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

This Chinese demon-world story is just as exciting as the title! Written by the amazing Joyce Chng, who’s stories have appeared now in all 4 Insignia Series anthologies.

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

The entire cave kingdom gathered for the wedding ceremony. The bats escorted the foxes, the deer, the spiders, the snakes and even the lowest toads to the Great Hall, chittering away as they flew above the heads of the guests, guiding and scolding them at the same time. The snake women hid their smiles behind their long sleeves, their eyes shining with speculation. The spider women clustered together, weaving their silk idly. I had already received their tribute of the best-spun spider silk robes, a wedding gift for my bride. The foxes readied their cymbals and pipes to greet my bride when she appeared.

Fu Xi even procured a Taoist priest spirit for the wedding. He would prevent my bride from fleeing. Ideally, the matchmaker should be here, but she had already fled the kingdom. Humans are such fragile creatures, easily frightened and unaccustomed to our ways. My new bride would be human too, albeit now in spirit form. I hoped she would not frighten so easily.

At the right moment, when the stars aligned and the moon crossed the aegis, the Taoist priest broke the seal of the urn and whispered the words that would free the spirit within, the spirit of my bride.

Wisps of white smoke swirled out of the broken urn, forming the shape of a slender human figure. At first, the figure seemed to be kneeling, before unfolding like a cloth puppet. Features sharpened. The watching animals gasped.

I stared. The eyes of the white figure opened. They were luminous. Beside me, Fu Xi shrank a little.

The spirit of the young scholar shook his head and looked around, bemusedly. “Where the hell am I?”

“You are now married,” intoned the Taoist priest who then dissipated because his job was done. The words lingered in the suddenly cold air of the Great Hall. Some of the snake women turned pale, as if they were about to faint. The band of fox musicians started playing a wedding song. With a glare from Fu Xi, they stopped, the song tapering into a few discordant notes. Someone blew an out-of-tune pipe and descended immediately into an embarrassed silence.

“I—” I looked at my right wrist and baulked. Red thread glowed between it and the young scholar’s hand. He looked at me in amazement.

The young man, his eyes like a phoenix’s, his lips full and mobile, began to laugh merrily. “Looks like I am now married to you, lord.” He wasn’t afraid of me.

He wasn’t afraid of me.

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Joyce Chng’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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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.

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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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BOTW: ‘Wolf at the Door’ by J. Damask

Insignia Series contributor, Joyce Chng, has a new novella out, released under the pen name J.Damask.

‘Wolf at the Door’ by J. Damask

https://dwtr67e3ikfml.cloudfront.net/bookCovers/97a45b248ea41632a8122dcb63564fc962209944

Blurb:

Book 1 of the Jan Xu novels

Being an ex-teen vigilante comes with its own set of problems.

Housewife, ex-teen vigilante…and shape-shifting wolf…Jan Xu has enough problems without adding her sister’s to the mix. Marianne is returning to Singapore and she’s filled with strange ideas. She’s also not alone. She’s coming home with a new boyfriend who has a dark agenda of his own.

With sibling rivalry threatening the inevitable: a battle-to-the-death with fang and claw, Jan and Marianne must overcome their issues if they’re ever going to find peace within their troubled relationship.

Available from Smashwords

BOTW: ‘Xiao Xiao & the Dragon’s Pearl’ by Joyce Chng

Book of the Week:

Xiao Xiao & the Dragon’s Pearl

By Joyce Chng

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Blurb:

Enter the world of Xiao Xiao, daughter of an imperial courtesan, and a fantastical historical Qing China, with dragons and magic and traditions. What happens when her mother adopts a baby girl found in a rice field? What does – can – the green pearl do?

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| Amazon US | Goodreads |

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Congratulations to Joyce Chng!

 

Great news for one of our Insignia Series authors – Joyce Chng’s story, Megumi’s Quest, has been selected for inclusion in Twelfth Planet Press’ Best of YA Speculative Fiction 2013! Megumi’s Quest was first published in Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories and we’re so thrilled to see the story become available to a much wider audience.  Congratulations, Joyce! We’re so proud!

According to Twelfth Planet’s website, The Best of YA Speculative Fiction 2013 anthology will be released in late 2014. The link below has further details.

 

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Link to the full Table of Contents

 

Read an extract of Megumi’s Quest

 

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Excerpt: ‘Looking for Trouble’ by Joyce Chng

 

This week, we’d like to share a few excerpt’s from the short stories in ‘Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories’. Joyce Chng contributed two stories to this anthology, both are Young Adult urban fantasy stories.

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Looking for Trouble by Joyce Chng

The old man is watching me. A pair of brown eyes set in a face crisscrossed with wrinkles. His hands rest somewhat elegantly on the walking cane knob. I blink. A dragon. The knob was carved in the shape of a Chinese dragon: curled beard, bulging pearl eyes and open-fanged maw.

Mind you, he looks really nondescript. Your typical ah pek, out on a MRT jaunt, probably going to the kopitiam for a cup of kopi and coffee house politics. It’s the eyes. Dragon eyes. A tian lung is looking at me. I stare back, typical teenager bravado. And mind you, I am not ah lian material, either.

The old tian lung smiles at me, baring his teeth–or lack of. Gold flashes at me. I close my eyes, pretending to listen to gothic metal. The joys of using an ipod. In my mind’s eye, in the aether that binds space and Myriad together, I confront the tian lung.
“Far from home, old one,” I say politely. Respect your elders, even though they are not of your kind.

“I have been watching you for a long time,” the serpentine shape spirals lazily in figure eights. Silver scales glisten, like arowana scales. “You have barely fledged.”
Self-consciously, I look at my feathers. Gold, green and red. The blue is starting to come true. I am a late bloomer, unlike my sisters.

“Little phoenix, you are in trouble.”
I bristle instantly. Fear reflex. “What did you say?”
“You are in trouble.”

The beeping of the closing MRT door startles me back into my human body. I blink. Uniform: check. Name-tag: check. Self: check. I watch the old man wave at me on the platform as the train pulls away.
I am late for school.
I am in trouble.

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Thanks for reading! Further details and links are on the Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories page.

Cover Reveal: ‘Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories’ & ‘Insignia Vol.1.’ Promo!

Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories is coming soon! We’re just finalizing the list of stories and proofreading etc now. I thought I’d share the cover today 😀

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This volume is a little shorter than the Japanese anthology, but we have six stories with mixed themes and  sub-genres for you.   We can’t wait to share more details and story excerpts in April!

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 If you don’t have a copy of Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories yet, now is your chance to grab it on sale! We’re dropping the price to $1.50 on Smashwords and all Amazon sites until March 31st. That’s half-price!

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Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

Amazon AUS

Smashwords

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Book of the Week: ‘The Rider Trilogy’ by Joyce Chng

This week’s book preview is Riders, by Singaporean indie author, Joyce Chng. Joyce writes exciting YA fantasy and urban fantasy stories, and she’s a short story contributor to The Insignia Series and Visibility Fiction. View her profile here.

Rider (The Rider Trilogy Book 1)

Rider-JoyceChngBlurb:

Li-Fang has a way with nature. So she is sent against her will to train as an Agri-Seer, though she dreams one day of joining the Rider Corps like her sister Lixi. Partnered with an arrogant Rider, Daniel Kelso, Li-Fang must forget the wild Hunter Quetz she met by a hidden waterfall near her home, and accept who she is.

Until, that is, a wild Quetz is captured. Li-Fang discovers she can communicate with the creature, a skill no Rider has ever demonstrated, and must now confront her destiny all over again. Will going against convention be worth the cost?

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| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AUS | On Goodreads |

 

Excerpt: ‘Megumi’s Quest’ by Joyce Chng

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Joyce Chng’s story, Megumi’s Quest is the second story in Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories. I met Joyce through Visibility Fiction and really love her edgy, Asian, urban-fantasy short stories. She’s a great YA writer and I’m thrilled to have her work in this anthology 😀

Here’s the opening scene:

Megumi’s Quest

Megumi heaved herself up the cliff, her fingers raw and tender from gripping the sharp-edged nooks and crevices. Her thighs felt as if they were on fire. Beside her, the wolf, Tetsu, tackled the ledges with surefootedness, his tongue lolling out of his mouth as he panted.

Once over this cliff, we will be done with the challenge, she told herself.

She pushed up, up, up, and finally reached the top, panting. At least, her spiritual body was far healthier and agile than her physical body, connected via a tenuous silver cord. Megumi glanced at Tetsu who joined her, his tail wagging slowly. His ears flicked upright, twitching at the slightest of sounds.

We find the eggs now, the white-blue wolf said in her mind.

“Yes, the eggs that bred the monster.” Megumi placed her hand on Tetsu’s plush, soft fur. “Let’s go. Time is running out.”

Already the lumps on her body were spreading. She looked at them with disgust and focused wholly on her journey.

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 Singaporean, but with a global outlook, Joyce Chng write science fiction and fantasy, YA and urban fantasy. Her fiction has appeared in the Apex Book of World SF II, We See A Different Frontier, Visibility Fiction, Crossed Genres and Bards & Sages, to name a few. Her urban fantasy novels are written under her pseudonym, J. Damask (which she will tell you are a play on her Chinese name). The Rider trilogy, a YA SF, will be published by Math Paper Press, an imprint of Books Actually, an independent bookstore in Singapore.

She can be contacted at A Wolf’s Tale: (http://awolfstale.wordpress.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

Restoration by Chris Ward

Towards the Light by Aislinn Batstone

The Bakeneko by Holly Kench

Sanctuary by Chris White

Moon Shadow by Kelly Matsuura

Kitsune by Heather Jensen