Excerpt: ‘Four Claws’ by Allison Thai

‘Four Claws’ is the first story in Insignia: Asian Fantasy Stories.



‘Four Claws’ by Allison Thai

Yifei had never left the palace before. Had no good reason to do so, until now. And she hadn’t the slightest clue where she was headed. All she knew was that she had to get as far away from home as she could. Stopping, or turning back would kill her. Yifei flew past the outermost village to reach the mountain range, and only then did she slow down. Blood still dripped from her wounds, and she tried her hardest not to look down at them.

Pangs of hunger stopped her from going any farther. She needed something to eat. Despite frantic scanning, she saw nothing edible in sight. Only rocks and dirt. Yifei closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. She let it out in dismay. Even her dragon-enhanced sense of smell could not do much if she had no training at all.

Something flitted overhead, catching her eye. Dark wings, still and outstretched, made wide, slow, sweeping rounds high in the air. Vultures. If vultures were around, that meant there had to be food nearby.

Yifei’s ears perked, and she glided closer to the site. Upon further inspection, she realized that the vultures circled over a body. A human body.

Her mouth watered, and the very act made her recoil with disgust. Was she really that hungry? Yifei squeezed her eyes shut. She could not stoop so low as to eat a human. She was an imperial dragon, a princess of the ruling Quan family—

No, not anymore. The title was stripped from her, just as the toes on her feet were ripped off. Clinging to dignity was just an old habit. A habit she had to throw away if she wanted to survive.


Allison Thai’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Fantasy Stories Page (Insignia Vol.4.)



| Smashwords | B & N | kobo |

| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA |

| Amazon DEAmazon JPAmazon IN |


Add on Goodreads


Write for Us – Submissions now OPEN!



Happy Release Day! ‘Insignia: Asian Fantasy Stories’


It’s finally here! The Insignia Series’ latest anthology is now available from Amazon and Smashwords. We’ll post links to other book seller sites as soon as they become actively listed. Also, we’ll be sharing excerpts from the various stories throughout the week.

A big thanks to all the contributors!


INSIGNIA Vol.4 includes 9 Asian fantasy stories with a mix of literary, contemporary, myth-based, and historical fantasy pieces. Countries included are Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, China, India, and Nepal.

Rated 16+



PART I:  Adventure / Folktales

‘Four Claws’ by Allison Thai

‘I Found Love in an Urn Full of Ashes’ by Joyce Chng

‘Jentayu’s Tear’ by Anna Tan

‘Ribbons & Bones’ by Kelly Matsuura

PART II: Adult / Literary Tales

‘The Fireflies of Todaiji’ by Russell Hemmell

‘Birds of Heaven’ by EK Gonzales

‘Last Train to Begunkodor’ by Nidhi Singh

‘Untouchable’ by Sheenah Freitas

‘White Lady’ by Tina Isaacs



| Smashwords |

| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA |

| Amazon DEAmazon JPAmazon IN |


Add on Goodreads


BOTM: ‘A Mortal Song’ by Megan Crewe

This looks really good! It’s definitely jumping the queue on my reading list. 🙂

A Mortal Song

By Megan Crewe



Sora’s life was full of magic—until she discovered it was all a lie.

Heir to Mt. Fuji’s spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother’s last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents’ true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world’s natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.

As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she’s ever known.

Amazon US



More book recommendations are available under our ‘Book of the Week’ category.


Asian fantasy writers, please visit our Submissions Page for details on our upcoming anthology projects. New contributors welcome!

Have a published Asian fantasy novel or novella? We’d be happy to feature it here on the blog sometime. Send your book info and links to: blackwingsandwhitepaper@gmail.com

Cover Reveal & Update – Insignia Vol.4

Hello everyone,

If you’re like me, you’re counting down the days until Christmas Day and/or the start of vacation!

Due to the chaos of work and life around this time of year, I am still working on editing/proofreading for Insignia Vol.4, so will delay releasing the ebook until January sometime. I really need the quiet of a few weeks off work to concentrate on it.

But, I do want to share a little treat with you all, so here is the finished cover and blurb!


INSIGNIA Vol.4 includes 9 Asian fantasy stories with a mix of literary, contemporary, myth-based, and historical fantasy pieces. Countries included are Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, China, India, and Nepal.

With stories by: Joyce Chng, Sheenah Freitas, Russell Hemmell, Allison Thai, Anna Tan, Tina Issacs, Nidhi Singh, EK Gonzales, and Kelly Matsuura.




Happy Halloween!

Hi everyone, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN! 



Yes I know I’m a few days early, but Thursday is supposed to be my Insignia Blogging Day and I wanted to get back into routine after neglecting social media recently and just dropping the ball with all-things-writing related.

I’m really sorry the blog hasn’t been active for a few months. After moving back to Japan in May, I’ve started back at work (teaching English) and am founding it quite tough after a three-year break. For example, this month is flat-out with Halloween events and let’s just say I’m not the spring chicken I was five years ago when I used to teach mostly small kids. I’m hanging in there though, and have enjoyed the events I’ve attended. 🙂

I also went back to Australia for a couple of weeks (in Aug/Sep), which was AWESOME, but has caused me to fall behind with the various projects I’m involved with. I’m determined though that November will be my winning month – I’m not doing NaNoWrimo this year, but will try to use the same focus and passion that participants will be harnessing on Nov 1.

Anyway, my only real Insignia Series news today is to confirm that Insignia Vol.4 is still in production, and will be published as soon as I can get it all collated and am happy with the cover etc.

I also want to add some book recommendations here on the blog for my Book of the Week category, so please feel free to comment below if you have come across an interesting Asian fantasy book recently and I’ll make a new post for it.

Finally, I’d like to thank all the contributing authors for their patience. They’re an amazing group of writers and I look forward to sharing their stories with you all soon.

Have a great Halloween Weekend all!

Kelly Matsuura





By Kelly M Posted in News

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.



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




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



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.


Find all buy links on Goodreads

Visit Cindy Pon’s website


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



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


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.



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.


‘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


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