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Monday, January 30, 2017

Have a Dope Summa' 1997 Yearbook Signature

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

This was Awesome 1997 Yearbook Signature

The things I had to do to make this legible. Anyway, I think this was a man I played water polo with, but I can't be sure. It's been too long. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Nice Meeting You 1997 Yearbook

Ah, Mr. Dip, I remember this man as being a large round fellow with a whimsical mind and an overall out to lunch demeanor. It's funny how so little a statement can mean so much and bring back so many memories. 

He sang in the vocal ensemble with me and I believe he was a base but sounded more like a tenor. I have to ask what happened to this man, but to be honest I'm not sure I want to know.

You look bat at yearbook signatures to remember the past. Well, 1997 has never been so clear to me in the twenty years since I lived that time. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Writing Like Life

I got this as a reply to a forum post on a now defunct publishers webpage. I wish I could find out what I said to this person but that is lost in time. I hope you all like it. 

Forum reply from unknown author:

I just recently noticed you replied to my post, so my apologies for the length of time in between. Your response made me smile. The thing is, this hasn’t been an easy road to publication, but it has been an interesting one. I have worked my way through multiple review sites with my manuscript (Book Country, Critique Circle, Scribophile, etc.) before it was ready to be read by another human being, let alone read by a potential publisher. The general public, or at least the members of it willing to read my work, have been the greatest help to me. Everyone noticed something different, good and bad, about my manuscript, and helped me to develop my skills as a writer. Once I determined the critique material was valid, I made my way into doing research on the specific topics, essentially studying until I understood the material, and then moved on to writing and re-writing where needed. I’ve been through everything from proper comma placement to the intricacies of emotional expression in writing, with volumes in between. I go about my writing with no expectations…but as long as I’m writing, I have hope. I write because I love it, because it makes me happy (and frustrated, and sad, and overjoyed). I don’t know if ‘fight’ is the right term for me, but I think if someone wants it, if they want to work toward publication, it involves continual effort to learn and grow as a writer. They must be open to criticism and praise, all while maintaining a solid core of belief in themselves. I’ve been turned down by agents, I’ve been turned down by publishers, and I think much if it had to do with the fact that I simply hadn’t done enough work. Rejections never kept me down very long (at least not for more than a day), because I just dusted myself off and started writing again. I believe editors have a vital role in the success of the author, but the biggest role is played by the author themselves.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Few Points to a Publisher

January 14th 2015

Just a few points, (owner of Publishing House), from a man who has been part of your social media group as an author, been rejected, and has nothing to gain or lose from giving his opinion. 

The idea of a social media website for readers to read books and choose those to publish is a noble one. I commend you for taking such a risk. The problem remains at this time that you simply have too few book reviews to honestly determine the viability of any one book.

Before you pulled my work from your site it had two official reviews and two ‘unofficial reviews’ as your fellow (Publisher Employee) described the comments. I, the author, am left with some sparse ideas on how to improve my work, and that quashes any means of my returning to your company to publish a new draft.

Now some authors will be unhappy with anything but publication, but some of us will be happy with a better understanding of our work. You want authors to send you new drafts. You want them to feel like they are better for experiencing how you do business. The last thing you want is for an author to go to another company and then do well, because that means you missed out on a profitable contract.

One idea, and maybe not a great one, would be to recruit unpaid college interns to review books. English students often have an internship requirement for graduation, they know something about books, and would be happy to telecommute.  These interns would be required to read the whole book and write a solid and professional review.

What this would do for your community would be to increase the number and quality of your reviews. It would also get the word out to perspective authors in English writing communities and bring more reading enthusiasts to your company. 

Another idea would be to add a step to publication. This would be a ‘would you like to read more’ section like your first fifteen forum. Both unofficial reviews of my book and one of the official ones read only a small part near the beginning.  Unfortunately, there were too few reviews to see a consistent pattern of what was wrong.

If I were to take this small section and place it on your site with a simple thumb up thumb down review and a minimum of ten reviews a pattern should start to emerge by that point. Then I would be able to say what was wrong with my work with some confidence.  In fifteen to thirty pages an author will express stylistic choices and in those pages a reader can find and mention what they dislike. Too many thumbs down will mean rewrite and resubmit, enough thumbs up will mean that the rest of the manuscript will be posted.

What this could do for your community would be to increase the number of reviews and interaction with authors. It would save time with books that just need more work, and give the author a path to come back.

One thing you may wish to think about is to put ads on your site. If you need to pay for it then it can do some paying for itself. You’re already involved in advertising on your site when you send out group requests for published books. If you’re going to advertise for your own company then you can advertise for other companies and offset the cost of operations.

Another point, I believe an author interacting with reviewers is a good thing, but I believe an author shouldn’t review when his work is up for review. It will always be in the back of my mind that (Publisher Employee) gave me a hard time, because I gave him a negative review. This probably isn’t true. He just gave me an honest review, and I’m unhappy with what he said, but that thought will stay with me. You may want to think about having author accounts that expire if a book isn’t picked up and reader accounts that expire after they have been inactive for long enough.

Finally, a rejection letter thanking the author for their interest, apologizing for their rejection, and summarizing how they can improve their work would only be polite. The author is a customer just like someone who buys a book and the service you provide them is to screen their work for profitability. I would never want my book published if it wouldn’t do well, so you’re providing a superior service compared to competitors. A letter making it clear to the author that there is hope would go a long way to clarifying that fact.

Those are my two cents. Forty nine more of these and you have a dollar.

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sympathetic Villains and the Good Idea Fairy

20th August 2016

Hay (Person),

After looking at your comments from the other day I’m starting to wonder what it is you intend to do with my script. If the intent is to sell the property then what you’re selling is the overall concept, and the changes you suggested really are a poor fit for that goal.

If a contract had been signed and a director then felt that the villains were too sympathetic then not only would I need to make that change, but I’d get paid to make that change. The other alternative is that they hire a script doctor to make changes, and I have no creative control. Regardless, this change would not alter your pitch for the script and that’s what’s important.

Normally a sympathetic villain is considered a good thing for a script. The audience needs a strong reason to stay invested in the characters on screen. Sympathy for a villain that you clearly want to lose is very powerful.  Removing that will have a negative impact on the work.

If there is one thing that can kill a good script it’s more good ideas. In the United States Army they call this the “Good Idea Fairy”. You’re making cookies and you get the idea to add walnuts. Now that’s a good idea. Then comes along the “Good Idea Fairy” and tells you to add raisins. Well, that’s a good idea too. Then that good old Fairy says “how about some nutmeg?” Not a bad thing either. The only problem is that if you add as many good ideas as you can think of you wind up with cookies that taste like everything and nothing all at once.

Now I’ve gone over the script hundreds of times and I wrote it in a class with a professional screenwriter. It’s rather tight and adding anything needs to be taken with the idea of adding action without taking any away. I’d say the first half of the script is kind of slow, and I’d add action to that if I could, but there is no more room for exposition.

The origin of the “Walker” or “Grass Man” is a point best left for a sequel as well as the larger evil controlling the villains. For that matter, it should be understood that Karl is at the end of his strength by the time this is over, and I have written ideas for a sequel that point to him having been in a coma for a few days after this event.

His powers are somewhat new to him and the need to have them is where they come from. Thus a well thought-out battle will definitely fight the action of the script.

At the end of the day you need to remember that you’re some fellow who hasn’t given me his real name with a nebulas goal for my work.  If your goal isn’t to get this script sold and in production than this isn’t worth the time.


Richard Leland Neal

Monday, January 2, 2017


7th December 2016
Mr. (School Official),

If I may express myself neatly, I attended a class entitled “How to Become a Professional Film and TV Writer” and after several hours I felt no closer to that occupation than I was before the class. Further along those lines, the professor of this class was a Hollywood agent and not a writer.  It constitutes a conflict of interest for me as a writer to pay an agent for anything other than selling a script.

I’ll grant you that this was a free class, but before I got in the door I found something was not right with your program. Then I would have to point out that I checked the facts reported in the class and found that some of them were inconsistent with information on If you want my money I expect the professor to do their homework just like the student. Failing to check facts is like failing to read student work. This would be the very basic requirements for teacher and your professor came up short.

Then we have your professor telling the class about the most prominent script she had sold. She mentioned that she had been asked for a similar script by other studios and complained to them that they had not wanted that script when she offered it to them. I would expect the professional agent to sell the studios what they want. If you want a car this week and come in next week asking for an SUV the dealer is not going to get huffy and complain about what you asked for last week. They would just be happy to sell you whatever you want.

I could go on about foul language and inappropriate jokes, but let me hit it from another angle. The best advertisement your program can have is success. If I had attended that class and gone on to be a professional writer you would have a clear example of your classes paying off. Further, I would then have the money to invest in more education. In the contrary, if I knew how to look for work as a writer but failed to obtain it my next question would be ‘why’, leaving the need for more education a possibility.

In short, I wasn’t happy with your program when it was free and now you fail to understand why I’m not paying for your services. If Hollywood were populated with your students and they spoke highly of you things would be different. However, I have no faith in your program as an investment.

I would recommend you contact me when you’ve made major changes to the quality of your education and have another free class for me to examine. In the mean time your extended deadlines only prove to me that classes are going unfilled and that other students have the same skepticism.

Kind regards,

Richard Leland Neal