INSTINCTS #5: ‘Setsubun’ by Kelly Matsuura

Hello everyone, hope you’re all having a good month so far. Things are a bit tough in Japan at the moment with lots of corona virus cases here in Aichi (Nagoya) where I live. I’m an ESL teacher so all my classes are cancelled this month as a precaution–but the shops are all open, I have a good stock of toilet paper,  and I really can’t complain about all the bonus writing time, can I? 🙂

But, I just realised today that I’ve messed up my schedule for INSTINCTS. I wrote the following haiku series last November I think, but then forgot to post it in February when it was actually setsubun! Doh!

Setsubun is a Japanese festival celebrating the coming spring. People like to wear masks and/or throw dried beans at ‘demons’ to chase away evil spirits.

Anyway here we go–my attempt at ‘horror haiku’, with 3 linked pieces.

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SETSUBUN

Kelly Matsuura

Every Setsubun 
Real demons, stalking children
Hide behind craft masks

Demon out! Luck in! 
Roasted beans scatter the ground
Missing true evil

Spring comes imminently
Blossoms adorn the victims
Of demons’ delights

~~~

About the author: 

Kelly Matsuura grew up in Victoria, Australia, but always dreamed she would live abroad. She has lived in northern China, Michigan USA, and over ten years in Nagoya, Japan, where she now lives permanently.

Kelly has published numerous short stories online; in group anthologies; and in several self-published anthologies. Her stories have been published by Ink & Locket Press, A Murder of Storytellers, Black Hare Press, Harbinger Press, and many more.
She majored in Asian Studies at university, and (sometimes) studies Japanese, Chinese and German. Her other hobbies include cooking, knitting, sewing, and traveling.

As the creator of The Insignia Series, Kelly aims to promote the quality and diversity of Asian speculative fiction/poetry by indie authors from around the world.
Kelly’s blog/website: www.blackwingsandwhitepaper.com
Facebook: Kelly Matsuura-Author
Twitter: Kelly Matsuura

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The Eagle owl (Bubo Bubo) and moon.

Would you like to contribute a poem? Check out our Submissions Page.
~~~

*Photo of Japanese masks by Finan Akbar on Unsplash.com

Cover Reveal! ‘Japanese Fantasy Drabbles’ (Insignia Drabbles #1)

 

Happy New Year, everyone!

I’m very excited to share the cover for our upcoming anthology: Japanese Fantasy Drabbles. It is the first planned release in the new Insignia Drabbles series. I haven’t decided the release date yet, but it will likely be mid-February.

For now, enjoy the cover!

~Kelly Matsuura~

 

JFD-COVER-2020

This anthology includes 80 drabbles (100-word stories) inspired by Japanese folklore and yōkai tales, as well as original fantasy and science fiction pieces. You’ll find wicked cats and dragons; ghosts and monsters; spaceships and time travelers; and much more. This collection has it all!

~~~

INSTINCTS #3: ‘Gobi Sands’ & ‘Kappa’ by DJ Tyrer

 

December’s edition of Instincts includes two poems from a new contributor, DJ Tyrer, who will also have a story appearing in Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Drabbles.

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Gobi Sands

By DJ Tyrer

Great Khan on camelback
Has no fear of thirst
Dares all enemies to strike
Knowing none shall survive
Protected as he is
By the Great Blue Heaven
Taunts even Erlik
But, sands shift
Strange patterns
Great Khan on camelback
Stares in wonder
Marvelling till
Death Worms strike
Leaving nothing but bones
Bleached by the sun, acid
And, fading memories
Obscured by successors
Who shun desert sands
For the limitless horizon

Kappa

By DJ Tyrer

Water’s mighty pull
Good manners save from strange hands
Kappa loses mind

~~~

DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing, was placed second in the 2015 Data Dump Award for Genre Poetry, and has been published in The Rhysling Anthology 2016, issues of The Horrorzine, Scifaikuest, Sirens Call, Star*Line, and Tigershark, and online at Grievous Angel, Lonesome October, and Three Drops from a Cauldron, as well as releasing several chapbooks, such as The Tears of Lot-49. The echapbook One Vision is available from Tigershark Publishing’s website.

DJ Tyrer’s website is at https://djtyrer.blogspot.co.uk/

The Atlantean Publishing website is at https://atlanteanpublishing.wordpress.com/

~~~

The Eagle owl (Bubo Bubo) and moon.

Would you like to contribute a poem? See details on our Submissions Page

~~~

*Featured Photo by Mike Yukhtenko on Unsplash

INSTINCTS #2: ‘Graveyard Shift’ by Kim Whysall-Hammond

 

Welcome to our second INSTINCTS publication: a free-style poem by new contributor, Kim Whysall-Hammond.

Kim says the poem was inspired by Malaysian folktales told to her by a friend. Enjoy!

Graveyard shift

In old Malay, draped in forest

lies heat swamped George Town

along tree lined avenues

abandoned colonial mansions

forsaken, cracked, diminished

irrelevant to today

they rot in new technological haze

yet from shattered empty windows

evening jazz drifts across warm night air

inside, lights flicker

shadows dance over damp walls

slim couples flirt and smoke

your exploratory visit

brings silence

reveals vacant rooms

missing floors instead of lively dancers

they were the old tenants

hantu partying on the graveyard shift

~

Old hotel, four square and white

now with modern pool and spa

and the original private beach

golden, secluded, sunlit

it’s a long walk

but a short drive

a bus plies the mountain road

past green country and

decaying tombs behind

collapsing walls

the last ride of the day

is often full

today extra guests board

quiet individuals

some tall and lanky

a woman in a green qipao

halfway back, the bus empties

although the feverish driver

can’t remember stopping

his new passengers have

truly started their graveyard shift

~~~

Kim-2
Kim Whysall-Hammond  is  an expert in obsolete telecommunications arcana
and believes, against all evidence, that she is a good dancer.  She has
been published by Ink, Sweat and Tears, Three Drops from a Cauldron,
Amaryllis, London Grip New Poetry and Crannóg. She also shares poems at
https://thecheesesellerswife.wordpress.com/

~~~

If you’re inspired by series and want to give Asian speculative poetry a go, check out our submission details here.

We also have an open anthology submission call for 100-word (drabbles) Japanese Fantasy stories. Submissions close November 30th.

We’d love to read your work!

Have a great week,

~Kelly~

~~~

  • Featured image from depositphotos.com (Fatt Tze Mansion in Georgetown, Penang)

October News & Updates

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone!

I work as an English teacher (part-time) here in Japan, so have been busy these past two weeks with Halloween lessons on weekdays, and parties on the weekend. In fact, I still have another party to attend THIS Saturday….that’s more than enough Halloween for me!

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UPDATE: ‘Japanese Fantasy Drabbles’ Submissions

As of this evening, we have accepted 41 drabbles for this anthology. I’m quite happy with the variety of themes too: yokai is of course the most popular, but there are also some good dragon and ninja stories, and a growing number of scifi pieces as well. (More, please!)

We’ve had a few Japanese authors submit stories, which is awesome! And Toshiya Kamei has been very busy translating for a few new, international contributors also.

The call is open until November 30, each author is allowed 3 accepted drabbles, so why not have a go? Even if you are doing NaNoWriMo this November, a quick drabble or 2 could be a good break or even a prompt for a bigger story!

As I said, we have 41 accepted stories, and I would like to close on the deadline with 80-100 drabbles. Any help to spread the word about this call would be much appreciated.

Our submission guidelines and further details on the theme etc can be found on the Submissions Page. Please check the guidelines carefully before submitting. I haven’t rejected anyone for missing a step, but it helps me a lot when I receive everything I need in the first email.

Good luck with your drabbles (and NaNoWriMo if you are participating)!

~~~~~

‘INSTINCTS’ Poetry Series

We are also still open for our online poetry series, Instincts. So far, 1 poem has been published this month (see here), and I have a 2nd to be published in mid-November. Submissions have unfortunately been slow, with several being rejected because they don’t have any fantasy/speculative elements. Poems MUST have both Asian and speculative elements for this call.

Full details can be found here

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Want to check out previous Insignia Series anthologies? We have 7 volumes, ebook only, available from most retailers, and all for US$.99c!!!

See all our books here

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Photo credit: David Menidrey on Unsplash

Author Spotlight: KELLY MATSUURA

Continuing our Author Spotlight series, I’d like to share my own interview this week! (Excuse the following use of third-person…)

 

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Kelly Matsuura grew up in Victoria, Australia, but always dreamed she would live abroad.  She has lived in northern China, Michigan in the US, and over ten years in Nagoya, Japan, where she now lives permanently.

Kelly has published numerous short stories online; in group anthologies; and in several self-published anthologies. Her stories have been published by Visibility Fiction, Crushing Hearts & Black Butterfly Publishing, A Murder of Storytellers, and Ink and Locket Press.

She majored in Asian Studies at university, and (sometimes) studies Japanese, Chinese and German. Her other hobbies include cooking, knitting, sewing, and traveling.

As the creator and editor for The Insignia Series, Kelly uses her knowledge of Asian cultures to help other indie authors produce great diverse stories and to share the group’s work with a new audience.

Kelly’s blog/website: www.blackwingsandwhitepaper.com

Facebook: Kelly Matsuura-Author

Twitter: Kelly Matsuura

~~~

TWENTY-FIVE QUESTIONS

 

  1. Author Name/s: Kelly Matsuura & Kelly Noro (romance, 18+)
  2. Years active as a writer: 8
  3. What genre/s you write: mostly fantasy, some scifi and literature.
  4. Favorite genre to write: YA fantasy
  5. Favorite length of story to write: short story length (1500-7500).
  6. Your nationality: Australian
  7. Country you live in: Japan
  8. Number of Asian countries visited: 6
  9. Favorite Asian country (visited): Japan, of course 😊
  10. Favorite place in Asia (visited): Terracotta Warriors in Xian, China. Incredible!
  11. Place (city or country) you most want to visit in Asia: Angkor Wat, Cambodia
  12. Favorite Asian cuisine: Indian
  13. Favorite Asian dish: Really hard to say…but, Okonomiyaki (Japanese).
  14. Favorite Asian movie (any genre): Raise the Red Lantern (Chinese). My dream is to see the ballet version!
  15. Favorite Asian book (any genre): A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.
  16. Favorite Asian celebrity: Li Lianjie aka Jet Li
  17. Best thing about being a writer: Always having something to do and new things to try. There are always short story markets open, or you can make your own projects, etc. And you can be as busy as you want to be with it.
  18. Worst thing about being a writer: Having to give up on a story that you love but can’t get right.
  19. Day writer or night writer: Night. I write better when all my housework and other jobs are over for the day.
  20. Drink/snack of choice (while writing): Endless cups of tea! No snacks at the computer.
  21. Number of short stories/poems submitted each month (av): 2-3 per month.
  22. I dream to be published with/in (publisher/publication): Daily Science Fiction (flash stories), and Harlequin for paranormal romance.
  23. Most active on (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram): Facebook.
  24. Self-published, traditionally published, or both: Both.
  25. Currently working on: editing a paranormal romance (as Kelly Noro) and I’m putting together some dark fantasy stories of mine for a new ebook.

~~~

Stories included in The Insignia Series Anthologies:

‘Moon Shadow’ and ‘The Waiting World’ (Insignia: Japanese Fantasy  Stories)

‘The Great Qilin’ and’The Ghost Bride’ (Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories)

‘Never Seen’ (Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy)

‘Ribbons & Bones’ (Insignia: Asian Fantasy Stories)

‘Apsaras’ Dance’ (Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts)

‘Stay Silent’ (Insignia: Asian Flash Fiction & Poetry)

~~~

Interested in publishing with us? We are now open for poetry submissions to a new online series, Insignia: Instincts. See full details on the Submissions (Poetry) Page.

We’ll also have an open anthology call. If you love to drabble, or want to give a try, get ready for Japanese Fantasy Drabbles here.

~~~

Author Spotlight: ANITA GOVEAS

Happy September everyone!

Continuing our Author Spotlight series, let me introduce UK writer, Anita Goveas.

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Anita Goveas is British-Asian, based in London, and fueled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently in  Lost Balloon, Terse and JMWW. She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction,  a reader for Bare Fiction and tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer

TWENTY QUESTIONS

  1. Author Name/s: Anita Goveas
  2. Years active as a writer: 4 years
  3. What genre/s you write: Mostly literary fiction, some magic realism/speculative. Unless ‘samosas’ are a genre because I write about them a lot
  4. Favorite length of story to write: Most of my stories accidentally end up about 500 words
  5. Your nationality: British-Indian
  6. Country you live in: UK
  7. Favorite Asian country (visited): Vietnam
  8. Favorite place in Asia: My Nana’s house (in Mumbai)
  9. Place (city or country) you most want to visit in Asia: It’s a tie between Laos and Nepal
  10. Favorite Asian cuisine: My Nana’s cooking
  11. Favorite Asian dish: Pho
  12. Favorite Asian movie (any genre): Lagaan
  13. Favorite Asian celebrity: Juhi Chawla (Bollywood actress)
  14. Best thing about being a writer: When someone enjoys something I wrote, that’s thrilling!
  15. Worst thing about being a writer: Imposter syndrome
  16. Day writer or night writer: Night writer
  17. Drink and snack of choice (while writing): Coffee and toast
  18. Number of short stories/poems submitted each month (av): 3-4
  19. Most active on (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram): Twitter
  20. Currently working on: A novella, allegedly (am mostly on Twitter)

~~~

COMING SOON:

Watch out for Anita’s debut flash fiction collection, being published by Reflex Press, in 2020!

~~~

Anita’s stories included in The Insignia Series Anthologies:

‘Night Mares’ (Insignia: Asian Flash Fiction & Poetry, 2019)

‘Looking at the Stars’ (Insignia: Asian Flash Fiction & Poetry, 2019)

~~~

Interested in publishing with us? We are now open for poetry submissions to a new online series, Insignia: Instincts. See full details on the Submissions (Poetry) Page.

We’ll also be opening a new anthology call October 1st. If you love to drabble, or want to give a try, get ready for Japanese Fantasy Drabbles here.

~~~

SALE! Smashwords’ Read an Ebook Week

It’s Read an Ebook Week again over at Smashwords!

It’s an awesome chance to stock up on free and discounted ebooks by your favorite indie authors.

We’re offering volumes 1-3 of The Insignia Series for FREE this week!

And volumes 4-6 are 50% OFF!

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Just enter the coupon code (found on each book page) at the checkout to receive the discount.

Happy Reading!

~Kelly~

 

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:

| 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.

~~~

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.”

~~~

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