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The Business of Saving Souls on SickLit

Update: My prickly story about the conflation of business, big church and politics appears on SickLit Magazine today, May 15.

This is a reprint of the story which first appeared on another of my favourite literary journals, Literally Stories.

This is what SickLit Senior Editor Nicole Ford Thomas had to say about it:

“I really like “The Business of Saving Souls,” as it seems at first like a warm and fuzzy church parable about doing good, but down deep, it’s a lesson about standing up to corruption–all corruption–and fighting to take care of each other.”

SickLit recently ran a reprint of another of my stories, “The Rothmans Job”, which first appeared on the vibrant Canadian literature site, CommuterLit. I have a total of seven stories on CommuterLit and another five on Literally Stories. Thanks to the editors of all of these exceptional online literary journals!

I hope you enjoy the pieces and welcome your comments.

Special thanks to the editors at SickLit. They are awesome sauce. (Or, “hosanna!” as they’d read responsively at the NTCCF.)

Allfornow – Mitch

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The Beefeater and the Donnybrook

 

Update: 4.11.17 – Hi, from a sunny day in April, beside the lake,

Janice and I have been travelling and have both been down with a cold lately. My blog activity has been limited, though I have been able to keep up with daily writing. Today I heard from editor and literary paragon, Charlie Fish, that another of my stories has been accepted for his award-winning site, Fiction on the Web.

Feedspot has named FotW a TOP 20 short story site on the internet!

Short-story_20_transparent_216pxHere’s what Charlie says about FICTION on the WEB: “It is a labour of love. Every single story on here is hand-picked and carefully edited by me. I don’t have a staff, and I don’t make any money. I do this because I want to give authors a chance to get their work out there, and I love sharing great stories with the world.

FICTION on the WEB has been online since 1996, which makes it the oldest short stories website on the Internet.”

Here are a few snippets from my latest story:

The Beefeater and the Donnybrook

By Mitchell Toews

Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2017

MICAH JAMES WAS shorter than average and had an interesting kind of face. His eyes were recessed and penetrating and his complexion had the weathered texture and ruddy colour of a mountain climber or a big game hunter. He was neither. Micah James was a quiet, middle-aged family man – an engineer working for the City of Halifax in Canada.

The Jameses were leaving together soon on a long-awaited trip to London. His wife, Marion, had planned the trip from the packing process through tipping and all conceivable forms of disaster planning.

[SNIP]

“Ok, I’m on it! Walk will do me good.” Micah said, giving Marion an assuring glance and summoning up some energy for the trip. It was fine – the kind of little blip he had been secretly hoping for.

[SNIP]

Twisting in his crouch, Micah was eyeball to kneecap with a pair of creased black pants, gold piping on the sides. His eyes followed the stripes up to a white satin tunic and topping that, a dapper red fez. Then the voice again, but softer, “Are you alright, mate?”

[SNIP]

He waited in line at the reception desk, listening to an instrumental version of a Bob Dylan song. It was piping out of a speaker in the tile ceiling above him and he laid his head back to peer at it. Thinking of his own rapid descent into hell, he picked detritus from his oily beard; bits of styrofoam and other rancid urban spod. His thinning hair hung in limp disarray and the belt of the raincoat had come loose and was dragging on the ground behind him like an obedient, filthy snake.

[SNIP]

See it on FotW on May 19: an ever-worsening yarn that plays out on the streets of central London. 

Other stories that have appeared on Fiction on the Web:

Nothing to Lose

July 8, 2016. A baker and former hockey player reminisces on his colourful history as he delivers buns in the dusty Manitoba sun.

Heavy Artillery

Oct. 30, 2016. The story of young Matty and his characterful neighbour encountering a travelling salesman in the sleepy Manitoba town of Hartplatz.

The Preacher and His Wife

 Jan. 23, 2017. In Hartplatz, rural Canada, a neighbourhood scandal brews when young Sarah reports that her grandmother’s engagement ring has gone missing.

The Rothmans Job

February 19, 2017 UPDATE

SickLitMagazine has advised that they will be publishing a reprint of “The Rothmans Job” which first appeared (see below) on CommuterLit.com.

The story will run in late March or early April.

sicklit

allfornow – Mitch

January 30, 2017 UPDATE

TODAY, this twisted Canadian yarn, born in absurd truth and transported on the wings of a fictional 1991 prairie storm, is published by CommuterLit – a Toronto based online purveyor of morning short stories, lox and bagels. (And they are all out of lox and bagels.) 

http://commuterlit.com/

If a Neo-Noir Xmas Tragicomedy sub-genre exists, then this story belongs there. If not, then maybe this story inspires it?

A snowy night. An unlocked warehouse. A characterful materfamilias.

The Rothmans Job – EXCERPTS
By Mitchell Toews
.
A STORM LIKE THIS was rare. Snowflakes blocked out sky and sun and moon and stars. The flakes – as big as baby fists – had been falling for three days. Light and dry, they flew, then settled, then flew again – whipped by a dodgy north wind. At night, the tops of buildings disappeared except for the occasional glimpse of a red tower beacon or a snapping row of flags, like those atop The Bay.
.
Through this otherworld trudged Waxman and Thunderella. Waxman led. He wore two snowmobile suits and his knees could not bend more than a few degrees. Lumbering and stiff, he plowed through drifts for his female accomplice, Ellen Thundermaker.
.
[snip]
.
“No way, Waxy. It’s gonna be all imported cheese and fancy wine. Crab meat. Vienna sausages…” she said, stopping to let him join in.
.
“Ha-ha. Yeah – uhh, Heineken beer, Dijon ketchup, Swiss chocolate – or, you know, one of those giant bars, ahh,”
.
“TOBLERONE, TOBLERONE!” she shouted out, filling in the missing name.
.
“AS if,” she added, suddenly serious…
.
[snip]
.
(about 2,400 words)   Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2017.

#

Waxman, Thunderella, Pegasus, Otto the inventor, the police, Pozzo, Roland, and (in absentia) Poland, all look forward to making your acquaintance.

allfornow – Mitch

I Like Long Odds

This started out as a FaceBook reply but then outgrew its welcome.

In the “Fat Chance, Toews” department, I have hired a London editor; a young freelancer named James McKnight. He has a book out, a historical novel called “Letters from Erzurum”, and a degree from Cambridge. That’s likely good enough for this son of the prairie sod. I am not sure, but a sharp Seattle editor referred me to James and he and I have hit it off! So away we go.

James is helping me to edit all of my short stories, old & new, and pull them into a collection to pitch to publishers. Also, based on my editor’s encouragement, I am 17K-  words into a short novel. Irrevocably bound. This new story has some Menno bones but is not solely of that ilk. I toil on my novella almost every day and having a pro editor makes it much easier to keep track of a longer piece like this – most of my short stories are around 3.5K.

Why a UK editor? Of my 40 published works in lit mags, the biggest or best editor/reader response so far continues to come from the UK & Ireland and California, where perhaps 1973 rural Manitoba has a certain ALIEN appeal.

I yearn for Canadian uptake, but I still need to work for that. I remain optimistic, especially with James screening the goalie.

Characters based on the unforgettable Chuck Toews, my grandparents, Pete Vogt, Breezy, and petty crooks in the North End intermingle with various passing Schnooda-Rotz-näs folks. These fictional cast members are fresh and compelling, so I am told. I should have known – having grown up with them, and all.

James also puts me through prose-writing exercises and is a strict, relentless editor. (I am earning my “McFA”.) That’s valuable to me – a would-be author who spent most high school English classes building up an inventory of life experiences in the LaBroquerie bar and other institutions of ‘higher’ learning. NOT – I now sadly realize – availing myself of the teachings of Voth, BoPeep, Gunner and others fonts of literary know-how in the SCI/SRSS. The last 20-years writing ad copy for fenestration companies (bor-ringggg) further skewed and flattened the earth for me, literature-wise. Still, I was, “part of the creative economy,” I would remind myself.

Life is good. I am too young to retire (actuarially and optimistically) so it makes sense to have something hard to chip away at. Am I right? Damn rights I am!

I exercise, build stuff, fix the stuff I have built along with other broken, aged bits & pieces of the 1950 cottage we heat through the winter. I write several hours a day. For a break, I feed the birds and shout at the TV. I shout at Trump, who is like an uncharacteristically vile Pine Grosbeak who has somehow tricked the forest creatures into naming him king. I try to read a bit, too. Oh yeah, and Canucks games, when the lords of SportsNet deem it worthy to broadcast out to the wilds of Manitoba.

 

pine grosbeak
‘I am the King. Long live me. Very, very longly.’

 

Writing gives each day added shape and substance. If James can mould me into a better writer, I will benefit from the effort. If he pulls off a long shot and I am published, then I will greatly benefit. Either way, I’ve made a new friend and one with a younger, non-Canadian, non-Mennonitisch outlook and that’s a win even the King of the Pine Grosbeaks would envy.

allfornow, Mitch

A Good Week

A GOOD WEEK @ Jessica North of Fifty. Two of my stories were accepted and by Canadian print literary mags, yet! Also, the Canucks had two sweet victories, and although I’ll take the former over the latter any day, a simulwin is CANNONADING!

blank spaces cvr sm

*Blank Spaces* will publish “Sweet Caporal at Dawn” in their June magazine. It’s one of my older pieces. The tale started out as a poem, was turned into prose, and finally found a home but only after the main character was transformed from a leger version of younger moi to a francophone girl. Light up a Gauloises and enjoy!

pulp lit cvr sm

In, “Away Game”, I go full-knackzote and I admit that the Plattdeutsch content received life-support from a pair of two-eyed Jacks – one Schellenberg and one Thiessen. It’s old-timey and concerns voyages and long-lost “boddies”. *Pulp Literature* will include this in the next while (TBA).

If you need some enjoyable edification, add these two exemplars of literary discernment to your winter reading! Both are priced to suit Mennonite spending tendencies – or lack of same. These pubs are like the seasons, four per year.

 

The Seven Songs

A new story. Two men in fictitious territory on Fictive Dream.

Fictive Dream

by Mitchell Toews

On our first morning I got up with the dawn. I sat on a stone bench, still cool from the night air, and peeled the store labels off my new boardshorts. The local avifauna kept me company. They chittered and squawked, upset at my intrusion.

An emissary male blackbird – curious, or angry, or mocking; maybe all three – landed close by. Fixing me with an unblinking white sequin of an eye, the bird gave me the full range of its vocal repertoire. Piercing passerine whistles, abrupt diphthongal clicks, feather-puffing, squeaky-door creaks and various complicated combo arrangements; it really “gave me the heck” – or that’s what our daughter would have said. I’d heard of the breed’s bravado, and here was persuasive evidence that all I’d heard was true.

We had similar birds back home. Red Wing Blackbirds – so common in Manitoba that when I pictured…

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Unholy Union

I am easy to judge. The broad side of a barn, figuratively speaking. Straddling Cormac McCarthy style the bow-legged divide between this-and-that is my speciality. That stance provides ample opportunity for haters to hate.

Observe.

I am a Mennonite. Or am I?

The Affirmative: Jo! He’s a Menno!

My paternal great-great-grandfather was a delegate from the village of Fischau in Southern Russia’s Molotschna region. He visited Manitoba and other places in the world at the behest of governments eager to populate unceded land and thereby lay claim to it. Mennonites, renowned for farming, dike building, and low-land draining were prized acquisitions, particularly in the annually sodden Red River Valley. The payoff to these 1870-vintage inbound Mennos was a get-out-of-jail-free pass for Canadian military service, schooling, religious freedom and all the sunflower seeds they could eat. Opa settled his flock of Kleine Gemeinde congregants on the east side of the Red River.

My maternal ancestors were likewise rooted up out of the black Russian soil and shipped to the frosty northern prairie biome where they grew wheat in varieties tolerant to short growing seasons. They farmed, painted houses, sold cars and were otherwise fruitful in both the East and the West Reserves of land given to their antecedents.

My wife is a baptized Mennonite, as is one of my two daughters. My wife is bilaterally descended from families, the Esaus and the Kaspers, who travelled to Canada in the 1920s from Steinfeld in Molotschna. (Yahtzee! Kanadier and Russlaender mixed together in a Frisian witch’s brew of disparity, for those of refined judginess.)

I grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba which is a sticky spot (spilt schmaundtfat; oh bah nay!) on the edge of the Canadian Shield where the argument over buttons vs. hooks created generational divides.

I played many sports, volleyball being one of them and arguably the most Menno of the pack. Proof? Our volleyball coach would roar,”Toom donna hahn!” – his way of swearing, Mennonite style, without getting tossed from the game. It’s kind of like, “for Pete’s sake!” The literal translation is ‘for thunder chicken’, so it’s not offensive, though it may be fowl.

(Banging of gavel.) Quiet! or I’ll clear the courtroom!

My paternal great-grandfather built a wind-powered grist mill on the shores of the Roseau River in Southern Manitoba. My paternal grandfather, who helped in the windmill construction, was a shoemaker in Steinbach. His occupationally derived nickname was “Shusta“, differentiating him from the many other Cornelius Toews klomping around the sticky clay on both sides (ditseid & yanseid) of the meandering Red River of the North.

My mother is a polyglot of the most wonderous skill; her Plautdietsch is the linguistic equivalent of a Stradivarius – plucky and orotund. How can such sonorous music come out of an instrument so small and light?

My dad was a baker famous for his zweibach and as a hockey player known for his great skill in separating local Red Wings, Saints and Aces from their pregame, coffeeshop bullshit. (A hip-check is worth a thousand words.)

My wife and I took a nine-year pilgrimage to Chilliwack, British Columbia (“Steinbach with a view”) where people could pronounce my surname whether they were hockey fans or literary types or neither.

I have eaten more than my share of Revels (ravel sticks). I have pawed through the deep discount bins at Eaton’s im Tjalla, owned many a pick-up truck, fished with a ‘rad davel’, received a tjutje on Christmas Eve, consulted with relish my signed copy of MENNONITISCH-PLATTDEUTSCHES WöRTERBUCH and I’ve pumped a lotta ‘pane down in New Orleans. (Oops. That last one just seemed to fit, with the cadence of #606.)

I have a close relationship with The Daily Bonnet and consider it my personal blog and satire.

I rest my case (of Uncle Ben’s beer).

The Negative: Neimols not a Menno!

Sure, my g-g-gramps was a delegate, but he was also at the wheel when many of the migrants followed him off-road, down the bumpy path laid by an American named Holdeman. This made him a visionary to some and a regrettable lacky to others. His excursion was the beginning of my paternal family’s travels with a dog named Controversy.

My g-gramps followed and he too bit off more of the same knackwurst. He, likely through his own peccadillos–but who knows for sure?–fell out of favour in his church and was given the boot. His wife Sarah was then summarily informed that her options were to shun husband John or be ousted herself. Being a woman of jrett, stout leather and fortified WonderOil, she held fast (and probably a Rempel or two) and SUED the church, the all-male Deacons, and the all-powerful Pastor.

What kind of Mennonite sues the church? So naysay the naysayers. For shame!

My Plautdietsch (or Plattdeutsche, according to frint Thiessen) is poor. While my mother was a savant, my father’s clan sought to eliminate German. English was the language of the land and they decreed that we should be English speakers. Etj kaun nicht vestohne.

Oh, but! While in Chilliwack, I mostly worshipped at the altar of golf. That and some haulf-moazh pew sitting at the United Church, where incense was waved and women took to the pulpit and may have even driven the family car to church! (Sounds like the behaviour of a ‘Cultural Mennonite’ at best, not?)

I never attended DVBS, I was not a camper at Red Rock Bible Camp, and my sword drill talents were scorned by those who knew there was no such thing as Neuteronomy. A dirty trick question – if you ask me!

My paternal grandma–whom I resemble and revere–was a respected woman in the Steinbach halls of the holy, but her clay feet left suspicious scuff marks on our reputation because she was baptized a Baptist. Devout though she was, she may well have been relegated to Baptist heaven, not up front with the Chortizers and such, in First Cabin, cooled by eternal moist towelletes and Yerba tea.

As a writer, I have ZERO stars on the CanLit scale of proficiency. This is the lowest ranking by a Mennonite, even a lowly Kanadier lacking in urban urbanity, since Corny Wiens wrote his ode to Unjabetje, “Kate, Kate”, on the Kornelson Boys Room wall.

Janice is not my cousin. I married her anyway, but now see the folly – we regularly disagree on what type of soup to make and I really have to hustle to get the crust on the bread. Serves me right.

So there you have it. A sordid past, a spotted present and a dubious future.

I welcome your judgement, I accept your condemnation and won’t suggest that our children play together. Mine are in their thirties, but still – you know what I mean.

Aules haft en Enj:
Bloss de Worscht haft twee Enja.

Everything has an end-
except a sausage. It comes to two ends.

Page 520,
Mennonite Low German Dictionary

allfornow,
Brooda Toews

P.S. – A not-at-all Mennonite story was just published on LingoBites  Connect through your phone to the APP to read it. FREE to Mennonites. Also free to non-Mennonites, but perhaps less satisfyingly so. Send this link to your phone, if you’re not already on it: “The Old Guardsmen”

This story is provided in both English and ¡Spanish!

 

Writing Exercise 1

My new editor is putting me to work. “Drop and give me twenty, maggot!”


Writing Exercise: Dialogue

“Hey, take a picture, it lasts longer!”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to stare. That’s a lot of aluminium you have there.”

“I am the best can collector on all of Portage Avenue, Mister Skinny-ass Bus Rider.”

“I’ve seen you out here a few times. I remember you.”

“Are ya sure now, pards? There’s a lot what looks like me, ya know. I mean, don’t we all kinda look the same – all the bums, that is?”

“Well, I never said you were a bum.”

“You mighta well as, Bus Rider. Bus riii-iii-iiider, ”

“Pretty good singing. Call me Matt.”

“I’ll call you shit on a stick if I wanna call you shit on a stick. What would you do about it? But never mind that, answer my question if you can. And speaking of can, boot that one over there to me… he shoots, he scores! Thanks, shit stick – I think I’ll call you shit stick. You can call me Cock Blessed, because I was blessed in the rooster department, swear to God-cuss at Moses, pards. Seriously; blue steel. Cat can’t scratch it.”

“Hey, this is my bus. See you tomorrow, Rooster.”

“Ha! Not if I see ya first, SOS!”

***

“Wuzzup.”

“Hey. See that guy there – the one picking the pop cans out of the basket on the street?”

“Yeah, the guy with the grey scarf and the mismatched boots? So? Was he givin’ you a rough time or what?”

“Nah, he’s harmless. He’s noisy and comical, but my guess is he has issues – that’s for sure. Whoa! Hang on! The driver is in a hurry today! Anyway – about that homeless guy, keep watching along this side. Look for one with a red jacket.”

“One what? Like a beggar or what have you? Alright – whatever. But I doubt that I’m gonna see, hey! Son of a gun. Okay, there’s a guy with a red jacket up ahead.”

“Yeah, yeah! That’s him. Now, think of that guy back where I got on. Remember what he looked like.”

“Yeah, right. Long hair, big beard. Short. Looked a little like Charles Manson? Hard to forget that mug.”

“Ha! Exactly! Manson – yeah, that’s perfect. Now take a close look at this guy with the red jacket when the bus pulls over. Look at his face, man.”

“Holy crap!”

“I know! Can you frickin’ believe it?”

“That’s crazy. Are they…?”

(mutual laughter)

“As far as I can tell. I mean, I don’t know them or nothing. I kept seeing the guy on my way to work and then again at five. I saw him a lot, if you know what I mean. It got me thinking.”

“No doubt. Holy crap! I’m gonna check it out on the way home tonight. See ya!”

“See ya.”

***

“Excuse me, young man? That fellow who just got off the bus. Yes, the one you were talking to. May I ask, is he your twin?”

 

The End

 

 

London is Calling

My story, “Nothing to Lose”, has been chosen for a print anthology in England. American writer-editor Charlie Fish–an expat living in London–has published the online literary zine, Fiction on the Web, since 1996. In that time he has published more than one thousand short stories by writers from around the world. Charlie is publishing a print collection of his favourite stories from FotW‘s 21-year history. Book sale proceeds will go to a London hospital charity: Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation Trust. The anthology will be available for purchase in the new year (2018).

Call Me Popeye

“Call me Ishmael.”

No. Too much.

“Call me Popeye.”

Better.

Why? The arc of my fiction writing career, while it is not literally about whale hunting, certainly could be said to have a metaphoric resemblance to the life of the harpoonist. Taking the famous opening line from Melville’s tale might help me to express the idea that I hope to be – like Ishmael – a survivor and one of those who regularly set out to engage fearsome behemoths in a foreign place. And–like Popeye–remain true to me. In either case – the great American novel or the great American cartoon – I find myself like those protagonists; ill-equipped and naive. I seek my fortune without truly knowing the cost of that quest.

I am what I am. That is my both my raison de’entre and my preparation. Am I unlikely? Am I preposterous? Am I nuts? Am I a long-shot in flannel pajamas? You bet yer plaid arse I am.

First, I suppose I need to support the idea that what I do qualifies as a career. I admit, with Alford guilt, that career might be at best an overstatement; at worst an inaccuracy. I have been writing and submitting short stories (and one sci-fi novella) to literary magazines and contests for approximately two years. In that time I have submitted about 183 stories. Most have been fictional short stories, a lesser number were flash fictions of less than one thousand words. I have also pitched – with little finesse and even poorer prospects of success – a collection of short stories to a handful of publishers.

In 2015, I submitted two short fictions; in 2016, 106; and in 2017, 75, so far. I have had 37 acceptances. My happy tally includes 28 individual, distinct stories and nine reprints. I have a few contest notables (“W’s” in my book, if not theirs) and several sincere, encouraging rejections asking for additional submissions. (A tie, in sports parlance?)

Nine unpublished stories are currently outstanding, awaiting a decision from editors. Two more unpublished stories await their next assignment – they have each been rejected a few times and will be sent over the top again, soon. I have a handful of work-in-progress and at least one red-hot concept that I wake up to each morning.

My last point on the career question is negative: How can it be a career when I lose money – not a lot, but enough to piss me off – each year?

State of the Union

Although I won’t get the standing ovations that U.S. Presidents receive when they deliver their summary reports, neither do I hand out plum jobs or government largesse. My self-assessment is as follows (please hold your applause to the end):

  • I have had more stories accepted than I would have guessed. Duotrope tells me that statistically, I am ahead of the pack when it comes to batting average. I’m right around Ty Cobb’s lifetime BA, so, I ain’t bitchin’.
  • Getting a story READ by the big publications is still far beyond my current dan ranking (Mennodan)
  • I have remained true to my original ideas of “how I should write”
  • I’ve worked with a professional editor a few times now and I can shout from the mountaintops that this is my greatest literary revelation, to date. Editors are remarkable and help a shabby mechanic like me in a most profound way. I need an editor.
  • Writing begets writing. Blogs and twitter nonsense are consumers of time and energy, but they do pay some rent in terms of practice and trial & error. (Like this article.) Also, from a marketing perspective; social media is a necessary tool for all but the most gifted of the gifted.
  • Rejection is manageable. I can handle it. It’s no fun, but, it’s part of the deal. I dislike, however, the amount of time many publications take to respond – it seems like a kind of (mild) artist abuse. Duotrope reported 276,000+ submissions in 2016. This multitude of stories was sent to the 6,000 or so English language lit mags out there. That is 46 stories per publication, on average, so why do so many pubs take three months to respond? I know it’s more complicated than that, but it hurts to wait.
  • At this point, I have exceeded my most optimistic pre-game visualizations. I have sent out homegrown stories about average Joe’s – many of them of the work-a-day variety, quotidian Mennonites, Ukrainians, and Francophones. I scattergunned these yarns out to an editorial demographic that might be described as urban, urbain, 30-something, female valedictorians with a much-photographed cat and an MFA. And guess what? These stormtroopers of the slush pile accepted them. They published my stories!

My God! Bright, worldly editors and audiences in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland have taken to my stories about rural Manitoba in the Sixties. Is this a dream?

I will continue. It’s getting harder because I am taking more chances with my writing and I am submitting to bigger markets. My acceptance in riverbabble, for one, suggests that I have the chops to tip-toew down some hallowed halls. I’m beginning to feel like I have a few supporters out there who might remember my name for uncomplicated reasons, like, they liked what they read.

I hope so if, for no other reason than that characters like Pete Vogt, my grandma Toews, my dad and other co-combatants with shit-spattered boots from the not-that-peaceful streets of my Steinbach upbringing deserve a little playtime outside of “Ditsied“.

gloria gaynor lyrics
Sing along…

allfornow,
Mitch

Community No. 24

Willing to be consumed by literary omnivores on this site!

Digging Through The Fat

In this Community, we proudly present works by Jon Jackson, Mitchell Toews, Bruce Robinson, Andrea Rogers, Lisa Beere, Alex Clermont, Amy Leigh Wicks, Dominic Bond, Janey Skinner, and Anita Haas.

Congrats to all!

Jon Jackson

Child Soldiers

Litro, June 2, 2016

Lambda

Visual Verse, March 2017

Mitchell Toews

Nothing to Lose 

Fiction on the Web, July 8, 2016

Heavy Artillery 

Fiction on the Web, October 30, 2016

Bruce Robinson

Believe Me 

Mobius, the Journal of Social Change, December 2016

Four Poems: Rain Delay: ground rules; Their Romance; sitcom; dressing

Peacock Journal, December 2016

Andrea Rogers

How to Tell a Man You Love Him When You Don’t

The Adirondack Review, Spring 2016

Lisa Beere

Two Poems: Something Comes; The Hunter’s Tale

Ottawa Poetry Magazine, October 10, 2016

Alex Clermont 

Hungry Ghosts of Park Avenue

Black Elephant, April 2016

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Across the Pond and Beyond

literally stories logo

I am honoured to be in the Literally Stories mix once again. My short story, “So Are They All” appears in this week’s collection of original short fiction – a short story curation that LS has been providing for the past 138 consecutive weeks.

This is my sixth acceptance in this United Kingdom based literary journal. The stories they have chosen (they have rejected five) have in common a Canadian setting and characters that represent various segments of life in Canada, across a number of eras.

main-qimg-c52a555c991ccfdda8925bab3a6d30a1 UK and Ireland sm

Several other UK literary journals* have also published my stories. The UK and Ireland are apparently in my sweet spot and damned if I know why!

I asked my Irish born – now Canadian Permanent Resident – son-in-law what he thought might be the attraction. While he had no conclusive theory, he supposed that the details, set in places and times in Canada that are not mainstream, offer a kind of “comfortable alien” nature. I accept that because the stories Tom tells about his childhood in Nobber are a source of fascination to me, in that same way.

Whatever the chemistry of the long distance relationship between the stories and the readers, I feel privileged to be part of the Literally Stories lineup.

*Fiction on the Web (4 stories published) – Charlie Fish, Editor; Storgy (1 story) – Tomek Dzido and Anthony Self, Editors; Fictive Dream (“The Seven Songs”, to be published on Nov 26) Laura Black, Editor; LingoBites, a part of Alsina Publishing (1 story, with a three-part serial in the edit suite and coming soon) – Lisa Dittmar, Editor (Although–full disclosure–Ms. D is a product of Cascadia, and like all of the editors I have encountered, she is foremost a citizen of the world.)

I hope to add more! (I write every day. Even when it hurts.)

P.S. – of the 35 titles of mine that have achieved virtual orbit online and in print, (“So far, damn it!” the author says through gritted teeth, a clinging scrap of spinach ruining the dramatic effect) quite a few have found Canadian and American platforms, and one Indian publication too.  I love all of my prose offspring equally; so too their adoptive homes.

allfornow – Mitch