The Corona Virus has made this a tough year for us all, and the prospect of holiday shopping during a pandemic won’t make December any easier.
But I can help!
From now until December 24th, I am pleased to offer free delivery in central Ottawa of an autographed copy Black Grass for only $15.00, and The Old Man’s Last Sauna for the extraordinary price of only $10.00!
For those of you out of town, the discounted prices still apply, but alas, so do the standard shipping rates.
What better way to tell the bookworm (or bookworms!) in your life that you care than to give them one or both of these remarkable books by a local author, published by a small press?
“I wanted to write a story about a Canadian hero who wasn’t hanged,” Carl Dow told me in conversation some months back.
Gabriel Dumont was the hero, and Black Grass was the resulting novel, a novel which led me down the path to being a publisher. Of course, I am biased – the shared last name is no accident – but I read the book in manuscript form in one sitting, coming up for air with the rising sun.
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!
Setting the Black Grass promo train in motion (again)
Of course it’s tempting to blame the worldwide pandemic for the lack of a real push on promoting Black Grass; cancelled book fairs and television appearances are a real thing.
I can also point to my darling daughter, pictured with me above. Though there are currently two of us at home to take care of her, she still demands a fair amount of attention (which I gladly provide, make no mistake about that!).
And there is my related work as a “daddy blogger” over at PapaZesser.ca, not to mention the time I have spent figuring out how to maintain and remodel this (apparently) rather kludged WordPress site.
Even so, despite the exceptional circumstances of our times and my own complicated situations, I have not done enough in terms of doing what a publisher is supposed to do: sell books!
After all, the stories in The Old Man’s Last Sauna range from good to bloody exceptional, and Black Grass is a genre novel that transcends genre, a story that will surprise and delight and excite discerning readers. So I want people to buy them!
But there is, as I have been learning (too slowly), more to publishing than editing copy, laying out the interior and (second time smart!) hiring a real artist, Magdalene Carson, to create a cover. No, a publisher has to promote the books they publish — they need to sell the books they publish.
So, without further ado, if you have been wondering whether Black Grass is worth your time (and money), I have written about how and why Black Grass inspired me to start this company and, perhaps better still, we have finally posted the opinions of 15 advance (or beta) readers of Black Grasshere.
Does Black Grass appeal to English Professors and receptionists? Does it resemble the works of Sir Walter Scoot or Louis L’Amour? And is Carl Dow a sexist, or was he a woman in a previous life?
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.
Once, when having a few beers with the department head of a Journalism school, he said to me: “I’ve experienced you more than once being interviewed on radio and television in both English and French. On television you’re always relaxed, but on radio you seem nervous, at least for the first few minutes. You’d think the opposite would be true. Why is that?”
I thought for a moment then I said, “We all use body language when we speak. I’m sure that If I sat on my hands I’d be tongue tied. Therefore, on television, I’m most always sure that the camera is at least on my upper body and therefore is transmitting my body language along with my words. On radio that luxury is absent, Therefore it takes me a few minutes to channel all of my body language into my voice.”
Recently I was interviewed Peter Anthony Holder for his Podcast. The Stuph File. I spoke about my newly published novel Black Grass.
I haven’t been interviewed on radio for more than 50 years. I leave it to you to judge if I made the grade. You can listen to the interview below.
(And of course, don’t forget to buy the book! It is available in both paper and e-book editions through most online vendors, and autographed copies can be ordered directly from my publisher here!)
In 1866, about 200
kilometres south of what is now Winnipeg, Manitoba, Susannah Ross was
running for her life, and running out of time.
Black Grass is the extraordinary first novel by Carl Dow (author of The Old Man’s Last Sauna). Leavened with a wry sense of humour, Black Grass
is a riveting adventure, a grand romance in the classic style (with a
twist!), and a gripping war story set on the borders of what would
become the Canadian prairies and the American plains.
Things move slow when one has to juggle a day-job and a relationship with the responsibility of running a small press.
But things do move, and it is with great pleasure that I can now say (for real!), that our next book — Carl Dow’s Black Grass, a novel that smoothly combines adventure, historical, romance and western genres — is in production and will (yes, for real!) be published next year.
Joel Harden, NDP Ottawa Centre candidate, rescues senior trapped in Beaver Barracks bathtub for 22 hours
On Monday 19 March, 2018, Carl Dow of Ottawa’s Centretown apartment complex known as Beaver Barracks, and author of The Old Man’s Last Sauna and the forthcoming novel, Black Grass and Wildflowers: The Women Who Made McCord Chronicle, on which he is currently hard at work, was taking a shower at about 2 PM. He tripped, fell back into the half-filled tub, and couldn’t get out.
Mr. Dow, who will celebrate his 85th birthday July 15, has had five operations on his right hip. His left hip got jealous so they cut a deal, wherein the latter would have the pleasure of an operation – but only one. So far the bargain has been kept.
Here following is the story of the bathroom adventure in Mr. Dow’s own words.
I had an appointment with my family doctor, Mary Comerton, after having had bronchitis in December and then over the New Year was hospitalized for four days with pneumonia. I was thoroughly x-rayed and passed with flying colours. (For example, all my internal organs have been cleared. When I had my bone density checked it was declared as good as a male in his 20s.) But it had been more than three months since I was discharged and I wanted a sit-down with Mary to be officially brought up-to-date.
So I shaved and got under the shower. I turned and tripped and fell. (My right leg, as a result of all the operations, is an inch-and-a-half shorter than my left, and to make matters worse, as they say, the bungling surgeon put my right leg back together at a slight angle to the right. So I have to be careful. Because of the bungled operations my lower body strength is less than it should be (my upper body strength is much better than average).
Anyway, when I tripped I reached for the suction-cup grab bar, which I had tested before I turned on the water. It had been firm but when I needed it it came away from the wall like a piece of wet paper. So down I went. And there I lay for the next 22 hours.
I have always been super pleased at the sound proofing here. Twice, in the spirit of good neighbourliness, I’ve checked with new neighbours with volume louder than usual and we don’t hear a thing.
In the bathtub I couldn’t get my legs under me and there was no bar to grab. So using the heel of my left leg I hit the plug and got rid of the water. Then I lay back and waited for sounds in the hall.
“209 needs help!” I yelled and so I did through the rest of the day and all through the night whenever I heard sounds. But people make their own noise. So I went unheard. I thought that with morning and people stirring for work that my luck would change. No dice.
In the morning, (I knew it was morning because daylight had reached in) I heard the cleaner come with his floor machine. I yelled even while knowing that he couldn’t hear the faint call for help over the sound of his machine.
Meanwhile, I had written plot outlines for two movies and scenes for them. I was happy with the results after watching them being played out. About four in the morning (I’m guessing because I had no timepiece available), I was able to use the one crutch I had with me to secure a bath towel. I was starting to get a chill.
Throughout the morning I did my yelling. Finally, about eleven. I heard someone knocking on the only other door in the hallway.
The name was unfamiliar to me. “What are you doing?”
“Canvassing for the elections.”
“Well I’m stuck in my bathtub. Been here since two yesterday afternoon. Get me out of here and you’ve got my vote! I’ve been a New Democrat for more than 50 years.”
A few minutes later my Hero came back to report that para medics were on their way.
My daughter-in-law bought me what I call a “walk around phone”. My son Geoffrey, and Frances, light of my life, now require me to email them when I go to bed and when I wake up. I feel like a criminal out on parole. But that beats the alternative.