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May 6, 2011

Robert Fletcher, Part VI: The Monster and the Critics
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 06:44 PM * 58 comments

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Subject: FW: Character Assassin on James MacDonald what should I do?
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Hello Jim/James MacDonald,

Someone is trying to do a character assassination on you I think. But, if it’s true, then it will certainly help us in our battle with you.

I have a dilemma, I have some info about you that I think is incorrect, but I’m not sure. Unfortunately, it’s from some criminal databases so I thought I’d contact you first before I post it to the world.

You’ve been pretty strong in posting a bunch of things about us that is hearsay and innuendo and I’d like you to reconsider what you are posting, and here’s why…

Let’s say that someone wants to do a character assassination on you. (unfortunately, someone does, and that’s what started this email to you.) So what they did is they went to the criminal records database and they found all kinds of James MacDonald crimes.. stuff that is a lot worse than you’ve seen on anyone we know. Actually if even half of these crimes done by ‘James MacDonald” are real then you’re a pretty evil person.

They then sent that material to me, knowing that we have a beef, asking me to find out if it was true, and hoping I’d promulgate it to the world.

I don’t have time to figure this out, so I’m going to post the info on a bunch of message boards (where it will never go away) and ask writers to really start digging into your background and find out if you are the criminal that all this evidence points to. I’m sure you will be exonerated, but unfortunately, once the info hits the web boards, it never goes away.

If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

Part of me wants to just ignore them, and hopefully you can use this as a chance to clean up the innuendo that prevails.

What do you think?

Should I tell them to post all this very ugly stuff, or should you and we “agree to disagree” and you can clean up all this incorrect data and character assassination stuff.

Let’s disagree about business, but all this stuff about criminal stuff doesn’t belong. He doesn’t work for us, that’s old data, and that’s a low blow, and he’s a victim of the same kind of character assassination that you find yourself faced with.

I hope you can bring this to a more professional level, once this stuff is posted, it’s fugly fast, as you’ve seen…

I don’t care if we disagree about methods, but you’re hurting people deeply now and it’s really not called for.

Let’s have some class about this, otherwise, I’ve seen what this kind of viscious posting will do.. for years and years it will haunt you.

Call us 20 Worst, or worse, but take off all the criminal and name stuff.

Thanks for being a professional about this.

Bobby has renamed his scam (again) to Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Agency (SBPRA), Publish On Demand Global, Best Quality Editing Services, and Best Selling Book Rights Agency, plus a dozen other names.

Comments on Robert Fletcher, Part VI: The Monster and the Critics:
#1 ::: Jon Rosebaugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 06:51 PM:

I'm not sure; do we classify this as attempted blackmail or extortion?

#2 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 07:05 PM:

I classify this as "amateurish".

#3 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 07:12 PM:

I note the datestamp on the email (2007) and wonder what I'm missing ...

#4 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 07:14 PM:

The first thing I noticed was that the sender didn't know how to spell "Macdonald".

#5 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 07:22 PM:

Jon Rosebaugh@1:

I'd go with, "clumsily shooting oneself in the foot while handling a loaded gun in an unsafe manner, in an attempt to impress someone who doesn't know you're a live."

It's a little long but more accurate.

#6 ::: Evan Goer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 07:25 PM:

It's high time the truth came out! Let's get the ball rolling. I, for one, can testify that James/Jim "MacDonald" Macdonald's pancakes are CRIMINALLY delicious.

#7 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 07:26 PM:

#3 ::: meredith:: See parts I-V of this series, and the two posts that precede them, for the rest of the story.

#8 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 07:28 PM:

[I'd have left out all the message headers from the MIME-Version on down - they're not really adding anything.] Was this actually sent in 2007 and you're bringing it back up, or was it actually just received and somebody's system clock is confused?

#9 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 07:42 PM:

It was actually sent in 2007, immediately preceding Fletcher's frivolous and bad-faith nuisance suit.

I did not reply to this email, since it was sent by a sockpuppet (there's no such person as this "Sherry," that's just Bobby with one of his numerous false names).

I bring it up now for reasons that seem good to me.

#10 ::: Terrence Marks ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 08:17 PM:


Statute of Limitations?

(I kid, I kid...)

#11 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 08:59 PM:

Wait, James makes killer pancakes?? I wantsss!

#12 ::: Daphne B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 09:24 PM:

@Chris: ask and ye shall receive.

For more food stuff, go to the compilation post Cooking with Light:

#13 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 09:44 PM:

Viscous postings do haunt you forever! Slowly, slowly oozing across the internet, not quite solid, yet sticky and difficult to clean off...nasty stuff, those viscous postings.

(Honestly, that right there ought to rule him out as a legitimate literary agent.)

#14 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 09:48 PM:

Heresiarch, this is old familiar stuff. That is to say, no news is goo news.

#15 ::: Ann Crispin ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 09:49 PM:

I got one of those also. The same attempt to blackmail, sent by "Sherry Fine" (one of the aliases Robert Fletcher admitted, under oath, to using in his "literary agent" business).

I didn't reply to Robert Fletcher's attempt to blackmail me, either. But I certainly saved it, as Jim did, and it came in useful when Writer Beware's attorney was petitioning Mass. Supreme Court Justice Thomas Connelly to dismissed Fletcher's lawsuit against Writer Beware. The case was indeed dismissed. Judge Connelly called it "frivolous" and dismissed it "with prejudice."

I know exactly why Jim Macdonald posted this attempt at blackmail. It's about time someone reminded Robert of his attempted blackmail.

-Ann C. Crispin
Chair, Writer Beware

#16 ::: RiceVermicelli ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 10:16 PM:

Wow, that is one freakin' clumsy blackmail attempt there. It manages to be unsubtle and incoherent at the same time - isn't there some sort of remedial writing class available for people in these circumstances, so they can turn out comprehensible extortion attempts? It's no good if your victim has to write you back and ask you to clean up your pronouns.

(Jim and Ann - I'm sure this is quite serious, and that Jim wouldn't be posting up four year-old emails from slimeballs without excellent good reason. I'm sorry you're having to deal with this trouble. Nonetheless, I am incurably frivolous, and I would enjoy seeing you hand this ungrammatical imbecile his ass. Are you bothered by the smell of popcorn? Mind if I make some?)

#17 ::: Parris ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 10:20 PM:

While I speculate on why Jim would bring this old e-mail up right now, and that's always fun to do, I also want to say thank you a hundred thousand times to Anne and Victoria, Jim and the crew here for exposing these scams that prey upon wanna-be published inexperienced writers.

Can't even count the times I've scribbled on a piece of paper the urls or search key words for SFWA, Writer Beware and ML and handed to some one I've met who's not connected to the world of professional writers and publishing and is thinking of doing some sort of self-publishing/POD project.

I can only hope some of those eager folks listened to my warnings and did the research to see if their plan was actually the result of them finding one of the scam sites/'agencies' and being told they only needed to spend $X to become a real published author with publicity and web sites and all the goodies the naïve imagine is so easy to accomplish in our genteel world of commercial publishing.

So thanks folks, I believe you've saved a lot of people from being scammed and abused, Yog is proud of you all, and keep fighting the scammers!

#18 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 10:27 PM:

Actually if even half of these crimes done by ‘James MacDonald” are real then you’re a pretty evil person.

I can't help but picture a pastiche of Daves I know with various makinglight denizens impersonating 'James MacDonald' here...

#19 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 10:47 PM:

I find it fascinating that this "Robert Fletcher" person appears to think (or to be trying to make others think) that all of the Internet Records involving James/Jim MacDonald/Macdonald/McDonald/Mcdonald apply to one specific entity. I'm not sure I'd believe him if he turned up reasonable evidence that you were cited by the Police for exceeding the legal speed-limit once, back in 1993, or something like that.

#20 ::: Nightsky ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 10:52 PM:

I, for one, can testify that James/Jim "MacDonald" Macdonald's pancakes are CRIMINALLY delicious.

I second this accusation. I have adopted his remarkable pancake recipe as my own, to the delectation of friends and family. Visitors from France were so impressed that they vowed to track down buttermilk in France. My nephew thinks I'm the best cook in the world.

This joker's risible attempts at blackmail are much less delicious.

#21 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 10:54 PM:

Well, I know only one James Macdonald, so there can't possibly be any others, right? Right?

#22 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 11:00 PM:

I can testify, 'pon my oath, that Jim Macdonald has been known by ALL AND SUNDRY to produce TORTURED HOWLS and GALES of mirth from an ENTIRE AUDIENCE of gentlefolk. And that he did so with INTENT, while engaging in the LIBELOUS PLAGIARISM CONTEST known as the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose competition.

Furthermore, I can attest that I intend YET AGAIN to subject myself to this FOUL contest of LOW HUMOR. For verily, Jim is fucking hilarious.

#23 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 11:19 PM:

If I was in that person's shoes, I'd carry an umbrella to keep the snake shit off my hat.

#24 ::: Martin Haywood ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2011, 11:35 PM:

There may be good reasons for posting a four year old email. I'm inclined to believe that that's the case because from reading this column I've formed a high opinion of the thoughtfulness and integrity of its authors. Just the same, without that understanding I'd be cautious - why choose now to air this (in internet terms) ancient self-incrimination? In what game does the author involve his readers?

Jim, you don't owe us an explanation if you will not or cannot give it, but without that you are, I hope you realise, asking a favour of us all.

#25 ::: Christopher B. Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 12:03 AM:

Man, I HATE when someone tries to do a character assassination on me. You're very lucky this fake person took the time out of his and/or her imaginary schedule to warn you about the dangers of telling the truth unprofessionally.*

*"unprofessionally," from the Latin "accurately point out when con men are ripping people off."

#26 ::: Chris Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 12:58 AM:

Martin: What favour is Jim asking of us? To trust his judgement in this matter? Well, I trust his judgement based on reading a lot of past posts by Jim and other writers.

Don and HelenS: I think "Sherry" knows full well that there are lots of James Macdonalds (or variations) out there. That was part of the blackmail. It was essentially saying "there must be lots of names like yours in criminal databases and it would be really easy to put them all on a website and even if they had nothing to do with you, it would be a real headache for you trying to prove you weren't involved in all these criminal chrages." Or to put it another way, "Nice name you got there. Shame if anything was to happen to it."

#27 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 01:28 AM:

"It's my object all sublime, which I shall achieve in time, to make the punishment fit the crime..."

"Er, what crime, Boss?"

"Beats me, Sherry, but I'm sure we can find something. After all, some things are allowed to be untrue. Though I doubt we can pin elliptical balls on the bastard. Take a letter!"

(Yes, folks, that was a twisted cue...)

#28 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 01:43 AM:

Actually, I'd say that "because I felt like it" would be a good enough reason to post this particular four-year-old email, for me. What the heck, anything that reminds people of the existence of Fletcher and ilk seems like a good and useful posting, no matter how dated the email that serves as the occasion for said reminder might be.

#29 ::: Lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 02:16 AM:

To my limited knowledge (IANAL!) this mail is a neat checklist of some of the requirements for a successful libel case under US law.

It has almost everything! There's evidence that the statements were made without adequate research ("I don’t have time to figure this out"). If they tried to argue that Jim was a public figure, no matter: the mail has intent to do harm ("for years and years it will haunt you") and reckless disregard for the truth ("I’m sure you will be exonerated").

All that's lacking from this email (IIUC) are the actual libelous statements, and evidence of actual harm incurred. They should give this one to law students as a fun warm-up exercise.

Christopher B. Wright @ 25:

I think I've noticed that whenever somebody asks me to be "a professional," "a team player," or (ug) "a dude about this," they are about to try to pull a fast one on me. Ineptly.

#30 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 06:29 AM:

First thing is, Bouncing Bobby (since he doesn't know much about books and writing, or the selling of same to the public) thinks that being a known criminal is a bar. It isn't. E.g.: Willie Sutton; Edward Bunker.

Next, when he claims that "he doesn’t work for us," that's a lie: While a sockpuppet can send an email, you have to file a lawsuit under your real name, and guess who turned out to be still right there.

As to "... and he’s a victim of the same kind of character assassination that you find yourself faced with," well, the street address in the official Washington State court papers demanding that Robert M. Fletcher pay a $50,000 fine (plus restitution) for jiggery-pokery with stocks exactly matched the contact address for Robert M. Fletcher in the WHOIS for his then-current agency website. I'm reasonably sure it's the same guy (unless there are two different Robert M. Fletchers living there, one wearing a little halo and the other with little devil's horns).

Last, if I'm "a pretty evil person," the wisdom of attempting extortion could be called into doubt. (Would you want to tick off someone who shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?)

#31 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 08:55 AM:

I'd assume that Jim reposted it now, because with the latest round of action surrounding "Bouncing Bobby", it's just about time for Bobby to start in with another round of threatening and bad-mouthing the folks who are standing up against his offenses. Good time for a reminder of just how empty and impotent Bobby's threats really are. (Not to mention self-destructive!)

#32 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 08:55 AM:

Last, if I'm "a pretty evil person," the wisdom of attempting extortion could be called into doubt. (Would you want to tick off someone who shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?)

ObBujold: "So if you truly believe that, why are you standing in my way?"

#33 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 10:54 AM:

Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington summed up my reaction to this, but then again I have an irrational reaction to threats that has gotten me into a fair amount of trouble over the years.

#34 ::: Victoria Strauss ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 11:19 AM:

I didn't get one of the blackmail emails. I did, however, get three separate lawsuit threats, prior to Fletcher's launching of his frivolous lawsuit. We referenced these threats, as well as the blackmail attempts on Jim and Ann, in our successful motion to recover our legal costs after the case was dismissed with prejudice.

#35 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 11:28 AM:

You guys are doing good work. I am not currently trying to publish anything, but the effort is appreciated nonetheless.

#36 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 01:54 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II #33: Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington summed up my reaction to this


#37 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 02:48 PM:

[*] Famously: "Publish and be damned!"

#38 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2011, 11:29 PM:

“Thanks for being a professional about this.”
gotta love it

#39 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2011, 12:22 AM:

ObBujold: I trust the best revenge is not going to occur in this case?

#40 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2011, 06:49 PM:


I have a shopping bag here if you need one, Jim.

#41 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2011, 08:24 PM:

Pyre #37: thanks.

#42 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2011, 08:11 AM:

- # 40 (Bruce Cohen)

From what I have read on this case, the relevant carrying object was a self-selected platter of some sort

#43 ::: Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2011, 11:19 AM:

"There may be good reasons for posting a four year old email."

I thought it was because Robert Fletcher was actually a nom de guerre for Osama bin Laden. Have they ever been seen in the same room together?

#44 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2011, 01:52 PM:

A bit of Googling gave me this:

Jersey Shore star publishing a tell-all book.

Something also came up in a database of Florida caselaw, but I can't access it without a subscription.

#45 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2011, 02:22 PM:

Bouncing Bobby hopes to have a six figure deal for the book rights inked by May? Well, I hope to have my Nobel Peace Prize announced in October.

There's no way in heck any legitimate publisher would touch that book. It'll wind up vanity-published. (Maybe that's the "six figure" deal Bobby's hoping for.)

BEA is May 23-26. My bet: No big announcement.

#46 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2011, 02:28 PM:

I thought it meant Bobby was hoping to get six figures from the sucker author.

Also, is that six figures to the left of the decimal point, or six figures total (including the two to the right of the decimal point)?

#47 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2011, 02:54 PM:

Even vanity-published, the publisher can still get in trouble.

Hey, Bobby, I know you're reading this. Check this out. Word to the wise, buddy. Word to the wise.

#48 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2011, 03:53 PM:

(re: #16)

Tired of having your scams fail, your sock-puppets unmasked, and your threat letters met only with derision? We can help!

Traditional crime organizations are impossible to break into without knowing someone, but smart and skilled cheats know that self-crime is the wave of the future. Let us show you the way. For a mere $1500/1k words (50% cashiers-check deposit required upon submission) we will thoroughly evaluate your scam and threat letters and help you stand out from the casually lame and sleazy. You too, with our professional help, can achieve the pinnacle of Total Snakey Wankerness!

In addition to our professional-level editing and advising services, for an additional fee we have specially-trained operatives ready to fill the Internets with hyperbole-saturated exposition on the superb weaseliness of your scam. Our premium White-Glove Sock-Puppetry service includes not only an instant "fan-base", but we will, at your direction, impersonate YOU. Yes, you! No more need to troll the message board and forums yourself, looking for mentions that cast you in a negative light. No! We can Godwin's Law any conversation in one post. We are skilled flouncers. We have many lawyers, members of law enforcement, and government agents we pretend to know. We are willing to resort to personal attacks and desperately scatological crudity, backed up by impeccably flawed logic. We are fully licensed in the Three Bs: Bluster, Bile, and Bloviation. In short: we can *be* you for you.

Why be just another little jerk in a big scummy pond? Send your check now, and invest in your own future!

#49 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2011, 04:17 PM:

Maybe he thinks you're the character from Coronation Street.

#50 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2011, 06:37 PM:

Craig R. @ 42:

From the end of Chapter 18 and the beginning of Chapter 19 of Barayar:

There, at the bottom of the wardrobe, was a sturdy plastic bag containing several pairs of Kareen's shoes, no doubt hastily transported by some maidservant when Vordarian had Imperially decreed Kareen move in with him. Cordelia emptied out the shoes, stumbled back around the bed, and collected Vordarian's head from the place where it had rolled to a stop. It was heavy, but not so heavy as the uterine replicator. She pulled the drawstrings tight.

< Snip >

She gathered up the yellow plastic bag. She noted ironically that it bore the name and logo of one of the capital's most exclusive women's clothiers.

#51 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2011, 07:03 PM:

Suzanne @48: Where did you find that? Something seems not quite right about it. Usually scammers are not that self-aware and their writing isn't that clever.

That reminds me, I should see if I can dig up that Irk/Sock slash fiction someone sent me.

#52 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 12:13 AM:

TomB #51: I made it up.

Irk/Sock? I am strangely intrigued.

#53 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 12:34 AM:

Suzanne: That sounds like a great business model. I'll be it could actually be made profitable. I wouldn't even feel guilty about doing it; so long as I didn't have to be horrid to the people I was being bilious at.

#54 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 03:29 AM:

Suzanne @48: Love it! Thank you for the chuckle.

#55 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 04:10 PM:

Suzanne, I strongly suspect that TomB knew you made it up, and was either paying you a compliment, commenting ironically on the nature of real scammers, or (most likely) both.

That's what I assumed when I read his comment.

#56 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 06:12 PM:

#55: Yeah. I plead minor concussion as a cause for any slowness on my part.

#57 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2011, 06:38 AM:

You know that tell-all book Bobby was planning to get a six-figure deal for (posts 44-47)?

Not so much. Bobby's a named defendant now.

Next time, Bobby, listen to me.

#58 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2011, 01:57 PM:

Wow. Can you say "Life imitates art"? I knew you could.

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