Good intentions

29 09 2008

I’ve just got back from Wales after a long weekend and am feeling pretty relaxed.

I had intended to use the time off to get a whole bunch of writing related tasks done but it didn’t quite pan out as planned. I started well enough by looking at the structure of the first draft and working out why/where the rhythm of the story felt wrong, this is quite useful for deciding what method to use on the redraft. In this instance the majority of the work is going to be about improving the prose style (the first draft was written quite some time ago) and providing flesh to the characters’ stories. Or put another way: a full rewrite.

Then I went back to Wales.

And well…writing at my folks place is a bit hit and miss – particularly if I don’t stick to my early morning routine. But I got to see lots of my niece and my siblings and the sun even came out for a while making it quite hard to grumble about only doing a thousand words. The plus side is of course I’m now keen to get on with it as my brain has started ticking over with ideas.

In other news I have another backlog of short stories waiting to go out – I’m going to have to sort that out this week. Bookrater also has another review live, I’ve added an RSS feed on the sidebar here and so you should see new reviews there as they go up – I’m not always very good at pimping stuff like that.

Lots happening in October: going to see Amanda Palmer at the Koko in a couple of weeks, Neil Gaiman a few weeks after that and then there’s a friend’s wedding to attend. I’m sure there will be some inevitable hijinks to report – it is after all me.

Anyway. That’s all for now.

Bookrater Review: Making Money

26 09 2008

New review up at

Making Money by Terry Pratchett

The Discworld series Terry Pratchett created is, like the reviewer, getting to the stage where it can no longer pass for young and has to face up to the reality of being fully grown. That being the case, does Making Money represent the best this milieu can offer?

Read the whole review

Friday Flash Fiction: Lessons

26 09 2008

This post has moved. Read the full story here:

All a bit rushed this week but here goes:

By Neil Beynon

They met in the square near the river, the whoops and cheers of the bars and the brothels bounced over the granite of the buildings lending the square the feel of an empty room at a party. Leaves, wet from the recent rain, lay in clumps – dropped like draughts’ pieces across the paving stones.

Nikolei waited patiently beneath the porch of the church, the spire piercing the low-slung clouds, his collar drawn up against the autumn wind. Trying to ignore the waft of sewage from the river, swollen as it was from the recent rain. He did not know if Mikhail would manage to turn up but he could not risk abandonment, not now when the book was at stake.

Mikhail walked across the square, his metal tipped boots punishing the paving stones in loud tones that echoed. He was wrapped up against the autumn whether, his pea coat wrapped tight around him, his head encased in a woollen hat and his beard flecked with the remnants of the last downpour.

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Forever blurbing

25 09 2008

As is customary when working on long projects here is the blurb for Forever:

In Japan a stranger emerges from a very long rest.

In Germany a plane crashes, a lone survivor emerges from the wreckage.

In London a bomb explodes killing many and creating an instant media hero out of Jonathan Newman.

His actions captured on videotape and at a loss to explain his survival, Jonathan finds himself thrust into the limelight – the poster boy for a city trying to find its response to terror. Followed by people he doesn’t know, haunted by the man he couldn’t save and a woman he saw die but who still draws breath, Jonathan tries to pull his life together. Yet he’s already too late, drawn deeper and deeper into a feud that goes back centuries and a war that has been going on forever…

Apologies for the pseudo dramatic voice over that keeps creeping into these things. Possibly something I need to work on. On the rather more dull, technical side: it’s an urban fantasy about -amongst other things – love, and most likely the first of at least two books possibly three depending on whether I can tie everything up in the second book.


22 09 2008

A while back now I stopped reviewing books here on the blog.

At the time it wasn’t meant to be a pause but a seamless transition to a second blog, self-hosted, that would carry book reviews and related content. The original idea was to build a more commercial site that would eventually carry advertising and that I could use to play with online marketing techniques* – that way it didn’t matter if I messed up because the property was mine.

I bought the domain (, I installed wordpress, I went trawling for plugins and generally mucked about with the software instead of writing content. In the end I got bored and left it. Only I didn’t carry on reviewing on my original blog, a somewhat stupid move given how useful they are as content when not much is happening.

Anyway, as part of yesterday’s moment of insight I realised that it doesn’t matter if I haven’t designed my own perfect masthead or if my rater plugin doesn’t quite do what I want. All that really matters is the content. And so I wrote my first review in ages, turned on the search engine features and posted that bad boy. Bookrater is live.

I can’t promise it won’t undergo a number of changes over the next few months until I settle on a look I like but I can promise reviews and eventually not just from me. I’m hoping, given time, people will jump on the comments thread and we’ll be able to get a discussion going, but even if that doesn’t happen at least I’ll have a nice record of my reading. As it reflects my interests by follow on it won’t just include genre books, or even just fiction, in fact the first review is of a biography.

Anyway, take a look and keep checking back over the coming days. I’ll let you know when new reviews go up.

* That’s how I earn my crust at present.


21 09 2008

I’ve been trawling around trying to decide what to do next in my writing.

On finishing TSG* I started something new, something completely different and wrote a first draft of a story (Ice) that will either be hacked to pieces to short story length or will remain a completely unsellable novella. I finished Ice but it wasn’t much fun to be honest, the story reflecting the writer’s state of mind (not great at the time) a little too much. Since then I’ve been pretty much redrafting and finishing short story projects that were left by the wayside during my redrafting of TSG. I also reread the first draft of my other novel length project (Forever).

On my list of things to do Forever is meant to be next. Only I’ve got quite a few (at least three possibly as many as five) things I’d like to be writing – all novel length – and apparently I have to do a day job (shocking I know). And so I’ve spent a great deal of time dithering, anguishing and otherwise being a pretentious arse, ostensibly under the guise of deciding what to do next.

Then purely by chance as I was checking the stats here on, I came across this guest post by Justina Robson. Justina was one of the tutors on Arvon and in reading the Q & A I was reminded of something she’d said whilst I was at Arvon. It was along the lines of you can mess around all you want with notes and plans and maps and thinking but ultimately you’re not writing while you’re doing that, don’t kid yourself that you are, at some point you have to sit down and write.

And I realised I was being an arse. Sometimes you just have to get on with it, otherwise projects go on for…well forever.

That’s a pretty accurate view into the writer part of my brain: chaotic indecision followed by brief glimpses of seeming insight that are usually a result of remembering words by far wiser people than myself and/or irritating self-analysis.

Only there’s currently a lot of snot as well, ain’t colds great?

* Of course the truth is nothing is ever really finished. Whilst The Scarred God has tested rather better with my unsuspecting test readers than expected, it did still bring with it a host of corrections. Some of which I’m doing right now.

Friday Flash Fiction: Fallen

19 09 2008

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

This week’s flash:

By Neil Beynon

There is a light coming from under the door. I can hear the sound of an engine idling outside and briefly the hope flickers in my aching chest that it is someone come to help me. But how can that be the case? I have not phoned – it is too far from where I am lying and my body will not co-operate. I have not screamed for my mouth is full of liquid copper and it hurts to draw breath too deeply.

The room is dark from where the power went out but I can see from the light spilling in from the patio doors, the neighbour’s security light fixed on the house like an interrogation light. The fallen armchair looks like some ancient dead beast of burden struck down on the edge of the light and swathed in shadow, its legs splayed in wooden rigor. No: stop that. I mustn’t think about death. Optimism is key.

I can hear it moving just out of view. It’s worse than when I could see it, its pallid skin iridescent in the artificial light and my reflection glinting back at me from its obsidian eyes. That’s when I knew how serious the fall was: things – important things – weren’t at the right angles.

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