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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Three years gone

March 11 was the third anniversary of the 8.9 magnitude Great East Japan Earthquake that killed almost 16,000 people and devastated whole cities.

Like a number of writers, I wanted to do something to contribute to the aid, even if only in some small way. My publisher Solstice agreed to publish a book of my short stories, and all my royalties would go towards the survivors’ fund. The book of sixteen prize-winning stories was When the Flowers are in Bloom.  It was published on May 4 and gained a modicum of publicity, but the sales never really took off.
A mere week later, May 11, Lorca in Spain – not far from where I live – suffered an earthquake. The death and destruction were not on the same scale – nine dead, dozens injured.

I don’t know why the sales of the book have been low. It’s possible that in people’s minds the earthquake nearer to home overshadowed the Japanese event.

The beginning of 2011 was still deep in the recession; perhaps people were watching their pennies and cents.

I don’t think it can be the cost: on the UK Amazon site the paperback is only £3.75; on the Com site the paperback is $5.69 (e-book $3.67).

Perhaps people thought the book was an opportunist exercise and wanted no part of it. Fair enough. (On the back pages four other Solstice books by other authors were promoted, not just my work). This wasn’t the first or only book to come out to gain financial aid for charitable purposes; it won’t be the last, in all probability.

Maybe the sale of books of short stories doesn’t capture the public imagination? That may be true for print books, but sales of e-reader short stories tend to give the lie to that old chestnut.

As I stated in the front of the book:
‘This work is dedicated to the people of Japan, of all nationalities. Through their continued fortitude and hard work, may they overcome the horrendous tragedy and destruction thrust upon them by earthquake and tsunami March 11, 2011.

This collection © 2011 Nik Morton.
‘When the flowers are in bloom’ © 2007 published in Torrevieja, Another Look III.
‘The Busker of Torrevieja’ © 2007 published in Torrevieja, Another Look III.
‘Duty Bound’ © 2007 published in The Coastal Press.
‘Grave Concerns’ © 2007 published in The Coastal Press.
‘An Act of Witness’© 2009 published in The Costa TV Times.
‘Codename Gaby’ © 2010 published in the Bookawards website.
‘The Proper thing to do’ © 2010 published in The Costa TV Times.
‘One Day, We’ll Walk Through’ © 2004 published in The Costa Blanca News.
‘Always the innocent’ © 2010 published in The New Coastal Press.
‘Nourish a blind life’ © 2009 published in The New Coastal Press.
‘A Reed Shaken by the Wind’ © 2010 published in The New Coastal Press.
‘I Celebrate Myself’ © 2009 published in The Beat to a Pulp webzine.
‘A Gigantic Leap’ © 2009 published in Midnight Street.
‘The Geordie Flier’ © 2009 published in Costa TV Times
‘Hammer and Honey’ © 2007 published in The Coastal Press
‘The Trilby Hat’ © 2003 published in The Portsmouth Post
It’s quite rare for short stories to pick up any kind of review. The following appear to be exceptions:

Nik Morton is a pulp master of extraordinary originality.  David Cranmer, Editor, Beat to a Pulp
An Act of Witness. It has character, action, and that extra dimension which brought a familiar theme up to date, showing what can be done within the limitations of a 1,000 word story. David Campton, Playwright.
Nourish a blind life
I read a lot and like to think that I’m fairly hardened to the human experience. Your story, however, moved me enormously. With a powerful understanding you avoided any mawkish melodrama. The ending, although sad, gave satisfaction knowing the narrator was soon to be free! Thank you.' – Eve Blizzard, dramatist and author, competition judge
Codename Gaby
It is a tale of betrayal and extreme courage in the face of overwhelming adversity, written with great insight and sensitivity. The emotional conclusion is well crafted, leaving the reader bruised but relieved, just as it should for such an intense period of wartime history. – Award Organiser’s comments
This short story captures suspense, drama and wonderful character depiction. In less than 2,500 words, we know and relate to our heroine, the period and her situation. The story is complete and compelling. It is a remarkable achievement and demonstrates this author’s outstanding writing skills. – Kate Cavendish, Book Awards reviewer
Reading about the cataclysmic devastation that hit Japan in March, I was greatly moved by the attitude of the survivors. People of all ages went out of their way to help each other. Looting seemed a rare event. There was a determination to overcome this terrible adversity. Lives and towns would be rebuilt, eventually, even if it would take years. The people would endure.

It is this theme, the strength of the human spirit that I have attempted to capture over the years in many of my short stories. Some of these tales may seem sad or traumatic but, despite that, I trust that hope, love, honour and integrity shine through, transcending the blight of evildoers, disability and natural disaster.
As writers, we strive to walk in the shoes of our characters. Fiction writers lie in order to grasp the truth. In some small way, I hope these stories reveal truths about the human condition.

Thank you for purchasing this book.’
The contract for When the Flowers are in Bloom expires on 4 May 2014. It will then be out of print; maybe it will become a collectors’ item, maybe not.

Anyway, this was a final push in the hope of accruing further sales. In May I shall then pass on the royalties, as promised.

5 May 2014 - Sorry, these stories are no longer available in this format.


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