SteamPunk September is just around the corner!

Steampunk September Surprise!

I know it is March, but September is just 6 months away! And that means that I have to get ready for Steampunk September! Here’s an overview of steam punk September provided by Penelope Bartotto, founder and creator of the event. I’ll have an interview with her up later this week! Also, please check out her wonderful website at It’s full of great reviews, commentary, and other exciting things!

Continue reading “SteamPunk September is just around the corner!”

50 Ways to Kill a Character

50 ways to kill off a character in a novel or story.

By Daniel Ottalini

Need to kill off an annoying character? Already used a bunch of creative ways to eliminate super important people, and you’d rather not leave a boring person to die by lethal sword thrust? Here’s a slightly humorous, hopefully helpful list of creative causes of calamity for you callous creators of creative creations out there.

Continue reading “50 Ways to Kill a Character”

Future Plans for My Novellas

Putting my novellas on Smashwords for all to read! – Learn more inside this blog post!



Hi everyone,



I recently got an email from an avid reader the other day, asking if I planned to release Roma Aeronautica into print. I’ll let you read the email below.


Hey my name is Kody (Last name withheld to protect privacy). I really enjoy you’re first 2 books Brass Legionnaire and Copper Centurion, but I don’t have a e-reader or anything like that. So I was wondering you were planning on releasing Roma Aeronautica on paperback? Along with the rest of the books you’re planning on writing.


I’m very glad Kody asked me about this. In my recent posting talking about novellas, you may have noticed a comment I made in response to another author, talking about what I was planning with my novellas.


1.) I will eventually publish my novellas, Roma Aeronautica and Antioch Burns, along with additional unpublished novellas, as an ebook and print book once I reach a number that I consider economical to create a print book for. In essence, I need at least four to five novellas, perhaps even six, to make a print book viable, at least to my standards (note, my standards include illustrations for every book, a different cover, plus possibly maps or additional commentary.)


2.) As it stands, for the entire Steam Empire Series & associated novellas, there will be at least five novellas, one for each novel, providing me with a ready base of material to create a printed book.


3.) As a stopgap for my readers who do not have e-readers, I am putting my novellas onto Smashwords, where you can download them as a PDF, which will work on any computer. I understand that this is not the best manner, but you can also download nook and kindle readers onto any computer as well in order to buy your ebooks that way.



So thanks, Kody, for emailing me to ask! I understand completely that not everyone has access to an ereader, and I will strive to make my novellas as accessible as possible for all my followers.

Until then, Roma Nike!












Novellas & The Self-Published Author

My thoughts on Novellas & The Self Published Author

child with piles of books forest


By Daniel Ottalini

A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel.

There is undeniably something instinctively attractive about novellas for the self-published or small-published author. Think of it this way, a novella is faster to type, edit, format, and requires only an ebook cover, reducing costs and time in multiple areas, even with multiple checks and reviews.

So why novellas? Well, for one thing, exposure in this industry is key. You are more likely to catch more ‘browsing’ readers with five books out, even short novellas, than with two novels out. By reading one, you have a good chance of them reading more, especially if they are well done. You charge less, so people may be more willing to take a chance, especially on a 99 cent or free loss leader than on a $3.99 100,000 word novel. And they do work exceptionally well as loss leaders, bringing in new readers who, having identified the quality of your work, are willing to lay out money for your other written works.

But are they really worth it for a beginning author to write? As a self-published author, I’m struggling with this situation. First, time spent on novellas is time NOT spent on novel number three. Second, I am having a hard time mustering the effort to finish up the last leg of Antioch Burns. Having the cover ready (wow, that came faster than I thought!) has helped, but still, this hill seems extraordinarily difficult to climb. My first novella is only doing mediocre in sales. In some ways, I attribute this to the higher cost – $1.99 – rather than the more traditional $0.99 cents. I’ve also been forced to cut back on what little promotion I do, due to some other issues. I suppose that you must be prepared to offer your novella for a reduced price, or provide some other tantalizing tid-bit for readers in addition. Now these may be more personal components in some ways, but they are, in fact, a factor for many others. Burnout, exhaustion, weak story lines, all can reduce the effectiveness of a novella.
For example, the delay in Antioch Burns is actually a good thing at this point. This is the first I’m sharing with you, but the novella will be delayed until Spring, 2014. My publisher has some personal things to attend too, and currently I’m not quite happy with the novella. But this is good. Why? Because I can add that extra tid-bit into the novella, like the first chapter of Iron Tribune. Yes, exciting, isn’t it? Already, this is getting me into the mood.

So in the end, what’s my final opinion? Novellas are great, if you can commit to them and pump them out completely. In some ways, the smartest self-published author waits to publish book one until they have novella one or even book two. Just a thought, as I certainly didn’t begin that way.

What do you think? Novellas & Novels together? Novellas first? Or are they a waste of time?


Copper Centurion Up for an EPIC eBook Award!

Copper Centurion is up for an EPIC award! Read more inside this blog post!


Good Morning to all my wonderful readers, and Happy Monday! At least, it’s happy for me, because I am very proud to announce that Copper Centurion is up for an Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition eBook Award. My first novel, Brass Legionnaire, won an EPIC award in the spring of 2013. I am extremely pumped for this nomination, especially as the judges are other authors and publishers.


I have always been hesitant about entering many competitions, as sometimes I doubt that it is entirely worth it. But I have to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I took the trip to Portland this last spring to attend the conference and learned a lot. I think such conferences are a wonderful way for self-published authors to network, learn, and share their ideas and knowledge! I heartily recommend everyone go to at least one at some point in their lives! Be sure to visit the EPIC website to learn more about their goals and mission.

Daniel Ottalini – Copper Centurion (Click here to see the full award category and Finalist listing!)



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.)


Kickstarter Launch for Book Two

A new Kickstarter Campaign has been launched for Copper Centurion! Take a moment to read more and consider contributing to my second novel!

Greetings everyone!

It is with great excitement that I launch my second Kickstarter campaign, aimed at helping me fund book two of the Steam Empire Series, Copper Centurion. There’s some awesome rewards up for contributing, and I’ve really thought hard about what people would like to see from me as a reward.

To be blunt, at first I really did not want to use Kickstarter. I’d gotten help on the first novel, and wanted to really pay off all my followers by doing it all on my own. But the truth is, I need your help. A lot has changed in the past year for me, and the funding from Kickstarter will truly help improve the overall design, formatting, and feel of the novel. The cover art is already in progress, as is the editing, so the timing here is critical.

The funding will help defray the costs of editing, formatting, artwork. With Kickstarter money, I can add more illustrations and maps to the final novel. I can also focus my time on typing up short stories for the rewards! With my last book, I raised about half the cost of the novel through Kickstarter. I’ve lowered it to just 1/3 this go around. So take a moment to consider a donation. The campaign runs through February 10th, so check it out!

Thanks again so much for your continued support. I truly appreciate it. You have helped me bring my dream to life, so thanks, for everything.

Carpe Diem,Daniel

New Story Idea

Hey all, so I’ve been considering a new story based on several of my favorite genres. Alternative History + Steampunk + Historical Fiction. Read the prologue to my story idea below. I won’t give away the actual story, but maybe the prologue will tweak your interest. PLEASE offer feedback. Let me know what you think! But keep it constructive peoples 🙂

In the year 1856 A.D., the most powerful and glorious empire ever to grace the world of Earth sat like a giant amoeba over the mountains, rivers, and plains of Europe. The Imperial Roman Empire had continued it’s slow spread over the various barbarian tribes of Europe for more than the past two millennia, from the founding of the Republic to it’s transformation into the Imperial Roman Empire with the crowning of Julius Caesar as Emperor. Despite initial attempts to prevent the transformation into an empire, solid Roman citizens with their eye on the future ensured the success of the first Emperor. The most important, Marcus Brutus, close friend and savoir of the Emperor during an assassination attempt in 44 B.C. is now venerated as a deified member of the Roman Pantheon.

Continue reading “New Story Idea”

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