Dreams of Avarice: “Attachment” by Shane Kroetsch

Penitents Gold


Thank you for joining us for another installment of Between Two Flames — where we place authors in our hot seat for what surely must feel like an eternity of environmentally unfriendly gas grilling.

Today we welcome Shane Kroetsch, author of “Attachment” — a thought provoking tale of loss and memory from our latest Purgatorio Tower’s book Terrace V: Penitent’s Gold. Shane, please tell us a little about yourself in exactly thirty-five words.

Shane: I’m a builder of things, real and imagined. My mind rarely stops. I’m always planning, scheming. I write fiction to process the confusing mess that is the human race. I also enjoy word count limitations.

TST: Excellent, nothing better than word count limitations, keeps the bones young. With that out of the way let’s get right to the greedy guts of it. What does Avarice mean to you? Is it inherently a bad thing? How does that play into your story of excessive desire found in this glitzy volume?

Shane: I suppose it boils down to possessions with no purpose to them—acquiring for the sake of acquiring, or having without being able to maintain. Is any of that an inherently bad thing? It can be, but life is built on shades of grey. We are animals with individual values and agency, what is a want to one is a need to another. My opinion is one of many. I took the exploration of avarice in two directions with my story. The idea that greed and love are one and the same, and how far the need for unique possessions can be taken.

TST: It’s an fabulous exploration. And bonus points for setting in the Towers, we loved that. Now tell us about a time you desperately desired something and went to potentially unexpected lengths to acquire it.

Shane: As I move through life, I am heading in the direction of having fewer moving parts, quality takes precedence over quantity, but that hasn’t always been the case. The instance that comes to mind is from the late 2000’s. My year-end bonus was supposed to pay off the loan on my daily driver, instead I used it to buy a fifty-year-old Volkswagen convertible listed on eBay.

TST: Hopefully the VW brought both joy and terror. Or is terror just from old Volvo’s? We can never remember exactly.. Speaking of retreads, can you see any of your characters popping up again in other stories?

Shane: As soon as I say that I’m done with a particular character or story, whether because I think I’ve said what I need to say or I’m simply sick of looking at them, that’s exactly when my mind will wander, and I’ll start building a new story in the same world.

TST: Give us a sentence (or short paragraph) from your story that you feel knocked it out of the park.

Shane: I’m fond of the opening, 

Fernen steps around me as he scans the message scratched into the concrete wall. Fixing his attention on the closing, he pauses.

I hope you are well.

I hope you are unafraid.

Good-fucking-luck with that.

TST: Beautiful! Can you tell us a little about how you came up with this story or your creative process?

Shane: I generally begin with an image or a line of dialogue, then I start digging the story out of the dirt. For this piece I knew a few of the elements that I could or wanted to incorporate as the framework for the world it takes place in is already established. I set the protagonist’s motive early on. I liked the idea of souls as possessions, as currency, but how I got from there to the finished product is a story longer than the piece itself.

TST: What’s next for you? Any forthcoming releases, hatchings, or germinations we should be on the lookout for? Or, any recent delights you’d love to flog?

Shane: It’s been a year of drastic change for me. What comes next is to get back into the business of writing. The plan for 2023 is to relaunch my zombie pandemic trilogy with a new edition, and to finish up a paranormal series that’s been sitting half-finished for too long. So many ideas, so little time.

TST: Thanks Shane! And folks, don’t forget to check out Terrace V: Penitent’s Gold, available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca and under whatever rocks and tiny libraries you might find stray books.

About the Author:

Shane Kroetsch writes stories to explore the inherent darkness that makes us human and the monsters that haunt our dreams. In his spare time, he builds projects out of old junk, paints watercolour blanket ghosts, and shakes his butt while vinyl spins. In addition to publishing a collection of short fiction and a zombie outbreak trilogy, Shane’s work is featured in Lampblack Books’ The Planchette Volume One: Genesis and the Alexandra Writers’ Center Society’s 40th Anniversary Anthology WonderShift.

You can read more of his writing and keep up to date with his creative shenanigans at ShaneKroetsch.com and @shanekroetsch.

Detonation #23: On Professionalism

You are not special. If nothing else, this is the takeaway. You are not special. I’m not saying you don’t matter as a person or even that your book isn’t any good. Jesus Christ, stop crying… this is the tough love we all need. Lots of folks have written books. Lots of folks have talent. These things are neither rare nor unique. I’ve written books and I promise you I’m loads happier knowing how unspecial I am.

All that is to say that as writers, we need to get over ourselves. Because you know what will serve you better and longer in this biz than any amount of specialness? Professionalism, that’s what.

“But Lola?” you might ask. “Why should I listen to you?”

And the answer is that you probably shouldn’t, but here are a few reasons why you might want to.

  1. Writing professionally for 10yrs with 4 published books
  2. Teaching/Editing professionally for 7 years
  3. Bookseller for 7yrs
  4. Publisher for 4yrs
  5. Wrote a college admission essay for a kid. A freelance gig that, while ethically dubious, got him into Cornell and got me $1000USD

See? Aren’t I special? The answer is no. Always no. But am I qualified to speak to the fundamentals of professional competence as a writer? You bet your sweet ass.

“Cool story, Lola. But maybe you could arrive at your point sometime before 2023?”

Right, I’m getting to it.

While my tentacles bristle at anything deemed to be a rule, I really like the idea of blasting MY rules into stone, so here they are.

Lola Silkysocks’ 10 Commandments of the Professional Writer

  1. Though shalt read all information and guidelines provided by the folks you hope to work with, be they publishers/agents/editors/reviewers/booksellers. Trust me, we know if you haven’t read the material and it displeases us.
  2. Thou shalt acquire basic computer literacy. “I’m not good at computers” will not fly. Get good at them. And trust me, if you have the wherewithal to go on Facebook and spread vaccine misinformation, you can email a high-res image file of your front cover.
  3. Thou shalt not talk shit about rejections on social media, even if they’re anonymized. Rejection is not fun for anyone, but it is part of the job. So be cool.
  4. Thou shalt accept critique gracefully. Once your work is out there, people get to have thoughts about it. Any thoughts at all. My advice? Stay off Goodreads.
  5. Thou shalt not hassle people for reviews. I get it, algorithms and all that. You can ask politely, but if someone bought your book, they’re already supporting you, so don’t be a dick about it.
  6. Thou shalt read. I’ve said this before, at length, and with a lot of profanity. But read, or listen, to a fucking book once in a while. I’m quite serious. We all have ADHD and dyslexia, but find a way. Reading is essential professional development for a writer.
  7. Thou shalt support others. Locally and virtually. Go to literary events, tweet up your fellow inkslingers, spend some money at an indie bookstore because they are a vital part of your cultural community.
  8. Thou shalt learn to compose a clear, concise, and pleasant email. It AMAZES me, ASTONISHES me, and has me UTTERLY SHITTING MY BRAIN how many grown-ass adults don’t know how to communicate professionally by email. I could write a whole detonation about this. I still might.
  9. Thou shalt meet thy deadlines. Yes, life happens and we’re all doughy flawed humans blah blah blah. But deadlines aren’t put in place for funsies. As the name would suggest, projects live and die on the basis of deadlines, so the second you’re aware that a deadline is in peril, you communicate that shit.
  10. Thou shalt cultivate the ability to speak in public. Don’t give me that look. I get it. Extroverts suck so why would you want to be one? But this is something you must be able to do. A professional writer gives readings, answers questions, and has the capacity to exist in front of a crowd without fainting. I’m not asking you to change your fundamental nature, just like…suspend it for half an hour. Do what you have to do to make it happen. Don’t torture your audience by making them sweat through your anxiety attack.

Don’t be overwhelmed, this is good news! These commandments require no talent at all and will ensure you’re putting your best foot forward in a business that turns entirely on first impressions. Maybe some writers are special. For sure some are lucky. But whatever pacts they’ve made with their devils, the fact remains that nothing will shut a door in your face faster than behaving like a boob. You want to be a pro? Then goddamn well act like one.

Rob’s Spring Sparks

So much to read and watch, so little time to review. While I wish I could blast out a full write up of everything, I’m going to go with the highlights of what I enjoyed over the last couple of months.


Cult of the Spider Queen by S.A. Sidor (Arkham Horror)

Current read in progress and so far an enjoyable 1920’s jungle romp with all the cosmic horror trimmings. I’m a huge fan of Sidor’s first Arkham Horror novel, The Last Ritual, and his two supernatural-pulp adventures from Angry Robot, Fury From the Tomb and The Beast of Nightfall Lodge, a series I hope he continues.

When Things Get Dark: Stories inspired by Shirley Jackson edited by Ellen Datlow (Blackstone Audio)

Current listen in progress and after the first few stories, altogether excellent. Lots of family, and dining rooms, and creepiness.

X’s for Eyes by Laird Barron (Bizarro Pulp Press)

I’d read the first part of the book “We Smoke the Northern Lights” in The Gods of HP Lovecraft and was excited to finally read the second half of the novella and see what happens. Pure awesomeness of course. Love the Tooms brothers and their weird, wide, universe which feels a lot like the Venture Brothers with cosmic horror replacing superheroes.

King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard (InAudio)

I hadn’t read this book since I was young and my main recollections of it were distorted by the 1985 Richard Chamberlain movie, which is more comedic parody than faithful adaption. The book is far superior, albeit steeped in damn horrible colonialism where every non white is a savage and gunning down herds of elephants is considered heroic – definitely overpowers the bones of the story which are about friendships and family.

Pickman’s Gallery edited by Matthew Carpenter (Ulthar Press)

I always loved the character of Richard Upton Pickman from a couple of Lovecraft’s stories and dug this collection continuing his legacy. I especially liked that the stories weren’t necessarily about him, but in many cases adjacent or referential. Great fun.

The Fisherman by John Langan (Word Horde)

I’m of two minds about this book. On one hand I loved it – loved the world, loved the mythology which really reminded me of my favourite Michael Shea stories. The structure, on the other hand, was unexpected. I think I was hoping for more back and forth between the times and less the three act narrative. But, as Sarah says, I’m horribly impatient, so take that complaint as a personal preference. Definitely an amazing story!

Rules for Monsters by Michael Minnis (Lovecraft eZine Press)

So many stories, and I hear there will be another volume – Michael is a prolific author indeed. While not every story is a winner, I enjoyed many of them and loved some, especially where he didn’t directly homage or extend classic Lovecraft stories.

Cthulhu Reloaded by David Conyers

Some entertaining military cosmic horror. Major Harrison Peel is a solid character and his adventures take him across many Lovecraftian locals and pit him against even more Lovecraftian monsters and gods. A fun page turner and I’m looking forward to picking up and reading the next couple of books in the series.

Mr. Cannyharme by Michael Shea (Hippocampus Press)

Michael Shea has always been one of my favourite authors and a serious inspiration for my own writing. I’ve read pretty much everything he wrote and was delighted to learn that this novel existed and would be published (and I hear there may be yet another lost Shea manuscript out there!!). Mr. Cannyharme was written in 81 and is a homage/adaption of Lovecraft’s “The Hound”. Loved it.


Possum (A Sarah pick)

Holy shit this was bleak. And British. If that’s not a genre, it should be. I’m not at all a fan of horrible creepy puppets so yeah… The plot? Sure. Well, there’s this dude named Phillip who used to be a puppeteer and ends up back at his old house with his weird old uncle. Phillip has old, deep issues. And a horrible creepy spider puppet. I can’t even… thanks for nightmares Sarah. Pro tip: Never go home with a puppet.

The Deeper You Dig (A Rob pick)

We’d watched Hellbender and enjoyed it, and I was listening to a podcast where they talked about this being the Adams Family’s (not THE Addams Family, though I kinda wonder, hmm) second movie. So we hunted down The Deeper You Dig and weren’t disappointed. Pretty much the same cast and with a similar witchy/psychic themes, which we loved. The plot? After her daughter dies and haunts the killer, her mom, a psychic, tries to figure out what’s happening. Pro tip? Don’t sled in the dark in a blizzard across a road.

Jug Face (A Rob pick)

Another movie I heard about from a podcast (The Lovecraft eZine Podcast?) that sounded intriguing. Like, what’s not interesting about devout backwoods hillbillies worshiping a malevolent/benevolent pit that’s probably some kind of forest demon god? Hits all the right notes in my book. The Plot? The Pit wants what the Pit wants. And it’s not the friendly sort of blood filled pit that everyone likes. Let’s just say it’s best to obey it’s demands or you lose your intestines.. Pro tip: Don’t sleep with your brother.

Covid-19: A Spiritual Journey

Noggy: We’re really calling it that?

Lola: Yes, shut up.

Noggy: Okay, but let the record show, you laid your spores in me. Unclean woman.

Lola: It’s my version of trapping you with a baby.

Noggy: Alien parasites. And not the good kind that everyone likes.

Lola: We have a review to write, quit stalling.

N: Fine! (cut to mumbling). It all started when I was minding my own business, living a life of selfless virtue, building orphanages and rescuing baby birds fallen from their nests—

L: And I went to Costco, maskless, like a dumbass.

N: A few days later we went for a four-hour run wherein you aerosolized me with Kirkland brand covid, and the next morning you tested positive, destroying my innocent little life.

L: You didn’t have to invite me to quarantine with you.

N: Did you miss the part where I’m selfless? And didn’t want your family turned into transhuman jelly?

L: Let’s just do the review, okay?

Day 1: You are a SUPERNOVA!

L: I slacked work with my rapid test selfie and soon enough several people were typing: condolences, concern, well-meaning banishments. And I’m all, “I got this, boo. I feel fine.”

N: Then you came over to WFH, which you did for about an hour before faceplanting on your laptop. I like to call this part ‘the sickening.’

L: Turns out, not so fine.

N: I tested negative but had a nap anyway. One can never have enough naps. Pretty sure that’s in the Purgatory manual.

L: Then we watched that show about WeWork…for some reason.

N: Remind me why we’re supposed to care about rich white people problems? Rich whites who got richer after their shenanigans? Where’s the comeuppance?

Day 2: Of Which Lola Has Little Memory

N: You poured a 5oz slug of brandy in your Neo Citron, remember?

L: I think we’ve already established that I don’t.

N: I was still testing negative but starting to show minimal signs of plague, though to be honest, I think they were sympathetic at this point.

L: You made me go for a walk in the middle of nowhere. I was literally dying and you made me exercise.

N: It’s easier to explain a body in the wild and not stuffed under one’s couch.

L: Especially that couch.

N: Hey, it may be the worst couch ever but at least we discovered the filthy delight that is Human Resources on Netflix while expiring on said couch. Literal bags of assholes.

L: The show, not the couch. I think.

Day 3: Noggy Tests Positive

L: Finally.

N: Late evening and bam, murdered.

L: We also did an episode of Between Two Flames for Rebekah Raymond’s virtual book launch. I’m told we did this. I’m told it was brilliant.

N: So that’s why I woke up wearing sunglasses and a vest…

Day 4: Cracow Monsters!

N: It was the worst of times, it was was the worstest of times.

L: Yeah, but soup. Don’t forget the soup.

N: True. Magic soup from the soup fairies. Bless their souls. I watched from the window as they placed the bowls in the symbolic configuration, mystically protected from the dark water feral bunny god, before making the proper ritualistic gestures and vanishing from whence they came.

L: I’m pretty sure that was the arcane cabal from the Netflix show.

N: Vietnamese, not Polish.

L: What the hell are we talking about again?

N: Dying.

L: Right. The Big Sleep.

Day 5: It’s always darkest before dawn

L: I think I feel…better? Or maybe I’ve turned…

N: Aren’t you glad I made you exercise?

L: I went a little easier on you, because you had man-covid.

Day 6: In Which Lola is Paroled from Covid Jail

N: And I was still holed up in my midden of diseased blankets and used Kleenex

L: Like a rat. While I N95’d and went to Dairy Queen for Blizzards. It was glorious…until I realized I couldn’t taste a damn thing. It wound up taking three days to eat.

N: That was also the day we aired out the place. Neither of us could smell either but I’m sure it was something akin to a festering hockey bag.

Days 7-10: Noggy turns the corner

N: And Lola decides she’s in the right headspace to get a large tattoo

L: Not as impulsive as it sounds

N: But the leaking black goo! Or was it black blood? You had turned.

L: Turned a corner.

N: Soon enough we had the energy to get drunk and yell at the television

L: Then I went home. I was actually…sad.

N: I thought we’d kill each other in quarantine, but I didn’t hate it, aside from the fatally diseased part.

Overall Impressions

So, what have we learned from Ten Days in Purgatory?

That you always come out of Costco with more than you planned. Always.


P.S. 8 weeks later. We’re not saying long covid, but we’re not-not saying it…Jesus Christ.

Detonation #22: Why So Serious?

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, right? Nope. Not since 1963. If they remade that classic Spencer Tracy flick now, it would totally be called It’s a Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad World. A world choked with endless wastelands of gut tearing grief. No joy to be found. Not in the important things like five-gallon pails of hagfish slime lube, not in the minor things like senior discount McDonald’s coffee nursed for sixteen hours. Instead of a madcap, zany, over the top flick where greedy idiots rush around in search of cash buried under a big W, it’d be about a bunch of bullied earless albino orphans desperate to find both their identities and lost parents who abandoned them due to crushing poverty and substance abuse and who died horribly in a Moldovan prison carving literal regrets into soviet era concrete with toothbrush shivs fashioned from their own femurs.

I’m going to write the novel version to that one, by the way. Probably snag myself a Pulitzer or Booker or, heaven forbid, an Aurora if I’m unlucky. People will snap it up, devour every wretched, miserable word, comforted by the knowledge that they aren’t the only ones suffering in this cold, terrible planet. Commiserating. People love to commiserate. It’s become a top tier hobby, right up with doomscrolling and trying to find something to watch on Amazon Prime video.

So… while I’m not saying that the world’s Boomer mangled and storm ravaged corpse isn’t becoming a forlorn, dreadful hellscape, cause it most certainly is, what I’m saying is I’m fucking tired of reading about it. The last two years have been rough for a lot of people, do we really need to dwell on the emotional wrecks we’ve all become? I say NO! Cast off those chains of loss and grief and read (and write) something less forlorn, whether it be cheesy pulp or twisted erotica or weird fiction involving combines and Mexican Mennonite tacos.

Now I can tell you’re totally thinking “but Noggy, that’s the shit you write. Are you sure this isn’t just a cheap plug disguised as a timely rant?” Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But my friendly neighborhood psychoanalyst bar tender assures me that at my discount McDonald’s coffee age, self-promotion and yelling at clouds are valid coping strategies. And my writing can’t sell itself. Apparently…

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, so many goddamn loss and grief riddled books feel like award bait these days. And yes, I’m sure I’m exaggerating, but those are the books that get all the press and attention and critical acclaim. Lola loves them, of course. She leaves them lying around to tempt me into reading them, talks about the exquisite writing and fabulous depth. How the authors turn a despondent phrase. How they rock gloomy readings. How they dress like 70’s era drapes. Flashes her… exquisite covers.  I never fall for her tricks. Grief and loss. Loss and grief. Real god damn life!

No thanks.

I’ve had my fill of real god damn life and I’m hungry for Mexican Mennonite tacos. And you should be as well.

Today’s non-grief filled Detonation happy hour(s) cocktail is the appropriately named A Short Trip To Hell.

  • 2 parts Peach Schnapps
  • 2 parts Strawberry Schnapps
  • 2 parts Wildberry Schnapps
  • 1 part Jagermeister
  • 8 parts Energy drink of Choice.

Shake the energy drink and Schnapps in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a tumbler. Put the Jagermeister into a shot glass, drop in the shot, and take the express elevator to Hell.

2021 – The Great Diaspora

L: I’m literally right here. Sitting next to you. You don’t need to yell.
N: But I like yelling. This is a very yelly year.
L: You’re not wrong. Remember our 2020 year in review?
N: Should I? I told you nobody reads these. Including us.
L: Something about 2021 asking 2020 to hold her beer?
N: Fuck, so it’s our fault? Why can’t we just keep our gob holes shut?
L: It is, we can’t, we didn’t, and it happened.
N: Not sure if 2021 was the best of times or the worst of times, but it was… times.
L: Let’s start with the best…

N: Lola?
L: Shh, I’m thinking… Never mind, better to just puke meatballs on the wall and see what sticks.
N: … we said we would never speak of that again.
L: shrug emoji.
N: Let’s try some new categories.



  • Cocktails!!
  • First Vaccination. When everyone was getting the Pfizer Cadillac, we hopped a ride on the AZ hillbilly hay truck down a road full of potholes.
  • Witchcraft. Look, we trapped an Elemental in a candle. It’s still there. In the back of a drawer. We don’t know what to do. Help us… please.
  • Found a butt shaped rock on a full moon run. Serendipity.
  • The bug in Lola’s eye. ROFL!.
  • Tetanus shots.
  • Second vaccination. Yay, Pfizer!
  • Skinny dipping in the river. While high. Wearing dress shoes. Coming back to find our clothes covered in slugs.
  • Running the Blackspur Ultra in Kimberly. In the rain. In the cold. Uphill both ways. Epic chafing. Meatballs. Meatballs, in reverse. 
  • Running the Lost Soul Ultra in Lethbridge. In the rain. In the cold. On fucking pavement.
  • Noggy running the Whistler Alpine Meadows Ultra, with acute Achilles bursitis.
  • Third vaccination. Are we done yet?
  • Shockwave therapy! It’s like fun, but with extra medieval torture.
  • Dogma Logs (see image above). 


  • Cocktails!!!
  • Noggy’s birthday. Cannoli in a parking lot.
  • Wedding Anniversaries. Latest and last.
  • Living our best lives in parental basements and decommissioned love hotels.
  • Shrek-themed birthday party for Lola. Random, yet utterly perfect.
  • Cursed pies.
  • Weird Thanksgiving.
  • Betty Lou’s Library speakeasy followed by dinner with the Russian mob.
  • Taylor’s Version everything! Lola is obsessed. Noggy will sing along three sidecars deep.
  • Solstice: sneaking in a yule log into Fairmont Hotel #1, praying to Hecate, cayenne pepper in the carpet, poking our noses where they don’t belong, five bourbons and an eggnog at the Tipsy Elf.
  • Omicron!
  • Weirder Christmas
  • Dead Week: the most wonderful time of the year


  • Naked Snow Angels (there may be pictures).
  • Roofied by Lola’s dad and his weed infused absinthe punch.
  • Hell Hath no Sorrow Like a Woman Haunted by R.J. Joseph and Terrace V: Penitent’s Gold curated by us!
  • Lawyer fees.
  • Vaccinations 4, 5, and 6?
  • Squamish Ultra and the Triple WAMmy with like fifty thousand feet of vert.
  • Hopefully some writing.

N: Soooo. No way we should have survived.
L: Yet here we are.
N: Are we though?
L: Where ever here is. In spite of it all, I’m still happier now than I was a year ago.
N: That’s the literal four thousand cocktails speaking, and maybe that weed punch.
L: I predict the first half of 2022 will be like the signature Icelandic shark dish Hákarl, it’s gotta ferment five months before it’s non-toxic.
N: We’ll wash it down with Arby’s and extra-large DQ Blizzards come July.