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From the BumblePuppy’s nest #003

Some writers do have ’em (birthdays, that is)!

Happy 91st birthday Carl Dow!

(May your 92nd be both happy and productive)

Photo shows Carl Dow (left), with Geoffrey Dow (right).
One young man with another …

July 15, 2024, Ottawa — Last night I, along with my wife and daughter, spent the evening with Carl Dow to celebrate his 91st birthday one day early.

Carl — author of the story collection The Old Man’s Last Sauna and the novel, Black Grass — is, of course, also my father, and the reason the BumblePuppy Press exists at all.

As I have said more than once (and probably, have written about as well), more than 10 years ago, Carl asked if I would be interested in reading a novel he had written.

I didn’t say yes right away. He had not let me read any of his non-journalistic work since I had been a teenager, when he asked for my thoughts on a radio play he had written, and I’d told him it was, well, not very good.

But after some thought I did agree to read it, and he sent me a copy of the manuscript by Canada Post. When I sat down with it one evening a few days later, I began to read with more than a little trepidation; I had no wish to tell him he had written something bad again.

Covers to Black Grass and The Old Man's Last Sauna
The first two, with more to come …

But instead, I finished what would eventually be published as Black Grass in one sitting, literally putting aside the final page just as the sun was (literally) literally rising.

I had laughed, shed a tear or three, and eagerly rushed through the climax because I needed to find out what happened next. Carl (I call him “dad” but refer to him as Carl — don’t ask why, it’s just worked out that way) was — yes — a real novelist.

I told him as much, and he told me that he hadn’t been able to interest a publisher in it. Westerns are out of fashion was one rejection; Americans don’t want to read about another country was another; too much action; too much romance; the list of ostensible reasons why it couldn’t sell went on and on.

I found it hard to believe. The Black Grass I had just read was a compelling adventure, featured an unusual but believable romantic subplot, complex characters and was leavened with wit and humour.

Granted, it had a Canadian setting; granted it bore considerable resemblance to a western … but was the traditional publishing industry so hidebound, so constrained by genre, so unimaginative, that it couldn’t see the potential in a great romance (in the tradition of Sir Walter Scott, as one university English prof put it)?

Well, my reader’s outrage percolated for a while, then I eventually decided that if no one else would publish Black Grass, I would just have to do it myself. That was the genesis of the BumblePuppy Press. (Yes, The Old Man’s Last Sauna, Carl’s collection of short and not-so short stories was published first, but Black Grass was the spark.

And so, on the 91st anniversary of his birth, we are for a brief time offering The Old Man’s Last Sauna, and Black Grass together, for the low (low!) price of only $25.00, $13.00 less than it would cost to purchase them individually. Click here to buy them now!

Image shows and ad for Black Grass (left), and The Old Man's Last Sauna (right), with author Carl Dow's photo between the two book covers.

One more thing: Though he is now 91, Carl says that his next novel, Wildflowers: The Women Who Made McCord Chronicle, is very nearly finished. And after that? He has a sequel to Black Grass already percolating.

Happy birthday, old man — and keep on writing!

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Celebrating Carl’s first 90 years (with a sale of course)

Photo of Randy Ray and Carl Dow, seated at a table, with a painting of a teenage boy on the wall between them.
Randy Ray (left) and Carl Dow (right) talk while waiting for the birthday food to arrive on July 15, 2023. Photo by Judy Kwasnica.

July 17, 2023 — A few months shy of the 10th anniversary of the publication of Carl Dow’s first book (the eclectic collection of short fiction, The Old Man’s Last Sauna) came another anniversary: Carl’s 90th birthday, which we celebrated in quiet style at his home on the northern edge of Ottawa’s Centretown this past Saturday.

In attendance were Randy Ray, his longtime friend and sometime publicist, Randy’s partner Judy Kwasnica, Carl’s oldest friend (who he has been trying to catch for about 70 years, but who somehow remains four months older) Nick Aplin, his friend Faduma (who asked not to be pictured nor last-named), and of course, my darling wife (who also chooses to keep her face and name off the internet), and my daughter, “Baobao”, whose face I have decided to keep private, now that she is nearly four.

Photo shows young girl giving Carl Dow a hand-made 90th birthday card.
Carl receives a hand-made card from his grand-daughter, Baobao.

As I said, it was a small celebration of Carl’s first 90 years, but a joyful one.

Though largely confined to the wheelchair you can see in some of the accompanying photos, Carl (who is, yes, my father; the shared last name is no coincidence. His writer’s home at The BumblePuppy Press, on the other hand, has nothing to do with nepotism and everything to do with the fact that, when I read his first novel, Black Grass, in manuscript, I started it in the evening and finished it as the sun was rising the next morning. I founded the company because I really wanted that book to see print) promises to deliver his next novel, Wildflowers: The Women Who Made McCord Chronicle to his publisher, well, any day now.

After that, he says he has a sequel to Black Grass percolating — one that will feature Louis Riel himself, along with the protagonist of Black Grass, Gabriel Dumont. He says he might start work on his memoirs once those two novels are in the proverbial can, but I suspect more fiction will get in the way of that.

While I wait for the new book (and to really bury the lede), to celebrate Carl’s birthday, we are offering both of his existing books — Black Grass and The Old Man’s Last Sauna for a combined price of only $25.00. Click here to buy them now!

Please offer your congratulations to my dad in the best way possible — buy his books! If you need evidence before laying down your hard-earned money, click here to read an excerpt from Black Grass, and here to read the powerful novelette, “O! Ernie … What Have They Done To You?” in its entirety.

Image shows Geoffrey Dow, standing behind Carl Dow, who is holding copies of his books, Black Grass, and The Old Man's Last Sauna, while seated in his wheelchair. Photo by Judy Kwasnica.
Why yes, there is a bit of a family resemblance! Photo by Judy Kwasnica.
Click here to buy Black Grass and The Old Man’s Last Sauna for only $25!

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Black Friday & Cyber Monday or, Yielding to the madness of crowds

Two books for the price of one!

[NOTE: This sale is now over.]

As I imagine many of us did, I learned a difficult lesson in the early months of the pandemic: When everyone around you is doing something bad or stupid, it can sometimes become quite reasonable to also do something bad or stupid. Worse than that, it can sometimes be stupid not to be stupid.

The specific cause of that not-too-original observation was last year’s hoarding. In the spring of 2020 our local grocery store’s shelves were suddenly bereft of toilet paper, flour, yeast and disinfectant wipes, among other essentials and staples. Although we ourselves weren’t hit too hard — we tend to buy those kinds of things in bulk on those occasions when we rent a car — but the lesson was learned. When there was toilet paper to be had, I’d snap up twice what I normally would, because I didn’t know when it would be available again.

And so it is with “Black Friday”. Since every other publisher is doing it, everybody expects it us to do it as well. An event that was once some weird American custom we’d make fun of here in the Great White North even a decade back, seems inescapable in Canada in 2021.

And so, here we go …

Sale! Sale! Sale! Sale! Sale! Sale! Sale! Sale! Sale!

Starting tomorrow right now, Thursday, November 25th, and running until midnight Monday, November 29th, The BumblePuppy Press is letting you rob us blind. That’s right, for the next five days only, you can get two books for the price of one! (Note that this offer applies only to our remaining first edition paper copies. Our ebooks remain at our regular (very reasonable and DRM-free) prices, and books ordered from sites like Amazon or Chapters are not included.)

Buy one copy of Carl Dow’s brilliant debut novel, Black Grass (you can read the first three chapters right here for free) and get his collection of short stories, The Old Man’s Last Sauna for free! (and speaking of free, you can read one of those stories, “O! Ernie, What Have they Done to You?” for free right here!)

If you’re fortunate enough to live in the Ottawa (Ontario!) area and can make your way to within bicycling distance of downtown, the publisher (that’s me!) can arrange to deliver you both books for a nominal delivery fee of only $5.00. All in all, you’re looking at two first editions, signed by the author for only $25.00! Click here to buy them now!

They make great Christmas presents, too, if you’re organized enough to be thinking that far ahead.

Thanks and looking forward,

That's me!

Geoffrey Dow, Publisher

P.S. At long last, we are launching a newsletter. If you want to stay informed, please sign up!