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).

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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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Ink and Virtual Ink

I write every day. It’s a reliable and productive way to do the job and besides, I am an obsessive sort, given to 15-year spurts of sometimes/usually idiotic fervour.

Entering now my second full year of devotion to fiction only somewhat interrupted by the needs of my splintered 67-year-old cottage, I now appreciate that “writing every day” has strata and graduations.

Yesterday, for example, I did a lot of “real writing”; top strata stuff. I wrote about half a story — a tale of logging in the temperate rainforest in British Columbia. Next, I refined and polished an existing 2300-worder that is quite new and in which I have a lot invested. It has been shit-canned (declined) a few times but I think it’s getting close. I redid the ending and the opening sentence – hard stuff, there. Neat. No rocks or mix. After polishing, I submitted it to a site that I am excited about and hope to get my second base hit in as many at-bats with them.

That almost covers the pale; writing, re-writing & editing, polishing, blogging, tweeting.

The first four are production. The last two are sales and marketing. Those two major divisions–production | marketing–are similar to the disciplines in which I spent, respectively, much of my work career. The first sixteen years making things out of wood; the next 21 making things out of thin air. Well, words and pictures, anyway.

Like everyone else, when I made the jump to hyperspace and gave myself freely to the gods of fiction, it was with the belief that I would be writing. That’s it. I’d write stories. People would read them. Various levels of mutual satisfaction and progress would ensue.

I had no notion that there would be various levels or that I’d be like every cop character on every crime drama on TV, ever — I would love the real police work (ie. writing) and detest the ignoble job of “paperwork” (ie. promotion). Ironic, since I spent the last two decades trying to persuade people to buy stuff. I was a brass-knuckled, bull moose promoter.

So, to recap: the item you are reading right now is blogging. This level of writing is without doubt, not pure art. Nor is it pure fluff. It’s somewhere in between and would take a far stouter mind than mine to reckon where on the entertainment vs enlightenment scale it falls.

A few days back I had TWO short stories launching on one day. Two distinct stories on two distinct sites. A good day. (June 5 – buy a lottery ticket next year. Trust me.) So that day was spent in the throes of persuasion and proclamation. I had written two stories, sweated the shit out of them and put my bloody, beating heart into them. Risked ridicule. Banished doubt – if only long enough to press SEND. I had been rewarded by two smart, discerning, educated and deadly serious editors with two separate acceptances. (Take THAT, Duotrope statistics!) So, you have to agree, having put all that soul into the scribblings, I owed it to myself to see to it that a few readers learned of these acceptances – these hallowed, hard-won publications. 

Can I get an AMEN?

But. Yeah, “but.” The fly in the proverbial colloidal gel is that all that time I spent being glib and puntastic on twitter and Niume and FlipBoard and whatever-the-hell-other intercapped literary promo web sites you got… was time spent–all together now–NOT WRITING.

Yes, instead of writing the first half of that lumberjack story or finishing one of the other dangling dirty realities I have on my artiste’s workbench, I twiddled and twaddled and twittered. I blithered and I blogged and the fork ran away with the spoon.

So, in the final analysis, promo is just part of the job. The writer’s job. There’s no doubt. Pipsqueak writers like me, afloat in the immense literary ocean, splash and wave and try to flash a mirror in the eye of the hoards of readers and literati who sail by. Big shot authors have their people* do all the promo stuff, BUT they have to make the rounds. They have to dress well, be literate beyond the “How about those Canucks?” level and speak intelligently and with the appeal of the celebrity class about their writing; other writing; all writing; art; and LIFE.

Life, Goddamnit, life.

So, I had better get used to it. (Again.) Back to the promotional coal mines. Back down–like Vincent Van Gogh and the children of Borinage–into the pitch black of the coal mine of sales, marketing, advertising. Back to the banalities of brand, the anal obsession with attributes, and the diatribe of differentiation.

Toews short stories: “Great Taste!” “Less Filling!”

“One third fewer adverbs per page!”

“Read, WOMEN WITHOUT BONNETS for raw, unbridled Mennonite dance party descriptions, ripped from the lives of ditt sied!”

I think I will just let my inner smart-ass take over the marketing department and, you know, let the F-bombs, the arcane references, and the obscure puns fall where they may. Who knows? That may be the best marketing plan of all.

allfornow – Mitch

(*They have people, don’t they? I want them to have people.)

 

 

 

Striking a Prose

An unfortunate tourist(er) from “The Beefeater and the Donnybrook”, running May 19 on Fiction on the Web

Two Short Stories are Going Live on Friday!

Unrelated except that they are both original, previously unpublished stories of mine, these two yarns appear on two different literary websites. They are QUITE different; which is like saying that the current American President is quite unconventional.

That’s the beauty, right? Pathos, irony, absurdity and sorrow; alternating or simultaneous. What is more tragic — or more joyful — than a simple life?

Friday, May 19! Storgy.com: “The Log Boom”; tragedy across three generations in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, and Fiction on the Web: “The Beefeater and the Donnybrook”; humour on the gritty streets of London.

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; make it hot by striking.”

(WB Yeats)

With thanks to the editors @morestorgy and @fishcharlie!

allfornow – Mitch

A Quick Ode to May 8

On May 8, 1968, I was a 12-year-old first baseman from Steinbach, Manitoba. Catfish Hunter was pitching in Oakland against the Twins and a Minnesota station re-broadcast the game. It was a hot night — strange for May — and I could not sleep so I went downstairs and turned on my parents’ RCA Victor console stereo radio. I listened to that game as it bounced in off low clouds to me, far to the north. 

It was one of my fair sister’s birthdays, but I got the perfect present. 

allfornow – Mitch

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

Beta Readers Wanted. Ein bät.

Hi, all!

My short story, “A Fisherman’s Story” appeared in Rhubarb Magazine about six months ago. Since that time, I have written two complementary stories around it, literally, to create a trilogy.

“The Bottom of the Sky” is a continuation of the fisherman’s story that was in Rhubarb. There’s a prequel – Part 1: Acapulco 1955 and a sequel – Part 3: Mismaloya 1977 that bracket the original story of the three-piecer, now going under the name – Part 2: Puerta Vallarta 1975.

j and yoko

So: would you like to give 3-pieces a chance? (All we are saying…) I am looking for pre-readers or “beta readers” (the cool name) to read and relate their observations. Literary stuff like, “Toews! Your brain is a rotting cesspool of dog vomit!” Or really tough criticism – whatevs.

Anyhoo, if you would like to give it a read, drop me a note and I will send you a dbl-spaced, TNY 12-pt Word doc with 1″ margins to accommodate your red ink.

Warning: it’s not very Mennonitish and has little to do with relationship break-ups, zombies, or kinky sex among the snow-birds of Phoenix. (Just threw that last one in there to see if you were still reading.)

Danke sehr, gracias amigo mio!

Mitch Toews
Rennie, MB

The Rothmans Job

My noirish crime fiction, “The Rothmans Job”, has earned a reprint in SickLit Magazine. Readers seem to like the characters in this story. Me too.

SickLit is an online zine with the tagline, “Bringing the real. Keeping the weird.” I suppose that this twisted tale fits that mandate. Thanks to SickLit for picking me up on such a cold, dark night. Thanks too, to CommuterLit, who ran the story originally.

Like ‘Rella, in the story, I remain optimistic. “Against all odds”, is not such a bad place – at least you know where you stand. If you like this story – please share it. If you hate it – hit me in the face a few times and I promise not to counter-punch or argue. I’ll just get back up and keep trudging until I disappear in a flurry of snow.

bb48de0d4e107d2f3c9922b13a254df5 pegasus

allfornow – Mitch

@Mitchell_Toews

Trump Accepts Resignation of “Big Dawg”

This just in!

BOTUS* Accepts Resignation of Favourite Driver, “Not reliable!”

The 9 degree, stiff-shafted driver has been shown, under a stream of Presidential oaths, to be, “unreliable under pressure,” Trump stated in a 4:55 a.m. tee-time tweet from Trump National in I-Hate-Scotland, Florida, his home course.

“Ball go right, into voods,” commented Trump’s long-time caddie and nuclear advisor, Igor “Fall-Out” Badenov. “Alvays right. Iss bad. Beeg league.”

“I am soooo disappointed,” Trump shouted to the gallery, the largest crowd ever to listen to a fat, old guy with a red cap whine about his driver.

“The king or Prime Minister or poo-bear of Sweden had the same club. Totally couldn’t hit it. But, I thought, hell, that’s a GD Swede! Might even be a woman, I frankly don’t care. No folks, that club is a BAD DEAL. It’s sad,” Trump declared at a press conference near the OB stake on the first fairway.

When reached for comment, Russian horsey-back rider and new “Celebrity Apprentice” host V. Putin was quoted as saying, “And he calls ME a hacker?”

George W. Bush, the new, non-ironically, favourite, former-President-who-is-not-Barack-Obama said, “Now watch this drive!”

Meanwhile, Wolf Blitzer of the so-called Fake News Network smiled, hugged himself and murmured, “Russia, if you’re listening, you are friggin awesome!” over and over and over.

-30-

*BOTUS – Biff of the United States

allfornow – Mitch