Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Almost a Wrap: The Contest and Other Stories

I would love to fill this blog with posts about current events, to write more about writing for social justice, about the current political situation in the USA, and simply to share happy, fun writer-ly and artistic stuff. 

I intend to return to normal blogging when the current push to publish is over. But good intentions sometimes are difficult to manifest in the physical world. Alas and alack, I'm constantly with nose to grindstone simply to meet basic living expenses, a fate many of us share, especially those who work in the arts and humanities. Sadly, our earnings no longer exceed the current housing, utility, food, and basic survival costs, so it's all an uphill run every dang day. I often work through weekends . . . I despair . . . At least there are still wonderful books and films around that allow us to escape, for a few hours, the sad daily realities that confront us. I hope that The Contest and Other Stories will be remembered as an interesting distraction and commentary about human nature in these perilous times.

The bad news is that I've placed publication further down the road. The good news is that the delay is short; pre-pub processes are in full motion, and Tootie-Do Press will release The Contest and Other Stories on Halloween! 
UPCOMING - October 31, 2017!


 T  H  E    C  O  N  T  E  S  T

 A n d  O t h e r  S t o r i e s

We NEED - and VALUE - your assistance with our upcoming publication! The Contest and Other Stories fundraiser at Indiegogo has expired, but you can still pre-order the perks you see at the site. In fact, please order any of the campaign perks (good deals, all!) listed at the link above by e-mailing Tootie-Do Press at starstonelit at gmail dot com. 

Of particular interest to many of our donors is the original early bird PDF at the low-low donation price of $5, which is available until publication day on Halloween - October 31, 2017. By ordering this or any other perk, you'll help fund the extra expenses associated with this customized artbook  publication, and for that we are truly grateful! The press is run on less than a shoestring and from the pocket of the editor.

Because we now have our beautiful gothic cover in hand, we are re-formatting the early bird PDF (to better match cover) for the print publication. The Contest and Other Stories will be available in full-color and BW print softcover, as well an enhanced and BW ebooks.  Eventually, we may offer a special edition hardcover. 

We'd also love to receive honest reviews at Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, and other fine book emporiums after publication, so if you've read the collection, please take a moment to download a review at one of the sites. Indie authors and small presses depend upon reviews to survive!

::~The Story~::
Inspired by the works of international artists, this Young Adult - New Adult collection of nineteen spellbinding magical realist, paranormal,  slipstream, dark fantasy, alternate history, and fabulist tales (with a connecting novella) is collaboratively authored by Joe DiBuduo and Kate Robinson:

Peter John Rizzo, a 1960 graduate of Yale University’s journalism program, inherits a floundering art magazine from his uncle, John Rizzo, with the provision that he must increase the circulation or forfeit all assets to creditors.
Peter Rizzo, Pete’s father, is a banker who scorns careers in the Arts and Humanities, and is jealous of his late brother’s influence upon his wife and son.
Classic Art Exposé’s devoted but unorthodox editorial assistant, Jason, and two university interns, sisters Shirley and Evie, help Pete start a monthly short story contest with artwork prompts, hoping to expand and save the business.
As the four friends publish the winning (and sometimes disturbing) stories over the following eighteen months, Pete battles his father’s attempts to ruin his business and his reputation, and in the process, discovers a sordid family secret. What else could possibly go astray?

“Cheater” first appeared in Western Weird, Volume 4, Manifest West Series, (Western Press Books - Western State Colorado University, 2015).
“Night Café” won the quarterly New Short Fiction Award (Jerry Jazz Musician, 2012).
“Lost Memories” first appeared in The Memory Eater (CP Anthologies, 2012).

“A Twisted Garden” first appeared as The Yellow House” in Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy (May December Publications, 2011).
“The Snow Globe” first appeared in Best Served Cold: An Eye for An Eye (Runewright LLC, 2011).

Thank you, donors and readers for bearing with us during this long pre-pub process. We love you and are excited that we're nearly at the finish line!

Authors Joe DiBuduo & Kate Robinson

 & Tootie-Do Press

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Time Keeps On Slippin'

 Oh my. Time keeps on slippin'. . . slippin'. . . slippin' . . . into the future!

Today I was chided via e-mail by Indiegogo about lack of a recent update and just posted a very tardy update regarding publication status of The Contest & Other Stories:


It's been a long haul, hasn't it?

Our Indiegogo Phase III campaign ended on July 27, if I recall correctly.  I will soon open and post Phase IV, an unplanned development.

I (Kate) have been extremely busy making a living - my bread and butter comes from my editorial biz, Starstone Lit Services. I just last night emerged from three whirlwind weeks of edits on two novels and a memoir. I'm  a writer too, so I also did some tweaks of some unpublished work to send out to publishers and contests.

On that note, you might enjoy "Enter the Kingdom," my brand-new dystopic short story at The New Engagement !

Sadly, our cover artist is behind schedule, otherwise I would have somehow made the time for an update with a cover reveal! I queried her and though she responded, I still don't have a firm finish date.

Since I was told in March that The Contest & Other Stories cover was booked for July, I always expected to do a firm August publication date, that is, until July vanished. We were hoping to do a cosmic date like 08/08/17, ya know, or even 08/18/17, but it's not just the late cover holding us up.  Tootie-Do Press biz was neglected by financial necessity and had not caught up to all necessary pre-pub details for The Contest & Other Stories, despite all the wonderful help from my marvelous editorial assistant, Miss Tootie.

Kate & Tootie

As we posted the story first line updates, we made a few tweaks in the stories and our print book interior is solid, but we've not yet finished the e-book conversions. These are fairly quick and I'll be taking those on this week and possibly through the weekend.

So, we're looking at possibly pushing publication into September in order to not feel rushed. It's not hard to see that we haven't had a huge response with pre-order "donations" on Indiegogo, which means  the press will front publication expenses with an almost non-existent budget. Ouch!

But that's life in the publishing biz. So never fear, we'll press forward and there WILL be a book!

And if the cover suddenly lands in our inbox any moment now, there's still a chance to crack late August publication. But 09/09/17 sounds pretty cosmic too, no?

Keep your fingers crossed and visualize an e-mail with a finished cover arriving any time now . . . I'm truly looking forward to the big cover reveal! 

Thanks so much to you, dear readers,  for your patience as we approach the publication finish line for The Contest & Other Stories.

Warm regards,
Authors Joe DiBuduo & Kate Robinson

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Publication Dance and an Indiegogo Update

I keep swearing - yes, swearing - ladies and gentleman, that I'm going to offer you some writers' guest posts to make this old saw more interesting, but life keeps getting in the way.

That said, being busy isn't such a bad thing. I'm honored to have a story freshly published at The New Engagement, Digital Issue #12, July 2017. "Enter the Kingdom" is a dystopic sci-fi story with a fresh twist on The Handmaid's Tale theme. When I began writing it ages ago, I hadn't read Margaret Atwood's now classic tale about post-apocalyptic religious persecution of women, but apparently I picked up on that creative wavelength. When I fleshed out an early draft in my post-grad creative writing program at Aberystwyth University in 2009-10, I was flattered to hear one of my seminar mates say the story reminded him of Atwood, and I had to rush out and read the book and view the movie. It's interesting how these themes percolate through our subconscious (or unconscious) minds in that Jungian archetypal manner.

In other news, publication day of The Contest & Other Stories (Tootie-Do Press, August 2017) is looming ever closer! I just posted a campaign update, and I'll share it with you here:

Happy weekend, backers and followers!

We're always stunned by how fast time whizzes by. Must be having a good time here on Redwood Highway 101!

We're adding two more like-new used book perks - as chief wordwhacker at Tootie-Do Press and Starstone Lit Services, Kate  judged new paranormal releases in the PRISM contest recently. Rather than keep these books in her library or donate them to a public library, she wants to share them with a backer. A great deal for a new book by an award-winning paranormal author PLUS a copy of The Contest & Other Stories early bird PDF!  

Silverlight by S.L.Jesberger is a Celtic romantic fantasy. This copy is autographed and comes with book swag!  Bound: The Silverton Chronicles by Carmen Fox is an urban romantic fantasy featuring werewolves. Claim one of these perks and hunker down for some great summer reading!

And, if that's not all, we've just reached our FINAL first lines reveal! Our final short story in The Contest & Other Stories is also art-inspired, but a bit different thematically from the others. "Heaven or Hell?" is a bit of humorous metafiction that features us - the authors - as characters. It's inspired by William-Adolphe Bougereau's famous painting, Dante & Virgil in Hell (1850).                                                                

                  HEAVEN OR HELL?
Dante & Virgil in Hell
William-Adolphe Bougereau, 1850
My old friend Andy bounced into my room and flashed that sideways, shit-eating grin he always got when he started coming down from a trip.

“Guess what, Joe? I’ve learned how to tell if you’re dead or not while I’m hallucinating.”

I looked up from my book, wondering what kind of drug Andy had experimented with this time. “Um, how can you tell?”

“Look in a mirror. If you see yourself, you’re alive. If you don’t see a reflection, it means you’re dead.” Andy leaned toward the dresser and checked his reflection in the mirror. .

You're probably expecting us to say, "That's all folks!" But it's not . . . we still have a cover reveal coming up soon!  And though the description of the connecting novella is posted in the campaign and at Tootie-Do Press, we haven't shared much about that either, so stay tuned!

Warm regards,
Authors Joe DiBuduo & Kate Robinson

        & Tootie-Do Press

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Contest and Other Stories: First Lines Reveal

I've announced The Contest and Other Stories, Phases I, II, and III pre-order campaign at Indiegogo in my three previous posts, but I've not posted any of the updates that are distributed to donors and that appear on the project page.

On that note, because I've just posted an update, and because the sun just popped through the marine layer in my coastal lair, putting me in a festive mood, I'm up for some fun and even some extra work (if you live in the Pacific Northwest, you'll totally understand!)

The updates consist of sharing the paintings that inspired the short stories in the connected collection, along with a reveal of the first few lines of the story. Here's today's campaign update:

The world is in the midst of unparalleled political, environmental, and spiritual upheaval. Many things are changing for better or worse, but the one constant we can depend upon is that there's no lack of good books to keep us focused or distracted, whichever we may need at any given moment!

Reading not only informs us with facts, statistics, history, and through instruction; we can also benefit from immersing ourselves in story, learning about the human condition without having to directly experience the corresponding drama of our favorite fictional characters' lives.

As with all short stories, each and every tale in The Contest & Other Stories highlights a particular conflict in a character's life. Some of our stories are lighthearted and have happy endings, others are dark and end in tragedy, but there's much to ponder about life, love, human emotion, and the pursuit of happiness in each one.

Dance at Bougival (1882), a painting by the incomparable Pierre-Auguste Renoir, inspired "Success," a romantic story involving class struggle that ultimately leads to success - or does it?

Dance at Bougival
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1882


After I sold my first book, I clandestinely took dancing lessons, and now the lessons were paying off. Suzanne had finally agreed to dance with me. I shared what I had been missing, twirling her around the dance floor with the expertise of one of those fancy ballroom instructors whose salons line the streets of Paris.


Y une place Animee a Paris (1898), a street scene by Spanish painter Joaquin Pallares Y Allustante, inspired "The Jonah," a paranormal suspense tale in direct contrast to the normalcy of the Victorian-era urban scene.

Y une place Animee a Paris
Joaquin Pallares Y Allustante, 1898


The warning sirens had just faded and the post-explosion silence grew more deafening by the moment. “You did it again, Michel. Get your stuff and get the hell off the property.” Georges growled and waved his hand at the cave-in caused by God knows what – inappropriately placed explosives or too many explosives.


If you haven't already, you'll want to pre-order (and receive quickly via e-mail) the early-bird PDF so you can be one of the earliest readers of The Contest & Other Stories. The PDF is basically the electronic version of the full-color book interior. We'd love to hear from you and receive your feedback!

If you'd like to check out more of the story first line reveals and view the artwork that inspired them, please see the previous updates at The Contest & Other Stories, Phase I, II, and III campaigns, scroll down past the Overview, and click on Updates.

Hope you had a wonderful 4th of July celebration if you're in the US, or are having a lovely summer or winter if you're abroad.

Warm regards and happy reading,

Authors Joe DiBuduo & Kate Robinson

 & Tootie-Do Press

Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Contest and Other Stories, Phase III

Le CafÉ de Nuit  ~*~ Vincent van Gogh, 1888

Looking at Jellyfish Day blog posts, you'd think the only thing going on around here is pre-publication activity for The Contest & Other Stories at Tootie-Do Press.

Alas, not so! April and May were hectic months! So hectic that two months dissolved in a blur.

After thinking about leaving urban Southern California for several years, including applying to PhD programs I was accepted into, but was not able to get sufficient funding to attend, I finally felt the undeniable urge to put the rubber to the road! There's always a way to turn life's lemons into lemonade . . .

In the last few days of April, I boxed up my books and household goods, emptied the storage shed, rented a cargo van, and hightailed it at long last to a more natural and rural location. I couldn't be more pleased to now live in a fairy-tale cottage in a redwood glade in Northern California!

It was a huge and time-consuming undertaking, and I'm still living amongst a few boxes and dealing with all the ramifications of changing ISPs and other technicalities. I couldn't keep up with my freelance work while moving, so my first month in the new place (once wi-fi was up and running) has been devoted to catching up to freelance editing and PR work for various authors, as well as getting acclimated to the new, cooler climate, and enjoying a bit of touring around Humboldt County to appreciate the incredible beauty. I've now given up my old gasoline engine truck and am getting around by bicycle and on foot.

Meanwhile, the second Indiegogo campaign for Tootie-Do Press went relatively unmonitored, so it recently closed without fanfare. I've just opened The Contest and Other Stories, Phase III campaign and am peddling hard to get pre-orders for the collection of quirky short stories back on track.

Our $5 early bird PDF has proved to be the most popular item so far (unfortunately, none of the old donations for Phase I and II show up on the new campaign page), so the Phase III is shiny new with nary a donor. You can pre-order from the campaign page (there are many perks available there for various prices). You can also Paypal $5 to katerwriter @ gmail dot com for the early bird PDF, which is basically the full-color interior of the print book. A ganga bargain! Because of the color interior, the print color book will be a special edition retailing at $50, but the early bird PDF is the same file, viewable on any device with Adobe Reader. And the reason for using Indiegogo to pre-order is because of the extra and unusual publication expenses associated with color print and enhanced ebooks.

We are grateful to each and every potential reader of this fun and thought-provoking project. Five of the short stories inspired by paintings are previously published in journals, and at least one of them, “Night Café” , inspired by the 1888 van Gogh painting of the same name, still appears at Jerry Jazz Musician online since winning a New Short Fiction Award in 2012 .

“Cheater” first appeared in Western Weird, Volume 4, Manifest West Series, (Western Press Books - Western State Colorado University, 2015).

“Night Café” won the quarterly New Short Fiction Award (Jerry Jazz Musician, 2012).

“Lost Memories” first appeared in The Memory Eaters anthology (CP Anthologies, 2012).

“A Twisted Garden” first appeared as “The Yellow House” in Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy (May December Publications, 2011).

“The Snow Globe” first appeared in Best Served Cold: An Eye for an Eye (Runewright LLC, 2011).

You can read full details about the authors (me and my old crit group writing buddy, Joe DiBuduo) and the collection at The Contest and Other Stories, Phase III or at Tootie-Do Press.

Thank you for your patience and your support!

Authors Joe DiBuduo and Kate Robinson