Taiwan Tales 2 free promotion!

Taiwan Tales Volume Two is free to download for the Kindle app on Amazon, for this week only! Get yours today to read my short story “The Taipei Underground” – a tale of two souls trying to figure out love beneath the shady caverns of the city – as well as many other excellent works by talented Taipei-based authors.

The stories include a mix of genres, from high fantasy with mythical beasts to ghost stories, and even one from the point of view of a small dog! 

From TWG Press:

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Taiwan-Tales-Anthology-Connor-Bixby-ebook/dp/B078XPDQDM

 

“Room 602” by Pat Woods, a Taiwanese ghost story inspired by an unusual local superstition about knocking on hotel doors.

“Notes from Underfoot” by Mark Will, a humorous and erudite story that gives a dog’s-eye-view of life in Taipei.

“The Taipei Underground” by Ray Hecht, a glimpse of the lives of two young people in Taipei Main Station’s cavernous underground.

“Bob the Unfriendly Ghost vs. The Mother Planet” by Laurel Bucholz, dealing a sometimes funny, sometimes terrifying experience of local spirits and Ayahuasca.

“Underworld” by J.J Goodwin, an epic odyssey through a strange world beneath Taipei where local and foreign mythology is alive and kicking.

“A Completely Normal Male Expat” by Connor Bixby, which, in the author’s own brand of neurotic fiction, checks out communication and the dating game in Taipei.

“Onus” by Ellyna Ford Phelps, a story of friendship, dark pasts, and goodbyes as two expats share an all-too-brief connection.

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Taiwan Tales: The Taipei Underground

Excerpt from the short story collection Taiwan Tales Volume Two, now available on Amazon:

 

The Taipei Underground
by Ray Hecht

 

Jerry Lee, also known as Li Shi-huang or merely Xiao Shi to his friends, stared across the cash register station to gaze longingly at the cute girl at the shop across the hallway. She had short hair, glasses, a well-fitting T-shirt. As she carefully stocked a shelf, for a split-second their lines of sight crossed over.

Suddenly, Jerry turned away and looked at a passerby eating a sausage, all the while exaggerating the movement of his neck as he pretended that was what he was looking at all along. He immediately regretted the embarrassing instinct, but it was too late and he had no choice but to go along with the ruse.

He continued to gaze rightward, pushing himself to ignore the girl from across the hall, and found himself making a 180-degree U-turn. The motion was interrupted by a shout from his cousin, whom he usually semi-affectionately referred to as Cousin Lee.

“Jerry! Come here.”

He walked to the back of their shop, squeezing between narrow passageways of obsolete computer equipment. The gray plastic was full of dust and wonder, hiding away computer chips decades old. All of it was close to his heart, and he never tired of working in such a magical place.

“Check this out,” Cousin Lee said as he plugged a replica of a 1981 console into a 40-inch widescreen HD monitor. He was tall and gangly, taller and ganglier than even Jerry, but spoke with an obnoxious confidence. Within the confines of these walls, he was in his element. “Pretty cool, right?”

A tune began to ring through the halls, a somehow familiar but simplified melody of an animated television theme song adapted and skewered through the primitive digital ringer of 8-bit glory.

The sounds brought everyone comfort, reminding them of a time before time, that pre-millennial age that was somehow part of their ancestral genetic memory or collective unconscious.

Jerry couldn’t help but bob his head.

The menu screen was in Japanese, a language Jerry knew only vaguely, but he grabbed the controller and played along through sheer muscle memory. Before he knew it, the little trademarked sprite had hopped and bopped its way through three whole levels.

“He’s good, isn’t he?” Cousin Lee said to a browsing customer.

Jerry, in the zone, felt distracted and content.

After a quick win, he returned to the register and stole more glances. He couldn’t help wondering about the girl. With no information about her other than that she was new at the workplace, his imagination had many gaps to fill. She’d been there about a month. What had she done before? Where was she from? The boss, was he her father? Uncle?

Why was she here?

The shop across the aisle was a different kind than that of the second-hand computer game variety. It was altogether low tech, specializing in cute toys of plastic and plush. It was located between one model robot dispensary and a knockoff handbag boutique, alongside a deep chasm of specialty stores that stretched infinitely in both directions underneath the streets of the city. Not unlike cave grottos at certain Biblical archeological sites, each one carved its own unique religious iconography onto the walls of the contemporary cultural landscape.

Several hours later, Jerry was ordered to close up shop. He counted the cash, put aside receipts, and jotted down inventory.

“Make sure you go to the bank in the morning,” his cousin said and then zipped up the cash bag tight.

“I know.”

“Good.” As they lowered the railing to lock up the family business, both saw the shop across the aisle doing the same.

“I hate that shop,” Cousin Lee said, spitting fire and saliva. “Ever since they opened, they do all they can to steal our customers. Those video game toys, all the same characters I advertise. I spend the marketing money, and they try to reap the benefits.”

“Yeah,” Jerry muttered.

“Do they think I’m stupid? What a shame. Nobody wants to buy the originals anymore; people just steal everything online and then only buy some cheap dolls.”

“It is a shame,” Jerry added in a weak attempt at consolation.

“I know those people just make the toys themselves. I can see them sewing in the back. That’s theft of intellectual property! I ought to report them.”

“But don’t we sell emulator rigs?” Jerry asked, giving the matter some thought. “Like, the software is all downloaded online for free. And then we sell it. Isn’t that basically the same thing?”

“It’s not the same!”

Jerry offered no retort. He simply watched his cousin go in one direction and the girl go in another. If only he could ditch him and find a way to talk to her alone. He sighed slowly as he followed behind, and resigned himself to his fate.

Xiao Shi,” Cousin Lee said with an air of closure, “I will see you tomorrow. I think I ate something rotten, so I’m going to go to the bathroom in the mall. Don’t wait up.” It was a reasonable request, considering the caliber of restaurants available for dinners in the tunnel.

“Oh. Okay.”

His cousin turned a corner with a slight moan, and disappeared.

With a nervous trot, Jerry made his way to the subway station.

It was a day like any other. He planned to scan his card and wait at the platform of the subway train in order to transfer once over the course of ten stations so that he could arrive at his small apartment in the outer district, and then at last go to sleep and do it all over again tomorrow.

This day, however, was slightly different. A minute before the train was due to arrive, he noticed she happened to be waiting two cars down. All alone, tapping away at her mobile phone. Heart thumping at a reckless pace, he cautiously approached her.

“Um, hello.”

She half-looked up. “Hello?”

“I work across the hall from you.”

“You do?” She tore her eyes away from the phone stuffed it in her purse, and inspected him closely. A flash of recognition abruptly lit up her eyes. “Oh, it’s you. I’ve seen you around. What’s your name?”

Li Shi-huang. Or, you can call me Jerry.”

“Everyone calls me Sha Sha,” she said. “So, uh, how do you like working in the tunnel?”

“It’s pretty good, I guess. Usually there are a lot of people window-shopping and not enough sales.”

“I know exactly what you mean.”

“Yeah.” A pause. “Where are you going now?” he asked.

“Home,” she answered, with a bluntness that he regretted hearing.

He didn’t know what to say next. “I hope you have a good night.”

“You too. I’ll see you next time.”

He smiled and was about to turn away, even finding himself on the cusp of formulating an apology for bothering her. But before he could react she interrupted his transition with a: “Hey, do you want to hang out some time?”

“That would be cool,” he blurted out.

“Let me see your phone,” she said.

They each procured their mobile devices, turned to the appropriate application, and she scanned his personalized digital code.

Silently, they both smiled and entered separate trains and waved goodbye.

Nice to meet you, he later texted in bed, along with an accompanying image of a smiling bunny rabbit.

She replied with a blobby wink.

The next day there was much back-and-forth. Instead of glances from across the chasm, the two pairs of eyes stooped downwards as the gravity of a glass screen pulled them all in to a small private world of written letters and animated pets.

I loved this character as a kid, she said, after a link to a humorous GIF of a cartoon pocket-sized monster in fierce battle.

This is my favorite one, he said as they simultaneously livestreamed a showing of a popular action-adventure strategic game.

Look at that!

I love it!!

Awesome!!!

We shall have to get together soon to eat some delicious food and listen to music

I like strawberry ice cream, but no hamburgers.

Slowly through intermittent conversations they learned more about each other. Dreams, passions, personal histories, dietary restrictions, and various other preferences and peeves.

She learned that he was new to the city after moving the previous year, and he still spent many weekends exploring tourist spots. He learned that she was a part-time student, full of visions of design and creativity and financial independence.

They made plans to meet at a night market—one that he had never been to but had researched and assured her was vegetarian-friendly.

Not to mention, he wrote, the further away the better.

No one said it aloud, nor typed it up, but they both felt relief that there was slim chance of bumping into any family members or mutual acquaintances.

I cant wait to be there with you. Only you.

In person, they ignored each other. Work was one world, and there they had their own separate reality. There was no need to actually speak.

It didn’t need to be spelled out.

The families wouldn’t approve.

They met in secret two weekends in a row, waiting in line at crowded food stalls shrouded in moonlight and then watching movies in dark rooms lit up by vast screens. Never in daylight, never with risk of discovery. In person they kept their words at a minimum, in contrast to the essays written by thumb.

Eventually, the power of skin touching against skin proved to be the most powerful—yet most dangerous—communication of all.

On the third date, Jerry and Sha Sha decided to risk everything by staying at a small love hotel a mere six metro stations away. It was for the most part a natural progression.

In bed, after said communication had completed, Jerry held her in his arms and felt compelled to take a dare by suggesting the logical next step. “You should come to my apartment next time. I’ll cook you some dumplings. It will be great.”

“At your home?”

“I do have to warn you that it’s a bit far, and it’s small,” he joked. “And it’s messy. But I promise I’ll clean up.”

“Well, it sounds nice, that is, but you know I live with my father, and he’s very strict.”

“Just say you’ll be visiting a friend. Or not. Come on, Sha Sha, you are old enough to do whatever you want to do.”

“Don’t pressure me. I mean, I wish I could, but just don’t think I can’t stay the night like that.”

“But, I got a new console and we could play—”

“I can’t!”

“Fine,” Jerry conceded, hopes dashed. “I understand.”

“This is happening too fast. I’m very busy with the afternoon classes and work and I barely have enough time to spend with you already,” she said, her voice shaking and quick.

“I get it. Fine then.”

“To tell you the truth…” she went on, “I don’t even know if this arrangement is really working out for me. I simply don’t know.”

“I said I understand!” Jerry shouted, surprised at his own anger.

She rolled over in the bed, turning away from him, and shut her eyes.

He said nothing.

Soon after, they got dressed and left for home.

The next day, Cousin Lee suggested that Jerry should accompany him on one of his bimonthly trips abroad. He needed new inventory. Jerry agreed.

As a last ditch effort, he later reached out to Sha Sha to see if she wanted to see him again before leaving.

Just go, she wrote, in simple and unadorned prose.

OK, he jotted.

His heart lost, he clicked send.

There was no reply.

****

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Taiwan Tales Volume Two – short story anthology

 

https://www.amazon.com/Taiwan-Tales-Anthology-Connor-Bixby-ebook/dp/B078XPDQDM

 

Since coming to Taiwan, I have become a part of the Taipei Writers’ Group and I am now honored to be a part of their new anthology sequel Taiwan Tales Volume Two. My short story “The Taipei Underground” is included among many other works by excellent and talented writers whom I’ve been humbled to share writings with.

Please give it a read, via the Kindle or even order a hard copy. In fact, as always I’m happy to share an complimentary advance edition for reviewers! Also, stay tuned for updates including free promotions and other events coming up soon…

The book will also be on sale at the Taipei International Book Exhibition from February 6th to 11th, featuring yours truly. Do come say hi to me if in the area 🙂

 

Brief synopses of the short stories herein:

“Room 602” by Pat Woods, a Taiwanese ghost story inspired by an unusual local superstition about knocking on hotel doors.

“Notes from Underfoot” by Mark Will, a humorous and erudite story that gives a dog’s-eye-view of life in Taipei.

“The Taipei Underground” by Ray Hecht, a glimpse of the lives of two young people in Taipei Main Station’s cavernous underground.

“Bob the Unfriendly Ghost vs. The Mother Planet” by Laurel Bucholz, dealing a sometimes funny, sometimes terrifying experience of local spirits and Ayahuasca.

“Underworld” by J.J Goodwin, an epic odyssey through a strange world beneath Taipei where local and foreign mythology is alive and kicking.

“A Completely Normal Male Expat” by Connor Bixby, which, in the author’s own brand of neurotic fiction, checks out communication and the dating game in Taipei.

“Onus” by Ellyna Ford Phelps, a story of friendship, dark pasts, and goodbyes as two expats share an all-too-brief connection.

The collection was edited by Pat Woods and L.L. Phelps, and the gorgeous cover image was provided by TWG member Brian Q. Webb.

Tome Tender Book Blog: Saturnine In Her Head, Out of Time & THIS MODERN LOVE

http://tometender.blogspot.hk/2017/07/saturnine-in-her-head-out-of-time-by.html

Saturnine, In Her Head, Out of Time
by Ray Hecht
My rating: 4 stars
 
Publication Date: May 24, 2017
Publisher: Ray Hecht
Genre: Time Travel | Sci fi
Print Length: 32 pages
Available from: Amazon
 
  Saturnine, In Her Head, Out of Time by Ray Hecht

Saturnine, In Her Head, Out of Time  Do-overs in life; wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go back and re-live a moment in time you would like to either change or find closure for? Saturnine has that chance, thanks to a tech company that claims to take a person back in time to re-live any moment they want, but they do not guarantee you can change the events set in motion, after all, the past is in the past, it is written on the timeline of life, or can it be erased? Saturnine did indeed go back to re-live the night she her boyfriend walked out of her life for good. Many times, but could she find the answers she was looking for?

SATURNINE, IN HER HEAD, OUT OF TIME by Ray Hecht may be a short tale, but it packs a punch for young woman living with regrets from the past and the boy she let get away. Mr. Hecht has created a complete and intriguing tale with just a few well- placed words. Entertaining, thought-provoking and fun, I was left wondering what one thing in my life I would like a do-over on until I realized that, nope, I’m good and probably better off not going through my personal Ground Hog Day adventure!

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Free eBook short story: Saturnine, In Her Head, Out of Time

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071P94QQ5

 

For this week only, my short story Saturnine, In Her Head, Out of Time is free for the your Kindle or smartphone Kindle app! 

A tragic love story about time travel and how weird we feel when relationships end, the story is sure to fascinate the brain and ache the heart…

At 7,000 words, what do you have to lose for a quick read?

 

 

Synopsis:

Saturnine has regrets.

Sometimes, she wishes she could go back and do things differently. Don’t we all?

She just found out that she can.

Thanks to the good people at Kronostastic Inner Journeys, Saturnine is about to “rexperience” the unresolved circumstances of her last relationship. Hopefully, as she regresses into the past within her own chronological perception, she’ll be able to figure out what went wrong and finally get over it.

However, time paradoxes and probability theory can really get in the way of closure.

Whether in the past, present, or future, life never does turn out as planned…

Saturnine, In Her Head, Out of Time: a science fiction tragic love story

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071P94QQ5

 

Readers,

I am pleased to announced the publication of a new short story entitled Saturnine, In Her Head, Out of TimeIt is a science fiction tragic love story, about the power and futility of memories. Also, I am just fascinated by the concept of the brain’s perception of time and so I decided to explore some concepts.

Read for the Kindle, only .99 USD (and the smartphone app is free if you don’t already have it). And if anyone would like to review, please email me at rayhecht@gmail.com and I’d be happy to share.

Please let me know what you think!

 

 

Synopsis:

Saturnine has regrets.

Sometimes, she wishes she could go back and do things differently. Don’t we all?

She just found out that she can.

Thanks to the good people at Kronostastic Inner Journeys, Saturnine is about to “rexperience” the unresolved circumstances of her last relationship. Hopefully, as she regresses into the past within her own chronological perception, she’ll be able to figure out what went wrong and finally get over it.

However, time paradoxes and probability theory can really get in the way of closure.

Whether in the past, present, or future, life never does turn out as planned…

Beta read, anyone?

Hello friends,

Would you like a preview of my latest short story? It’s a science fiction tragedy, a love story, with time travel, about how we are all helpless to the unfair whims of destiny… and also includes some of my theories on how the human brain might be able to one day perceive time.

Intrigued?

Please email me at rayhecht@gmail.com for a complimentary Word file. In return, I only ask for a fresh set of eyes to catch typos, suggest rewrites, and perhaps let me know what should be expanded and/or cut. Or, just tell me what you generally think of the story and that would be most appreciated!

In return, I’d be happy to help edit anything you may in turn be working on.

Keep on writing and reading~

 

Cheers,

Ray

 

 

 

#Free #eBooks by Ray Hecht

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With my new novel South China Morning Blues coming out thanks to the good people at Blacksmith Books, I’d like to celebrate by freely sharing all my previous eBooks for this week only!

Remember, the Amazon Kindle app is free as well. Please don’t forget to write a review.

Go to http://amazon.com/author/rayhecht and check out the following:

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http://www.amazon.com/411-Ray-Hecht-ebook/dp/B00EUBZRL2

411 is a horrifying short story loosely based on my time as an operator in the early 2000s. Intended to disturb, the tale concerns a deranged disgruntled employee utilizing technology to enact revenge upon the world. Read if you dare.

51SS1oQD8uL._UY250_

http://www.amazon.com/Loser-Parade-Ray-Hecht-ebook/dp/B00ETYSS5W

Loser Parade is my first novel, written in my mid-20s, which juxtaposes Los Angeles culture against my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. Although dated, I hope that the story does well express the themes of lost love. Loser Fenton Ota comes home a failure, and decides to write and produce a play in order to impress a girl. Inevitably, a romance ensues and the relationship is entirely based on lies. Things take a turn for the strange when his play-within-a-play starts to get to his head…

41SQi-6Z5nL._UY250_

http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Lotus-Mountain-Brothel-ebook/dp/B00JJUXZFE

The Ghost of Lotus Mountain Brothel serves as sort of a prelude to the contemporary China novel. Set in Canton in the year 1911, the setting oddly reflects the present era of foreigner exploitation and political uncertainty. This historical novella presents the story of a lowly girl in times of great change. Revolution may be just around the corner, but she’s only trying to survive.

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http://www.amazon.com/Pearl-River-Drama-Dating-Memoir-ebook/dp/B00RQQIA26

Pearl River Drama is by far my most popular eBook, and perhaps with good reason. My expat memoir is, of course, focuses on dating. Through it all, I hope my heart made it through these experiences intact. “Sex, drugs, and Mandarin lessons” indeed.

Free eShort Story: 411

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More free eBooks, do enjoy. This promotion will be lasting for several days further.

If you get anything out of this short story, tell your friends and share! And please feel free to post a review if so inclined… (As always, the Kindle app is free)

 

411 being an old horror tale I wrote years back, loosely based off of my time as a 411 operator. Does it disturb at all?

 

http://www.amazon.com/411-Ray-Hecht-ebook/dp/B00EUBZRL2

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Book Review: The Exact Unknown

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Isham Cook is quite the blogger. The mysterious Beijing-based writer has completed a new book of blogs reformatted as literary short tales entitled “The Exact Unknown and Other Tales of Modern China,” a follow-up to 2012’s novel “Lust & Philosophy.” Full of grotesque universal truths, strange depictions of Eastern modernity, and the proverbial expats caught in the middle, the book can be flawed in sections but is always a compelling read.

In the introduction Cook explains to readers that he doesn’t want to write about the exotic, tragic China so popularized by fifth generation art films of the 80s and 90s. But rather, as the title states, it’s about modern China. He also clarifies why he uses the term ‘tale’ instead of short story, in order to have a broader outlook covering all aspects of writing from the semi-autobiographical to straight fiction.

The book is erotic, funny, and sometimes profound. Sexuality is a central theme, but doesn’t always take itself too seriously. Even the most philosophical elements are never dry or academic, but with just the right amount of absurdity to entertain as well as enlighten.

“The Persistent” is first, jumping us right into the subject of dating in China. The tale concerns an obsessive woman who won’t go away, and the narrator describes more than a few of his own experiences with Chinese women. The stalkers, the 30-somethings, the virgins. The line “foreign men in this country do tend to attract the psychos of the female population” sums up well what much of these tales are about.  As does a subsequent sentence, issuing no judgments: “This is not necessarily a bad thing.” That’s a bit of the point, wild things happen in China and that’s the reason to be there.

The namesake “The Exact Unknown” concerns seduction via vodka massage, the Surveillance State, a plot about blackmailing over a video which may or may not exist, and in a literally-anticlimactic ending it concludes with no sex. It could almost enter the realm of Philip K. Dick over the speculations upon reality, but ends too prematurely for that kind of depth.

“iProstitution” is one of the funniest pieces, ostensibly about the selling of one’s body for Apple products but really more about sexual frustration in general. “A Little Accident” is refreshingly not about foreigners at all, an original short story just concerning Chinese characters. Again portraying reality as ambiguous, it concerns an elderly man who may or may not be cheating a young woman (and/or doctors cheating her) and the subject of Chinese Medicine which may or may not work at all.

“Good Teacher, Bad Teacher” takes the oft-used campus setting as far as it can go, with an intense Western teacher expounding upon philosophy and culminates in mysterious naked yoga massage advanced courses. There is the unresolved mystery of “Paradox,” whereas an interesting premise is set up with mysterious nude pictures of students emerging yet in the end there is never is a true explanation, no resolution.

“The Curious Benefits of Neurosis” is about various massages, some of which get quite graphic. And hilarious at the same time! The first-person narratives are often the strongest, and (so one assumes) the closest to autobiography.

Some tales like not much of narratives at all. “The Mean and the Angry” is not so much a story as a description of various Beijing subway archetypes. At times it seems as insider knowledge of Beijing is required, and if a reader is not familiar with greater Middle Kingdom tropes then the whole thing may be hard to follow. Still, the audience is sure to mostly consist of expats.

“Let the Sunshine In” is among the best, a truly engaging work of drug literature about a naïve Chinese student’s first LSD experience. Very vivid descriptions of a bathroom setting, which tends to be a terrifying and confusing place when having a bad psychedelic trip. Not to mention the chronological distortions at play.

Two tales are written in play script formats are used, with “The Hickey” and the penultimate “Reset.” They read well as prose in of themselves. It’s hard to expect that anyone will ever act out the plays in real life, with the copious nudity and sex scenes and all; but it’s nice to imagine. “Reset” is the longest piece in the book, about sentient robotic sex toys. The tale is extremely philosophical, hard science fiction, and well-written social commentary/speculation on the future of China and all humanity’s sexual relationships.

The final story, “Injaculation” is written in the second person and mixes Taoist sexuality with hard scientific biological-psychedelic principles. There is a diverse range of writing styles, but same themes keep coming up…

The author clearly has a vivid imagination, and is talented at the craft of writing. Still, whether semi-autobiographical or not, it would be nice to not lean so often on the cliché of expat teacher in China. There are expats doing other things, and maybe more Chinese protagonists would be nice. While the setting is something that Cook is truly an expert on, and he really writes about it compellingly, it can get repetitive. Let’s hope Cook’s next book takes up more original territory. I for one am extremely anxious to read more.

Isham Cook’s blog can be seen at Ishamcook.com and the Exact Unknown is available on Amazon.com.