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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Free Song Lyrics!

Occasionally, I like to try my hand at writing lyrics. You, my musically-gifted friend, are free to use as you see fit. If you do create something magical, feel free to shoot me a link to your performance!

Baby It’s You

The sun is shining and the sky is blue, I’m sitting here baby, dreamin’ of you. I look around and all I see, are reflections of you in my memory. I’ve got my hands on your hips, we’re swaying to the music and I feel your lips…

Your hair is dancing and I see your face, so full of wonder and so full of grace. Imagination is the only way, to be with you baby day after day. I leave the world and close my eyes, you’re body next to mine makes my passion rise...

My heart is bursting, my love is thirsting, More than a fantasy, you’re just as real as real can be.

Cause Baby it’s you in every detail, the way you look and the way you smell
And Baby it’s you that my soul desires, my love for you grows higher and higher
Cause Baby you know, I’ll always be with you, so long as I have a breath to cling to

The water’s sparkling and the breeze is cool, I spend my time baby, thinkin’ of you. I look around and all I see, are visions of you smiling at me. Even the clouds up in the sky, paint lovely portaits of you that go floating by…

My imagination is the only way, to be with you angel day after day. I leave the world and close my eyes, I see your beauty materialize. I hold you close, in my embrace, the pulsing of your heart makes my heart beat race…

My chest is thumping, you love is something, More than a memory, you’re just as real as real can be.

Cause Baby it’s you in every detail, the way you look and the way you smell
And Baby it’s you that my arms desire, my love for you grows higher and higher
Cause Baby you know, I’ll always be with you, so long as I have a breath to cling to

And as I reminisce about your body next to mine, I feel your loving kiss, your fingers on my spine…

Cause Baby it’s you in every detail, the way you look and the way you smell
And Baby it’s you that my arms desire, my love for you grows higher and higher
Cause Baby you know, I’ll always be with you, so long as I have a breath to cling to

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Coincidence By Design (A Beat-Sheet Example)

TODD has a long-suffering crush on coworker RACHEL. She's beautiful and out of his league. They both work for an ESPN-like sports network, with her in front of the cameras and him behind.

Todd meets/befriends the new neighbor in his apartment complex, plain-but-pretty SANDRA. She's obviously a better match for Todd but he doesn't see it.

On a company junket, due to an overbooked flight, Todd is bumped up into first class where he sits a few rows behind Rachel and meets DAMON, a mysterious business man who becomes aware of Todd's unrequited love for Rachel.

Damon gives Todd his card. COINCIDENCE BY DESIGN. Their logo is: You Can't Stalk The Perfect Woman, But We Can. Damon pitches his services: for a very expensive fee, they guarantee a number of faux coincidences that will have the woman of your dreams eating out of your hand.

When Todd returns home from the junket, being no closer to the woman of his dreams, he decides to go for it. He confides his intentions to his next-door neighbor Sandra (who secretly pines for him) and she tries to dissuade him.

Todd meets with Damon and hands him a check. The process begins. Over the next several weeks, the company will find out all it can about Rachel and begins arranging fake coincidences, designed for the purpose of endearing himself to her.

The coincidences come in various forms: he bumps into her at the opera (they both love Puccini), she spies him at her gym ('yoga'), he wears a tee-shirt featuring her favorite (but obscure band), he just happens to have tickets to their reunion, etc, etc.

As their relationship progresses, Sandra sees less and less of Todd. Finally, she turns on him. "Love can't be bought! It can't be manipulated! You have all the inside scoop. You know what to say and what to do." She raises the question: Is all fair in love and war?

Now that he's seeing Rachel routinely, Todd has elevated his social standing. He dresses better. Drives a better car. Things are going perfect. But then, Damon suddenly reappears: The fee is now double. Pay it, or we spill the beans.

This is their hook. They deliver on their promises and then blackmail their clients for more money. Todd doesn't have money. Faced with the choice of paying off Damon or having the truth revealed, he takes Sandra's advice and decides to come clean.

It doesn't go well. Rachel is appalled/aghast and dumps him on the spot. The sports network fires him for unethical behavior. And to make matters worse, Damon shows back up at his apartment and threatens to kill him.

As Damon attempts to bully Todd into cashing in his life savings, Sandra bursts into the apartment and there is a huge struggle. She manages to push Damon out of the window where she watches him scream his way down ten stories. Todd takes Sandra into his arms and kisses her. It's obvious: SHE is the one he was meant to be with. Soon, church bells ring and wedding rice fills the air.

In the epilogue, Sandra tells Todd she needs to run some errands. Camera follows her where she makes her way to the pier and sees a group of men playing bridge. One of them is Damon!

Damon looks up, smiles. He's glad to see her. She hands him a check which he politely accepts, folds and places in his pocket. Another job well done.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Requiem for a Fall - A Film Noir Treatment

High above the pacific, bomber pilot Capt. Guy Hawkins struggles to get his crew safely out of their damaged B-32. He’s down to just one man, young gunner Tony. He reassures the frightened young man not to worry and urges him to jump. Just then, the strap of Tony’s parachute gets caught on a jagged edge of the plane and Guy is left with no other option than to try and shoot the strap free. It’s a million-to-one-shot; it’s either the strap or the young gunner. Guy takes aim and fires.

Guy wakes up in his hotel room. The year is 1945 and the war is over. He’s covered in sweat, having just relived this nightmare for the umpteenth time. He’s distraught. He gets up, opens the window, hears the sounds of street life below him and pours himself a drink.

Janice Comely is adjusting the artwork on display in her small gallery. She’s smart, beautiful, well-dressed. She’s enduring the attraction of her fatigueless admirer, Dr. Lenny Self, the local psychiatrist. Lenny wishes to whisk Janice away, but Janice makes it plain she is already spoken for. Lenny is dapper, well-spoken, but a bit of a heel. He catches Janice by the arm and tells her that he doesn’t give up easily. Janice, not taking the good doctor seriously, leaves, telling Leonard she has a lunch date with the man she loves.

Guy emerges from his hotel room with a duffle bag hoisted over his shoulder. There’s a ruckus in front of the hotel. Police have custody of a couple teenagers caught vandalizing property. Guy recognizes one, Kid, who he was close to before leaving to fight the Japanese four years ago. Kid looks up to Guy but has been mingling with a bad crowd in his absence. Guy goes out on a limb for Kid, agreeing to pay for any damages. Kid promises to come around later to the gym where Guy suggests he can find work. Janice is a witness to Guy’s unselfish act of benevolence and beams with pride.

Janice and Guy walk to the diner where everyone greets Guy with a hearty, “Hey Champ!” They go into the diner where Pop greets them enthusiastically. Here we reveal that Delores works as a waitress for Pop and she has a crush on Lenny. Seems Lenny is the forgetful type and is always leaving behind something, this time, his expensive gold lighter. When she sees Lenny standing outside having a discussion with other gentlemen, she leaves her busy tables and rushes to take him his lighter, much to the consternation of Pop, who recognizes the one-sided relationship.

Lenny won’t have much to do with Delores, but he does seem to enjoy her attraction (makes him feel desirable). Lenny’s main objection to a relationship with Delores has to do with class distinction. A respected psychiatrist can’t go around being seen with a lowly waitress. This hurts Delores feelings but not enough to make her give up hope.

Later, at Puggy’s gym, Guy spars with another boxer in the training ring. Looking on with excitement is the gym’s owner, Puggy, and Guy’s trainer, Doc. Puggy expresses concern over Guy’s lack of killer instinct - he seemed to have lost it since the war. Doc reassures Puggy he’ll be back to contender-status in no time at all. “He’s the Champ, after all!” Kid cleans up, having secured work just as Guy had promised.

Also in the gym is a seven-foot mass of human flesh known as The Monster. He’s as ugly as he is tall and every ounce of him ripples with muscles. He’s the mobster’s main boy, and eager to get in the ring with Guy in order to steal his thunder. Guy’s trainer waves off his intentions, only saying, “When the time is right.” Kid vows that Guy can “clean the floor with that ape” and inadvertently secures the mobster’s scorn (you don’t want to mess around with these guys).

Later that evening, at the local restaurant/bar, Guy dances with his girl, Janice. She’s concerned about him. “Still having nightmares?” Guy nods. She suggests that maybe Lenny can help. “He is a psychiatrist after all…” Guy responds that he’s not ready to fall down the rabbit hole yet. Meanwhile, we discover that a couple of mobsters have given Kid a “working over” to shut his big mouth. When Guy finds out, he’s furious and almost vows to settle it in the ring against the mobster’s main boy, The Monster. Doc restrains Guy, warning him, “You’re not ready yet, Champ.”

That night, Guy has yet another nightmare. Distraught, he goes to see Janice. He explains to her that since he’s been back, he’s been trying in vain to find the parents of Tony, the gunner who was lost, in an effort to explain what happened, to seek absolution. He reveals he’s even gone so far as having hired a private detective, who he’s not heard from in a while. Janice once again pleads with Guy to give Dr. Self a chance. “He’s a licensed hypnotist, darling. Perhaps he can help.” Reluctantly, Guy agrees.

In Lenny’s ornate office, the doctor lowers the blinds, setting the mood. Something tells us he’s got Guy right where he wants him. He has Guy recline on the couch and hypnotizes him. Slowly we re-emerge back to that fateful moment on the plane, with Guy drawing his sidearm and taking aim at the strap, while the poor gunner’s body flops in the wind, like a fish on the end of a hook.

At last the lights come back on and Lenny sits back, thoughtfully inhaling his cigarette. Yes, he has undercovered the truth, he tells Guy, and it isn’t going to be pleasant. “Are you sure you can handle this?” Guy nods. Lenny reveals that while Guy was under his hypnotic spell, he revealed the truth. His gunshot went awry and struck and killed the young gunner, which Guy witnessed in horror. “Your conscious mind has spent weeks keeping it from you. That’s why you wake up in a terrible sweat. But your subconscious mind knows the horrible truth: if you had hesitated just a moment longer, you would have seen the strap break free on its own accord, and the young gunner you so desperately wanted to save would be alive today.”

The revelation stuns Guy. He staggers in anguish from the doctor’s office, refusing to be comforted by anyone, especially Janice. He roams the empty streets alone, forming a resolution in his mind. At last he comes upon the hospital. He goes up to see the bandaged and unconscious Kid, and vows to make things right by the Universe, correct once and for all, all his wrongs.

The next morning in the gym, Guy appears, drunk. He tells Doc to set up the match between him and The Monster. Doc and the gym’s owner Puggy urge him to reconsider but he refuses. The match is set, much to the delight of the well-tailored mobster who sees in The Monster a sure-win.

The town now is abuzz with activity. Will Guy really face The Monster, a man he seems clearly outmatched by in every regard? Janice is worried sick and Guy refuses to let her into his heart. “It’s time for the dues to be collected,” he tells her fatalistically and then stumbles off.

Janice goes to see Lenny who, it turns out, has made a sizable wager regarding the fight. She turns to him for advice, but he has now grown wildly full of himself. “Soon I’ll be rich, darling,” he tells her. “I’m looking to invest and your father’s diner seems a prime investment.” She looks at him as he continues. “I’d hate to see it razed to the ground to make room for a parking lot.” And now, finally, Janice realizes the evil that Lenny embodies and she’s filled with regret that she ever let him weasel himself into the mind of someone as pure and noble as Guy. “What did you do to him?” she asks accusingly, but Lenny only looks at her and smiles.

Back at the bar, Lenny enjoys a drink and then pays his tab and leaves, just as Delores comes in looking for him. She finds his empty barstool, and beside it, his journal. She picks it up, and is driven by curiosity to glance in it. Something catches her eye. She looks up, desperate to find the one person who can make sense of it, but that person isn’t there. Delores races out, notebook in hand.

Janice is upstairs in her office above the gallery, crying, head in hands. An urgent knock at the door below. Janice finds Delores waiting, her arms wrapped around Lenny’s forgotten diary. Back in her office, Delores paces as Janice puts the pieces together. Something occurs to Janice. She quickly scrambles for the phone book and then dials a number. “SMITHFIELD 1 4 7,” she says. “It’s urgent.” Delores’s eyes widen as she struggles to comprehend. Janice looks up and their eyes lock. She’s definitely onto something...

But, unfortunately, the night of the big fight has arrived...

The auditorium is packed. In the center, a boxing ring. Doc is giving Guy, suited up in gloves and boxing shorts, one last appeal to beg off, but Guy will hear none of it. He looks like he’s standing on shaky legs. In the other corner, The Monster looms threateningly, and his corner is brimming with confidence.

The bell sounds. Guy stands up, and can’t help but look around the room for Janice who isn’t there. He faces The Monster and the horrible beating begins…

Janice waits impatiently at a bus stop for someone to disembark the bus. She’s a nervous wreck. Over loud speakers nearby, announcers describe in bone-crushing detail the lopsided beating Guy endures. “This is horrible! Someone should put an end to this fight! But Guy Hawkins won’t let his trainer intervene!”

Ringside, Lenny sits next to the mobster in the fine tailored suit, an evil smile upon his lips as he witnesses the beating of his life-long nemesis. Soon, Janice will be his, even if he has to blackmail her into his bed.

And now the doors of the arena burst open and Janice comes racing in, with a man in a trenchcoat in tow. Everyone turns to look at the commotion. She fights her way next to the ring and calls out Guy’s name as he sits gasping on his stool, a bloody pulp, waiting for the bell to ring, announcing the start of the next round. Guy, his eyes barely able to open, turns and looks at Janice. She urges him, “Look Darling, Look who I brought!” His eyes travel slowly over to the man in the trenchcoat and his heart skips a beat.

It’s Tony, the gunner from the plane!

“Your detective found him,” she desperately pleads. “He’s alive and living with his parents upstate. She turns and points a finger of hate at Lenny, who is witnessing the events with a startled expression. “It’s all in here,” she says, holding up the diary. But Guy is too dazed and too confused to make sense of it all and just then, the bell sounds and Guy struggles one last time to his feet.”

The young gunner rushes up to the ropes. “Don’t ya remember, Capt? You made us bail out and my strap got stuck. You pulled your pistol and fired. Don’t ya remember? You hit the strap, Capt! It was a million to one shot and you did it! You saved me!”

And now, we find ourselves back in Guy’s mind, back above the clouds over the south pacific, and Guy leaning out, aiming the pistol, taking careful aim and Tony giving him a nod, that nod that says, “I know you can do it!” And Guy firing, and the strap goes free and Tony is whisked away, in a motion that would’ve been impossible for Guy to tell the difference without knowing the truth, which is why his mind struggled for so long. And now everything comes back to Guy and he realizes he was wrong to blame himself. And he turns and looks at the towering mass of flesh facing him and he begins to strike, to strike with such ferocity The Monster doesn’t understand what’s happening. And the crowd is on its feet, and The Monster, having winded himself from eight rounds of constant pummeling to a man who refused to go down, who would rather die than give up, The Monster, he now finds himself against the ropes, struggling to protect his face, his torso, but it’s too late, because The Champ is back and pummeling him. Finally, Guy hauls back and hits The Monster with everything he’s got, and The Monster spins and hits the canvas hard. Knocked out cold!

And the crowd is on its feet and Guy, regaining his composure, looks down and sees Janice racing up to greet him and he wraps her in his arms as they embrace.

And ringside, a sullen and shocked Dr. Lenny Self looks down at his program and rips it up. Beside him is the unhappy gangster, whose disgusted look says it all.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Example of a One-Page Synopsis: RENO NEVADA RIDES TO HELL

Sometimes you will be asked to provide a synopsis of your story. In my mind, there are only three requirements:
  1. Cover all the major plot points.
  2. Reveal the climax and resolution.
  3. Keep the synopsis to a single page.
As an example, here is the one-page synopsis for my novel, RENO NEVADA RIDES TO HELL.


written by 

Flash Rivers

The multicolored landscape of mountains, canyons and deserts informs us we are in the AMERICAN SOUTHWEST. The year is 1899. The Gates of Hell have opened and evil is loose upon an unsuspecting land.

RENO NEVADA, a disillusioned gunman with a clever knack for inventing things, wanders the desolate landscape atop his towering, black stallion, SAMSON. He is snatched up by an old partner of his, a miscreant named HARLAN, who lives for one single purpose: to locate the map to the hidden treasure of La Puerta Del Inferno (Hell’s Gate). Reno, who blames himself for his wife’s untimely death, prefers torture over divulging the map’s location to Harlan.

Reno is rescued from his captors by a religious man who calls himself THE PREACHER. He wants to enlist Reno’s help on a quest: ride into Hell and close the gates. Although he feels an instant connection to the Preacher’s beautiful daughter, EVE, Reno refuses. It isn’t until he finds himself face-to-face with Hell’s demons that he reconsiders and joins the Preacher and Eve in their quest.

To achieve their objective, the Preacher and Reno must accomplishment two goals: The Preacher must find and retrieve the Key to Hell while Reno must return to his forsaken ranch with Eve and recover the map from its hiding place. To secure the Key, the Preacher must face an archangel of Hell known as the Gatekeeper. Reno and Eve are forced to tangle with Harlan and his gang of cutthroats. After a night of harrowing ordeals, both the Key and the map are recovered.

As the crusaders pause to rest in the town of Tempest before the final leg of their expedition into Hell, they suffer a devastating blow. The archangel snatches Eve right from Reno’s clutches and an unsuspecting tag-along kills the Preacher’s ally and escapes with the Key. With Eve taken prisoner in the Underworld and the Key lost, all hope is gone. Only the restorative faith of the townsfolk provides Reno and the Preacher the strength they need to carry on with their quest.

The two weary travelers follow Reno’s map straight to the Gates of Hell. Abandoning all hope, they cross the threshold, fearing never to see the light of day again. In a fierce battle that sees the Preacher mortally wounded, Reno manages to kill the last of Harlan’s men. Harlan, however, escapes. Lost in the catacombs of Hell, Reno stumbles upon Eve and frees her from her shackles. In an effort to escape, Reno finds the Key but watches in horror as it is consumed in the fiery abyss when Harlan suddenly appears and confronts him. Reno settles his dispute with Harlan once and for all as he relies on brains over brawn. With Harlan gone, he and Eve race to escape Hell.

With the Key gone and Reno and Eve reunited with the dying Preacher, a revelation occurs. Reno is the true ‘Key’ to closing the Gates of Hell. While the Preacher holds off the archangel, his dying faith enables Reno and Eve to accomplish their quest and escape Hell just as the opening is sealed forever. Eve and Reno reenter the land of the living, where faith and hope are restored.

535 words.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Typewriter - Chapter One

The lives of a man and his family are threatened by the discovery of a mysterious typewriter with the ability to see into the future... and into the mind of a psychotic killer.


He found the typewriter on Tuesday, April 14th, just after 9:30 in the morning.

Jack Harrison pulled his shiny Lexus into the driveway at 2314 Crescent Heights Drive and stepped out. He was a thirty-something professional, in good shape, with a head full of blond hair that he tended to wear long, just over the collar. He wore slacks, designer shoes, and a dress shirt unbuttoned at the neck.

On the ring finger of his left hand was a slim gold band and on the sides of his car were vinyl door magnets advertising his company: FIRST CHOICE REALTY.

With his hands on his hips, he tilted his head and took a moment to appraise the property. It was a one-story brick home, just under two thousand square feet, built in the late sixties. The yard was a disaster, but the front of the house - with its red brick walls, white mold trim, and set of double doors with their inlay of frosted glass - wasn’t as bad as expected and his spirits rose. It would definitely sell; it just needed a little work on its curb appeal. A pair of azaleas by the front steps would work nicely.

Satisfied with his appraisal, he went to the rear of his car, popped it open and grabbed one of the dozen yard signs inside. The sky above was gray and threatening rain; a breeze tumbled past him, blowing his well combed hair out of place. He stood in the middle of the front yard and ran his fingers through his hair, taming it back into place and straightening his upturned collar. Jack considered himself no more vain than most in his particular line of work; he knew the importance of image and enjoyed dressing to play the part.

He pierced the lawn with the prongs of the sign then mashed it into place with the sole of his black dress shoe, leveraging his full body weight. He glanced back up at the house, then up one end of the street and down the other. He was juggling numbers in his head, performing calculations, approximating payment amounts. Eventually he would settle on just the right asking price.

The key to the house was hidden inside a small metal lock-box attached to the front door. He thumbed the four-digit combination, took out the key and used it to open the front door. Stepping inside, he withdrew a heavy-duty Stanley tape measure from his left pocket and a cellular phone from his right.

The house was dark and quiet. He stood in the middle of the foyer surrounded by rich mahogany flooring and dark green wallpaper.

“Hello?” he called out. A habit of his, from years of entering homes presumed empty but surprisingly weren’t.

Not hearing a reply, Jack sucked in a deep breath and then proceeded with his routine. He went through the house methodically, recording the dimensions of each room, notating them into his phone along with any special features or peculiar drawbacks. He acquainted himself with the home just as he would meeting someone new for the first time, getting to know them.

“Nice wood flooring in the entrance and throughout,” he said, stamping his foot, his phone to his lips.

In the kitchen, he recorded a note about the double range oven. Gas and electric. The stainless steel sink. The red oak cabinets. He wielded his tape measure like a sword, taking measurements, recording the details into his phone.

He opened the sliding glass doors to the back yard and walked outside, making notes about its size, the condition of the exterior fence, the large red wood deck. “Needs stripping,” he noted into the recorder.

He entered the bedrooms, noting their dimensions and the size of the adjoining closets. He stepped inside the master bathroom and made a note about the large pedestal tub next to the walk-in shower. “Nice,” he added, running his fingers along the cold cast iron surface.

He went into every room and walked over every square foot. The entire process took well over an hour and he captured and recorded every detail the home had to offer. When he returned to the den, something caught his eye. He stopped and frowned. There was a water mark in the ceiling, a long narrow stretch running right down the center, the edges stained with mildew. He stood on his toes to get a better look. “Water damage in the ceiling,” he grumbled into his phone. He reached up and a piece of drywall flaked off in his hand, sprinkling debris on his head and shoulders.

“Gonna have to get Gus to fix that.” He shook the debris from his hair and patted his shoulders clean. Then, using a familiar motion, combed his hair back into place with his fingers.

The water damage was troubling. Jack needed to look into that to make sure it wasn’t something serious. He slipped his phone and measuring tape back into his pockets and ducked around the corner, searching the ceiling for the door to the attic.

He stopped when he spotted the white drawstring dangling above his head in the middle of the hallway to the right of the den.

He reached up, grabbed the end of the string in his fingers and tugged. The door to the attic opened and a collapsible wooden ladder extended at his feet.

The attic smelled dank and musty. He frowned at the cobwebs blocking the entrance. He waved his arms past them and ascended into the attic, keeping himself crouched to avoid banging his head on the beams overhead. A single bulb with a pull chain hung from the rafters. He pulled the chain and squinted as bright light filled the attic.

An old furnace, cased in stainless steel panels, sat in a corner on top of a shallow aluminum pan to catch condensation. Jack could see the pan was full of dirty water - that probably accounted for the leak in the ceiling beneath his feet. He had to balance himself carefully on the rafters; only half of the attic had plywood flooring, the rest were 2 x 6 wooden beams with the typical pink cotton-candy insulation in between.

Okay, so the furnace needed work. He’d have to hire a plumber to give it a once-over. The drainage pan could just be clogged, that happened sometimes…

“Shit,” he cried out, almost losing his balance.

He had stepped on a corner of the plywood flooring that buckled under his weight. As he stooped to get a better look, he saw that the board hadn’t buckled as he thought. It was a cut-out piece, designed to cover a small section of the floor. Jack scratched the back of his neck as he mind tried to make sense of it.

He reached down and removed the puzzle piece and revealed a hidden section of the attic. As he squinted to get a better look, he caught sight of something hidden in the corner under the plywood. He lowered himself and, being careful not to tear a hole in his slacks, dropped to all fours. Carefully, he stuck his arm into the wedged opening and his fingers landed against something hard and cold. Something metal. Soon, they found a handle. He pulled the object free.

It was a typewriter.

Still in its case, Jack recognized what it was right away. Big, bulky, with the word ROYAL in large embossed letters on the top of its gritty surface. It was heavy too. He made a face as he struggled it free and then readjusted his position, sitting cross-legged with the thing in his lap.

Alone with the just the case and the long dark shadows from the bulb overhead, he eased the cover open. His eyes widened and he absentmindedly licked his lips. In his lap was an ancient typewriter, from the old gumshoe days of the fifties, in seemingly perfect condition.

“Wow,” he said, running his fingers over the cold metallic keys. He felt like a kid on Christmas morning.

And that’s when he heard a hollow knock at the front door.