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!!!!!

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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.

~~~

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.

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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

~~~

Excerpt: ‘The Third Eye’ by Sheenah Freitas

Here’s an excerpt from the second Filipino story in Insignia Vol.3., written by Sheenah Freitas. It is a short piece, based on local folklore and magic.

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‘The Third Eye’ by Sheenah Freitas

Some say the only way out of the provinces is to marry someone rich. When a class graduates, it’s almost as if a great migration happens, as hundreds of hopeful women pack up and head to the city. Many will come back. Some will stay because they found success, or simply because they’re too ashamed to come back.

My sister was one of those girls. The night before she was to leave for Manila with a group of girls from neighboring villages, she told me how our superstitions would be the end of us. How if we kept believing in imaginary creatures, we’d always be seen as stupid. Ignorant. Impossible.

She spat on our beliefs, cursed our way of living, and then pointed to a tree where a family of duwende lived. Our family apologized to them on her behalf and offered them food, but my sister rolled her eyes at us. I guess she was too sophisticated for such things. She had too many dream and aspirations.

But all of that ambition was wasted.

She’s dead.

Her body was found beside the duwende tree in the morning.

~~~

Sheenah Freitas’ Author Page

Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy Page

 

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More Excerpts:

‘Horse Feet’ by Celestine Trinidad

‘Interlude’ by Eve Shi

‘The Island’ by Melvin Yong

‘Running from Shadows’ by Joyce Chng

‘Never Seen’ by Kelly Matsuura

‘Spirit of Regret’ by Eliza Chan

Book of the Week: ’13 Moons’ by Ee Leen Lee

I apologise for not posting on this blog in months. Very bad of me….I will try to post more regularly from now on!

I’m keen to add more Asian fantasy book recommendations to this site, so please let me know if you have read or seen any that look good.

Today’s book is a collection of short stories, written by an author I recently ‘met’ on twitter. I’ve read half of the stories so far and really enjoy Lee’s concepts and literary writing style.

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13 Moons by Ee Leen Lee

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13 horror stories of the macabre by Malaysian writer Ee Leen Lee.
13 Moons will provide you with instant chills.
Office workers discover the gruesome secret behind the puppets used as workplace décor. A man tries to help the ghost of a murdered child haunting a playground. An abandoned well and a banana tree in a village garden conceal a decades-old crime. A couple struggles to keep their family together when their son becomes a zombie. And a nightclub with a supernatural door policy — depending on when you choose to go.
These stories reveal the darkness that threatens to seep through the veneer of day-to-day life.

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Amazon US 

Smashwords

Ee Leen Lee on Twitter

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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!”

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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

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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

Sanctuary by Chris White

Kitsune by Heather Jensen

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