Looking for something new to read and short on money? You're in the right place, where I'll be featuring aspiring writers and their (free!) work!


This month's author is Not A Russian Bot, author of urban fantasy Blood and Iron*.

*Blood and Iron contains violent scenes that may not be suitable for younger readers.





Madelina is a cold and callous yet young dark sorceress who found a hot-tempered and foul-mouthed demonic creature inside an amulet in the attic. They must learn to coexist, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they must treat each other well.









Meet Not A Russian Bot and read an excerpt below!


Tell me a little bit about your writing journey. How long have you been writing, and how did you get started?

"It all comes back to a three-pronged attack of AR testing, YA trends, and the inefficency of the bookish internet. AR tests were the inefficient way that my school encouraged reading. Books were assigned a point value based on factors like length and possibly other esoteric factors. You couldn’t opt out in Middle School, it was 30% OF YOUR ENGLISH GRADE. I read a lot of popular YA books of the time (mostly Hunger Games and Eragon) which I didn’t hate…but I didn’t love, either.

I’ve been regularly watching Youtube since I was 10, and I knew a thing or two about social media. What I didn’t know was that social media prioritizes discussion and discourse over actual quality. In the end, I don’t trust a single bookfluencer who doesn’t read anything outside of YA or spicy romance. Especially not ones who never talk about a book that’s more than 5 years old.

A common piece of writing advice is to read, but I scarcely find fiction books I want to read, and of those books, they are not exactly on the TikTok trending page. Nonficiton is easier to find, there’s plenty of awesome books on human and natural history and various sciences."


Why fantasy specifically? Is it something you write often, or is this your first venture into the genre?

"My greater questions is: Why not fantasy? Blood and Iron was inspired by a want to see the oh-so-popular masquerade trope, where magic is hidden, nuked from the face of the earth. I enjoy the idea of contemporary fantasy, but at the time Blood and Iron was written, the closest comparison to my sort of vision were viral tumblr posts.

I wanted to write about witches, demons, and black magic in a modern setting, but I didn’t want to the standard teenage supernatural drama bullshit that you see on the CW. I wanted it to be funny and entertaining while being dark and disturbing."


What are your goals for your writing?

"I take my craft very seriously, recently I’ve been considering adding more concrete structure and working on pacing. This is all in service to the reader’s experience."


What inspired Blood and Iron?

"I’ve already touched on this, but I’ll add more detail. The main characters were inspired by some very old original characters I made with a friend. So I’ve got these characters in my head, but I don’t know what to do about them…until I see the popularity of shows like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Supernatural, and Teen Wolf. But even as a teenager, I couldn’t really get into them. They seemed to be targeting either a much older or much younger audience, one I wasn’t a part of. So, as a teenager, I made my own teen supernatural drama. You will see reference to various memes and movies in it, I just can’t resist a good allusion."


Who is your favorite character in it and why? Tell me a little about them.

"Inky was the most fun to write, hands down. Writing a likable jerkass is hard, and then I had to make him funny. I feel that it helped that I made him like a chihuahua, talks big and acts tough despite being tiny and cute. But even then, he can really fuck you up. Wrath, in my opinion, is the most interesting sin. It’s clear that Inky has a lot of hidden depths to his character that you only get a glimpse of in Blood and Iron."


What was the most challenging part of writing the book?

"When it comes to any book I write, I’d say that figuring out the plot is the hardest and the longest part. I’m kind of a pantser, I kind of think of the plot as I write, or when I’m just thinking. Another hard part is that I tend to write different scenes on different documents, and then later compile them. If I can’t compile them, then I’ll just rewrite them from memory. It’s not exactly efficient, but I will tell you that some chapters of Blood and Iron were rewritten almost 10 times or more, and other are pure rough drafts."


Do you have anything else you’d like to say to the readers?

"I made a promise to my biggest fan that I’d write a sequel, and it’s a sailor’s promise. Absolutely unbreakable. You will see Madelina, Inky, and Somerset again, though you might have a lot of waiting to do."


 

"Do you speak English?"


Still no answer.


Madelina asked the first question again in Russian. It was the only other language she knew, as she had forgotten all her French from last year.


The spirit had a blank look, like a D+ student in the middle of a calculus lecture. Inky knew four languages well and could swear in twenty-five others. But Russian was not one of them. He couldn't even say a single insult in the language. How pitiful!


Madelina started to suspect Inky was both deaf and nonverbal, she whispered it to Sommerset. The ghostie-goo, with his large ears like a chihuahua's heard it clearly.

 

Read Blood and Iron for free, or follow Not A Russian Bot on Wattpad!

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I know, I didn't post a monthly update for February.


We're not gonna talk about February.


It's March now and I have things back on track. Sort of. I hope. To make up for my total lack of doing anything productive whatsoever in the last month I'm bumping my word count goal up to 25,000 words. It's not a ton more but hopefully I can stick to it and eventually be back where I should be right now.


As far as my projects...yeah, there's really not much progress update to give you guys. My characters are sad and neglected. Send plot bunnies and sacrifices to the writing gods my way.


On the bright side, I do have 3 more books on my to-write list than I had a month ago, so there's that. Am I ever going to actually write them? No one knows. But they're there.


I'm off to type until my fingers fall off. And if you're in need of more magic and awesomeness in your life, remember you can find more frequent updates, sneak peeks, and more on my Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter (and get a free novella!)


Happy March to you all.


- Lacy

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It's February. I needed to find a fantasy romance to get in this month, and this one seemed like a fun one. Plus, look at that cover. Orange covers are so rare and so gorgeous when they're done right.


But my weakness for pretty covers aside, let's jump into The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta.


For Teodora DiSangro, a mafia don’s daughter, family is fate.


All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas—wielders of magic—are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.


Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son—not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.


Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country—and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.




Review

I'm going to start by saying I've been dying to get to this book, and I was sure from the first page that I would love it. The world of The Brilliant Death is enticing from the start, with old magic hidden in the shadows and plenty of intrigue and secrets. I adore the way Capetta plays with gender and gender roles, and the Italian influence made for a unique world to explore. Teodora and Cielo are a fun duo to follow and complement each other in just the way I like to see, and the magic system is fascinating.

But sadly something was just lacking from the writing. I struggled to connect with the story on that deeper level I look for, and even in the most intense moments the emotion fell flat. While Capetta shows some serious writing chops in beautiful descriptions, it wasn't enough to pull me into the world entirely. There was a spark missing for me. I found myself wanting to be on the edge of my seat, but not quite invested enough. All in all, The Brilliant Death has some incredible ideas that I'd love to see explored more, but certain elements of the execution missed the mark. I'm a little disappointed, because I had high hopes for this one. But on themes and concepts it shines, especially when it comes to gender. Huge, huge props to Capetta for tackling that subject and handling it wonderfully.


Final score: 3 stars


Decide for yourself - Buy The Brilliant Death here!