By turns inspiring and underwhelming, this compendium is more of a yearbook for the B-List group than a useful guide for...



A collection of screenwriting discussions by little-known and unproduced screenwriters.

This peculiar book is a collection of postings on craft by a group of predominantly aspiring screenwriters. In 2003, Von Altendorf, a former independent filmmaker, began hosting the A-List, an online discussion group on the website of American Zoetrope’s Virtual Studio. After abruptly pulling the plug on the popular group and disappearing for many years, Von Altendorf remerged on Zoetrope in 2010 and began hosting the B-List, the group whose dialogues and musings are presented in this volume. The postings are grouped into chapters on aspects of craft, such as Audience Bonding and Story Development, but, disappointingly, many discussions are rushed—advice on plot, character and theme gets a mere five pages—and the absence of a substantial discussion on dialogue seems like an obvious oversight. However, some of the selections, particularly those by Von Altendorf, are redeemed by a true passion for craft. His tips, such as his method of analyzing screenplays using “scene cards” or his thoughts on making scripts appealing to low-budget filmmakers, are pithy and informative. Unfortunately, many of the postings are simply padding: aimless, repetitive and of limited value to readers not familiar with the group members’ professional struggles. The few brief samples of contributors’ works struggles to establish their credentials as master craftspeople, and there are no selections from produced scripts to show their analyses in action (a close reading of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders is promised but never materializes). Von Altendorf describes his Hollywood career as having been “cut short” and his contacts are as “stale as dry cheese,” yet his entertaining style and the tantalizing biographical snippets sprinkled throughout his sections—his remembrance of the late actor/director Alejandro Rey is the book’s highlight—suggest that he would be an excellent candidate for memoir. Maybe even a biopic.

By turns inspiring and underwhelming, this compendium is more of a yearbook for the B-List group than a useful guide for writing screenplays.

Pub Date: July 25, 2012


Page Count: 263

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2012

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.



A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.

In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.

A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012


Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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