OcTOBLERfest: Giveaway 4 – Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction



Welcome to my fourth OcTOBLERfest giveaway! This week we’re once again changing things up. Last week, I gave away TWO of E. Catherine Tobler’s books. This week, I’m switching to the short fiction game and giving away an ebook copy of Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction.


Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction

There are fantastical stories with actual transgender characters, some for whom that is central and others for whom that isn’t. And there are stories without transgender characters, but with metaphors and symbolism in their place, genuine expressions of self through such speculative fiction tropes as shapeshifting and programming. Transgender individuals see themselves in transformative characters, those outsiders, before seeing themselves as human protagonists. Those feelings are still valid. Cisgender people can never quite understand this distancing. But though the stories involve transformation and outsiders, sometimes the change is one of self-realization. This anthology will be a welcome read for those who are ready to transcend gender through the lens of science fiction, fantasy, and other works of imaginative fiction.

Table of Contents:
“The Shape of My Name” by Nino Cipri
“into the waters I rode down” by Jack Hollis Marr
“Everything Beneath You” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
“Contents of Care Package to Etsath-tachri, Formerly Ryan Andrew Curran    (Human English Translated to Sedrayin) by Holly Heisey
“The Petals Abide” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
“Treasure Acre” by Everett Maroon
“Splitskin” by E. Catherine Tobler
“The Need for Overwhelming Sensation” by Bogi Takács
“The Scaper’s Muse” by B.R. Sanders
“The Librarian’s Dilemma” by E. Saxey
“Chosen” by Margarita Tenser
“Where Monsters Dance” by A. Merc Rustad
“Be Not Unequally Yolked” by Alexis A. Hunter
“The Thing on the Cheerleading Squad” by Molly Tanzer
“Kin, Painted” by Penny Stirling

As you can see, Elise has a (perfectly fantastic) story in this collection. As does yours truly! And A. Merc Rustad! That entire TOC makes my head swim.

So if you’d like to get your hands on this beautiful collection of stories, edited by K.M. Szpara, simply comment on this post! As always, you get an extra entry if you share this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook (just be sure to tag me–@alexisahunter–or let me know in the comments that you did so; I have to see the post in order to get you that extra entry!).

That’s all for today. Remember you only have until Monday, Oct. 24th at 6PM (EST) to enter.

Happy Octoblerfest to ye!


(P.S: Huge thanks to the ever-talented Tobler for that freaking awesome banner!)

OcTOBLERfest: Guest Post – Sophie Wereley



Today we have a special guest post, in addition to the start of the Week 4 Giveaway (which opens up later today). Without further rambling, I give you a rather fascinating note from Sophie Wereley (and…friends?).

Hello, good people of the internet!

I sat down to write my entry for Octoblerfest, expecting to spend some time chatting about how Elise is an incredibly talented writer, caring friend, and supportive and discerning editor. I had this whole thing planned out, okay, and then last night someone knocked on my bedroom window.

I chalked this up to the fact that I was probably about to be home-invaded and robbed. But after I spent several minutes cowering inside my bedroom closet, I still hadn’t been robbed, so I crept out, peeled the curtains away from the glass, and looked outside. No one was there, but someone – or something – had left a package on the windowsill.

When I opened it, I found a packet made of freshly cut leaves. There was writing across the leaves. It took several tries for me to get used to the hand(?)writing, but once I had read a few pages, I realized that I was holding an extraordinary tome, because the language was all in Ancient High Badger.

Ancient High Badger is rarely used these days. Although all badgers learn it in their youth, it is only ever spoken on noteworthy occasions. There is no known written Ancient High Badger. The orthography is all based on English, for reasons that will become clear shortly, but it was easy enough to realize what I was reading thanks to a series of the highly ceremonial phrases in the first paragraph. I had to share this with you, and I know you’ll see why.

To make it easier for you all to read, I’ve transcribed it here, making some minor orthographic adjustments.


Dear Human,

We are not human. We are badgers. Many moontimes ago, we lived in sad and small homes with no stories. But Human Elise came and showed us words, sentences, and longer bits of writing. This story of Human Elise and the Words-Heart-Pouch* is passed from den to den, under^ winter and more winter, until right now.**

Translator’s Notes:

*This is a combination of the construction of “heart-pouch” in Ancient High Badger, which is literally translated as, “The burrow on the inside in which to keep love and dreams”, and an infix of what appears to be a vestigial form of the Middle Badger term “verbugrub”, which means “tasty idea.”

^Badgers spend winter underground in hibernation, so they generally conceive of it as a physical place to avoid (and/or get under) rather than as the passage of time.

**This phraseology, starting with “passed from den to den…” through “until right now” is the traditional Ancient High Badger marker of an Epic Tail.)

Human Elise and the Words-Heart-Pouch

Long before badgers had words, there were grubs to eat, streams to drink, flowers to flomp on, and slush to sniff. We did not know that the slush was full of words. We only knew that writers of Good and True spirit would leave the scent of Trying Very Hard and Reading the Guidelines on the pages of their stories.

Still the badgers were sad, because our wondrous noses could detect that something else was on the pages of slush. The stories were there, held from us because we had no way of knowing words.

Then came Human Elise with the Words-Heart-Pouch.

Human Elise was taller than a badger, but not as tall as a tree, because humans are not as tall as a tree.

Human Elise was broader than a badger, but not as broad as a river, because humans are not as broad as a river.

Human Elise was stronger than a badger, but not as strong as twenty really angry badgers, because humans are not as strong as twenty really angry badgers.^^

But Human Elise was good and kind, and had the scent of Trying Very Very Hard and Reading ALL the Guidelines upon her, and she sometimes had cookies too, which were pretty good even if they weren’t grubs.

Human Elise walked across the field of slush with strides of glory, already a champion of words, returned to the land of Shimmer from conquests abroad. As she walked, she saw in the field, sniffing with his button nose, a distraught badger child. In her wisdom and kindness, Human Elise stopped alongside him, and addressed him in the old way.

“Dear badger, I boop my nose at ye,” said Human Elise. “Wherefore do you stand, paws turned in, tail down?”

“Dear Human Elise, I boop my nose at ye,” said the badger. “Alas, I stand, paws turned in, tail down, because I cannot read the words on the slush. And though I know this piece of slush is Good and True, for the scent of Trying Very Hard and Reading the Guidelines is alighted upon it, I will never know the musk of it, the underbellytruth of the thing, the secrets of its one itchy spot where the paws cannot reach.”

Human Elise saw the creature’s sadness and pulled from her pack-of-the-back a red pouch tied up in golden thread. And from the red pouch she pulled a long, raven pen and a small vial of ink.

“Dear badger, I will write on your spirit the knowledge of words, and then will you and all your denfolk know the words on the slush, and see more than the scent of Trying Very Hard and Reading the Guidelines***. You will see each story, and know the musk of it, the underbellytruth of the thing, and the secrets of its one itchy spot where the paws cannot reach. But know that for each story that is strong of the scent of Trying Very Hard and Reading the Guidelines, there is another that is not so strong. And know that words can be used for Good and True purposes, but also for Nefarious and Pretty Douchey^^^ ones.”

Human Elise said all this, and then offered the badger a choice: “If you would do this, and have the words written upon your spirit, then you would know all the good words, and the bad ones, too. Would you have this?”

And the badger said, “I’m not sure that’s how literacy works, Human Elise.”

Human Elise laughed like the wind in newly-awakened spring leaves, gazed fondly at the child, and replied, “But I am a Theodore Sturgeon Award Finalist.”

And did the badger’s eyes grow large, for now he understood that the bargain could be made true. He ran to his denfolk and told them of Human Elise and her offer.

The badgers thought and sniffed and ran in little circles, and they saw that her bargain was good.

The badger child went back to the slush fields and stood before Human Elise.

“Human Elise, we thank you for your offer. We would like to know words for all of their secret itchy spots, even the ones that are Pretty Douchey, if this means we may also know stories.”

Human Elise uncapped her raven pen, and with three mighty strokes, she wrote the knowledge of words upon the spirit of the badger, and too on all his denfolk.

Then did the badger look upon the fields of slush and understand: there were thousands of tales, each containing an entire universe.

It was true what Human Elise had said. Soon after she gave the badgers the understanding of words, they came to see that not all words were Good and True. But it was never too high a price, to stumble across some that were Nefarious and Pretty Douchey, because now the badgers had the strength of a spirit full of words, and a heart-pouch full of stories.


Translator’s Notes (cont):

^^I’m honestly not sure how they decided on this unit of measurement?

***For some reason this legend is very invested in Reading the Guidelines.

^^^The phrase “pretty douchey” in Ancient High Badger can be traced to the time shortly after the Floofy Ear Nation chose as its First Paw the retired general Puty Doozh, a badger who quickly made a name for himself by hoarding grubs, tripping people as they walked down steep pathways, and peeing on everyone’s shoes.


Sophie Wereley is a writer living on the outskirts of Washington, DC. She has a soft spot for feral cats and a great admiration for guerrilla gardeners. Her fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction and Intergalactic Medicine Show. You can find her all over the web, including on Twitter (@sayitwhirly) and her blog.









OcTOBLERfest: Aidan Doyle Reviews The Indigo Mantis



I’m happy to have a guest reviewer on my blog once again as today Aidan Doyle stops by to review E. Catherine Tobler’s “The Indigo Mantis” as part of our continuing OcTOBLERfest celebrations. As always, I definitely recommend reading the work in question before proceeding to the review. Before we hop in, here’s a bit about Aidan.


Aidan Doyle is an Australian writer and computer programmer. His short stories have been published in places such as Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, and Fireside. He is an Associate Editor at PodCastle and has been shortlisted for the Aurealis and XYZZY awards. He has visited more than 100 countries and his experiences include teaching English in Japan, interviewing ninjas in Bolivia and going ten-pin bowling in North Korea.

You can learn more about Aidan at his website or by following him on Twitter (@aidan_doyle)!


I’ve read many of E. Catherine Tobler’s books and stories, but The Indigo Mantis is probably my favorite. It’s a short story released by The Book Smugglers as part of their superhero lineup and features a crime-fighting praying mantis looking to avenge her father’s murder. The story has a Chandleresque noir style mixed with more modern gender politics. The Book Smugglers’ introduction for the story is:
“Since witnessing her father’s murder, revenge has been on Indi’s mind. A mantid with a vendetta, Indi has searched her tree high and low for the murderer. In the hunt for her father’s killer, Indi has unleashed her own brand of justice as the notorious Indigo Mantis – a vigilante blue-winged mantid, killing lawbreakers with impunity. When Indi follows the first solid lead in her father’s case, however, she uncovers a frightening, terrible possibility. Indi must confront the harsh truth about her own dark nature, and choose what kind of hero–or villain–she wishes to become.”
In true noir tradition, The Indigo Mantis gracefully straddles the line between darkness and humor:
“The beetles were small and she could have eaten all six in two bites, but she stayed clear. Technically, they hadn’t done anything wrong; she supposed beetles liked a night out as much as any bug. But they were a threat, and she would be damned before this grand old pine fell to their machinations.”
The writing is wonderfully strong throughout and Tobler is gifted with the ability to quickly make you identify with her characters. Indi is an engaging protagonist who moves beyond the stereotype of a brooding superhero. A surface reading of The Indigo Mantis provides an entertaining superhero mystery in a distinctive setting, but the story also contains thought-provoking questions about the nature of family relationships and genetic determinism. You should go read it now!
The Indigo Mantis is available for free on The Book Smugglers website or can be downloaded in ebook format from their site or via Amazon.

Many, many thanks to Aidan for stopping by with that excellent review. I somehow missed out on reading this one–so I’m off to go take care of that now. I hope you’ll do the same.
Stay tuned this Friday for more exciting Octoblerfest content and the start of another giveaway!
Happy Octoblerfest!



OcTOBLERfest: Giveaway #3 Winner!



Week three of Octoblerfest draws to a close. I can’t believe how quickly this month is passing!

This week I’m giving away ebook copies of TWO Tobler books. The Glass Falcon & The Honey Mummy are books two and three in the Folley & Mallory series. And the winner of this week’s giveaway is….


Congrats, Barbara! I’ll be in contact shortly to get your information and send along your prizes!

In the meantime, stay tuned next week for a review from Aidan Doyle! And I’ve got another giveaway opening up for entries this Friday so there’s still more chances to win!

Until then, Happy OcTOBLERfest, y’all! ^_^




OcTOBLERfest: Giveaway 3 – The Glass Falcon & The Honey Mummy



Are you ready for another giveaway? Another grand adventure in the heart of Paris?

This week is extra special. Cue the fireworks and hype (wait…is that Summer time stuff?).

I’m giving away an ebook copy of E. Catherine Tobler’s The Glass Falcon AND The Honey Mummy. These are books #2 and #3 in Tobler’s Folley & Mallory series. (It’s all better if you read Rings of Anubis first, but I think you shouldn’t be too lost if you start with #2.)

Here’s a bit about the books…


The Glass Falcon

A bungled museum theft.
An ancient Egyptian riddle.
The rumor of strange creatures moving beneath the streets of Paris.

Eleanor Folley knew she was in for a challenge when she accepted the task of cataloging Mistral’s archive of purloined artifacts, but she never expected to discover an Egyptian mystery buried in the heart of Paris.

When Anubis and Horus task her with a quest, she cannot refuse the ancient gods, even if it means venturing into the cathedrals of bones that clutter the catacombs of Paris.



“Full of fun, adventure, lush descriptions, and a dash of romance.” ~A.C. Wise


Through Egyptian deserts and the catacombs the adventures of Folley and Mallory are a must read for any steampunk enthusiast!” ~R. Floyd




The Honey Mummy

A mummy bound in honey.
An auction of archaic wonders.
An immortal link to the past.

Beneath the streets of Alexandria, Agent Cleo Barclay stumbled into a catacomb that changed her life. Her arms were taken, transfigured, and something remarkable was revealed — something that will stir an ancient life from the ashes of history.

A serpentine sarcophagus holds clues to Cleo’s past and future. She enlists Eleanor Folley and Virgil Mallory to collect the artifact at auction, to unravel its mysteries and her own. When the sarcophagus falls into the hands of an enigmatic Egyptologist, they find themselves participants in his diabolical pursuits.

Drawn to Alexandria by their friend — and the temptations of a newly discovered ring (oh Eleanor!) — Folley and Mallory will be challenged as never before.



Engaging characters, unusual arcane twists, fascinating lore and connections to history, this series has it all, and this installment has it in spades.” ~Beth Loubet


“Miss Fisher meets Indiania Jones.” ~D.E.S. Richard

Simply comment below to enter this giveaway–you can just say hey, mention your favorite Tobler story, favorite coffee brand (I’m on the hunt!), etc. And if you share this giveaway post on Twitter or Facebook, let me know in your comment (or tag me when you do) and I’ll throw your name into the hat an extra time. As before, you have until Monday (Oct. 17th) at 6PM EST to enter.

What are you waiting for? Adventure awaits!

Happy Octoblerfest!


New Publications in Pulp Literature & Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction




We interrupt your regularly scheduled OcTOBLERfest content for a brief announcement: I’ve had two stories published recently and hadn’t yet had a chance to put them up here.

First, my Shimmer story–“Be Not Unequally Yoked”–was reprinted in Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction, edited by K.M. Szpara. If you take a look at the names on that cover, you’ll understand why I’m BEYOND thrilled to be a part of this collection. A. Merc Rustad, E. Catherine Tobler, Bogi Takács, the list goes on and on. I absolutely can’t wait to devour the other stories in this collection. It’s already had some excellent reviews, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Be sure to grab yourself a copy either on Amazon or directly from Lethe Press themselves.

“…Szpara stitches together a collection that feels like a cozy blanket for trans readers who long for inclusive fiction (and for cis readers who may well wonder why there’s so much gender-essentialism in everyday SF/F)…This is a timely (which is to say long overdue), wide-ranging, and highly enjoyable collection.” – Publishers Weeklystarred review


Second, I have an original story–“Nightshade & Datura”–published in Pulp Literature this month. A robot landscaper and a juvenile delinquent star in this (hopefully) sweet story. This piece was inspired by an old robotics article I read awhile back that mentioned possible safety precautions for robots including programming them to avoid humans (so as not to trample them, etc). That sounded awfully lonely to me, and thus this story was born. Working with the editors over at Pulp Literature was super great; they provided lots of excellent suggestions and notes for tightening the story up and it’s all the better for it. You can pick up a copy from their website, here.

That’s all for now! I’ll now return you to the continuing OcTOBLERfest celebrations.





OcTOBLERfest: A Review of “.identity”



Welcome back for another #OcTOBLERfest post! Today, I’m doing a review of one of E. Catherine Tobler’s many fantastic short stories. Elise has had multiple stories published in such excellent magazines as Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and more.

This particular story I’m gonna talk about today–“.identity”–was published in Clarkesworld Magazine‘s June 2016 issue. I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but I definitely recommend reading the tale in question before proceeding!

Venningen, bathed in the faint crimson light pouring from the overhead, crouched before me, his hands wrist deep in my torso. Venningen had isolated my torso from the rest of my body, to further segregate the virus, and I could not feel his hands at work. It was only when he sank my torso into place and brought systems back online that I could feel his fingers on my core. I traced every whorled fingerprint in waking light to confirm his identity.

Gorgeous lines. Gorgeous. That’s something I’ve come to expect from Tobler and she doesn’t fail to deliver here. But Elise’s work has always been just as much about substance as it is about style. That is, it’s not just purple prose. These lines mean something. They say important things in gripping, beautiful, tactile ways. It’s one of the things I admire most about Elise’s prose.

This story features a protagonist, a narrator, who is an AI. So you probably know now why I picked this one to review, what with my penchant for robots and artificial intelligences.

Elise brings this particular AI to life in wonderful ways. There are things both familiar and human about Daidala, but there are just as many things that are distinct to AI. Specifically: the passage of time.

He watched me for another six seconds. As the time passed, I monitored the harvest of greens in the greenhouse, looked in on the continued upgrades to the dwarf-pod tubes, made an adjustment to the environmentals controlling the reproduction banks,…

Those two lines I italicized so perfectly and deftly communicate the difference in time as it’s felt for a human and it is felt for an AI. Incredibly well done.

The connection between Venningen and Daidala was touching to me, much more so because it was very much shown rather than told. It came through in the little moments and descriptions–the way Daidala knows Venningen’s fingerprints, the sensory details like the following:

He always smelled of oil, his clothes and skin showing signs of the work he did, the work he loved. But this was my oil, and it struck me odd—

I should probably stop quoting patches of the story, but it’s hard not to. There are just so many damned good lines. I won’t talk very much more about the plot, but I hope you’ll take a few minutes out of your day to read the story as it’s very much worth every minute.

Although this story is very much science fiction, it’s got a lot of mystery, a lot of power, and a lot of heart. Stop listening to me ramble and go read it for yourself if you haven’t already.

Stay tuned this Friday for an announcement about my Week 3 giveaway!

Thanks for stopping by and Happy OcTOBLERfest!