Simon Wood

Posts Tagged: dragged into darkness

It’s Halloween and I’d be amiss if I didn’t offer up some of my Halloween scares for you to enjoy this all hallows eve.

In THE SCRUBS, James Jeter, the notorious serial killer with a sixth sense, holds court inside London’s Wormwood Scrubs Prison. He’s the focus of the “North Wing Project.” Under the influence of a hallucinogen, Jeter can create an alternative world known as “The Rift” containing the souls of his victims.

Pardons are on offer to inmates who’ll enter The Rift. Michael Keeler has nothing to lose and little to live for. He’s sent into The Rift to learn the identity of Jeter’s last victim.

It’s a mission where the guilty can be redeemed, but at a price…

 

In DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS, people spend their entire lives staving off the dark — but no matter the measures taken, black paths and shadowy pits lurk in the unlikeliest of places, waiting to pull the unwary into the depths of despair. These eleven tales offer a morbid sampling of the many forms and fashions of terror — from the subtle prickling of neck hairs at the kiss of a ghostly breeze to the raw-throated screams and feverish clawing of a desperate fight for survival. Witness eleven people torn from their ordinary lives and cast into twisted realities that test their sanity, faith, and very will to live… A pilot must land a crippled aircraft on an impossible runway… A doctor feels far too much sympathy for his deformed patients… A schoolgirl’s secret contract could cost her mother’s soul… A woman whose pack rat obsessions hide the obscene… For these and seven others, the darkness comes from within and without, subtle, deadly…and relentless.

Road-Rash-500In ROAD RASH, Straley might think his life is cursed, but it doesn’t compare to what lies ahead of him on life’s highway. He’s on the run with the proceeds of a botched bank robbery. It’s all he has. His crew is dead and his getaway car just died on him. He’s on foot with the cash when he comes across a two-car pileup. There’s no saving the drivers, but he can save himself and steals one of the wrecked cars. But he boosts the wrong set of wheels. Within an hour of driving off, he develops a rash that eats away at his flesh. No doctor can help him–only the car’s original owner. If Straley wants his skin back, he must journey on the road to redemption, which ends in the heart of Central America.

I hope I’ve given you something to keep you busy this Halloween. 🙂

 

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I have the jitters.  Book jitters to be exact.  I always get them with an impending release.  The One That Got Away  is done.  My editors and I have whittled away at it over several months and it’s as good as it’s going to be.  And it’s going to be good, if my editors are to be believed.  My main editor thinks it’s the best book of mine she’s worked on so far.  One of my copyeditors thought it was “breathtaking.”  All these comments should fill me with confidence, but they don’t.  They’ve made me more nervous than normal.  The problem is you—the readers, the public and other sentient beings.  You guys all have minds of your own.  And that’s troubling to me.

The problem is stories are subjective.  No two people see the same thing.  We all bring our own baggage to the party when reading a book.  It doesn’t matter how tightly I construct a story, there’s a chance you’ll miss some of themes I’ve woven into the piece or you’ll read into the story some subtext I never intended (but if it makes me look good I will take credit for it).  So even if we have a meeting of minds, we won’t all connect on the same level.  Even if we all like it.

I learned quite a while ago that readers don’t see things the way I do.  When my first short story collection, DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS, came out, I was convinced which story would be the reader’s favorite—which would coincide with my favorite story.  Unfortunately, it didn’t play out that way.  People’s favorite stories ran from top to bottom with no clear leader.  You’d think all you people are individuals or something. Shesh!

Since then I’ve come to learn that I lose ownership of my books the second they hit the bookshelves.  I have to let go and leave it out there to sink or swim.

frettingDespite that Zen outlook, it doesn’t make me feel any easier, because this is the limbo time.  With only a couple of weeks to go before The One That Got Away is officially released, I fret over whether the book is a good one or a horrible mistake.  It’s very Schrödinger’s Cat.  At this stage of the game the book exists in two states—a work of genius and a total piece of crap—and until someone cracks the binding; I don’t know which I’ve created.  Yes, I should be more confident, but I can’t.  Hand on heart, the response to every one of my books has surprised me, regardless of whether of the criticism is good or bad.  I always think, wow, you thought that?

All I can say I’ve put my heart and soul into the book and I hope that shines through to you, the reader.

Yours in literary purgatory, your humble author,

Simon

 

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I like short stories—both writing them and reading them.  Some of the most memorable fiction I’ve read has been in the form of short stories.  The power of a short story is its brevity.  It can sometimes get the point over better than a novel.  Take Ernest Hemmingway’s six-word masterpiece:
Those six words carry so much potency because we, the reader, are forced to speculate as to what has happened. Hemmingway could have fleshed out the story.  We could have seen a couple write the want ad for the newspaper or have an expectant couple respond to the want ad for the baby shoes.  We could have had the drama and emotion of a much longer tale.  But y’know what?  It wasn’t necessary.  Six words were all that needed to convey the same.  That’s what’s so fantastic about short stories.  They can be a few thousand words or a handful of pages but if the story is well written and the reader brings their imagination to the plate, everyone goes on a much longer journey.

I advocate for the short story because I am always surprised that so many people dislike them.  This post is inspired by some recent reviews I’ve received where some people said they hated short stories and one person complained that they were a cheat on the reading public.  Naturally, people are entitled to their opinion but this opinion surprises me in this day and age.  We consume information at faster and faster rates.  We need everything now and condensed.  Hell, we have a billion dollar company that is founded on communication in 140 characters or less.  It should be a golden age for short stories.  But it isn’t.

When people say they don’t like short stories or don’t read them that’s not strictly true.  If you watch TV drama, you’re watching a short story.  A script for an hour long show is less than fifty pages.  A half hour comedy will top out at twenty five pages at the very, very most.  So don’t tell me you don’t like short stories.  J
So (putting my car salesman hat on) what do I have to do to put you in a short story today?  Beg?  I will if you ask nicely.  Make you dinner?  I can cook.  Babysit your kids?  Let’s not get carried away.  Look, I dare you to read a short story and not enjoy it.  I just ask that you come to it with an open mind and an open heart.  If you want to read one of mine, I have plenty to suggest (just scroll to the bottom of this post).  Want other author recommendations, I’m happy to oblige.  Because I’m going to keep on making the case for them and I’m going to keep on writing them so you just need to give in and do as I say.  It’s for the best.

Look, I’m willing to meet you halfway.  For years I’ve been trying to come up with a six word story as good as Hemmingway’s, but I have developed a taste for the novella in recent years.  I want to write some short stories in the ten to twenty thousand word range (aka 50-100 pages).  Something with plenty of depth that’ll occupy your time on your commute to and from work or during a lunch hour.  Sounds tempting, doesn’t it?  Admit it.  You know it does.
But while I think about it, I can still see the short story stigma being a problem.  It’s a packaging and branding problem.  The short story needs a 21stcentury makeover.  Let’s not call them short stories anymore.  Let’s call them the “Blip Novels.”  Yeah, I like it.  Now they’ll take off.

 

 

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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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People ask me what scares me, what my deepest fears are, and what sends me into a panic. Austin Powers says he fears only two things: nuclear weapons and carnies. I’m different. Pretty much everything frightens me. I think people are usually looking for a man-of-steel kind of an answer. But I have to disappoint. I’m scared of my own shadow. Literally. It’s always there, behind me, creeping up on me. There it is. Arrrrhh!!!

I’ll go into a cold sweat at a Starbucks. The choice dazzles me and I can’t make up my mind what I want. Suddenly that long line looks real short. Now the choice isn’t the scary thing, but what happens when the green aproned personage asks for what I want and my answer is er, I need some more time. I know the people behind me are going to start gnashing their teeth and all because I don’t know what fancy coffee I want. Eek!

Everyday things scare me. I lived in an apartment where the shower curtain had a habit of clinging to me when I got within a foot of it. The material had an odd texture that felt like skin when wet, which was a distinctly unpleasant sensation. I got to fear that damn shower curtain and avoided using it (and Julie got to hate that I didn’t shower). But that was enough to spur a story for DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS about a haunted shower curtain…

A few months back, my Sisters in Crime chapter volunteered to man (or woman) the phones during the local PBS pledge drive. I feared my phone would ring, because I might get someone with a weird name I couldn’t spell. I thought, if I screw up the donation, PBS won’t get their money and Yanni won’t get his funding and he’ll hunt me down like a dog.

So yes, I can make anything scary. It’s a talent. Don’t applaud me all at once. You can’t all be like me.

I made author fears a topic at a World Horror Convention panel. It was a really interesting panel. A number of the authors discussed their darkest fears. Some were parents were frightened by the potential loss of their children. Several had had incidents that led them to write stories.

Fear makes for great storytelling. It’s a fossil fuel with an inexhaustible supply. It drives stories. It forces the reader, the writer and the characters to face what frightens them full on. Stories thrive on conflict and facing your fears is the greatest conflict. No one is fearless, so everyone can relate.

The best scary writing explores our archetypal “core” fears. People fear the unknown, the loss of a loved one, loss of liberty, loss of control, their position in the world. The point is that to write scary stories, you have to be fearful. The adage goes you write what you know and fears are very real and accessible. Horror stories just don’t explore someone’s fear of vampires, werewolves and Freddy Krueger. They explore a power stronger than the individual and that overwhelming power has the ability to rob you of what you hold most dear or thrust you into an environment you desire least. No one fears Freddy Krueger. Everyone fears what someone like that can do to them.

So my myriad of fears are good for my writing. They keep it real (scary). It’s easy to see what I, the writer, you, the reader, and they, the characters have to fear. For me it’s easy to slip into a fictional situation. Paying the Piper, features a child abduction. Now, I’m not a parent, but I can imagine myself in the parent’s position and the terrible state I would be in if my child was snatched from me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m next in line at Starbucks and I don’t know what I want.

Yours cowering under the bedclothes,
Simon

Categories: book of the month shelf life

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I have the jitters.  Book jitters to be exact.  I always get them with an impending release.  NO SHOW is done.  My editors and I have whittled away at it over the last six months and it’s as good as it’s going to be.  And it’s going to be good, if my editors are to be believed.  My main editor thinks it’s the best book of mine she’s worked on so far.  One of my copyeditors thought it was “breathtaking.”  Another thought the Greek tragedy element and nontraditional happy ending were refreshing.  All these comments should fill me with confidence, but they don’t.  They’ve made me more nervous than normal.  The problem is you—the readers, the public and other sentient beings.  You guys all have minds of your own.  And that’s troubling to me.

The problem is stories are subjective.  No two people see the same thing.  We all bring our own baggage to the party when reading a book.  It doesn’t matter how tightly I construct a story, there’s a chance you’ll miss some of themes I’ve woven into the piece or you’ll read into the story some subtext I never intended (but if it makes me look good I will take credit for it).  So even if we have a meeting of minds, we won’t all connect on the same level.  Even if we all like it.

I learned quite a while ago that readers don’t see things the way I do.  When my first short story collection, DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS, came out, I was convinced which story would be the reader’s favorite—which would coincide with my favorite story.  Unfortunately, it didn’t play out that way.  People’s favorite stories ran from top to bottom with now clear leader.  You’d think all you people are individuals or something.

Since then I’ve come to learn that I lose ownership of my books the second they hit the bookshelves.  I have to let go and leave it out there to sink or swim.

Despite that Zen outlook, it doesn’t make me feel any easier, because this is the limbo time.  With ten weeks to go before NO SHOW is released, I fret over whether the book is a good one or a horrible mistake.  It’s very Schrödinger’s Cat.  At this stage of the game the book exists in two states—a work of genius and a total piece of crap—and until someone cracks the binding; I don’t know which I’ve created.  Yes, I should be more confident, but I can’t.  Hand on heart, the response to every one of my books has surprised me, regardless of whether of the criticism is good or bad.  I always think, wow, you thought that?

All I can say I’ve put my heart and soul into the book and I hope that shines through to you, the reader.  I’ll know in ten weeks.

Yours in literary purgatory, your humble author,

Simon

 

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Hey, it must be my birthday!  Well, actually it is in a couple weeks, but that’s not important right now.  The important thing is that Amazon has named ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN & DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS in their 100 Hundred Books for April.  It’s an interesting pairing as ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN was my first book & DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS was my first short story collection. So it’s quite nostalgic to see these books back in the limelight.  Anyway, to the meat of the subject.  Both books have promotion pricing, but ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN ebook is only 99cents this month. Hopefully that’s whetted your appetite.

Josh Michaels isn’t wanted dead or alive—just dead. That fact becomes shockingly clear when a stranger runs his car off the road. Instead of a helping hand, the man gives Josh a “thumbs down” and abandons him to what is almost certainly a watery grave. Luckily, Josh cheats death…this time. But when more harrowing “accidents” threaten his life, it’s clear he’s a marked man.

Are his past mistakes coming back to bite him? Or is something more sinister afoot? And how can he convince his family, friends, and especially the cops that he’s in danger? The harder Josh fights to stay alive, the more determined his unknown enemy is to see him dead. And the deeper he digs for answers, the more chilling the truth becomes. As his time and luck rapidly run out, he must unmask an insidious conspiracy bent on making a killing—in more ways than one.

Nerve-jangling noir doesn’t get much blacker than Simon Wood’s top speed trip into cold-blooded murder and hot-blooded vengeance.

DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS:
People spend their entire lives staving off the dark—but no matter the measures taken, black paths and shadowy pits lurk in the unlikeliest of places, waiting to pull the unwary into the depths of despair.

These eleven tales offer a morbid sampling of the many forms and fashions of terror—from the subtle prickling of neck hairs at the kiss of a ghostly breeze to the raw-throated screams and feverish clawing of a desperate fight for survival.

Witness eleven people torn from their ordinary lives and cast into twisted realities that test their sanity, faith, and very will to live…

A pilot must land a crippled aircraft on an impossible runway…

A doctor feels far too much sympathy for his deformed patients…

A schoolgirl’s secret contract could cost her mother’s soul…

A woman whose pack-rat obsessions hide the obscene…

For these and seven others, the darkness comes from within and without, subtle, deadly…and relentless.


I hope you’ll check these books.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  🙂

Categories: book of the month

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Hey, it must be my birthday!  Well, actually it is in a couple weeks, but that’s not important right now.  The important thing is that Amazon has named ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN & DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS in their 100 Hundred Books for April.  It’s an interesting pairing as ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN was my first book & DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS was my first short story collection. So it’s quite nostalgic to see these books back in the limelight.  Anyway, to the meat of the subject.  Both books have promotion pricing, but ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN ebook is only 99cents this month. Hopefully that’s whetted your appetite.

Josh Michaels isn’t wanted dead or alive—just dead. That fact becomes shockingly clear when a stranger runs his car off the road. Instead of a helping hand, the man gives Josh a “thumbs down” and abandons him to what is almost certainly a watery grave. Luckily, Josh cheats death…this time. But when more harrowing “accidents” threaten his life, it’s clear he’s a marked man.

Are his past mistakes coming back to bite him? Or is something more sinister afoot? And how can he convince his family, friends, and especially the cops that he’s in danger? The harder Josh fights to stay alive, the more determined his unknown enemy is to see him dead. And the deeper he digs for answers, the more chilling the truth becomes. As his time and luck rapidly run out, he must unmask an insidious conspiracy bent on making a killing—in more ways than one.

Nerve-jangling noir doesn’t get much blacker than Simon Wood’s top speed trip into cold-blooded murder and hot-blooded vengeance.

DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS:
People spend their entire lives staving off the dark—but no matter the measures taken, black paths and shadowy pits lurk in the unlikeliest of places, waiting to pull the unwary into the depths of despair.

These eleven tales offer a morbid sampling of the many forms and fashions of terror—from the subtle prickling of neck hairs at the kiss of a ghostly breeze to the raw-throated screams and feverish clawing of a desperate fight for survival.

Witness eleven people torn from their ordinary lives and cast into twisted realities that test their sanity, faith, and very will to live…

A pilot must land a crippled aircraft on an impossible runway…

A doctor feels far too much sympathy for his deformed patients…

A schoolgirl’s secret contract could cost her mother’s soul…

A woman whose pack-rat obsessions hide the obscene…

For these and seven others, the darkness comes from within and without, subtle, deadly…and relentless.


I hope you’ll check these books.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  🙂

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Today is a special and important day for me as this is book launch day and it’s no ordinary book launch. This is because I don’t have one book out today, but six! Thomas and Mercer have come out with revised and updated versions of some of my earlier titles: ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN, PAYING THE PIPER, WE ALL FALL DOWN, TERMINATED, ASKING FOR TROUBLE and DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS. The books are not only out in paperback, but they’re also available as audio books (thanks to Brilliance Audio). Thomas and Mercer has put some serious weight behind these books which is great for me. 🙂

Thomas and Mercer will be launching the first in a new series of crime novels next year. Expect NO SHOW in June. In the meantime, this is what is on bookshelves today.

PAYING THE PIPER

Crime reporter Scott Fleetwood’s children have been abducted, and he’ll pay any amount of money to get them back. The problem is, the kidnapper doesn’t want money — he wants blood.

TERMINATED

Low marks on a performance evaluation drive a disgruntled employee berserk, igniting a campaign of terror against his female supervisor.

ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN

Josh Michaels has a price on his head and someone is looking to cash in. To find out why, Josh will have to confront his past…and expose an insidious plot to cancel his future.

WE ALL FALL DOWN

Hayden Duke thinks good luck has struck when he lands a design job for a top-secret client and reconnects with an old college friend, but things go horribly awry when coworkers start dropping like flies.

ASKING FOR TROUBLE

In this darkly entertaining collection of crime stories, the path to ruin begins with a single — sometimes well-intentioned, sometimes ill-informed — wrong decision.

DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS

In the tradition of The Twilight Zone, these eleven eerie short stories explore the inescapable pull of darker, deadlier realities on the lives of ordinary people.

You can pick up any and all of these books at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Brilliance Audio, Audible and other bookstores. I do have a favor to ask. If you’ve read these books or are going to read these books, post a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Word of mouth is gold, but also as new editions, these books are starting over from scratch when it comes to reader reviews.

I’d also really appreciate it you’d help get the word out because I’d like to go big and not go home. So please retweet this or post this on Facebook or whatever you cool kids do with the social media. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a copy or two for friends, enemies and casual acquaintances. It is the holiday season. 🙂

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I have good news to announce. I’ve signed an eight book contract with Thomas and Mercer. They will be republishing my Dorchester thrillers and two of my short story collections and two new novels. And for all those people that have been asking, this deal includes an audio deal with Brilliance and Audible.com. This has been a deal long in the making, so I’m glad that everything has been squared away. Anyway, here’s the official announcement:

Anthony Award winner and author of more than a dozen books and over one hundred short stories, Simon Wood’s new titles, INFIDELITY LIMITED, about a violent Ponzi scheme a twice-widowed woman falls prey to, and THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, in which a young woman must choose whether to save herself or save her friend when the two are abducted, and the terrifying consequences of her decision, as well as six backlist titles, ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN, PAYING THE PIPER, WE ALL FALL DOWN, TERMINATED, ASKING FOR TROUBLE, and DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS, to Andrew Bartlett at Thomas & Mercer, by Amy Rennert at the Amy Rennert Agency.

The books will start appearing in November.

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