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

Black Grass – the first 3 chapters

“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.

If my say-so doesn’t convince you, please click here to read the first three chapters and then decide for yourself.

Happy reading!

Geoffrey Dow, Publisher

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?”

Like Sir Walter Scott, Louis L’Amour and … Penthouse Forum?!? Clearly, opinions vary!

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!).

“In the spirit of Walter Scott, Black Grass offers humour, horror, passion, satire, and insight.”

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!

“The way Susan felt just before she had the first intercourse, is the way you feel about it when you want it. I wondered, how does Carl know how a woman would feel in that moment? He must have been a woman in a prior life.”

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.

“The poker game was a tour de force, and I say this as an experienced player.”

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 Grass here.

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?

“A delicate balance of sex, violence and history that should take the book far.”

Why not find out for yourself?

Click here to find out what 15 readers of a draft version of the novel thought!

Black Grass on the pod(cast)

BREAKING

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.

Why radio is harder than television

Thoughts on my first interview about Black Grass

Carl Dow with copy of Black Grass

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!)