Mid-Writing Posting: Feedback Requested!

Hi All,

Below is a snippet from Chapter Three. Long and short, if you’ve read Roma Aeronautica, you’ll have some more insight into the discussion below. Let me know what you think so far. Bear in mind, this is only a rough draft, small typos will most likely be removed by the time it gets to the second or third writing stage.

Continue reading “Mid-Writing Posting: Feedback Requested!”

Novellas and the Self Published Author: Remix Part 1

I go back and revisit the idea of novellas, Part One! Check it out!

Part 1

About a year or so ago, I posted this article on Novellas and the self-published author. I’ve put the original article on the bottom of this post for your enjoyment. I’ve now published two novellas, one through my traditional self-publishing system, and one through a small publisher, to try and see which approach I like more. I figured it would be beneficial to share my new insights and thoughts.

Continue reading “Novellas and the Self Published Author: Remix Part 1”

Trains in the Steam Empire Chronicles

Trains in a Roman Alternate History? Learn more about Steam Trains in the Steam Empire Chronicles!

By Daniel Ottalini

Steampunk is a genre of imagination and creation. Nowhere is that more apparent than the majestic steam train. Harkening back to an era of opulence, industry, hard work, and elegance, the chugging steam train kindles the joy of machinery and a love for transportation. As a small child, I was famous in my family for not only building long, winding, one lane traffic jams of Hot Wheels cars, but also for creating extravagantly huge sets of train tracks and monopolizing the entire living room for hours at a time.

Continue reading “Trains in the Steam Empire Chronicles”

Why don’t we see more ‘Alternate’ Steampunk?

Why don’t we see more ‘Alternate’ Steampunk?

I was checking out my Amazon Author Page the other day, and happened to be reading the reviews that people have given. I was struck by the comments in several, in particular those that said my novel was a great read for someone looking for something other than the usual Victorian steampunk. I’m flattered by these comments, but it had me thinking, why don’t we see more ‘alternate’ steampunk novels? (You can see more about how to respond to reviews here)

I suppose this question is answered in the most basic form by looking at the origin of

Virtuoso by Jon Munger and Krista Brennan
Virtuoso by Jon Munger and Krista Brennan

the word steampunk. “Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery,especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century.” (According to Wikipedia) or if you prefer Urban Dictionary, “What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.”

So that gives some insight, but not enough. You have to look at the words 19th century and western civilization. Most Steampunk happens in Victorian (or proto-victorian) England/ Western Europe or in the wild west. Even those novels that don’t explicitly take place in those locations include people from those locations. Peshawar Lancers, by S.M. Stirling, takes place in India, but a Englishized India.

So why do we not see more steampunk writing from the Far East? Or Africa? South America? People write what they know, and what they’ve learned. If you’re an American or British writer, you probably know western history with a spattering of eastern history when it coincides with western. I would LOVE to write a steampunk novel about Brazil (and I’ve actually got one way way wayyyy on the backburner in idea form) but I happen to have a great resource who grew up in Brazil as a major partner in it. If left to my own devices, could I write a novel? Sure, but I doubt it would be truly authentic. Steampunk doesn’t have to be authentic (it is, after all, science fiction), but the culture it is based on does need to feel and act authentic. If you don’t know about a different culture, how can you write about it?

There are a few authors who are trying to breach the boundaries of ‘traditional’ steampunk, but you’ll have to look good and hard for them. If you have any suggestions, leave them below and I’ll edit the post. I’d love to read some other non-standard steampunk ideas. For more information, check out this great post on Beyond Victoriana.


Roma Aeronautica Out Today!

My new Novella, Roma Aeronautica, is out today! Click to get a quick synopsis and learn where to purchase this fast paced coming-of-age story.

Roma-Aeronautica-2500x1563Hi everyone! I hope your summer is going well, mine is so far, when it isn’t full of work! I am excited to announce that my new novella, Roma Aeronautica, is available for purchase on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble (and will be up on Smashwords for iPad owners/etc., as soon as possible!). Roma Aeronautica takes place in the same world as the Steam Empire Chronicles, and would be described as a character prequel.

Continue reading “Roma Aeronautica Out Today!”

Sneak Peek at Antioch Burns…

Enjoy a short preview of the upcoming novella, Antioch Burns.

Hi all!

In the 4th of July Holiday spirit, I figured I’d share a bit more of the most recent update to Antioch Burns. In this scene, the Mongols attempt to eliminate the remnants of a Roman patrol on the outskirts of Antioch before they can warn the city….

Continue reading “Sneak Peek at Antioch Burns…”

Other Notable Cultures in the Steam Empire Chronicles

Curious about the other cultures in the Steam Empire Chronicles? Read on to learn more about the Nortlanders in the first part of this mini-series!

[a man walks up to a podium and taps on the microphone. There is a slight squeal, then the audio levels out]

Greetings all, and welcome to my brief lecture on the other cultures and notable political entities in our world today. Before I begin, please take note of this map – as you can see, it has been heavily modified and shaded in by yours truly, but it should give a good indication of some of our… less friendly… neighbors.Rough Draft of Map

So as you can see, our exceptional empire is bordered by Nortland, the barbarian collective of raiders, miners, and other uncivilized tribes. It was believed that their forces were behind the invasion of Brittenburg and the assassination of the Primus Imperio in Rome.

As you can see, my map does not reflect the recent Roman invasion of Nortland, where our gallant forces crushed their Nortlander opponents. It is good that we have forced these barbarian savages into peace, for our other enemies have decided to take advantage of our northern focus to attack us from the east.

Yes, you heard me, the Mongols have unified once more and are pushing east from their bases in Bactria and Persia. The scattered rebellions of their Persian subjects that so aided us in our last war with them have been crushed. Whilst I have little love for our former neighbors, their sacrifice helped ensure our ability to hold the eastern half of the empire.

But before I broach that topic, let us turn back to the Nortlanders.
Savage and cruel, with a streak of cunning hiding beneath their gruff exteriors, the Nortlanders have secretly emulated us Romans for centuries. Consider their own mechanical creation, the Mechwolf. Quite obviously, they stole the idea from our own mechaniphant. But what good is a copy when faced with the real thing? I have heard that an unnamed chronicler was able to illustrate part of a battle between our own warmachines and those of the northerners, but you shall have to check out Copper Centurion in order to access those drawings.

In battle, the Nortlanders pride themselves on their hit and run tactics, preferring to strike and flee rather than face our brave soldiers in a stand up fight. Only when pushed back into a corner will they turn and strike, like a wounded bear. They are great lovers of the raid, and have, in times past, raided as far south as the lands of the Gauls and Britannia.

Their government is a hybrid of monarchy and tribalism, with Wardens serving as sub-kings over smaller tribes in the four cardinal directions, bowing to the overall king reigning in Midgard, or House of the Winter Gods, as the Nortlanders say. Of the Warden positions, those of the East and South are the most important and powerful, with the East Warden facing off against the Mongolian Khanates of Rus and the South Warden dealing with the Romans.

Technological wise, they are capable of adaptation and modifying stolen technology. Nortland culture does not have a ready place for scientists or engineers, and have imported or captured Roman or even Mongolian specialists for specific work. They have built and designed capable warships able to match our standard and imperial sized warships. However, they are very limited in their ability to maintain or service their fleet with the limited number of support staff. Thus, their ships are prone to breaking down, particularly in the harsh northern weather. Weapons wise, the Nortlanders favor stone over bolt throwers, and have minimal amounts of gunpowder weaponry. One piece of technology that they do have is the chain-axe, a mechanical saw attached to the standard war-axe form. When activated, the teeth of the chain axe allow it to tear through shields, armor, and flesh with relative ease. Chain Axes are even capable of damaging both our own Ostrichines and Mechaniphants. Rest assured that our own Roman engineers are looking at ways to modify the technology for our own use as we speak.

Tune in soon for our next chat on the Khanates of Rus and the East. Be sure to subscribe to the blog above, and follow me on facebook and twitter, so you can keep up to date on the latest news about the Steam Empire Chronicles!

Antioch Burns…

A sneak peek at Antioch Burns, my second novella coming out late 2013.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!


I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. Its a tad bit too cold to go to the pool or even sunbathe where I am currently, but hopefully that will change by next weekend.ancientCityMap


Unfortunately, for the people of Antioch in my next novel, this is not a good time to be in town. You see, the Mongolians have invaded….


Enjoy the tantalizing sneak peek at Antioch Burns, my 2nd novella that is still in the pipeline. I hope you like the tidbit.


Don’t forget that you can get both Brass Legionnaire AND Copper Centurion now! Both are available on Nook, Kindle, and all other devices


The ramparts of Antioch at the Mount Silpius d...
The ramparts of Antioch at the Mount Silpius during the 12th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


. Copper Centurion should be out on iTunes this weekend as well. If you like the novels, please rate and review them so that others can join the world of Romanpunk.


*and remember to wear sunscreen!*




The countryside flew by at a prodigious rate, the horses of the auxilia scouting unit eating up the leagues of rolling hills and farmland. The double score of men rode two abreast, sunlight shinning off their glittering scale armor. The detachment of horsemen sent up a thin cloud of dust from the dirt road as they crested a low rise, their leader reining in his steed. Decanus Orestus Flavian reached into his saddlebag and pulled out a map. He traced their route with his gloved finger.


“According to the merchant’s report, he saw the burning homes down this way. He also said there was a lot of easterner cavalry. Pah!” He laughed. “Probably one of those damnable tribal disputes lighting up again. Stupid civilian probably hasn’t ever seen a real eastern horseman in his life.” He quipped to his auxilia. Several of his men laughed. They had been together for some time. Flavian liked to say that he had been born in the saddle. Out here on the eastern border of the Imperial Roman Empire, the massed cavalry forces of the eastern Mongolian Khannates were the main threat, and the Romans had been forced to develop their forces in kind. Flavian was one of the original founders, boys picked from the riding stables of various major cities, given weapons and armor and sent to fight on horses not designed for the job. The fact that he survived the two years of brutal, no-holds-barred warfare spoke to his skill and tenacity. That he rose in rank to lead an auxilia detachment, the ground based eyes and ears of the Roman Army, spoke to his intelligence.


Using this intelligence now, Flavian guided his men off the dirt roadway, to better mask their dust cloud as they approached the supposed scene of the attack. They rode through the field, trampling the high crops with impunity. Finally, the horsemen crested a short rise, and the officer reined his men in.


“In the name of Jupiter…” Flavian’s jaw dropped, gaping at the sight laid out before him.




Hmm…smells like we may have struck… Copper! Copper Centurion, that is!

It’s Copper Centurion publishing time! woo woo! Tomorrow the ebook is available! Learn more, plus a bonus viewing from Roma Areonautica!

Hi everyone!

I know, I know. “Posting again, Daniel?” YES! I am very excited because I just spent the last hour or so plugging in various forms and cover arts and uploading epub documents. But you see, I have other fun things for you, besides reminding you that Copper Centurion will be available tomorrow, May 1, 2013. It’s a big day for me, personally, as I have successfully continued down the road to being a self-published author, but also a personal milestone, as I have made the (exhausting) journey once again.

So here’s the bonus material! I’ve got two covers for Roma Aeronautica below, and I’d love some criticism and comments on the covers. I won’t share which one I prefer, because that might skew the results! Roma Aeronautica 1

So here they are! Help me pick! The differences are in the background, but I’d love to hear what you think!

Roma Aeronautica 2






So I hope you liked those, and I can’t wait to share Copper Centurion with all of you! Here’s the links to the current sites! For Amazon and Barnes & Noble or Smashwords. I’ll be trying something new and publishing direct to iTunes this go-around, but I don’t have that ready yet. 🙂 Ciao!

Four Days and Four Key Moments…

Four Key moments in The Steam Empire Chronicles background history…
Oh, and did I mention it’s just four days until Copper Centurion’s ebook is released?!

Four days until Copper Centurion is released into the wilds of the ebook world! May better be prepared! By the way, I’ll be reblogging a post from Alternate History Weekly Update here soon as I have an article about how to include steampunk accurately and correctly into your alternate history novel.

Within the world of Brass Legionnaire and Copper Centurion, there are many critically important events that have led to the events in these stories. Here is but four of them for your temptation (and enjoyment!)

  1. The failed assassination attempt on Julius Caesar – Filled with a sense of duty to his friend, rather than to the Republic, Brutus identifies the conspirators, who are jailed and later executed by Julius Caesar for crimes against the Empire. The conspirators’ families are blacklisted and prevented from ever applying or holding military or civilian power in the empire again.
  2. The battle of Teutoburg forest – Legatus Commanding Officer Gaius Sentius Saturninus maintains command of the Germania invasion force after General Varus falls from his horse in a freak accident, shattering his thighbone and preventing him from leading the invasion. The legatus, familiar with German tricks, ambushes and destroys the combined forces of the germania tribes in a four day running battle, using mechaniphants and skimmers to identify and crush pockets of resistance. General Arminius is killed when a mechaniphant tramples his command element.
  3. Subjugation of Hibernia – after the successful elimination of the northern hill tribes in Britannia, Rome looks westward towards the last free territory in western Europe. After a quick invasion, which quickly routes the locale levies of the tribal lords, Rome forcibly moves thousands of displaced central and southern Europeans to the new, relatively empty territory. Several bloody uprisings erupt, forcing Rome to deploy multiple legions to quell the territory.
  4. Emperor Diocletian’s acceptance of Christianity as a separate, but not state-funded, religion. Rather than submitting to Christianity, Diocletian chose to sidetrack them, allow the worship of their solitary god but placing an additional (and heavy) tax burden upon them. The creation of a standard pantheonic ‘bible’ in response to the christian bible, allowed the followers of the old gods to combat the rapid expansion of this new religion. But with religious rights protected (and taxed), the Empire has managed to avoid any out-and-out religious wars… so far.
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