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5 Debut Authors in Search of a Book Launch

Book Cover The Jane Austen Society

Natalie Jenner's debut novel, The Jane Austen Society, will be released on May 26.

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Seeing one’s novel on a bookstore shelf for the very first time is so often the dream and the work of a lifetime. Sadly, debut authors have been hit particularly hard by the publishing industry repercussions from the current virus outbreak. New writers lack established audiences for their work, which makes it that much harder to see their release dates, marketing initiatives and in-person events postponed or even cancelled. The necessary news focus on the pandemic gripping our world also means, unfortunately, even less opportunity for book reviews and media interviews, a key component of increasing awareness of new authors and their books.

The following five Canadian authors (Anita Kushwaha, Ava Homa, Deborah Hemming, Erin Ruddy and Eddy Boudel Tan) have seen the cancellation of most if not all of the marketing events planned for their debut books and are trying to launch their books and their careers amidst tremendous uncertainty and stress. From wondering if physical copies of books will even get made or official release dates will hold firm, to seeing the cancellation of first-time speaking appearances at such noted industry events as the LA Times Book Festival, the Ottawa …

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Launchpad: The Kissing Fence, by B.A. Thomas-Peter

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching The Kissing Fence, by B.A. Thomas-Peter, which Genevieve Graham calls "A compelling story of faith and loyalty, abuse and adversity, and the hope for a better tomorrow."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

The Kissing Fence uses a fictional account of real events in BC, following the struggle of two generations of Doukhobors to explore what happens when culture, values, and identity are lost, and what causes someone to change course …

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Launchpad: Polar Vortex, by Shani Mootoo

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're featuring award-winning writer Shani Mootoo whose new release is Polar Vortex, an intense, propulsive read about a love triangle that turns out to be even more complicated than that, a novel that's gorgeously wrought and excruciatingly (in the best way!) unputdownable. 

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

Priya has not come clean with her partner Alexandra about her old university friend Prakash, with whom she had a long push-and-pull relat …

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Launchpad: The Union of Smokers, by Paddy Scott

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're featuring Paddy Scott, whose debut novel is The Union of Smokers, described as "an entirely new kind of story told by a gutter-mouthed, chain-smoking twelve year old, who announces in the opening paragraph that he’s going to die today."

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Book Cover The Union of Smokers

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

The Union of Smokers is a day in the life and a life in the final day of narrator Kaspar Pine, a young man who takes it upon himself to use his last hours on earth to educat …

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Launchpad: Junebat, by John Elizabeth Stintzi

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

First up is John Elizabeth Stintzi, whose poetry has been awarded the 2019 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers and the Long Poem Prize from the Malahat Review. Their debut poety collection is Junebat, of which Billy Ray Belcourt has written, "To the poetics of the queer everyday Stintzi adds their ‘Junebat,’ a multitudinous concept of such explanatory power I’m certain it’ll endure in the collective memory of Canadian writing."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us …

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Your 2020 Spring Festival Guide

Save the dates! Across the country, organizers and volunteers extraordinaire are programming epic celebrations of books and the amazing people who write them. Find out what's happening in your literary neighbourhood.

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The spring festival season season kicks off with the Growing Room Literary & Arts Festival in Vancouver, BC, running March 11–15, with Aisha Sasha John, Alex Leslie, Alicia Elliott, Amanda Leduc, and Andrea Warner...and these are only a handful of exciting artists at the top of their alphabetized list—just wait til you check out the rest!

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Versefest 2020, Ottawa's International Poetry Festival, takes place March 24–29, with Karen Solie, Armand Garnet Ruffo, Ben Ladouceur, Canisia Lubrin, Gwen Benaway, Kaie Kellough, Robin Richardson, Shazia Hafiz Ramji, Sheree Fitch, and many others.

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A spectacular list of events take …

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Most Anticipated: Spring 2020 Books for Young Readers Preview

We're excited to be looking ahead to books for young readers, including picture books and middle grade and YA titles.

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Picture Books

Told half in French and half in English, with simple phrasing and visual cues in the illustrations making the story easy for early readers to decode in both languages, Pierre & Paul: Avalanche! (March), by Caroline Adderson and illustrated by Alice Carter, is an engaging story of friendship and imagination. A girl and her neighbour grow a community from their garden in What Grew in Larry's Garden (April), by Laura Alary, illustrated by Kass Reich. Extraordinary things are happening behind the windows of the city in Marion Arbona's Window (March), an interactive, one-of-a-kind wordless picture book. And Christine Baldacchino follows up the acclaimed Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress with Violet Shrink (March), illustrated by Carmen Mok, about a young girl who navigates social anxiety at family gatherings and works with her father to find a solution.

Pairing creative rhyming similes with cut-paper collage art, …

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Most Anticipated: Spring 2020 Poetry Preview

We continue looking forward to spring releases. Don't miss our Fiction and Nonfiction previews.

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Irfan Ali's debut Accretion (April) is set in Toronto, unfurling against the backdrop of an ancient Persian love story. Softening concrete poetry with humour and tenderness, POP (April), by Simina Banu, takes an uncommon perspective on modern poetic traditions, combining deft lyricism with visual poems for a playful romp. In Tanja Bartel’s riveting poetry debut, Everyone At This Party (March), the bucolic Vancouver suburbs clash with the interpersonal. And Ross Belot has a filmmaker’s sense of atmosphere, an environmentalist’s urgency and his stark lines take the reader deep into the heart of industrial man in Moving to Climate Change Hours (April).

Gwen Benaway follows up the Governor General’s Award-winning Holy Wild with day/break (April), exploring the everyday poetics of the trans feminine body. Bertrand Bickersteth’s debut collection The Response of Weeds (April) explores what it means to be Black and Albertan through numerous prisms: h …

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Most Anticipated: Spring 2020 Nonfiction Preview

Art, bees, cooking, design, education, fairy tales, graphic memoirs, and so it goes. There's something for everyone in our nonfiction preview, featuring exciting debuts and new books by Jenna Butler, Jordan Abel, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Donald Savoie, Lauren McKeon, and more!  

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From Griffin Poetry Prize winner Jordan Abel comes Nishga (April), an autobiographical meditation on the complicated legacies that Canada’s reservation school system have cast on his grandparents’, his parents’ and his own generation. Coalesce (April), by mixed-media artist Barry Ace, is a fusion of distinct Anishinaabeg aesthetics of the Great Lakes region, using refuse from Western society’s technological and digital age to intentionally shift an object’s materiality and its accepted paradigm within the physical world. And Artistic Glass: One Studio & Fifty Years of Stained Glass (January) is a full-colour large format art book contextualizing the history of stained glass in Canada, showcasing the life and work of Josef Aigner, an artist and master craftsman whose 50-year career has had a lasting impact on the Canadian art landscape.

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Most Anticipated: Spring 2020 Fiction Preview

 The fiction selection for the first half of 2020 is shaping up beautifully! Here's what we're excited about.

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Part literary Western and part historical mystery, Ridgerunner (May) is the follow-up to Gil Adamson’s award-winning and critically acclaimed novel The Outlander. Jean Marc Ah-Sen’s second book, after Grand Menteur, is the story collection In the Beggarly Style of Imitation (April). Keepers of the Faith (April), by Shaukat Ajmeri, is a Romeo and Juliet story with a twist, set in modern India, in a Shia Muslim community that lives under the thumb of a clergy dictating every facet of their lives. Marianne Apostolides’ latest novel is I Can’t Get You Out of My Mind (April), a book that asks what it means to be human—to be physical creatures endowed with a conscious mind, aware of our finitude—and to love. And in Alone in the Wild (February), Kelley Armstrong’s latest thriller, the hidden town of Rockton is about to face a challenge none of them saw coming: a baby.

Set in the mid-1930s, Filthy Sugar (May), by Heather Babcock, te …

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