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

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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

Every Picture Tells a Storgy

A lot of things in life can be streaky. The leading scorer in the league – pick your sport – gets to the playoffs and goes. Ice. Cold.

When it happens to you, you think, “I’ve lost it.  Or maybe I never had it, maybe it was all a massive fluke.” You kick the dog, get bitchy with your friends and co-workers, lock your keys in the car, get the shopping cart that eats your coin – or you think it did, until a lady with a walker comes over and pulls on the handle and the cart pops free. Easy as pie. And she explains that there is no coin required; that you just shoved a dollar into a crack in the plastic grip.

Stupid Home Depot.

Then it turns and while no one really knows what it is… we all know exactly what it feels like when it comes or goes.

But, really, I brought it on myself. I dared it to leave. “How?” you ask?

I took on topics that were harder to write: race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and age. Plus, I submitted to unfamiliar sites and journals with big league reps. So, if I went a little cold, I have no one to blame but the crusty old bugger in the mirror.

Stupid old guy.

Anyway, today I received an email from Anthony Self, Head of Film and Co-Director @ Storgy.com. They liked my story. They are going to publish it.

storgy

It’s back, mother****er, it’s back!

“The Log Boom” will be presented on Storgy.com on May 19.

allfornow – Mitch

P.S. – Thank you, Storgy!

#amwriting

I have not blogged for a few days, but I have been hard at work on a lot of other writerly tasks.

  • Rowing on the lake; hiking the trails in the snow; scattering miniature marshmallows for the suspicious Whiskey Jacks (I save the sunflower seeds for myself!); prepping my workshop/writer’s studio for winter and otherwise bobbin’ and weavin’ and feeding my soul .
  • Working on a major re-write slash tune-up of a new story that I have in first draft stage. It is a satire. I received a little expert advice from a great writer + blogger with some chops in this area. Gonna incorporate her mentorly comments. Maybe send her a ring of Winkler sausage or two.
  • Re-did this blog a bit. Put in a Publications page now that I have a few places online and in print where my stuff resides. I’ve also replaced the stock photos with a few Samsung snaps of the place where Janice and I live and drink the wild air 1.
  • Waiting for some expert editorial assistance on a story a few of my “early readers” have enjoyed. I have high hopes for this sad tale of resistance and regret. I hope to knit up my ravell’d sleave 2 and enter this one in some contests! If you’d like a preliminary copy of “The Log Boom” to read and possibly flop me an op, (RSVP a POV?) lemme know!
  • Part way through a new story about Hartplatz (Steinbach on a sunny day in my imagination) narrated by an inanimate object. “Graperoo” should be done soon!
  • I have been cleaning up some existing stories that I hope to submit to some of my fav lit sites and maybe some new ones too. Now that I have a small portfolio of acceptances, I am hopin’ to scramble a bit higher up the mountainous submission piles of some of the bigger-name Canadian literary journals. It is a big hurdle, that. Afterall, I am naught but a humble country mouse who LOOKS like a Trump deplorable (but sure ain’t) and has no discernible prose DNA, except for a famous surname that some may suspect – oh, so wrongly – I have usurped. Maybe I should try a pen name? How about “Rich Davis” — that’s what my real name sounds like when I say it with a stuffy nose. Or, “Carly Menno Simons?”  A virtual gender swap might shake up those weary slush pile readers who sputter, over-caffeinated – “What, exactly, IS a Rennie, Manitoba?”
    rejection-letter-schultz 3

allfornow – Mitch/Rich/Carly

~~~
1 – R.W. Emerson
2 – you know who
3 – C. Schultz, but you prolly knew that one too

 

Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2016

Chicken Fingers, Fritos and Frankensteins

NEXT TO A LAKE ON A SUNNY DAY IN NOVEMBER, I just want to say, with reverence, that writing short stories is hard as hell.

Do tell – or whine on – you might say. I will, but only the former – I promise. Plus, there is the opportunity to learn about the fascinating world of pencil grooves and ink wells.

It is non-fiction to say that there are many people writing fiction. They comprise a lot of young writers and a teeming, grey pool of boomers, unshackled from their jobs. With the barriers to entry not seemingly insurmountable, there are a lot of contestants in the race. Especially now that self-publishing has made so many Frankenstein monsters — and some beautiful strangers.

Nonetheless, a large pool of skilled writers are active. So many stories are wonderful – the kind that make you want another one right away. Like chicken fingers.

To even out the score, there are literally thousands of places where a writer may submit a story, both print and online. That is a good thing for aspiring writers, but the competitiveness of the literary journal segment makes those publishers exceedingly tough on new voices. The vast majority of lit journals make it their business to deliver new authors to the scene, but they must be, and are, ruthlessly diligent in finding the best of the new writers.

There are a lot of journals, but so many are new that the available financial income – not abundant in the first place – is spread thin. As a result, there are a lot of dedicated volunteers, working late and dusting Frito crumbs off their keyboards as they toil on the slush pile. Sometimes, response times can be too long and, well, I’m not getting any younger. 

In addition, the aging white man narrative is one that is not at the top of editors’ short lists these days. My stories have to soar because they are not supported by a mandate or precondition. Women, LGBTQ, People of Colour, Feminists, People with Disabilities and many other cohorts have specific themes – or whole journals – available to spotlight their particular segment. This offers them an enhanced opportunity to be seen. To be discovered.

Now before you push back and say, “here we go,” hear this: I have no qualms with that approach. It is, in many cases, overdue and given the need to bring in fresh, first-person experience, necessary. A single mom, working two jobs and supporting three kids does not have the time to write. Offering her a forum with an inherent fast-track makes sense.

So it’s just a fact and I deal with it. Besides, if I tough it out, without any fast-tracks, I could benefit as a writer by being borne solely by the popularity of my stories; by the quality of my writing. I can’t forget that.

So too, is it of value that most editors are younger than me. That may create obstacles because of dissociation – they might not know what my references mean (see the “Featured Image” above). But once again, it forces me to write better. If I am lazy and rely on an old, fuzzy-edged meme to support my point, I will fail with an editor who does not intuitively understand the embedded inference.

My objective must be to give readers experiences like this:

“Crystal clear details of a world that I do not know. A journey to another place.”

And the little town slept.

I will battle on. I’m not exceptionally patient and wish I was more so – that would help. I tend to press a little and maybe get a little too self-promotional. It is part of the old white guy songbook – when your life occasionally feels like the last few bars of Stairway to Heaven (pardon any dissociation) you tend to want to get shit done.

allfornow – m

See LINKS to the scribblings of mine that made it past the Frito crumbs of the slush pile, HERE.

 

Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2016