The Border: Part 6

Part 6 of the Border is now ready for your enjoyment! Plus my Kickstarter has reached it’s 1st stretch goal!


Here is Part 6 of The Border for your enjoyment – the battle lines clash and our allies find themselves in a tough spot! If you like what you’ve read, please look into supporting my Kickstarter for Iron Tribune’s illustrations! You’ll be helping make my 3rd novel even better than it already is! Here’s the link for those looking to support me. $10 gets you the novel and our 1st stretch goal, which is a free copy of Antioch Burns!

Part 6

Screaming his rage and frustration, Odiscus battered his sword down onto the Quadi shieldwall. Once, twice, and the shield cracked, falling apart in his opponent’s hand. Speartips flashed past him, the murderous metal wet with blood and rain. Odiscus slammed his sword down one final time, burying it in his enemy’s shoulder. The man cried out, spinning away from him. Bastard! He thought as his sword tumbled away from him, still embedded in the barbarian’s shoulder.

Continue reading “The Border: Part 6”

The Border, Part 3

Salve! Part 3 of The Border is now live! Will Perula’s forces throw back the Quadi? Will his plan work, or will Rome lose yet another border province? Read to find out!

Salve! Part 3 of The Border is now live! Will Perula’s forces throw back the Quadi? Will his plan work, or will Rome lose another border province? Read to find out! As always, let me know what you think of it below. Not sure what’s happening? Read Part 1 and Part 2!

Continue reading “The Border, Part 3”

Short Story Series: The Border, Part 1

Part One of the Border, the beginning of a short story set in the late Roman Empire.

So while I wait for the kickstarter, cover art, editing, and everything else to fall into place, I found myself inspired by some miniatures that I’ve been working on. This story doesn’t fall into the world of the Steam Empire Chronicles, but maybe I can blend it in later (depending on the response).

Let me know what you think below! All commentary is welcome.  Continue reading “Short Story Series: The Border, Part 1”

Ten Things to Know about Writing Historical Fiction (Guest Post by Hazel West)

Ten Rules to follow when Writing Historical Fiction – A Guest Post by Author Hazel West

Hi all,

As part of her blog tour for her new novel, By Blood or By Bond, Author Hazel West is joining us to talk briefly about the world of Historical Fiction, something similar (but not the same) as my personal favorite genre – alternate history. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good Roman History novel. Enjoy!

Ten (Unnoficial) Things You Should Know About Writing Historical Fictionbutton

1. First off, it’s fiction. That means you can bend the truth a little bit if you want to. So if you can’t find that info you need, make it up. Or add a little alternate history or steampunk if you want.

2. The awesome things you have the chance to try out. Think of it: reenacting epic battles in your back yard (scaring the neighbors), playing around with swords, (and don’t forget jousting with your bicycle and a broom handle!) trying Roman recipes, a medieval feast, or having a traditional posh English tea. The possibilities are endless.

3. You get to write about all your favorite historical figures if you so choose! Think of it: your words in the mouth of such as George Washington, or Hannibal! Okay, that might be a daunting thing at times, but if you just go for it, I find it works out a lot better.

4. You’ll get to clear the library out of all the books on your topic, thus making everyone else very annoyed, probably. Just remember not to hurt your back carrying them all out of the library.

5. Read some historical novels about the same time period. No, not to copy other author’s work (that’s plagiarism!), but to get a feel for how things are described or how you might go about it. Smells, sounds, sights, of the time period. Also, it’s a good excuse to get a few fun reads in while you’re supposed to be doing research.

6. If possible, check out the historical sights you are writing about. If this isn’t possible, then watching documentaries or travel videos works too. Just don’t put too much faith in Hollywood, because most of the time historical films are NOT filmed on site.

7. Okay, I won’t lie, you’re probably going to butt heads with people who say your books aren’t accurate. If this happens, direct them to Number One.

8. You’ll have to do copious amounts of research. There’s going to be a lot of every day things you won’t know about when writing historical fiction. Obviously, your medieval peasant can’t just pop open a package of Poptarts for breakfast, and if you think they can, you have a lot of research to do. 30% of writing historical fiction is coming up with a story and characters, the other 70% is research, research, and more research! Do not neglect it, even if you don’t use it all.

9. As with every novel, you are going to have to do multiple edits and possibly even re-writes. But with historical fiction, comes the further fact checking. Maybe if you’re lucky, you can find a fellow writer or reader who knows a lot about your book subject too to read it over for you and tell you if everything is good and historically sound (within reason, that is). If they complain about that crucial, irreplaceable part of your book not being accurate, remember to refer them, once again, to Number One.

10. As with every book, Have Fun! Historical fiction is probably the most fun genre to research next to mystery writing (unless you do historical mysteries, of course!). I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve come up with while researching for one book and finding other things that would make fantastic novels. It might be harder work than writing something from your own time period, but I guarantee you, it’s an adventure all on it’s own and very rewarding in the end!

About the Author:DSCN1548

Hazel West lives in Florida where she spend a good bit of time writing historical fiction about brave men and women who have graced the pages of history, trying to bring more light to their legacies so readers of all ages will enjoy them.

Hazel’s favorite things/hobbies: Writing obviously, listening to and playing Irish and Scottish folk music, practicing with all eras and types of historical weaponry, GOOD COFFEE, reading of course, dark (dark) chocolate, sketching/painting, hats, scarves and boots, collecting little old-fashioned things of all kinds, buying books, and don’t forget dressing in period clothing!

You can find Hazel on her Blog, via twitter @artfulscribbler, or on Goodreads

Click onward to read a description and teaser of Hazel’s new novel, By Blood or By Bond.

Continue reading “Ten Things to Know about Writing Historical Fiction (Guest Post by Hazel West)”

Interview with Author Hazel B. West

Interview with Hazel West, Author of Freedom Come All Ye & Ballad of the Highwayman

Hi all,

A while ago, I was fortunate enough to be interviewed on Hazel’s blog, Character Purgatory (Very draconian name, but very non-draconian content!) about Brass Legionnaire. I figured I’d return the favor so all of you can get a chance to learn about her novels. (P.S. Full Disclosure – I did receive a review on amazon by Ms. West, but it was before she inquired about an author interview – No Funny Business here!)

You can read my interview with Hazel here.

Picture of William Wallace

First off, can you share with readers a brief blurb about your novels?

Well, first of all there’s “Freedom Come All Ye” which is a YA novel about William Wallace as a teenager. He’s sick of having to be in school while his father and older brother are fighting the English oppressors and one day he gets into a fight with the sheriff’s son and ends up accidentally killing him–thus having to run. He goes to stay with his uncle who’s the sheriff of English occupied Lanark and while Wallace is there trying to hide out he ends up having a brush with the general of the English garrison, Jack Moore–and he finds out that Jack Moore had killed his father. So he decides to start a resistance as he father had, and with a few friends, John Graham, Stephen Ireland, Kerlie, and eventually Marion Braidfoot, he hides out in the woods near the town, Robin Hood style, waiting for the chance to exact revenge on Jack Moore. I was inspired to write this book because there is so little known about Wallace’s childhood, and so I took the few stories we do know from reading accounts like Blind Harry’s epic (which may or may not be very true, we don’t have anything else to go on) and piecing them together with an added villain into what I thought Wallace’s teenage years might have been like.

My second novel is “Ballad of the Highwayman” jumping from medieval Scotland to Stuart England. In this book, my hero is Kilroy Allen; it opens with him at age ten, going to visit his father in prison on the eve of his execution. The book it set right after the English Civil War when Charles I lost his head, and the Royalists–which Kilroy’s father was–thought that his father had betrayed them to the opposition so they were going to kill him. He had actually been set up by an unknown source and he told Kilroy to find out who it was and clear his name one day. Fifteen years later, Kilroy is a highwayman by night (The Emerald Sword) and a trader named Jeremy Gelnnon by day. He can’t use his real name because everyone knows of Allen the “Traitor” and he has to have a cover so he can keep searching for his father’s betrayer. And also, of course, so he can keep an eye on his childhood sweetheart, Sylvia Davies. This book is pretty much a classic adventure/swashbuckler novel with sword duels, wrestling, robbing (the rich of course), a little detective work, and a bit of romance. Oh yes, and humor as well.

And right now, I’m working on another novel set during the Scottish Wars for Independence (Wallace’s time) Featuring Reeve, an English knight who is captured by the Scots on the field of battle. You can read an excerpt here if you’re interested.

How did you come up with the ideas for your novels?

“Freedom Come All Ye” was simply curiosity. I wanted to know what Wallace might have been like as a teenager and so I wrote about it!

“Ballad of the Highwayman” was, for the most part, inspired by Alfred Noyes’ poem “The Highwayman”. Ever since I read that for the first time, I cound never get the visionary out of my head, and I knew that someday I would have to write a highwayman novel. Besides that, it was a product of reading “Three Musketeers” and Louis L’Amour’s “The Lonesome Gods” in succession. And because I think there need to be more swashbucklers written by modern day authors. Everyone loves the genre (Come on, we know you do) but it’s kind of gotten lost.


Why did you choose to focus your novels on William Wallace?



Wallace is one of my favorite historical figures. He’s one of those people who stays in your head and you have to think: This can’t possibly be a true story! I didn’t know a thing about Scotland before I was fourteen and I read Jane Yolen’s novel “Prince Across the Water” about the Jacobite Rebellion. I loved it so much that I decided to do research on the time period since I had never read about it in school (and I was already a total history buff at that time). Reading about Bonnie Prince Charlie, I decided to look at more Scottish history and found the story of William Wallace, and since that day, after I read about all the things he did, and how he met his end, I’ve not been able to get him out of my head. So then I started reading everyone else’s novels and eventually decided I wanted to write my own. Wallace is one of those people who everyone can relate to because he fought for freedom and I hope that by writing more novels he will be carried on through the generations to inspire more young people.

How do you write? Do you set a schedule or is it a more free-form thing?


Truthfully, every book I write comes differently and my “favorite time to write” changes all the time. Right now, I write from about 11 pm to 2 am or later if I’m really working on something. I do not write during the day much at all anymore because it’s too noisy, and I think better at night. During the day, I go over previously written chapters, do research, fix things that need fixing and all that. Normally, I will save the chapters I write each week and edit them over the weekend since I usually don’t write saturday and sunday. But that’s the book I’m working on now, next one might change.

What do you do in your non-writing time?

Sleep. No, I like to read, play guitar or whatever else, practice upcoming battle scenes with various weaponry in the back yard. Occasionally I like to draw and paint or do some other kind of artsy stuff, and obviously, drink coffee because otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to write–yes, I firmly believe that 😉

Who is your favorite character?

Definitely a hard question. I love them all, but yet there are those who are just so fun to write about. I think that I would have to say it’s Roster Scarcliff from “Ballad of the Highwayman”. He’s Kilroy’s rival, and they fight all the time, but they end up having to work together and eventually become best buds. Roster might seem a little annoying and cocky on the outside, but he’s really the sweetest guy ever, and he gives almost all of his “profits” to the poor 😉

What are some of your favorite books and authors? Who inspires you?

My favorite authors are Rosemary Sutcliff, Alexandre Dumas, and Louis L’Amour–Okay, I have lots more favorite authors, but these are the ones who seem to inspire me mostly. Rosemary Sutcliff has gone and started me thinking about what may be my next book… but we’ll see about that when we get there 😉


And lastly, what is the best advice you would give to a new author or writer?


Don’t ever stop writing, no matter what anyone says, there’s no way you’ll get better unless you keep it up. Writing is seasoned with time, it has to age, and not everyone’s first story is going to be a New York Times’ Best Seller. The best thing to do is listen to criticism, and think about it even if you don’t follow all of it (because it is still your book, not theirs). And most of all, make sure that YOU are happy with it. Half the battle is making sure you yourself can approve of your story.

Thanks so much for having me, Daniel!

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions!

Here are the links to Hazel West’s Novels.

Freedom Come All Ye    

Ballad of the Highwayman

As a sidebar, I really enjoyed this experience of having a guest post/author interview. If you’re looking to be interviewed/get an interview from me about Brass Legionnaire or the Self-Publishing process, drop me a message through the contact page above.


Romanpunk Vehicles and Contraptions in Brass Legionnaire

Learn more about the fantastical roman/steampunk creations in Brass Legionnaire with this behind-the-scenes guide. Plus a new opportunity to impact the next book! Check out Brass Legionnaire – Five Star Reviewed on Amazon for Kindle and Paperback.

Greetings all,

So I’ve had a few requests from different readers asking for more information about the vehicles and contraptions in Brass Legionnaire. So enjoy reading about some of the lovely technology in my world.

Mechaniphants – Large, elephant looking walkers with razor sharp tusks and a small crew compartment on top. General fitted with a repeating ballista or two small scorpion launchers. Used to break enemy battlelines

Ostrichines – Ostrich-looking cavalry mounts that seat one cavalryman. Faster than a horse, but also louder. It’s generally used to support mechaniphants and escort infantry columns. They are also frequently employed as fast scouts.

Turtles – Think rolling turtle shell with a few heavy ballistas and you’ve got the idea.

Siege Caterpillar – Essentially just a covering to protect infantry from missiles, the purpose-built constructs are so massive they have to be constructed on train tracks to hold their weight. But once they are going, virtually nothing can stop them.

For Civilian use, you also have your standard fare – motortrolleys, steamtrains, cargo haulers – essentially large hollow bricks with wheels or legs, they are multipurpose and can fit any need imagined.


Military – The Romans were not huge fans of Poseidon/Neptune and the ocean – just remember the trouble they had knocking out the Carthaginian’s fleets in the Punic Wars! They essentially adapted the somewhat traditional trireme by modifying it with a large gasbag.

Older ships look more like ocean vessels with a gasbag strapped to the top. Newer vessels are of a similar design but the ‘ship’ part is now connected directly to the gasbag component, so the ‘gondola’ is in direct contact, rather than hanging like a hot air balloon.

There are civilian uses – generally mass passenger and cargo ones – and a few privately owned airships which are hand made to the owners specifications.

Skimmers – Lightweight flyers crewed by young teens. Unarmed except for a ‘stinger’ these are primarily scout and messenger units.
That’s all I’m going to give away today, folks.


If you’ve got an idea for a creation that you’d like to see make it into my next novel, Copper Centurion, let me know. I love hearing suggestions and am totally willing to incorporate reader ideas into the novel. I’ll even let you name it if I like it. Pop a comment below, or send me a message on twitter – @dottalini

Oh, and check out Brass Legionnaire if you haven’t already. It’s five-star reviewed on Amazon, and you get a great read. Perfect for these hot and hazy summer days.


Review – Tongue of Serpents By Naomi Novik

Ah, the water treading sequel. You know what I mean, a book in a series where there might be a small amount of action, a small amount of character development and then… well, the book is over. And you are down $7.99. Or just a weekend of time if you used the local library. Unfortunately, Naomi Novik’s latest book in the Temeraire series is just that type of book. The series is one of my favorites, as it combines both historical actions and events while twisting them with the introduction of dragons and sea serpents, in essence creating air combat during the Napoleonic Wars Era. Naomi Novik’s Tongues of Serpents is the 6th novel in the series, following Captain Will Laurence, formerly of His Majesty’s Navy and then His Majesty’s Airmen, on his journey after he is convicted of treason in the (personally, much better) 5th novel, Victory of Eagles.

Continue reading “Review – Tongue of Serpents By Naomi Novik”

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