The Smashwords Summer Sale is on!

Need more summer reading?

Now’s your chance to pick up any anthology from ‘The Insignia Series’ for just 99c!

That’s right, all 3 books are 50% off during the Smashwords Summer Sale,

which runs until July 31st.

 

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Follow the link below to see ‘The Insignia Series’ books on Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/18403

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BOTW: ‘Serpentine’ by Cindy Pon

Sorry I haven’t posted a book feature for so long!

I love the artwork on this cover, and the story sounds interesting too. It’s going on my YA reading list! I think the sequel is due out in September…

‘Serpentine’ by Cindy Pon

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Blurb:

SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

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Find all buy links on Goodreads

Visit Cindy Pon’s website

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And a quick reminder to writers: submissions for ‘Insignia: Asian Fantasy Stories’ will close June 30. I hope to see some more great stories come in during the next two weeks.🙂

Memorial Weekend 99c Sale!!

Happy Memorial Weekend to our US friends! I’ve just moved back to Japan so am a little sad to be missing the holiday weekend, but I have great memories of trips to Chicago and Lake Michigan in previous years. It’s also pretty nice here in Nagoya.🙂

I thought it was a good week for a little sale, so how does getting ANY Insignia Series anthology for just 99c sound?

99c SALE – May 27-30

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All three anthologies will be only US0.99c (or he equivalent in foreign currencies) this weekend on both Amazon and Smashwords sites.

Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories

Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories

Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy

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And writers, don’t forget to check out our Submissions Page. We’re currently seeking fantasy stories set in any Asian country, with Asian heroes/heroines. We need a good variety of both nationalities represented and also styles of fantasy. We lay out the stories in two categories: ‘Adventure/Folktales’ and ‘Adult/Literary’. YA stories are very welcome, and we have a special request for stories set in the India/Himalaya region. Deadline is JUNE 30, and more details can be found on the main submissions page.

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HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, WHEREVER YOU ARE!!!!!

Excerpt: ‘Spirit of Regret’ by Eliza Chan

The final story in Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy is a moving Vietnamese piece by UK based author, Eliza Chan.

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‘Spirit of Regret’ by Eliza Chan

I had read the same line thirty times.

No matter how I tried, I could not find meaning in the words. Sighing, I looked up and realised the street lights had been turned on. Not that it made difference, the dim orange illuminated only that within whispering range, the shadow of a rubbish bag left below the lamp-post, or the helmet of a passing motorcyclist shining like a giant sequin in the dusk.

Thanh hadn’t noticed yet. She sat on the wicker chair like it was her sofa at home, her sandals kicked to the ground and her painted toenails wiggling every so often. Was it a good line she had read, or a reflex, I wondered. She looked so relaxed under the patio umbrella. What would she do if I leaned across and touched her? I knew I wouldn’t try. Not with the solid dark wood table between us, the dregs of café sua da between us, the used tissues, discarded knife and scattered crumbs between us. Not with the roar of traffic beside us and the waitress pacing with her jug of ice water, her heels clicking in time to the one noted cry of the cubes. Not with the mother bouncing her baby and the teenagers reading fashion magazines. Not with what she had had done, what we had decided, what had filled the last four hours in the quiet coffee shop despite no words spoken.

“It’s getting late,’ she remarked, folding over the page corner as she lay the comic book down on the table. She had carelessly placed it on a wet coffee ring. It would be ruined now. The brown stain would seep right through the unprotected pages until it had soaked in. Even the front, where those saucer-eyed manga girls smiled through impossible hair, promising easy escapism in moronic romanticism, would be ultimately destroyed.

Vâng,” I agreed, as I had agreed before. Where did these words come from? They were driftwood, carried with the tide against my volition, without my permission.

~~~

Eliza Chan’s Author Page

Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy Page

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More Excerpts:

‘Horse Feet’ by Celestine Trinidad

‘The Third Eye’ by Sheenah Freitas

‘Interlude’ by Eve Shi

‘The Island’ by Melvin Yong

‘Running from Shadows’ by Joyce Chng

‘Never Seen’ by Kelly Matsuura

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Excerpt: ‘Never Seen’ by Kelly Matsuura

We have two Vietnamese themed stories in Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy. Here’s an excerpt from my fantasy lit piece, ‘Never Seen’.

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Never Seen by Kelly Matsuura

Today is my turn. Cool ocean waves set a rhythm for the Trong Com drummers and temple singers. I walk along the shadowed beach; strips of colored sunset on my left and the cheering smiles of well-wishers on my right. They clap for me, but they also form a wall that stops me running away into the dark jungle.

I am cloaked from head to toe in bright silks, the colors chosen to celebrate my imminent transformation and to represent our hidden kingdom. I am cloaked in these silks, but also in magic. From the day I was born I was one of the nominated maidens, destined to bond with the king and become one of his mages.

The spell that makes us what we are can only be broken by King Amnuay himself. Our pure beauty is veiled; no other man ever sees the glint of the sun on our hematite hair, or feels the soft texture of our skin, likened to that of polished pearls. They don’t see the real color of our eyes; the spell blackens the irises on us all until the night of our awakening. My own eyes are the green of a papaya leaf; bright, sharp and strong. I don’t look away from anyone.

~~~

Kelly Matsuura’s Author Page

Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy Page

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More Excerpts:

‘Horse Feet’ by Celestine Trinidad

‘The Third Eye’ by Sheenah Freitas

‘Interlude’ by Eve Shi

‘The Island’ by Melvin Yong

‘Running from Shadows’ by Joyce Chng

‘Spirit of Regret’ by Eliza Chan

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Excerpt: ‘Running from Shadows’ by Joyce Chng

Our second story from Singapore is by regular contributor, Joyce Chng! Her previous stories have been YA fantasy, but this one is definitely for the adult category this time around.🙂

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‘Running from Shadows’ by Joyce Chng

Siri took her time climbing the stairs leading to the nightclub. She could hear the steady techno bass beat coming from the open door—the door was always open, like all the women who passed through it—and licked her lips, tasting the waxy lipstick.  The air was stale with cigarette smoke and vomit, laced with the pungent after-scent of alcohol. It was still early; most of the guests would only appear after ten. There was a ship in town and there was the promise of cold hard cash.

She dressed for work—a tight bustier and mini-skirt showing off her long, slim legs. Six inch heels, pushed up her buttocks to give the illusion of perkiness and perpetual youth. Her pimp, Chan, gave her the clothes. He also pocketed most of the hard cash. The rest she kept and some she sent back home.

A couple of working sisters passed her, already tipsy. Siri blinked. Shadows followed them, like dark waves. She was reminded of the shimmering effect on a hot day, shimmering heat above hot tar while the road steamed with cars passing her by. She blinked again. The shadows were gone.

~~~

Joyce Chng’s Author Page

Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy Page

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More Excerpts:

‘Horse Feet’ by Celestine Trinidad

‘The Third Eye’ by Sheenah Freitas

‘Interlude’ by Eve Shi

‘The Island’ by Melvin Yong

‘Never Seen’ by Kelly Matsuura

‘Spirit of Regret’ by Eliza Chan

~~~

Excerpt: ‘The Island’ by Melvin Yong

The first Singaporean story in Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy was written by Melvin Yong and explores the myth of the Singapore Stone.

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‘The Island’ by Melvin Yong

If I could have foreseen the unspeakable horror that was to come from the old family home, I would have run out of that decrepit building and never returned.

It all started on a suffocating November afternoon in my late uncle’s tiny, cramped study. I spotted the crumpled, yellowed envelope in the back of his desk drawer, containing half a dozen faded black-and-white photographs and a short handwritten note.

I had spent the previous two days packing at the empty house after my uncle’s demise a month ago. It was terribly tedious, but the occasional discovery of a vintage curio enlivened an otherwise dreary experience. By noon, the study had become stiflingly warm, so I grabbed the open envelope and hastily retreated to the more accommodating living room downstairs.

Settling into an old rattan armchair, I took a closer look at the faded photographs. Three of the four pictures were of the same serene beach, taken from different angles. In the background were a kampong or fishing village and an unusually tall coconut tree, approximately twice the height of the other trees. Three wooden huts perched just beyond the shoreline and they appeared uninhabited, with no fishing vessels in sight.

The fourth photo piqued my interest. Almost completely white, the print looked like an overexposed shot at first, but upon closer examination, it was a close-up of a sandy dune, with webbed animal tracks trailing from one bottom corner of the photo to the top. My initial thought was that they might have belonged to a waterfowl or some curious amphibian. I couldn’t identify the creature, nor could I estimate its size.

The backs of the photographs were all date-stamped 1947, but had no other information of any significance to me. I would have dutifully tucked them all back in the crinkled envelope, if I hadn’t seen the accompanying note.

Torn from a notebook, the page was half-covered by handwritten etchings—not just words and phrases, but peculiar symbols in black and red ink. The date at the top right corner read April 1949, which immediately ruled out my late uncle as the author, or his involvement in any way; he had been born just before the Japanese Occupation.

Most of the writing made little sense. There was an address scribbled at the beginning of the page, “Pulau Satumu,” which I later discovered was a small, uninhabited island off the southwest coast of Singapore.

Now, I shall not attempt to reproduce the contents of the note, for nearly half of it was in a foreign language of unknown origin. I assumed it was a local dialect, but upon closer examination, that was not the case. Strange wiggling tentacles of ink and tiny stars and planetary symbols took the place of letters and numbers, creating a surreal wall of incoherent text and images.

The text that I did understand chilled me to my core, even in that oppressive afternoon heat. I could find no other way to interpret the second half of the note: it was a dire warning of threats to come.

~~~

Melvin Yong’s Author Page

Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy Page

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More Excerpts:

‘Horse Feet’ by Celestine Trinidad

‘The Third Eye’ by Sheenah Freitas

‘Interlude’ by Eve Shi

‘Running from Shadows’ by Joyce Chng

‘Never Seen’ by Kelly Matsuura

‘Spirit of Regret’ by Eliza Chan

~~~

Excerpt: ‘Interlude’ by Eve Shi

Next excerpt is for a story from Indonesian contributor, Eve Shi. It’s a literary-style flash piece, based on an old Indonesian folktale.

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‘Interlude’ by Eve Shi

The largest lake in Sumatra came into being because of me. That isn’t bragging, just plain fact. It was also the major, if dubious, accomplishment in my tediously long life. Thanks to Lake Toba, I was forever known as the hungry son.

You may have already heard the story. A woman broke a sacred law in her kingdom, got cursed, and transformed into a fish. A man released her from that curse. They lived happily together, until I came along. Never let people tell you children are the ultimate gateway to joy. Sometimes the gateway opens in the other direction.

My mother and I have gone our separate ways for almost two centuries. It was not hate or indifference that drove us apart. Like many other creatures unsure if they will ever die, we decided to be imaginative to stave off the boredom.

My method of choice this decade was to travel around the globe, in the fashion of those backpackers who write books or blogs. And, since this week I happened to be back on the archipelago, I decided to look my father up.

Leave that man be, my mother once told me. He’s no longer important to us. Yes, but I was curious. My father, by virtue of having once been my mother’s husband, had received a dose of her immortality. A century ago, he was starting to bend beneath the burden of years; I wanted to see if he now had run out of it.

 ~~~

Eve Shi’s Author Page

Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy Page

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More Excerpts:

‘Horse Feet’ by Celestine Trinidad

‘The Third Eye’ by Sheenah Freitas

‘The Island’ by Melvin Yong

‘Running from Shadows’ by Joyce Chng

‘Never Seen’ by Kelly Matsuura

‘Spirit of Regret’ by Eliza Chan

~~~

Excerpt: ‘The Third Eye’ by Sheenah Freitas

Here’s an excerpt from the second Filipino story in Insignia Vol.3., written by Sheenah Freitas. It is a short piece, based on local folklore and magic.

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‘The Third Eye’ by Sheenah Freitas

Some say the only way out of the provinces is to marry someone rich. When a class graduates, it’s almost as if a great migration happens, as hundreds of hopeful women pack up and head to the city. Many will come back. Some will stay because they found success, or simply because they’re too ashamed to come back.

My sister was one of those girls. The night before she was to leave for Manila with a group of girls from neighboring villages, she told me how our superstitions would be the end of us. How if we kept believing in imaginary creatures, we’d always be seen as stupid. Ignorant. Impossible.

She spat on our beliefs, cursed our way of living, and then pointed to a tree where a family of duwende lived. Our family apologized to them on her behalf and offered them food, but my sister rolled her eyes at us. I guess she was too sophisticated for such things. She had too many dream and aspirations.

But all of that ambition was wasted.

She’s dead.

Her body was found beside the duwende tree in the morning.

~~~

Sheenah Freitas’ Author Page

Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy Page

 

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More Excerpts:

‘Horse Feet’ by Celestine Trinidad

‘Interlude’ by Eve Shi

‘The Island’ by Melvin Yong

‘Running from Shadows’ by Joyce Chng

‘Never Seen’ by Kelly Matsuura

‘Spirit of Regret’ by Eliza Chan

Excerpt: ‘Horse Feet’ by Celestine Trinidad

We’re very excited about the release of Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy, the third anthology in The Insignia Series. As a preview, we’ll be sharing excerpts from all the stories over the next few days, beginning with ‘Horse Feet’, a paranormal mystery by Filipino author, Celestine Trinidad.

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‘Horse Feet’ by Celestine Trinidad

Maria stood before the large black horse bound to one of the trees, feeling a sudden and completely uncharacteristic pang of pity for the creature. A circle of salt had been drawn on the ground, keeping the tikbalang enclosed within its borders. Someone had thrown salt at the creature itself as well –crystals glimmered in its mane, and the portions of its skin where the salt had touched it looked raw and red, like fresh burn marks.

“He’s been like that since we caught him, Lady Sinukuan,” the man standing behind her said. Kapitan Alfredo, the captain of the village of Wakas, Tayabas, was a short and stocky man, his bald head only reaching up to Maria’s shoulders. “He hasn’t said anything, except when he asked for you.”

“That is unusual, indeed,” Maria said. “Most of the time I have trouble just getting him to shut up.”

“He said that he was under your protection, My Lady. Was he speaking the truth?”

“Well, in a manner of speaking, I suppose he is,” Maria replied.

“How do you know him?”

“He is—” Maria was about to say, ‘a suitor’, but stopped herself in time. That was what she thought he was in the beginning, indeed, just one out of the many suitors who sought the hand of the guardian diwata of Arayat in marriage. But—as much as she loathed to admit it—he turned out to be more than that, unsolicited though his help had been. Under the circumstances, she felt that she should acknowledge him this time. “He has been of great assistance to me in some of my other cases.” She hoped he really was unconscious, for if he had heard speak like this, she would never hear the end of it. “What has he done, Kapitan, for him to deserve a death sentence?”

“Murder,” Kapitan Alfredo said bluntly.

“Murder?”

“One of my servants, Ernesto, had been missing since dinner last night,” Kapitan Alfredo explained. “My son Felipe went to look for him, and he found Ernesto’s body in the forest. And then he saw this creature running away from the scene.”

Maria’s eyebrows furrowed as she considered the matter. “And how was Ernesto killed?”

“Trampled to death, it looked like.  I saw the body myself. There were all these bruises in the shape of a horse’s hooves all over his body. Exactly how a tikbalang would kill a human.”

~~~

Celestine Trinidad’s Profile Page

Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy Page

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Want to write for the next Insignia anthology?

See our new Submissions Page

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More Excerpts:

‘Horse Feet’ by Celestine Trinidad

‘The Third Eye’ by Sheenah Freitas

‘Interlude’ by Eve Shi

‘The Island’ by Melvin Yong

‘Running from Shadows’ by Joyce Chng

‘Never Seen’ by Kelly Matsuura

‘Spirit of Regret’ by Eliza Chan

~~~