October News: Cover Contest & more

Hi everyone! How are those preparations for Halloween going? I’m an ESL teacher here in Japan, so I have quite a few Halloween parties on my calendar this month. 🙂

After releasing 2 new Insignia Series anthologies in July and August, I had a bit of a break in September to work on my own stuff. But I have a few things happening in October to share.

~Kelly~

Firstly, ‘Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts’ is in All Authors’ latest cover contest:

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Click here to go to the voting page!

You do NOT need to register to vote (like some sites require). Also the first round closes in 3 days, then voting will re-open again for Round 2 which is the Top 100.

Please VOTE for us and help spread the word about our series! And a big thanks to those of you who voted for ‘Insignia: Asian Science Fiction’ in the August contest!

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Recently I’ve added all The Insignia Series anthologies to Draft2Digital, an ebook distribution site. They distribute to most of the big ebook sellers (Apple, Barnes & Noble, Amazon too) where I already have the series listed, but there are a few new sites where our books will be available: 24 Symbols, Scribd, Playster, and Bibliotheca.

I haven’t added the buy links to all the Insignia book pages (on this blog) just yet, but I’m working on making universal URL links to include ALL the sites where our books are available.

~~~

And I’d just like to post a reminder here for any writers following: we have an OPEN SUBMISSION CALL for Asian fantasy flash fiction and poetry! Deadline is December 17th, so there’s plenty of time to write and submit!! We also gladly consider reprints. For more details, see our SUBMISSIONS PAGE.

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I’m also planning to post some new book recommendations and/or reviews this month, AND hope to have some kind of SALE later in Oct too. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

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Submissions are Now Open!

 

It’s September 1st, and that means we have a new submission call open!

It’s for a new anthology: volume 7 in The Insignia Series.

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See our Submissions Page for instructions on how to submit.

If you’re not familiar with our series, please browse our previously published anthologies – there are six volumes, which you will find links to in the top menu. You could also browse ‘Excerpts’ as a post category (from the side menu) to see samples from some of the stories included in our anthologies.

And if you do submit work, please follow this blog: I’ll be posting updates every few weeks during the reading period to let writers now how submissions are going. Closer to the deadline, I may have special requests for certain types of stories, or we might be short on poems, etc.

Thank you for your interest in The Insignia Series. We hope to read your work soon!

Cheers,

Kelly Matsuura

(Chief Editor)

Excerpt: ‘We, the Ravens of Bai Gao Lou’ by Russell Hemmell

 

I’d like to share another excerpt from Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts. This one is a bird story from returning author, Russell Hemmell.

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WE, THE RAVENS OF BAI GAO LOU

 

I can’t avert my gaze from her, while she stands in front of the iron portal—her neck fierce and erect, her eyes shut not in fear but in refusal. Waiting to enter without reclining her head, knowing too well it’s going to be a one-way movement. But not a sound comes out from that mouth so many have desired to kiss. Pale lips with a suave smile, the queen looks at me, and her irises shine like a thousand moons in a winter night.

They push her forward, and she walks inside. Without a lament.

The Traitor’s Gate closes behind her.

She is lost! my winged siblings scream while circling in the sky. Nobody comes back from the Bai Gao Lou, the Mighty White Tower.

Nor will you, green-eyed queen from a far-away land.

#

I approach again, flitting around the rooftop, peering inside the minuscule windows. They’re made in ways that prevent a comfortable view of the court, those windows, and she needs to stand in an uncomfortable position to reach them. She can’t see me, either.

It’s a cold and nasty place, her secluded house in the Tower. The rags on the floor and tapestry on the walls that should keep it warm have all been taken away. There are organic pigment and insects mixed with blood in the old frescoes, to suggest unspoken horrors and weaken her resolve.

And today, they have put severed heads on the Traitor’s Gate, like pieces of Sunday roast on a spike. Them. Them, she can see.

I fly lower, to glimpse at the queen. Her eyes are transfixed; she looks outside, at a point in the horizon—at those short, happy days of her realm, of unbound extravaganza, unbridled lust, glimmering revelries.

Her heyday lasted just that, a day.

~~~

Russell Hemmell is a statistician and social scientist from Scotland, passionate about astrophysics and speculative fiction. Recent publications in Aurealis, The Grievous Angel, Third Flatiron, and others. Find her online at her blog earthianhivemind.net and on Twitter @SPBianchini and @RxHemmell.

~~~

AVAILABLE FROM:

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 ~~~

Add on Goodreads

~~~

Excerpt: ‘The Star Ball’ by Amy Fontaine

 

The second story I’d like to share tonight from Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts is by a new contributor, Amy Fontaine.

Amy’s story is a fun adventure about a Japanese boy who meets a mischievous kitsune (fox-shifter).

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‘The Star Ball’ by Amy Fontaine

Excerpt:

Koki’s mother had been tired when she came home from work earlier tonight. Tired, and distracted. After feeding Koki, she had slouched off to bed and forgotten to lock the inside lock on the back door. Koki noticed. Koki notices things.

Now Koki puts on his slippers, slips on a jacket over his pajamas, and tiptoes out of his room and down the stairs. He opens the back door of his apartment and sneaks off into the night.

The apartment is in a very modest neighborhood in the Northern Higashiyama area of Kyoto, but only a few blocks away is a beautiful park. A cobbled path lined with cherry trees and paper lanterns leads through lush ornamental plants to a red, arched bridge across a stream. The bridge leads to a tea house and a pagoda that stands beside it. During the day, Koki loves to come to this park with his mother, but he has never been here at night.

Koki starts crawling under bushes, turning over rock after rock and catching beetle after beetle. He squeals, a sound that seems more fitting of a five-year-old or a puppy than a ten-year-old. As he crawls under the last bush on the left before the red bridge, Koki’s eyes are suddenly met by a bright, piercing white-gold light. Koki yelps and scrambles backwards out of the bush, hearing a corresponding yelp of surprise and terror as he does so. When his vision clears, he sees a four-tailed golden fox standing before him, growling. Beetle legs hang from her mouth.

“What are you doing here, little runt?” hisses the fox, in a voice that isn’t quite real. “This is my territory, and these are my beetles! You have no right to hunt here, human!”

Koki bows to the fox. “I am sorry, honorable fox.”

The vixen bursts into peals of laughter that sound like tinkling bells.

“Honorable?” the fox scoffs. “You know nothing of kitsune, do you?”

In response, Koki begins to recite the natural history of the red fox. He sounds like an encyclopedia. The fox growls and shakes her head.

“You believe everything they tell you in science books, don’t you? Foolish boy. The things those books have told you to be false are the ones that are most important.”

~~~

Author Photo(2)

Amy Fontaine is a wildlife biologist who writes wild speculative fiction and poetry. Her first novel, Mist, is a young adult fantasy about shapeshifters, elemental magic, and being the change you wish to see in the world. She is currently writing an interactive novel inspired by Japanese kitsune folklore for Choice of Games. You can find her published work at https://amyfontaine.wordpress.com.

~~~

AVAILABLE FROM:

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| 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 |

 ~~~

Add on Goodreads

~~~

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.”

~~~

Nidhi Singh’s Author Page

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AVAILABLE FROM:

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| Amazon MX | Amazon IN |

 ~~~

Add on Goodreads

~~~

Interested in writing for us?

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

~~~

HAPPY RELEASE DAY! ‘Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts’ (Vol. 6.)

Cheers to our second anthology release this summer! In this volume you’ll find an array of animal shifters, magical creatures, gods, and spirits. Story settings include: India, Japan, Cambodia, China, and outer-space!

ASIAN BIRDS & BEASTS

INSIGNIA VOL. 6. includes 8 short stories with Asian characters, settings, and magical creatures.

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CONTENTS

‘Reborn’ by Nidhi Singh

‘The Star Ball’ by Amy Fontaine

‘Raising Words’ by Stewart C. Baker

‘Apsaras’ Dance’ by Kelly Matsuura

‘We, the Ravens of Bai Gao Lou’ by Russell Hemmell

‘The Azure Dragon’ by Lorraine Schein

‘The Churail and the Crow’ by Keyan Bowes

‘Vermillion Nights’ by Joyce Chng

~~~

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 |

 ~~~

Add on Goodreads

~~~

Interested in writing for us? A new submission call opens on September 1st! See our Submissions Page for full details.

 

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 🙂

Coming Soon! ‘Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts’

Yes, folks, we have another anthology releasing soon!

With stories from regular contributors and a few wonderful newbies, we have it all: dragons, kitsune, magical birds, snake-shifters, and ….werewolves in space? ( No, that’s not a typo). I promise a great mix of legends and settings.

Coming August 20!

ASIAN BIRDS & BEASTS

INSIGNIA VOL. 6. includes 8 short stories with Asian characters, settings, and magical creatures.

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CONTENTS

‘Reborn’ by Nidhi Singh

‘The Star Ball’ by  Amy Fontaine

‘Raising Words’ by Stewart C. Baker

‘Apsaras’ Dance’ by Kelly Matsuura

‘Ravens’ by Russell Hemmell

‘The Azure Dragon’ Lorraine Schein

‘The Churail and the Crow’ by Keyan Bowes

‘Vermillion Nights’ by Joyce Chng

~~~

Last days of the Smashwords Summer Sale! The Insignia Series volumes 1 to 4 are on sale for 99c each until July 31st. See the list here.

And if you haven’t checked out Insignia: Asian Science Fiction yet, you’ll find all the book info and links on the Insignia Vol.5. page.

~~~

Update to Submission Call

Hi everyone! If you’re on summer vacation at the moment like me, hope you’re relaxing. (Or, getting lots of /editing done!).

In an effort to attract more submissions and be able to fill the first open anthology call sooner, I have opened the theme to ALL Asian science fiction. Your story must still satisfy the general submission requirements, so please check the Submissions Page for further details. Our ‘Birds & Beasts’ anthology call is still open too – so get writing!

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And I’d just like to say a quick thank you to all the authors who have already submitted and/or have helped share the submission call. Every new contact helps this tiny imprint grow!

~~~~~

Check out the latest Insignia Series anthology here:

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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:

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 ~~~

Add on Goodreads

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WRITE FOR US! We currently have 2 open submission calls