Daniel Otallini - Steampunk Fun

I met Daniel Otallini when he joined Heart Ally Books' author list. I was immediately impressed and he was gracious enough to do an interview with me, but my publisher made me wait until she posted her interview first. And then she waited to post hers until his latest novella was finished and in full distribution. WHEW! So -- at long last, the extremely overdue interview...with Daniel Ottalini.

Daniel OttaliniDeleyna: What made you decide to go indie?
Daniel: I'm an impatient person! Honestly, I wanted to be done when I was done, not wait around for submission letters to be reviewed. Also, with all the new ebook technology, I figured I should give it a try. I had heard horror stories about traditional publishers, but I also liked having the control that being an indie provides.

Deleyna: Were there some hurdles that you struggled with?
Daniel: Price - when you're an indie, the price can be a big challenge. Also, some review places won't review a book if it is self-published. I tried my best, but the majority of my reviews came from people who bought the book on a whim or who I met by happenstance. Places like Goodreads can be a fantastic resource if you can use it wisely. I found my best beta-reader there after he gave me a three star review for my first novel. His critique was amazing, so I went back, and even he thinks that Copper Centurion is better!

Deleyna: What are your thoughts about print verses epub? I notice that you produce both. Do you find print has more challenges? Tell us about your choices regarding print -- how do you make it affordable?
Daniel: Print has its challenges only because I have to pay additional in order to get the pdf formatted properly for print. That, plus the cover and back art, lead to a moderate increase in price. For Brass Legionnaire, I had the price set pretty low. Amazon lowered it a bit more, but my 'cut' through Createspace didn't change much. When I put out Copper Centurion, the Price was initially five bucks higher, but someone lowballed it on B&N and knocked the price down to the point that, technically, I shouldn't be receiving royalties from Createspace. That is the crux of the matter. I control the ebook copy entirely, whereas a print version can be available through different distributors, some of whom can drop the price in an attempt to price war with amazon.

Deleyna: You've been working through Kickstarter, something that has interested me for a while. Any words of wisdom after you've now launched two successful campaigns?
Daniel: Set your sights low, make rewards people want, and use your first kickstarter to help the second. Also, I would say it is easier (and better) to write a novel and publish it yourself, get some fans, then do a kickstarter for the second one. You'll have a natural group of people willing to support you, especially if you point out that, with their help, the next one will be bigger and better. That's how I worded mine. So far, each kickstarter has helped me pay roughly 2/3 to 1/2 of the costs of each book, depending on illustrations.

Deleyna: How long did it take before you felt like you'd "made it" as a "real" author?
Daniel: I think it will be more real to me when I start getting reviews from other websites, and not just on Amazon, Goodreads, and B&N. I just got my first review the other day (http://gnostalgia.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/review-copper-centurion/) and it blew me away that someone actually thought my book was good enough to review. Personally, I think I'll have 'made it' when I can live on my self-published income alone, but until then I'm a work in progress!

Deleyna: Aren't we all? What is your editing process?Brass LegionnaireDaniel: I'm one of those people who likes to use pen and paper to outline the novel, then I'll type it up. Generally after I finish up a novel, I'll send it to two or three beta readers after going over it once or twice myself. I'm constantly rereading the entire novel while I type it up. After that, I send it to my editor, who is pricy, but well-worth it as she does both content and copyright editing (she also loves the book and storyline, so she has an almost better vision of the story than I do!)
I give it a few more passes once she's done, then send it off to the formatter.

Deleyna: What words of advice do you have to encourage my readers?
Daniel: Take a chance! Even if it is just one indie or self-published or small published book a month, take a chance on something new. Resources like EPIC tend to find some diamonds in the rough, so to speak, so use them to help find books you may enjoy. Oh, and if you like it, leave a review! Nothing makes an author's day like a good review of a book, even if it is just a few words of enjoyment and thanks for a good book.

Deleyna: If you could go back in time to the moment you first thought of self-publishing, and offer a word of advice to yourself (and others like you) what would it be?
Daniel: Find more beta readers and save some more money! I probably should have saved up more before publishing BL and had CC closer to being done so I didn't go a year between releases. As it is, this year I aim to finish two short stories and Iron Tribune, Steam Empire Chronicles book #3, so I've got a tad bit on my plate (one already down though!)

Deleyna: Anything else you'd like to say?
Thanks so much for having me, and keep an eye out for Antioch Burns, my new novella set in the world of the Steam Empire Chronicles.

7 Things Men Should Be Learning from #YesAllWomen

No, I'm not jumping on a band wagon.

Or... maybe I am. Because this particular band wagon is definitely going my way.

"Women's issues" are a hot button with me. They show up in my writing. They show up in my nightmares. I've heard too many stories from women all over the world.

After I wrote yesterday's post, I remembered more examples. Worse. One involved quitting a job because I didn't want to work for a misogynistic pig, and the eventual relief when I knew he was in jail, because it meant that someone had found a way to stand up to him. He'd already killed two women before I began to work with him, and I quit a job I loved rather than take a chance at being his third victim.

Some men's -- and some women's -- reactions to the stream have left me stunned. They just don't get the purpose of the discussion.

Some say these women are victims.

Some trolls are attacking the women who are brave enough to speak out.

So -- here's what I think men should be learning from #YesAllWomen.

1) Gender discrimination and abuse are a part of our society. Women live with it every day. Yes, we know not all men are bad, but far too many haven't seen the reality we live with, and of those who have, many have chalked it up as "fun" and "harmless." This is a "thing" and it is real. It is sad. Maybe understanding this will help you understand other areas of discrimination in the world, because this is simply one of many.

2) Women aren't victims. They're smart, situationally aware and many of them are armed all-the-time. If you attack her, she will fight back in some way. Many of them will shoot you.

3) When an innocent man approaches a woman, he should think about how his approach may seem to her, given what she's been through in her life. If a woman over-reacts, she isn't being a b*. She's reacting from the harm done to her in the past. Don't forget #2. Approach with caution.

4) The next time you see someone harassing a woman, consider stepping in, because most of these idiots will back down if another man steps up. Why? Because the men who attack women are after easy prey. Most back down when a real man stands up. Yes, you may get called names, but you could save a woman from harm. You have a chance to educate the stupid among your gender. While I'm sure all of their mothers tried to teach them better, a lot of men have learned how to treat women from their fathers or some sitcom. Be a substitute father. Teach them how to be a real man -- one who respects women. And then feel free to take it a step further -- teach them how to respect other human beings and themselves.

5) Women have been quiet, but they've also been taking names and keeping notes. Think about how many past abuse stories have been prosecuted years later. It may be a game to a man, but it is serious to a woman. All employers should check potential employees' on-line activities. You can learn a lot about someone by what they say on social media. I'm hoping some of these trolls have just cost themselves a job.

6) If you think all women are b*s -- that means men are dogs. Even dogs can learn what "no" means.

7) To the 90% of good men on the planet -- yes, we love you. Forgive us if we are wary around you until we're sure which type you are. Because the other 10% aren't just dangerous, they're deadly.

Men who read this stream and "get" it may have just taken a giant leap forward in understanding women.

Change can happen. When I see this stream, I see pain -- and I see hope.

Why #YesAllWomen is Important

Have you read the tweets for #YesAllWomen on Twitter?

If not -- take a moment.

I'm going to guess that a lot of men are shocked.

These are the stories that women whisper to each other or never speak of at all.

I love that women have made it clear -- they don't think all men are monsters. What they're saying is that the 10% of men that ARE monsters are pretty much managing to reach every woman on the planet in some fashion.

So let me say this clearly:

Yes, I have been harrassed. Every woman I know has at least one story.

When I was young I worked nights at a computer lab. A patron was harrassing me, groping me. A male friend sat by and laughed. I drove the guy out with a spiked heel and had a security guard walk me to my car that night. After hearing the story, the guard walked me out every night after that.

And no, I never trusted that "friend" again.

A supervisor at work used to take me into his office to discuss various aspects of the job. His hands always managed to wander. I threatened to tell his boss and pointed out that his boss knew me. I received a bad review, but he never touched me again.

One of the nicest guys I went out on a date with tried to rape me. He was rich and good looking. My mother adored him. I was grateful for spiked heels.

I could go on. Even now -- I'm a long way from my young and pretty days -- there are men on this planet who feel they are entitled to grab me inappropriately and call it fun. No, I won't shame them by naming names, but I hope a couple of them just had a moment of panic. Good. Remember that feeling.

It isn't fun.

And to all of the men who find the stories on Twitter shocking -- just know this: the women of the planet love you.

Passwords and Secret Codes

We now have to reset a large number of passwords. The goal is to create passwords that are so complex that you'd never guess them. Except if they are that strong, you have zero chance of remembering them.

You could use a password tool. These work very well for some people.

Most of you already know that I'm paranoid, and a single point of failure concerns me. They're good tools. Use them if you are comfortable with them.

If not -- maybe you'd like to go with something a little more old-school.

Remember codes? Rememeber creating a secret code with your friend? That was fun. I'm going to give you an example of a method similar to the one I use. No, it isn't the same. Because -- remember -- I'm paranoid.simple cipher

  1. First, start with a phrase that is at least 26 characters long without spaces. Something with sympols works. Make it something you will remember -- like your favorite Bible verse.
  2. Next, make a chart for yourself with all of the characters and sympols. Say you've decided to use John 3:16 -- For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
  3. For each location that you need a password for, pick a phrase that you can remember, something unique. For Facebook it might be, "I wish Facebook would stay the same"
  4. Drop the spaces (important!) and encode it -- letting the capitals be the same as in your code. Like this:

You can vary the length as needed.

And yes, you could double encode it or add special quirks.

Remember: you don't have to be able to decode the password, just encode it.

Then make sure that you don't forget your cipher. You can even carry it around in your wallet like a little encouragement card. If you don't make it LOOK like a cipher, no one will know that it IS the key to your life.

Can this be broken? Of course it can. Any password can be broken, no matter how hard you try to prevent it. All it takes is a good key scraping program -- which can be purchased on the internet. But if you do it right, it will be unique and as strong as most random character generated passwords and you'll have a chance of remembering it. You can even write the phrases down in a book without fear of it falling into the wrong hands, because the phrases won't work until they've been encoded.

Have fun finding a secret code that is all your own.

Additional tip: enable two-step verification whenever possible. And make sure to include a backup device in case your phone gets lost or stolen.

Disclaimer: if you use this method and something bad happens, don't sue me. No method is foolproof.

Mom's Final Months

I have trouble sharing the trauma that I went through caring for my mother in the final months of her battle against cancer. A friend came to visit her shortly before her death. The friend could not sit in the room with Mom for more than 5 minutes, because seeing what had become of that vibrant energetic woman was heart-breaking. Some  have said that I should have allowed or even arranged for her death months earlier and spared her that time.

Mom and I had that discussion, because I believe that I would have chosen differently for myself. For her, I chose based on her stated wishes. She'd made it clear: she would die fighting. It didn't matter that the battle was hopeless and that everyone dies. It didn't matter that she knew where she was going after death. It was the death she chose. Once when she was in pain, I sat beside her bed in tears and asked. "Should I have let you die?" She touched my hand and her face became very fierce. "No. I'm grateful for every moment."

She knew it would be hard.

She knew it would hurt.

Well-meaning doctors and nurses tried to help me "arrange" her death earlier. I consider those discussions with her medical team to be among the most eye-opening of my life. This was long before any silly chatter about "death-panels." From what I can tell, this is - or was in the excellent hospitals we were in - standard practice.

People are often stunned by my reaction when a loved one is in the hospital. I'm generally pretty sweet and compliant, but not when a loved one is in the hospital. If possible, I'll stay by their side, checking every dosage, every treatment. I'm kind to the amazing nurses, because I do not believe this was a lack of good nursing or poor care. All I can say is, you had to have been there to understand the entire situation. You had to have seen the scans. You had to have held her hand. So -- no judgement on the medical care she received. Nurses are some of the most amazingly under-appreciated people in the world.

My mother was never good with words. She painted. Here in her own "words" is what those last 6 months of life meant to her:


Mom's before painting - a barren desert


Mom's after painting -- a peaceful spring meadow

Sisterhood Cover - Woman with GunSomething is watching...

A single gunshot shattered Dana's perfect life. Now she's starting over with a new life, new rules and an old flame to chase all her demons away. But Dana's demons have other ideas. They want her -- and her sisters -- at any cost.

Available from:

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and many others.

Ask for ISBN: 9780983513391

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