Review: ‘Occult Assassin,’ action-packed supernatural shoot-em-up by William Massa

William Massa’s haunted hit-man Frank Talon is really coming into his own with his third adventure “Occult Assassin: Apocalypse Soldier.” The former Delta operative has finally acknowledged the presence of objectivelyOccultAssassin demonic evil, but his modus operandi is still to eliminate with extreme prejudice those who choose to ally themselves with dark forces. This time out Talon is tasked with rescuing a formerly possessed damsel in distress from becoming re-possessed, this time seven-fold. There’s a nearly endless supply of nameless, faceless bad guys to take out, but one thing I love about this series is that the hero doesn’t just charge in with guns blazing. He makes plans, has contingency plans, knows when to request backup, and when he pulls the trigger, it’s just one more step in a process. There are scenes of stealth, an extended chase scene, and a siege on a remote desert monastery. Another strong point in this (hopefully) ongoing series is how Talon wrestles with his own demons, even when taking down the minions of others. His primary ally is resourceful as always, and three new characters could certainly show up again in later installments. Occult Assassin has all the elements of a Mack Bolan/Executioner action/adventure, but with a supernatural/horror twist. Can’t wait for the next one!

Check it out at Amazon.

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‘The Gingerbread Man Gets Schooled’ is now available through Eldridge Plays and Musicals

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My new play The Gingerbread Man Gets Schooled has just been published by Eldridge Plays and Musicals.  (Click on either link above, or those throughout this post, for more information.)

Eldridge Plays and Musicals is a family-run publishing house that caters to the amateur theatrical needs of schools, churches, community theatres, and more. I have several shows with them, and am delighted that The Gingerbread Man Gets Schooled is now part of their catalog.

The Gingerbread Man Gets Schooled
Cast: 6 m, 7 w, additional cast possible
Script: 26 pages
The dashing, fleet-footed Gingerbread Man has gotten loose at Baker Street School, proud home of the Spatula Flippers. Now it’s up to a comical assortment of nerds and cheerleaders to put the bite on him. Principal Linzer Macaroon, cafeteria lady Muffin Topp and janitor Roland Butter enlist science teacher Newton Figg’s Mad Science Club and Lorna Doone’s pom squad to use their skills, talents and knowledge to capture the slick-sneakered cookie. This fast-paced show is filled with jokes, gags, slapstick humor, chases, and a riotous climax that will have audiences cheering. About 30 minutes.

This show is ideal for upper elementary and middle school-aged drama programs, though I think high school students who want to perform something silly, fast and light would have a lot of fun with this play.

Thank you, Eldridge Plays and Musicals, for supporting playwrights and serving the needs of educational, amateur and community theatres. And thank you for welcoming The Gingerbread Man Gets Schooled into your extensive and varied catalog.

Galleys and the final proof before publication

TypesettingIn the last week, I received galley proofs from two different publishers for a couple of my plays that are about to “go public.” Galleys are the camera-ready pages of the script. For playwrights, proofreading the galleys is the final step before the play goes to press.

Regardless of what the various how-to books say about script formatting, each publisher expects a play submission to be “clean copy.” No typos, misspellings, consistent use of capitalization, bold and italics, and style. Then, once they contract for the script, they change all the formatting to match their particular playbook style anyway. Every publisher I work with has a different way of including stage directions, light and sound cues, even how the characters are listed.

So no matter how clean your copy was, minor errors can find their way into the script. That’s why galley proofs are so important.

Often publishers make slight editorial changes. Occasionally an ambitious and misguided editor will try to re-write a portion (almost never improving it, in my opinion). If substantial changes are going to be made by the editor, the playwright should know about it BEFORE we get to the galley stage. Publishers owe it to the author to have first crack at anything larger than a very minor rewrite, cut, addition or change.

When the galleys arrive for final proofing, it’s all there, exactly as it will appear in the printed playbook. And the playwright gets to have one last look before saying goodbye. It feels a little like watching your child go off to her first day at school.

This is NOT a time for rewrites, revisions, or changes. That should all have taken place before the script was submitted. This is an opportunity to give the copy a final proofreading, and to note any changes the publisher/editor has made.

Back in the days of typesetting, making changes to a camera-ready galley was a real headache. But even today when everything is digital, altering a script at this point in the pipeline is annoying and troublesome. Publishers want a perfect script as much as a playwright. But suggesting changes beyond legitimate typographical corrections can have unfortunate consequences.

No playwright can afford to act like a “diva” and make demands. We don’t have the right to change our minds or offer new ideas. Not at this stage of the game. And if a playwright delays the galley process (I guarantee a 24-hour turnaround), you create a bottleneck in the publishing pipeline. And guess which project will get pulled out to make way for the others?

Publishers have deadlines. They have catalogs to ship and marketing calendars. The sooner your script gets past the galley proof stage and into print, the sooner you will start making money.

Don’t keep publishers waiting. In almost every case, they are busier than you. Don’t try and rewrite your play after you’ve signed the contract. Be grateful to have a chance for one last look at the script before it goes out into the world.

Then look forward to receiving your “reading copies” in the mail!

After that, your script is reduced to a line item on a royalty statement.

Unless you create your own marketing plan.