This excellent post from Lee Goldberg highlights why I urge people to be skeptical when dealing with writing gurus. Always do your homework on people proclaiming to be experts - especially when engaging their services is going to cost you money.
Lee's post begins with this warning about a so-called professional writer named James Strauss:
James gets gigs teaching screenwriting courses based on his experience writing episodes on the TV shows HOUSE, DEADWOOD, SAVING GRACE and ENTOURAGE. The problem is, according to the Writers Guild of America and writer/producers on those shows, James Strauss never worked as a writer on any of those series. So beware. If you run across any conference or seminar programs where he’s fraudulently claiming those credits in his biography, please alert the organizers and have them contact Lesley McCambridge in the WGA West credits department.
Read the rest of the article for the in-depth story about how Lee impeached this expert and reported him to the WGA. Most disheartening of all is that it was incredibly easy for Lee to see this guy for who he was with just a simple Google search. Yet he had been a guest at several conferences and seminars that merely took him at his word.
Do not trust that guests at these events have been vetted. Do your own research before you plunk down money to hear these charlatans. And if you come across seminars that regularly host these creeps, spread the word. These organizations have tied their credibility to these sleazeballs, so if they fail to audit the people associated with them, they deserve to be tarred with the same brush.