Listen to “Bad Vibrations” on the Toasted Cake Podcast


My paranormal comedic short, “Bad Vibrations,” has risen from the dead!

This story was originally published in Alternate Hilarities: One Star Reviews of the Afterlife, an anthology that, sadly, is no longer in print. Thus, “Bad Vibrations” has been floating in the ether for a bit.

I’ve always loved this story. It was one of my first forays into humor. Writing this piece helped me unlock a style and voice I didn’t know I possessed. And it gave me an excuse to be colorful and inappropriate and to let some freak flags fly!

I was so excited when “Bad Vibrations” was picked up for the Toasted Cake podcast. Today, I’m straight up fangirling! Tina Connelly, the creative mind behind the podcast, is a comedic badass! Her timing is impeccable. And the voice she uses for my protagonist? She is Gabby! The recording makes me laugh, which is a joyful experience and such a gift.

If you need a chuckle, which just might evolve into a fully belly laugh, give “Bad Vibrations” a listen HERE.

One final note: As Tina so aptly states in her intro to the story: “There is a content warning on this one for some mild swearing and some totally grown up discussion of sexy sex topics.” (If you’re alone, blast it! In public, headphones, my friends.)

Enjoy! And if you like Tina’s reading, subscribe to the Toasted Cake podcast for weekly idiosyncratic flash fiction goodness!

Skits and Giggles (Or I Signed Up for Improv Classes)


Sometimes, serendipity is more than random happenstance. And from time to time, some serious coincidence inspires you to sign up for improv classes.

A couple weeks ago, I met my friend, Jacob, for drinks at Seven Grand to celebrate his completion of Corepower’s yoga teacher training program. Amidst sips of old fashioneds, we started talking about how we both, as former dancers, miss being onstage. Jacob has found a kind of performance in leading yoga classes, which is scratching the itch for him—and he asked me what I plan to do about my craving for creativity and the stage. Since dance isn’t a viable option for me anymore, I’ve thought about doing more theater, but the time commitment always keeps me at bay.

Jacob asked if I’ve ever thought about doing improv…which got me thinking. Yeah, that could be fun. It’s less of a time commitment than traditional theater, and it would get me back onstage, in a completely new way. I helped to establish and direct an improv troupe in high school, but I never performed with them. I was always behind the scenes.

It was a brilliant idea, but, of course, life and work took over that night, and I completely forgot about it…until Friday, when the suggestion came back full force—twice.

On Friday, I attended Creative Mornings San Diego, a monthly breakfast lecture series for creative folks. The topic du jour was “Game,” and the speaker, Gary Ware, recounted his personal story about getting caught up in a career that left him exhausted and stressed, with very little room (or dedicated time) for play. One of his mentors suggested he…wait for it…take improv classes.

And it was like getting smacked with coincidence. Here it was again, this mention of improv as a constructive, fun, creative outlet. As Gary talked more and more about how improv helped him create space for fun in his life, and how it changed the dynamic of his work life and his relationship with his team, I started thinking, You know, I should really think about signing up for improv classes.

The final sign from the universe? My husband, unprompted, asked me as we were walking back to our cars if I’ve ever considered taking improv classes. Okay, universe, I hear you.

That afternoon, I looked up Finest City Improv and signed up for a seven-week session that starts in June, because clearly, I can’t ignore all these signs pointing toward improv. Here’s to challenging myself with something new, learning to think on my feet, carving out time each week to play, and listening to the universe.

In the meantime, I’ll be watching every episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? I can get my hands on. Let’s hope I can rise to this level someday:

Blog Takeover: Giovanni Valentino

Ebook Cover

On April Fool’s day, Alternate Hilarities V: One Star Reviews of the Afterlife (a collection which includes my flash fiction piece “Bad Vibrations”) hit the interwebs, and the publication’s editor, Giovanni Valentino, was likely chuckling for a couple reasons. One, readers near and far probably wondered if Alternate Hilarities was a “real” short story collection or if they’d click on a link to purchase the book and simply be rickrolled. Two, the sheer relief of being done with a project of this magnitude (I’ve heard it’s hard to make a book!). And three, because the stories in this collection are damn funny!

As you shuffle off this mortal coil, many things will go through your mind. Will you be remembered well? Did you live the best life you could? Did you leave the iron on? And most importantly, did you remember to delete your browser history recently? But the big question that will finally hit you full on, is there something after all of this? And if so, will it suck? If only Yelp! had a category for the afterlife.

Here is a collection of humorous tales of the afterlife that covers the I.T. woes of Heaven, the dangers involved in using out-of-date occult tools, the perils of not saving appropriately for the hereafter, the shock of finding out that not every good deed will get you through the pearly gates and the cold hard fact that paradise just isn’t for everyone.

So go to the light at your own peril.

It could be life everlasting, or it could be an oncoming train.”

Sounds fun, right?

I also decided a blog takeover with none other than the mastermind of Alternate Hilarities V would be fun, too. Today, he’ll share a little behind-the-scenes peek into the creation of a comedic anthology (spoiler alert – it’s not just a laugh fest!). So, without further ado, I give you Giovanni Valentino and…

A Funny Thing Happened during the Submissions Process

Giovanni Valentino here, Editor in Chief of Strange Musings Press and editor of the Alternate Hilarities series. I’m here to talk about one of the toughest things for me when working on the anthology, the fact that humor is subjective. I read about 150 stories for One Star Reviews and only 37 of them made it into the final book.

Stories don’t make the final cut for a lot of reasons – poor writing quality, not quite fitting the Afterlife theme, or even humor themes that I’d rather avoid (in this edition’s case, I kept the big guy and his son out of the forefront).

You would figure since this is a humor anthology that all the submitted stories would be funny, right? Not necessarily so.

I’m not going to say that I have a monopoly on what’s funny. Sometimes my sense of humor can be a little juvenile. I think there is a fart joke in almost every story I’ve ever written and according to my wife, there isn’t a single oddball, expletive-filled cartoon that I don’t watch.

A story can fail the burden of funny for me on a few points. The first is poor pacing. One or two jokes, no matter how funny, isn’t quite good enough for a fifteen-page story.

Sometimes I pass on a story because I can see where the author is trying to be funny but it just didn’t hit me. If I don’t laugh at least once, the story is probably not going to fit with the rest of the collection.

Another reason might be lack of story. This is a fiction anthology, so they need to be funny stories and not just a series of unrelated jokes. Although, I do have one piece that is a series of afterlife-themed Feghoots but that’s because I have a weakness for the art form.

But beyond that, I’ve gotten more than one submission where I just didn’t see the humor at all. Sometimes to a disturbing level.

I could limit these submissions by being a little tighter with my guidelines. Still, I hate to tell people what is funny because then my submitters can’t surprise me with something new. So, I happily read the incompatible ones and hope there aren’t too many of them between me and the brilliant ones.


Giovanni Francesco Valentino has struggled at the art of writing for four decades against many demons like self-doubt, chronic depression, OCD and severe dyslexia. He has written a few memoir pieces about his struggles going undiagnosed for more than half his life as well as almost a dozen humorous speculative fiction short stories. His long-term goal is to become such a famous science fiction and fantasy author that other people want to write fan fiction in his worlds.

Thanks, GV! Want to connect with Giovanni?





To purchase Alternate Hilarities V: One Star Reviews of the Afterlife, click HERE!

For more stops on the press tour, click HERE!


How to be a Hipster Snow White in 10 Easy Steps

1. It’s all about the argyle. If it clashes with the bright, primary colors of your dress, even better.

2. Drink lots of fair trade coffee with agave nectar. A princess has a busy schedule and needs to caffeinated, natural, and socially conscious all at once.

3. Princes on horses are so yesteryear. Now, if he rides up on a bike sporting a handlebar mustache, DING DING DING!

4. Twitter is much more practical than talking to birds.

5. Ditch the apples. Clearly, they aren’t good for you. Pick up mangoes, dates, or pomegranates instead.

6. Even if that cute, scruffy drummer in that hip indie band is doing a good job of wooing you, act disinterested. Fake death even. That’s how he’ll know you’re cool and totally into him.

7. Learn how to play acoustic guitar. Yes, the singing is great, but pick up an instrument already.

8. Feel free to hang out with seven dudes. That way, you’ll have one to get chamomile tea with each day of the week!

9. Put on some glasses even if you have perfect vision. It’s a fashion statement.

10. Roll your eyes at all the other “normal” princesses. They just don’t get it.