Book sale, this weekend only!

November 26 through 28, 2021, you can get a serious deal on my books.

Yes, that’s 2 books for 99c…total! I wanted to do a special sale for Small Business Saturday weekend, and you may never again see its like. If you’ve been thinking about starting the Tara’s Necklace series or have been meaning to pick up book two, now’s your chance!

This sale is on Smashwords only. Use coupon code AJ39W at the checkout. Find both sale books here!

Cheers to small businesses,

– CKB

July 2021 Updates

July 2021 Updates: The blog is back.

Hi everyone!

Apologies for the, er, absent state of the blog lately. I’ve been hard at work with revisions on the next book in the Tara’s Necklace series, and something had to give. Unfortunately, it was the blog this time (and a whole lot of tidying up!).

Reviews in Brief

Witches Steeped in Gold, by Ciannon Smart – Don’t overlook the fact that a sequel is coming! I sadly didn’t realize and expected a more satisfying wrap-up. Other than that, though, the world of dueling narrators Jazmyne and Iraya is absolutely fascinating. I found myself rooting for both heroines, knowing all the while (and anticipating that) they would one day face off. As much as I appreciated this book, I do wish it had gotten to all the good stuff faster! 

The Chosen and the Beautiful, by Nghi Vo – The author of The Empress of Salt and Fortune loosely retells Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby through the eyes of a very different Jordan. Jordan, a queer female MC who was adopted by from Vietnam, occupies a ritzy and often lonesome world shaped by magic, parties, demons and xenophobia.  She’s really the best part–and by the poignant end, I wish there’d been more Jordan, and maybe no Gatsby at all.

What I'm Reading

A Trial of Thorns, by Helena Rookwood and Elm Vince – This follow-up to An Enchantment of Thorns takes Aster to the Sky Court, with a completely different aesthetic. The writing, too, is a bit different, but a key conversation with a certain dashing beast has completely captivated me. Team Aster all the way. (Note: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.)

What's Next on the Book Blog?

Catching up on my backlog of reviews, of course! You’ll see longer versions of at least one of the above this month.

Author Blog News

I’m still on pace to release Girl of Glass and Fury on August 21, 2021, but just barely! Expect it to be widely available for presale soon.

In the meantime, Girl of Shadow and Glass is FREE as part of the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale (July 1st-31st). Not a Smashwords fan? You can find it for 99c at the other retailers.

See you again soon!

Cheers,

CKB

5 Awkward Situations to Make Your MC Shine

Ah, the joys of writing life! In the middle of editing Girl of Glass and Fury (an ongoing endeavor) and reading great books like The Theft of Sunlight, I realized one common thread that makes characters instantly endearing: awkwardness. A special feature was born!

 

5 Awkward Situations to Make Your Main Character Shine

Since not every character can have the same traits, I started noticing how authors get around this. Awkward situations put a chink in the armor of an otherwise confident and strong character, leaving room for them to rise above, fail miserably (or endearingly) and allow the reader to feel closer to the character.

  1. They lack experience almost everybody has

A late first kiss. An inability to ride in a world of horses. A lack of taste at a highly refined court.

These are just a few of the circumstances that make characters instantly endearing (as long as they know what they don’t know, of course). Characters in these situations allow the reader to travel along with them on their journey. As long as the circumstances aren’t pitiable (think of Daine in Wild Magic, unable to read because of her isolated upbringing), they can bring the reader closer to your main character. Heck, your readers probably root for your MC all the more.

Awkward Main Characters are vulnerable, human and relatable. With the right balance, they can walk the line between cringe-worthy and loveable, especially in a would-be romantic situation. (Think Mr. Darcy.)

  1. A new setting is a lot more complex than they ever thought

When your MC is a fish out of water, it’s the details that really count.

In Intisar Khanani’s The Theft of Sunlight, narrator Rae arrives at court to stay with her cousin. But she has another mission: after a tragedy at home, she arrives with a question about what the government is doing to track the snatchers and help recover stolen children. All of this involves more opportunities, danger and perilous politics than she ever imagines. Yet it’s the moments in which she’s drowning in lace, and the one in which she realizes just what kind of person is helping her (he’s not as savory as country girl Rae had hoped), that we feel the most sympathy for her.

Rae’s life as the hard-working daughter of a horse rancher leaves her out of her depth in the alternately fancy and gritty capital. It’s these little scenes that endear her to readers, even more than her instances of bravery and her drive to do what’s right. We all know what it’s like to make it through any number of complex hard times, only to be overwhelmed by one detail too many. Rae’s character is deeply identifiable in those moments.

  1. Everything they know is wrong

There are a lot of ways to play this one. Here are just a few examples:

  • The privileged MC learns how hard the lives of others are; is she brave/foolhardy enough to try to change it? (Thorn, by Intisar Khanani)
  • The privileged MC who plays an active role in it and must repent (The Black Witch, by Laurie Forest) 
  • The struggling MC who must realize she isn’t the only victim (The Dark Angel, by Meredith Ann Pierce
  • The history the MC has been taught leaves out inconvenient truths and puts everyone in danger (yes, it’s a plug, because it’s one of my favorite devices. I used this one myself in Girl of Shadow and Glass)
  • The seriously misjudged social situation that leads to disaster (Jane Austen’s eternal classic, Pride and Prejudice)
  • The villain isn’t who the MC—and everyone at home—thinks (An Enchantment of Thorns, by Helena Rookwood and Elm Vince)
  • The unknown villain who makes things way more serious than the (in this case innocent) narrator ever imagined (The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden)
  • The MC who lands in a secret world (City of Brass, by S.A. Chakraborty)
  • The MC who realizes she’s not in the “real” world (Between Jobs, by W.R. Gingell doing double-duty in this post)

I’m sure you can think of even more examples of this!

  1. Their job isn’t what they thought

Your character’s job doesn’t have to say anything about them (after all, not everybody can control what they do. There’s a lot of MCs who end up as thieves). Your character’s approach to their job says a lot about them. Watching them change their views on it gives the reader a front-row seat to your MC’s inner character.

(Slight, vague spoiler ahead.)

Take Cleric Chih in The Empress of Salt and Fortune. They begin the story eager to be to the first to document Thriving Fortune, the former residence of the now-deceased Empress In-yo. Instead, Chih gets a tale of a revolution behind closed doors and all the secrets that entails.

Every character needs a flaw, a rude awakening and/or an unexpected outcome. In The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Chih thinks she has it all together until she hears more of Rabbit’s story.

Though Chih blithely tells Rabbit, the part-time narrator of The Empress of Salt and Fortune, that the abbey she comes from holds countless secrets, Chih doesn’t understand just what that means until they’re entrusted with them. By the story’s end, the pride that drove Chih to become the first to learn those secrets ends up making them shudder. As their companion, Almost Brilliant, puts it, Chih is experiencing duty for the first time.

Though the series moves away from Thriving Fortune, that telling change made me want to stick with Chih, who is a mostly passive MC in The Empress of Salt and Fortune, throughout their future travels.

  1. The unreal meets the everyday in their life

In Between Jobs, by W.R. Gingell, we see this happen in both senses: the MC’s everyday is interrupted by the unreal, and then the unreal is interrupted by the everyday.

When Pet ends up as an actual pet of two fae and one vampire who understands won’t speak English (not until he perfects it, anyway), she gets towed through the worlds Between and Behind, spots a sword pretending to be an umbrella, learns a little Korean on the fly and witnesses violent and bizzare battles she can’t understand. Being adaptable, she mostly manages to keep up, even if she can’t grasp everything she sees, and it’s interesting and hilarious to see her developing her new skills, often to the astonishment of her “three psychos.”

As fantastical (and often awkward) as that is, it’s when a policeman starts poking around that things get really interesting. Pet has to explain or redirect him from what was, until recently, unexplainable. She’s seen it with her own eyes, after all. Seeing those two (technically three) worlds constantly clashing, and watching Pet navigate it, makes for one endearing narrator and a very interesting start to The City Between series.

(Of course, you could also go the other way and have the MC blunder through the unreal. Dent Arthur Dent comes to mind.)

Have you ever put your MC into an awkward situation? Let me know in the comments below!

June updates

June Updates

Hi all!

It’s me, your favorite author and book blogger who is never not behind on things! So what am I behind on this time, you might ask?

Books I Recommend and Haven't Reviewed Yet

Between Jobs, by W.R. Gingell – This book is the start of another madcap fantasy series, with a plucky, adaptable heroine and one intriguing vampire love-interest. This book actually convinced me to try learning some Korean!

City of Brass, by S.A. Chakraborty. The start of the Daevabad Trilogy brings fantastic world-building inspired by the medieval Arab world, and multi-faceted characters. Ali’s perspective was my favorite.

The Kingdom of Copper, by S.A. Chakraborty – Things get even darker in Daevabad as multiple plots converge in the city. The perspectives even out in this one. Fair enough, because there’s constant intrigue!

The Theft of Sunlight, by Intisar Khanani – Rae’s story continues from The Bone Knife, cleverly tucked in to Princess Alyrra’s story as the two protagnoists meet. This one reminded me a lot of Alanna: the First Adventure (Tamora Pierce).

What I'm Reading Now

Witches Steeped in Gold, by Ciannon Smart – The prose isn’t as easy to sink into as I’d like, but the world of these island witches (inspired by Jamaican lore) is absolutely fascinating. I keep rooting for one protagonist over the other, and it switches every couple of chapters!

What I'm Writing

Girl of Glass and Fury is still expected this summer, though I haven’t gotten far enough to pick a release date. It’s looking like August right now.

What I'm Revealing

The cover of Girl of Glass and Furyof course! (If you’re subscribed to my mailing list, you’ve already seen it!) The cover reveal will be this coming Sunday on the blog.

What I'm Blogging About

NaNoWriMo is now five months away! For all those preparing to write their own novels, I’m including some new special feature posts on writing.

With any luck, I’ll also have some of the above books reviewed this month, and perhaps that pesky tatting article I just have to take the pictures for…

What I'm Reading Next

That’s all for now! Have a wonderful June, everybody.

Cheers,

CKB

May Updates

May 2021 Updates

Hi all!

This May, the snow is gone (for now!), the trees are flowering and my projects are slowly coming together.

At the end of last month, the first two chapters of The Fishermen’s Princess were released for subscribers to my mailing list. This month will bring a more usual single chapter. The story currently follows Drina as she grows up and steps into her role as princess. That includes an arranged marriage!

On a personal note, I am a real language hound. I studied Japanese in college and have tried to keep it up as much as possible. I just finished the first level of Duolingo’s Japanese course. It was a great refresher and filled in some content I was missing (including things I was familiar with while living in Japan but never knew quite how to say).

Fun fact: at Japanese fast-food restaurants, you must ask for ketchup when you order. I often forgot to do this, much to my chagrin (I love ketchup, it’s the perfect condiment). Whenever I forgot, I was always too embarrassed of my language skills to walk back up to the counter and ask!

Now, what will this month bring to the blog?

Playing Catch-Up

I still have reviews coming of The Road to Farringale, by Charlotte E. English, and the full review of The Empress of Salt and Fortune. And that lace-making article is still in the works!

Upcoming Reviews & more

Sometime in the next two months or so, I’ll be adding reviews for Intisar Khanani’s The Theft of SunlightTamora’s Pierce’s Tempests and Slaughter and a review of at least one of the books in The Daevabad Trilogy, by S.A. Chakraborty. And of course I have to talk about W.R. Gingell’s Between Jobs from her City Between series!

I also have another author interview in the works, which I hope to bring to you in this month or the beginning of June.

Promos

One of last month’s promos is continuing until May 10th. For the rest of the month, I’ll have two going, all through BookFunnel.

You should also be sure to watch for an upcoming 99c sale of Girl of Shadow and Glass!

Now for the promos from BookFunnel:

This new promo is for all the sci-fi and fantasy lovers out there. Find free samples and whole titles available for download.

More giveaways! Mashups are stories with a blend of two genres. In the case of Girl of Shadow and Glass, sci-fi elements are incorporated into the world building, which is more like solar system-building.

This one began April 10th and will finish up May 10th. Once again, all the listings are for free books and samples in the sci-fi and fantasy genres.

Comics on the way!

I’ve been sitting on new comics in the Growin’ Pup and Social Isolation series. I hope to get both out soon.

I also still have some partly finished episodes of Princess Disasterface to complete. With my second draft of Girl of Glass and Fury in need of finishing, I can’t give you any definites, other than that I am definitely behind on everything!

Thanks for reading! Till next time.

Cheers,

-CKB

April promos!

April Promos

Now that the third of three BookFunnel promos I’m participating in this month has begun, I thought I’d collect everything in one place!

I’m finally building a newsletter, so it makes the most sense to change how I tell you about these promos. From now on, I’ll be including links to current promos at the bottom of my normal blog entries just like I will my newsletters (and yes, there is a normal blog coming this weekend. My review of Thorn will appear tomorrow).

BONUS: A MINI BOOK REVIEW

I just finished reading  Nghi Vo’s The Empress of Salt and Fortune. What a beautifully written, imaginative book! I’ll be sure to pen a review as soon as possible. I had plenty of highlights in this one (that being said, the ending felt a bit rushed and climax lacked the emotional punch it should have, given Rabbit’s stakes in what happened.

A full review is forthcoming, possibly for May at this rate.

A New Promo

Best Heroes – Fantasy & Science Fiction With Awesome Hero(in)es (April 10-May10, 2021)

This promo is for sci-fi and fantasy works only, so there’s plenty to find! All entries require a giveaway, too, so free content for all!

Other April Promos

Otherworldy Promo April '21
OTHERWORLDLY BEINGS (BOOKS FEATURING NON-HUMANS AND FORMER HUMANS) (April 1-30, 2021)

Otherworldy Beings is a sales promo for books in the romance, fantasy/sci-fi romance and fantasy/sci-fi genres. Time to look for your next favorite read!

Under the Surface Sci-Fi and Fantasy Giveaways
UNDER THE SURFACE (STORIES WHERE THINGS AREN’T AS THEY SEEM) (April 1-30, 2021)

Another all sci-fi and fantasy genre promo! It’s a newsletter builder, too, which means giveaways.

That’s all for now!

Cheers,

– CKB

April updates

April '21 Updates

The business side: I have three—count ’em, three—promos to share with you all this month! Including two that begin today (more on the third next week).

Book promo 1: Otherworldly Beings (books featuring non-humans and former humans).

Otherworldy Beings is a sales promo for books in the romance, fantasy/sci-fi romance and fantasy/sci-fi genres. It goes until April 30th, 2021.

Book promo 2: Under the Surface (stories where things aren’t as they seem).

These stories are all in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. It’s a newsletter builder, which means free content! (Again, until April 30, 2021). Newsletter-builders are one of the major reasons my TBR list is so long!

I’m still giving away a 9 chapter sample of my debut novel, Girl of Shadow and Glass, but soon I’ll have a new offering with…

The Witch of the Unexpected Journey

The Witch of the Unexpected Journey Cover draft
The possibly final version of the cover...We'll see!

My novelette, The Witch of the Unexepected Journey, is in the (hopefully) final stages of development. The story bounces between Kijo, the Witch of the Northern Light, as a fourteen-year-old girl and a mature witch, famous for her garden and cures, who is now deep into her eighties. On both occasion, catastrophe strikes, courtesy of one mysterious Lord General who’s out to get Heroab’s witches.

In the future, I’d love to continue Kijo’s story. I have some ideas already, but with a series to finish and another in the editing process, I don’t know when I’ll have the chance to draft another book. I’m overflowing with ideas, people!

Other news:

The first chapter of The Fishermen’s Princess is coming this month! I can’t wait for you all to read it…but (not so subtle hint coming) you’ve got to sign up for my newsletter to receive it! To read more about it, check out my post here, or the Books page.

What I’m reviewing this month

The Road to Farringale (Modern Magick #1), by Charlotte E. English (quirky fantasy)

Thorn (Dauntless Path #1), by Intisar Khanani (YA fantasy)

What I’ve just read

Between Jobs (The City Between #1), by W.R. Gingell (quirky but dark, paranormal fantasy). What took me so long to get started on this series? Gingell already had me with Spindle [my review here], but throw in two fae and a Korean vampire and apparently you’re speaking my language. What is it I love about monsters and mythological creatures, anyway?!

What I’m planning to read

The newly released The Theft of Sunlight (Dauntless Path #2), by Intisar Khanani (of course!)

What I’m blogging about

Lace! Will this be an ongoing series? Who knows! But after finishing Atelier on Netflix, I am in lace withdrawal. I’ll be including pictures of my own work!

Also, an article about culture clash (my favorite kind of story) films is on the horizon…though maybe not for this month.

What I’m quoting

“A rose who wore her barbs proudly, as a warning. My beauty is not yours for the taking. Touch me and you will bleed.” —a determined Aster, describing herself as she’s about to face the beast in An Enchantment of Thorns, by Helena Rookwood and Elm Vince

“I wait, not daring to speak, for some things require quiet to come into being.” – Alyrra in Thorn, by Intisar Khanani

What I’m planning

A summer of Princess Disasterface. I hope to be back on the comic trail as my health issues (hopefully) ease up in the warmer months. If I could build up a backlog and keep releasing them for longer, that would be amazing. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

What I’m feeling

The joy of a brand new bookcase! With doors! Someplace to put my treasure trove of books, model horses and miniature izakaya (Japanese drinking establishment with small plates of food), when it’s finished. I do have to assemble the bookcase itself, too.

Also, that feeling of panic when you realize you’re laptop battery is running out but you haven’t saved your work yet. Sheesh! Get it together, lady.

Cheers and stay well,

-CKB

Spring Break Promo

Spring is heeeeere…ish!

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry blossoms from last spring. Visiting them has become a family tradition.

First, the bookish business. For anybody looking for something to read over spring break (should you have such a thing) there is a new BookFunnel promo featuring CLEAN reads only. That means no swearing, sex or gratuitous violence. One of my favorite authors, Intisar Khanani, writes clean (more on her below). In fact, Girl of Shadow and Glass is clean (yes, a sample is available as part of the promo).

Spring Break Clean Book Promo
This spring break promo is clean as a whistle.

Moving on…

This time of year, my puppy, who may in fact be slightly allergic to grass (but only affecting her eyes…go figure), loves nothing more than to lie in the sun, on the grass, and do nothing, except maybe eat some of said grass. Being a puppy and all, she’s still got that destructive streak, and apparently spring grass tastes DELICIOUS to dogs. I had to make a call to the vet after said habit ended with some…er…messy results.

We took her on a short trip to see the cherry blossoms last year (also a messy trip, but unrelated to the grass. Pupper’s got a car ride time limit and we were SO CLOSE to making it!). Because of the pandemic, she’s had even fewer reasons to get in the car. Ohio weather has kept her close to home for the past few months, too.

I hope to be taking that trip to see the blossoms in the not too distant future. Really, there’s nothing like it.

What about you guys? Do you have any special spring traditions or things you really look forward to?

More Cherry Blossoms
More cherry blossoms...we were a little early last year.

What I’m Reading

The Road to Farringale, by Charlotte E. English. It’s getting good…!

What I’m Crafting

A fabulous model of a Japanese izakaya (drinking establishment). I just love miniatures! And making stuff. It’s the perfect marriage, really.

What I’m Looking Forward to

The Theft of Sunlight, by Intisar Khanani, is soon to be released! In two days, in fact! I’ve been following Rae’s story for quite some time, back when it was a free short story the author made available on Amazon. It’s nice to see her get the full-book treatment. It’s also notable that Rae is the rare fantasy character with a disability (she was born with a club foot).

That’s all for now!

Cheers and be well,

-CKB

The Fishermen’s Princess Cover Reveal!

It’s cover and synopsis reveal time for my new serial novel!

(Be warned, this is a graphics-heavy post!)

The Fishermen's Princess (Cover Reveal Part 1)
Looking good so far...Looks like the title is...

The Fishermen's Princess

A Serial New Adult Fantasy Novel by C.K. Beggan

The Little Mermaid is turned upside-down and inside-out in this creative retelling about merfolk, true love, wicked and benevolent pirates and a princess trying to find her place in the world.

The Fishermen's Princess (Cover Reveal Part 2)
Drina can really rock a sleeveless gown.

Advisors tell Princess Alexandrina that fishermen are the lifeblood of their corner-of-and-island nation. Folklore says the fishermen serve the merfolk more than the crown. So why on earth are the fishermen following Drina?

When Drina sneaks out of the castle, the fishermen are there. When she plans to outsmart the meddling Cardinal and her formidable mother, they are there. And when Drina just might marry the prince she wants to (instead of the baron she’s supposed to), they are there. Just like they were there when her father, the lowly fishermen who married a future queen, was buried at sea.

As Drina fights for a love story of her own, tragedy sails ever closer to her kingdom, and its black sails carry the standard of the sea’s most terrifying pirates. Can the fishermen help Drina when she needs it most? Or do they only serve the crown beneath the sea?

The Fishermen's Princess (Cover Reveal Part 3)
Ta-da! Isn't it gorgeous? Thanks to Jesh Art Studio for this beautiful cover!

This serial fantasy novel is packed with romance, danger, adventure, pirates and of course, mermaids. Join the CK. Beggan author mailing list to receive a new chapter in your inbox each month.

I’m so excited to begin sharing this story with you all. Please join me as we see how Drina’s story will unfold, together!

That’s all for now. The next post will be an in-depth review of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s wonderful and heartbreaking Gods of Jade and Shadow.

Cheers and be well,

-CKB

5 Under the Radar Magical Series on Netflix

5 Under the Radar Magical Series on Netflix

Netflix is a window to the outside world for a lot of us right now. With high profile series like The Witcher, it’s also a window into magical worlds.

Here are a few other series with magic you might’ve missed and that I’ve given that little thumbs up to:

1. The Haunting of Bly Manor

Based on works by Henry James, Bly Manor has the series’ trademark hidden ghosts in the background. It’s more of a love story than The Haunting of Hill House, and may very well break your heart, but it can genuinely make you jump, too.

Don’t be fooled by that! A mysterious spell, rooted in the words of a woman who turned away death in his carriage, lends fantasy, and a whole lot of conflict, to this superb story.

2. Shtisel

A quiet family drama about the Haredi Shtisel family, headed by the stubborn Rabbi Shulem and complicated by his wayward but talented painter son Akiva, has won a lot of hearts. But key moments of the series feature magical realism, from a dream that predicts a cold snap and brings the possible love of his life to Akiva’s door, to a mysterious little boy who inspires him to keep painting.

3. The Bride of Habaek

Korean dramas are the BEST. This one can be surprisingly slapsticky, silly and painfully awkward. It’s also weirdly habit-forming. Though fans of the original manhwa were apparently disappointed in this modern-day loose adaptation, I enjoyed it and am firmly team Mr. Shin.

The premise: An overwhelmed therapist (the messy-haired, going-it-alone Yun So-a) discovers she’s a divine servant when pompous god Habaek shows up with his servile servant and demands that So-a help him complete his divine quest. Surely they’re both delusional. But when Habaek claims a starlet is really a goddess, an old classmate (or two) turns up and brings trouble, and the divine realm’s dirty laundry slowly comes to light. So-a is about to discover that rent payments aren’t the only thing that has her in over her head.

4. Castlevania

This animated series isn’t for the kiddies. Humans can be as bad as monsters, and fallen nobleman turned monster-hunter Trevor Belmont knows that better than anyone. Based on early games in the video game series, expect violence and other adult content alongside the magic.

5. Rilakkuma and Kaoru

This feel-good series follows a woman whose lonely days are changed by the arrival of mysterious beings in bear costumes and their bird friend. Created from the famous Japanese characters, it’s the perfect bit of magic added to an office worker’s everyday life. The tactile animated world feels both cozy and magical all on its own.

Bonus (Not a series, but I had to share!):

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

This animated masterpiece will please Studio Ghibli fans. An ordinary girl gets caught up in a magical school’s nefarious side when a flower turns out to be the most dangerous thing in the world.