Downstate Story XXI

Downstate Story XVIII

Downstate Story XVIII

The latest issue is out of Downstate Story, an annual of original fiction from Peoria, Illinois, and one I recommend to fans of short fiction. Editor Elaine Hopkins assembles a fine group of short stories each December, and I’m happy to buy and read it every year. Her selections usually highlight the strange under side and/or secret life of the Midwest, and though far from saccharine the collection’s overall tone is generally less bleak than conventional in literary short stories. On occasional years I haven’t had to buy my copy: The past decade or so, I’ve submitted a story for each issue, and three times Downstate Story has been kind enough to feature one of them.

Downstate Story XVIIII

Downstate Story XVIIII

And starting this year, no one has to buy the issue anymore. After twenty years as a print journal, Downstate Story has gone elelctronic, and it’s free on the web at (Contributions are welcome.) Some will decry the format change, I expect, but I doubt that anyone will complain about the price change; the print version went for ten dollars.

By way of full disclosure. I’m glad to say that this is one of the years my submission made the cut. “Or Someplace Shining” by yours truly appears in this the first electronic issue of Downstate Story. It’s a Christmas story, though a little different, maybe. I won’t claim that it’s got sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but two out of three is pretty close, right?

Of the issue’s remaining stories, there’s not one alongside which I’m not happy to have “Or Someplace Shining” run. My two favorites would probably be Elaine Fowler Palencia’s “Field Station 134” and “Anna’s Hair” by Stefani Christnova. The former puts a fifty-something grandma into a mildly problematic situation in the rural Midwest, then stands things on their head in a way that makes perfect sense in retrospect–sort of, I think.

The other story I mentioned, “Anna’s Hair”, could be set anywhere–it’s hard to tell–from the urban Midwest to a neighborhood somewhere in Europe. It involves an evening out by a couple who’ve been together forty years, and it’s a magical tale, though not a fantasy. Its charm springs from vivid characterization, a nuanced plot, and the prose in which it unfolds, simultaneously crisp and lush. The tale also evokes a level of insight among those living in the neighborhood that is close to surreal. Both stories are worth your time, definitely.

Another story I enjoyed a lot was “Variance” by Jim Courter, its main characters, like those of several of several of the stories here, are a long-married couple. Things begin with them in bed, the husband ready to sleep, after a dinner party. The wife raises a seemingly innocous household issue, and from there things seque into issues of faculty politics, political correctness, gender wars, and art, before coming a full circle. A bittersweet story –or semi-sweet, maybe.

I strongly recommend checking the issue out, and again, the links is at Reading a story a day from the site till you’ve read them all wouldn’t be a bad way to go.

Downstate Story XIV

Downstate Story XIV

Finally I’m going to paste a press release in here containing additional info, which the magazine put out for this issue.

Downstate Story


Elaine Hopkins, publisher                                                                                                                                             

1825 Maple Ridge                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Peoria, IL. 61614                                                      phones: 309/688-1409; 309/231-5758                                                                                                          


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    Further information:

                                                                                      Elaine Hopkins 309/231-5758




            Ten new short stories by Illinois and Midwestern writers are featured in the 2012 edition of Downstate Story, Peoria’s only literary magazine. For the first time Downstate Story has been published only on the Web at

                        The writers in this issue are Pepper Bauer of Mapleton; Don Axt of Peoria; Susan Duke of East Peoria; Elaine Fowler Palencia of Champaign; Jim Courter of Macomb; Kent McDaniel of Chicago; Terry Cobb of Harris, Missouri; Gary Hoffman of Okeehobee, Fla.; Bonnie McCune of Denver, Colo.; and Stefani Christova of Longmont, Colo.    

            Published by Downstate Story, Inc., an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, the annual publication aims to present original fiction by Illinois writers and writers with ties to Illinois and the Midwest as a quality alternative to today’s mass-market publishing.

 For this edition, Readers are asked for donations to help defray publishing costs on the Web.  

 Downstate Story’s new Facebook page can be accessed at 


            The magazine is available free on the Web. Interviews with the authors are encouraged and can be arranged.  Contact us, or them.  Their email addresses and other information are included below.   

            Please help us notify the public about this unique venture.


       DOWNSTATE STORY,   Vol. 21,   THE FACTS


1.  Politically correct.  Contributors paid for their work.  No government funds used. 

 2.  Something for everyone.  Stories reflect diversity of authors, and include romance, horror, fantasy, mainstream fiction.

 3.  Promotes quality reading.  Content  realistic but not X-rated.  

4.  Promotes Illinois and Midwestern writers and artists.  

5.  Unusual concept for the arts.  Provides outlet for local writers and artists to reach

local audiences free. 

6.  Original work.  None ever published before. 

7.  Quality work.  Stories and art comparable to work in Harpers,  Atlantic, The New Yorker. 

8. No poetry. 

9. No advertising. 

10. Unique experiment in publishing, asking for donations instead of fee.  


Authors:  (Telephone numbers available on request)

Pepper L. Bauer, Mapleton, Il.,

Jim Courter, Macomb, Il.,

Don Azt, Peoria,

Susan F. Duke, East Peoria, Il.,

Kent McDaniel, Chicago, Il.,

Elaine Fowler Palencia, Champaign, Il.

Terry Cobb, Harris, Missouri,

Gary R. Hoffman, Okeechobee, Fla.,

B.F. McCune, Denver, Colo.,

Stefani Christova, Longmont, Colo.,




About kentmcdanielwrites

Writer and musician.

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