I'm honored to announce that the just released e-book on the left, SHAKEN: Stories for Japan, includes a short story I wrote entitled Gift of the Sea. It's a prequel to my Darby Farr Mystery series, explaining part of how Darby's Japanese mother, Jada, came to be on an island in Maine.
The collection includes twenty stories from twenty writers, all of whom pitched in to aid relief efforts for northern Japan, and it's available on Amazon for $3.99. The book is the brainchild of crime writer Tim Hallinan, a great guy, and one of those people to whom it is very difficult to say "no." Even though I've hadn't written a short story in decades, when Tim Hallinan asked for a commitment shortly after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, I immediately agreed.
The experience has been very meaningful in so many ways. I'm a huge believer in the power of service, for one, and volunteering is a big part of my life. One of the reasons I started writing my mysteries in the first place is so that eventually I can contribute more financially to the causes I believe in. So donating my time and talent for this project was a very natural fit.
Collaborating with other writers -- nineteen to be exact -- is a new thing for me. I've always been kind of a lone wolf when it comes to writing, so working with so many others to put a book together was fun and different. Everyone stayed respectful and cooperative through all of the decisions that had to be made, from the design of the cover to the placement of author biographies.
My biggest discovery throughout this process came when I actually sat down to write Gift of the Sea. Writing a short story is very different than writing a novel, and I have to admit, it wasn't easy. There certainly were times when I questioned why I had agreed to write the darn thing in the first place, especially when I've got so many other commitments on my plate.
But sometimes, stretching to do a new thing is exactly what we writers need to do. Whether it's poetry, prose, or, in my case, a short story, writing in a new way can reap benefits. I found myself paying much more attention to the little details that make a short story sparkle. Focusing on only a few characters means they are drawn in even greater depth.
In what ways have you stretched in your writing life? While you're mullling that over, go to the link at Amazon and download SHAKEN. The stories are great and it's for a very good cause. Thanks!