Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shaken and Stirred means Bond

Ian Fleming has nothing to do with this.  Nor does Greece.  It’s all about Timothy Hallinan.  I’m talking about OUR (very busy) Tim and his extraordinary achievement at uniting more than twenty “prominent international authors” to contribute “killer” stories to SHAKEN: Stories for Japan in a charitable project sending 100% of all royalties to benefit the victims of Japan’s Great Tohoku earthquake and its devastating, continuing aftermath.

The quoted words are Tim’s, for as one of the contributing authors (along with Cara Black and Tim) I do not want to sound boastful.  Then again, why not?  Just take a look at the company we’re in:  Brett Battles, Vicki Doudera, Dianne Emley, Dale Furutani, Stefan Hammond, Rosemary Harris, Gar Anthony Haywood, Naomi Hirahara, Wendy Hornsby, Ken Kuhlken, Debbi Mack, Adrian McKinty, I.J. Parker, Gary Phillips, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Kelli Stanley, C.J. West, and Jeri Westerson.  It’s a veritable Who’s Who of major mystery award winners and nominees. 

Shaken: Stories for Japan came out Thursday on Amazon’s Kindle platform. Here is the link.  Why Kindle?  Two very practical reasons: one, all royalties pass directly into the 2011 Japan Relief Fund administered by the one hundred year-old Japan America Society of Southern California, and two, a book conceived of less than 90 days ago is now a collector-grade anthology on sale for only $3.99!

Tim’s initial proposal to us was simple: “I just wanted to ask whether any of you would be interested in contributing a short story to an e-book anthology I’m pulling together to benefit survivors of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.”

My first thought—beyond admiration for Tim’s selfless act—was how could I contribute?  I’m not in the habit of writing short stories and my closest tie to Japan is the occasional rescue of lost Japanese tourists wandering aimlessly through the labyrinth of old town Mykonos.  But, I decided to take a shot at it for one simple reason: it seemed the right thing to do.

And from the back and forth run of emails among our colleagues on the project, I think it’s safe to say they felt the same way.  Yes, Tim stirred us to action.

But he also gave us something quite valuable in the process.  In a recent email Tim wrote, “I've been working with the text of your stories 15 hours a day for about 6 days now, and all I can say is that I still love every one of them -- in fact, my admiration for them has grown as I got to know them better and better.  You can all be extremely proud of your contribution to the book.”

We certainly are, and even more so of you, Tim, for bringing all of us together in true camaraderie around a noble purpose.

As for the stories themselves, I leave it to Tim to say what he wants on that subject tomorrow.  All I can say is that $3.99 for what’s in this book is a steal.

At the risk of changing your mind about that, let me share a bit of my contribution to SHAKEN: Stories For Japan.  Here is the opening of “The Missing.”
He stood watching the young girl run along the beach.  It was cooler than he would like and the waves were rough.  But she insisted.  She had never played in the sea before and he promised her that she could when they reached the end of their journey.  It took three difficult weeks to make it back to his village, but now they were here and she did not let him forget his promise.  Eleven-year-old daughters could be that way.

Nothing was as he remembered.  Then again, he hadn’t been back in more than twenty years.  Not since 1940.  He smiled as she darted in and out of the waves, challenging them to catch her.  He, too, had not played on a beach in a very long time.

It was getting dark.  They should go back to his cousin’s home.  It would be rude not to be there in time for dinner on this, their first day back in Japan.  He called for her to come but the roar of the sea drowned out his voice.  He would have to walk to her.

As he moved toward his daughter he took no serious notice of the two men sitting by the edge of the shore staring out to sea.  It was only the four of them on the beach.  No one in his right mind went bathing on such a wintry day.  One man got up and walked away from the sea in the direction of the father.  The second man stood and walked toward the water.  The father nodded to the man as he passed him by and the man nodded back—before turning and knocking the father unconscious.  He never saw the second man do the same to his daughter.

Remember, Shaken: Stories for Japan is available on Kindle for $3.99 with all royalties going to benefit those in dire need.




  1. UPDATE:
    Just in, as of Midnight ET:
    On Amazon, SHAKEN: Stories for Japan now ranks #10 in the Kindle Store for Short Story Fiction, and--drum roll--among all Amazon books it's #17 in Literature & Fiction short stories!

    Get it while it lasts!:)

  2. I don't like short stories but I purchased SHAKEN because it was an opportunity to make a donation to help people who so desperately need the help.

    I don't like short stories but I have had some contact with Tim and with you, Mr. Siger and I am comfortable with my belief that when you gentlemen give your word that the money is going to help the victims of the tsunami, you are men of your word.

    I don't like short stories and I don't have a Kindle but I do have the free Kindle application for the PC that has books land inside my laptop, for where else can they be, in the same eerily fast method by which things get to the Kindle.

    I don't like short stories but, of course, I had to take a quick look immediately, just the first few pages, because I had to start dinner in fifteen minutes.

    I don't like short stories but I read the first 40% of those short stories because I couldn't stop. Were it not for a husband who would be wondering if it was going to be pizza delivery again, I would have read the whole thing straight through.

    Instead, I have something to look forward to today (in a few minutes). All the stories I have read are equally wonderful and all are uniquely different. Not one was in anyway like another; they cannot be compared.

    I am pleased Naomi Hirahara's story, while completely different than her book, uses the same object as the basis of her story and I am proud of myself because I already know about the importance in Japanese life.

    I no longer dislike short stories. These are so completely perfect that they are full stories in a few pages. It isn't as if the story leaves me wanting more of the story so that loose ends can be tied up. It leaves me wanting more stories from the authors. This is not to suggest that they are off the hook for more books.

    There is absolutely no downside to this project. For those of us who are still a bit limited in the internet search department, type Tim Hallinan or Timothy Hallinan into the little search box, no fancy URL required, and it will being you to Tim's blog. On the right are a list of pages; click "Blogcabin" and Tim's explanation of the story behind the stories will fascinating you. I took Tim's post and used it for my blog today.

    But before you do that, hit the link to Amazon and do a very good thing. You will be grateful that you did and that has nothing to do with the stories.

    If anyone is unfamiliar with the work of Tim, Jeff, or Cara Black, all their books are reviewed on my blog. The Titles and Authors page have an alphabetical list by author so the reviews are easy to find.


  3. Bravo Tim, Cara and Jeff!
    A tip of the hat to you all.
    I am proud to share this blog with you.

  4. Beth, I'm personally convinced that your comments are as much a draw to MIE as anything we write. I cannot tell you how many times I hear (not to mention think) "So, what do you think Beth will have to say about this?"

    Your "piece" today is Exhibit A. You are the best. Thanks.

    And, Leighton, the honor is all mine. By the way, congratulations on all the good news coming in from Europe.


  5. Jeff, the book is fantastic. I will be doing a review for Amazon that should be up tonight or tomorrow.

    It is almost selfish to be rewarded so handsomely for a small donation to something that is so worthy.

    Tim is almost as good an editor as he is a writer and since I think he is one of the best writers I have read, people can expect to get a perfectly balanced book in SHAKEN.


  6. As much as I love all this attention, the book isn't mine - it belongs to all of the writers, to the two wonderful haiku translators who gave us their versions of Basho and Issa, to Kimberly Hitchens and her crew at who turned the whole thing into a beautiful e-book -- to everyone who contributed time and talent in return for nothing but the satisfaction of doing something for people who have lost, in many cases, perilously close to everything.

    Jeff's story is a powerhouse. So is Cara's There are eighteen others in the book. Everybody wrote on tiptoe. This has been one of the most energizing, reassuring experiences of my life, and everyone who had anything to do with SHAKEN has my thanks.

    And thanks also to Leighton for the great review on Amazon and to Beth for giving the project so much space on her blog and to the members of the academy, who . . .

    Wait. Enough. Tomorrow I'll talk about why this project would have been completely impossible three, or even two, years ago.

  7. I've already started reading! I also tip my hat to all of you. What a great enterprise, so well executed. Congratulations.


  8. SHAKEN is the result of that collaboration and it is a book worth everyone's attention.