News ~ Who Am I? ~ Blogging ~ Writing ~ Publications & Events ~ Bio


2019Cover pushcart XLIII

My flash fiction, “Sweet Caporal at Dawn” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize XLIII, by Blank Spaces Magazine. I nominate Alanna and her editors for a glass of red… Clink! 







bofotw best of fiction
My short story, “Nothing to Lose”, ran on Fiction on the Web, a UK & Ireland-based online literary publication. It was selected from over 1,000 published stories to appear in “The Best of Fiction on the Web Volume 1: 1996-2017”

The Best of Fiction on the Web press release



Since this Fiction on the Web news broke in February of 2018, another of my stories has been selected to be included in an anthology: “Just Words Volume 2” from the good people at Blank Spaces magazine. See the Publications page for details.

I’ll be reading my story, “Away Game” in Vancouver at a Pulp Literature magazine event on December 16, 2018. Wish me luck, although I must admit that of all public speaking requirements, reading one of my stories or excerpts gives me the least anxiety and the most pleasure. See my Goodreads page for details of the event:

You can also find a few AUDIO RECORDINGS of me reading my stories on the Goodreads site: “Sweet Caporal at Dawn”, and an excerpt from, “The Margin of the River”.

November 9-18, 2018, I presented a SERIAL short story. Five segments. “Prairie’s End, Manitoba”, here’s a link to Episode One. Expect quirky, off the cuff, irreverent. You say jumbly, I say raucous…

An author interview: “Five Questions with Mitchell Toews” appears on the lively Manitoba website, Mennotoba. “JUST ANOTHER MENNONITE SITE”. My words of questionable wisdom go live on November 14, 2018.

In late November or early December, a new story will be out on the Canadian (via Romania) literary website, Scarlet Leaf Review. My story, “The Narrowing” will be featured. It’s a story about mental health and the difficulties that can arise when things go wrong in a family setting.

Who Am I?

I WRITE ABOUT fictional everyday heroes and gritty situations familiar to most. Real life. Feelings, characters and place.

Being a writer is hard work. I write every day: flash fiction, short stories and novellas. I edit and re-write and submit. I blog. There is a completed first draft novel that my freelance editor, James McKnight, and I are editing –that really gets the old heart beating!

I also have a short story trilogy which I have come to believe would make a good screenplay. No, I have no screenplay training or talent, but I am looking for someone who does with the idea of collaborating in mind. The trilogy is called, “The Bottom of the Sky” and it ran in October 2018 as the “Pick of the Month” on the UK literary website, Fiction on the Web. (Name ring a bell? See the Publications page for details.)


Some of my stories recount events and conflicts from the “Mennosphere” – inwardly oriented communities that can generate wonderful characters and practical – often beautiful – solutions to life’s confusion.

But not always.


oldmainstPart of my context is to have grown up in the little town of Steinbach, Manitoba. My great great grandfather was, “Delegate Toews”, a unique, forceful and devout man who was one of 12 emissaries from a group of Mennonite settlements in Southern Russia. They sought refuge as Russia caved in on top of them and their conspicuous isolation. The delegates chose the East Reserve — a parcel of land at the extreme eastern edge of the Canadian prairies.

SIDEBAR: With this classical historical imperative as a uniform blue watercolour background on my canvasses, I slather on some bold oils and smudgy charcoal. My parents didn’t go to church. Sure, Grandma Toews did her part – bible stories and Sunday School, but eventually, I rang the bell, Navy Seal style, and withdrew voluntarily. So like an (observant) seven-legged creature on the wall; neither spider nor ant nor fly, I grew up in Steinbach without a web to call my own. I didn’t have a DVBS story to tell, nor a favourite hymn. I sucked at sword-drill. In fact, if not for my mom and a few open-minded friends in high school, I might not have even learned the basics of Plautdietsch. (I now conceal/attenuate my lack of fluency via my windsurfing buddy JS and another Jack of all Tongues, former Grunthaller J. Thiessen of wörterbuch fame.) I ain’t that klüak, but I love to plaut moake my klüa, here and there.

Lots of people think their family history and personal travails are interesting. I guess I do too, but more than that, I like to borrow from the severe characters and schnuddanäses I’ve met along the horse-shit spattered way. Often, I’m a collector of the grit and gristle that gets boiled off of the pious and the prayerful. 

(And I also like to leave the Mennosphere – the world is terrible big, not?)

Cornelius P. Toews, 1874 (The original Menno hipster?)

See Doug Toews excellent account of our family history here: toews_family_history_sm2018

Steinbach was created from the aforementioned migration. I, in turn, have created the village of Hartplatz as the imaginary home for many of my characters. It is where vectors intersect – faith and doubt; pacifism in a world at war; honour and temptation; fervour and absurdity; the temptations of the wide welt, and of course, humour. Many of these “Hartplatz stories*” are in the bildungsroman tradition; in both first person and narrator formats.

“God causes it to rain on Chevs and Fords alike,” as Dietrich, the main character in “Without Reason” puts it. The way the characters resist, pitting their will against that of their foe – the foe they seek to love – can make for a good yarn.

I will defer to the wisdom of Alice Munro when it comes to Canada and short stories:

“It means something to me that no other country can—no matter how important historically that other country may be, how ‘beautiful,’ how lively and interesting. I am intoxicated by this particular landscape… I speak the language.”.

As I submit stories to literary journals and contests, I learn. This iterative education includes craft and structure, but it is also a way to find and recognize “my voice”. Audience composition and location/demographics have been particularly interesting. Mennonites and rural Canadians are a part of my readership so far and that was expected. More surprising is the way that more distant readers-in the U.K. and California-seem to have embraced the Hartplatz stories in particular.

*Published and unpublished Hartplatz stories include:

Nothing to Lose ~ The Fifty Dollar Sewing Machine ~ Breezy and the Six-Pack Sneaker ~ So Are They All ~ Heavy Artillery ~ Fall from Grace ~ Our German Relative ~ Peacemongers ~ The Preacher and His Wife ~ South Oromocto Depths ~ The Red River Valley Trilogy: Part 1 – Encountered on the Shore ~ Part 2 – A Vile Insinuation ~ Part 3 – Without Reason ~ Frozen Tag ~ Let Us Gather: Part 1 – Zero to Sixty ~ Part 2 – The Margin of the River ~ The Bottom of the Sky Trilogy: Part 1 – The Mismaloya ~ Part 2 – A Fisherman’s Story ~ Part 3 – Carlos and Avelino ~ The Seven Songs ~ Away Game ~ The Watering of Nations. 

The list above follows the main characters from Russia to Canada, and on a timeline that button-hooks a few times from 1874 to 2048, with some lengthy pauses in the rich, nostalgic Sixties.


I build things in my little workshop and spend a lot of time fixing the uncooperative work, damaged digits, and the tools I break along the perilous way.

I love to paint. I am an avid windsurfer (action thriller) and golfer (historical tragicomedy). Janice and I catch a few pickerel and “hammer handles” in the lake and we travel when we can; volandos con fragatas.

11902514_10153194855207833_4578986395586266022_n brown-eyed-girl-sm

We live at the lake in Manitoba, our property is situated on Métis land: Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ   We love it here in the forest, but we sure do miss the BC coast and our wonderful BC grandkids.

12227678_10153357521097833_8705691948589481086_n tyrus-james-olynyk

I have two daughters. That and my middle initial are not my only parallels with Homer Simpson – just so you know. Just like Homer’s girls, mine are smart as hell, beautiful, talented and best of all, forgiving of their bumbling father. Both have inherited a “feisty nature” and I think they also secretly love to cuss. They got that from their mom.

Meg With Winter Hair Tere Firma

Jan and I owned a manufacturing company for 16 years and I worked in the advertising and marketing side of the Canadian advanced secondary wood manufacturing industry since 1997. I have met the inflexible demands of both payrolls and deadlines.

Now I am doing what I truly love – writing fiction.


Building a writer’s platform

My blog goals are:

1. To have readers.

2. To invite response.

I write for myself, for that fleeting moment when I whisper, “Hey, that’s only partly crappy!” It has also turned out to be a fun way to meet like-minded and genuinely interesting people. I get to hear their opinions; share their experiences and learn. Maybe even make a friend or two?

3. To find a writers group to join.

4. To introduce myself and my work to editors, literary agents and publishers.

Re-blogging my stuff is OK with me (!) just show the source, of course. 



By Luisale - Own work - Full citation below

My writing goals are to get a print publisher to invest in me and my writing. No problem, eh? I work with a freelance editor, James A.C. McKnight of London. In the works; curating and editing for a collection of short stories, writing more stories and a novel that is nearing first draft completion. I seek an agent — at least I would if I knew how to do it.

Write Clicks

(Here’s a section so profound, it is presented in third-person!)

After years of meeting deadlines and writing marketing communications and ad copy in Canada and the USA, Mitchell Toews began submitting fictional short stories to literary journals in February 2016. See an updated list of ACCEPTANCES here:

The Best-Looking, Wisest, Most Charming Editors Working in Fiction Today

OR visit the PUBLICATIONS section of this website.


Rhubarb Magazine launched Dis / Ability Issue R39 at Sam’s Place on Henderson Highway in Winnipeg. September 7, 2016. Janice and Mitch attended and heard some great readings while enjoying rhubarb tea.

“So Are They All” took second place for Adult Fiction in the 2016 “Write on the Lake” writing contest and will appear in the Lake Winnipeg Writers’ Group’s semi-annual journal, Voices, Volume 16, No. 2. Mitchell was on hand at the launch to read excerpts from the short story at McNally Robinson in Winnipeg, on November 20, 2016.


MITCHELL TOEWS: A plump whiskey jack had this to say about him: “Chickadees say he’s a fiction writer. He doesn’t do much else besides write and fix stuff around his cabin. Does some windsurfing and cross-country skiing. He used to live on the West Coast. He lives here at the lake most of the year now and I think him and Janice head south in the winter, like those stupid-ass pelicans. He’s a little stingy with the sunflower seeds.”
Former entrepreneur and repentant marketer/ad exec, now residing and writing in the boreal primeval. He cleans the ice off of his internet dish. He watches for the aurora borealis. He feeds the winter birds, including those stupid-ass whiskey jacks.

My surname is pronounced “Tayvz” but “TOES” will do fine. My chief Hartplatz characters have the surname Zehen (meaning “toes”), which is a tip of the hat to pedal digits and hard-to-pronounce Mennonite names.


The Imagery on the site is mostly made up of seasonal snaps of our lakeside home and a few of my paintings. (And the odd bit scraped off the hull of the lumbering cruise ship called Wikipedia Commons; such as the inky one above; CC BY-SA 3.0,

Tray Bong! – Mitch

Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2018



15 thoughts on “About

  1. A really fun site and you do a great job of communicating your enthusiasm for writing. Wow. That comment was so official. I’ll try again– you made me laugh and you made me want to go to my desk and write. Hmmm. Better.


  2. HI Mitchell ,Nice to meet you .Thanks for stopping by on my blog and giving it follow. I am happy to get connect with a writer with you.
    Keep coming on my site in your free time and sharing my feedback.
    Happy Weekend !!



  3. Hi Mitchell, really enjoying your blog and your attitude to writing. I used to be a journalist on a regional daily paper in Tasmania (that little shield-shaped island south of Ostraya). I started as stringer with no training (“we’ll just throw you in the deep end & see if you swim”.) That was great experience, meeting people I’d never meet in my stuffy home town & learning their stories, copping their insults. “Bloody blow-in!” was a common one, mainly from middle-aged rural men on the windy NW coast. So, I worked as a journo for 30 years, mainly on trade & industry mags, then, forcibly retired like so many others as the print media shrank, FINALLY started writing for myself.

    Horror Headlines is a spin-off to promote my first not-self-published volume, my verse novel, Newtown Voices. I’m so glad you liked my Harry post. You landed on the first of my not a horror headline posts. Next post will be back to crime and poverty and rapidly changing social conditions un the late 1970s. It’s so much fun to be able to combine journalism with story telling! BTW: I also have a poetry blog, of poems I do’t consider good enough to enter into competitions or send to publishers. That’s the nearest I’ll allow myself to self-publishing again.

    BTW2: I have ex-Mennonite friends who moved to Tassie and joined the Anglican church I was then attending. I’d never really heard of Mennonites before I met Karlin & Ed. Life in Tassie can be very insular. (Pun intended.)

    Shall drop into your blog from time to time to see what you’re up to. All the best, Sue C

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sue! So interesting – your past and meeting Mexikaunch Mennos in Tas. I will read more of your stuff! I’ve had some success submitting short stories to UK and Irish markets. Your comments (a small sample, I’ll admit) lead me to wonder if I should dip a freckled toe in your faraway waters. Canadian pubs are standoffish–maybe that’s SOP, grass greener, etc. I wrote a story about Mexican Mennonite migration into my hometown that Karlin and Ed may like: Also, I enjoyed your artful pun! Cheers, mjt


  4. Awesome work Mitch! I look forward to reading more. You have a great way with words and a wonderful sense of humour. I am a Taves formerly from Ontario but now live on Salt Spring Island in BC. My father was born in Russia in 1914, emigrated to Canada in 1924, became a Baptist minister in 1958 or so and then passed away suddenly in 1960 leaving me with very little information about my ancestors or his time in Russia. Thanks to the internet I am now connecting with cousins I used to know and some I’ve never met. I am revelling in the discovery of family history long past and am trying to learn German (Plautdietsch is almost impossible!) I’m not sure that we are related in any way but I feel a kinship with your stories. It’s great to meet you!


    1. Hi Ruth Anne! Thanks. I am so happy to hear about the connection you feel! Several new stories coming soon and a novel in the works.

      If you tell me your Dad and his father’s names, birthdates-places, I can check the “Toews book”. My G-G-GF was Delegate Toews of the Kleine Gemeinde church in Russia who came to Can/US to scout out the free land in 1873.

      We love BC — kids and grandkids there. One daughter lived on Galiano for a year. Loved it. We were in Chilliwack for nine years. Now back in Manitoba. Cheers!


  5. Good morning Mitchell. I was wondering if you would consider being a guest on my author’s blog? Readers from all over the world. A new audience for your writing perhaps? Please have a peek and if you are interested be an honor having you as a guest. If you are interested, please send me an email at and I will send you some brief details. Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s