Simon Wood

Simon Wood's Blog

This one is for the writers amongst you. Over the last few years, I’ve developed a number of online writing courses for Sisters In Crime. The workshops haven’t been available outside of their membership until now. I’m planning on having a different writing workshop every month, but I’m kicking off this first phase with five classes. Here’s what’s on the docket:

The start dates for the classes are as follows (just click the links for course details):
KILLER SUSPENSE: May 18th
PLOT THICKENERS: June 8th
MANAGING POINTS OF VIEW (POV): July 6th
SHORT STORIES: August 3rd
AUTHOR PROFESSIONALISM: September 7th

The nitty gritty:
The format of classes is a mix of videos and handouts as part of an online classroom.
The classes run for two weeks with 6 to 7 lessons in each workshop, except for the plotting workshop, which is three weeks.
With every lesson, there’s an assignment and feedback. You aren’t obliged to do the homework or send it to me for feedback. It’s entirely up to you.
The class is conducted via groups.io. People are expected to join in and comment on everybody’s work.
Lessons will be posted every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. That is subject to change. If people need more time then I will slow the lessons down.

Workshop cost: $50 each (exception for the Plot Thickeners – that’s $65)

FYI, there’s discount if you sign up for multiple classes. Also, if you have any fellow writers you think would be interested, there’s a $5 discount for each student you refer who signs up.

If you’d like to sign up, please send me an email.

Let me know if you have any questions.

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It’s been a pretty crappy last few weeks with canceled projects and events due to the Corona virus, but finally a shaft of light! I won HAW CREEK HORROR‘s contest for real life ghost stories.  I saw the call for true stories about the paranormal and on a whim, I entered.  I was quite chuffed to take the win.

The story is called MY OTHER SISTER and it’s my account of an apparition I encountered when I was seven-years-old. To this day, I can’t explain what happened but the events still haunt me now forty-five years later.

You can read the piece here and I hope it give you some chills while you are in isolation. 🙂

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Ebook distributor, Smashwords, is having an “Authors Give Back” special sale.  So for the next 30 days, a large number of my books are 30% off. This is includes some of my French language titles and the sale includes all formats to cover all ereaders.

If you need something to read during the global quarantine, please them out here & please share this post.  Thanks and stay safe.

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As I’ve done with my last few books, I’ve created a playlist for my Cockney Rhyming Slang inspired book TROUBLE & STRIFE. Each title relates to one of the stories in the book (although I’ve taken liberties with a couple of songs):

Steve Brewer’s BABBLING BROOK (slang for crook).
Song “The fun lovin’ criminal” – Fun Lovin’ Criminals.

Angel Luis Colón’s BUNSEN BURNER (slang for earner, as in making money).
Song “Earned it” – The Weeknd.

Johnny Shaw’s DICKY DIRT (slang for shirt).
Song “T-shirt weather” – Circa Waves.

Paul Finch’s MR. KIPPER (slang for Jack the Ripper).
Song “Jack the Ripper” – Screaming Lord Sutch.

Jay Stringer’s HALF INCH (slang for pinch as in to steal).
Song “Pinch me” – Bare-naked Ladies.

Catriona McPherson’s BARNET FAIR (slang for hair).
Song “Hair” – The Cowsills.

Susanna Calkins’ TEA LEAF (slang for thief).
Song “Nothing but thieves” – Amsterdam.

Travis Richardson’s LEE MARVIN (slang for starving).
Song “Wand’rin star” – Lee Marvin.

Colin Campbell’s TROUBLE & STRIFE (slang for wife).
Song “Trouble and strife” – Béla Fleck and the Flecktones.

Sam Wiebe’s A LADY FROM BRISTOL (slang for pistol).
Song “Who’s that lady” – Isley Brothers.

Robert Dugoni’s PLEASURE & PAIN (slang for rain).
Song “Love reign o’er me” – The Who.

As I curated this criminal enterprise, I chose “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne and “Strife” by Trivium.

If you’ve read the book, these songs will make a lot of sense and if you haven’t, it should give you an inkling as to what to expect.

Learn more about the book here and listen to all the song below

 

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TROUBLE & STRIFE picked up a great review from Mystery Scene magazine (which is on the right of the screen).  It came with the quotable line:

TROUBLE & STRIFE, edited by Simon Wood, is a clever (and very good) themed anthology.”

I wasn’t sure how the anthology was going to be received because the book is very thematic, so I was very pleased to see such a positive assessment.  It was so nice to so many of the authors singled out for praise.

If the review image is a little hard on the eyes, you can read the complete review here.

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It’s a new year and that means I receive annual royalty statements for a couple of my books. One such book was LOWLIFES. It’s been a pretty successful book, but the publisher said, “Royalties have fallen off the edge of a cliff. I guess books do have a finite life.”

I understand the sentiment but I disagree. The problem I have (and it’s a nice one to have) is that I have close to two dozen titles in publication. That means some books will take the limelight while others are pushed into the shadows. It’s not necessarily my early books. My most popular titles are usually the latest and my first.

So I want to shine some light on what could be considered my forgotten titles.

LOWLIFES: Larry Hayes is a decorated police inspector with a substance abuse problem and he has to investigate himself as to whether he murdered a homeless man. I have a soft spot for this slice of pulpy noir because I was commissioned to write this piece from a brief outline.

HOT SEAT: This is the second of the Aidy Westlake motor racing mysteries. Aidy gets his first professional drive but soon finds himself press ganged into investigating the murder of a team mechanic by his gangster brother. Again with many of the Aidy Westlake stories, it’s based on my own experiences in the motor racing world.

ROAD RASH: Straley is a bank robber on the run, but the situation takes a downward turn after he steals a car from a fatal car wreck. He develops an all consuming rash within hours of driving away, but the disease isn’t bacterial. He will lose everything, including his skin on a journey to redemption. The story is partially inspired by a personal encounter with Santeria believers.

WORKING STIFFS: This was my first collection of short stories all with a workplace theme. The publisher asked me to come up with the themed collection after reading one of the stories. I rose to the challenge by coming up with stories that ranged from the police workplace all the way to the criminal workplace. Everything is a job…even crime.

I would love it if you’d check these books out. They might not be the bells of the ball, but you’d like them just as much. You just have to get to know them.

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My cockney rhyming slang themed book TROUBLE & STRIFE has been in the news media a bit of late so I thought I would catch up on all you’ve missed.

AUTHOR ON THE AIR radio interview.

THE BIG THRILL magazine interview.

Travis Richardson interviews all the contributors on SLEUTH SAYERS.

Susanna Calkins discusses being a “tea leaf” on her website.

I hope you’ll support the book by picking up a copy because all writers put a lot of thought and time into their stories and it would be great to reward them for all their hard work.  If you’ve not snagged your copy of TROUBLE & STRIFE, you can do so here!

 

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For those who’ve taken an interest in my Cockney Rhyming Slang themed book TROUBLE & STRIFE might be interested to see rhyming slang in use.  This snippet of LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS turns the volume up to 11 on CRS.  It’s a linguistic joy.  Enjoy with my compliments.  🙂

I hope this’ll tempt you into snapping the book up.  The people involved worked their bottles off to bring it to you.

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The New Year marks twenty years since my first published work, which was a short story in a science fiction magazine.  I thought I would mark this personal landmark moment with some stats:

  • More than 20 books published.
  • Had my work translated into 10 languages.
  • Almost 2 million books sold.
  • Published by 20 publishers.
  • Over 100 short stories and articles published. 
  • A USA TODAY and a BILD (in Germany) bestseller.
  • Anthony Award winner & a Crime Writers’ Association Dagger Award nominee.
  • Mentioned by Den of Geek, Buzzfeed & Writer’s Digest.
  • Oddest publication: On the side of a coffee can.
  • Oddest book moment: The Queen talking to my dad about my books.
  • Proudest moment: Bouchercon Toastmaster.
  • Saddest moment: Too many to mention.

I never thought my writing would get me this far.  It’s rarely been an easy adventure, but I’m glad I stuck with it.  Not sure where the next 20yrs will take me.

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Colorful lanaguage has inspired my new book TROUBLE & STRIFE.  I love colorful language. The sheer creativity of subverting our day to day speech is something I enjoy. That’s the essence of slang. Every culture uses slang where people throw away the formality of language to convey an emotion or a situation in a succinct phrase. In my opinion, no other slang form is more enjoyable than Cockney rhyming slang where rhyme is incorporated.

So what is Cockney rhyming slang? It’s essentially a code. You take a word, replace that word with a word that rhymes with it, then turn it into a phrase.

Example: the word ‘Look.’ Look rhymes ‘hook.’ Turn ‘hook’ into a phrase and you get ‘butcher’s hook.’ Butcher’s hook is a classic cockney rhyming slang for look.

Other classic rhyming slang phrases include:

Dog and bone…meaning phone.
Holy water…meaning daughter.
Plates of meat…meaning feet.
Sky rocket…meaning pocket.

If you’re really clever with your rhyming slang, it can be an ironic phrase for the original word, like with ‘Trouble and strife’ which is rhyming slang for ‘wife.’

Now the fun doesn’t stop there. Oh no! Invariably, to incorporate your rhyming slang into a sentence, you would drop the rhyming word and just say Butcher’s instead of Butcher’s Hook. So if someone said to you, “Give me a Butcher’s?” The person would be asking to have a look at something in your possession.

So what are the origins of Cockney rhyming slang? It originated out of London’s East End in the mid-1900’s and was supposedly used by criminals to prevent undercover cops from listening in on their conversations. Like many things in British culture, that explanation has been disputed. While there are several other similar explanations, none seem definitive. The only concrete information is when, where and by whom.

Cockney rhyming slang still flourishes over a hundred and fifty years later. It’s no longer restricted to a particular enclave of London. It’s part of the national lexicon with regional differences and the incorporation of modern references have superseded many traditional phrases, such as ‘Chevy Chase’ overtaking ‘Boat race’ for meaning ‘face.’

The thing I love about Cockney rhyming slang is that the phrases paint colorful pictures. My favorite rhyming slang is the ‘Gypsy’s Kiss.” That creates such an imaginative visual of the story behind those two evocative words…although we should ignore that it’s actually slang for ‘piss.’ It was the evocativeness of Cockney rhyming slang that I wanted to use for this anthology. I wanted these colorful phrases to inspire the contributors to come up with a story. I chose writers from both the North America and the UK to exploit their familiarity and unfamiliarity with the rhyming slang.

To see what they came up with, turn the page and have a butcher’s.  There’s more about the book and purchase it here.

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