A quick update and then bed

31 03 2008

I’ve not really done much save work (rather harder than I wanted to at the moment) and work on The Woodsman.

The latter has been fun as it’s going rather better than has done in a while, I’d pretty much ground to a halt around hitting the point where the second draft encounters the first of it’s major flaws but as fortune would have it this happened around the time of Eastercon. A number of interesting panels and some-pretty-good-advice-on-where-to-direct-my-research later and I’m flying again.

Of course it’s got very dark as expected. The decapitation scene I just wrote may need toning down.

Anyway, other than that not been up to much. Oh and I’ve started to think about my trip to New Zealand to see long time friend C and hubby M (her hubby not mine, that would just be weird). That’s only a mere five weeks away now.

Bed now though.

First you, then the world…

30 03 2008

lol rat

They’re coming for you, oh yes…(photo courtesy of G)


30 03 2008

Apparently today is the 30th March. Constant readers will know this was meant to be my self-imposed deadline for finishing The Woodsman.

I haven’t hit it, have no chance of hitting it given I’ve only got as far as the end of chapter six, but it’s not all a lost cause. Having the deadline in mind has spurred me on and I’m learning loads -mostly by mistakes admittedly. I’ve also really enjoyed the process of teasing out the themes and fixing the problems of earlier drafts. That I can see what needs to be done to finish it helps.

Most importantly what’s been done to date is better than what went before.

So new deadline.

It took me around eight weeks to get to chapter six and I have around seven to go but I also have other short story projects backing up…let’s go for June 15th. No particular reason other than I’d like to have it finished in time for the Arvon course I’m attending in July.

Anyway, chapter seven beckons…

Just a moment…

29 03 2008

My blogroll seems to have gone awol…

Bear with me while I find out where the pesky critter’s gone.


OK. Fixed now. I really do need to pay more attention. Apologies to anyone who wasn’t feeling the linky love.

I’m going to hang my head in shame.

Friday Flash Fiction: Burned

28 03 2008

This post has moved. You can read the full story here: http://www.neilbeynon.com/fiction/burned/

If you missed last week’s flash, it can be found here.This week’s piece was written at Eastercon for the Friday Flash Fiction workshop we ran to launch Illuminations. Not one to ask others to do what we would not, each of us wrote a story whilst the attendees crafted their own compositions.

As ever I’m not sure this works but here’s mine:

By Neil Beynon

The city burned. Fire like fingers pawed the sky, knocking down buildings in clumsy haste to grab the velvet black. Hot ash danced down alleys, coalesced in squares and throttled the hapless few.

“What happened?” screamed Amanda over the city’s howls.

“I don’t know,” said Pete. His eyes not on her but drinking in the amber riot in front of him, watery orbs listless and lost.

Amanda tugged at his arm.

“We’ve got to get out of here.”

This post has moved. You can read the full story here: http://www.neilbeynon.com/fiction/burned/

Eastercon Photos

27 03 2008

One of the people in this picture is excited and the other has just seen the size of the queue. You work out which:

Neil Gaiman and G
The Friday Flash Fictioneers of the Apocalypse:

Friday Flash Fictioneers

Left to right: Gareth D Jones, Martin McGrath, Paul Graham Raven, Me, Gareth L Powell, Justin Pickard and Shaun C Green

Eastercon: China, Neil and Charlie oh my…

27 03 2008

So over at Nostalgia for the Future, Justin has an excellent write up of Eastercon and nicely distills China’s keynote. China was a bit of a revelation. A fascinatingly literate and erudite speaker; I spent a lot of the weekend coming out of his panels with a list of words that I hadn’t known existed.

But that’s a little flippant, and something you can work out from reading his stuff and/or searching on youtube for footage of him speaking.

The other thing I learned is that he’s a thoroughly nice man. Over the course of the weekend I saw him taking time to speak to various fans, even when he was trying to grab a quiet five minutes in the bar. And showing remarkable patience. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak you should take it.

Then there was Neil (Gaiman – I’m not talking in the third person again). *coughs* You may have noticed that I’m a bit of a fan. And there seems to be an ongoing strange phenomena where by our paths pass very close to each other but we never actually meet or exchange words. This happened all weekend to the point where I believe if we ever met it would cause some kind of causal break in reality, you know: You must never cross the Neils or the universe will end.

Anyway, I’ve seen him speak a bunch of times therefore I was concerned that I’d just hear a collection of anecdotes I’d heard in other sessions. I was wrong and it was good. The Graveyard Book sounds great, very dark and possibly something fairly different from what he’s done to date. His panels were fascinating and it was cool to see him get all fanboy over Hitchhikers.

And he was very kind to the moderators, some of whom were understandably quite nervous.

Charlie Stross was fascinating. Smart in an entirely different to China but equally compelling manner and a fellow alumni of Bradford university. Although I struggled to keep up in places – I’m really more of fantasy guy than hard SF – the panels I attended were just engrossing. And I love that phrase “the rapture of the geeks”.

And a good time was had. Save for the whole bleeding thing.

What Neil Did Next…

26 03 2008

Now for the infamous leg story.

When last seen our fearless feckless hero was exiting Eastercon after an exciting weekend of beer, literature, more beer, geeks and a healthy dose of book buying.

Putting aside a very nearly lifelong fear of rats, he had foolishly agreed to having his better half, G, look after her friend’s pet rats. The afore mentioned friend being in Australia, we just had to pick the little critters up on the way home. Having agreed that he would not have to have anything to do with the rodents Neil thought himself safe.

After all readers: What Could Go Wrong?

Rats are fairly large as rodents go and so you need a decent sized cage. G’s friend H lives a few floors up in a block of flats; like all flats of this nature it has an awkward shaped set of stairs for carrying things up and down. G having decanted rats into a neat travel case, Neil prepared to carry the now empty cage out to the car.

Can you guess where this is going?

Somehow, despite cage being almost the same size as Neil, the cage is manoeuvred down the stairs to the front door. Where upon our hero halfwit discovers that the door has been locked. Stuck with an awkward shaped cage that cannot easily be put down he faces a dilemna: put the cage down or try to open the door?

Then he sees the switch.

Now, it is a common feature of many newer blocks of flats in London to have an electronic release button for the front door. In order to get out you must press this and open the door simultaneously. Neil presses the switch with his knuckle and pushes the door wide open with his foot.

The door swings back much quicker than intended.

And Neil steps back, swinging his left leg out behind him to block the door, rather like a bearded ballerina who’s gone to seed. In an act of what some might call karmic justice a piece of direct marketing lodges under his right foot before sliding away from him. His not inconsiderable weight is airborn – along with the cage – for a brief moment of hang time and then gravity catches on that something not quite right is going on; it slaps him to the floor with errant ease.

Neil’s entire weight, shin first comes down on the raised door frame. Now the rat cage is looming towards him grating his arm on the way to the floor. And he’s sure his leg is broken.

But somehow. It’s not. Neil knows it’s not because he can stand on it and you cannot stand on a broken tibia as it is a load bearing bone. It’s funny what you remember from your writing.

And so he starts to walk away, limping and thinking himself lucky. Then he notices his trouser leg is damp and sticky. That he has in fact done this:


NB – It actually doesn’t look as bad here as it did by the time I got to A and E, the bleeding hasn’t really got going because I’m sat down. By the time I’d walked the short distance from the car to the hospital my entire lower leg was soaked red. Cool huh?

So that was my Easter Monday. Hope yours was better.


25 03 2008

Tonight’s post was to be a round up of Eastercon.

Of how I got to see fantastic Guest of honour spots from Neil Gaiman, China Miéville and Charles Stross. I’d planned to say some stuff about how big the con was, how interesting many of the panels were including some great stuff from Cory Doctorow, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, John Jarrold, Liz Williams and Nic Clarke.

Most importantly I’d planned to say how cool it was to meet many of the other Flash Fictioneers (Paul Raven, Shaun Green, Justin Pickard, Gareth L Powell, Gareth D. Jones and Martin McGrath) and spend some time with them. Of how fantastic our anthology looks, that actual people who didn’t know us shelled out money for it (remember it’s for charity and you can buy it here).

In short how I had a great time.

Unfortunately, I had a small mishap on the way home. It’s actually quite funny. In a painful kind of way. Right now it’s a bit too painful. But I’m sure it’ll migrate onto the blog in the next few days. Right now I need painkillers.

See ya.

Eastercon: Mid Point

23 03 2008

Well, I’m about half way through my first con and I’ve realised there’s just not the  scope for live blogging although twitter is worryingly addictive, as keeping an eye on the sidebar will reveal.

Friday was pretty laid back. The panels were good but I only really got a lot out of one of the three as I’d read most of what was covered in the others online but it was a nice gentle ice breaker. And I got to hold a copy of Illuminations for the first time.

Yesterday was fairly intense as there was stuff on from ten until two that I wanted to watch including some stuff on mythology that was cool and some stuff on London that I kind of knew but was just fascinating because the speakers were so good.

And then there was China. China’s keynote was just awesome. I didn’t agree with him entirely but his eloquence and passion for debate as well as his formidable smarts made for a very compelling session.

So after China made my head hurt, in a good way. There was the Flash Fiction workshop. [Pictures to follow at some point.] This was the only panel/session that I’m on and I confess I was bricking it worried that either no one would turn up – we were up against a popular lecture and the signing – but we did have attendees.

And it was fun. Everyone had a go, we filled the time and we even sold some copies of the book, proceeds of which go to the NSPCC – you can buy one here.

Then something strange happened. I hit the wall. I’d been quite tired since Thursday night when we got stuck on the M25 for three hours and I think the sleepiness must have accumulated like strata until I fell asleep in my room last night, having laid down for “just a moment”. Anyway, I feel human now.

Now to get some writing done before the day starts proper.


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