Published Pieces

Posted on December 20, 2018


Image from Fernie BC. Click to see the portrait version.

When I was cleaning up Amber’s Picks, I ran a couple of searches on the stories that had gotten published to include the links and I ran across a few I had forgotten, and a few I didn’t even know about. So mostly as an exercise for myself so I can keep my submissions straight, I decided to compose a list of my pieces that have been “published” either in print or online. Holy cow I’ve been published in one form or another over 20 times, that I can remember.

Gink and Gasoline

When I started writing stories, I posted them here, to what I refer to as my “vanity blog” which was linked to my FB page in case any of my friends wanted to give me feedback. In all honesty, and if you read it you know, the stories I post are mostly drafts, that I intend to “finish someday.”  I had maybe thirty thousand hits or so over a couple of years (thank you), when suddenly one day I got 3,000 hits and I traced it back to G&G which has this thing called “Saturday Morning Shoutout.” Unbeknownst to me, the editor Louis Cahill had somehow found my blog and republished “The Very Cruelest Thing,” the first fly fishing short story I had ever written – and a short-short at that. I wrote it in about 20 minutes one evening after coming back from the Cedar In fact, I was such a noob, that they attributed the blog to my friend Sooz, whom I quote in the tag line: “Thanks to S Banfield of “Go Into The Light” for some great writing and photography.”

At any rate, they continue to mine and publish me occasionally, which I was reminded of this summer when I went to sell “Michael Kilkenny’s Wake” only to have the editor tell me it was already out there! Lacking Amber’s input, I’ve included their descriptions. Mining my blog continues to be a pastime for editors. Three separate editors tried to get “She Loves Me, She Cleaned my Truck.” Which chagrins me because it was an homage to the much better A Frazzled Constellation, (6:51 on the recording) by Steve Duda, and never really was meant for commercial consumption. It was just meant to be a little tip of the hat to somebody who has done so much for me. Also, listen to his “Make the Sky Better,” (minute 48) which made me cry, and also made me realize what a complete literary charlatan I was, and you should go listen to rather than continue reading this.

The Very Cruelest Thing 3.13

G&G: This week, an amazing story and the even more amazing story behind the story.

An artful imagining of sweet revenge and the horrifying story that led to its creation, set against the backdrop of a rising Alaska river. Life or death, which is the very cruelest thing?

The Very Cruelest Thing x2 3.13

G&G: THIS WEEK, AN AMAZING STORY AND THE EVEN MORE AMAZING STORY BEHIND THE STORY. An artful imagining of sweet revenge and the horrifying story that led to its creation, set against the backdrop of a rising Alaska river. Life or death, which is the very cruelest…

Die with a Human Heart 6.13

G&G: Today, we are pleased and honored to bring you an amazing work of fly fishing fiction by Jon Tobey of Gointothelight. Jon is an accomplished writer and his story “The Very Cruelest Thing” was a huge hit as a Saturday Shoutout. We knew you wanted more.

Michael Kilkenney’s Wake 11.13

G&G: A while back I shared a wonderful story by Jon Tobey called “To Die With A Human Heart.”

I was not surprised that it met with resounding approval. Jon is a talented writer with a unique perspective on fly fishing. I always enjoy his yarns and I thought this holiday weekend would be a great time to share another. An ongoing serial titled “Michael Kilkenny’s Wake.” A tale of wayward Irish anglers on the stream and in the pub. Light a peat fire and pour a pint and take a wee trip to the island with Jon.

Tobey Fishes with Thoreau 1.14

G&G: It turns out the Jon shares his home water with Henry David Thoreau. And what he has learned from Thoreau about this place is quite enlightening. It’s also a riveting perspective on action and consequence. Would you be surprised to know that Thoreau was calling for the removal of dams in 1849 and warning of how they would irrevocably change the environment?

Like Thoreau, Jon is a concerned angler and a hell of a writer. Take a few minutes to wade with he and Thoreau in the waters of the Concord and Merrimack. You may learn a thing or two.

How I Almost Owned a Trout Stream 1.15

She Cleaned My Truck 5.18

G&G: “I opened the door to my ‘76 Ram Charger and nothing fell out. Absolutely nothing. That should’ve been my first clue…”

Is it possible that a person is defined by the mess they leave in their truck? If so, my life is an open book. The description of the Ram Charger fits my Toyota to a T. If you’ve ever stuck a fly in your headliner, and you’ve ever been in love, this story is for you.

A simple and strikingly beautiful piece from Jon Tobey, of “Go Into The Light.”

Fly Fish Journal

So here is the thing. I have basically been paid for every word of non-fiction I’ve ever written. In addition to numerous gigs as a Technical Writer/Editor, I have pretty much been able to sell articles to everything from Aikido Today to Fine Homebuilding. But fiction? Not so much. I sent numerous pieces to fiction magazines and competitions without even getting a rejection letter. But when G&G linked to my random vanity blog, then people who read them read me, including Steve Duda from the Fly Fish Journal, who then bought it. I sold my first story without submitting it. Talk about a Cinderella beginning.

Since then, with very little forward pressure for me, other people have followed suit. So, I ended up with this back door publishing “career” that was 100% total luck. In fact, when Steve published me, I’d never heard of or read the FFJ. It turns out that they are the number one literary quarterly magazine in the county (it’s true, I saw it on Google). My hubris was compounded because Steve took some of my craziest shit, and not only published it, but was delighted to do it. It wasn’t until I ended up working near where he was bartending and he was exiting the Journal that I had any idea how hard he had to fight to make those pieces happen. He gave me not one feature piece, but two, complete with custom artwork from famous artists.  And a warning label.

If there is any lesson here, all I can say is if you want to be a writer, first you have to write. You really do. And the energy you put into that will build and eventually come back to you. Actually, if you want to do anything, I suppose the same applies.

While you can find all of these by searching my blog, I link to the magazine issues because you should dance with the one what brung ya.

The Very Cruelest Thing Issue 5.1

Someday, I’d like to make a short film of this and get it on the FF film tour.

Freakin’ Cats Issue 6.3

100% true.

Poached Not Once, But Twice Issue 5.2

100% fiction, but everybody thought it was true.

Don’t Tell Lucille

From the FFJ website:
“*Warning: This is not a normal flyfishing story. Writer Jon Tobey’s newest work for The Flyfish Journal may be the wildest, most off-the-wall and hilarious piece of flyfishing fiction ever published. In fact, it’s difficult to even describe what happens in “Don’t Tell Lucille” without sounding a tiny bit nuts. Illustrated by artist Paul Puckett, Tobey’s tale includes talking trout, homicidal moose, Canadian zombies, teenaged truck thieves, and more than a bit of bad behavior.”

P.S. It sure sounds better when he tells it. Paul sent me one of the original pieces he created for this article.

Troutaholics Anonymous Issue 9.4

Winner of the 2019 Outdoor Writers’ Association of America Most Humorous Magazine Article

I hadn’t been in FFJ for a while and Steve sent out the call for pieces. People were still republishing stuff from my blog, but in a fit of professionalism and in my continued haze of arrogance I decided I would sit down and write something new and get the feature story. Never mind all of the literary giants that publish there. Never mind the total flukes I’d had so far. Never mind how hard Steve had to work to sell me. I’d had this concept in my head about people who were so addicted to fishing that they had to go to rehab, and I wondered how I could turn that into an actual plot. Over two or three days I cranked out about 8,000 words and sent it in, you know, just to see if it was worth pursuing. Steve loved it. Only problem was it was twice as long as it needed to be for the feature story. Cutting that was hard. But I learned a lot about moving through concept to story, and then actually editing it down and still keeping the core. And I appreciate Steve and all of the other people who helped me do it. Now, I’m considering that it might make a good book. You can find the long version on the blog.

Hatch Magazine

If Louis discovered me, and Steve encouraged my coloring outside the lines, Chad Shmukler has given me a platform to publish my novellas, pieces too long for traditional magazine publishing. He’s the one who pushes me to be better, and tells me how to do it. He also actively recruits me to write new stuff, and he pushes the careers of his freelancers. Hatch won more awards from Outdoor Writers of America last year than any other publication. Getting the longer stuff out there has been very beneficial to focusing me on writer more longer pieces, and a huge step in creating an audience.

The Great Bread Hatch 8.18

On days of failure an angler may be said to go through four stages of feeling.

Finding Buddha on the Sauk 4.17

What do you mean you cannot buy beer before 6AM?

The Snob 11.17

The story I almost didn’t write because I didn’t think it was “big” enough, but which got submitted for an OWOA award. I was surprised many people thought it was true.

How to Drink Your Was Through the Fishing Day: Northwest Washington 12.17

My first collaboration with my editor, Amber, who saved the day with her much superior photos. Ironically, I never drink and fish.

Calculated Risk 2.18

This story was so widely reviled by Chad’s readership I asked him to pull it at one point. Then one person said “If James Patterson wrote about fly fishing, he would write this.” It really polarized people in the way that “Thelma and Louise” polarized people (and for the same reason). I appreciate Chad sticking with this one. (“Fuck’em,” are the most supportive words I’ve ever heard from any editor.)

How to Capsize a Sailboat with a Woolly Bugger 9.18

Despite a very hard-earned engineering degree, I can’t quite get the physics to add up.

Destroying Angel 10.18

I wrote this for a Nero Wolfe competition, and rewrote it every day for a month. I hadn’t reread it until it got published. You, know, I think it has legs. There are a couple of scenes in this that really shine. Like I never remember I wrote them so when I read them I wish I was that good.

I Shot Muldowney

Although I had a year to write this for the Stories of the Sea competition, I ended up writing it in an hour or so while Amber was making dinner two nights before.  We revised it at the bar, and then again as I read it. One of those stories I considered “too small to write” but people, well the other writers anyway, seemed to like it, and I sold it to Hatch a few days later.

Orvis Blog

Turns out a guy I worked with one summer in college, Phil Monahan, is now the editor of the Orvis blog, and he saw my name in FFJ and looked me up almost 40 years after we last talked. I definitely remembered him as the brother of the girl I had the crush on.  I haven’t sent him anything for a while, and I don’t think this is the full list, but what is nice with Orvis, is that he publishes some of my, um, less fictional pieces. He once said something to the effect of “You get it,” and also, “You are the most famous fly fisherman who has never caught a fish,” something to which many people can still attest. Someday, I’d even like to go not catch fish with him.

Mis-Stepping on the Corporate Ladder 6.15

A Portrait of the Angler as a Young Man 9.15

Crotchtown Chronicles, a Homecoming 2.15

Writers on the Fly/

Jason Rolfe, who is now the editor of FFJ, started this reader series of local FF writers and artists. Again, before this I thought I was kind of just out there on my own. It was genius to bring us together, and I’m so happy to have been a part of several of these events. I couldn’t read at the first one because I kept choking up, and it turns out all of us that night had that issue. I think next time we should go drinking first, and then do the reading. I hope he finds the time to continue them. Jason once said something to the effect that he never knows where my stories are going to go, just that they are going to go sideways. I always keep that in mind when I get stuck. When in doubt: go sideways.

Featured Readers

Not technically by me, but he lists the readers and it’s a good reference.

MerTrout 11.17

You can actually hear  me read this one.

Northwest Fly Fishing

When I wrote non-fiction magazine articles, I queried NWFF about fishing in downtown Seattle and they “bit.” I spent a summer at it, burning about 500 slides (it was that long ago), and in the end we caught 12 species withing 12 miles of Seatac. This was the experience that really got me into photography, because I wanted the images to be as good as the words. The editor, Jon Luke, even came out and we got some hero shots and did some fishing together after that. Then about every year, I would ping him to get my pictures back, and we never hooked up. Last year, out of the blue, he emailed me and said he found them and would I like them back? We tried to hook up for a beer, but couldn’t arrange it before his next trip so we made arrangements to meet the week after. That day rolled by and I was brain-farting on his last name and ran a google search on him to jog my mind and find his email. The first thing that came up was his obituary. There is a huge lesson here that I keep learning about not putting important things off, which is why I’m writing this today instead of all the things I “should” do. Because this whole blog is and always has been about what I truly want to do, and it’s only when I turn away from that that I’m unhappy. What shoulds in your life are keeping you from what you are really here to do?

Seattle, WA Overlooked Urban Waters Spring 2006

It’s unbelievable how many people not only read this article but remember I wrote it. I could write a whole blog about the experiences I have when I introduce myself to people, outside of the fly fishing arena, and they say “Did you write that article about fishing in Seattle?” Even now, 10 years later.


I’m sure I missed a bunch of stuff here (I’m pretty sure FFJ has published me at least 6 times). I did most of this through online searches. I’ll try to keep it up to date (I have at least four pieces that I’m working on for submittal right now), and if you know anything I missed, please help me out. Maybe if we’re lucky, Amber will write us some blurbs.