Simon Wood

Posts Tagged: did not finish

My frustrated DJ self emerges yet again for a playlist for my the latest Aidy Westlake book, HALF-INCHED. The playlist reflects the various themes and plotlines from the book series. If you’ve read the books, these songs will make a lot of sense and if you haven’t, it should give you an inkling as to what to expect. Either way, the songs should result in a shake of the head…or a groan.

So here’s what’s on the playlist:

“The Distance.” – Cake

“Fast Car.” – Tracy Chapman

“Jerry Was Racecar Driver” – Primus

“The Road To Hell” – Chris Rea

“Shut Up And Drive” – Rhianna

“Cars” – Gary Newman

“Road To Nowhere” – Talking Heads

“Keep The Car Running” – Arcade Fire

“Everyday Is A Winding Road” – Sheryl Crow

“One Headlight” – The Wallflowers

“Passenger Seat” – Death Cab For Cutie

“Drive” – The Cars

“Passenger Side” – Wilco

“Granddad” – Clive Dunn

If you have any musical suggestions, leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to the playlist.  Now just hit play to listen. Enjoy!!

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Aidy Westlake is back!!  The full-time racecar driver and part-time investigator returns in HALF-INCHED.  Again, Aidy and his crew are up to their necks in trouble.  The storyline is as follows.

“Christmas has gone sideways for racecar driver, Aidy Westlake. Aidy’s grandfather, Steve, was just putting the finishing touches on a classic Ford GT40 he was restoring for a British millionaire when it was stolen from his workshop. They quickly establish that the supercar was stolen to order and is in now in Moldova in the hands of the notorious gangster, Lupul. There’s a wrinkle. The police in Moldova don’t care. The theft of a rich man’s toy doesn’t rank high on their priorities. The client’s ultimatum is simple—cover his one million pound loss or recover the car by Christmas Day. With the threat of financial ruin hanging over his grandfather’s head, Aidy’s crew has only one option—steal the car back.”

This story takes place between the novels DID NOT FINISH and HOT SEAT.

The book comes out on Christmas Day but you can preorder it from Amazon and Amazon UK.  I hope you enjoy it.

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It’s the end of the year, so I’m being a reflecty. I won’t say it’s been my best year ever but it’s been pretty good all things considered.
It’s been a pretty good writing year.  I didn’t have a new book out this year but I did have two re-issues in the form of DID NOT FINISH & HOT SEAT.  I also had two books translated into German and it was a lot of fun working with editors and translators tailoring a story to a foreign culture.  I was happy to see some new short fiction out in the form of THE FRAME MAKER & PATHFINDER and CRESTFALLEN.  I finished THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY and I think it’s turned out well.  And book sales have been pretty good.  A couple of titles are still waiting to be discovered though.  Readers really do need to get on that.
Bouchercon was a highlight although a scary one.  It was a great honor to be the toastmaster at this year’s World Mystery Convention.  Public speaking is something I do because I have to and not something I enjoy, so it’s hard to say I had fun, but I was more than happy to have done it.  I was touched by some of the remarks made by some of my favorite authors.  As scary, touching, exciting and tiring as it all was, I would do it again.    
This year has been a year where people have wanted me for my mind and not just my words.  I seem to be building a reputation for my industry knowledge.  I did put on several seminars for writers and a publisher hired me as a consultant to help with a book launch.  I want to keep building in this direction as it’s good to have an additional string to my bow.
Away from the keyboard there’ve been some good things too.  I’ve continued to improve cycling prowess.  My times were better across all events although I’ve yet to crack a 100k in 3hrs.  For me, cycling is where I do all my story thinking.
On the home front, things came together albeit with a little elbow grease.  After last year’s debacle with our mortgage lender who nearly financially ruined us with their incompetence, we’ve paid off the mortgage, replaced the windows, installed solar and gone with a tankless water system.  We’re now lean and green, but more importantly, we’re self supporting.  Being a writer means being an independent contractor, so by keeping overheads low, I can weather any writing storms that should come my way.  
There have been a couple of disappointments along the way.  A TV pilot deal fell by the wayside along with a few other things.  August proved particularly hard on the soul where three publishing deals fell through.  Naturally, these things happen and as a writer, you just roll with the punches and move on to the next opportunity.

Overall 2014 has been solid.  It’s been another good foundation year where I’ve continued to solidify my position as a full time writer.  I’m quite excited about next year.  There are some good things planned for THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY.  I’m hoping to seal the deal on some new things.  All in all, I hope it’s going to be a big year.

That’s me, but what about you?  How’s your year been?

Categories: shelf life

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Well, I pulled it off!  I’m back from Long Beach, California and the biggest gig of my writing career (thus far).  I was the toastmaster for this year’s Bouchercon (aka the World Mystery Convention).  I was honored to have been asked seeing as over the forty-five year history of the convention there’s been less than thirty toastmasters.  Past toastmasters have included Lee Child, Val McDermid, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, William Kent Kruger, Reginald Hill and Sue Grafton.  So while I was honored, I was pretty nervous about the role.  I kept thinking, shouldn’t they have gotten a grownup for this?
Besides me, this year’s guests of honor were Jeffery Deaver (Lifetime recipient), JA Jance (American Guest), Eoin Colfer (Young Adult/Children’s Guest), Edward Marston (International Guest) and Al Abramson (Fan Guest)—who to their collective credit never mistook me for a hotel employee.  In all seriousness, despite having not previously met these people, they were very sweet to me and we worked well as a group.
My Toastmaster Award before I broke it
Of all the guests of honor, the toastmaster is the tough one as that poor sap has real work to do.  I had to preside over the opening and closing ceremonies, the live auction, present the Anthony Awards and generally act as the hype man for the event.  The job that concerned me most was running the opening ceremonies because it sets the tone for the convention and I have to come up with a speech.  Around two thousand people attend the convention and about a third attends to the opening gala.  Luckily for me around fifteen hundred decided to attend…so no pressure there.  I’ll be honest, public speaking is something I do, not something I enjoy, so as people poured in, my nerves grew.  Impressing fifteen hundred people of all ages and backgrounds is a hard thing to pull off.  But it looks as if I pulled it off, according to Publisher’s Weekly.  They called me ‘witty.’  I was hoping for erudite or urbane, but I’ll take witty.  I wonder if I can quote them now???
One of the perks of being a guest of honor is an interview.  The wonderful Catriona McPherson—a Scot and fellow ex-pat—got the job of interviewing me.  I think we needed subtitles for the American audience. 
Every Bouchercon supports a local charity or two.  This year was the Long Beach Public Library Foundation and WriteGirl.  So, I want to mention my charity item winners: Barb Kreisel who paid $350 for a poster featuring me from my motor racing days, Janet Costello who paid nearly $200 to have lunch for me and Sarah Byrne who paid for our lunch, Danna Dennis Wilberg who donated handmade chocolates in a ‘Simon Wood’ box and to all the people who bought DID NOT FINISH in the run up to Bouchercon.  I donated $110 to WriteGirl because of it.
If I didn’t have enough on my plate during the convention, I had a couple of extracurricular events.  I was elected to the national board of Sisters In Crime. Apparently, sisters are doing it for themselves but only when I’m around.  I also ran off to do some filming.  More on that another time…
Sue Grafton getting her autograph from me
Of all the things that happened during the convention, there was one stand out moment—and that was went Sue Grafton tracked me down for my autograph.  It was quite a surreal moment.  I’m still a fan boy at heart and I’ve been quite lucky to have met some of my favorite authors and even luckier to call some of them friends but I’m still weirded out when something like Sue—who I’d never met before—chased me down.  The weirdness continued when Gayle Lynds tracked me down for a congratulatory hug.  I met over Gayle over ten years ago when my first book came out and she helped me recognize my particular brand of storytelling.  She’s been a supporter ever since. 
All in all, I’m very grateful to the Bouchercon organizers for picking me to be their toastmaster.  It was an event to remember.  I cherish their faith in me and the lovely award they gave—that I promptly broke.  Sorry about that.
I also want to say thanks for all the support of my friends who attended and all the Bouchercon attendees who laughed at my dumb jokes and seemingly meant it. Thanks to the TSA for choosing my bags to examine, empty, bend and crease everything I didn’t want creased.
Finally, to all convention planners looking for a toastmaster, I’m available.

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As people are aware, well I hope they’re aware, I am the toastmaster at this year’s Bouchercon (aka the World Mystery Convention) to be held in Long Beach, California next week.  With every Bouchercon, the convention supports a couple of local charities.  This year, it’s the Long Beach Library Foundation and WriteGirl.
I’m doing my best to support both these auctions.  Last month I auctioned off a poster of me from my motor racing days that went for $350.  The proceeds went to the library foundation.  Now, I’m doing something to benefit WriteGirl, a charity that encourages creative writing and mentors teenage girls.
So between now and the Bouchercon live auction on November 14th, I will donate the royalties from the worldwide sale of the first Aidy Westlake novel, DID NOT FINISH.  This applies to the paperback, eBook and audio book and isn’t restricted to where it’s bought. 
If you haven’t read the book, I hope you’ll buy a copy.  If already have the book, I hope you’ll give it to someone.  At the very least, you’ll share this message or direct people to this post.  You’ll be making a difference in someone’s life.
Thanks to all.

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I have a special offer for readers of the Aidy Westlake series.  The new paperback editions of DID NOT FINISH & HOT SEAT are now filtering into bookstores.  I’m very pleased because HOT SEAT never came out in paperback first time around. 
For those who aren’t familiar with Aidy Westlake, let me introduce him.  He’s a young racecar driver from the UK who becomes embroiled with seedier side of motor racing.  Essentially, think Dick Francis with a lot more horsepower. 
For those looking for autographed copies, the special offer is—get both titles for $20.00 by hitting the “thriller two-pack” offer at my online bookstore here.
I hope you’ll pick them up.  I think you’d like them.   J

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I have a quick bargain book alert for my UK readers.  Several of my ebook titles—ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN, PAYING THE PIPER, WE ALL FALL DOWN, TERMINATED, ASKING FOR TROUBLE, DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS, DID NOT FINISH & HOT SEAT—are only £1.99.  I don’t know how long the special pricing will last but take advantage of me while you can…book-wise that is.  J
You can find all the titles here: 

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Wives are great things, especially when it comes to pointing out your mistakes.  Last year, my little Julie came to me and pointed to my books and said, “Notice the similarity?”

I stared at my titles and saw the obvious straight away—their sheer awesomeness.  Apparently, that wasn’t what she meant.  She told me to describe them.  I did, then I groaned, then I went to mope in a corner.

Hand on heart, I do my best to be original, to think ahead, to see the big picture, but sometimes I’ll drop the ball.  In this particular case, I managed to drop the ball several times.

So what’s my big mistake—car chases.

My first novel, ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN, opens with the hero being run off the road.  My second novel, PAYING THE PIPER, opens with the hero racing across San Francisco after hearing his son has been kidnapped.  My third book, WE ALL FALL DOWN, novel opens with joy riders chasing after a man only to watch him commit suicide.  TERMINATED broke the cycle with a job evaluation interview.  Then I do fall off the wagon again with THE FALL GUY and ROAD RASH which do feature cars at the beginning but don’t have chases though.

Yes, I am a car nut and we live in a car centric world, but it wasn’t my intention to open all my books with some sort of car motif.  It kind of just happened.  Blame it on my subconscious.

In my defense, my first three books may have come out in that order but they weren’t written in that order.  ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN might have been my first book, but WE ALL FALL DOWN was my second book, while PAYING THE PIPER was my fifth.  NO SHOW and a couple of other unpublished books were in between these three and none of them featured car chases, so don’t go thinking I’m a one trick pony.  Really…don’t.  I am good at this writing thing.  Just give me a chance.

The irony of ironies (in an Alanis Morrissette, ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife kind of a way) is that both of the Aidy Westlake motor racing books which would be totally legitimate in beginning with a car chase don’t!  Looking at the subsequent story lines I have planned, none of those begin with a car chase either.  That isn’t by design.  It just is.  :-/

When it comes to the opening of one of my books, I have one rule—start with a bang.  Throw the readers into the action with little or no preamble and make the opening dramatic—physically or emotionally or both.  That means cutting to the chase.  Maybe I took this chase point a little too much to heart.  I hope you’ll forgive me.  J 

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Something wicked awesome this way comes.
I am very happy to announce the re-launch of my Aidy Westlake mysteries (complete with fantastic new cover art).  The first two books in the series went out of print last year and I’m bringing them back in digital and paperback.  I’m very pleased because HOT SEAT never came out in paperback.  The eBooks came out last week and paperbacks will be available next month.
For those who aren’t familiar with Aidy Westlake, let me introduce him.  He’s a young racecar driver from the UK who becomes embroiled with seedier side of motor racing.  Luckily he’s ably assisted by his ex-Formula One mechanic grandfather and his best friend.  Aidy lives in the shadow of his father, Rob Westlake.  Believed to be the next big thing in Grand Prix racing, Rob died in a car crash along with Aidy’s mother before he ever raced in F1.  He’s determined to go the extra mile that his father never did, but he’s keeps being dragged into crimes associated with the sport.  Essentially, think Dick Francis with a lot more horsepower. 
The books in the series so far are:


When Derek Deacon threatens to kill Alex Fanning, his championship rival, rookie driver Aidy Westlake doesn’t put much stock in it – it’s typical of the intense competitiveness and aggression in their world. But when Fanning dies after making contact with Deacon’s car during a race, a conspiracy ensues: the TV coverage is edited and the police wind up the investigation without interviewing witnesses. Compelled to prove Deacon is the murderer, Aidy pushes for the truth and is drawn into a world of fraud, organized crime and murder.

Available for:


Things are looking good for Aidy Westlake. He’s Pit Lane magazine’s Young Driver of the Year, which has earned him a drive in the European Saloon Car Championship. But his good fortune ends at a race car show when he discovers Jason Gates, a mechanic from a rival team, with his throat cut. The murder sets off a disturbing chain reaction – someone is breaking the rules in the ranks of saloon car racing, on and off the track. 

Available for:

I sincerely hope you’ll check out the books as I’m very proud of them.  Obviously a lot of my own racing experiences provide the backbone for these books and future books in the series.  To answer the question—is Aidy Westlake me?  The answer is no.  He’s a far better driver and a lot more interesting.  J

These books are a prelude as to what is coming later in the year.  There’ll be a novella series starting with PILGRIM’S DROP followed by books three and four, OFF SEASON and THE BRAKING POINT.
I hope all this has your engines revving…

Categories: shelf life

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