Pros & Cons of Using Google Hangouts for Dungeons and Dragons – a Quick Take

My quick and dirty take on how google hangouts can be used to do your D&D campaign!

Hi all,

turned on macbook
Photo by cottonbro on

Just a quick post today, wanted to share how my first session of D&D using google hangouts went the other day! In these challenging times, using Google Hangouts to provide distraction and distance D&D can be a fun and relatively simple way to do your Dungeons and Dragons Campaign!

Continue reading “Pros & Cons of Using Google Hangouts for Dungeons and Dragons – a Quick Take”

Mechagladiators – the Next Advancement in Gladiator Technology

What exactly is a mechagladiator? Only the most technological advancement in the arena in the 1800s! One of my most favorite steampunk elements in my novels, Mechagladiators are impressive and awesome to see in battle.

A Mechawolf – a ‘distant relative’ of a mechagladiator

Continue reading “Mechagladiators – the Next Advancement in Gladiator Technology”

2020 – Year of Accountability – January 5-12th, 2020

Good morning! Welcome to a new series of articles where I’ll post my goals to be accountable with my writing and share the results! What’s the final goal? Two novellas before summer? Are you sure you can do this (asks the little voice in my head). Yes, I am. Here we go!

Continue reading “2020 – Year of Accountability – January 5-12th, 2020”

Recommendations on Tablet to take to shows?

Hi all,

I’m looking into purchasing a tablet in order to use at conventions or shows, and am looking for people’s recommendations!

photo of woman holding tablet
Photo by Ree on

Ideally, it needs to be able to access both WiFi and 4G, in case of failure of the WiFi (or lack thereof). It also should be able to work with Square (which I’m sure is flexible and useable with most tablets). I’d also like it to last a long time and be pretty durable/hardwearing.

Any ideas? I’d love to get one pretty soon, so any advice would be awesome!

Communication in the Steam Empire Chronicles

Learn all about the Communication Styles in my world of Romanpunk!

Good Morning!

I thought that I’d put together this handy quick-reference guide to communication in the world of the Steam Empire Chronicles. So click read on to learn more about how Romans (and others) talk with each other! (Besides Latin, Yes, I know they already speak that language.

Continue reading “Communication in the Steam Empire Chronicles”

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.


Using Wix to make your book Website

Book website, Using Wix, Countdown to Publication

Hi everyone,


So as a reader, I’m a big fan of separating your author blog from your book website. Since I’m planning a series, I put together a website for my series over at so that people who were interested in the book could check it out. I envision this site growing as each book gets its own ‘branch’ so to speak from the main page. I used Wix to design and host my website

When you first go to the site, you start at a pretty empty page, where you can click on one of two pictures or on the enter button. All the options take you to the same place. As I publish more books, I’ll be able to expand the options and add pages to purchase the book.

Why Wix?

Well, to be honest I stumbled across them and started using their website for fun. It’s very intuitive and simple to use. You don’t have to know about HTML code or anything like that. It’s more like Powerpoint, where you drag pictures around the page and you can upload things to post as well. Although I consider myself a relatively technology capable person, I didn’t want to waste my limited funds hiring someone to make my page, when I had a site like this that I could play with enough to make it myself!

You do have to spend some money to register your site for your own domain name and to eliminate their ads, but you also get some nice vouchers for facebook and google ads that you can use to offset some of the cost (What you spend here, you won’t have to spend there)

Would I recommend Wix?

Yes, I would recommend them based on their simple, easy to use site and the way most people can figure out how to do it if you have a basic knowledge of Powerpoint or Word. They have helpful videos to show you how to set up your site and format things. They offer enough different price packages to give you options for most budgets.That being said, if you’ve got a friend or relative who is really handy with HTML code, it might be better for them to do it for you. But being a finicky person myself, I liked the control I had over every step of the process.

Book Update

The book’s illustrations are now complete! I’ve sent the book and all the other odds and ends back to my format/illustration team and they are hard at work putting it all together for the final event. I’m very excited for you to have the opportunity to read the novel I’ve spent so long in making. It’s been an intense experience these past couple of months. I’ve set a personal goal to publish Brass Legionnaire by mid-May.

If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, follow me to get more updates and sneak peeks!


Book Teasers & Trailers Done Cheap!

Book Teasers/Trailers for Brass Legionnaire are Up! Also, an update on How I made them, and on the status of my Kickstarter Project

My Brother emailed me with the most wonderful birthday gift (not today, but soon!), a finished audio rendition of my chapter one. “Now hold up” I can imagine many of you saying. “Your book isn’t even out yet, how do you have an audio book component?!” Well my good friends, I’ll let you in on a little secret… Most editors will do a free test edit of your first chapter. If you like what you see, you can send them the rest. In my case, I was fortunate enough to have a great editor in Marg Gilks over at Scriptora Editing Services. Not only was she actually interested in the story, but I carefully reviewed her previous work and found a few books similar to mine. So I hired her.

Back to the main point! I asked my brother, who has lots of voice and drama experience, if he would be willing to read my book. I love his voice, and he is able to make the different voices. I’ll admit, the first time he read it, I got goosebumps! He emailed me the copy earlier today, and I set to work.

Just a brief background – he used his PowerBook G4 with GarageBand to make the audio. He spent a few days locked in his room, recording and fiddling and rerecording. No expensive microphone (he started using a headset microphone I have from Rosetta Stone, but gave up on it after a while and just used his regular computer microphone) was needed. The music comes from Garageband’s ample free library, and I think it fits the mood really well. You can even fiddle around with it to make your own music.

So after I got the files, I simply plopped them into iMovie, imported my cover art, and using a few ‘Ken Burns’ slides and transitions, I was able to make a pretty handy book chapter teaser. I wouldn’t say it is on par with the professionally produced ones, but it doesn’t have to be. I didn’t spend $800 on it either. This way, I get the best of both worlds: A free book teaser with increased traffic and attention, while also doing it quick and easy. Now granted, I used family to help out, but that’s what they are for! He was amply paid in food, and the chance of a free room in my condo/house at some point.

Anyways, the most frustrating part was splitting up the file. It was 22 minutes long, and YouTube only lets you load 15 minutes at a time. Keep that in mind! If possible, record your audio and stop at good points, so that you can split it up easier. I had a hard time finding my split, as the most convenient on was at… 15:05. Seriously. 5 extra seconds was all standing between me and perfection and I could not make it fit. So I cut elsewhere. A little bit rougher, but it still works.

The thing I like best was that I could upload it direct to Youtube. A click here, there, and poof, it’s online! Don’t forget to make sure you tag your video with appropriate tags to grab the right people’s attention! Another cool thing is that eventually, it will be the start of my audiobook as well if I don’t get it more professionally done.

By the way, FUN news! My Kickstarter project was actually funded! Hurrah! I’d honestly given up hope, but sometimes it just takes one person to make a difference. If you’re still interested in helping out, you can contribute for another two days here. Please consider contributing, each extra dollar helps me get more cool promotional things and keep the cost of editing the book down.

Here’s the second part of the trailer for your viewing benefit! Or read the entire thing here -> Brass Legionnaire Chapter 1

The Realities of a Steampunk World

A quick look at making your story match the technology and things within it.

So I went to see the move John Carter yesterday. We shelled out the extra money to see it in IMAX, not because we really wanted to see it in IMAX, but because our local movie theater doesn’t like to show movies starting around 9 pm (It likes 8pm and 11 pm, but little in between) After being deafened and blinded in the previews, we were treated to a real spectacle of a movie. But I digress, this post isn’t a movie review, but rather how I saw a ton of amazing ideas that I COULD use in my novel, but will most likely choose not to.

The most challenging thing about a steampunk world is that you have to remain true to your specific subgenre. For example, Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books) includes undead, guns, airships, etc. But it stays true to roots without using ray guys, rocketpacks, or technology that is beyond what the locals *could* realistically have designed.

When I saw John Carter, the thing that stood out to me the most was this…

Yes, one of the coolest designed airships I’ve ever seen. And I would have loved to somehow make mine (in Brass Legionnaire) as cool as those. But I won’t for a few reasons.

1.) Believability – My Romans are still running around using steam power. Those are definitely not running off steam power.

2.) I don’t want to copy someone else’s idea. Could I take a few pointers from how they look and add descriptions to my story? Sure, but I don’t want to just blatantly take an idea and throw it into my story because it’s cool. That’s a bit too crude for me. Ideas and a story have to match.

3.) It would take my story in an entirely different direction than where I want it to go. I want my books to show technological process and advancement book by book. I don’t want it to be a ‘oh, look, in the last two months we developed this awesome airship that doesn’t rely on hydrogen, helium, or steam power and it works perfectly. By the way, we armed it with these artillery pieces.’

I guess the point of this post is simply to make sure that your technology matches your story. I’m not saying you can’t – or shouldn’t! – be outlandish, but I’m one of those people who get’s thrown out of the story when the main character pulls out a weapon that doesn’t match the rest of the world or story and just pulverizes the enemy.

It’s like the green skinned aliens in John carter who run around with spears, swords, and projectile guns, but aren’t lugging around the alien equivalent of the RPG – they aren’t up to that yet. If your steampunk story has guns, then give them guns, but they shouldn’t have an M16 while everyone else has a muzzle-loading rifle. Technological progress doesn’t move in that way. If one country or place has it, soon enough everyone else will beg/borrow/steal/take by force that technology.

A good book to read is Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies Great read on a topic of technology among cultures.


PS – book editing is halfway done, hopefully it will be ready to go by May!

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