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Make Merry


Celebratory readers,

After all the recent gloomy news, we feel the need for a celebration of some sort. Something to reaffirm our love of all things book and remind ourselves that we have lots of allies in bookitude, that it is only the Conservative government that hates the written word. Fortunately, we have a great excuse for a party, a little something known as Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies. You may remember us talking about it before?

Officially, this wonderful collection of words is not available to the reading public until July 15th. But unofficially? And for special readers in author Victoria Dunn’s hometown of Ottawa? A special secret launch party! This Saturday! It is almost too much to believe. Just think, a copy of our latest, breathtaking adventure on paper in your hands an entire month before anyone else in the country! You could even read it twice in that amount of time.

So come! Join us to read our cares away! This Saturday at the incredible Collected Works. There will be food! And readings! And a we-are-one-hundred-percent-not-kidding zombie beauty contest! Not only will you have the chance to pick up a copy of the best book of 2012 (we are convinced this is true) and get that copy signed by the gracious author hivemind, you could even win incredible zombie-themed prizes! It may sound to good to be true, but party-hardy readers, we assure you it is all true.

PS. If you are unfortunate enough to live somewhere other than the nation’s capital, you can sign up for our mailing list and be first in line for pre-orders. Which will probably include some secret extras because we love secret extras. You can also pester your local bookstore/library to order it in for you from our fancy pants distributor, LitDistCo. Those people will get you sorted!

The End of Books?


Grief-stricken reader,

We are distraught. Indulge us for a moment as we wallow. Lovers of books that we are, it pains us to know that the Literary Press Group of Canada, those movers and shakers of the glamourous and exciting world of independent Canadian books, have lost the majority of their funding. We are sad for all the books (from forty-seven amazing independent Canadian publishers) who will no longer have sales agents, we are sad for the amazing sales agents who will no longer be LPG sales agents, and we are sad for ourselves.

Yes, teary-eyed reader, we are selfishly sad. For you see, although we had not yet announced it,  we have in fact just signed an agreement with that very same LPG sales force and its distribution arm LitDistCo to represent The Workhorsery. Which means that you, eagle-eyed reader, will have access to our wonderful offerings all across this great land of ours in a way that is not possible when it’s just us Workhorses putting our books into stores. We are only so many people and have only so much time. So we were delighted to join forces with the wonderful and hard-working people at LPG.

And then, before we could tell the world of our delight, the rug, so to speak, was yanked out from under all of us and now a group of brilliant people are losing their jobs, and a group of brilliant publishers are losing their sales team. The only sales team many of us tiny purveyors of Canadian literature can afford. And we are the ones bringing you the future of Canadian fiction, the future superstars who will have movies made of their books, who will tweet amusing bon mots to their millions of followers. (Not that we judge people on how many Twitter followers they have. We are not that shallow.) (Although we would not say no to more followers.)

“But what can I do to save the Canadian literature I love from total destruction?” you are most certainly asking yourself now, perhaps with a certain feeling of hopelessness. “I’m just one person who likes books very much, especially independent Canadian books,” you might be saying in your head as your eyes take in our mournful words. Crestfallen readers, take hope. You have a voice. You can stand up for the books you love (including Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies due out next month! Order your copy now!). Write to your MP and tell her or him how much you really love Canadian books. Tell your MP that funding the creation of books but not their distribution is ensuring the end of independent Canadian publishing. And then all we’ll have to read is an endless parade of Twilight fanfiction and nobody wants that.

We even wrote a letter ourselves that you can use if you want! And one to send to James Moore, the man in charge of the Department of Canadian Heritage, which is behind the defunding. Tweak them as you like, make them your own, or hey! You could even write your own letter from scratch. We are one hundred percent in support of that.

The key part of the whole thing is to tell your MP that this has happened (they might not even know!), and to tell both your MP and James Moore that you really don’t love that this has happened, and that you would appreciate it if they would also say that they do not like that this has happened. Maybe we can get some funding back if enough of us stand up and say that we care about culture in this country, that we don’t want all our thoughts and entertainments to come from south of the border.

Some key points for writing to your MP:

  1. Be nice! Swearing and threatening to hunt anyone down will lead to unpleasant places.
  2. Mailing a letter the old-fashioned way (on paper!) is the best.
  3. But if you’re not a letter writer, a phone call is the next best thing.
  4. And if you can’t bear the thought of making a phone call, an email is still better than nothing.

If you don’t know who to address your letter to, find your MP here just by entering your postal code. The magic of the Internet! And let us know what response you get by posting in the comments here or on our facebook page.  And while you’re at, tell us what great Canadian books you are reading! We are always looking for new words to make our brains explode with delight, especially now when we are feeling so very sad.


UPDATE: Activist readers, we did it! We are a little late in posting this update because we have been celebrating non-stop. But funding to the LPG has been completely restored! So all those wonderful people will continue to have jobs as sales reps promoting the best Canadian independent presses have to offer. Thanks to all of you who wrote to your MP and to James Moore! Pat yourself on the back and make yourself a fancy cocktail. You deserve it.

Nearly Upon Us


Time for Action


Non-decompositional readers,

We have indeed kept you waiting. Too many long days have passed since you had the hope of more thrilling pages of the non-traumatic literature we have promised you. But no more! We are so very pleased, delighted, excited and generally full of many emotions of the up variety to announce the next tasty treat we are going to put into your eager hands: Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies by Victoria Dunn! If the title alone doesn’t have you wanting to race out and buy it right now, perhaps a quick summary will get your literary salivary glands working.

Formerly a mediocre telephone psychic placating callers with fortune cookie platitudes, Alice Murphy is a Sensitive at Odyssey International—an organization dedicated to stomping out the supernatural wherever it rears its sparkly head—and partner to Enhanced Agent Wellington Wolfe. When rumours of zombies at the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in the small Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells begin swirling around, Alice and Wellington join up with Ken, a moustachioed American cowboy gone to seed and fervent zombie rights activist, and Mick, a pantheistic doctor in Hawaiian shirts attempting to find a cure for zombism, and head off to save the townsfolk and the zombies.

These pages are so filled with excitement, action and killer sheep, they threaten to explode before we can tame them into a paperback form for your reading pleasure. And we know you can’t wait for that paperback form. We can’t either, to be honest. But the mundane necessities of the world of making books mean that we will still need some time to wrangle all this fun into some kind of structure that you can buy at a bookstore. So save the approximate time period of early summer so that you can rush right out on the day of release. We’ll be sure to let you know the exact date when we know it ourselves, but if you don’t want the hassle of constantly checking our website or our facebook or our twitter (and honestly, we can understand that. Keeping up is exhausting), just use the form at the bottom there to send us your email address and we will add you to our mailing list, so that you can be the first to hear the news. And maybe get presents. We are not making any promises, but we have been known to give out presents.

But what of this Victoria Dunn, you clamour. Just who is this marvellous author? Let us tell you. She’s the ultimate Bond girl: intelligent, accomplished and stunningly beautiful. She doesn’t just blow smoke off her pistol—she blows smoke rings. In a parallel universe, Victoria Dunn is the evil hive mind of Victoria Higgins, stand-up comic and tree-hating pagan, and Meghan Dunn, Sunday School teacher and reading tutor, who insist, “Zombies are people, too! Zombies enjoy delivering mail, watching TV, and pose absolutely no danger to the public. If they do attempt to eat your brain, don’t panic. They’ll never gnaw through your cranium.”

Now it can be told, dear reader. (Well, summer 2012 it can be told.)

Enter the Dragon


Forgiving readers,

We cannot resist the chance to reference Bruce Lee. We are just that kind of press. And with the year of the dragon newly upon us, a certain movie starring a certain kung-fu hero has been oft on our minds. And it’s no doubt on your mind too after reading the triggering title of this post. Go, watch it now. No one can resist the magnetic pull of Bruce Lee. We’ll wait.

Are you back? Oh good. Now that you have had your fill of battles in dazzlingly mirrored rooms, you’re ready to think about books again, of this we are certain. And how fortuitous that you are here with us! Because we are makers of books. And readers of books. And dreamers of books. We have been reading a lot of interesting things over the holiday season, trying to keep it warm and cozy and holiday-feeling, despite the unseasonably warm winter we have seen at our Toronto headquarters. (We’re not complaining in the slightest! We love a relatively painless passage through the darkest time of the year, although warm weather and lack of snow does make it hard to feel all tucked in to our book cave, whiling the dark days away with great works.)

(Yes, we have a book cave at Workhorsery HQ. Make of that what you will. )

Apparently, many of you got Kindles for the present-giving seasonal holiday that you celebrate. How do you like them? We certainly hope that those little devices were already jammed with great literature when you got your hands on them. We would be somehow disappointed at receiving an empty reading device. Almost like getting a beautifully bound pile of blank pages. (Of course, we know that it is much, much easier to fill a Kindle than to fill a pile of blank pages, but still, the feeling lingers.) If you are interested in filling that electronic memory even further, you might be relieved to know that both of our initial releases are available on Amazon (or on Smashwords if you are trying to free yourself from the clutches of the whispernet).

And if you can wait until spring, we will have something exceptional and new for you! We’re still fussing around with the various details (because we are nothing if not fussy and thorough when it comes to the books we offer up to you), but we can tell you right now we are so excited! We are working with an amazing author to bring you an amazing (and incredibly funny) book! This is the thing that we love best in this world. Well, maybe second best. The thing we love best is actually getting an amazing (and incredibly funny) book into your hands. Soon, patient reader, soon.

Seasons Change


Heartfelt reader,

Perhaps the title of this post brought a certain eighties’ classic to mind? Perhaps that was something you never wanted to remember, in which case we offer our most sincere and humble apologies.

But the point remains! The seasons are sadly changing. Already, the sweat-drenched days of summer heatwaves seem so far away, shadowed by the grey clouds looming outside our window and bring the chill of fall to our hearts. We cling to the hope that summer will resurge and make us regret putting all the fans back into closets, if only for a day or two, but the sinking feeling in our chest suggests that summer is gone, and all we have to look forward to are turtlenecks and scarves. (And some of us do look forward to those. Some of us are neck-covering people.)

However, all is not despair here at Workhorsery HQ. The end of summer also means the beginning of the great Season of Books, when every publisher releases all the books we want to read, and all the literary awards are given out. And this fall promises some particularly tasty treats. We wish we could add our own treats to that list, but we are still in the process. The process of soliciting, reading, responding. So many wonderful writers out there in the land of the falling maple leaf! We want to publish you all! But sadly, our resources are limited and we must be fussy. Even with our fussiness, though, we have found some magnificent works that we hope to share with you soon! In the meantime, tell us what fall releases have you particularly excited. We love to know what our readers are reading.

And if your shelves are soon-to-be-empty and you are feeling that rising panic at the coming lack of books to read with nothing making your heart beat faster on the fall releases list, you need to clear your schedule. The Word on the Street is only two and a half weeks away! If you haven’t been before, this year is your chance. And if you have been before, you already know why it is a book event that is not to be missed! The Workhorsery will be there again this year, proudly offering up our first two novels, You and the Pirates and Pitouie. And we’ll have authors Jocelyne and Derek with us for at least part of the day, so if you haven’t already gotten signed copies of their books, Word on the Street is the perfect time. But only if you are in Toronto. Our deepest apologies to all of you living elsewhere.

To make up for the fact that we never travel, a sale! Order You and the Pirates, Pitouie or both before September 26 and get free shipping to anywhere in Canada that is not Toronto! Plus your choice of the free swag we’ll have at Word on the Street:  an incredible handmade book cover or a selection of amazing Workhorsery pins! It is the least we can do for you, faraway readers. One day, we hope to see you in person, but until that fortuitous day comes, you will have to comforted with our non-traumatic works of fiction.

National News


Attentive readers,

If you read the papers (and who doesn’t really?), you may have come across an introspective piece on the Small Press Book Fair of Toronto. Our very own Workhorse Todd was interviewed, but the writer took the article in a different direction and Todd’s words of wisdom no longer fit the narrative. But it is still very exciting to see an event that we support so enthusiastically making a splash in the National Post. Our support is so enthusiastic, in fact, that we will be there tomorrow! From 11:00 until 17:00 and beyond! Because we would not dream of leaving without helping to clean up. We’ll have Derek with us from the opening of the doors until about 13:30, at which time Jocelyne will arrive and stay until the doors close. Both will be signing books! Pitouie and You and the Pirates! Why not stop by and chat with your new favourite authors? We promise they would be delighted to see you there!

And if you don’t follow us on Twitter (maybe you should?), you may have missed some treats that have tickled us lately. Like this massive crumbling story by Ryo Shimizu. We can only imagine what an amazing experience it must be to see this in real life rather than in photos on the interwebs. Maybe a trip to Japan is in order. Because there is also this house made of books to see. A whole house of books! Our fondest dream come true!

This is something we came across quite a while ago, but it certainly merits another look. The library is many things, something we have been thinking about a lot after the loss of the library in Slave Lake. A community without a library is just heartbreaking to us. Which is why we were only too happy to donate to the Slave Lake Book Auction, put together by the incredibly industrious Colleen McKie. The auction ended last night, but you can still help the library by going to their Canada Helps page and making a donation. Rebuilding a library is no small task, so if you have a spare dollar or two kicking around, why not help out a bookish endeavour?

The Falls


Sun-soaked reader,

If you are not in the southern Ontario area, you may not know that Saturday was a stormy day. Thunder, lightning, rain, everything you need for a turbulent romance between star-crossed lovers. But not necessarily the perfect weather for a book fair in a city on a waterfall. But we are delighted to have been a part of the first-ever Book Affair in Niagara Falls this Saturday, even with the stormy weather.

We met some really incredible people, even with the weather-induced low turnout. We happily spent a large portion of the day chatting with Karen Dales, vampire novelist and book fair neighbour.

Read more…

Summer Is Upon Us!


Sweaty reader,

Did you notice how the sun came out recently? And is making things abnormally warm? Are you as happy about it as we are? We are twirling around Workhorsery HQ in bare feet and short skirts (those of us of the skirt-wearing variety, anyway), flipping through manuscripts and continuing our search for the next perfect book. Did you write a perfect book, by any chance? Perhaps you would like to send it to us. We’d love to take a look.

Or perhaps you are looking for a perfect book yourself, a little something to lounge with as you bask in the short-lived summer heat. Have you read Derek’s book yet? It is a twisty-turny road of improbable action. And Jocelyne’s book has all those cats, a whole army of them. Either one is guaranteed to liven up your long days and give you something weird to talk about at work. If you don’t currently own these treasures, we have a number of options for you.

The most imminent of which is the Book Affair in Niagara Falls this Saturday. Yes, we will be visiting your fair municipality for the first time ever! We are delighted to be able to spread our gospel of nutbar Canadian fiction to this city on the roaring waters. And of course, we want to meet you! Niagara readers, please stop by and say hello. We will be there, meeting and greeting from 10:00 to 17:00. We will even have author Jocelyne there to scrawl out mildly humorous remarks in her book for you. And we will have Pitouie waiting for you there, several copies even signed by Derek. Plus book covers and rambling stories about the publishing industry! Don’t miss this opportunity to meet your new favourite indie publisher!

It is really a month of book fairs for The Workhorsery. We’ll be back at the Small Press of Toronto fair on June 19 from 11:00 until 17:00 with both Derek and Jocelyne signing books, and then at the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair on June 25 from 12:00 to 17:00. So many chances to meet us! So come! Meet us! We would love to be met.

The Quiet of Fresh Snow


Hushed reader,

Did the return of winter surprise you as much as it did us? Or perhaps you are lucky enough to be somewhere far away from all this white stuff. In that case, we are deeply envious. Although we love many things about this northern country of Canada (especially its fiction!), we could do without the neverending arctic blasts. Especially when the rising temperatures of the last week had our hearts singing and thinking about spring.

The only thing that comforts us on these wintry nights is naturally books. Fortunately, we attended the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair this past weekend, so we were able to stock up before the blizzard. If only we had thought to stock up on groceries as well.

Book fairs are always a treat because of all the people we get to talk to. In Buffalo, we somehow managed to attract all the children yet again (the cats in our display are like a drug to them), but unlike other fairs, the children answering the sweet siren song of the plastic cats were working the fair. Or rather, their parents were and they were bored.

Lured in from across the aisle before the fair even started

Read more…