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Types of spaceship in the Cortii

Types of spaceship in the Cortii

So what types of spaceship are there in the Cortii?

Actually, there are quite a few types of spaceship maintained by a Base. While the Cortii are primarily infiltration and shock troops, most Bases maintain a sizeable fleet, for defence and to service their contracts.

Canta Class

The most common type is the Canta class. As their hull title suggests, they’re rated for five occupants and carry deepspace drives as well as in-system and atmosphere options. They’re heavily armed by humanoid standards for their size, and it shows in the living spaces: there’s a pilot’s cabin with space for a pilot and a co-pilot, five bunks, and a med-bay that’s essentially a sixth bunk with a lot of med-tech built in. Aside from that, at the further end of the bunk corridor, there’s a cross-section that leads to the sanitary unit (be flexible) on one side and the airlock on the other. On the aft wall, there’s a pair of holosuits for training and entertainment. Because the Canta class is rated for atmosphere, it’s a fairly basic delta-shape.

Fighter class

After the Canta class, there are two single-occupant hulls that serve very different purposes. One, the smallest of the Cortiian fleet, is really a cockpit on a whole lot of armament and a massive in-system drive. This is the fastest of the Cortiian ships, and because of its size, unless its drives are running full-bore, it doesn’t show up very well on most types of scanner even if it is being actively hunted. It is not deep-space capable, although it is just about atmosphere-capable. They can’t take a lot of damage, but because they’re almost impossible to pinpoint on weapons targeting and can out-accelerate most tracking estimates, it takes a lucky shot to damage one.

Scout class

The other single-occupancy hull type in the Cortii is known as a scout, and it does exactly what it says on the packet. It’s based on the same hull as the fighter, but with about a quarter of the armament and a deepspace drive and a lot of stealth tech instead. It also offers an extended cockpit that allows for a bunk unit and very basic sanitation behind the pilot and surveillance area. Because there’s a whole lot of active and passive jamming systems bolted onto a hull that’s close to impossible to catch on a scanner in the first place, these are the ship of choice when a Base needs eyes on something and doesn’t want anyone else to know about it. They have basic armament, but the main idea with this ship class is not to get caught in the first place.

Cortia class

These are the Cortiian equivalent of a battle platform, at about a quarter the size of the FPA equivalent. As the name suggests, they’re intended for a Cortia-unit, but can be handled short-term by as little as a single Canta. They are only borderline atmosphere-capable (as in, you’ll probably survive re-entry with a good pilot, but getting off again might be dicey), and can be configured differently for different missions. They’re designed to operate independently for extended periods of time, and can carry twenty fighters in their bays if need be. Because they’re capable of taking out anything up to and including a planet, they tend to induce anything from extreme respect to outright panic.

Short-haulers

There are some, but they’re the Cortiian-manufactured equivalent of load-haulers anywhere, and are mostly drives. If they’re going anywhere where they might conceivably run into danger, they’re escorted. The Cortii use an instantaneous transport system under treaty from the species that invented it, unlike most of humanoid space, so unless there’s some actual reason to send items via a shorthauler, by and large they’re sent through that system.

Accidents, unfriendly fire, and escape pods

….Cortiian ships do have them. All except for the fighter class, which simply doesn’t have space aboard and which requires a spacesuit to pilot, the bunks serve as the escape pods. They’re built as self-contained cryo units, and if jettisoned, will seal and put their occupant into deep-sleep. There’s enough of a drive to get them away from an exploding hull, and enough of a sensor array to look for breathable atmosphere. However, as they only broadcast to Cortiian receivers, and tend to explode if tampered with, getting picked up in one relies on a Cortiian ship being the in right place with its scanners turned up to full gain.

Death is for the Living launch!

Death is for the Living launch!

Death is for the Living launch!

“When ‘here be monsters’ doesn’t only mark the unknown…”

With the Death is for the Living launch, I can finally call myself a sci-fi and urban fantasy author. I’m excited about this. Not only was Death is for the Living somewhat of a pet project for me (OK, all my books are pet projects, who am I kidding), but I wasn’t at all sure how it would be received.

I mean, vampire hunters, yachts, and the Caribbean? It’s a bit of eclectic mix. On the other hand, it met the reviewers, and so far the results have been very encouraging:

Readers' Favorite 5 starYes, pirates, vampires, vampire hunters and storms at sea can exist within the pages of one book — and they do it so well in Death is for the Living. It’s most highly recommended.” ~Readers’ Favorite 5 star review by Jack Magnus

 

I wanted to be mad at the author for the ending; how could they do this! But it was perfect! It ended the way the whole book was written, with mystique.” ~Readers’ Favorite 5 star review by Peggy Jo Wipf

I wrote the first draft of this book a really, really long time ago, and frankly had no intention of publishing it. I missed sunshine (any sunshine, I was living in Yorkshire at the time), palm trees, wind in my face, and the ability to go anywhere without supervision. (No, I wasn’t in juvie…boarding school.) However, one day I floated the idea (oh, ha) in a writers’ group, and instead of getting a roar of laughter, I got some ‘hmm, sounds interesting’ reactions, and began to seriously consider tuning the book up for publication.

While the yacht I grew up on was a 45-foot Mudie ketch, not a schooner nearly twice that size, a lot of the day-to-day aboard a yacht scenes are pulled from my experience living aboard, as are some of the locations (you can read more about those on the book page). I did most of the research on the places I hadn’t visited in the depths of last winter, and let me say that there’s nothing like researching the best sailing approach to Trinidad while there’s a foot of snow on the ground outside.

So, without further ado, here’s the teaser text:

By day, Cristina Batista is a deck girl on a Caribbean charter yacht, with all the sun, smiles, and steel drum music that entails. By night, she and her crew hunt the monsters that prey in the dark: the powerful vampire clans of the New World.

Unfortunately Cristina’s past is hunting her in turn – and it’s catching up. Without her partner, sometime pirate, sometime lordling, and ex-vampire, Jean Vignaud, Cristina wouldn’t simply be dead. She’d be something she fears far more.

Cristina and Jean are experienced, motivated, and resourceful. One faction wants them despite it. The other wants them because of it.

You can sit in for an interview both Cristina and Jean if you’d like to get to know them a bit better, or learn a little bit about yacht Artemis – or keep going for ‘buy’ links to contribute to my coffee fund 🙂

Get a copy of Death is for the Living:

Gender and genre

Gender and genre

Gender and Genre

…lying on my back on the library floor, staring blankly up at my bookshelves, I realised two things.

First: it’s not hoarding if it’s books; second, that I have a lot of series by female authors. Given all the unmitigated crap that occasionally hits the airwaves about ‘women ruining science-fiction’, and given the amount of sci-fi I read, it took me rather by surprise. I didn’t, in fact, set out to collect books written by women authors. Actually, if I’m completely honest, unless I’m looking for some more of someone’s work that I’ve already enjoyed, the author’s name tends to be about the last thing about a book that I look at.

Generally, if someone’s unwary enough to let me off my chain in a bookshop, my method of picking out books (yes, it’s never ‘a’ book, kindly don’t blaspheme) is to wander along the sci-fi and fantasy shelves, picking up random books that look interesting and reading the first few pages.

I like that first few pages, I buy the book – simple. If I like the rest of the book, when I’ve got it home and devoured it, then I’ll take notice of the author – so that I can go and see what else they’ve written, and hang out in their metaphorical garden hedges watching to see when the next book may come out. Yes, I author-stalk. (Rabia Gale, I’m looking at you. W. Clark Boutwell, you too.)

From my unexpected vantage point on the floor (I was trying to clean – don’t judge), for the first time in my life, I counted fingers and realised that, having used that method of book selection most of my life, I really do have a lot of books by women authors. C J Cherryh, Lilith Saintcrow, Anne MCaffrey, Dorothy Dunnett, Patricia Briggs, Rob Thurman, Michelle Sagara, Ann Aguirre, Laura Anne Gilman… I could keep going. I was almost relieved to come across half a shelf of Jack Campbell, a complete shelf and a half of Terry Pratchett (all hail Sir Terry), a clump of Jack Higgins, the full Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series, some Jim Butcher, a bit of Simon Green, and… yeah, I read a lot.

Basically, I like good writing, by which I mean a writing style that doesn’t make me roll my eyes on page one, characters that aren’t two-dimensional, and a plot that actually, well, has a plot. I don’t select my books based on the shape of the author’s genitalia. The correlation between gender and genre that seems to be so popular with most of society seems like an even bigger steaming pile when viewed from my position (on my library floor).

Something that pisses me off no end is the sheer number of individuals (insert epithets of choice here, I’m a dirty-word intellectual trying hard to keep my blog mostly PG) going around claiming that ‘men can’t write fantasy’ or ‘women can’t write science-fiction’. I call bullshit. J R R Tolkien, for example. C S Lewis. C J Cherryh, Octavia E Butler, Anne McCaffrey. I suffer violent urges when I read that J K Rowling is J K because someone told her that she’d sell fewer books as Joanne Kathleen Rowling.

I think at heart I feel that the only criteria that a book should be judged by is the quality of the writing. A good cover and a good blurb may well help to attract the reader’s attention, but ultimately, you can have the best cover in the world, and unless that excerpt makes me want to read more, you’re going back on the shelf…

E-book publishing 101: Draft 2 Digital

E-book publishing 101: Draft 2 Digital

Draft 2 Digital, or D2D

Draft 2 Digital is one of the sites that helps you go from ‘I can haz wordz!’ to ‘I’m a published author.’ D2D is one of two major content aggregators in the publishing world; the other is Smashwords.

A content aggregator takes your manuscript and creates a customised file or files, which then allow it to push your book to its affiliate sites, e.g. iTunes, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo. Think of it as a centralised distribution for your book to multiple sales channels. Both Smashwords and D2D do also distribute to Amazon if you want them to, although Amazon makes it very easy to set your manuscript up with them directly.

Content aggregators are particularly important if you live in one of those areas outside the United States, where reputable currency is deemed to be non-existent and we barter with trade items. Various booksellers, such as Barnes & Noble, cannot make payments to certain areas (Canada was my personal example).

However, both Smashwords and Draft 2 Digital can and do pay to PayPal, among other options, and do have an affiliation with multiple booksellers. This is to say that not only can you format your manuscript once and it goes to ten or more distribution outlets, but you get your reports in one place, and your payments in one place.

Disclaimer: I publish with Draft 2 Digital, among others.

Draft 2 Digital: the bare essentials

  • Working Internet browser
  • Word processing software, ditto functional
  • Your manuscript, ideally in .docx or other D2D-accepted format
    • If you have already formatted for Amazon, you can use your Amazon manuscript file for D2D and it will need at most minor tweaks
  • Your book blurb (back jacket text)
  • E-book cover art
    • And for the love of all the little wriggly deities, if you’re going to spend money on any one part of the publishing process, do it here. Get a professional cover designer and a professional cover. Don’t photograph your baby cousin’s finger-painting and use PowerPoint to paste your title in on top of it. Your cover is the thing online book buyers see. If that doesn’t interest them enough to stop and read your blurb and open your book, nothing else about your book matters because the buyer will never see it.
  • Your PayPal email (or other bank account set-up details)
  • Your local tax identification information – the interview is relatively painless, but you’ll need to tell them where you pay tax.

Start here

You’ll need to go and set up your D2D account. You’ve done this before at some point; you’ll need your name, a sacrificial email address, your publishing company name (which is your pen name if you haven’t created a registered company), and a password. It takes a couple of minutes, and you’re in.

Head over to the ‘My Account’ area; you aren’t quite done. Go into ‘Payment Options’. This is where you’ll need that tax identification information I listed up top.

Tell the nice D2D folks where you live and how you want to get paid. I use PayPal because it’s convenient for me, but fill your boots with your option of choice. You’ll also need to take the tax interview to either set up your tax payment in the United States, or if like me you live somewhere where beaver skins are the preferred payment method, then you tell them your citizenship, country of residence, country where you pay tax, and your tax ID for that country, and they will generate the appropriate documentation for you in their system.

Book set-up

…because that’s what we’re really here for, after all.

Click ‘Add new book’. (Pretty self-explanatory, right?). It’ll ask you to upload your manuscript. They ask for .docx, but they also accept anything MS Word-readable, and if you have a pre-formatted .epub file, they’ll take that as well.

Enter your book details – title, blurb, ISBN if you have one, etc. Select your BISAC categories. Don’t panic about this; you’re really just telling the system where your book would be displayed in a brick and mortar store. Would it be under Comparative Religion, or Fiction / Thriller? Once you’re done with that, pick some keywords. If you’ve done a lot of research into keywords for your book, good for you, you know what to do. If you haven’t, and are staring at this next hurdle in blind panic, take a deep breath. If you were searching for your book in the search bar, what’s the first word or phrase you would type in to find it? Great. Put that in. Do it again. Shoot for at least six or seven keywords or phrases, don’t repeat words that are already in your title or your BISAC selections.

Check all your fields, take a deep breath, and click the ‘Save and Continue’ option.

Cover and layout

Upload your cover. Your professionally-designed cover, please God, unless you’re a whole lot better at graphic design than I am and know exactly what you’re doing.

While that’s crunching through upload, check your chapter layout. Unless you made a real dogs’ breakfast of your MS formatting, you should see a list of entries you recognise, and which match your Table of Contents in the file you uploaded. (Please note, if you opted to upload an epub, you won’t have to go through this section; D2D will siply accept your epub formatting.)

Once the cover’s uploaded, and once you’re happy that the chapters displayed are right, click ‘Save and continue’.

Now you’re in the preview section, and this is where D2D really shines. Depending on your genre, and how you want your book to end up, you can select from a variety of pre-programmed layouts. For those of us who don’t have an epub formatting program, and know next to nothing about it, this is great because you have some limited formatting options and, best of all, you don’t have to upload a .docx and pray the epub comes out legible: D2D shows you a preview.

Pricing and distribution

Basically, D2D lets you set up shop on their site for free. They make their money (as do you) when you sell a book. They take a small amount from your book price based on some alchemy around storing and transferring your book file to the reader. All the rest is yours. Not a bad deal, compared to the pittance a traditional publisher will give you when they sell a copy of your book.

Pick your book price. Oddly enough, cheaper isn’t always better. (Yes, I am going to stand this up with some sources – patience, grasshopper.) For an average novel length (75K – 150k words, let’s say), the recommended price point for sales versus being taken seriously tends to be about $2.99 – $3.99 USD for most genres.

Who died and made me God? Here’s some articles on book pricing you can check out.

Now…hit ‘Save and Publish’.

Congratulations, you’re a published author. Go and check out your masterpiece under ‘My Books’, admire the cover design, make sure it’s going out to all the right distribution channels, and spend a moment patting yourself on the back and enjoying the moment.

Extra – read all about it!

One other thing that D2D offers that Smashwords and Amazon don’t make quite so streamlined, if they offer it at all; audio books. D2D has a partnership with Findaway Voices, whereby you get a special offer on audiobook set-up (no fees until you actually settle on a narrator).

D2D will provide you with the set-up interview, where you give Findaway a bit of additional information on your book and select the ideal characteristics for your narrator, and then you hit ‘go’ and wait for them to send you the follow-up with potential narrators to your email.

While I was spoilt in terms of audiobooks as a child by the BBC version of The Hobbit, with a full cast of voices and full sound FX, and therefore almost never bother to pick up single-voice book narrations (because I’d rather read it to myself and get the full cinematic immersion in my head), a lot of folks do like narrated books, either because of vision difficulties, lifestyle, or whatever else.

I’m trialling the system with Death is for the Living, just to see if it’s feasible.

Nassau, Bahamas – where the hunters base

Nassau, Bahamas – where the hunters base

Nassau, Bahamas – base for the Artemis hunter team

At the beginning of Death is for the Living, the Artemis team is based out of Nassau, in the Bahamas. It’s a nice central location, and a thriving city, which provides supplies, and much-needed cover, as well as a large enough marina complex that a yacht moving in and out won’t attract much notice.

The Bahamas are actually very pretty, but offer very unusual sailing conditions. With shallow seabeds and low-lying islands, it’s not the first place I’d take a deep-keeled yacht like Artemis, but in terms of finding tourists for cover, it’s a popular destination – and, as we know, Artemis isn’t just there to look pretty.

Nassau, Bahamas mapFor those of you wondering where the hell the Bahamas are, exactly, here’s a map. You can find Nassau without too much trouble, due East of the tip of Florida and North of Santiago de Cuba.

You’ll see the whole area is a mess of little islands and sandbars, which makes for gorgeous blue-green water, really nervous watching of the depth-sounder, and a lot of white sand beaches.

Because vampire clans like a large, transient population, the Bahamas are a prime area for them. Violent crime in Nassau is high, meaning that a few disappearances don’t raise too many eyebrows. Yachts move through the Bahamas in numbers, especially in winter, and liveaboards vanish all the time – either intentionally dropping off the map, or through accidents.

Due to the presence of vampires in the Cays, Artemis was based there semi-permanently to watch and hunt, and was supplemented by the presence of the wise-woman, Mama Gale, a magic user of some power and influence – at least until a routine raid went startlingly sideways.

However, don’t let me put you off the Bahamas. They’re a lovely place to visit – especially in daylight.

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