NaNoWriMo Day #6 – Constantine Formulates a Plan

Day 6 – 10,500 words – Building the Prologue up and expanding Chapter 3

Been expanding the prologue and building up Chapter 3! The passage today is shorter because… well, I don’t want to give away too much! We’ve reached 10, 500 words tonight! Yippie! Tomorrow’s goal is to reach 13,000. Remember to subscribe to the blog and follow me on facebook for more information and more frequent updates! And you can also Pre-Order Iron Tribune digitally through Amazon and Smashwords now as well! Also check out my Facebook Iron Tribune Release Party! They’ll be a Q&A, plus maybe some giveaways! Sign up today!

Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Day #6 – Constantine Formulates a Plan”

Joining the pursuit – National Novel Writing Month!

I’m joining National Novel Writing Month! Follow along with my progress!

Hi Everyone,

In an effort to get myself motivated and join up with some wonderfully like-minded people, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. I will be writing Steel Praetorian, novel number four of the Steam Empire Chronicles. Obviously, the novel will not be merely 50,000 words long, but around 90,000 words. *roughly the same size as Iron Tribune*

So what does that mean for me? Instead of writing a mere 1,600 words per night, I have to write about 3,000 words per night. Doable, just tricky! But with your support and backing I think it will be awesome! Here’s the link so you can follow me, check my progress, etc etc.

Ciao! and Wish me Luck!

  • Daniel

Top Video Games for “Researching” Your Alternate History Novel

How to use video games as ‘research’ for your alternate history or historical fiction novel (or just for fun!). Check it out!

By Daniel Ottalini

Every great writer takes influence and ideas from their surroundings. Nature, society, repression, upheaval, relationships, food – they all play a role in building or creating art and literature. Need Proof? (See War and Peace). For writers of Alternate History, Steampunk, or alternative worlds, where is our guidance, our focus, our tree of knowledge?Certainly, the great author Jules Verne, the enthusiastic enlightenment (and darker side) of the English Victorian era, the rugged styling of the American Wild West, all play a part. But within those come predictable, static ideas in some ways, a lack of new frontiers. I have heard complaints before, even written about them, about Steampunk being so West centric that it excludes such an incredible variety of other cultures. How can you, as an author, delve deeper into the ‘what ifs?’ and create a storyline of you own?

Simple. Lead that culture (technologically and metaphorically speaking, of course), through one of these thought provoking and challenging video games. Some of which you’ve heard, and others you may not have.

In Personal Favorite Order

Total War: Rome 2– Great game, one of many in the Total war series – Take a nation/culture from beginnings to world power. Lots of Mods as well, to enhance or modify your experience. Total War is unique in that it offers both civilization building/city construction component and a Real Time Strategy combat component. Excellent, waste-all-your-weekend without your knowledge game. Lends itself well to battle scene writing, as well as overall story planning.

Sid Meier’s Civilization V– The game that started my love of country and computer nation building simulation. (Well, to be honest, it was Civilization II, not V, but that’s just dating my young self). Cultures have different abilities, less RTS, as Civ is turn based, but incorporating religion, trade, technology, even tourism and unique civilization units and buildings in the most recent DLCs. Great game to practice ‘what-ifs’ – as in, What if the Brazilians embraced Orthodox Christianity and proceeded to crusade against all their Catholic neighbors?

Europa Universalis IV– Was slightly apprehensive to play this after already playing Crusader Kings 2. Paradox makes a great game with a complicated and wondrous system, but I was thinking it would be more of the same. Similar, yes, but the same? No. This is an amazing Alternate History game. No winners, unless you count taking your  nation to prosperity starting in the late 1400s. Just left playing a game where the Ottomans conquered the Byzantines, were then counter invaded by a crusade of Spanish and Bosnians, who forced the Ottomans to release the Byzantines as a freed country, to survive and exist and eventually conquer all of Greece and the Balkans. Seriously, you can’t make that stuff up, but it happened. Without human input. Simply goes to show you how useful such a great game can be. (Who did I play? The Scottish, who annexed Ireland, Wales, and is in the process of forcing the English back into the ocean… Oh, and I’ve colonized most of NE Canada and the USA.) Good for post middle ages, but pre-WWI, Napoleonic Era.

Crusader Kings II– Another Paradox game, similar to the gameplay found in Europa Universalis. Political intrigue, fabricating claims, building alliances, royal marriages, plus character traits that really impact your ‘persona’ in game. Once played as a dwarf king (as in small person, not fantasy) who was both lecherous and chaste at the same time. Not sure how that happens. Good for some interesting character combinations, and learning more about the complexity of the political system in Europe during the middle ages. (Game starts with the Norman invasion of England)


So what to learn from all of these? Sometimes, the best stories or ideas come by accident. Video Games, with their advanced computer programming, provide a companion to your own imagination and creativity. Even in my own novella, Roma Aeronautica, I used some ideas or concepts from video games such as Assassins Creed and even board games! So keep your eyes open, and your author’s senses tingling.



How to Beat Writer’s Block

Brief Posting on Defeating Writer’s Block

Hi all,

Had a terrible case of writer’s block the last few days (Okay, weeks. I think Lisa, the publisher of Antioch Burns, was having conniption fits.) But seriously, nothing was working. I was really unfocused and could not connect one idea to another. So how did I break it? Well, I think it’s a combination of factors, but here’s what I’ve got so far.images

    1. Got a lot of sleep (seriously, a tired brain doesn’t always think straight)
    2. Stayed up late (in opposition to the prior one, I stayed up late once I finally broke through!)
    3. Listened to classical music from Kingdom Of Heaven.
    4. Alternatively, you could have also watched scenes from that, or any other movie/film connected to your genre.
    5. Went for a walk. Without the iPod.
    6. Drove home without listening to the radio. (Both E and F make you think, because you have nothing to distract you.)
    7. Text/Phone a friend (Who recommend I go for a walk. Thanks Lys!)

Breaking through netted me a sweet 1k words in Antioch Burns, plus a long range pat on the back from my publisher. 🙂 Anywho, short posting today. What else do you do to defeat writer’s block?

Alternatively, look up inspirational photos online! (This is from the upcoming Rome Total War II game.)


Learning from My Self Publishing Experience in Five Steps

How to learn from my Self Publishing Experience in just five steps. (part one!)

Colonial artillery crew during the American Re...

‘If at first you don’t succeed, find a bigger gun.’

Hello everyone! For this weekend’s post, I’d like to talk a bit about what I learned about self-publishing in the last few days, weeks, and months. I’ve broken it down into five steps to spare you hours of reading (Just kidding!). So, here goes.

1.) You are not alone – Writing can be a very solitary pursuit. After all, it used to be done in the quiet comfort of a nice, book-lined study by a gentleman using a quill, some parchment, and a boatload of ink and blotting sand. I’m not sure if the current upgrade to person & computer is better or worse.

The point is, you only write in isolation if that is what you choose. There are a myriad of resources out there for aspiring writers. From Goodreads groups to writing circles, to author blogs (like this one!) self-publishing websites, and so on and so forth. The biggest key is you can’t be embarrassed by the fact that you are writing. We were all novices at some point (Or still are).

2. Beta Read before you Copy Edit – Yes, you need to have your friends, co-workers, or random volunteers read your novel before you send it to the copy editor. This is one thing I did not do, and I kick myself in the head for it all the time. Fortunately, I had an awesome editor who was able to catch those mistakes – even very basic ones – a la ‘whose name goes where after a title?’.

If you wait until after the copy edit, then you face not only reshuffling parts of your story, but also then having to copy edit the parts you moved around and rewrote. Lesson Learned – Find some friends, order pizza (or promise them a published copy of the book!) and have them read it. Give them nice big pens and have them mention everything – something doesn’t sound right, wasn’t so and so injured last chapter? How is he now running? Even if you choose not to follow or fix what they discover, at least you know, and can make the fixes later if you chose so.

3. Plan Ahead – Before you publish, have a plan. Where are you going to publish? Just on Amazon? Will you go KDP Select? Or will you spread out and use Smashwords and Barnes & Noble? Do you want a paperback copy? Will you hire out the formatting? The cover art? Or will you go it alone? All are valid options that have their own pros and cons. Me, I value my time and sanity, so I’m willing to shell out money to have someone do that complicated part for me.

Also, something else that may also help – setting up an independent checking/savings account for your book profits/payments. It keeps things separate from your other money, and since you’ll need a direct deposit account available for most sites, I believe it’s a good investment.


Also, be sure to check out the winners’ of the Book Blog Signed Paperback Giveaway. I’ve already had one person contact me about the novel. If the other two winners don’t respond by the end of the week, I’ll have to draw from the pot again!

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