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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Excerpt: ‘The Drowning Pool’ by Vonnie Winslow Crist

‘The Drowning Pool’ is a lovely mix of science fiction and fantasy, with Indian cultural elements. It a flash piece, so the excerpt is just a small tease….

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‘The Drowning Pool’ by Vonnie Winslow Crist

Excerpt:

The swimming pool on the Chandra Estate in New Thoothukudi was shaped like a coffin. From local historical records, Darshan knew this had not been the case when the pool was first constructed on Mars in the twenty-third century. Then, it had been oval in shape, and the centerpiece of an elaborate garden. But that was prior to Lalita’s drowning.

The facility manager stood on a slope of well-manicured grass and contemplated the pool. Mango and arjuna trees, genetically modified to fit the terra-formed planet’s climate and trimmed to near-perfection, and jasmine, bred to bloom year-round, surrounded the pool’s patio. Wrought metal chairs circling form-stone tables with decorative umbrellas poking out from their centers were positioned around the pool awaiting the wedding reception guests. Bathed in the glow of solar lamps and the scant moonlight of Phobos, the scene beneath the environs-dome was postcard beautiful, except for Lalita’s ghost perched on the edge of the pool.

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Vonnie Winslow Crist’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Science Fiction Page

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Excerpt: ‘Love & Relativity’ by Stewart C. Baker

Stewart C. Baker is a new contributor to The Insignia Series, and his story, ‘Love & relativity’ is an interesting Indian sci-fi piece that’s sure to linger after reading.

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‘Love & Relativity’ by Stewart C. Baker

Excerpt:

Dearest Adhi,

The psychiatrist assigned by Headquarters suggested I start a diary to help me cope with your ship’s disappearance.  Instead, I’m going to write you a bibliography.

I won’t write every day, and maybe you’ll never read this anyway, but it helps to think that someday I’ll be able to show you what I’ve written here.  To think that somehow, someday, we will bring you home.

Can’t write any more today.

I miss you.  I love you.

Indira

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Source: ‘Special Relativity, The Universe, and You’ (New Beginnings Press: London, 2028)

Date Read: December 3, 2036

Summary:  Time is not an absolute, but depends on your location in the ‘hypersurface of the present’—a map of all physical space.  The speed of visible light limits observations to events already past, so the past is all there is.

Notes: While reading, I discovered I was pregnant.  It’s strange to think that once she’s born, I’ll only ever be able to see what she was—even if it’s only a few nanoseconds difference.  I wonder, if someone is inside you, can you still connect at the speed of ‘now’?

Ravi from mission control keeps calling, but they are no closer to learning what became of your ship.

Be safe.  I love you.

Indira

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Stewart C. Baker’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Science Fiction Page

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Excerpt: ‘The Last Train to Begunkodor’ by Nidhi Singh

For the first time in The Insignia Series, we have a fantasy story set in India. Nidhi Singh’s ‘The Last Train from Begunkodor’ is a wonderful ghost tale full of intrigue.

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‘The Last Train to Begunkodor’ by Nidhi Singh

Excerpt:

For all I suck at my cigarette, I find no joy, no soothing sting as the smoke whirls in. I turn it in my fingers, it is not damp or anything, but the stench and relish of tobacco is missing from my mouth and lungs. I am incredibly thirsty, but the boiling, sticky water from the train’s tap does not slake my drought. I glance again at the tattered piece of newspaper that had woken me, by rustling against my cold cheek in the night breeze as I’d hunched, catlike, in a long stupor I can’t recall since when, on the crown branch of a Junglee Badam tree.

It had announced the coming of a train to Begunkodor. I knew I must get on this train. Why, I didn’t know.

I rode the first bullock cart—perched between the swaying humpbacked beast’s horns—out to Purulia to board the 1283 Superfast Express. I lay for a while on the train’s ribbed roof, swung some from its shuttered windows, and then hung out with the atrabilious engine crew. I finally calmed down from all the rattling and lurching and found an empty wooden bench next to the latrines to puff at a cigarette I’d eased from a sleeping Naga sadhu’s robes. I have always been this uneasy and restless. I roam the marshes, string myself to floating mists, crawl through the sludge and entangled roots in the gaping depths, but find no rest. My memory betrays me and I don’t even remember what I look like— let alone know where I come from or where I am going. But this place Begunkodor beckons, and I am sucked like dark matter into the black funnel of its screaming, lonely torment.

Nidhi Singh’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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Happy Release Day! ‘Insignia: Asian Fantasy Stories’

HAPPY RELEASE DAY!!!!!!!!!

It’s finally here! The Insignia Series’ latest anthology is now available from Amazon and Smashwords. We’ll post links to other book seller sites as soon as they become actively listed. Also, we’ll be sharing excerpts from the various stories throughout the week.

A big thanks to all the contributors!

ASIAN FANTASY STORIES

INSIGNIA Vol.4 includes 9 Asian fantasy stories with a mix of literary, contemporary, myth-based, and historical fantasy pieces. Countries included are Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, China, India, and Nepal.

Rated 16+

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CONTENTS

PART I:  Adventure / Folktales

‘Four Claws’ by Allison Thai

‘I Found Love in an Urn Full of Ashes’ by Joyce Chng

‘Jentayu’s Tear’ by Anna Tan

‘Ribbons & Bones’ by Kelly Matsuura

PART II: Adult / Literary Tales

‘The Fireflies of Todaiji’ by Russell Hemmell

‘Birds of Heaven’ by EK Gonzales

‘Last Train to Begunkodor’ by Nidhi Singh

‘Untouchable’ by Sheenah Freitas

‘White Lady’ by Tina Isaacs

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AVAILABLE FROM:

| Smashwords |

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

| Amazon DEAmazon JPAmazon IN |

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Add on Goodreads

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Cover Reveal & Update – Insignia Vol.4

Hello everyone,

If you’re like me, you’re counting down the days until Christmas Day and/or the start of vacation!

Due to the chaos of work and life around this time of year, I am still working on editing/proofreading for Insignia Vol.4, so will delay releasing the ebook until January sometime. I really need the quiet of a few weeks off work to concentrate on it.

But, I do want to share a little treat with you all, so here is the finished cover and blurb!

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INSIGNIA Vol.4 includes 9 Asian fantasy stories with a mix of literary, contemporary, myth-based, and historical fantasy pieces. Countries included are Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, China, India, and Nepal.

With stories by: Joyce Chng, Sheenah Freitas, Russell Hemmell, Allison Thai, Anna Tan, Tina Issacs, Nidhi Singh, EK Gonzales, and Kelly Matsuura.

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Book of the Week: ‘Blood and Gold’ by T.G. Ayer

Blood & Gold is the second book in The Hand of Kali Series by T.G. Ayer

 

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Blurb:

As Maya perfects her Fire skills she finds there is more to being the Hand of Kali than just wielding Fire.

A surprising summons to Mount Kailas takes Maya on a journey to meet the Lord of the Hindu Pantheon – Lord Shiva himself. This time the God’s request may not be so easy to fulfill.

Maya and her friends must flee the demons and the ruthless killers on their trail to retrieve the golden bow of Lord Rama.

Can Maya get the bow back in time, and also save a certain demon king in the process?

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| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AUS | B & N |

| Goodreads |

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Book of the Week: ‘Dead: A Ghost Story’ by Mina Khan

Here’s a great short story by Mina Khan, one of our favorite diverse authors. 🙂

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Dead: A Ghost Story by Mina Khan

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Blurb:

A multicultural ghost story dealing with the immigrant experience, in which Nasreen — the Indian-American protagonist — grapples with her life and death in West Texas.

| Amazon US | Goodreads |

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Book of the Week: ‘Fire and Shadow’ by T.G. Ayer

This week’s featured book a YA fantasy novel based on Hindu mythology. It’s a fun story with  interesting characters and looks to be a promising series.

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Blurb:

Normal people sneak out to a party and have fun. Maya Rao ends the evening by incinerating the guy who attacks her.

Nik Lucas, sexy, new in town and totally forbidden, happens to walk in on her. Normal guys would run for the hills. Nik knows a whole lot more than he’s telling.

Maya doesn’t believe the gods are real, doesn’t waste her time with mere mythology. But when gods, demons and hellhounds become the new normal and wielding fire becomes her new skill, she must decide what it is she really believes.

Can Maya accept that normal is something she will never be because it isn’t normal to be …

The Hand of Kali.

A new Paranormal coming of age series delving in the fantasy and magic of Hindu mythology and its plethora of gods, demons, legends & mythology.

Book 2 and 3 in The Hand of Kali Series are due for release in 2014.

Available from: | Amazon.com | Amazon UK | Amazon AUS |

Add on Goodreads

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About the Author:

I have been a writer from the time I was old enough to recognise that reading was a doorway into my imagination. Poetry was my first foray into the art of the written word. Books were my best friends, my escape, my haven. I am essentially a recluse but this part of my personality is impossible to practise given I have two teenage daughters, who are actually my friends, my tea-makers, my confidantes… I am blessed with a husband who has left me for golf. It’s a fair trade as I have left him for writing. We are both passionate supporters of each others loves – it works wonderfully… My heart is currently broken in two. One half resides in South Africa where my old roots still remain, and my heart still longs for the endless beaches and the smell of moist soil after a summer downpour. My love for Ma Afrika will never fade. The other half of me has been transplanted to the Land of the Long White Cloud. The land of the Taniwha, beautiful Maraes, and volcanoes. The land of green, pure beauty that truly inspires. And because I am so torn between these two lands – I shall forever remain cross-eyed.

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