Simon Wood

Simon Wood's Blog

Life has taken me offline for the foreseeable future. Last weekend, a truck and horse trailer crashed into me while riding my bike. My bike was totaled (and is in pieces) and I have a separated shoulder. Luckily, I landed in a dirt drainage ditch which minimized the injuries. I’m all braced up to keep my arm immobile. I have set up for voice to text so I won’t be entirely unable to work.

Anyway, here’s to a speedy recovery.

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It’s that time of year, so if you’re looking to give a book for Christmas and you’re going to make it one of mine, bless your heart. If you want to get a book autographed or personalized to that special someone (even if that special someone is you) go to my bookshop. Used the code HOLIDAY10 to get a 10% discount.

Alternatively, I can mail out a bookplate or sign ebooks via Authorgraph.com. Just email me with your requests and I’ll do my best to make it happen. All the details are on the bookshop.

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I like to challenge myself to do something I’ve never done before. As an avid cyclist, I decided to see if I could build a bike from scratch. It took a while to pull all the pieces together after finding a suitable bike frame to use as a starting point. I had to improvise in a few places due to trying to upgrade an older bike with modern-ish componentry. I also did a lot of web surfing to find components during the pandemic. I also had to learn a few new skills…which included and we not limited to paint spraying. I gave the bike a custom paint job. The color is “peacock” because it’s a color-shift paint job and changes from blue to green to purple depending on the light.

All in all, it came out pretty well and bike while no superbike rides amazingly well. Anyway, here are some pix from my starting point to finished product. I hope you like the results because I do. 🙂

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I’m having a Spring Book Sale.  If you’re looking for an autographed book for yourself or as a gift, I have you covered.  Use code SPRING10 and you’ll get 10% off your order.  Just go to https://simonwood.net/bookshop/ and if there’s an out-of-print title/hardback or any audiobook you’re looking for, drop me a note, as I may have one hidden away.  For the more adventurous among you, you might be interested in one of my famous Mystery Book Boxes.  Whatever you want, just let me know.

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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 for the first half of 2021:

The start dates for the classes are as follows (just click the links for course details):
KILLER SUSPENSE: May 3rd
PLOT THICKENERS: March 8th
MANAGING POINTS OF VIEW (POV): Feb 8th
SHORT STORIES: April 5th
AUTHOR PROFESSIONALISM: June 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)

If you’d like to sign up, just go to my WORKSHOP page.

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It’s with a heavy heart that I have to report the movie adaptation of THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY is over. The film company that had been developing it for the last few years pulled the plug last month. The uncertainty COVID-19 has had on the entertainment industry meant it wasn’t financially viable for them to continue under the current circumstances.  It’s a shame as they’d developed a working script after several screenwriters.

I’m disappointed but not surprised. The producer has said she hopes to return to it when the industry turns itself around. Hopefully, someone else will step into the fray.

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THE SCRUBS is another of my supernatural crime stories.  This is also a title of mine which has fallen between the cracks with readers and I hope you will take the time to check it out. I think you’ll find it worth your time.

The Scrubs is what people commonly call Wormwood Scrubs prison, located in west London. It’s an unusual name for a prison, but not as unusual as some in Britain. In Manchester, you’ll find Strangeways prison (although, it has been renamed in recent years because of its bad image). I do like how British prisons have weird names whereas American prisons sound like vacation getaways. Pelican Bay. San Quentin. Soledad. It seems like cruel and unusual punishment to be incarcerated in a place that sounds so idyllic, but I digress.

Wormwood Scrubs was built in the Victorian era and is a typical piece of neo-gothic architecture. The prison strongly resembles a fortress in some ways, except it keeps people in and not out. It’s not very big as prisons go. Less than fifteen hundred people call it home. If you ever take a trip on a Central Line train of the London Underground system, you’ll see the prison as you ride through Acton. If anyone has watched the original version of The Italian Job with Michael Caine, the prison he’s released from is Wormwood Scrubs. But any relationship between the real life prison and the one contained within these pages are purely fictional. I took the prison’s name and its location and ignored everything else.

Anyway, I stopped thinking about Wormwood Scrubs in terms of a name of a prison and started thinking about what the words meant. This is a habit with me. I think about words we all take for granted and break them down. Too often we take words at face value and forget their meanings. Places were named for a reason, not by chance. So I forgot the prison identity and just wondered about Wormwood scrubs. Wormwood is an herbaceous plant. It’s a key ingredient of absinthe. Wormwood oil is poisonous, considered psychoactive and possibly addictive. Wow, what a herb! The word scrubs bolts on nicely onto wormwood. A scrub area or scrubland is an area of stunted vegetation. I wondered whether Wormwood Scrubs the prison had been built on an area of scrubland covered with wormwood.

I liked the concept of a prison built on top of an area covered in a poisonous, psychotropic and addictive plant. It’s just asking for trouble. All we need is a psychotic prisoner with special powers and we’ve got ourselves a story!

I have to admit that THE SCRUBS is a guilty pleasure. It started out as a short story but kept getting bigger as I got caught up in creating this alternate universe for this prison and its inmates. And it’s not going to stop here. They’ll be two more installments—SCRUBBERS and SCRUBLAND. There’s just too much fun to be had playing with THE SCRUBS. Besides, someone has to stop Jeter. I hope you agree and you’ll come back for more.

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