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Monday, June 1, 2015

Robber Crabs, A Wiki Coffin Mystery Story


Having enjoyed short stories of late, and taking note of Kernick's The Debt, which appears to be working very well, I thought it would be fun to have a go of my own.

The Wiki Coffin mystery series, variously published by St Martin’s Minotaur, Allen & Unwin, and Old Salt Press, is set on the first, great, United States South Seas Exploring Expedition, commanded by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, crewed by 246 officers and men, and with seven scientists and two artists on board, which on Sunday, August 18, 1838,  set sail from the Hampton Roads, Virginia, headed for the far side of the world. 

The Wiki Coffin short stories, published in The Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, feature Wiki’s adventures in his early youth, after he ran away from the college in the forests of New Hampshire, where his stepmother had sent him to learn to be a missionary. Sailing away from New England as a greenhand on the elderly Nantucket whaleship Paths of Duty, he learned the skills of seamanship, found an aptitude for picking up foreign languages by talking to Portuguese shipmates, and solved one mystery after another.

Then, anxious to rejoin his Maori mother’s family, he jumped ship in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, where he solved a couple more mysteries before signing onto a ship that was bound for the East Indies, where his adventures recommenced.

This short story was written to link the two, by getting Wiki back into the Pacific and onto a New England whaleship, on the verge of his adventures with the Exploring Expedition. 

And here is the premise:

Wiki had been enjoying life in the East Indies and the South China Sea.  He could speak the local language, so had sailed happily on coastwise craft in the company of Bugis rogues and pirates. But then George Rochester had arrived on the Potomac, and while it had been delightful to get together with his old college friend, it had also ruined Wiki’s current existence.

Because of that twice-damned dog....

Not only did I have fun writing it, but the first part of the setting took me back to a really exotic visit Ron and I made, to a dot in the Indian Ocean, just south of Java, called Christmas Island.  The wildlife is amazing, and yes, there truly are robber crabs.  The photo on the front was taken by Ron.

But I definitely wanted to make it free, along with a preview of the fifth in the book series, The Beckoning Ice.  This was easy enough on smashwords, and courtesy of Draft2Digital, it was also easily made free on Kobo and so forth. And smashwords is amazing.  Even though I haven't mentioned this story being online until now, more than 40 were downloaded in the first few hours.

But can I persuade Amazon to make it free?  No.  They (or their robot) insists that the lowest price must be 99 cents.  So how did Kernick's publishers manage to get The Debt listed for nothing?  There must be a trick.  So far, I am doing my best by clicking "tell us about a lower price" and pasting in the URL for one of the other internet book sites, but so far, it isn't working.

So, in the meantime, find it on another site, such as smashwords or nook.


Shayne Parkinson said...

Robber crabs sound rather terrifying, Joan! Gorgeous colours, and what a wonderfully exotic setting.

Regarding having it set to free: Amazon may well choose to price-match, as they have with my Sentence of Marriage. B&N and iBooks are two they're more likely to respond to; Smashwords is less likely, from what I've come across other authors stating.

Sometimes it takes a while for their price-matching to kick in, so you may yet have success. From memory (it's been a while), it took a few weeks for me.

Joan Druett said...

Thanks for that, Shayne. Sentence of Marriage is a marvelous book and the success of your series based on making the first free is inspirational.

Dale said...

What a truly magnificent jacket!

Joan Druett said...

Thank you! Ron took the photograph of the background, too. The bush on Christmas Island is spookily bare of undergrowth. This is because these huge crabs eat the seeds before they can sprout. The few saplings that do survive are free to reach for the sky.