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Brit Screenwriter and Canuck Author Seek Not-for-Profit Film Group

Object: MATRIMONY!

Well, even if marriage is out, perhaps a mutually beneficial, platonic, creative partnership working towards a COLLABORATIVE production effort within an ARTS COUNCIL FUNDED program is a possibility?

Here are the bullets:

  • I’ve written a short story trilogy that has drawn some interest as the raw material for a screenplay. http://bit.ly/FotWBtmSKY
  • I shared it with a friend in London, a screenwriter with some decent film creds, who expressed interest in the story and the possibility of turning it into a screenplay.
  • While we both liked the idea, it IS a longshot and we both have more than enough on our respective, existing, literary plates. We chose to pass, with regrets.
  • THEN, miraculously, or fortuitously, or, at least, with GREAT TIMING, we learned of a co-sponsored, government-funded program designed to:
    • encourage and support the development of creative and collaborative partnerships between artists and arts organizations in the performing arts sector in the UK and Canada.
    • initiate challenging and inquisitive conversations, exchange ideas and practices and develop ambitious, creative research and development projects that can offer the first steps for collaborations and productions between Canada and the UK.
  •  HMMM… our brows knitted across the cold North Atlantic, and we wondered about PROVIDENCE and other ports and harbours on or above the 49th parallel. A bit more specifically:

The program aims are:

  • To fund collaborative and sustainable creative projects that can deliver long-term benefits for the performing arts sectors in both countries
  • To increase cultural exchange opportunities between UK and Canada, allowing for more artist mobility and international opportunities
  • To share best practices and networks through exchange, to increase skills, develop ideas and new artistic vocabulary between professional artists and organizations
  • To support visibility and representation of voices and a diversity of dialogues in the performing arts sector
  • To support research, development and creation, and seed support for future collaborations and productions

And that’s where I, my story, “The Bottom of the Sky”, and my friend the produced screenwriter and general all-around nice bloke reinitiated our plan to collaborate!

NOW, we are looking for a registered not-for-profit organization-group-guild in Canada or the UK and Ireland, to knit up this ravelled sleeve and turn my fictive literature into a script for the screen. 

Please contact me if this knits your brow, your sleeve or any other unknitted item appropriate for polite company. We await your potential collaboration to MAKE APPLICATION FOR FUNDING as we LEAP FROM TREE TO MIGHTY TREE… together.

November 18, 2018 DEADLINE

Seriously, this is a dead-set brilliant opportunity, so please respond if you are part of a non-profit or know someone who is!  mtoews55@gmail.com

 

allfornow, friends,
Mitch

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The Bottom of the Sky (Dos)

Here’s a fast literary, “Guess what!” in case you were just waiting for some random information from the noireal. My short story trilogy, “The Bottom of the Sky”, is Fiction on the Web‘s Pick of the Month.

movie poster tbots 2
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The bottom of the sky is where allegiances collide: a charter boat owner, the ship’s captain, and a young deckhand. When an act of needless violence plays out on the waters of Acapulco Bay in 1955, simple lives are pushed off course, perhaps to be lost forever.    
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Note that “Part 2” appeared as a solo piece in Rhubarb Magazine back in 2016 as “The Fisherman’s Story”. I had to find out more, so I wrote the prequel and the sequel.
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FotW is a London based literary site, the first of the species, to be exact – publishing online since 1996!
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P.S. – It’s been suggested that this trilogy might lend itself well to a screenplay conversion. What do you think? “CUT!” or “That’s a wrap!”? 
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sailfish
allfornow friends,
Mitch
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The Bottom of the Sky (Uno)

London is calling! Great news from England. My trilogy, “The Bottom of the Sky”, will be published in Fiction on the Web. Editor Charlie Fish read the three-part short story at my request to critique and assess. Normally, FotW does not run stories longer than two or three thousand words, but Charlie has begun to consider lengthier pieces.

“I’ve increasingly been publishing longer pieces (to the considerable detriment of my time, but mostly totally worth it), and this would just about fit into one release.”

– Writer, Editor, Screenwriter – Charlie Fish.

“The Bottom of the Sky” began as a single short story that was published by Rhubarb Magazine in Winnipeg. (Now sadly out of publication.) “A Fisherman’s Story” ran in issue 39, back in September 2016. My thanks to Editor Bernice Friesen who was kind enough to give me my first fiction opportunity in print. Ink!

It was exciting but the full story including the things that had happened to me, or those I had witnessed, the experiences that triggered the story in the first place, remained untold. So too, the many circumstances — both causal and consequential — that I imagined continued to nag at me.

I wrote “A Fisherman’s Story” in 2014. During January of 2017, I was inspired to complete the story. I wanted to write a prequel and a sequel. The first segment, the prequel, was completed that year: “Part 1 – The Mismaloya — Acapulco, 1955”

Part 1 introduces the chief characters, Avelino and Jose, cousins who are partners in a charter fishing boat in Acapulco. The cousins are from the tiny fishing village of Mismaloya, near Puerto Vallarta. A young boy, a pinche named Carlos, signs on as a crew member aboard the Mismaloya for a sailfin day trip.

A number of changes were made to the original story and it became, “Part 2 – The Fisherman’s Story — Mismaloya, 1975”. This account tells of Jose and his wife Violeta and their daughter Josefina. The viewpoint is that of Violeta and the reader also is introduced to Matthew, a Canadian Mennonite church volunteer living in the village. There to help build a school, Matthew meets Jose and the two become oddly-matched friends, fishing with handlines in the bay most evenings.

In “Part 3 – Avelino and Carlos — Acapulco, 1976”, Avelino engineers an unexpected reunion and the story concludes near where it began, on the Pacific shore overlooking the bottom of the sky.

All told, the trilogy involved over three years of writing, on and off, the support of freelance editor James McKnight (another Londoner), and the difficult but necessary learning curve provided by numerous litmag rejections. 🙂

Thanks to Charlie Fish, who is a charming and skilled literary friend with roots in NYC, Birmingham and London.

Charlie Fish wrote an award-winning short film that starred Richard E Grant, Warren Clarke, Emilia Fox and Celia Imrie. He hung out with the guy who wrote Pirates of the Caribbean and Shrek. @fishcharlie

 

Charlie is the creator, editor and hard-working jackfish-of-all-trades for Fiction on the Web, the internet’s first online literary magazine. 

Image result for screenwriting image
This trilogy has attracted several comments about its suitability as a screenplay. 

Cinema ain’t my jam, but I admit that I had visual—and sometimes cinematic—scene-play in mind as I wrote.

So, if you know a screenwriter looking for an intense, visceral story that can be filmed in one location with a small cast – pass along the Fiction on the Web URL! (Sorry: no bloody chainsaws, no aliens, not a rom-com.)

You can read “The Bottom of the Sky” trilogy on October 22.

Check THIS out too, on Amazon UK-CA-US:

Hint: I’ve got a story in it!

allfornow friends,
Mitch
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And All I Got was this Lousy Poem

That’s right, I had a surprise heart attack, suddenly lying out on the wet gravel of a deserted road and all I got out of it (besides a couple of stents) was…

Well, we’ll see about that. Here’s the poem:

Woman with the Dog’s Eyes

By Mitchell Toews

Uppermost boughs sough with impatience as I stare
Grey fingers stretch up to the arc, branches of a birch gone bare
And these I frame in the quiet now, the tide wheel all but silent
Apocryphal offspring close by me, how? And dear, so dear
Brushwork details unfinished yet, I fear, I fear
Eyes wide I rise with canvas ready, my pigment not yet spent

 

allfornow friends,
Mitch
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The Ins and Outs of Religious Freedom

Jan & I have created a private enterprise to govern our lakeside hut, The SheShed. We have righteously decreed that no person possessing an INNIE belly-button shall be granted entry. “Outies Only,” is The SheShed credo.

“So what?” you say and I agree. We are, after all, a private entity and interdiction from our Outie-exclusive establishment does not pose an injustice, nor cause harm, to the people of Canada nor does it materially interfere with any other individual’s fundamental rights and freedoms. It’s not like our privately-funded SheShed is a law school or a university, for example!

However, if we received a tax exemption because The SheShed was deemed to be a non-profit religious organization, I suppose some people might wonder about the fairness of either our tax designation or our Outie/Innie policy. Some people might object to being forced, due to our tax exemption, to support a greater tax burden. Especially, I expect, the Innie community who would in effect be paying greater taxes so that The SheShed could more easily (with less expense) discriminate against them!

Oh… What about our neighbour’s scandalous Innie-Only club, a den of concave depravity? Could that evil place of debossment be granted religious status too? Equal to ours? (How depressing!)

Anyway, like-minded Outie individuals are welcome to stop by The SheShed and fellowship with us. Muffin tops, button mushrooms, walleyed pike, Vesuvio’s pizza and other protuberance delicacies are always on the menu.

As our slogan says, “We’re All Puffed Up!”

Innies, accompanied by an Outie spiritual advisor, may even drop by on Forceful Fridays when we train our stomach muscles to distend our belly buttons in an appropriate convex manner, as taught by the ancient PITIFUL scripture, “Proper Inner Tummy Inflation and Full Umbilical Loading”. Through rigorous training, even deeply impacted Innies can be reeducated and their possessors deprogrammed, allowing the bodies true, natural Outieness to stand proud, a button—not a pockmark—on their midriff!

Peace-Out! brothers and sisters, or as we conclude in our sacred covenant down at the ol’ SheShed, “NO LINT? NO PROBLEM!”

allfornow friends,
Mitch
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Image: No copyright infringement is intended

Everyday Fun with U.S. Politics!

Here’s a fun game to play each day when the latest appalling thing shows up to spoil your perfect 7-minute eggs:

#Episode45

#Episode45 is my hashtag game for an imaginary TV series. It’s kinda like “As the World Turns” and “Breaking Bad” combined into a weekly show, featuring some of the daily participants in the CNN – Fox News buffoon-a-paloosa that airs each day on our real TVs.

I have been writing captions for select new atrocities, under the #Episode45 banner. It’s fun and easy. Each day, there’s a new DEPLORABOMBSHELL and you just take it and, wearing your best Dr. Suess/Charlie Chaplin/Seth Meyers absurdist’s garb, turn it into a TV Guide-style episode summary.

episode45

I’ve selected a gangland, ship-of-fools trope for the #Episode45 mob, led by their intrepid kingpin, “Fat Donnie”. New characters come and go every day, just like the real White House. I’ve substituted bocci for golf – a move designed to protect the innocent (don’t want to put anyone off their game) and I also try to not let it get too far beyond the pale.

Awww, shit — who am I kidding!? It’s WAY BEYOND the pale! But, in fairness, it’s not as crazy as the stuff that is going on in the real world.

That’s the beauty, you can’t overdo it.

Anyway, here are the summaries I’ve churned out so far. Feel free to join in and create your own #Episode45isms! In fact, you might want to branch out:

  • Slam the DEMS! #WhataboutthoseE-MAILS?
  • A UK-Vonnnegut-version? #BrexitofChampions?
  • Some Canadian content? #SayItAin’tTRUDEAU?

I’ll leave it with you. Here are my attempts, from oldest to newest:

Fat Donnie and his consig. Pauli the Perm wrap up a summit on neutral turf with rival gang boss, Bareback Vlad. Sean the Lip voices his loyalty to the merger along with ruthless fixer, Mikey “Pastor” Pence. (Repeat)

“The Enemy of My Friend” Fat Donnie considers turning over old adversaries to Bareback Vlad, the handoff to take place on Fifth Avenue. 

Mikey Plaid Jacket is chafed over Fat Donnie’s apparent disinterest. Meanwhile, Donnie and Bareback Vlad plan a second meet, this one at an old girlfriend’s crib: The Playboy Mansion.

“That’s Gonna be Special” Fat Donnie is secretly recorded Vogueing in a spandex catsuit. Cross-town rivals, The Persian Posse, assume Donnie is mocking them and threaten war. Confused, Donnie’s former coffee-boy, “Book’em” Page disavows his bucking video on YouTube. (I know, this one’s pretty weird.)

imwithstupid

 

“I know you are but what am I?” Mikey Plaid Jacket gets peeved at Fat Donnie and his new BFF, BugEye Rudi. Meanwhile, Silent Bob of Five-Oh is putting bigly heat on the gang and Donnie’s putter has turned stone cold.

 

“That’s a gimme!” This weekend, Fat Donnie & “Pastor” Mikey Pence enjoy a little bocci. Pastor Mikey’s job is to keep Donnie’s equipment squeaky clean—and his bocci balls too—and also to nod & gaze adoringly at the back of FD’s head as he plays.

Fat Donnie’s wife, Carmen, reveals her preferences in today’s romp, “I Like Big Butts”. Her favs? CNN, but, “recorded so I zap all dose old people ads.” She’s reading Tapper, listening to Maddow and is a big fan of Mexican soap operas, saying, “so much like REAL LIFE!”

one word

“One Word: Plastics” In this tense episode Fat Donnie moves his investments. “Look, whose gonna fly without that they’re strapped wit a ghost gun? Nobody, dat’s who. Opportunity? Yuge.” Cameo by John Wick.

“The Fall of Vane DeSeet” Sensing a legal dragnet closing fast around him and the gang, Fat Donnie sets up his son, Vane, to take the fall. “I love ya, Vane, boy, but sometimes it takes tough love.” Guest: Hope It Sticks Hicks

Tune into #Episode45 for more hi-jinx, tomf*ckery, and the endless blame, shame, and hard rain that’s a-gonna fall.

 

allfornow friends,
Mitch
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“Bladder leak underwear may cause rash, increased self-doubt and overwhelming recollections of past glories…”

“THIS is CNN,” booms the rich, familiar voice on the TV.

“LUKE! I am your faaaatha,” Janice replies, a mockingjay from the other room.

I must admit that since I began watching CNN with my morning coffee, there’s one trend that I find disturbing and uncomfortable.

No, it’s not journalists being called “enemies of the people”, it’s not “grab’em by the you-know-what,” and it’s not the protection of the environment being pulled away like Lucy does with Charlie Brown’s football. To be sure, those things and many more, with their inexorable spill into the Canadian lives of my kids and grandkids, bug me plenty.

But what makes me feel small and alone and a little bit vulnerable out here in the rock and lakes and boreal bush is the advertising on CNN.

“Huh?” you say.

It’s this way: as a former long-time advertiser, I can’t help but observe the demographic targeting on CNN.

And there’s the rub. I now find myself listening (covertly) to all the ads for pills and treatments, hair-teeth-heart-cancer, all the stuff from stair-climbers to (ahem) blue pills.

And by blue pills, I of course mean daily low-dose aspirin, in case there’s any confusion.

The darn thing is, I am now apparently the target market for this senior basket of goods. My turn to say, “Huh?” How-the-Metamucil did THAT happen?

Oh, well. As one of my favourite characters in my upcoming WIP novel would say, “It ain’t what it ain’t…”

So, next time you hear those dulcet James Earl Jones tones, think of me sprinkling Plavix on top of my tumeric flavoured Boost.

P.S. – if you have any design ideas for securing my walker on a windsurf board, send me a shop-drawing!


allfornow friends,

Mitch
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A Day in the Life

What activities fill a writer’s days at Jessica Lake? Usually, it’s routine: up an’ attem, walk, yoga and then eat. Or, brecky first and then get right to work on projects. Projects like building a shed, fixing the dock, or making a couple of rock and cement steps on a gravelly path that can sometimes be slippery.

If I am working on a short story, a re-write, an edit, a submission, or my novel – then that writerly craft supercedes the physical kind. Sometimes I blog and act the fool on social media. The bonus of being a class clown on twitter is that there’s no teacher to send you out in the hall like the pipsqueak that taught me in 1968 by negative example not to have a supercilious speech affectation, lest people believe I am a pretentious and secretly self-loathing boob in a too-tight tracksuit.

Whatever… I get up in the morning and make some shit – whether it’s words or waves or something made of brick and mortar.  But not sticks and stones – I don’t argue on twitter.

Partly, I try to avoid arguing online because I lose — how do you win, really? — and partly because I feel like that twitter-wars are more of a forum for the same light livered guys who used to phone in and yell at our receptionists and then became sweet-as-Rogers Corn Syrup when I got on the phone. Weasels and bit players. Sorry for the digression – that kind of loudmouth schnookery gets me whipped up.

I’m a damn lib and I mock the USA’s Le Petite Orange and all those in Canada who would have us go that yelling-at-the-receptionist direction. I try to be supportive of thoughtful people in an offbeat and often cryptic way, even if we disagree. It’s kinda fun.

Back to activities: If there are kids and/or grandkids around – they trump all and any other. It’s the law. When conditions beckon, there’s windsurfing and cross-country skiing here at Jessica the Awesome.  (BTW, I’m writing this in my wetsuit, waiting for the wind to pipe up, so if you smell neoprene, that’s why.)

Yesterday, I finished off a small project of the outdoor-splinters-in-the-fingers variety and then made a final edit for a story that launches today in riverbabble 33. My literary friends in Berkeley have shone the light of publication down on me once again and I’m feeling pretty plucky about it if I do say so myself. I sometimes think my luck in the Golden State is owing to the ghost of Randy Joe P, a RIP Fresno State alum and long-ago potentate of Steinbach’s third street. He was a fine fellow who might have some supernatural sway down there in the Bay area. I remember him a grade ahead of me. I recall him not taking any guff from the aforementioned boob in the tracksuit and so, Randy was a fav of mine and if anyone can control the roulette wheel from the twilight zone, it would be him.

Anyway, I was cleaning up my tools when I spotted something strange out in the middle of the lake. My binocs confirmed that it was a capsized canoe with the two paddlers hanging on. The short version is I zipped out in our boat and pulled them out of the water, dragging the canoe in behind us. They were, like the unfortunate Canada Goose gosling earlier that day that was taken by surprise by a hungry seagull, inexperienced. Luckily, good things exceeded bad — youth, warm water, and most of all, life jackets — and the voyageurs’ soaking experience ended well.

I was thinking today as I edited my novel — my editor, btw, is a godsend, or at least, “highly recommended by 7 out of 10 deities” — that I am fortunate to live in the woods, hard by a clean lake, and experience daily the wondrous shock and awe of nature. True, I miss society and mostly just grunt expressively when I am in a civilized social setting, but that’s a small price to pay.

To conclude, a few whitecaps are showing and I just might be able to get out there and sneak some sailing in before my calcified and scarred OWG joints seize up and demand beer, so I’ll end here with the admonishment to avoid arguing on twitter and furthermore, never turn your back on a seagull.

“The Margin of the River” riverbabble31   http://iceflow.com/riverbabble/issue31/issue31.html

“In the Dim Light Beyond the Fence” riverbabble32
http://www.iceflow.com/riverbabble/issue32/issue32.html

“Nothing to Lose” riverbabble33
http://www.iceflow.com/riverbabble/Welcome.html

bofotw best of fiction

My story, “Nothing to Lose” first appeared in “Fiction on the Web” and has appeared elsewhere on the web since. The story is also in print in “The Best of Fiction on the Web” an anthology and you can BUY that door-stopper of a beauty for less than the price of a tracksuit!

CA – https://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0992693918/ref=nosim/fantasticfi0e-20

UK https://www.amazon.com/Best-Fiction-Web-1996-2017/dp/0992693918

USA –– https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0992693918/ref=nosim/speculativefic05

 

allfornow friends,
Mitch
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Memorial Day 1973

As the U.S. remembers their fallen, I am reminded of a day years ago that made the war in Vietnam real to me. I was a teenager and a ball tournament near the border let me mingle with Americans.

At the beer garden after the games, I met a young man a few years my senior. We talked about the war and he showed me his draft card. His status teetered on the very edge of the draft lottery, which ended for good soon after our meeting. The reality of this fellow’s fate and how different it was from mine struck me and I think of it — and him — every year at this time.

A while ago I wrote a story based on that long-ago border town baseball encounter. “A Vile Insinuation” appeared in CommuterLit in June of 2016 and it’s linked here, along with the other pieces of the trilogy to which it belongs.

In June 2016 Toronto-based CommuterLit published “The Red River Valley Trilogy“:  “Encountered on the Shore” (Rerun Friday, October 6, 2017), “A Vile Insinuation”and “Without Reason”. The linked stories concern, respectively: the aftermath of a violent encounter on a city street; a young American leaving the ball fields of North Dakota for the killing fields of Vietnam; and a devout Mennonite man grappling with cancer and faith. These trilogy stories question “things happen for a reason” morality.


allfornow friends,

Mitch
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Toopoabeide

TOOPOABEIDE*, or “working together” is the Plautdietsch word for collaborate. And, thanks to the generosity and skill of one of my hometown heroes, that is what I am able to do in an upcoming story.

I clearly remember sitting cross-legged on the floor in John Henry Friesen’s Steinbach sign-painting shop in the sixties, watching with unflagging attention as he lettered signs and trucks. I attended, usually along with my dad, while “John Henry” built, sculpted, painted or otherwise, “hucked stuff together”. He is a wonderful artist, a creative wonder-worker, and a local institution.

John and I have connected on the internet a few times and not long ago I showed him a draft of a story that I wanted to send out for consideration by literary magazines. A while later he came back with the drawing shown above. In the meantime, my story was accepted by the Canadian publication Pulp Literature and — with JHF’s permission — I sent them a copy of his fanciful artwork. 

Editor Jennifer Landels replied in the affirmative and John’s art will grace the title page of my short story, “Away Game”. I am pleased as I am sure John is too. (“Cool.”) I can only imagine my late father, who has an inspirational role in both the story and the art, is happy about our prose-ink collaboration. Dad was a great fan of John’s and, if my story is at all accurate, still is.

I’ll post the publication details as soon as they are available.

~~~

* Tawp-oawr-bide

 

allfornow friends,
Mitch
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