Insignia Series News: Open Submissions and more!

Hi everyone, hope you’re having a great week!

I just wanted to do a quick post today to let you know what I’ve got planned for The Insignia Series blog and anthologies.

Have you seen the new Submissions Page? If you are a short fantasy writer, you may be interested to browse the Submission Call information for Insignia 3: Southeast Asian Fantasy Stories. The deadline to submit work is August 31, so mark your calendars and start brainstorming! I’m looking for a mix of authors and speculative fiction sub-genres, so don’t be scared to send me something a bit ‘out there’. I’ll love it.

Also on the Submissions Page, I have a special request for a couple more Chinese stories for Insignia 2. This anthology was published last year and I love every story in it, however I’d like to add 2 or 3 more if I can get them. This is to bring the page count up in anticipation of doing paperback copies in the near future, and having it the same length as Insignia 1. I did make a deadline of June 30 for this, but if I don’t get any submissions by then I’ll probably leave it as an open request. If you are interested in writing a piece for this call but need more time, please contact me to discuss it.

And, I have a tentative plan for Insignia 4: Tsukumogami Stories! Seeing that Japanese fantasy is especially popular, I decided it would be fun to do another Japanese anthology with a more focused theme. I’ll write some fresh stories for this collection too.

What else is news? Oh yes, I’m also redesigning the series’ covers! I hope to have them all done by the end of the month, including the cover for Insignia 3 and new artwork for this blog too. It’s all happening!

I really hope you all like the changes 🙂

Kelly Matsuura

(Editor)

Any questions? Email me: blackwingsandwhitepaper@hotmail.com

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SALE! Get the INSIGNIA anthologies for only 99c on Smashwords! Oct 16-20

If you haven’t read the ‘Insignia Series’ anthologies yet, here’s a great chance to try them for only 99c.

Download your copy now from Smashwords in mobi, epub, or pdf formats.

Sale ends October 20th.

 

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‘Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories’ on Smashwords

‘Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories’ on Smashwords

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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 |

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

~*~

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

~*~

Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories is now available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

~*~

Add on Goodreads

~*~

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!”

~*~

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

~*~

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

~*~

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

JUST RELEASED! ‘Insignia Vol.1: Japanese Fantasy Stories’

The first Insignia anthology is now available from Amazon.com (and other Amazon sites). for just $2.99!

Congratulations to all the contributing authors: Aislinn Batstone, Joyce Chng, Heather Jensen, Holly Kench, Chris Ward, and Chris White. I’d really like to thank them all for their wonderful stories, assistance with proofreading and marketing, and for their great support in the project.

Over the next few days, I’d like to introduce the authors a little and share a sample of each story. For now, please browse the Amazon book page and this blog, and feel free to share the posts/links with your friends!

Cheers!

Kelly Matsuura (Editor)

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Available Now From:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

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Add on Goodreads