Friday Flash Fiction: Shard

29 02 2008

This post has moved. You can read the full story here:

Not having the best of weeks this is a little late in the day, I hope you enjoy anyway.

By Neil Beynon

The shard felt smooth like glass as he rested its not insignificant weight in his hand, he looked down at it; purple stone flashing in the grey mid afternoon sun. The wind ran its fingers through his hair, ran its icy lips down the open wound in his chest and sucked on his blood soaked hand. And he was not sorry.

The shard, warm when he withdrew it from its home within his chest, was growing cool but flashed one last time in his hand, threw one last roll of the dice as the stone flared in the open air.

“What are you doing boy?”

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Columbo Villain of The Week: Hiatus

27 02 2008

Sorry all. No villain this week.

The Woodsman and some other projects (including the pesky day job) have soaked up rather more time than planned. I should get back to normal service next week.

Kind of bummed out at the moment but this cheered me somewhat:

I was bought The Hobbit by my father when I was very young, six or seven I think and a few years later I was given The Lord of The Rings by my great uncle. These battered paperbacks remain amoungst my most prized books and like many writers Tolkien was one of my earliest influences. I think it’s great that this archive material is making its way onto the internet.

Kudos to SF Signal for bringing it to wider attention.

The perils of chugging

26 02 2008

Another train story for your enjoyment.

No, not the return of the infamous butt clencher, today’s man of the moment was of a different order completely. And it wasn’t just me but the whole carriage he freaked out.

Now *coughs* I freely admit I’m no exercise junky but I am able to run for a train without too much impact on my appearance but it seems this is not the case for everyone. We’re sitting on the train in Abbey Wood getting ready to leave when a gentleman of not small proportions barrels onto the train.

Having crashed onto the train this rotund mountain of a man executes an epic flump onto his seat, he then proceeds to breath so heavily it draw wild eyed glances from people seven rows away from him.

At first you think he’s just catching his breath, but after one stop you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s milking it and after two there’s something a little odd going on. When he started shuddering rhythmically I confess I wanted to move and had it not been packed I probably would of.*

Instead I sat there with that Billy Connolly sketch involving a jogger and a rubber band going round and round my head.

Cheers Billy.

*And before anyone asks he wasn’t having a coronary, he got o…disembarked the train looking fine.

Amsterdam: Reflections

23 02 2008

1. It is impossible to find your way round without a map and, if you do get lost, the women in the windows aren’t interested in giving you directions.

2. You need to look up in Amsterdam, if you keep looking at ground level you’re missing the architecture. Also you’re probably a perv.

3. Good news: the car drivers aren’t trying to kill you.

4. Bad news: cyclists and tram drivers are trying to kill you.

5. Even in Amsterdam the bar staff are Australian.

6. In mainland Europe all hotels must feature neon lighting in the bar. It’s the law.

7. You know how in the UK nowhere accepts Solo or Maestro, in Holland it’s the other way round.

8. Blacklights mean sleaze in any country and no one believes that look of innocent surprise so stop pretending.

9. It’s quite hard to be more inefficient than Heathrow but Schiphol likes a challenge.

10. Beer brewed by monks should be consumed with care. Alcohol and religious zeal do not mix well as anyone who’s been to a Swansea Vs. Cardiff game can attest.

Friday Flash Fiction: The Woodsman (Teaser)

22 02 2008

This post has moved. You can read it here:

Somewhat predictably it’s been impossible this week to set aside time to write any Flash Fiction however I did, by chance, notice that the opening sequence of The Woodsman was exactly 1000 words long [due to a last minute edit it is now shorter]. Clearly it was a sign.

And so here’s the opening of The Woodsman, as ever feedback is appreciated.

The Woodsman (a fragment)
By Neil Beynon

The soldiers chased the torn and bleeding girl across the hills. In spite of the wounds she ran swiftly and unerringly towards the forest. Behind her, drawing closer all the time, the men of war spat and cursed as they came.

When she first managed to free herself from the embrace of the latest of large group of soldiers that had used her the other men had whooped and cheered. They enjoyed her deception – she’d led a youngster in to believing she’d stopped resisting then, when he had let her hand slide free, she’d reached down with her jagged, bloody nails and ripped. They laughed at her spirit as he fell off her screaming. She saw her chance and took it. She ran, to the delight of the drunken men who stood watching but then, when they realised the girl had enough strength that she might get away, they followed.

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22 02 2008

Well, I’ve just gotten back from a short but intense business trip to Amsterdam, helped as ever by my own inability to use a map.

Internet access and time were at a premium hence the lack of bloggage during the last couple of days. There’ll be more on Amsterdam once I’ve sorted out some free fiction for your entertainment.

So basically this is just a short one to say normal service is should resume in the next few hours. Right. Coffee and a pen…

Columbo Villain of The Week: Arnold Schwarzenegger

20 02 2008

This week’s Columbo villain of the week is the governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Schwarzenegger has had several successful careers in his lifetime. Originally hailing from Austria he made the jump to the US when his bodybuilding career exploded at an exponential rate that saw him win the Mr Universe contest age twenty. Using his earnings from his first career he trained in business and ploughed future winnings into a number of businesses catching him his first million a fair time before he first said ‘I’ll be back’.


From there Arnie made the jump to movies and most people know how that went, once his chrome plated star began to tarnish he cast his eyes at where retired actors go to await the final curtain call: politics. Elected as governor of California in an emergency recall election many were sceptical whether the famously flamboyant and roving eyed oak would weather the world of politics. Defying his critics Arnie was re-elected last year, this time for a full term.

Over achiever doesn’t really cover it when it comes to the Terminator.

You’d be forgiven for admiring Arnie, a self made man who pretty much got where he is by hard graft and his own intelligence. Of course you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs or committing a few questionable tactics in his body building contests or injecting large amounts of anabolic steroids.

And, whatever you tell the person who interrupted, eating is cheating big boy. (Allegedly).

Yes, wherever Arnie goes controversy follows. He’s only getting away with it at the moment because there’s a despotic nutcase in the white house – and Bush is pretty stupid too. Yes, mark my words, if Obama gets in Arnie’s up shit creek because the press have to go after someone and it ain’t going to be the first black president of the US. There are some pretty large skeletons lurking in Arnie’s over-sized closet.

I can see it now…

Barbara Boxer retires and Arnie announces he is running for the senate. Enraged by his rise to power Anna Richardson gets herself a freelance contract with USA Today and starts digging. In a small shop in Portsmouth, where Arnie once stayed on his rise to the top, she finds what she’s looking for. Arnie’s big secret. Not women, not drugs, not bad 70s action films and not a closet right wing agenda.

Far worse: a muscle suit.

Arnie or Arthur

That’s right. Arnie is really a five foot four, one hundred and forty pound weakling called Arthur Biggins, the creation of a really good theatrical make up artist by the name of Rupert, based out of Portsmouth, England. Even that Austrian accent is put on. Richardson obtains the original ledger orders from the sixties proving that Arnie is in fact Arthur.

Richardson is about to send on her story to USA Today when she realises there is an opportunity to earn even larger amounts of money, after all he paid up for one (alleged) grope – what would he pay for this?

Arnie is left reeling after discovering his long held secret is in the hands of the woman who nearly derailed his political career and she never put out; she’s not to be trusted. Head in his hands, Cuban cigar in his mouth and mirror set up to observe his artificial biceps Arnie just doesn’t know what to do. Then he sets eyes on his newest houseguest, The Fox (AKA Basil Brush).

Basil Brush

Basil, wanted for the attempted murder of Madonna, is on the run and has found refuge with his old flame Maria Shriver (or Mrs Schwarzenegger as she is now). They met when he was an eighties children’s TV star, she was a TV journalist, it was just one of those things: their schedules never synced. They remained friends.

Arnie pours out his problems to Basil who agrees to off Richardson. And so the plan swings into action.

The Fox, using his residual television charm agrees to meet Richardson to provide a scoop on why Guy tried to have his wife killed and why the Fox agreed to take the contract. They meet in a little club off the strip that Basil likes to frequent when he’s got money in his pocket.

When Richardson goes to the bathroom, Basil has already been there and placed an exploding loofah on the sink. Confused Richardson lifts the loofah and she’s poofah (that’s a bad one even for me).

Arnie is immensely relieved when he sees the news that day, so relieved he’s happy to talk to the small homicide detective who likes his cigars so much he takes three when he thinks Arnie isn’t looking. He’s not here about Richardson; no he’s chasing the Fox and wants to talk to Maria.

Arnie’s not bothered, he’s a certainty for the senate and he’s deep into plotting his plan to correct that pesky paragraph on the US constitution. But look it’s that detective once more and he’s carrying a large cigar, no it’s a burnt loofah. What’s that on the side of it: Schwarzenegger.


Interesting times

19 02 2008

In a bold and some might say foolish move Borders have partnered with lulu to open up in store distribution to self publishers. For $499 you can have your manuscript evaluated, interior page design and formatting, a free copy, your book can be ordered in store and your book “may” be eligible for in-store sales.

I’m not sure what I think about this yet. On the one hand it’s great that people are trying to develop new models but on the other hand I think at $499 (about £250) they’re undervaluing the role of an editor in making a book a success. And don’t even get me started on marketing (or in their model lack of).

What say you?

The Woodsman: Update 3

18 02 2008

Last week did not go according to plan. Work was unexpectedly hectic with seemingly one minor drama after another until I was so tired I couldn’t sign my own name – I don’t know who that Nile guy is but his handwriting’s even worse than mine.

As you’ll know the plan was to descend on York for the viking festival but I’m afraid as soon as I stopped running around the cold I’d been fighting off for about a week kicked in. Being a man I retired to my bed. There was subsequently a dearth of viking shenanigans.

There has been rather more writing. The benefit of being sick is you get to sit on the sofa with your laptop without feeling guilty. As a result Chapter 1, draft three is more or less in the bag – a couple of minor corrections from my test reader but other than that it’s done. Meanwhile I’ve broken ground on Chapter two, where rather more structural work is required to even out the pacing and develop the themes.

I’ve also, because it’s been two weeks, dusted off the short story that I wrote in January and completed the first revision – this is now with test readers. I’ve put a lot more of me into this one than I normally do, writing it was actually quite hard and I’m not sure I’ve gone far enough in some places – we’ll see.

Forthcoming highlights include a business trip to Amsterdam on Wednesday through to Friday and the return of Columbo Villain of the Week (it’s Arnie this week). Hope your weekend was fun.