I called out this strange individual a few days back.

And this is the response he emailed:

James LaPorta

Oct 5

to me

Hey son,

Long time, no chat. Appreciate the advice, but the bullshit meter is full, so unfortunately, I canít take anymore advice right now. Anytime you want to compare writing careers, Iím available.

Stay out of trouble, kid. And keep those fingers flying across that keyboard of yours, you little rascal, you.

Sincerely,

James LaPorta

--

James M. LaPorta

Journalist | Documentary Producer | Former U.S. Marine

Bylines at: The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast

(C) 202-650-0089

Twitter: @JimLaPorta

Website: www.jameslaporta.net

For Encryption: SIGNAL and TELEGRAM

Fingerprint: 1EE4 2581 B0D6 1C8E C131 A635 4EC2 B5D2 7728 669F

Confidential: This communication contains confidential and/or privileged information and is intended only for the person or entity named. Anyone other than the intended recipient, or the named recipient's employee or agent responsible for delivering this communication to the named recipient, is prohibited from reading, copying, distributing, disseminating, or otherwise using the information contained in this communication.


Compare careers? Well, I want to say upfront that popularity doesn't directly equate to accomplishment. But okay.

My first novel was Freehold.

It sold out the entire first print run in 3 weeks, was nominated for the Prometheus Award, the Compton Crook Award, and was a #3 Locus Bestseller. So against all the other SF and related titles that month--including any Star Trek, Star Wars, game and movie tie ins, it was the 3rd best seller. Eventually they did a signed, limited edition, which literally sold every copy. There are none left. (Obviously, used ones occasionally may show up on Amazon or eBay. But they're all in the secondary market.) It's in it's 5th printing.

I do credit cover artist David Mattingly, who's done album covers for The Commodores and Michael Jackson, among others, with helping it sell so well. His work is amazing.

Let's look at what James has on the market:

Wait, not even a single self-published piece of crap? At all?

Well, unless I'm missing something critical, he doesn't have a writing career.

Oh, well. Back to the one with a career: Me.

Before Freehold even was in print, I pretty much immediately landed a work for hire contract for these three books:

Which were sold everywhere, including my local Kroger. They got republished in omnibus by the Military Book Club, who rarely do fiction, preferring nonfiction.

There was a query about a Polish translation, but HarperCollins never followed through.

I did get fanmail from the 160th SOAR, including from a pilot with over 2000 flight hours, that I was able to verify.


In and amongst those, John Ringo, NYT bestseller, handed me a project someone else had devised and fallen through on. I completed it to his satisfaction, and it was a #8 Locus Bestseller. It was also a SF Book Club reprint. There's a German translation, and I'm told a Russian one as well, though I haven't seen that one.


The Weapon

This got me fanmail from bona fide SEALs and Green Berets. The kind who actually give you their class number to verify, and even their challenge coins. And from some of their support people. I'm not sure why it got a Prometheus nomination, but it did. The hardcover is collectible and sells for $100 and up in top condition, depending on how many are floating around at a given time.


Better to Beg Forgiveness...

BtBF sold out its entire hardcover print run in a month. I think it qualified for some stuff, but I mostly worry about the money. It's still one of my best sellers a decade later.


I actually wrote a big chunk of Contact with Chaos while deployed to the Sandbox in 2008, when not on long hours of duty. It kept me sane.


Do Unto Others... still sells reliably in all editions, like all my SF--Hardcover, paperback, Audible, Baen eBook, Kindle, Nook.


I wrote in this shared universe with some very well known authors, though only 1/3 the book is mine:


Rogue continue the story arc of The Weapon. Once again I got fanmail from professionals--both special operators, and investigators.


When Diplomacy Fails... is the third segment of the Ripple Creek universe. Just look for the ellipsis.


Tour of Duty compiled my existing short stories, essays and some snark, that were originally written for writers like Joe Haldeman and Mercedes Lackey. James has probably never heard of them, either. That says more about him than them.


Wisdom from my Internet was a joke, as was the publication by "Patriarchy Press" which is owned by my girlfriend--a minority female. With advanced degrees. And her own side career of writing. And a major job with a real security clearance for an aerospace contractor. It was a #1 Amazon bestseller in political humor. It got nominated for an award, and I'm relieved it didn't win. It earned money, though.


A Long Time Until Now sold out its hardcover print run so fast I barely got any. Good luck finding any.

Now, the NYT bestseller list is hard to crack, and I will freely admit I haven't managed that yet. One thing to keep in mind is for that list, it's only certain stores that count, within the week, in certain genres--they don't acknowledge Romance or Western, for example, because Romance would own the list.

Bookscan, though, monitors distribution sales and categorizes by genre. ALTUN was a National Bestseller in SF, per Bookscan. It also got a legitimate screen query from someone who does things with Universal Pictures. Let's not hold our breath--it took 30 years for Ender's Game to reach the screen. But I have the query and it's floating about.


Tick of the Clock did better than I expected for a self pub, and Travis deserves credit for being patient with me while I was somewhat sick.


Angeleyes also was a National Bestseller, and nominated for a Prometheus. Once again it was a tough, worthy field and I didn't win. That's infinitely more nominations than James, though.

I was a single parent while writing this, btw.


Forged in Blood is also a National Bestseller. It's selling and reviewing tremendously well.

That's it to date.

Well, this is pending: Tide of Battle

Which includes work I did for Kevin J. Anderson and Janet Morris. Heard of them? James hasn't, I'm sure.

And I just finished two more short pieces, one of which may become a TV project, because the person running the project actually does have TV credits. The other short may become a book, because the editor liked it that much. Note that "May" is not "Will." It's a flexible industry.

I have a collaboration on spec mostly finished.

I have contracts on another Ripple Creek and two more time travel novels, one of which is being written now.

I have another short on contract, one on spec, another collab novel on spec with a verbal go-ahead from the publisher, meaning we'll ink a contract when done or I finish some others, and another collab in the planning stages. I have about 40% of the content I need for another collection. I'm trying to organize another anthology and waiting for the publisher to look at numbers.

I'm still the stay at home parent for a three year old while doing this.

My full bibliography is here.

I have cover quotes from, among others, Locus, Analog and Publisher's Weekly.

James...doesn't.

According to associates overseas and in the US Navy, you can find my books in:

The American Book Center in the Hague and Amsterdam, and in fact, I've done book signings there.

Most military Exchanges. (I've signed at several of those, too. Ft Knox, Ft Meade, several Army and Air bases in the Middle East and Europe.)

Hong Kong.

Singapore.

The southernmost English speaking library, in New Zealand.

Oh, yes -- my publisher pays for my book signing trips and gives away free books to the troops. Because when you are a professional, your publisher has a budget to promote you.

It's not a hugely household name career like Terry Brooks or Terry Pratchet, but it does keep me in upper class lifestyle. I'm not rich, but I'm certainly comfortable.

Where can you find James' books? Trick question. He doesn't have any books.


So, let's look at James' other writing career:

  • Medium --vanity, doesn't pay.
  • Daily Beast -- as far as I know, doesn't pay.
  • WaPoo -- Now, according to professionals in the newspaper industry, op-eds that aren't penned by the hired staff don't get paid. They just offer exposure. You know, that thing you die from in winter.

Blogs and clickbait sites don't pay anyone. They can't afford to. Hell, they can't even afford facts.

Sample article: "Can Shia LeBeouf Convey The Trauma Of Combat?"

Come on, Chia the Poof can't even run a "performance art" camera of him bleating about the president.

PROTIP 1: If you're not getting paid for it, you're not a professional.

He's written a half dozen things while stringing for UPI, and man, James couldn't wait to fuck those dead bodies in Vegas to blather out his complete erroneous bullshit about how "Rifling is also the bullet weight in grains" and "a free floated barrel isn't connected to the rifle" (allegedly told to him by someone in Special Forces, even though Wikipedia or any of a thousand online fora could have explained it in small words. But I digress). The problem is, while UPI does pay a little, it doesn't pay enough to interest any professional writer. In fact, I probably got paid more for my last short story than he got paid for all of it. UTI, excuse me, UPI is for people who hope to eventually rise to the level of working for some local paper. Of course, having your alma mater Marine Corps ban you from one of their bases for interfering with a case in progress won't help your odds of getting hired.

Oh, and he's "Assistant Editor" of something called "Blue Force Tracker" which is referenced twice on Newsmax, which is almost as credible as the Weekly World News. Now, BFT is a GPS based system for watching for friendly forces. You can find a lot of that. Searching for it as a magazine, journal, paper, blog...it doesn't exist as far as I can tell. It's complete bullshit.

James says he's "Never heard of me." Likewise. Which is why I used Google before opening my trap.

He's not Walter Winchell. He's not even Clifford Simak. (I know James has never heard of him.)

I have a few articles. My unpaid stuff was for several Second Amendment sites, because I was promoting a valid cause WITH FACTS. Readership was only a couple of million people. My paid stuff has been in firearm mags, too, at up to $1/word. Including some in other countries.

Also, I prefer to use references in my articles, not vague references to someone who is claimed to have been in Special Forces:

And I'm Editor at Large for Survivalblog.com which is easy to find, has a huge following, and will acknowledge me, though to be honest, I haven't done much recently due to other commitments. But it does actually exist.

PROTIP 2: No professional is ever actually insulted by, "I've never heard of you." For example: That country music star at the shooting in Vegas? Never heard of him. I don't listen to country music. But I'm sure a few seconds on Google will find he is of note and has lots of fans and customers.


Moving on, then.

James claims to be a film producer. Well, I'm not. But I have appeared in productions, and consulted to others. For friends doing film festival stuff locally, I'm cheap or free. For some of these with national media, I billed $1000/day and got it.

So, let's check IMDB for James:

Nothing here, either.

PROTIP 3: Cell phone video does not count as professional film to anyone in the industry unless it's incorporated into something else and you're paid for it.

James knows even less about producing films than he does about firearms.


Let's check Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Z._Williamson

Here I am, though the page is out of date. I'm sure it'll get fixed eventually. I make no attempt to edit it.

James:

Not notable by their standards either, apparently.

Wow. That's 0 for 4 so far.


He does have 8 Patreon followers though.

Now, to be fair, I joined Patreon way back, and realized it didn't do anything I needed it to do since I don't produce daily content. I've never looked at it since, and have neither delivered anything nor been paid. So possibly he's the same.

I doubt it, though, since he makes a point of linking to it.

But to give the benefit of the doubt, we'll call this one a draw.


What about our former military careers?

My military career was pretty much unremarkable and I freely admit so. I enlisted in 1985, retired in 2010, had about 5 years and a bit active duty including deployment time, the rest being split between Army and Air National Guard. I helped with the Mississippi Flood in 1993 for about six weeks, have a few decorations for doing small things, and some unit decorations for maintaining an amazing level of mission accomplishment during blasting sand in the Sandbox. The unit gets credit. I was part of the unit.

Oh, I DID have 25 years of Expert ratings, competed in rifle match for the Army Guard and won trophies. And even though it wasn't my specialty, I served as an armorer, was a range safety NCO, ammo point NCO, helped my unit upgrade M16s to A2 standard, was a weapons courier.

And then in the civilian world I conduct tests and evaluations of weapons sent to me by manufacturers, such as this one.

And make my own from raw materials, such as this one:

And this one:

And custom build them to fit various users like this one:

Because really, there's nothing about a rifle that's anywhere as difficult as riding a bike.

I've furnished weapons for several TV show segments, a couple of movies, god knows how many magazine articles, and my projects have appeared on thousands of sites, dozens of magazines including Time and Der View, Forgotten Weapons and some other outlets.

Note that I did most of these while being the primary parent, and when my wife was activated, the single parent at home (then we swapped when I deployed.) (And note the books I wrote, too.)

Whereas, James was...a Marine.

Per the record someone furnished, he has a Marine Combat Action Medal [EDIT:† He contacted me and noted this is a Dept Navy award. Either way, it does show on his official record, so we'll credit him with it]. So it appears he was actually in at least one firefight, though I don't find any other decoration around his combat, which is neither bad nor good. Circumstances and leadership have to coincide for that. It appears he deployed and did his job, but damn, does he look really, really clean in that photo of him in A-stan. I never looked that clean even inside the wire, even stateside in a field exercise. Even on daily duty. I'm not one to judge. He may just be really, really good at field hygiene. Good on you, sport.

Really, really clean.

Then he was bumped to what he calls "Secret Squirrel."

I asked some actual Secret Squirrels about this--one veteran who works for a Cabinet department on terrorist activities, one field grade intel unit commander, and one actual analyst. They concurred with what I suspected.

So in actuality, he was basically a secretary who "Managed" probably 2-3 troops including himself, to bug the squad leaders to make sure their SALUTE reports (Google it) were turned in, placed into some semblance of order, handed to a compiler who gridded them for an analyst who reviewed them and sent the data to a supervisor who submitted that on a mass report to actual Secret Squirrels who then furnished the polished outcome to Command to aid in issuing orders.

Now, this is certainly important work. So is being a secretary. But it bears the same resemblance to being a "Secret Squirrel" that being a secretary bears to being a Department Manager.

It's vaguely possible he was in one of the few of these elements that actually did real intel work, but most of them were in elite units. And since James is unable to use Google to even get basic facts about the rifle he was issued correct, it seems highly unlikely he was any better in a strange country. Hell, he can barely parse English, much less Pashto.

Oh, and it turns out one of my readers was in his unit:
~~~
Coop LoPresto: Yeah, he was an intelfag that sucked at being an intelfag. Got passed over/soft-fired out of leading a CLIC during a cycle at CAX (Desert Warfare Training. Basically a final exam before your infantry BN's able to deploy to the sandbox) and before that he did retarded shit like bringing his own EoTech to ranges and field ops and shit. He was a "marksmanship instructor," as he was wont to point out, but in reality he was just a range coach because his shop didn't want him around to do any real S2 work. And was just generally disliked for both his level of competency and personality. Which is probably why he went on to break the Marines United story. I didn't interact with him enough to remember who the fuck he was until all my boys who did know who he was began to regale me with his "exploits" when I started commenting on his dumbassery.

EDIT: In email, he confirms the EoTech incident is true.† Oh, son! You just qualified a source as credible and reliable. And you worked in intel?† God help us.

~~~

PROTIP 4: "Secret Squirrel" is a joke in the intel community, because those who actually are don't talk about it. They say their job is "Boring" or they "process data" or "shuffle papers" or are "value-added paper pushers." Because actual secret squirrels have actual intel that could be of interest to foreign agencies and major corporations, and don't crave attention.

So basically, he's not a relevant writer, knows so little about weapons it's frightening the Marines let him be a grunt, but that's likely why he was "promoted" to a paperwork cell where he couldn't do any damage, and why he left a career about halfway to retirement, and doesn't seem to have any job of note. And we can deduce the probable actual reason he joined the Corps was the thrill of showering naked with twenty o/t/h/e/r/ men. (Not that I object to him showering with other men. But there are bathhouses for that. The Marines have a mission to do.)

Oh, we could also compare ASVAB scores if he wishes. Mine are simple: I maxed every category in the 99th %ile. I can scan a RIP to prove it.

I suspect James didn't. $50 on that.


Oddly, I can't find any reference to the USMC, or any other branch of the military, taking any interest at all in bumpfire stocks that somehow make weapons more powerful (By magically increasing bullet energy?), or change the rifling rate (Which is "also the bullet weight in grains"?) or improve accuracy (By disconnecting the barrel from the rifle?).

I wonder if, now that the military is aware of this awesome device, they'll upgrade all their existing inventory to be more powerful, accurate and deadly.<?p>

I have $1000 says no. Put up or shut up.

Oh, right, James. You haven't earned enough from writing to afford that. Okay. Let's make it $20.

PROTIP 5: Before challenging someone to compare careers, check Google, and be sure you have a career, not just a lame joke with no punchline.

But YOU keep pounding the keys, you little rascal, you! Work on your spelling, grammar, punctuation, structure, coherence, and of course, read some books to get some facts, and maybe someday you'll have TWENTY Patreon followers, and can earn enough per month to pay for a dinner at Denny's rather than KFC.

And if I've actually missed anything, I stand ready to be corrected. You threw down the gauntlet, I've picked it up. First shot is yours, big boy. And you know what they say about silence. (Actually, apparently you don't.) [UPDATE: see below, he proved this adage too.]

Toodles, you giant soup sandwich.

NOTE: Anyone is welcome to cite, link or copy the entirety of these contents to refute the worthless little shwit.

UPDATE: Apparently his idea of a retort is to accuse me of writing "nerd books."

Yes, well I'm about to take my royalty check from writing "nerd books" and have a $200 steak dinner and buy a $13,000 real machine gun (no bumpfire stock), because I have the disposable income to do so.

Ironically, the facts about weapons in my "nerd books" are more accurate than in his "nonfiction" "Articles."

Which is why I get paid that kind of money, and he doesn't get paid to speak of.

UPDATE: a few of the fans of those "nerd books" at a small convention just donated $17,000 to charity.†https://www.facebook.com/LibertyCon/posts/10155122920663481