Happy Re-release Day to ‘Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories’

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*New logo design*

Hi everyone, how do you like the new Insignia graphics? As well as the new banner and book covers, we’ve also added a new story to Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories! This anthology was always a little shorter than we wanted, and in preparation for print books (Yes, we’re going to do paperbacks soon!), it seemed a good time to add a story while the covers were being changed, etc.

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*New cover design for Vol. 2*

The new story added is ‘Black Smoke and Water Lilies’ by Canadian author, David Jon Fuller. It’s a wonderful magical realism piece, and adds an interesting contrast to the other stories already in Insignia Vol.2. (Which are, all written by female authors). Read an excerpt of the new story here, and view David’s author page here.

David wrote a post about his story on his own site too. Read it here.

All the buy links for Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories can be found on the Insignia Vol.2 Page.

Please note, the new edition may not be available yet on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and a few other sites. It is available on Smashwords, which is the distributor to those sites, it just takes a little longer for updates to appear on some seller’s websites. Please check the cover and new book information carefully before buying from sites other than Amazon and Smashwords this week. Thanks.

If you have previously purchased a copy of Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories, you should be able to download the new version from your ebook library with Amazon, Smashwords, etc for free.

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*new cover design for Insignia Vol.1*

Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories has a new cover, but no changes were made to the stories in this anthology.

Don’t have a copy yet? Find all the buy links and the full blurb on the Insignia Vol.1 Page.

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We are also currently open for submissions for Insignia Vol.3! This will be a collection of Southeast Asian fantasy. See the new Submissions Page for details.

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FREE! ‘Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories’ June 6th-8th

Sorry, this sales promotion is now closed. (June 9th)

Hi everyone! Hope you’re having a great start to the month.

We have a promotion going this weekend – Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories is FREE on all Amazon sites, AND Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories is only 99c!!! Tell your friends!

(Click on the book titles to go to the relevant book pages on this site)

FREE!

Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories

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| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon JP | Amazon AUS | Amazon Canada |

| Amazon IT | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES | Amazon MX | Amazon IN | Amazon BR |

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ONLY 99c!

Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories

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| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon JP | Amazon AUS | Amazon Canada |

| Amazon IT | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES | Amazon MX | Amazon IN | Amazon BR |

Cover Reveal: ‘Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories’ & ‘Insignia Vol.1.’ Promo!

Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories is coming soon! We’re just finalizing the list of stories and proofreading etc now. I thought I’d share the cover today 😀

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This volume is a little shorter than the Japanese anthology, but we have six stories with mixed themes and  sub-genres for you.   We can’t wait to share more details and story excerpts in April!

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 If you don’t have a copy of Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories yet, now is your chance to grab it on sale! We’re dropping the price to $1.50 on Smashwords and all Amazon sites until March 31st. That’s half-price!

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Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

Amazon AUS

Smashwords

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Book of the Week: ‘The Rider Trilogy’ by Joyce Chng

This week’s book preview is Riders, by Singaporean indie author, Joyce Chng. Joyce writes exciting YA fantasy and urban fantasy stories, and she’s a short story contributor to The Insignia Series and Visibility Fiction. View her profile here.

Rider (The Rider Trilogy Book 1)

Rider-JoyceChngBlurb:

Li-Fang has a way with nature. So she is sent against her will to train as an Agri-Seer, though she dreams one day of joining the Rider Corps like her sister Lixi. Partnered with an arrogant Rider, Daniel Kelso, Li-Fang must forget the wild Hunter Quetz she met by a hidden waterfall near her home, and accept who she is.

Until, that is, a wild Quetz is captured. Li-Fang discovers she can communicate with the creature, a skill no Rider has ever demonstrated, and must now confront her destiny all over again. Will going against convention be worth the cost?

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| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AUS | On Goodreads |

 

Excerpt: ‘Sanctuary’ by Chris White

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Chris White’s story, Sanctuary, was a last-minute submission to the Insignia anthology, and rounded out the literary section perfectly. I didn’t know Chris previously, so it was great to find another author who had lived in Japan and knew the culture well. And, by chance, he’s also an Aussie, so he’s in good company with several other Insignia authors. 😀

Sanctuary

A temple stood, surrounded by the blank yellow windows. The wind there touched the red cloaks of the jizou. Illuminated by the soft glow of a bank of vending machines.

An ancient wooden house still stood, opposite the bone-orchard. A single light burned.

The curtain hanging over the door announced a neighbourhood sentou. Another tanuki announced the presence of beer inside.

I walked in.

The rough-canvas banner scratched at my face as I crossed the threshold, like a half-remembered dream. Or an ignored warning. Something to be brushed aside, at any rate. The shoji door groaned, protesting as I forced it open, shuddering into place. Torn and faded, its screens were marked with a peculiar circular pattern. I stepped inside, away from the claws of the wind and into the bathhouse foyer. Metal locker doors creaked, yawning wide, propped open by wild-filigreed scaffolds of rust. A murmur rose, floating through the darkness from somewhere within, and the electric light I had seen from outside drew me onward. As did the tanuki’s winking, alcoholic promise. The bell on the reception desk chimed on my second attempt, awkward and hollow, like the nothing words we sprinkle through our sentences–um, ah, eto

The murmuring stopped.

Sumimasen,” inaudible. I had almost whispered it. I cleared my throat to try again, setting a tempest of dust-motes to dance in the dull-red Coca-Cola glow that crept through the windows.

Sumimasen?”

Louder this time.

Only my echo replied, bouncing back at me from the cavernous bathing-hall that hid somewhere ahead of me, somewhere in the darkness. Now, I knew this was the point when I should have turned away, the moment when I should have shuffled back out onto the street and resumed my nocturnal wanderings. The streets called to me in the night, they begged me to walk them, to see what once was. But there was something about urban ruins that inspired me, that drew me in. A sense, perhaps, that the past is here, lingering alongside the future. And there was that electric light burning somewhere inside. I pressed on, and the shadows pressed in around me, swallowing up the song of the city outside. Another reason to press on–to hear that monster’s roar consumed by this relic of the past.

~*~

Chris White is a writer, of many genres, but mostly science fiction and magic realism. He grew up in Japan, and keeps finding Tokyo and its monsters showing up in his stories. He dabbles in drabbles, too, and you can find more of his words online at: http://chriswhitewrites.com

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Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories is now available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

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Add on Goodreads

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Read More Excerpts

Megumi’s Quest by Joyce Chng

The Bakeneko by Holly Kench

Restoration by Chris Ward

Towards the Light by Aislinn Batstone

Moon Shadow by Kelly Matsuura

Kitsune by Heather Jensen

Excerpt: ‘Kitsune’ by Heather Jensen

InsigniaVol1-Cover-7AWhat is a kitsune? In Japanese folklore, it is a fox that shape-shifts into human form and causes all kinds of mischief. I felt like a kitsune story was a must for this anthology, so was very excited when Heather Jensen told me that’s what she wanted to write about. Her story, simply titled Kitsune, is first up in the Insignia anthology and is a great introduction to the other varied stories.

Kitsune

Akio carried the tiny mouse in his hands as he hurried home. It seemed to be dehydrated; listless and weak, it had barely moved when he approached to pick it up. A movement caught Akio’s eye and he glanced up in time to see a shadow disappear between two trees.

He called after it. “Help, please, do you have a little water?”

The shadow hesitated, and Akio took a step closer. “Please, this little creature has been injured. She needs water. My flask is empty and it is a distance to my home. Please.”

The shadow emerged from the trees, revealing a tall thin figure, dark hair and pale skin barely showing beneath the scarf wrapped around her face. She pulled out her flask and allowed a few drops to fall into Akio’s outstretched palm.

“Thank you,” Akio said. “I am Akio.”

“Chiaki.” The young woman pulled the scarf away from her face and peered down at the little mouse. It shivered as it drank from Akio’s hand, and she pulled a handkerchief from her pocket, folded it in two and placed it over the poor little creature.

“Do you often save the lives of small things?” Chiaki asked.

Akio laughed. “Only when the opportunity comes my way,” he said. “After all, if the larger creatures of the world cannot take care of the smaller, what use are we?” His thoughts turned to Sachiko, a lump forming in his throat as sorrow threatened to overwhelm him.

“Are you alright?” Chiaki noticed.

Akio began to nod his head then stopped.

“No,” he said. “I lost a dear friend yesterday.”

“I’m sorry to hear it,” Chiaki said. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Akio looked at Chiaki. He did want to talk about it. He wanted to talk of Sachiko’s laugh, of the smile that lit up her eyes, and the gentle kiss she’d placed on his cheek the day before she’d died. But how did you tell someone you’d fallen in love with a creature from a folktale?

He shook his head, not trusting his voice.

“I understand,” Chiaki said.

Akio had to stop himself from shaking his head again. Chiaki couldn’t possibly understand! There was so much that was wrong. The guilt he felt, that he’d been meeting Sachiko in the woods when he was supposed to be helping his father on the farm. And then yesterday he’d stayed behind to help his father when he should have been meeting Sachiko. There’d been a fox amongst his father’s chickens again. It hadn’t harmed the chickens, but it had stolen most of the eggs, and Father needed Akio’s help to prevent it happening in the future.

Sachiko must have come to the farm to look for him. She’d never done that before, it had been an unspoken agreement that they did not seek out the truth of each others lives. It made their meeting in the forest something special, sacred. He didn’t know why she’d come this time.

Akio hadn’t seen her, but his father must have. He pushed the thought away. When Akio had finally found Sachiko, curled up under the great tree, he thought she was napping. And then he’d got closer and seen the bushy red tail and the soft pointed ears. When he’d pulled on her shoulder she’d rolled back onto his lap and he’d gasped in horror as he saw her face, Sachiko’s beautiful face, with a pointed snout and a wet black nose in the centre of it. She was kitsune, a fox spirit, messenger of the Great Spirit Inari.

And she was dead.

~*~

Heather Jensen studied the Japanese language for 8 years, through high school, college, and university, taking up the opportunity to visit the country on a two-week jam-packed school trip where she managed to squeeze in sights as varied as the Temples of Kyoto, ’Jigoku’ (Hell’s) Hot Springs in Beppu and Tokyo Disneyland.

Though her preferred genres are fantasy and historical fiction, Heather writes stories in a wide variety of genres: romance, YA, and contemporary to name a few. Her stories have been published in many different places around the web, including 1000words.org, and Five Stop Story, a UK writing competition where two of her stories received Honorary Mentions. Her story Saviour was short-listed in the Ink Tears 2012 Flash Fiction competition.

Heather lives in Tasmania, Australia, with her partner and two children. You can find her on Facebook or at: heatherjensenauthor.com

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Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories is now available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

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Add on Goodreads

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Read More Excerpts

Megumi’s Quest by Joyce Chng

The Bakeneko by Holly Kench

Restoration by Chris Ward

Towards the Light by Aislinn Batstone

Moon Shadow by Kelly Matsuura

Sanctuary by Chris White

Excerpt: ‘Moon Shadow’ by Kelly Matsuura

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As the editor for ‘Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories’, I selected my own stories to include last. I like writing myth-based stories too, but I already had 4 submitted from other authors, so I decided to include this ninja story, Moon Shadow as it is a straight fantasy YA piece. Although come to think of it, there are some traditions and myths surrounding ninja  and even Japanese magic that I put into my story!

Here’s a short scene with the main character, Moon Shadow, about to go on a mission:

Moon Shadow

It was getting dark. Moon Shadow put on his boots, and double-checked his weapons and magic pouches. Confident that he was prepared, he covered his head and face with a black scarf.

His best friend, Creeping Mist, came to join him fully dressed as well.

“Ready to go?” He stretched his shoulders and wrists.

“I’m ready. Is it just us two?” Moon Shadow asked.

“No, we’re going with three others to capture a witch. Another group is going into town to grab some boys.” Creeping Mist’s face fell. It was a task they all hated. Knowing it had happened to them once too only made it worse.

Most men were grateful that their memories of their childhood and families were erased after arriving at the training camp, but it was also heartbreaking to have no one in the world except each other. Moon Shadow and Creeping Mist had no way to know where they’d come from, but some instinct told them they had grown up together. There was an unspoken sense of love connecting them.

“Urgh, I hate taking boys, but I suspect it’s a lot less dangerous than facing a witch. Do you know anything about her?” Moon Shadow asked as they walked to the edge of the woods.

“I heard she’s young. And, she flew into the camp as a yellow dragonfly this afternoon. Did you see it? She flew right in front of my face. Amazing, don’t you think?”

“That’s incredible! Isn’t a dragonfly one of the hardest forms to take? Most witches I’ve encountered change to crows or pigeons or something.”

“Well, Black Morning said it’s impossible to shift into an insect. He believes it was a type of mind-projection.”

“Does such magic exist?” Moon Shadow had never heard of such a spell.

“I don’t know.” Creeping Mist checked the map in his hand. “Okay, this way. Let’s go see if this young witch is beautiful. Maybe she’s looking for a lover!”

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Kelly Matsuura grew up in Victoria, Australia, but has lived most of her adult life in the northern hemisphere. After a year teaching English in China, she moved to Japan where she met her husband and lived for ten years in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. Due to her husband’s work, she’s enjoying a few years back in a western country, living in Michigan, USA.

Kelly has published numerous short stories online, in group anthologies, and in two self-published anthologies. She enjoys writing in various genres: fantasy, literature, young adult, and romance.

She majored in Asian Studies and Japanese at university, and currently studies Chinese, German, French and Spanish purely for interest.

As the creator and editor for The Insignia Series’ anthologies, she hopes to use her knowledge of the Asian languages and culture to assist the other authors produce great stories and to share the group’s work with a new audience.

Kelly’s website: www.blackwingsandwhitepaper.com

Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories is now available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

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Add on Goodreads

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Read More Excerpts

Megumi’s Quest by Joyce Chng

The Bakeneko by Holly Kench

Restoration by Chris Ward

Towards the Light by Aislinn Batstone

Sanctuary by Chris White

Kitsune by Heather Jensen

Excerpt: ‘Towards the Light’ by Aislinn Batstone

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This story, Towards the Light, was kind of my inspiration for the Insignia anthology. I often write Japanese stories, and was excited when my critique partner and friend, Aislinn Batstone, wrote this cool sci-fi/literary story set in Japan. I didn’t want anyone else to publish it! So I twisted the arms of a few other writers I knew with an interest in Japan and/or diverse fiction, and here we are with a little book together. 🙂

Aislinn is a great short story writer and always has interesting themes in her stories. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Towards the Light.

Towards the Light

 Japan, AD2513

 “Why are you always so clumsy?” Kimiya’s father had retrieved a crumpled piece of paper that had dropped on the floor from his school bag. Kimiya hung his head. That had once been an intricate origami toy. He’d disappointed his father again. Sometimes Kimiya made his father laugh, but not nearly as often as he made him yell by dropping things, breaking things, serving cold tea or putting holes in expensive tatami flooring. It was just the way he was. His cousin Yoshi seemed like a better son in every way.

Kimiya and Yoshi had two things in common: their age, fourteen, and the fact that they had each lost their mother. Otherwise, they couldn’t have been more different. Yoshi liked to go to the factory with Kawaguchi and watch the pods being put together. He got on well with the factory workers and Kimiya’s father took him seriously. Yoshi was some kind of genius when it came to engineering and he was already lined up for an apprenticeship at Nippoddu when he left school.

Kimiya couldn’t care less about pod technology. As long as you got where you wanted to go, who cared how you got there? He enjoyed seeing his dad excited about ‘technological innovations’ and ‘internal design features’ but after a while he always started daydreaming. If he ever saw a pod crash he might rescue a pretty girl, maybe Reiko from school. She’d look at him with those deep brown eyes, and maybe they would kiss. When he asked his dad if the pods ever crashed, his dad proudly said, “No. The navigational technology is far too sophisticated.”

Kawaguchi took the boys to the factory every Friday afternoon after school. Yoshi was picking up more and more understanding of the design and manufacture of pods. Kimiya didn’t understand how pods stayed up in the air, but he loved to stay up late and watch them from the apartment windows. They glided so fast that their red and blue light trails crisscrossed the night.

Before long Yoshi was given his own project working on Nippoddu’s patented interior surround sound system. He attended meetings every other week with senior members of company management. Kimiya’s future was uncertain. He loved art but he found technical drawing so boring that even his greatest pleasure had become a way to disappoint his father.

 ~*~

 Aislinn Batstone was exposed to Japanese culture and language early by her mother, a Japanese language teacher, and lived in Japan for a year as a teenager. She left with some understanding of the distinctly Japanese aesthetic and worldview.

Aislinn’s short fiction has been published around the world and web including by the Stringybark Stories series in Australia, Five Stop Story in the UK, and with Plan B Mystery magazine in the USA. She publishes romantic fiction with supernatural elements under the pen name Aislinn Gilbert.

Aislinn lives in Sydney with her husband and two young children.

~*~

Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories is now available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

~*~

Add on Goodreads

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Read More Excerpts

Megumi’s Quest by Joyce Chng

The Bakeneko by Holly Kench

Restoration by Chris Ward

Kitsune by Heather Jensen

Moon Shadow by Kelly Matsuura

Sanctuary by Chris White

Excerpt: ‘Restoration’ by Chris Ward

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Chris Ward’s story, Restoration, is a beautiful adult literary piece; one of my favorites in the Insignia anthology.  I’ve become a big fan of Chris’ writing and believe he can write anything! He doesn’t typically write Asian or Japanese fiction, but you’ll see from this sample that he has an excellent voice for it.

Restoration

Masato was changed when he returned. Fourteen years away and I could barely recognise his face through the skin withered and creased with age, but the biggest change was in his eyes. The boy of eighteen with the bright, carefree look about him had become a man hardened and dulled through years of war. I felt like no time had passed at all, but as he lay beside me that first night I felt I was clutching something hollow, something empty, a shell that if I squeezed too tight would collapse in upon itself and disappear.

Glad enough just to have my husband home at long last, even though the spinster talk barely ceased–after all, I wasn’t alone in seeing Masato as some kind of walking wraith, haunted and scarred by the far distant war that had decimated the population of our village–I still had hopes of creating some sort of real life for us. We had married young, of course, marriage forced on us by Masato’s recruitment, but I was only thirty-three and I knew of women who had given birth at a similar age. The risks were higher, of course, but risks and guarantees were two different things. I had spent sixteen lifeless years waiting for my husband to return, so risk was better than no possibility at all.

Masato refused to talk about the war at first. Old scars crisscrossed his skin like the lines on a Go board, and as I lay beside him I traced my fingers over them, fearing the stories behind each one. Masato would lie on his back with his eyes fixed on some image between us and the ceiling that only he could see, and I knew from the flushes and shivers of his skin that he was reliving those dark days over again. When I touched him on those nights it was like touching a dying animal; I could feel the residual heat in his body but the life had already gone.

~*~

Chris Ward is a native of Cornwall, England, but currently lives and works in Nagano, Japan. He is the author of The Tube Riders Trilogy, The Man Who Built the World and Head of Words, as well as numerous short stories and collections.

He spends his time snowboarding, writing, playing guitar in his rock band, Steampunk Unicorn, and generally having too much to say about just about everything.

Like Chris Ward (Fiction Writer) on Facebook for regular updates, or follow Chris’s blog at: www.amillionmilesfromanywhere.blogspot.jp

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Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories is now available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

~*~

Add on Goodreads

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Read More Excerpts

Megumi’s Quest by Joyce Chng

The Bakeneko by Holly Kench

Towards the Light by Aislinn Batstone

Kitsune by Heather Jensen

Sanctuary by Chris White

Moon Shadow by Kelly Matsuura

Excerpt: ‘The Bakeneko’ by Holly Kench

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Holly Kench is well known for her hilarious comic strips about her alter-ego, Olive, but did you know she can write creepy YA, and haunting adult Literature, both based on Japanese folklore? Well, she certainly can! I was lucky to receive two submissions from Holly and I love both stories dearly. Here’s an excerpt from The Bakeneko (YA):

The Bakeneko

I huddled in my bed, my quilt pulled up around my neck as though the warmth of the fabric could protect me. I couldn’t stop shivering as I watched and waited.

The family cat, Ayumu, sat at the end of my bed, licking his paw. Unconcerned by my rising terror, he stood up, padded around the end of my bed in a circle, and sat back down. Without warning, his head shot up, tilted to one side and his feline eyes, which were always a little too human, bore into mine.

I shuddered in anticipation. Without moving his gaze from mine, the cat’s limbs elongated. Smoke, appearing from nowhere, swirled around him and his body started to transform. The ears on his head sunk into his skull, as his head grew bigger. The smoke thickened and wisps of it flew towards me, stinging my eyes and catching in my throat. Coughing, I threw my hands up over my face, losing sight of the cat for the briefest second.

When I lowered my hands, Ayumu was nowhere to be seen. Instead, next to my bed stood a man, at least seven-feet tall, with long, loose black hair that floated around his head and danced with the smoke surrounding his body. There was something wrong with his face. Staring, I realised it wasn’t a man’s face I was looking at, rather a cat’s face overlaid with that of a man, creating a weird duality of which my mind couldn’t quite make sense.

“We are bakeneko,” the creature’s voice boomed across my bedroom. Smoked tendrils dashed out, licking inches from my face.

~*~

Holly Kench is a writer and feminist, with a classics degree and a fear of spiders.

She enjoys writing a range of genres, but has a particular love of fantasy. Holly seeks stories that contemplate the world as much as books that provide escape, but doesn’t think the two are mutually exclusive. These are the sort of stories Holly tries to write. She is convinced we can change the world through popular culture.

Holly manages Visibility Fiction, a project dedicated to the promotion and publication of inclusive young adult fiction. Visibility Fiction began as a result of Holly’s desire to create a space that celebrated and facilitated the telling of stories with diverse characters. In this capacity she has had the privilege of working with both Kelly Matsuura and Joyce Chng, who have assisted her in a journey of not only editing, but also writing her own stories exploring diverse cultures.

Holly also writes about her life as a stuffed olive at: www.stuffedolive.com.au.

~*~

Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories, is available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

~*~

Add on Goodreads

~*~

Read More Excerpts:

Megumi’s Quest by Joyce Chng

Restoration by Chris Ward

Towards the Light by Aislinn Batstone

Moon Shadow by Kelly Matsuura

Kitsune by Heather Jensen

Sanctuary by Chris White