Saturday, April 28, 2012


More than twenty-thousand. That's how many times a story of mine has been downloaded or otherwise bought between May 2010 when I began this self-publishing experiment, and today, the end of April 2012. I'm not sharing that number to brag, but rather to convey my total shock at how many people have potentially read my work. The better share of those have been free downloads, so it's not like I've gotten rich off this thing, and in fact I can safely say that any money I've made has been invested right back into marketing myself, with a giveaway here and an order of bookmarks there. On the other hand doing all the formatting and design-work myself has kept my costs low, and that means that while my writing hasn't made me much money, it hasn't lost me any, either. That's been an important factor in keeping this whole experiment away from the territory of "it's a shame what happened to that guy" and safely in the realm of "as long as it makes him happy".

So all I've really put into this has been my time, two years of it, which of course is valuable in its own right. Time is money, etcetera, and that's not even talking about all the hours I've spent of my life writing, all that putting words down and deleting them, all that editing and thinking and focusing on things that aren't real. Good practice, all of it, and all of it taking up time. I could have had a complete second job in that time and been making real money, but how much of our time do we really spend doing things of actual value, versus time wasted watching television and sitting on the internet, playing games or screwing around in the yard? I would argue that I didn't waste any of the time I spent writing. I would argue that I did have a second job.

The reason I'm thinking about all of this is the same reason I came up with that big number I mentioned. You see I had to crunch some numbers because there's someone who has expressed strong interest in being my manager, someone who can help me develop my work and put it in front of the right people. Back before May of 2010 I was doing my best to get someone's attention, anyone who might be willing to represent me and get my name out there, but when that proved to be difficult I changed directions and dove into the new arena of self-publishing that was happening around me. Now two years later one of those people has contacted me, and he did it because he read a few of those things I'd self-published and saw some something in them. And he's even a nice guy.

Nothing is official yet, and I may be talking about this too early if the whole deal ends up falling apart in my hands (though so far I don't see it happening), but even then I would treat this experience as a success, because I did what I set out to do- I got someone's attention, not by way of gimmicks or shouting at them, but by the merit of my work, or at least the potential in it. It's either ironic or very fitting that this comes so soon after someone tried to use my writing against me, to defraud a bit of cash out of me, because even when that setback happened I didn't let it frustrate me, and instead made a conscious effort to take it in stride and laugh it off (see my last post). For now at least good things are happening, and its given the last two years a sweet validation, to know that even if it may take a while to go from the place I am now to a place where I don't need a day job anymore, but can rather support my wife and myself with my work, the waiting will be easier, and angled increasingly upward. If nothing else I've earned myself more than twenty-thousand pairs of eyes to watch me stumble there.

Sunday, April 01, 2012


I was recently contacted by someone named Terry James who inquired about having me edit an article of his for pay. I don't normally do this kind of thing, but I have considered it in the past as a source of side-money, and as luck would have it I'm in a brief lull between projects at the moment. So I figured, what the hell. The hell was, Terry turned out to be a check scam artist. Luckily I figured this out before I got burned and, deciding to have fun with the situation, I sent Terry what I thought was an appropriate response. What follows is our entire exchange.

Him: Hello,

            How are you doing today and am Terry James.I want to know if you will be available for rewriting and editing job,the document is attach to the mail and I will wait for your quote.Hope to read from you soonest.

Kind regards,

Attached was a file labeled "English.doc" which contained seven pages of broken English. Here's a sample sentence: "Addiction is a chronic brain disease often recurs, despite harmful consequences for thepeople around himself and has fallen into the addiction, the drug asked for it is they cannot become."

Me: Hi Terry, 

I'm not sure what kind of budget you were looking at, but this does require some pretty extensive editing work. If you tell me your price range I can tell you if I would be right for you or not.

Take care,
-Brian M.

Him: Hello,

             Thanks for your swift response and am very happy to read from you,i want it rewrite and edited also I will pay $250.

The document is base on drug so we want to use to it to create more awareness on drug for those who abuse it and the article will be read by teenagers.

I want it back in 20 days however the payment will be through Check so send me your name and address with phone number where the payment will be mail to and i got your detail at a writer website,hope to hear read from you soon.

I wish you a pleasant day.

Me: Terry,

That sounds reasonable to me, and I can have it in the time you're asking. I have a fairly good understanding of what you need but if it's alright with you I might ask you a question or two during the process in case I need some clarification as to what you're going for.

As far as payment I would prefer to use PayPal. I can supply you with my account if you're able to pay that way, but if you need to pay by check I would respectfully ask for a money order/bank check/etc. I certainly don't want to cause any problems with this, I've just found it to be better for everyone involved and so it makes everyone happier.

Let me know if you want me to go ahead. I look forward to hearing back from you.

-Brian M.

Him: Thanks for your mail and i can work with money order so send me your name and address with phone number,awaits your mail soonest.

Me: Sounds good to me, here's my info: (REMOVED)

Him: Morning,
                Thanks for your mail and how is your day going? Some people request for Editing to be done and run away with your money,i do have a personal editor but right now she is sick that is why am looking for a competent and trustworthy editor.I have gave a job to a editor and paid him advance and he did run away with my money and i don't want to be a victim anymore but am ready to give you a chance which i will pay you upfront because there are many jobs we are going to do together.This is a charity which help less privilege kid around there world also the money is needed for Republic of Vanuatu relief,I hope you understand me.

(Note: Here's where the bomb drops.)

However,my sponsor notify me that the check has mail out and there was a mistake with the amount on the check which is $2000 so what i want you to do know is get it cashed and you will send the difference back to us after you have deduct your money so you will send it to us through western union,you are saving a million lives and may God almighty bless you as you do so.Awaits your mail soon.

I wish you a pleasant weekend


A classic check scam. Spoiler alert: the money order is a counterfeit, which I wouldn't learn until after cashing the check and wiring him the cash. The bank would come calling for their money back, and I would be forced to pay them out of pocket, unable to retrieve what I'd already wired.

And so, brushing the dust off my shoulders, I wrote Terry the following reply.

Dear Terry,

There's something fishy going on here, and I think I've figured it out. All this time I've been trying to figure out what you are based on the style of speech in both your emails as well as the file you sent me for editing. Your address says you reside in Anchorage, Alaska, however your English says otherwise. Your last email, though, gave me the final clues I needed to figure it out, and I can finally say with confidence what you really are.

A real-life Nigerian prince! Terry, why didn't you just say so? All this time I've been speaking with a member of royalty and never knew it. I know you mentioned the Republic of Vanuatu, but I recognize a prince when I see one. You don't have to be modest with me. I hear about you folks all the time at my day job but I never thought I would have the wonderful privilege of directly speaking with one. Well, regardless of the outcome of the job you've offered me, thank you so much for the honor of communicating with someone of your stature, even if being a prince in the extant kingdoms of Africa is mostly nothing more than a genealogical assertion of a legal claim to a throne regardless of how remote the possibility of ascending to it is. (Source:

In our previous emails you were eager to learn my address, and I take that, as I believe I should, as a genuine interest in my personal life. There's not much to say, really, except that I'm happily married, have a deep love for animals, especially dogs, and am admittedly a bit of a film buff. Well I suppose I could tell you what the day job is that I previously mentioned. I work at a bank, one of the larger ones. While it isn't my dream job (writing is, as your research turned up), it does offer some other advantages. For instance one would be education on all things financial, including some of the more unsavory aspects such as identity theft and e-mail scams. These are a part of life, sadly, but then again scum has been walking the Earth since long before you or I had our turn on it, and these things are only modern variations on old tricks. Instead of being pessimistic about the whole thing I prefer to keep a positive attitude, knowing that people are genuinely good and it's a small percentage of the population that gives the rest a bad name. It's easy to think that all people are bad when you hear so much of this sort of thing, but in reality it's only because crimes are what get the news coverage, never the acts of kindness both small and large that decent people show each other every, single day. Obviously I don't need to tell you that, being someone involved with a charity that benefits children.

Well I'm going off on a rant here. I have to apologize for that, Terry. I suppose it's just I feel we already have a strong connection. I trust you, as I hope you trust me.


P.S., Sorry for the small delay in responding to your email, there was a small matter to attend to first with the FTC. Take care, and I look forward to receiving your totally real check.

(FTC is the Federal Trade Commission, who I reported him to before sending the email)