Simon Wood

Posts Tagged: asking for trouble

June has quite a few bargain books for you to enjoy.  Here they all are!!

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Zoë and Holli’s Vegas road trip goes wrong when they’re abducted. Zoë escapes leaving Holli behind. A year later and still tortured with guilt, Zoë latches on to a murder that eerily resembles her abduction. Her attempts to find justice for Holli brings her to the attention of the “Tally Man.” For him, she is not a survivor but simply the one that got away.

Just $2.00 at Amazon

NO SHOW: Englishman Terry Sheffield has just arrived in San Francisco to start his new life with Sarah, a journalist he married after a transatlantic love affair. When she never shows up at the airport, Terry discovers she’s on the run from a killer with a grudge. To find her before the killer does, Terry realizes she’s very different from the woman he thought he married.  FUN FACT: The day I arrived in the US inspired this book.

Just $1.49 at Amazon

ASKING FOR TROUBLE: The road to crime begins with a single decision—the wrong one.  Not every decision belongs to the criminally minded.  Some belong to the ill-informed, the weak and the plain unlucky.  In these tales, trouble isn’t an indiscriminate force of nature.  It’s a manmade occurrence that comes when called upon.

Just $1.49 at Amazon

I sincerely hope you’re tempted to pick these up.  I don’t think you’ll be sorry. Enjoy!!

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hooker 2016 4aI’m happy to announce the release of the crime novelette, THE HOOKER.  It’s the first in the Reprehensible Acts series of stories.

This isn’t a typical story from me.  The Reprehensible Acts series features stories without heroes or happy endings in most cases.  These stories feature characters that lose their way and may never find their way back.  You can’t condone their actions, but perhaps you can have sympathy for their damaged souls.  You might find these stories unpalatable, but then again, you’re not meant to.  Don’t judge.  No one is immune to committing a reprehensible act.  The storyline is as follows:

“Mark was content to see out his single days with a bachelor party, but his best man, Lance, wasn’t.  He insists in sending Mark off in style…in the company of a hooker.  It’s supposed to be the last hoorah of a single man before being condemned to a life of marriage, but that all changes when the hooker scams them.  Mark’s world unravels and a dark side he never knew he possessed spills out…”

The idea for the Reprehensible Acts series came from a situation I’ve run into with editors from time to time when they think the tone or subject matter of a piece will tweak the reader’s sensitivities in the wrong way.  I’ve had an editor call me up and say, “That’s a bit bleak.  Do you want to tone it down?”  I can in some cases, but not in all.  I was asked to drop a couple of stories from my collection ASKING FOR TROUBLE because of tone.  THE HOOKER was one of those stories.  Sometimes, you just have to go where the story takes you, in all its ugly glory.  A story should make us feel something—even if it’s revulsion or disapproval.  Over the coming months and years, I’m planning to bring you some novellas and stories that press your buttons.  I know these stories won’t be for everyone, but I hope some of you will join me on these voyages to rack and ruin

I hope you’ll give THE HOOKER a tryIt’s available on pre-order from Amazon and Amazon UK.

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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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My books are on a bit of a roll at the moment, especially in the UK.  I think someone wants me to have a bestseller this Christmas.  I won’t argue with that.   J
December Specials:
PAYING THE PIPER is only 99p (in eBook form) this month over at Amazon UK with 40% off the paperback.
“For years, the serial kidnapper known as the Piper got rich by abducting children from San Francisco’s wealthiest families. When crime reporter Scott Fleetwood gets a call from a man identifying himself as the Piper and offers an exclusive interview, Fleetwood jumps at the chance. But the caller turns out to be a fake, and the rash decision costs the life of the real Piper’s latest victim.For eight long years, Fleetwood has lived with unbearable guilt—and the enduring disdain of the entire Bay area. Now he hears from the real Piper—and it’s not for an interview. The kidnapper has the reporter’s son. But he doesn’t want money…he wants blood. And he’s going to use Fleetwood to get it.”
WE ALL FALL DOWNis only £1.49 at Amazon UK (in eBook form) and $0.99 at Amazon this month with 40% off the paperback. 
“Hayden Duke just landed a coveted contract gig with Marin Design Engineering, largely thanks to his old friend, Shane Fallon. The dream job becomes a nightmare when Shane takes his own life in a seemingly drug induced stupor. The only clue to Shane’s death is an e-mail with an encrypted file he sends to Hayden. It’s a file people would kill to possess. Now Hayden’s got to risk losing everything…before he loses his life.”
My crime collection, ASKING FOR TROUBLE, is only a £1.00at Amazon UK (in eBook form).
“The road to crime begins with a single decision—the wrong one.  Not every decision belongs to the criminally minded.  Some belong to the ill-informed, the weak and the plain unlucky.  In these tales, trouble isn’t an indiscriminate force of nature.  It’s a manmade occurrence that comes when called upon.  The book features the CWA Dagger Award nominated, Protecting The Innocent.”
The first of the Terry Sheffield mysteries, NO SHOW, is only $2.00 at Amazon this month with 40% off the paperback.
“Englishman Terry Sheffield has just arrived in San Francisco to start his new life with Sarah, the investigative journalist he married after a transatlantic love affair. But Sarah never shows up at the airport… The police chalk it up to a new bride with cold feet. Then one murdered woman after another turns up, all with something in common: they had exposed scandals just before their deaths…and their names appear on a list that Sarah composed. As a journalist, Sarah’s exposed her share of scandals, and Terry realizes that she’s not missing—she’s on the run. To find her, Terry realizes she’s very different from the woman he thought he married.”

In the UK, ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN has been climbing the charts over at Amazon UK.  The book has bouncing around the top 10 for the last week.  This was my first novel and after a decade it continues to keep riding the charts from time to time.  I think it’s because of the provocative storyline.
“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.  As his time and luck rapidly run out, he must unmask an insidious conspiracy bent on making a killing—in more ways than one.”
TERMINATEDhas also been selling well in the UK.  It spent a couple of weeks in Amazon’s Top 100 for a couple of weeks.  It slipped off a few days ago, but I urge you to check it out.  It might just save your life.   J
“Stephen Tarbell needed that promotion. But they had to go and give the job to his supervisor, Gwen Farris. Now Tarbell has had enough—and he’s about to put Gwen on notice. She has two choices: give him a glowing review on his performance evaluation or suffer the consequences. The company’s security firm says they’ll handle the situation, but whose side are they really on? And how do you stop a psychopath so consumed by hate he thinks he’s the one being persecuted?”
I hope you find something that takes your fancy…

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A few years back, I was on a panel and an audience member asked what kind of writers we were. Struggling was the first thing that sprung to my mind, but that wasn’t the answer the questioner was looking for. I never felt that I had an agenda or a platform to perch my work upon. It was a really good question and it got me thinking.

I see themes in other writers’ work. I love Ruth Rendell when she writes under her Barbara Vane pseudonym. Guilt rears its ugly head in virtually all of her Vane novels. For those that have read her, just look at A Fatal Inversion, Gallowglass, The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy, No Night Is Too Long and The Brimstone Wedding to name a few. The characters have done something wholly terrible and they want it kept quiet, but no matter how depth the truth is buried, it finds a way of rising to the surface. At times, it’s hard to like these people but I can empathize with them. Luck sometimes keeps us from falling down a crevice of bad decision-making. I’ve noticed that Peter Straub often deals with a past injustice that only come to light generations later. When I notice a common thread, I wonder what the root cause is for the theme. What’s the source of the muse that created all these great books? What locked boxes do these authors have? Maybe none. Maybe I’m transferring too much of myself into the situation and reading things that aren’t there. But I hope not. 🙂

But what about me. What can o’ worms get opened up every time I write a tale. When I examine my stories, I do see a common theme running through them all. Predicaments seem to play a central role in my stories. Usually an unsuspecting person, an average Joe by every definition, is put on the spot. A situation arises that my protagonist can’t walk away. The reason they are there is usually their own fault. Sometimes it falls into the no good deed variety, but usually, the story’s hero has done something to get them ensnared. A tryst. An indiscretion. A little white with a black edge. A past mistake. These factors are subject to Newtonian psychics. For every action, there’s an equal and opposition reaction. It doesn’t matter how minor the mistake my characters have committed, there’s a price to be paid. Things come back to trip my protagonists up. This means my heroes are starting off on the back foot. They are struggling with desperate times where failure means the destruction of their comfortable way of life. So my stories are told from a nightmarish stance. My protagonists are desperate when the reader meets them.

Where do these characters come from? Why have I chosen storylines like this? I think it’s because I can identify with these people. I live a pretty ordinary life, but I can see how fine a line I walk. One bad decision and my life could change forever. There have been several instances in my life where something I’ve done has come back to bite me (and I may share one or two of these over the month). Some very innocuous actions have caused some of these instances. I also grew up with a number of people who bit off more than they could chew and it really cost them. So when my what-if synapses kick in, it usually centers on a minor action that will snowball into something large. The stories in Asking For Trouble touch this subject again and again from different angles. Matt joins the Taskmasters to turn his life around and ends up on the wrong side of the law. In Making End Meet, Richard’s in-laws are draining his financials until he finds a way of dealing with them, but his attempts backfire. Leah is trying to defend her home, but there’s a bigger price to be paid when she brings A Gun In The House. These characters will either succumb to these situations or fight to drag themselves clear of danger.

So I have a method to my madness and I like it, because life has a funny way of turning mean when you cross a line. Just ask Anthony Wiener.

Yours trying to be good,

Categories: book of the month

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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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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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As I mentioned a little while ago, a theater company in Seattle bought the rights to adapt my short story, THE TASKMASTERS (from ASKING FOR TROUBLE), into a stage play. Well, the theater has been booked and the date set and the play will be performed on October 20th. I’ll be there for all the festivities and I think I’ll be interviewed after the performance.

I can tell you now this will be a tough thing for me to watch. Normally, people consume my stories without me being around. This time around, I’ll be there to see their reactions. That’s kind of scary. :-/

To make the night even more Simon-centric, there will also be the first playing of a radio adaptation of my short story, OLD FLAMES BURN THE BRIGHTEST (which appeared in WORKING STIFFS).

If you’d like to attend the performance, the box office is now open. The show has been titled, Vashon Noir and tickets can be purchased to reserve seats right now by calling Blue Heron Art Center (Vashon Allied Arts) at (206) 463-5131. Callers can just ask about the “Vashon Noir” show on Oct. 20th. I hope some of you Seattlites can make it, as it’s a mighty big theater to fill. 🙂

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A revised version of ASKING FOR TROUBLE will be coming out at the end of the year. Working with the editors on it, a comment came back that a couple of the stories in the collection were too dark and they wanted to switch them out for something a little less disturbing. It wasn’t that they particularly violent, but that tone made the editor squirm. I understood their feeling and the upshot was that we replaced one of the stories and kept the other.

But let’s back up for moment. Tone is an interesting thing for me. I don’t think I write particularly dark. I will say I’ll broach subjects and explore our baser instincts, but I’m mindful not to make my stories too bleak. I want everyone to see a chink of daylight, even me. I don’t want to depress the reader or turn them off. However, I am drawn to the dark side (not in a Darth Vader kind of a way) but I’m fascinated by the idea of giving in to our whims and falling prey to our weaknesses—and that can get pretty ugly. And regardless of how scary and unlikable that is to me and the reader, I hope the reader will follow the characters down their dark path.

I know that my works gets classed as noir sometimes, but I don’t feel I’ve written anything noirish. While many of my books feature characters in desperate positions, I think the books are pretty lighthearted…kind of. 🙂

I suppose I’m saying you haven’t seen anything yet. I’ve yet to write something truly dark. That’s not to say I don’t have it in me. I know I have stories in me that people will find very uncomfortable. Again, dark doesn’t equate to violence. It’s all about the soul of a story and its subject matter. The bigger question here is will people read it. Is there an audience for it? I know we read for entertainment, but would you something that makes you shift in your sit from time to time? I know I would, but how about you? The path is there in front of you, won’t you join me.

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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 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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