Excerpt: ‘White Lady’ by Tina Isaacs

The last story in Insignia: Asian Fantasy Stories is a very interesting tale about a Singaporean mortician.

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‘White Lady’ by Tina Isaacs

Excerpt:

“What made you choose this life? It’s so…” he raised his eyes to the ceiling as he fumbled for a word, which wouldn’t come across as condescending, “…macabre.” Despite efforts, he couldn’t hold back the shudders that racked his spine.

Timothy suspended a pen over his note pad. He glanced at the fine-boned lady as she silently went about her task. She had the weathered face of someone who’d experienced her share of grief, and her skin was as sallow as the body which lay under the white shroud before her—or so he imagined.

She slowly laid out an array of equipment and materials on the three-tiered trolley beside her. On the top tray of the trolley, he eyed a row of brown glass bottles, silver canisters and various steel tools that she’d lined with painstaking care.

“I supposed you could say the profession chose me, rather than the other way around.” Her almond-shaped eyes crinkled at the corners as she paused in her task and looked up at Timothy. “The womenfolk in my family have always been White Ladies, you see. My mother, my grandmother, and her mother before her.”

He smiled and nodded to encourage the undertaker’s narration, his pen rushing furiously in an attempt to get it all, verbatim, despite the digital recorder he’d placed on the gurney in front of her.

“Techniques on how to prepare bodies after death were passed down the generations… Of course, the way we’ve handled things has changed over the years, but the premise is the same,” she said, her smile soft. “You see, many believe the way we prepare the body for the afterlife stems from the manifestation of society’s desire for some kind of continuity after death. It’s like a show of respect to those passing into the next realm, on the belief that we’ll be shown the same respect when we die. And this is especially true for the Chinese.”

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Tina Isaacs’ Author Page

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

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AVAILABLE FROM:

| Smashwords | B & N | kobo |

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

| Amazon DEAmazon JPAmazon IN |

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Add on Goodreads

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WRITE FOR US! We currently have 2 open submission calls

Excerpt: ‘Four Claws’ by Allison Thai

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

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‘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.)

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AVAILABLE FROM:

| Smashwords | B & N | kobo |

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

| Amazon DEAmazon JPAmazon IN |

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Add on Goodreads

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Write for Us – Submissions now OPEN!

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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!

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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.

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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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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: ‘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.

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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

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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

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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

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