How The MMSL Sausage is Made

I tried to break from nursing in 2006 go into real estate sales. You can match the exact hour the bottom fell out of the housing market to getting my real estate license printed. Maybe it’s my ego talking here, but I’m pretty sure the housing crash was my fault.

I tried way too hard and too long. We basically lost our entire nest egg trying to make a go of real estate.

I went back to nursing in 2008.

By late 2009 it becomes apparent that the lack of pay raises from our non-profit jobs and increase in fuel / heating oil is slowly taking us down and we need either to bail on the house, or we need 10-12k increased income a year.

Also by late 2009 it’s become apparent that I have the prototype ideas for MMSL and they seem potentially marketable. Jennifer and I have a long talk about it, it’s going to be on my real name. I’m out of ideas for how else we can get ahead. This seems like it. Jennifer agrees.

Jan 2010 I start the MMSL blog, the goal being to write the blog, turn it into a book and make MMSL my “part-time job” hopefully making that 10-12k a year. We’re still drifting backwards into debt though. Hopefully the Blog to Book approach turns into a Book to Expert jump as well. Expert gets the big payoff… eventually.

In mid 2010 we cashed out my quite moderate 401k to pay down credit cards and have money to promote the then to be written Primer. In August 2010 we spent a fair amount of that cash to say goodbye to dad in New Zealand. He died in November 2010. I wasn’t a happy camper then.

2010 winter was beyond horrible with oil heat and record snow. Furnace broke. Both cars needed $1000 repairs. We can’t pay the mortgage by Feb 2011.

Defer the taxes and publish the Primer end of March 2011 with literally no money for anything other than uploading the book. That’s why the cover looks like it does.

Get offered national media attention due to a viral post about Jennifer and I having sex nearly every day of our marriage. Inside Edition calls, we get interviewed and are on national television. We are now 100% public and basically outed in real life to any and all friends and family… and our jobs as well. We get dragged to Human Resources for being dangerously monogamous or something. The blog gets an extra 800 hits, no sales spike. Inside Edition was pointless. Fuck.

At least the the Primer income keeps us afloat all 2011. I think I get to actually spend my first “book money” for something fun around Thanksgiving 2011.

Primer keeps selling, by March 2012 I’m basically exhausted from working nursing full time and answering 2-4 hours of email a day for MMSL. Put my notice in. Done with nursing in May 2012.

Try writing revised Primer. Bleh. Have an outline, but really just feels like moving everything around rather than “better”. I give up trying to write the Primer second edition.

State of Connecticut says I can’t do MMSL stuff as coaching as it is too close to marriage counseling. Ugh. Start the MMSL forum instead… see where that goes.

Try writing revised Primer second attempt. Bleh bleh bleh. Just shuffling things around rather than improving them. Give up again.

Primer still selling reasonably well. Have a seminar retreat weekend for the Army. Goes fairly well, but endless drama before the weekend getting books printed for the weekend. Endless drama getting paid after the weekend. Final summary, about six weeks work prepping for weekend, final summary made about $2000 after expenses. Army funding change, no further interest in more retreats.

Make third attempt to revise Primer, hate it. I get about 20% into writing it and just feel overwhelmed with dread, depression and darkness. It’s good writing, but… still meh.

Hatch plan for little “Red Pill Rule Book”, make great progress and get to 95% complete. Put on hold due to interest from third party in turning everything into a partnership and bringing everything to market as a seminar empire. I have intellectual capital, they have financial capital and prior experience in training industry. Needs a new Primer revision to base everything off. Okay. Doing it. We’re on our way finally. Jennifer stops being “supportive wife” and becomes “believing wife”, a subtle but important change.

Running the forum slowly sucking the life force from me. It’s meant to suck up all the email contact I was trying to handle, but never quite becomes something I can step away from without running off the rails.

Dec 2012 – Feb 2013 making some progress on bringing revised Primer content… the fourth attempt at it. Insights from the forum are useful. Fly to California for meet and greet with potential partner. All going well. All going well. All going… silence… dread… fuck. Partner reports his wife will likely become screaming banshee and destroy everything publicly. I’m out. About as mutual and sad of a parting of the ways as anyone could expect. Truly.

I ask Jennifer to be CEO of whatever it is I do. Her Pepper Potts, me Tony Stark. She accepts. We brainstorm new approach. Go time.

March 2013. I start writing the Primer revision for now the fifth time. BEAST MODE ACTIVATED. I’ve got everything now. This is a true Primer revision. It’s like the old Primer, just better laid out, more insight, fixing everything. Stronger, harder, richer, funny as hell and darker. Much darker. It’s truthful, but brutal as a runaway combine harvester. I have 80 pages of perfect pain written… and I can’t write anything more. It just feels so… wrong.

April 8th 2013 I throw them all away…

Jennifer:  That has a sense of doom to it.

Athol:  Oh. It’s meant to be a cliffhanger.

Jennifer: You kinda suck sometimes you know that right?

Athol:  I’m adorable though.

Jennifer:  /sigh  Dammit.



  1. DC Al Fine says:

    HR was concerned about you having sex with your wife who is in no way connected to work?!

    Those guys are more and more out of touch every day.

  2. Thinksalot says:

    You can’t throw out something like, “brutal as a runaway combine harvester” without backing it up with some ag cred.

    Also a great illustration of the power of frame. I suspect a lot of marriages have been killed by a lot less because the man let the situation dominate him.

  3. The housing and stock market collapses of the 2006-2008 timeframe are probably going to go down as some of the worst economic times in our nation’s history! Your fast track back to success is a testament to you hard work, discipline, and sound advice on helping improve the marriages of your fellow citizens of the world. I am wishing you and Jennifer expanded and continued success moving forward! Also, if you need a part time break from MMSL, I speak with lots of realtors, etc, and housing sales are picking up… The timing for your original plan was off, but it might be worth a dabble again…

  4. Don’t quit on it. Your “coaching” has made a positive change in my life and my wife approves. The MAP does everything and you need to run with that. This will be mainstream in the near future and you will be on the forefront. Let the forum regulars police themselves and focus on yourself and the primer. I will buy it again.

  5. pdwalker says:

    HFS. You’re scaring me.

  6. I know that feeling of dread and disinterest. It happens to me when I try and go back and improve illustrations or paintings I’ve done . As an artist it’s easy to look at your work and see what you could improve, but sometimes you just need to leave it, appreciate what you have done, acknowledge you’ve grown, and look forward to new creations. Your book is brilliant, it has an audience, and is selling. Time to write a fresh new book so you can create a fresh income while still enjoying the income from your last. You clearly have a strong female audience who would appreciate mwsl, me being one of them.
    I personally know very well how difficult it can be to create your own artistic career, and how easy it is to spin in circles not knowing what next. Try to relax and the next idea will come.

  7. pdwalker says:

    Didn’t you hide a paypal link on your site somewhere?

  8. 2008 hit me pretty hard as well, after losing my job and unable to find any other we moved to China so I could teach English (plan B).

    2013, back home and doing well with work, house etc. after abandoning plan B.

    Keep pushing.

  9. A couple of thoughts.

    1. If you want to provide coaching and Connecticut is giving you a hard time maybe think about moving to another state.

    2. I hope you weren’t being literal by indicating you threw out 80 perfect pages. I write constantly for my profession. I have found that after I’m finally happy with the 5th or 6th version the best thing I can do for my writing is to reread the 1st, 2nd, 3rd versions that I thought were crap because they invariably contain at least a couple of true nuggets that vastly improve the final version I was about to send off.

    3. You want to start a seminar business? Read Dan Kennedy’s stuff. Then read more of his stuff. Even if you have to bootstrap the enterprise it is very doable. Dan is an arrogant SOB and GKIC (the company that sells his stuff) will happily get their hooks into you and keep reselling you the same basic stuff over and over again by just renaming it and shuffling around the content. I would never recommend them except for on for one vital fact. I have read hundreds of books and materials on small business and marketing. Nobody comes even close to Dan Kennedy’s stuff. Particularly if you want to build an information based marketing business. His mass market books should be available for free through the local library. His extremely expensive programs are generally deeply discounted on ebay.

  10. Keep holding to your voice, I recommend your books and website to more than 30 people a week. This is a song you were born to sing.

  11. Johnny Utah says:

    I notice that you don’t mention the second book, How to Answer, “Do these pants make my ass look fat.” Has that made a difference from an income perspective? I already have the primer, but I will also purchase the other book today.

    The Pants book is a small trickle of income.

  12. please, please, pretty please show us your new book.

  13. Thank you sir for this peak at what’s been going on. So many have bought and spread the word but takes a lot of effort to keep this enterprise going. You’ve alluded to many of those items, but this was the first you’ve really pulled back the curtain. I hope you obtain what you seek and can make this work. You are helping a lot of people who choose to listen. Good luck!

  14. CT is one of the most expensive states to live in. Is Jennifer’s family there?

    Move to a state with no income tax on the border of a state with no sales tax. Then shop across the border. {:-)

    Yeah I know a move is huge, but that’s what keeps sticking in my mind.

    Wyoming has the highest divorce rate, and are trying to pass laws to require counseling before divorce to quell the trend. Perhaps that state would be more accommodating to “sexual counseling”. Plus, no state income tax, and you can burn wood and coal for heat.

    Not to mention the fact that it is the most beautiful of all 50 states, and while the 9th largest state, its the least populated with barely half a million people in the whole state. Great place to raise teenage girls.

    Only downside: EVERYONE knows EVERYONE. There is no “anonymity” in Wyoming. (grew up there for the first 18 years of my life. . . .miss it like crazy)

  15. Mr_Brown says:

    How do you keep a MAPper in suspense???

    I’ll tell you later!

  16. Peregrine John says:

    Wait, go back a second to that “screaming banshee” thing. There’s an interesting story in there.

    Plus what Sis and Weston said.

  17. “dangerously monogamous” That’s gold right there.

  18. Keoni Galt says:

    E Pakeha,

    I rarely comment and I haven’t signed up for the forum, but I read both here and the forum all the time! You’re doing great work in the forum, and I think you really should set up a donate button linked to the forum.

    i.e. here in Hawaii, we have a bunch of small business owners like chiropractors and dentists who understand the tough economic times we’re all living in, and they offer there services with a voluntary pay box, in which they ask their clients to pay what they can afford and what they think is worth it for the services they received. One guy I know says he actually makes some pretty good $$ from that box – not as much as insurance billings, of course, but it’s something!

    Do the same for the forum. Ask those who’ve been helped out by the forum for donations. I’m sure there are a lot of guys and gals who would consider the life changing help and advice they’ve received would be willing to put some extra $$$ towards the MMSL biz beyond just buying the book!

  19. I wish I had some advice to give… but I hope empathy will suffice (I am a writer who would love to publish). Thanks for telling your story. I too love your writing style and have purchased one of your books… and I enjoy your straight-forward, no-nonsense attitude. You have a gift to see emotional things like marriage and relationships and distill it down to very logical, helpful, and practical observations. It would seem you could capitalize on your nursing background in some way… When I think of all of the self-styled experts out there who barely have a HS degree, that irritates me. Texas-no taxes, no heating oil prices in most of the state, and cheaper gas and cost of living. I can’t believe I’m recommending this, because I’m east-coast all the way…

    I know you can’t change your stripes, but the fact that you at some point in your life seemed to be a Christian… the call for this type of counseling in church circles would seem to be enormous, however without a track-record in a faith-based setting, it might be tough. If you haven’t been over to Focus on the Family and their marriage ministry, check it out. You are preaching it.

  20. Milf-in-Training says:

    If you want to donate, Athol doesn’t have a Paypal button … but you can buy the Forum Orientation ebook. It’s available at varuios prices, from free to … a lot.

    I’m looking forward to whatever you come out with next, Athol. Sending lots of encouragement your way.

  21. I bought one of the Forum Orientaion books. Since it helps Athol and J do their great work it was a bargin for $50.00. I had asked for a donate button too, but buying a copy of the orientation book works just as well. Thanks A and J. Please do finish the new book. I will buy multiple copies of it.

  22. Over It says:

    How about getting some of your best fans to help run the forum? Name a couple superstars to be moderators, and let them deal with most of that day to day stuff? Or get an MMSL intern?

    The tough part is turning your writing into a product. Have you thought about doing class type things with MMSL? I’m thinking of the ones I’ve seen offered at There’s different categories, depending on your issues, which is something I could see working well for MMSL components.

  23. Y’all have been through things that would have torn up some marriages, multiple times. Wow.

    Can’t wait for the new book to come out so I can buy 20 copies. ;)

    (Also, I’d be really interested to read the darker version…)

  24. Arlequin says:

    Do you call it sausage because you are an organ grinder par excellence or because you’re not sure what’s in it, but you don’t really want to know?

    I think I’m the sausage.

  25. alphaguy says:

    Your experience matches mine. Long story but a failed business and drained my 401k, I am back to the corporate hamster wheel, but the pay is so good. Wife is very happy with the money!

    Good job on finishing the new book! I will read it as soon as I can download it.(Please make sure you get a good table of contents in the Kindle edition)

    I think the marriage counseling thing is such a crowded field, I would stay away from anything that looks like that. Just keep writing… Check out Dr. Robert Glover’s website for some ideas. He has completely revamped his site recently.

    I still don’t know why you don’t put advertisements on your site. This is how people make money in this day and age. I make hundreds of dollars from a website that gets maybe 2000 visitors a day. You likely get way more. You are leaving cash on the table my friend…

  26. I'm a man says:

    A couple points:
    1) new ideas and businesses attract a lot of people who want to “do business” with you…and mostly waste your time and energy. proceed with caution. And have a “show me the money attitude”.
    2) Hire a business coach
    3) re-write the book so its not so damn dark. seriously you want to grow your audience.
    4) Hire an editor
    5) Alpha up and crank it out like the Rolling Stones. Those boys know how to get stuff done!

  27. technovelist says:

    Second on publishing the dark stuff as a separate book. For advanced users only, of course.

  28. keep at it, I’m sure it will pay off in time and you will have the satisfaction of a job completed

  29. C. Olson says:

    Athol, the reason the Daily Mail and Inside Edition didn’t pan out is because it didn’t sound remotely believable. Sex every night of your marriage? Come on. I’ve been married nearly 20 years and sex didn’t happen many times because of varying reasons: terrible pregnancy, sick kids, husband in the hospital, kids being pests, me having surgery, being angry at each other, kids throwing up in our hair, death of a dear friend, job loss, illness of a family member, me having cancer. THAT is believable. Saying we have sex every night and keeping count of 5,000 or whatever is not. In the words of my husband who also read your book, “If you REALLY have had sex every day of your marriage, f@ck writing a book about how to make a marriage work and write one about how a man married 14 years has never once been sick, nor has his wife”.

    Athol, you discredited yourself when you focused on sex. In those interviews you should have talked about your loving marriage, coming back from your infidelities and your adoration for Jennifer. Instead you tried to “prove” yourself by using bedpost notches as a mark of your success in marriage. It reduced your message down to that of a college frat boy bragging about his “conquests” and that is why I removed my well received book review from Amazon.

    I didn’t write the Daily Mail piece and I was rather disappointed with the Inside Edition one as well. It’s one of the reasons I’ve avoided mass media completely ever since. Jennifer and I had sex about 5000 times, spread over then 16 years of marriage. If you do the math, that comes to daily sex for just 13.69 years total. I have claimed high frequency, but I’ve never claimed everyday, that’s you making something up. I’ve also been very clear Jennifer’s second pregnancy was bedrest for half the time. Plus her mammogram scares etc.

    Furthermore, I answered about 20 questions in depth for Inside Edition. After they edited me, the final cut had me answering just one. It was hardly my point of view been shown.


  1. […] Continuing on from yesterday’s cliffhanger… […]

Speak Your Mind