Featured Book: ‘Magical Women’ Anthology (Sukanya Venkatraghavan)

If you love short stories and love Indian/South Asian fantasy writing, you might want this one on your TBR list 🙂

MAGICAL WOMEN (Anthology)

Edited by Sukanya Venkatraghavan

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Blurb:

A weaver is initiated into the ancient art of bringing a universe into existence. A demon hunter encounters an unlikely opponent. Four goddesses engage in a cosmic brawl. A graphic designer duels with a dark secret involving a mysterious tattoo. A defiant chudail makes a shocking announcement at a kitty party. A puppet seeking adventure discovers who she really is. A young woman’s resolute choice leads her to haunt Death across millennia. . . A compelling collection of stories that speak of love, rage, rebellion, choices and chances, Magical Women brings together some of the strongest female voices in contemporary Indian writing. Combining astounding imagination with superlative craft, these tales will intrigue and delight in equal measure.

My (Kelly’s) Review:

This anthology includes 14 stories, all by South Asian women. Many stories focus on social and environmental issues, and a few were too feminist for my own taste, but overall I enjoyed the variety and quality of stories in this collection.

My personal favorites:

  1. ‘Rulebook for Creating a Universe’ by Tashan Mehta. This is the 3rd story in order, and I just loved the storytelling and prose. It’s also original mythology, which I like to see in short stories.
  2. ‘Bahameen’ by Asma Kazi. This is a very intriguing story about a ‘time-hopper’, closer to fantasy than scifi.
  3.  ‘The Girl Who Haunted Death’ by Nikita Deshpande. I liked that this was a modern retelling of the Hindu story about Savitri and Satyavan, and was easy to read (after a few heavier mythology-based stories in the book).
  4. I can’t leave out the editor’s contribution, ‘The Rakshasi’s Rose Garden’. A rakshasi is a ‘man-eater’, similar to a succubus, and I quite liked the storytelling of this piece too.

And regarding the book production: I think the cover art is amazing–it captures both the fantasy and science fiction imagery of the different pieces. However, the font inside is very hard to read; both the headings and italic fonts are thin and light lettering. I read the kindle format and had to change the font and text size setting (first time ever). I had to read the whole book set to Large Print just so the italics was readable. It was distracting, and I only read a couple of stories at a time because of it.

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View ‘Magical Women’ on Amazon.com

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I would love to feature more Asian fantasy books here on The Insignia Series blog. If you have a review you’d like to share, or are an author with a new release, feel free to get in touch with me! Send email enquiries to: blackwingsandwhitepaper@gmail.com, or post a message to @InsigniaStories (Twitter) or The Insignia Series (Facebook).

 

 

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INSIGNIA Anthologies are FREE at Smashwords!!

Hi everyone, welcome to July!

What’s the best thing about July every year? The SMASHWORDS SUMMER SALE of course!

I’m into it this year, and putting the Insignia Series anthologies – all seven – on FREE promo all month long !!!

It’s a great chance to fill out your collection, or recommend the series to a friend. If you’re already a fan of the series, please help spread the word. 🙂

FREE at SMASHWORDS!!

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LINK TO THE INSIGNIA SERIES BOOKS ON SMASHWORDS

*Enter the coupon code (under the regular price listing) to claim your free download*

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New Release! ‘Insignia: Asian Flash Fiction & Poetry’

 

It’s officially here! We’re very excited to share our 7th collection with you all!

 

INSIGNIA: ASIAN FLASH FICTION & POETRY

 

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CONTENTS

Part I: CHINA
‘The Cormorant in the Glass-Bottomed Cage’ by Rebecca Birch
‘How Have the Mighty Fallen?’ by Ray Daley
‘Chiaroscuro’ by Liam Hogan
‘Training: Stances’, ‘The Horse Lord’, ‘Tsung’s Battle’, ‘The Matter of the Horses’, and ‘Respect’ by Mary Soon Lee

Part II: JAPAN
‘The Lucky Drug’ by Dave Dunn
‘Hero’ by Giulia Moon and Toshiya Kamei
‘Yukio’ by Layne Noser
‘Mourning’ by Gerard Sarnat

Part III: INDIA/NEPAL
‘Night Mares’ by Anita Goveas
‘Looking at the Stars’ by Anita Goveas
‘Avalanche’ by Daniel Scott White

Part IV: SOUTHEAST ASIA
‘Xylophones’ by Russell Hemmell
‘Stay Silent’ by Kelly Matsuura
‘Ordination’ by Luke Shors
‘Timid Local Eyes’ by Deon Visser

Authors’ Pages:

| Anita GoveasDaniel Scott White | Dave Dunn | Deon Visser |

| Gerard Sarnat | Giulia Moon | Kelly Matsuura | Layne Noser |

| Liam Hogan | Luke Shors | Mary Soon Lee | Ray Daley | Rebecca Birch |

| Russell Hemmell | Toshiya Kamei (Translator) |

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AVAILABLE FROM:

| Smashwords | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU |

*More links will be available soon on the Insignia Vol.7. Page

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Add on Goodreads

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Excerpt: ‘Reborn’ by Nidhi Singh

Hi everyone! This weekend I’d like to share a few excerpts from stories in our latest anthology,  Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts.

‘Reborn’ is Nidhi Singh’s third story with The Insignia Series, and is set in the jungles of India. It might change how you feel about snakes…..

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‘Reborn’ by Nidhi Singh

Excerpt:

A couple of pale flabby tents, damp with the rain, had been pitched in a clearing. A tall bearded man, attired in the dress of a Shikari, a hunter, stood still near the entrance to the campsite. He smoked nonchalantly, with one foot propped on a black boulder. A double-barreled gun of exceptional length, probably an old flintlock, leaned against his other leg.

He pressed some tobacco leaves in Kasyapa’s hand: a customary welcome of the Gond tribals. The Shikari, called Manjhi, was about fifty years of age, tall and sinewy, with a singularly mild face, and a long, scrawny neck, deeply seamed with many scars. His meager form was arrayed in a sort of hunting shirt of greenish brown, belted at the waist with sambar leather. Around his head was a small, tightly twisted turban of the same hue as the rest of his garments. At his belt he carried a long machete, a horn of powder, and a small wallet containing bullets, flint, and steel.

He and his ancestors before him enjoyed a fearsome reputation, of having shot dead man-eaters here, wrestled bison barehanded there, and cut down many an attacking leopards and beasts of prey with their formidable daggers.

“Welcome, to the land of Sher Khan,” he said, pumping Kasyapa’s hand in his giant, calloused grip. “I’ll be your guide.” He smiled, showing a strong row of broad white teeth.

The Shikari led Kasyapa to where some easy chairs and a camp table, covered with tea and toast and fruit, had been laid out. Kasyapa sank into one of the chairs, stretched out his legs, and closed his eyes with a sigh of intense satisfaction. Meanwhile, a flustered campsite host with a clipboard and fluttering papers shepherded the bellowing children into their tents.

“What are you keen on?” the Shikari asked after tea had been served in earthen bowls.

“The usual suspects,” Kasyapa replied. “How are the sightings?”

“Fair. Usually near the watering holes—plenty of cheetal and sambar here for the king of the jungle.”

“How do we go in?”

“By jeeps, obviously. Elephant rides are also available, but not for the kids without supervision. We’ll leave in batches—mornings and afternoons. You and I could ride an elephant, though. An elephant can strike out into the heart of the jungle. He makes his own road.”

“Okay, what else? We’re here for a week thereabouts.”

“There is a tribal arts center. The kids will like the wood and clay playthings. You could take home some trinkets for the missus? The camp guys have organized a boat ride down the Pench river too. You will see alligators—hundreds of them lounging on the white sands on its banks, and beautiful islands. And the camp guys usually throw in a campfire on the last day.”

Kasyapa nodded and looked away into the thickening mists as they began to settle on the treetops. “Don’t you ever go out on foot?” he suddenly asked. “What about these National Geography guys?”

The Shikari slapped his thighs. “I knew you were not the normal babu who looks for comfort or textbook adventures. You look fit enough to me. But the jungle—are you quite up to it?”

“What about the kids?”

“Don’t worry, there is a guide on each vehicle. The staff knows how to handle the rowdiest of them.”

“Just for the record, we’ll accompany them on the safaris and boat rides, and when they’re in the camp, we could strike out.”

“Sure. There is a cost, though. And there are dangers; slippery tracks could land you in bottomless ravines, there are bears, panthers, snakebites, and if you’re lucky, Sher Khan.”

“I am okay with that. Are you?”

The Shikari sniggered. “I fear no tiger now. They fall before me like the mango at which the boy throws his stick.”

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Nidhi Singh’s Author Page

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AVAILABLE FROM:

| Smashwords | B & N | kobo |

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

| Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES |

| Amazon IT | Amazon NL | Amazon JP | Amazon BR |

| Amazon MX | Amazon IN |

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Add on Goodreads

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Interested in writing for us?

A new submission call opens Sept 1st. Full details are on our Submissions Page.

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August News

Hello everyone, and a warm welcome to our new blog followers!

Well, it’s been sweltering here in Japan for the past few weeks. We’ve had several days over forty degrees and still with high humidity! I’m ver glad I bought a new air-conditioner for my office this year. How’s the weather where you guys are?

I’ve been using my summer break to work on a few Insignia projects, so thought I’d post a summary here of what’s happening for anyone interested…Cheers! ~~Kelly~~

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1) Insignia: Asian Science Fiction was published in July, and is currently in Round 2 of a cover art contest over at All Author. If you like our cover design and would like to support us, please pop over and vote! No need to be a member or register on the site to do so.

VOTE HERE!

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2) Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts will be released on August 20! I did an announcement post about it a few weeks ago, but if you missed it, you can check out the book details HERE.

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3) Next Insignia Series anthology?

A few people have asked about the next project: I’d like to open a new submission call in September or October, so would be curious to hear from you writers out there what themes would interest you…Or readers, what would you like read about next?

One of my ideas at the moment is to do ‘Flash Fiction & Poetry’, accepting work up to 1000 words in length, and open to poetry for the first time. I’ve been writing 100-word stories recently, and love how much story you can tell in just a few paragraphs.

All stories would still be required to be set in Asian countries (or a fantasy version of) and have leading Asian characters.

My second idea is to do a ‘Best of Asian Fantasy 2018‘. Submissions will then be open until year-end, and I would select maybe the Top 5 stories from those nominated. Stories would have to have been published this year by a journal or small press anthology etc, NOT self-published pieces.

Lastly, my best idea for a story-themed anthology is to do ‘Asian Ghost Stories’. I think we have ghost stories in every Insignia anthology to date, so I feel it would be easy to fill with great submissions.

Of course, I’d love to hear your ideas! Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or chat with me on Twitter sometime! Our Twitter link is: @InsigniaStories and my personal account is @KellyMatsuura

That’s enough typing for me tonight (I’ve been proofreading and formatting all day). Enjoy the rest of the month, and Happy Travels to those of you on summer vacation 🙂

HAPPY RELEASE DAY! ‘Insignia: Asian Science Fiction’

HAPPY RELEASE DAY everyone! I hope you all enjoy this new addition to the series. We have a few new authors joining the team on this one, so please check out their profiles for more info on their other published works, projects, etc.

The ebook is now available from Smashwords and all Amazon sites for US $1.99.

 

ASIAN SCIENCE FICTION

 

INSIGNIA VOL. 5 includes 8 science fiction stories with Asian characters and/or settings.

 

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CONTENTS

‘Stars Bright as Light’ by Joyce Chng

‘Islets of the Blest’ by Nidhi Singh

‘Uncle Ping’s Evening Farewell’ by Ray Daley

‘Connecting Through the Cosmos’ by Holly Schofield

‘The Galaxy’s Cube’ by Jeremy Szal

‘Kill / Switch’ by L. Chan

‘The Drowning Pool’ by Vonnie W. Crist

‘Love and Relativity’ by Stewart C. Baker

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AVAILABLE FROM:

| Smashwords | B & N | kobo |

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

| Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES |

| Amazon IT | Amazon NL | Amazon JP | Amazon BR |

| Amazon MX | Amazon IN |

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Add on Goodreads

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Also, the first 4 Insignia anthologies are on sale at Smashwords for 99c until July 31st. They make great summer reading!

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Cover & Contents Reveal for INSIGNIA Vol.5.!

Coming Soon!

Hi everyone, I’m excited to share the new cover and list of stories for our upcoming Asian science fiction themed anthology! This is the 5th anthology released for The Insignia Series and since it’s not region-based like the first 4 books, I decided to go green on this cover…Hope you all like the new look. 🙂

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CONTENTS

‘Stars Bright as Light’ by Joyce Chng

‘Islets of the Blest’ by Nidhi Singh

‘Uncle Ping’s Evening Farewell’ by Ray Daley

‘Connecting Through the Cosmos’ by Holly Schofield

‘Change of Light’ by Richard Agemo

‘The Galaxy’s Cube’ by Jeremy Szal

‘Kill / Switch’ by L. Chan

‘The Drowning Pool’ by Vonnie Winslow Crist

‘Love and Relativity’ by Stewart C. Baker

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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.

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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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