Reaching the Fall

The sky was overcast and the world was dull. The pathways were mottled with people wearing fall jackets for the first time that season. When I saw her come around the corner her hands were deep in the pockets of her fitted leather jacket. Dark sunglasses and darker hair obscured her face. The click of her heels on the pavement rang above the Sunday morning din.

She sat down beside me, but tight to the opposite arm of the bench. She looked straight out and propped her sunglasses on her head. “Hi,” she said.

“Hi,” I said.

I couldn’t look at her either. The sadness, the red around her eyes, it was too much.

“So what are we doing then?” she said.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know?”

“Sorry. I do. It’s just… this isn’t easy for me.”

She turned to me and her eyes narrowed. She crossed her arms and stared.

“What I mean is,” I said, “it’s not easy for either of us. It couldn’t be less easy. I just wish I could take everything back.”

“Everything?”

“Not everything. Just the bad parts I guess.”

“So that’s what you think life is? Keep the good and sweep the bad under the carpet?”

“No, I…” I learned forward and put my elbows on my knees. “This isn’t the way I wanted things to go. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah well, me neither.” She sighed and looked away, then she pulled her sunglasses down and stood to walk back the way she had come.

 

***

 

This and That but Mostly the Other is my new short story collection. It is a collection of moments, from the briefest glimpse to those more complex. It’s about introductions and endings. It is a reminder of what was, and a glimpse of things to come.

Click the home page to see all the different ways you can find it.

 

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Special Announcement Time!

Here it is.

I’m a dumbass.

Five copies of This and That but Mostly the Other are out in the world with a formatting error. I was so caught up in how wonderful it was that the book existed that I missed something pretty simple. These were sold during the last two weeks of February or the first couple days of March. If you have one of these books, and you’ll know by page 2, send me a note and I will replace it. I’ll also drop in some marketing material and a short note to say thank you.

This has been a huge learning curve for me. While it has been very frustrating at times I’m excited to do it all again soon. And by soon I mean my first novel will be ready by the end of the year.

#pencilonpaper #amwriting #indiepublishing

This and That but Mostly the Other

Hello dear reader, I’m afraid I have some bad news…

You may have been expecting this to be part five of my story, Choose Well, but I’m afraid it won’t be continuing in this space. The good news, if you consider it such, is that you can find the rest of the story and the conclusion in my new book, “This and That but Mostly the Other”, available now in print and ebook. I’ve included links below to make it easier to find if you choose to take a look, but by all means please check your favourite online book seller or grab the ISBN and talk to your local bookstore to see if they can get it in. If you’re upset because I’ve tricked you, simply keep an eye on this space for more short stories to come, free of charge. I promise I’ll have better marketing techniques for next time.

this and that

Amazon / Kindle (Canada) – https://www.amazon.ca/This-That-but-Mostly-Other-ebook/dp/B07NSDTZWN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1550754218&sr=8-1&keywords=%22this+and+that+but+mostly+the+other%22

Amazon / Kindle (United States) – https://www.amazon.com/This-That-but-Mostly-Other-ebook/dp/B07NSDTZWN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1551023736&sr=8-1&keywords=shane+kroetsch

Kobo (Canada) – https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/this-and-that-but-mostly-the-other

Kobo (United States) – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/this-and-that-but-mostly-the-other

Booktopia (Australia) – https://www.booktopia.com.au/search.ep?keywords=shane+kroetsch&productType=917505

FNAC (France, Belgium, and others!) – https://www.fnac.com/ia8771449/Shane-Kroetsch

 

Choose Well: Part 4

“Speaking of being greedy, asking for more wishes, that’s a classic. It doesn’t happen as often as you’d think these days. Usually it comes from the old, because they know the fairy tales, or from the young, because they’re very good at finding ways to get what they want. It should be easy, right? Just ask for more.  A hundred maybe, or a hundred thousand, or the largest number you can think of. Who wouldn’t want to have so many second chances? If the first wish doesn’t work out, you can try and fix it. I’ve always wondered though, would anything ever get done? If you had so many opportunities to make things perfect, would there be anything else? All your time would be spent adjusting, going back to a single moment over and over again. There would be nothing else but the act of trying to make life the way you want it to be, but at the same time it’s slipping through your fingers. Experiencing the good and the bad is what life is all about. You know, life is the journey, not the destination.” The man took another drag from his cigarette. “Anyway, back to my point. People ask, but in this case they don’t get. The universe is generous, but only to a point, no matter what people believe. One opportunity to change the course of history is a gift that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Sometimes you only get one chance, you’d better make it count.”

 

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This and That but Mostly the Other is a collection of moments, from the briefest glimpse to those more complex. It’s about introductions and endings. It is a reminder of what was, and a glimpse of things to come. Available in print and e-book February 2019.

Follow here, on Twitter,  Instagram, or subscribe at pencilonpaper.ca to stay up to date.

 

Choose Well: Part 3

“Let’s say, just for a moment, that you are wrong. Given the chance, what would you wish for?”

“I’m not sure. What do people normally wish for in these types of situations? You know, given the chance.”

“Well,” the genie said, crossing his arms and leaning back, “that is a very good question. For the most part they are the same. Love, or hate, or greed. The most basic of instincts I suppose. A lot of people ask for money. The problem with that is, once you get some, you generally want more. Perhaps that goes for most things though.  Answer me this. Why are there billionaires? Who could ever need that much? I’ll tell you, it comes down to power over others. Why else would it be necessary? One person could eliminate most of the world’s poverty, but does it happen? Of course not.” The man shook his head. “All that money, just sitting around. When they die it goes to their children, or their lawyers, and the cycle will repeat. How does that make any sense?”

“So is that why people ask for it? Just to be rich?”

“Some think it will give them freedom. From what? That is different each time. I never understood it, truth be told. Trust me, true freedom isn’t something you would enjoy. We all need things to attach ourselves to. Not physical things mind you, but people, or ideals. These help define who you are. Anyway, most are just greedy, I suppose.”

 

***

This and That but Mostly the Other is a collection of moments, from the briefest glimpse to those more complex. It’s about introductions and endings. It is a reminder of what was, and a glimpse of things to come. Available in print and e-book TODAY!!!

Follow here, on Twitter,  Instagram, or subscribe at pencilonpaper.ca to stay up to date.

 

Loss

I’m standing with my hands out against the shower wall. Hot water is flowing over my head and down my face. It’s mixing with the tears and washing them away.

Our existence is linear and there is only one destination. People get old or they get sick, and then they die. It will happen to all of us one day, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

Near the end, the questions of should I or shouldn’t I become more urgent. I think about how it might have been if I was more present. I can’t escape the missed opportunities where I left things unsaid or undone, and how unfair it is that sometimes there are no second chances. The guilt of it all sweeps through my body and it makes me weak.

I wonder why it takes a loss for us to remember what is important. Why it’s so hard to find a happy medium between living for today and not forgetting our responsibilities. Why we continue to do things every day that bring us no joy as the end inches ever closer.

I’m standing with my hands out against the shower wall. I’m waiting for the answers to come, for life to make some sort of sense. Or maybe, I’m just waiting for the tears to stop.

 

***

 

For Grandpa Joe

 

***

 

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Choose Well: Part 2

The man took a drag from his cigarette and pointed at the book on David’s leg. “I quite enjoy the author. She has a way of making you comfortable, and then bam!” he clapped his free hand against his knee, “everything gets turned on its head.”

David’s eyes widened and he nodded with a slight frown on his face.

“The whole series is very popular I hear, have you read any of the others?”

“I have. This is the third.”

“I’m sure you know this, but all of her books are set in and around medieval Scotland. Her descriptions are just wonderful, very accurate. The feel of it, you know? It’s spooky. She must have done a great deal of research.”

“I’m sure she did.”

“Her father was also a writer. Delightful man. I met him once, a long time ago.

David pinched his eyebrows together. “But, didn’t he die shortly after the war?”

“Did he? Oh, that is unfortunate news.”

David watched the man’s face. “I’m sorry, who are you exactly?”

“Oh, I’m glad you asked,” the man smiled wide, “I am a genie.”

“A genie? Like, the three wishes type?”

“Yes. Well, that’s the basic idea anyway.”

David looked around. “But where’s your lamp?”

“I don’t have one.”

“Why not?”

“Not all stories have to be true all the time.”

“Or maybe you’re not really a genie?”

“Is that what you think?”

“Why wouldn’t I? Genies aren’t real.”

“Oh?” The man frowned. “I’m very sorry to hear that.”

 

***

This and That but Mostly the Other is a collection of moments, from the briefest glimpse to those more complex. It’s about introductions and endings. It is a reminder of what was, and a glimpse of things to come. Available in print and e-book February 2019.

Follow here, on Twitter,  Instagram, or subscribe at pencilonpaper.ca to stay up to date.

 

Choose Well: Part 1

David sat alone on the park bench. The sun was high in the sky and the full heat of the afternoon just coming on. He adjusted his hat, and then turned the page of his book.

A man in a long tan trench coast walked along the path in front of David. He had dark, wavy hair that was slicked back on the sides. Wrinkles were starting to take hold around his eyes. He wore a look of contemplation. The man slowed and stopped a few steps past the bench. He seemed to look up at the birds in the trees, or maybe a passing cloud, but then moved back toward the bench and sat down.

“Beautiful day.”

David didn’t look up. “Yes, it is.”

“Are you enjoying the book?”

“I am.”

“Glad to hear. I think you’ll find the ending quite interesting.”

David gave a thin-lipped smile.

“I mean, the uncle? You just don’t see it coming!”

David frowned and looked at the man from the corner of his eye. He laid the open book face down over his knee.

The man fumbled around the inside pocket of his coat and pulled out a tarnished silver cigarette case. He held it up. “Do you mind?”

“Actually I…”

The man lowered a cupped hand and blew smoke from the corner of his mouth. He held the smoldering cigarette pinched between his thumb and pointer finger.

David leaned away and held his breath as he waved smoke away from his face.

 

***

This and That but Mostly the Other is a collection of moments, from the briefest glimpse to those more complex. It’s about introductions and endings. It is a reminder of what was, and a glimpse of things to come. Available in print and e-book February 2019.

Follow here, on Twitter,  Instagram, or subscribe at pencilonpaper.ca to stay up to date.

 

99 Words #28 – A Sign

She puts her arm out in front of me. “Wait.”

“What’s wrong?”

She’s looking up to the sky. A magpie is flying toward the east.

“It’s a,” she snaps her fingers three times, “what’s the word?”

I shake my head and shrug.

“An omen, or… a sign!”

She lowers her head and pauses. “Look.”

At first I’m not sure what she’s pointing at. Across the clearing I see a break in the trees. Snow has been shaken from the lower branches but the ground is smooth.

She grabs my jacket at the elbow and pulls. “We should turn back.”

***

This was written in response to the February 7, 2019 flash fiction prompt from Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. You can learn more here –

February 7: Flash Fiction Challenge

 

Photo by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash

 

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This and That but Mostly the Other is a collection of moments, from the briefest glimpse to those more complex. It’s about introductions and endings. It is a reminder of what was, and a glimpse of things to come. Available in print-on-demand and e-book February 2019.

Follow here, on Twitter,  Instagram, or subscribe at pencilonpaper.ca to stay up to date.

 

The Problem With the World Today

Saffi put two large red mugs down on the bistro table and sat in the empty chair. “Double americano with a shot of caramel, as per your request.” She pushed up the sleeves of her sweater and rested her forearms on the edge of the table.

Kade clicked the home button on his phone and then tossed it face down onto the table.

“What’s wrong?” Saffi said.

“Nothing. Maybe everything.” Kade rubbed at his forehead with the palm of his hand. “I’m trying to find some hope that the world isn’t the massive dumpster fire it seems to be, but I’m not having any luck.”

“It’s not as bad as all that, is it?”

“Have you looked online or at the news lately? There’s so much bad that there isn’t room for anything good. People are scared, so they push back against everything. They forget that everyone else is just like they are. That to some extent at least, we all have the same wants and needs, the same dreams. And so they find reasons to fight, reasons to hate.”

Saffi half frowned and turned to look out the window. She motioned with her head, “What do you see out there?”

Kade looked out of the corner of his eye. “I don’t know. Trees. Cars. People.”

“Where is the hate? Where is the conflict?”

Kade scowled. “You can’t say it doesn’t exist because you don’t see it out the bloody window.”

“I know, I’ve seen your people’s penchant for finding creative ways to harm those around you.”

“My people? Humans, you mean.”

Saffi pulled her sunglasses down her nose and leaned in. Her eyes shimmered like pools of mercury. “No, I meant middle aged white guys.”

Kade rolled his eyes. “Come on, be serious.”

Saffi pushed her glasses up and shrugged. “I am serious. You people are terrible.”

Kade’s lips went thin. He crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair.

“Oh come on, don’t sulk.”

“I’m not sulking.”

“Yes you are. Stop it.”

Kade looked out the window. “Whatever.”

“This is what happens when you’re taught to focus on advantage and power. You create walls so you can keep them, or grow them. It makes you feel alone and afraid. It doesn’t matter that your fear is based on an illusion, when you’re in it, it’s real.”

Saffi sipped at her mug. “You have two choices. You can focus on the negative and be overwhelmed by it, or you can use it to strengthen your compassion. If you choose to focus on compassion and trust, I guarantee your experience would be much different. It may be cliche, but life is what you want it to be. ”

Kade sighed. “I don’t know, maybe you’re right.”

“I am right. I’m always right.”

“I don’t know about that…”

“It’s a fact, get used to it.” Saffi checked her watch. “Hurry up and drink your fancy coffee, the transport is going to be here in ten minutes.”

Kade lifted his mug to his lips. “Yes, dear.”

Saffi smiled. “That’s what I like to hear.”

 

***

This and That but Mostly the Other is a collection of moments, from the briefest glimpse to those more complex. It’s about introductions and endings. It is a reminder of what was, and a glimpse of things to come. Available in print and e-book February 2019.

Follow here, on Twitter,  Instagram, or subscribe at pencilonpaper.ca to stay up to date.