Publishing short stories in anthologies is a great way to get your work out, build a following, and make a few bucks along the way. Two of my short stories were picked up for two different anthologies by Strange Musings Press, a small press created by writers Giovanni Valentino and Kara Leigh Miller.
My humorous science fiction piece titled The Bombastic Adventures of Bob From Planet 9 will be featured in Valentino’s Alternate Hilarities. It’s the story of two aliens in an intergalactic dive, which gets held up by humans. My short story Cauc Boy will be printed in Romantic Ruckus edited by Miller. This silly story, setup in the 1950’s comic book style, is about a superhero named the Caucasian Lover, aka Cauc Boy who saves the day and gets the girl, as all superheroes should. Both anthologies are still accepting material.
I was able to talk with both editors (my first editor interview, btw) and here’s what they had to say:
ENGLE: Thanks for sharing some inside tips about Strange Musing Press. First off, tell me a little bit about both of your backgrounds in publishing and/or writing.
VALENTINO: I have been writing since as far back as I can remember. I was very on again, off again. About three years ago, I decided to get serious about my hobby. I joined a local writers group. That’s where I met Kara, and with her as my critiquing partner, I’ve really taken off. I have had 5 short stories published so far and I’m working on a novel or two.
As for publishing, I ran my own small press magazine back in the 90s called Alternate Hilarities. It was a fun project, but back then there was no e-publishing and print publishing was expensive. I did 6 issues before the cost was too much for me. I shelved the project for the next twenty years. As I started writing and submitting again, I saw how e-publishing made things affordable. I talked to Kara about it and she was thinking of the same thing. Strange Musings Press was born.
MILLER: Like Giovanni, I’ve written since I can remember, but it was more for my own enjoyment. I was an only child and was bored a lot. But, a few years ago, I decided it was time to get serious. I joined a local writers group, where I met my partner in crime, and really started to study the craft of writing and the publishing industry. I then joined the Romance Writers of America and learned even more stuff. To date, I’ve had 5 novellas published, and 3 full-length novels with more on the way. In regards to my publishing credentials, well, they’re not as impressive as Giovanni’s (show off), but I am currently a Senior Editor for Entranced Publishing and, from personal experience, I have a lot of knowledge about marketing & promoting a book, which is just as important as writing and publishing one. Bottom line: publishing is an ever changing industry and so we’re always learning and adapting. Here’s to hoping we can keep up 😉
ENGLE: What do you feel separates your press from other small presses in the same genre?
VALENTINO: Power steering! Very few small presses go for the power steering upgrade. We were going to do seat warmers, too, but I’m incredibly flatulent and we thought it might be a fire hazard.
MILLER: I apologize for him, I really do. Giovanni – we both know that what separates our press from others is my ability to turn anything and everything into a sexual innuendo. Jeez, I am really tired of getting the shaft from you! It just doesn’t feel good anymore.
ENGLE: Too funny. I can see why you get along so well. When you review a submission, what turns you off and what grabs your attention?
VALENTINO: Since both of our anthologies are suppose to be humorous, my main turn off would be getting 2 or 3 pages in without a laugh. I can work with a story that is rough around the edges or needs a little editing, but I’m not going to make your story funny. Of course, if you want to grab my attention, make me laugh. And aliens. I love aliens.
MILLER: He also really likes car chases and anal probes. A lot! He’s just won’t admit it to anyone but me.
So, what turns me off? Hmm…well, I hate predictability. If I can see where a story is headed by the end of page one, I’m bored. Surprise me. Make me laugh out loud. If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I really like sexual innuendos. (The genre I write is mainly erotic romance.) And, as an editor, I despise stories that come to me that are grammatically sloppy, especially ones that are riddled with improper dialogue punctuation. No one’s perfect, I get that, but please, please, please take the time to proofread your story for errors; and if you don’t know a grammar rule, look it up!
ENGLE: Two of your upcoming anthologies (showcasing two of my short stories, thank you very much!) are Alternate Hilarities, which is looking for humorous science fiction stories and Romantic Ruckus, which seeks romantic comedies. As editors, when it comes to humor, how do you define the common thread among the stories you choose for each anthology?
VALENTINO: I see humor as wacky free associations. Pairing things that shouldn’t go to together and making it work. I also think good comedy needs to build on itself. A series of unrelated jokes can be funny, but if each one adds to the madness, the story jumps off the page.
MILLER: I agree with what Giovanni said. The great thing about an anthology is that it’s a showcase of so many authors and their writing, and it’s this diversity that drew me to this project. So, although there is a common theme, I don’t want stories that are all the same. As the editor for Romantic Ruckus, the common theme is “stories of love gone wrong,” and to me, that means shake shit up. I don’t want a happily-ever-after ending. Save those for the romance novels.
ENGLE: What plans do you have for the future of your press? How can aspiring writers submit? And where & when can readers purchase copies of Strange Musings Press products?
VALENTINO: The near future of Strange Musings Press will be more anthologies. Alternate Hilarities will become a series. Each future installment will be themed; I have plans for a vampire one, a time travel one, and a fantasy one.
Long term, I would love to start publishing larger works, novellas, even novels. I’d like to get a little more experience in publishing before I take that plunge.
MILLER: Honestly, I haven’t thought much about another anthology past this one, but I like the idea of a themed series. I really, really want to revive “Hilarious Humping” and put out a sat-erotica anthology. But, alas, I don’t think the world is ready for that yet. Maybe in a few years. And I agree with Giovanni that in the future, we can focus on some larger, stand-alone works.
ENGLE: Finally, if you were each a Muppet, which one would you be and why?
VALENTINO: I would like to say Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Ph.D. Making crazy inventions and almost killing my poor assistant Beaker. But most people that know me would say Fozzie Bear, telling bad jokes and not getting it. As my wife likes to say, “I’m glad you think you’re funny.”
MILLER: Miss Piggy because she’s just fabulous! I mean, c’mon, have you seen her hair? Gorgeous!
ENGLE: Thanks so much to both of you! It was awesome getting to know you better and I look forward to reading the upcoming anthologies. Check out Strange Musings Press to see what it’s all about!