Across the Pond and Beyond

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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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The Beefeater and the Donnybrook

Ever had one of those days? Micah James, a city engineer from Halifax, Nova Scotia has.

Read about it here on one of the internet’s first and best literature websites, Fiction on the Web!

 

“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 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 plastic and other rancid urban spod. His thinning hair hung in limp disarray and the belt of his raincoat had come loose and was dragging on the ground behind him like an obedient, filthy snake.”

Short-story_20_transparent_216pxFotW has been named a “Top 20 Short Story Blog”

 

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

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.

To the Crocus Born

My wife and I are home in Manitoba for the first winter in nine years. We spent the last damn-near-decade in Chilliwack, BC – where every Manitoba Mennonite has a relative and where the view is better but the pews are just as hard.

Not that I would know about the pews, but maybe I’ll start my own Mennonite Conference – ACC or Pac 10, if they don’t mind sharing the name – and become an expert.

Anyway.

Incidentally, “anyway” is a word that I need to use frequently when I blog. (OK, Fussy Frances – when I write in my blog.) I need it so much that as the self-decreed prose laureate of Jessica Lake (including the islands) I also decree that “Anyway.” is a proper sentence. Grammatically correct, for all prose written at Jessica Lake (and the islands).

It’s like dirty sex talk — the rules of grammar may be suspended, by mutual consent, for proper effect. Not that I would know about such, but for the sake of argument.

Anyway. (SEE!? I was totally down a descriptive rabbit hole there, and AbraCadabraIjustWannaGrabYa, I write an ‘Anyway.’ sentence and I am OUT.)

Back to the topic. Jan and I are facing the prospect of a Manitoba-length winter, REASONABLY truncated by a term in Mexico, but still long and cold. But what I have noticed is that even after a stretch on the coast, in Canada’s best weather/insect/insufferable loud-mouth schnook combination climate (two outta three), we are still Manitoba stock. We are grizzled. We are hardy – and I don’t mean the familiar for Hartmund, although some of the nicest people I know are Hartmunds. (“Robusto” in Spanish. Now there’s a freakin’ name!) I mean tough, dude.

Here’s my Top Ten ‘TOBA TUFF TELL-TALES. (Out-alliterate that, you Ontario pantywaistes!)

Note: There may not be ten, as counting is made ‘toba Tuff because I may have lopped off a digit or two working construction in the summers, and/or I am slightly blind from a youth filled with Uncle Ben’s Beer/Anti-Freeze.

1 – I have frozen my ears often enough to have a doctor tell my parents that if I freeze them, ONCE MORE, they will fall off. My Mom still tells me I should wear a toque (rusty or otherwise) and I am bloody sixty!

2 – I think it’s OK to have cyclists pedal on the 2-5/8″ wide yellow stripe on the edge of the pavement, next to the gravel shoulder. The only paved shoulder in the province is still that commemorative stretch out by Portage where the Queen pulled the motorcade over to spit, right? Hasn’t changed?

3 – I would waterski in the Red River. I would waterski in the Red River, fall and then squirt a mini-geyser of river water out through the tiny gap between my two front teeth until (deep breath) …until it plugged.

4 – I could identify Nick Hill by voice alone on an episode of CSI Miami (the one out by Portage) before the DNA could come back from the lab.

5 – I have played Fris-beer in winter; in the snow; by headlight. Bonus points – I did it while stoned on Rosemary from Ben Friesen’s Mom’s spice rack. “Nice rack, Mrs. F.,” I said, and then we all laughed for a really long time.

Anyway.

That’s about it. These blog things should be kept short so that my devotees are not delayed from also playing Words With Friends. As long as they don’t send me a thousand of those stupid Candy Crush requests. Oh but ignorant.

#

If you want more reading punishment of a similar nature, please visit this awesomer than average site where more of my real stories — ones where the “Anyway.” bylaw is not in effect — may be found. It is a UK site and everyone knows they are terrible smrt, so be sure to mention that at coffee tomorrow: https://literallystories2014.com/authors-k-z/t-u/toews-mitchell/

The website is Literally Stories and the tagline is Short story fiction from around the world and especially Manitoba”

SKILL-TESTING QUESTION: What do the English call the two items in the picture?

Hint: The one on the left is a glass of water from the Red River.

 

Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2016