to love the guy. He just has a way with people. It's hard to dislike him. And during my teen years, I got to hang out with him from time to time. He would let me work for him during the summers and such to make a few extra dollars. I got to hang out at his place all the time. This meant, I got to watch him in action as he would often scam people left and right. He could sell you a rock for a dollar and have you thinking you just got a great deal. You go home and show your spouse and she rips you a new one. You get upset, and go back to face off with my brother and to get your dollar back, but five minutes into your argument, he turns around and sells you another rock for twice the price. You're happy with your purchase. You get home and your spouse rips you again. Then you take one of the rocks and crack your spouse upside the head and smile. "He was right, I did need to buy these rocks!"

That's my brother. He will talk you into thinking that you want or need what he is selling. More times than not, you don't. That's not the point. The point is, my brother can scam with the best of them. And I got to watch him in action more times than I care to mention. Even when people realize later that he got the best of them through his famous grin, and wink from his baby face, they shrug their shoulders and say, "Oh well, he's such a cool guy." Nobody can get mad, or stay mad at my brother.

Every time I watched him, I would shake my head. I always wondered how these people could be fooled by him. The one thing I learned about my brother was, everything thing was a business deal. Even relationships. Friends or otherwise. He is always looking at what's in it for him. If you don't have something that he wants, there's a pretty good chance you won't be good friends with him. But he will keep you around to some degree, because in his mind, you might have something someday that he will want so ......

Anyhow, I learned all about scams from watching him. This is why it is hard to run one by me. This also leads me to the website "Absolute Write".

Now, when I first joined Goodreads back in the Spring of 2011, someone sent me a link to their site. I checked it out, reading through their forum before joining. I didn't join. My initial thought was, "This is proof the 'no child left behind' program was a complete and utter failure." There was something about these people that didn't add up. In the first place, all I saw was a bunch of gossip, and arguing. I got the feeling there was a lot of hate in these people and I wasn't about to go getting involved with a group like that.

But as the months passed, I soon forgot all about them until I got attacked by the Goodreads bullies. This is when I learned about STGRB. From there, they did a post about "Absolute Write" that soon explained why my internal alarm was ringing off the hook the first time I checked them out. It turns out that the site owner, MacCallister Stone, isn't who she appears to be. In fact, MacCallister Stone isn't even her real name. And when you're trying to decide if there is a scam in the works, I think someone who hides behind a fake name would be the first red flag that you might be dealing with a scam. The truth of the matter is that MacCallister Stone is really Lisa L. Spangenberg. (An author)




Not only that, but MacCallister, or Lisa, lists her address in Seattle, Washington. (A P.O. address) And furthermore, she really lives in California. Hhhmm, fake name? Fake address? Second red flag!

I also discovered the reason why she would probably go to such lengths to hide her true identity and address, because Lisa and her husband have been sued more times than a tabloid newspaper.

From what I have gathered, Lisa and her husband seem to hold seminars throughout the West coast. People pay to go to these seminars. I also learned that they provide "writing" services for a fee. This is when the light bulb turned on. How easy would it be to lure new and aspiring authors into their web? I mean, it's all about the money. And apparently, with all the lawsuits filed against them, most of which I understand, they lost and were found guilty of ripping people off, they do indeed fit the "scam" type.

This couple may also be largely responsible for a lot of the bullying going on over at Goodreads and Amazon Kindle Forum Boards. Here are a couple of screenshots of Lisa's GR profile, and her sock puppet, MacCallister Stone. (Provided by STGRB) Where you can clearly see some familiar bully names on their friends list. Take a look.









So I'm guessing at this point, with the members they have now, they all own several "sock puppets" each. It seems like more and more, STGRB continues to uncover these bullies and their sock puppets. It makes one wonder. I know it makes me wonder.

With all of this evidence and information, it would only be fair of me to warn any and all new, old or aspiring authors about this website. Of course, ultimately, the choice to do business with these people or even be associated with these people is completely up to each individual. However, if you do decide to get mixed up with the likes of these people, and find out later you've been scammed, don't say I didn't warn you.

My advice is, if you get involved with them, do not - under any circumstance - give them any money for anything. Period! And especially, do not send them any unpublished manuscripts to look at, review, or even edit. Double period!

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!

Trust me, no writer needs what "Absolute Write" has to offer. It is easy for people to prey on those who desperately dream of being a published writer, and have low self esteem.

To all Indie writers, I always recommend Bookbaby.com. And I advise to stay away from Goodreads if you can. I also highly suggest to tread carefully, and or stay away from the website that is called, "Absolute Write".

1) Owner has fake name and address

2) Owner has been sued multiple times

3) Their forums are nothing but gossip

4) Strong ties to Goodreads bullies


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. And because I openly admitted to reading and liking the book "Jonathon Livingston Seagull", they figured out how old I am. A tip of the my hat to you AW. Sherlock Holmes would be proud. You can see for yourself in this next screenshot by super sleuth herself, ViolettaVane. 



Yes Violetta, you got me. I read "Jonathon Livingston Seagull". I am 60 years old. That is my confession. But wait! I have another confession to make. The truth is, I also read and liked "Journey To The Center Of The Earth", by my longtime and dear friend, Jules Verne. (I just always called him Dr. J.) And as everyone knows, that book was published in 1864. My second confession is that I lied about my first confession. The real truth is, I am 180 years old.

Okay, that's not true either. Now for my most shocking confession of the day. I lied about my second confession. You see, I also read and liked the Bible. Therefor I confess the truth that I am 10,000 years old.

Am I glad to get that off my chest!

I tell you what Violetta, just call yourself stupid. 

(I told you the 'no child left behind' program didn't work)



I'm Carroll Bryant .... and this is The Looking Glass.



Things We Learned Today:


* "Absolute Write" is an "Absolute Wrong!" 

* Learn more about "Absolute Write" on STGRB

* Carroll was born 10,000 years ago




21 comments:

  1. You're a riot, Carroll! I really enjoyed this post.

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    1. Thanks. Good thing I have my riot gear on. LOL

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  2. A true rock of ages. 10,000 you say? You left a smile on my face with this one.

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    1. It left a smile on mine too when I was writing it. I mean, trying to gauge my age by the books I read. What nonsense.

      I made it public fact that when I was a young man, I started reading books based on my mothers selections. I would borrow her books. The first book I ever read was "Gone With The Wind". I saw it sitting on my mothers dresser. I also snuck into her "library" and read other books of hers that she had. One of them was "Jonathon Livingston seagull". I totally related to that story. The seagull who was different and tested his limitations. I really enjoyed it. But it was my mothers book so .... I don't know. But for Violetta Vane to come to the conclusion of my age based on the fact that I read a book? Yeah, hilarious.

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  3. The super mods on Absolute Write tell people repeatedly to learn about publishing by reading a book published in 1999. One of them probably wrote it. All the place does is bully authors of all stripes, published, unpublished, New York published or self published they WILL be bullied there if they don't agree with the crazy head admin weirdo and her multiple sock puppets and her old biddie best friends. They bully and ban anyone who disagrees with them on any point or even defends themselves against attacks.

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    1. That's been the word I've been hearing. Sounds like you know them well.

      I don't know about you, but for me, I hate seeing websites with such great potential only to be ruined by the greedy people in charge of it. I guess this is where we get the phrase "great ideas by not so great people".

      That is a phrase isn't it?

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  4. "ABSOLUTE power corrups absolutely." is the phrase that really sums it up which is funny and ironic. The head admin Spangenberg that has the sock puppet Stone is on a huge power trip over having that big board that looks great, that people want to join, but it's so insidious because it looks harmless and super fun but any of the mods that are nuts like that OldHack and Spangenberg will just randomly attack people and people can't even defend themselves their either banned or have some humiliating subnic,

    And I'm not talking about the small publishers and scam publishers that they bash, I'm talking about just writers trying to talk about any issue if a mod agrees with ANYTHING on ANY topic then they can insult, belittle and degrade that member to their hearts content and the member will be banned if they say one word in their defense or even if they say anything perceived as "snarky" back and they just play these nasty little mind games that they think are so clever, but anyone can see through them, it's just that people can't do anything much about them because it is a private business, but yes, the crazy power trip is ruining a magnificent concept and something that could be so good.

    She really doesn't have to act so crazy and nasty to keep control of her board and it's really hypocritical to let certain mods spew misinformation and throw around insults like that Old Hack.

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  5. I don't know anything about it being a money scam other than the rumour that they hired some people to teach classes freelance and then didn't pay them after the classes were run. But it is a confidence scam, in that they lure people in with the lie that their main rule is "respect your fellow author" and then powertrip on surprise dogpiling and insult slinging and then they play this game of "Oh no we didn't say anything rude, we aren't bullying wink wink" and then put some nasty subnic on the person. This is stuff I've just observed, not what was done to me, I've lurked and watched it happen to dozens of people. It's gross and disturbing.

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  6. The Absolute Write forums is just a ego trip for the owner/mods who have lost control over themselves. The tragic part is that this stops discussions about the writing craft as soon as they start getting good. An even bigger tragedy is that many new prospective buyers see the size and age of the forum as credentials of its authority. here's a tip to writers visiting them - take everything with a pinch of salt and be aware that owners, mods and several member profiles are one and the same person.

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    1. Sock puppets are the best weapon for a cyber bully. Thanks for the tip.

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  7. Macallister Stone isn't Lisa L. Spangenberg, her name is Melodi Sherman and she owns a farrier business in Seattle as well as AbsoluteWrite. Her business license for AW expired in 2009 and she has no business license for her farrier business. "Macallister Stone" is a living, breathing sock puppet. Lisa L. Spangenberg is just as complicated. All evidence points to the fact she lives in Seattle as well but likes people to believe she lives in CA or it might be too separate people. The whole thing is enough to give you a migraine!

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    1. Thanks for pointing this out. It's good to be able to put a real name - Melodi Sherman - to a bully face. I have been debating within myself to do an "update" post regarding Macallister's real identity.

      I will agree that it is enough to give one a migraine. How people like Melodi can sleep at night is beyond me. As far as I am concerned, she is nothing but a criminal. But you know, that's just my educated opinion.

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  8. Thank you Carroll for your very informative post. Didn't know until lately that McAlister Stone is actually Lisa L. Spangenberg. If figures that he/she is not real. Over the years I too have been accused of being a sock puppet on Absolute Write--or as you call it, Absolute Wrong.
    Their Bewares, Recommendations and Background Checks board have brow beat us for years. We have never scammed or taken of anyone but if you go on those boards, you would think we were related to Al Capone. I see you didn't mention Writer Beware, Preditors and Editors or the SFWA. If you are in any way associate with publishing, your name will also appear on these boards as they are very closely related. Might be fun to explore this further. Thanks again for a great post.
    Robert

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    1. It wouldn't surprise me where my name might be posted. LOL There are so many bad people (or bullies) on the internet that I have lost count a long time ago. And everyone knows I am not favored very well amongst the bad people. That's only because I stand up to bad people.

      I only post facts and my personal opinions on this blog. If I do happen to get something wrong, I own it and apologize for it. As for "Absolute Write", I haven't seen where I got anything wrong. It's a shady operation over there with some highly questionable folks involved. All writer's, new or otherwise, would be best advised to stay away from them.

      Thanks for the comment Martin Brown Publisher's. Here's wishing you all the success in the world.

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  9. Thought you'd be interested in this, especially the comments from readers: http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2014/08/query-question-absolute-write.html

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  10. I'll have to look into bookbaby, thanks! Unfortunately I never seen this post before. But what an awesome thing to find though! I might direct friends to this, if they are curious about Absolute Write.

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    1. There are a couple more of anti- "Absolute Write" blogs located on the right-bar of my blog. One is called "Absolute Wrong" and the other is "Write Absolute Reviews of Bully Board". Check them out if you get time. They know a lot more about "Absolute Write" than I do. They would be of more help. But yeah, AW is bad. Very bad. All would be wise to stay away and keep your distance.

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  11. Thanks. I tend to notice Absolute Write/Victoria Strauss/McAllister Stone is kind of 'every agent/contest/ publisher' is a scam place. I first took them at face value, but the longer I looked online, the more suspicious I got.

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  12. Carroll, can anything be said in AW's favor? I am just curious about their Bewares and Background Checks. It seems they do a lot of calling out publishers and agents that they think are scams (which seems to be everyone in their book) but have no tips on which agents and publishers are legit. Any thoughts?

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    1. I can't think of anything to say in AW's favor. From my experience, they are all pretty rotten at heart with dark souls.

      They call out people they do not like, and they do not like anyone that calls them out. They get called out a lot.

      It's hard to tell which agents / publishers are legit or not. Best advice is to always do your research.

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