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Another month, another signing!

Reprise by Zilla Novikov

Reprise

I feel as if someone needs to force-feed me a thesaurus, but there it is: I am once again thrilled to formally announce that The BumblePuppy Press has purchased the rights to another debut novel.

Reprise, by the remarkable Zilla Novikov, is a story the author has been shopping around for some time and I can only be grateful that no one else has been smart enough to say “Yes! Yes, I want this!” before I did.

Granted, Reprise is not an easy book to sum up — and I’m not going to do it now. A relatively short novel by word-count, Zilla manages to pack a lot into it: inter-dimensional travel, a very funny Dungeons and Dragons adventure, romance, and a hearty kick in academia’s shins, all woven into an extraordinarily tightly-woven plot. Zilla herself described it as a “… toxic romance, slow-burn plot, #darkacademia #specfic …” which is incomplete, but certainly not wrong.

Needless to say, you’ll be hearing a great deal more about Reprise in the weeks and months ahead, as we aim to publish it in the fall of 2022.

You can follow Zilla Novikov on Twitter (@zillanovikov), and don’t forget to subscribe to the BumblePuppy’s newsletter using the form below to keep abreast of what’s happening here. (There is more good news coming this year!)

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And don’t forget, our Kickstarter campaign for Rachel A. Rosen’s forthcoming novel, Cascade has been a great success; with 20 days to go, it is already nearly 250% funded!

If you want to support a brilliant new writer (and get in on some fantastic extras) please click here. Alternately, the ebook is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

That’s it for now.

Thanks and looking forward,

That's me!

Geoffrey Dow, Publisher

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Tentacle Time: A tale of three covers

What is behind the curtain?

If human thought is a growth, like all other growths, its logic is without foundation of its own, and is only the adjusting constructiveness of all other growing things. A tree can not find out, as it were, how to blossom, until comes blossom-time. A social growth cannot find out the use of steam engines, until comes steam-engine-time.Charles Fort

These things are sent to entertain us.Carl Dow

Back in October of 2021, about a month after we announced that BPPress had bought the rights to publish Rachel A. Rosen’s brilliant debut novel, Cascade, Rachel mentioned to me that she designs book covers in her so-called spare time and would I like to see a concept she had for Cascade.

Well. What would you say? Of course I wanted to see it! And I think she sent me one the very same day.

And then, after a very little back-and-forthing, she sent me a design that knocked my proverbial socks not just off, but into the house across the street.

Chuthulthu rises on a point of order.

Needless to say, I was thrilled. The design was simple but eye-catching, the colours bold, and together the image conveyed a sense of place and of strangeness. How cold this not get people to take a closer look and sample the words behind the cover?

With all kinds of other work to do, what a relief it was to know we didn’t need to worry about the cover!

Or so we thought …

At this point I don’t remember if it was weeks later, or only days (and I’m not willing to dig into the archives to find out), Rachel sent me the following note and attached photo:

ETA: Fuckdammit. New concept time.

Fuckdamnit indeed …

Naturally, my first instinct was to cry foul. Surely, China Miéville‘s publisher must (somehow) have stolen Rachel’s work and adapted it for themselves! (Rachel was not so upset. She thought Kraken‘s cover was a good one, and she’s been a fan of China’s for years.)

Of course, Rachel’s cover had existed for only a few weeks and it didn’t take much checking for me to learn that the Miéville cover had been around since at least 2011.

Harm, maybe, but no foul; just a coincidence. An irritating and a kind of hard to believe coincidence, but a coincidence nevertheless. To paraphrase Charles Fort, the early 21st century seems to be tentacle time.

Of course, we could still have used Rachel’s cover despite the similarities, but appearances wouldn’t have been flattering. Since they published first, it would have looked as if we had stolen the concept, no matter what the truth was.

Thank goodness, Rachel A. Rosen is not easily cowed!

So, without (as they say) further ado, may I proudly present the cover to The BumblePuppy Press’ next release: Cascade, Book 1 of The Sleep of Reason!

Cover of Cascade, by Rachel A. Rosen.

Next time: We’ll talk pre-orders and our Kickstarter campaign!

That's me!

Geoffrey Dow
Publisher
April 1, 2022

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Summer sale (before summer’s over)

Black Grass special advertisement

Edit: September 18, 2021: We’ve decided to continue this sale for a little while longer – there’s still time to save!

It seems hard to believe that this summer is almost over. As I type this on the afternoon of August 26th, 2021, in Ottawa (Canada), the thermometer in my home office reads 31.5° C, and the weather app on my phone tells me it feels like 38. (As I prepare to post, on Friday, the heat wave has mercifully broken at last — 23C!)

It seems even harder to believe that we are now pushing two years since rumours of a new infectious disease began to come out of China. That makes it nearly a year-and-a-half since I was laid off from my day job and since I started wearing a mask when I ventured out of doors.

I am vaccinated now, so I don’t always mask up outside, but I am not yet ready to venture into a bar or restaurant, and I am unhappily prepared for yet another lock-down before all this is over.

But all that said, I do believe (as the old saw has it), where there’s life, there’s hope. And what better way to remind ourselves of that adage, then to remember that life has never been easy and has never been simple.

Take Carl Dow’s fantastic historical novel, Black Grass (which is on sale for the low, low, low price of only $1.99 for the ebook edition, or $12.95 for the paperback (signed by the author at no extra charge if you wish!), only at the BumblePuppy Press. Why pay Amazon when you can be sure it all goes straight to the author!)

Set in 1866, on the border of what would be become the western territories of the United States and Canada, we find that life is no simpler, nor any safer, than it is in 2021. There is still conflict and threats of war; men and women still love, and still hate; the future is (literally, in this case) an on-coming train, inevitable in the broader sense, but not yet set on an inevitable track.

Gabriel Dumont and his fellow prairie Métis face threats to their lives, and their way of life, and face them with courage and imagination, just as we must do in the face of our challenges today.

I don’t recommend books because of their message — most of the best novels and stories cannot be broken down to a singular point. Yet we can sometimes take hints from good fiction, about what makes life worth living, and when it is worth risking all to preserve it.

Anyway, with a week and a half to go before Labour Day weekend comes to a close, I offer some small comfort to those of you in search of a good story.

Black Grass for $1.99 if you want it now, or $12.95 is you want it signed (delivery is extra, though if you live in Ottawa, I might be able to get it to you for considerably less than Canada Post will charge — and faster, too). Please visit our online store and make your choice!

Let’s hope next summer is a far sight better than the past two have been!

Geoffrey Dow, Publisher

P.S. And don’t forget to leave a review if you like it (or even if you don’t), here, at an online retailer, or at Goodreads. Small presses especially appreciate every kind word that comes our way!

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Readers’ words (almost) as good as readers’ money!

I recently received a delightful email from my cousin David Hart, who a few months back ordered both The Old Man’s Last Sauna and Black Grass through our online store.

David’s message of May 6th, 2021, reminded me of a couple of important things I need, as a publisher, to keep in mind.

First, that people don’t usually start to read a new book the moment it passes through their transom (as I, with my own Leaning Tower of Unread Books, really ought to know!). And second, that most readers don’t ever let you know whether they liked it or not, whether by correspondence or a review.

So it is my great pleasure to present to you (with permission) a letter that made both author and publisher smile broadly – writing is a lonely business at the best of times. Now hurry up and finish Black Grass, David! 🙂

Finished The Old Man’s Last Sauna today, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

[Carl Dow]’s apparently autobiographical stories felt the most natural and were the funnest reads. Overall, though, my favorites turned out to be the last three: “The Model ‘A’ Ford,” “O! Ernie … What Have They Done to You?” and “The Old Man’s Last Sauna.”

“Sauna” was a great way to end this collection, with its disturbingly fascinating build-up of sexual tension and ultimate oedipal release. Funny to find oneself at once cringing and eager to see if the story is really going in the direction it seems to be!

Next up, Black Grass.

David Hart is an artist, writer, and social justice advocate who can be found Twitter here.

And a brief reminder to those of you who haven’t yet made the wise decision to buy The Old Man’s Last Sauna. One of David’s top three stories is still available to read for free! Click here to read “O! Ernier … What Have They Done To You?”

Of course, all of our books are available from your favourite online vendors, or directly from the BumblePuppy Press in paper and electronic editions right here at our shop. And if you’re in Ottawa, drop us a line via orders@bppress.ca to see if we can arrange delivery for you!

Geoffrey Dow, publisher

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Introduction to “O! Ernie … What Have They Done to You?

Short story collections are a notoriously hard kind of book to sell. Short story collections by first-time authors are even more so. Nevertheless, I published Carl Dow‘s collection of stories, and the BumblePuppy Press’ first commercial book, The Old Man’s Last Sauna because I believed in 2013 – and still do! – that these stories were good ones and deserved to be read.

Though “O! Ernie … What have they done to you?” is set shortly after the Second World War and directly concerns the “red scare” of the post-war era, it is a story that is just as relevant today as it is to the era in which it is set (consider the cases of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning, if you believe that times have really changed).

Beyond the politics, “O! Ernie …” is both a deeply human tragedy, and a study in resilience and the stubborn triumph of the human spirit even when faced by an implacable foe.

I re-read the story for the first time in a long while last night to write this introductory note, and found myself deeply moved by it all over again. It will be available to read for free for only one week – if you like it, please consider buying the book from which it is taken!

Geoffrey Dow, Publisher – December 3, 2020

Read “O! Ernie … What Have They Done to You?”

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Black Grass on the pod(cast)

Photo illustration showing Peter Anthony Holder, left, and Carl Dow, right.

Carl interviewed by Peter Anthony Holder

Peter Anthony Holder of The Stuph File, left, Carl Dow holding copy of Black Grass, right.

We at the BumblePuppy Press were delighted when Carl‘s friend and colleague, Randy Ray, told us he wanted to put his skills at as a publicist to work for us.

Last week, Randy got down to it while on vacation in Florida (what a world!) and we are seeing the fruits of his labours already! Carl was interviewed on Peter Anthony Holder’s Montreal-based podcast, The Stuph File Program.

You can read Carl’s thoughts about the interview here, or you can just listen to interview by clicking below.

The full program can be found at The Stuph File. Look for program #0551.

And of course, Black Grass is available in print and e-book editions from your favourite online retailer. And autographed copies can be ordered directly from us.

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Publisher’s notebook 002

Write what you know? Bollocks!

By Geoffrey Dow

Some 35 years ago, Harlan Ellison wrote that “writers take tours in other people’s lives.” He meant that it is a mistake for a reader to presume any story is autobiographical, or that a writer’s “real” self or opinions can be gleaned from a work of fiction.

In recent decades it has become a conviction in some “serious” literary and critical circles that the adage, write what you know be treated as a Commandment rather than just quite sensible advice that a writer pay close attention to the world and people around them. This advice turned ideology has led to a great outpouring of well-written but mostly pretty tedious stories about writers and their suffering.

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with such an approach to fiction or drama, but there is everything wrong with the insistence that all fiction and drama should take that confessional road to story-telling.

Truth is, most writers prefer to look out, rather than in, and so do most readers. And, looking out, writers must be forever “taking tours in other people’s lives”. To put it in more contemporary terms, they imagine the other.

Or you could just say, they make stuff up. Readers are blessed by the works of Jane Austen and Alistair MacLeod, but we need our Tolstoys and Tolkiens too.

Carl Dow is a writer of the second school, smelting character and story from the mines of his own lived life, but just as much from the lives and experiences of others. In his new post, Thinking Like a Woman, Carl explains one way that the act of creative empathy can come about.


The Old Man’s Last Sauna

E-book edition only $1.99 for a limited time only!

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The Silence of Sounds

They talked but no one listened

By Carl Dow

Image: Portrait of Carl Dow by Lena Wilson Endicott, 1995.
Portrait of the author, by the late Lena Wilson Endicott, 1995.

It was a private dinner for four. A doctor, an architect, a machinist, and me.

We had worked our way through the appetizer and were into the main course.

The doctor, a specialist in psychiatry, held her end of the table.

“I really shouldn’t be saying this. Confidentiality and all that. But since you don’t know him, and I’m certain, will never meet him, I feel I can speak openly without actually breaking our privacy code. Continue reading The Silence of Sounds

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Carl Dow profiled

The author of The Old Man’s Last Sauna has conducted interviews more often than he has been the subject of one. Late last summer, he sat down with Erica Butler of the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation, the long-time non-profit housing organization which built and manages the Beaver Barracks, a development whose genesis Carl covered in the online news magazine True North Perspective. And which he now calls home.

In short order, the profile explores Carl’s long-time love affair with flying, the history (and future!) of one of Ottawa’s important landmarks and, of course, a writer’s life and work. Read More …