Simon Wood

Posts Tagged: shelf life

Wood-DeceptivePractices-21703-CV-FT-C3r5My DECEPTIVE PRACTICES blog tour has taken me far and wide…cyber speaking.  Here’s some of the places it’s taken me to.  Please enjoy!

Jungle Red Writers – I discuss looking for strange in the world.

Femme Fatales – I discuss having a curiosity for the weird.

Mystery Readers International – I discuss the new book and divine intervention.

The Big Thrill – an interview.

Authornomics – an interview.

Donna Warner – I discuss being a bit of a Walter Mitty.

Just Talking Books – Review!

Book Likes – Review!

Categories: book of the month new book shelf life

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playlist-barrygruff-1My frustrated DJ is emerging and as I’ve done with my last few books, I’ve created a playlist for my heroine Olivia Shaw from DECEPTIVE PRACTICES.  Olivia’s playlist is pretty dark as she’s a woman under the gun, not surprising considering her clear and present danger. This mix tape is the kind of thing Roy at Infidelity Limited would send her just to unsettle her that little bit more.

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.

So here’s what’s on her playlist:

1.       Dangerous woman” –  Ariana Grande

2.       Grounds for divorce” – Elbow

3.       How we operate” – Gomez

4.       Cheating” –   John Newman

5.       Pound Of Flesh Regina Spektor.

6.       Band of goldFreda Payne

7.       GamblerKenny Rogers

8.       Baby did a bad bad thingChris Issak

9.       ShakedownELO

10.   Fire– The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Categories: new book shelf life

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20160414_040839Going back to the UK hasn’t been easy for me in the past.  Each visit has been a tough reminder that the country had moved on without me.  I found myself homesick for a time and place that no longer existed.  So I would return to the US a little heartbroken and depressed.  It’s the reason I hadn’t been home in over nine years.  So it was with a large slice of trepidation that I went back this month.

I had to return to take care of some legal matters that I’d been putting off for a number of years, but I decided to make the most of the visit by taking in a Watford game now that they’re in the premier league and attending the London Book Fair.  It was also a chance to catch up with friends and meet up with my little sister for a joint birthday catch-up.  Despite a three year age gap, our birthdays are only days apart.  There was also room to do a little sightseeing.

So how was England?

20160413_032905Some things hadn’t changed.  Weather was as changeable as ever, managing to shift from sunny to rain and back again in a matter of hours.  There’s nothing like going out for the day with sunglasses and an umbrella–and needing both.  Going to a footie game was just the same when I went as a kid.  Thousands of people walking to the stadium, picking up a program book from a street vender and grabbing a bag of chips from a chippie on the way.  Ticket prices might change but the vibe won’t.  Good to see the Tube hasn’t changed and London in general, despite a ton of redevelopment.  Friends were the same and I didn’t realize how much I missed them until I had to say goodbye again.  The London Book Fair remains a baffling and overwhelming experience.  And my God does the country feel overpopulated in comparison to the USA!

A lot had changed too.  My hometown had changed massively.  There’d been a ton of redevelopment.  Road systems changed.  My neighborhood is virtually unrecognizable.  Familiar landmarks repurposed or replaced altogether.  The greatest change was my mark on my hometown.  Both my colleges are gone.  Five places I worked no longer exist.  The roundabout/underpass at the center of Slough filled in and turned into a complex crossroads.  It was as if my origin story was being erased.  I felt like Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, where everything that defined me was gone.  If Cap needs to have a drink with someone who understands, I’m available.

20160409_070619 (1)The biggest change of all was me.  After eighteen years in the US, I’ve let go.  I’ll always be English, but I have lost my connection to my homeland.  America is my home now.  The England of my upbringing doesn’t exist, other than in my head.  I’ll miss things and people and there’ll be things I’ll always identify with, but I have no need to be there.  For the first time, my trip was a pleasant one–one without regret or sadness–but I have no reason to return.  I have no idea if or when I’ll go back.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  England has moved on…and so have I.


Categories: shelf life

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12195884_10156239544235078_7080853787902271050_nA friend sent me this cartoon a few weeks ago and it made me laugh, but it burned a little bit too.  Exposure is the E-word of the writing world.

“We pay in exposure” is an all too familiar phrase that’s always heartbreaking to hear.  It’s heartbreaking because you’ve put a ton of time into writing a book or story, working on your craft, and building your skill set, just to hear someone tell you that’s all great, but I’m not paying for it.  It puts the writer in a tricky and awkward bargaining position.  On one hand there’s a publishing credit up for grabs and on the other there’s obscurity.  A fight breaks out in your mind.  Yes, there could be a paying opportunity around the corner and maybe I should wait for it, but it doesn’t seem to be in sight at the moment, and this offer is, so should I give this one up and hope it leads to something…although it burns to give my work away…urrgghh…  You see the writer’s plight.

Yes, I gave stories to magazines and websites in the early years.  The credit was worth more than the cash…well, that was my thinking/delusion.  When I look back on everything, it’s hard to tell whether the exposure argument got me anywhere or not.  I know it cost me a few times.  I gave a couple of stories away that ended up being wanted by some very high profile anthologies which I lost out on because I’d given up first rights when I gave the stories away for exposure.  Note to budding writers: you lose your first rights when you give a story away for exposure and that can be expensive in the long run.

I think the issue with the exposure argument is that the writer is giving away something tangible (i.e.: the story/book) for something intangible (i.e.: exposure).  And that’s where the heartache and soul searching occurs.  You’ve put blood, sweat and tears into something and someone is effectively saying it’s worthless.  Now, I will say no one that ever asked me to give them a story did it to rip me off.  They were honest and well-meaning people who didn’t have a way of monetizing their endeavor themselves.

A point came where I said to myself, exposure isn’t enough.  Validity and legitimacy in what I write comes with a paycheck.  I took the adage, “People don’t value anything they don’t pay for,” to heart.  It became my hard and fast rule when I went full time as a writer.  It might seem mercenary of me, but it has to be that way.  I can’t afford to give things away now because the bills don’t get paid otherwise.  Ask yourself, would you do your job if the employer didn’t pay?

There are exceptions to the rule, such as charity related events, bookstore signings, etc.

The thing I have to keep ever mindful of is–a day away from the computer is a day away from completing a book, so I have to be compensated for that.  And you know what?  Taking this hard line didn’t hurt me.  Yes, I lost some opportunities, but I gained new ones.

At the end of the day, I can’t say I won’t give something away for exposure purposes but it will be a calculated risk that I can live with (and without bitching after the fact) and not a flight of fancy.  Storytelling is a serious business as well as a creative pursuit.

Categories: shelf life

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WEIRD WORD PICI’m drawn to weird—weird things, weird people, weird situations, etc.  Some people (let’s call them normal folks) steer clear of it.  Me, I’m fascinated and I want to learn more, know why it’s weird and what made it weird.  So what do I mean by weird?  Well, I have a couple of examples.

First, there’s Marilyn Hartman.  She’s the serial stowaway from the Bay Area who has been trying to sneak onto planes around the country and in a number of cases, she’s managed it.  What has me hooked on this continuing story—she’s done this over a dozen times at last count—is her reasoning.  Her first claim was she wanted to go to Hawaii to die because she has cancer…but it turns out she doesn’t.  Other reasons have followed which have been less cogent, such as she’s trying to shine a light on the mental health issues in America.  Psychologists have evaluated her and her statements have changed so often that I feel she’s telling them whatever she thinks they want to hear.  When she’s interviewed on TV, there’s a sparkle in her eye that makes me think she’s yanking everyone’s chain.  So why is she doing it?  God knows, but boy, would I love to interview her.  There’s a reason behind this—and I’m not sure even she knows—but I’d love to find out. 

Second, there’s Malachi Love-Robinson.  He’s the teenager who’s been arrested for practicing medicine without a license in Florida.  What has me fascinated about this guy isn’t the crime itself but his persona (for the want of a better word).  He’s very cool and controlled about wanting everyone to know he’s a qualified medical professional.  Instead of cowering from the media, he’s taken control of it with press conferences and making himself available for interviews.  What has me following the case is I can’t make out if this guy is a hustler or simply deluded.  There’s something about him that feels like it’s a performance which doesn’t clarify the situation either way.   When he talks about a team of lawyers working on his case, I kind of think to myself, really? I’m not sure lawyers would let you talk to the press this freely.  Then again, this kid wasn’t operating out of the back of a pickup.  He had a full on doctor’s office, so who knows?

weird_slide1I don’t bear either of these people any ill will and can’t condemn them.  I’m viewing both of these cases from afar without all the facts and it would be wrong of me to pass judgment.  Courts and juries will decide these situations.  For me, I just want to know the truth.

The reason I like weird is because it inspires my fiction.  The mundane and the ordinary don’t do it for me.  I’ll take the improbable any day, and that is always at the weird end of the spectrum.  It always throws up my two favorite questions—what-if and why!

Categories: Uncategorized

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GoodLuckSymbolsLast week, J K Rowling posted a couple of rejection letters from publishers in the UK who passed on the books she’s writing under her Robert Galbraith pen name.  She released the rejection letters to encourage writers not to give up on their dream…and hopefully not to depress the publishers who passed her over. 😉

The reason I bring up J K Rowling isn’t to do with the rejection letter but with the element of luck that’s involved in creative pursuits.  Luck gives you a break and if you’ve got a story, it’ll connect. To not acknowledge it is folly.  I’m not sure why JKR chose to write under a pen name, but it does show success doesn’t come without an element of luck.  To have a book series like Harry Potter become a global phenomenon took a great deal of luck.  Who knows, if those books were published six months earlier or later, it could have been a different story.  It’s stunning how timing can change outcomes.  The reason I mention the Galbraith books is despite a major publisher behind them, they didn’t sell well until it was leaked that Robert Galbraith was in fact J K Rowling.  Stephen King did a similar thing with his Richard Bachman identity.  In that case he did want to see if he could be just as successful as Bachman as he was as King.  The answer was that yes he could be successful but not in the same realm.

The point I’m making here is don’t turn your nose up at good fortune.  It can only lead to disappointment.  Once you’re successful, capitalize on it, don’t shun it.  Look, I get it, once you become successful, there’s a little voice that nags at you.  They only like you because you’re famous.  They only publish you because you’re bankable.  So you start to doubt yourself.  It’s the problem of success.  IMHO, I think it’s a mistake to attempt to capture lightning in a jar twice because it’s never going to happen.  Both Stephen King and J K Rowling are great writers who deserve their due and shouldn’t doubt themselves.  It wouldn’t matter if they wrote a stunning book under a secret identity, because there is a really good chance it wouldn’t do as well as the same book written under their real names.  Notoriety has its privileges.

luck-skillIf I look at my own career for a second, it’s gone pretty well in the last five years.  Personally, I can point to five or six events that have propelled my writing career during that period.  Now, I freely admit that some of my luck in recent years is of my own making.  I can say that if I hadn’t sought to get my rights back from one of my publishers in 2010, I wouldn’t have any of the success I have right now.  However, I also accept that if it hadn’t been for the rise of ebooks at that same time, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in right now.  I also toss in that if that publisher had hit rocks a year later, I probably would have missed a specific window of opportunity.  And on the flip side, I think my success would have been even greater if I’d listened to a writing friend who told me to go into ebooks in 2008.  I’m sure I could bore you crazy with a cause and effect chart plotting all this out.  Sorry, it’s the engineer in me.

I suppose I come from a different place than many other writers.  I’ve slogged away at this for nearly twenty years and I thank my lucky stars for the breaks I’ve gotten in recent years. Luck is something that can feel cheap because it can be seen as undeserved but—I accept it, embrace it and enjoy it—as it’s better to have luck on your side than not to have it.

Categories: shelf life

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canadian-flagBeing an author used to mean living in the dark times.  It could take almost a year before I saw a sales statement for a particular book.  But thanks to improved technology, I know how many books I’m selling in real time (not quite but pretty close) and more importantly, I know WHO is buying my books (drone technology…don’t be afraid).  And that’s where I got a little shock.  Canadians don’t really buy my books.  I sell more books in Germany than I have in Canada and I don’t get that.  We have so much in common!  We aren’t afraid to use the letter U in words like colour, valour, etc.  We both celebrate Boxing Day.  I know that Saskatchewan is a province and not a sound Canadians make when they sneeze.  Frankly, we are pretty much family.  So what’s going on, Canada?

Rather than turn my back on my Canadian family, I want to do something about the situation.  I know there are some Canadians out there who read my ramblings on a regular basis, so I turn to you, my friends to the north, for help and advice.  Simply put, what should I do to change the situation?  How do I become more enticing to Canadians? Who should be reviewing my books?  Who should I be blackmailing?  Let me know.

14jJPXpXI know I have Canadian readers out there, so I do have a task for you.  I want you to go up to a fellow Canadian—it can be a friend or family member or even a complete stranger—and say, “Have you read Simon Wood?  No, well you should.  I suggest you read (insert favourite title here).”

Now this may sound a little culty, but that’s okay.  Cults aren’t all bad…I don’t think.  Let’s not worry about that for now and focus on the important part—and that’s finding a Canadian readership.  Look, I have faith in my Canadians and together we can do it.  You don’t want the Germans to beat you on this score, do you?

Categories: shelf life

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Batman has robin. George has Lenny. Laurel has Hardy. Arm has Hammer. And I have Julie. Julie is my sidekick. Like Snoop Dogg says, “Everyone needs a sidekick.” Thanks for the wisdom, Snoop.

When I say sidekick, it may sound like I’m belittling the importance of this role. A sidekick’s relationship with their mainkick (That’s a new word. I invented it. Hands off, buddy) is a necessary one. A mainkick needs their sidekick to function. I need my sidekick. I need my Julie. I couldn’t function without her.

As I’ve mentioned before, on account of my dyslexia, Julie is a vital part of my writing process. She’s my eyes. She reads all my manuscripts to check for my mistakes and reads them all aloud so I can edit. This is just one of her roles. She’s my sounding board for ideas. I look to her for opinions on whether I should appear at this store or attend that convention. I don’t sign any contract without her reading it over. She’s my cheerleader when something good happens and my shrink when I’m low. There are many times when she’s talked me out of giving up writing (I think she’s holding out for the movie deal if one should happen).

All of this is great for me. I’m glad and feel really lucky that Julie has the right temperament to help me with all these issues. It might sound like I’m dependent on her or unsure of myself. In some ways that’s true, but my background is in engineering. No engineer lets his work go without a checker and an approver first looking over it. That instinct is engrained into me. It would be foolhardy of me to think I’m always right and incapable of making a mistake. I need someone like Julie on my team to ensure I turn out the best work I can. Working alone, it’s easy to get complacent or miss something.

Julie needs to have the spotlight shined on her.

This might sound like some sappy love note, but it’s not. I have a Julie and so can you. After January 1, you can have a Julie—the writer’s sidekick—for the low-low rental price of $99.99 per week + shipping and handling. This price does not include the cost of food. Apply now to avoid disappointment. Operators are standing by.

Categories: shelf life

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