January 2022

Welcome to Downstate Story

Welcome to
Downstate Story


  • We're a not-for-profit literary magazine daring to be different. (We're also a pioneer website! See the original design, above.)
  • We offer original, exciting, illustrated short stories for every taste.
  • We're reader-oriented and want your reactions... Email us at [email protected]
  • Check out the links below.

NEW: The 2021 edition is a web-only publication, available at www.downstatestory.com. The Facebook page is here.
It will be our last issue -- 30 years is enough.


And here's a link to a story in the Peoria Journal Star about the 2016 edition.

Here's a link to a comment by author Kent McDaniel which includes reviews of some of the Vol. 21 stories.

VOL. 20, the 2011 edition, and other back issues are still available. Order now, at the link below where you print out and mail an order, or at the downstatestory.com site, where you can use our service, Democracy Engine.

Watch the 2012 video interview on Downstate Story, by The Peorian magazine. It's in there somewhere.

Listen to the March 13, 2011 podcast interview of publisher Elaine Hopkins done for the Illinois Central College radio station, WAZU-FM

Here's a well done Pekin Times story about Vol. 19.

The reviews are always good. Read a news story about Vol. 18 in the Peoria Journal Star.

Site Contents:

Entire site copyright ©1992-2022 by Downstate Story, Inc.
Original site design by Eldon Brown.
1998 Update by Ted Eselgroth, [email protected]


Downstate Story


DOWNSTATE STORY immediately intrigued me because it is a product of Peoria, Illinois. Ever since a recent trip through the Midwest—past a chain reaction of cornfields interrupted by pristine Dairy Queens—I've been somewhat curious about the inhabitants of this symmetrical and wholesome place. Does any chaos lurk beneath the surface? In addition, Peoria has become synonymous with the middle class — known for detergent testimonials.

In 61 pages, DOWNSTATE STORY, Vol. III, edited by Elaine Hopkins and Janeen (Burkholder) Crowley, provides insight into the middle class as well as middle America, mixing surreal with real elements, as you enter into the homegrown imaginations of its writers and artists.

Many stories in DOWNSTATE STORY explore extraordinary and weird events in mundane, recognizable middle class settings; the checkout lane, the Holiday Inn lobby, and the video store become sites of fresh and non-traditional plots. In this edition (Volume III) a customer who pockets a video is pursued by the nightmarish store manager in an electric wheelchair, a woman falls for her obscene phone caller, and a man attending his high school reunion is transported back to his teenage years via a special camera.

Frequently enough, this mixture of fantastic and prosaic details creates a humorous effect. In the "Electric Chair," for example, the video store has "ten television sets hung suspended from the ceiling like compound, electric fly eyes....Darlene started a new video—GROUNDHOG DAY. Ten Bill Murrays committed suicide in ten different ways—jumping off buildings, stepping in front of trucks, dropping toasters in tubs."

Although the content is avante-garde, stylistically, the stories are more in line with mainstream prescriptions, focusing on a pivotal narrative moment, adhering to a lean Carver-esque simplicity, using a linear or a flashback approach to time.

"Girl from Pandora, Iowa" by Don Axt uses flashback to deal with the issue of the interracial relationship and the prejudice surrounding it.

Larry DeWild (who is anything but wild) is an upwardly mobile executive whose love child from a college affair with a black woman shows up in the lobby of his sales office. This white man goes through a life review of the tryst as he descends by the stairway—the action underscoring his descent from his "on-top-of-it" position—to face his past and his racism. The story portrays, with honesty, a protaganist who cannot disrupt the status quo and who becomes oppressed himself by the rigid rules and expectations imposed by the college fraternity which is a mere precursor to his corporate life. DeWild is the quintessential salesman who must "spruce up a bit... buy a new necktie, a bright one with flower like those worn by the company management trainees and advertising salesmen." Paradoxically, the salesman is commodified—a product that must continually face society's inspection. The conclusion is a perfect statement about the clash of cultures, the high price of conformity, and selling out.

"Deus Ex Machina" by Burt Rabbe is another standout. This piece focuses on the exploitation of minority factory workers as the ghost of a man killed in an industrial accident comes back to see that his wife sues the plant owners.

This ghost story includes realistic appraisals of factory life juxtaposed with speculative assessments of the afterlife. About factory life, the narrator states, "Al turned and strode away. He was not an evil man. He and Pancho were really very much alike, cogs in a vast machine, whose lives were important depending on how good a cog they could be".

— CLF Newsletter, edited by Dan Pearlman, Department of English, University of Rhode Island; Kingston, Rhode Island

DOWNSTATE STORY provides readers with a ballot on which to vote for heir favorite story; I cast mine for "The Love Seat" by Steve Meiss. This absurd tale tells of Jim Botto's life when his mother-in-law comes to convalesce in his home after a hospital stay. The story captures the sense of disorientation experienced by many middle-class families trying to do everything and take care of everybody. At the Botto home, a clear sense of time and place does not exist. Jim returns home from his news job when his kids go off to school. The mother-in-law must sleep on an uncomfortable love seat in the living room while his colleagues visit. Jim is forever analyzing world news but cannot keep up with the news of his personal life. He barely knows what his wife looks like as she goes about in an unlaundered bathrobe and messy hair. The family lives in a perpetual haze of cigarette smoke, a fog, but in the end, his wife Patsy opens the window and lets the clean air in (although this may be because there's a corpse).

The details are familiar—from the brown plastic coffee cup to the kids lying down and eating in front of the television. The attitude is typically bourgeois in that Patsy is more concerned about the appearance of the love seat than its practicality. "Patsy said she was pleased with the love seat, which looked OK except for a spot in one corner."

This wacky story shows us how the real important issues may become subordinated in the hectic and unexamined lives of modern families.

All in all, DOWNSTATE STORY gave me a glimpse into the Midwest—the humor, creativity, and concerns—that I never saw on my road trip. This literary, eight-dollar trip was a smooth highway—no radar traps of ambiguous plots or construction sites of overly complicated sentences but some odd and satisfying scenery along the way.

— Kathy Moffitt

Perhaps everything old is new again. Having examined Volumes I and II of DOWNSTATE STORY, I am amazed at the refreshing (and sometimes jolting) mixture of fictional registers in this little-known little magazine.

From its inception, DOWNSTATE STORY has broken current taboos. Not only do is NEW YORKER or ESQUIRE style fiction mixed with literature of the fantastic, but the writers really seem to care about what used to be called story values. They focus on the tale, rather than on any particular ideology. Why, they seemingly ignore literary fashions altogether.

The stories in these two volumes range in style and theme from Carver country to the grotesque New American Gothic practiced by Flannery O'Connor. Don Axt's "Maxwell Forrest and the Wanna Bee" exemplifies the latter: the "Wanna Bee" lady of the title dreams of becoming an amputee, "to have a leg off." In Volume II are stories that could have been written in the late 1950s by Ray Bradbury or seen on the original Twilight Zone, mingling the cozily domestic with the strange and unexplained.

Don Axt's "One Quality Hour" is a ghost story with real pathos, while W.G. Bliss's "The Bad Antique Dealer" presents an interesting time travel paradox.

Professional work like Axt's and Steve Meiss's "Frog" (Vol. I), winner of the reader's award, co-exist (if a bit uneasily) with sentimental vignettes and some rather primitive artwork. Even so, if one story or illustration is not to your taste, move on to the next—it will be different!

With such a variety of styles and concerns, this may truly be the little magazine with something for EveryReader.

— Faye Ringel


DOWNSTATE STORY released its eleventh issue a few months ago, showing all the newcomers to the publishing field that to stick around, you just have to keep doing it.

The magazine is a small publication, with, I would guess, a small print run. It is staple-bound and in the size of a sheet of paper folded in half (which is no doubt, helpful to keep the production costs down). And there are not many authors or options of reading included in this issue (10).

But, the writing here is strong and the reason why the editor would include each piece is obvious and I like it. DOWNSTATE STORY might be a small publication, but I get the feeling that is how they like it. It is the little publication that can.

--KW. Midnight Mind Magazine No. 5, P.O. Box 146912, Chicago, IL 60614. (Brett Van Emst, editor.)


DOWNSTATE STORY, a local literary magazine, has been quietly cultivating a body of work and a group of writers with a distinctly Midwestern sensibility for a number of years now.

The Peoria-based magazine has been quietly churning out an issue a year containing 10 short stories from local and national writers since 1992.

While the magazine doesn't claim to produce literature for the ages, it has won a certain level of acclaim - a $1,000 grant from The Puffin Foundation of Teaneck, N. J., in 1993, and, more recently, $1,000 from the Illinois Arts Council for publishing a story titled "Fallout" by Deborah Correnti in 2002. (Correnti also received a $1,000 literary award.) In addition to short stories, the magazine also publishes original artwork.

Now a new edition has just been published - the 15th since 1992 - and is available for $8 a copy at area bookstores and gift shops or through the not-for-profit Downstate Story Web site at www.wiu.edu/users/mfgeh/dss.

Peoria-area writers included in this issue are Pepper Bauer and Gordon Petry. Other writers are Jim Courter of Macomb, Joyce Frohn of Oshkosh,Wis., and Ruth Cox Anderson of Port Charlotte, Fla. Writers typically find Downstate Story online or in listings in Writers Digest.

"Several of these stories reveal profound pessimism, as they focus on revenge, guilt, unhappiness," writes publisher Elaine Hopkins, who also is a longtime reporter at the Journal Star. "A few present bizarre symbolism, or the protagonist as fool. Have these writers absorbed the zeitgeist, the ambience, the uneasiness of a nation at war against 'terror,' which as many commentators have pointed out is a tactic and not a proper foe? In this unsettled era, writers and artists likely reveal the clearest vision of national, or regional mood."

Whether the stories reflect the zeitgeist or not, there is a lot of variety. One story, "The Assignation," by Pepper Bauer, explores theconventional themes of love, betrayal and longing - but with a twist in the last paragraph that will make you go back and re-read the whole story with a completely different impression of what's actually transpiring.

In another tale, "Buddy's Magic," Gordon Petry offers a first-person account of an incompetent magician named Buddy, and the unexpected marvels this seemingly ordinary person can really work.

Meanwhile, a Colt revolver hidden in an SUV waits to go off in Jim Courter's "Two Falls."

Bauer says Downstate Story - which has published her work before - has both given her confidence and opened doors for her, including a writing gig at the Limestone Independent News. Courter says Downstate Story offers a needed outlet for writers.

"I think the title, in a way, says it all," Courter said. "I just find it's a good place for writers to find a voice. As much as anything, it gets the word out that there is a literary life south of Chicago."

-- Gary A. Panetta, fine arts columnist and a critic for the (Peoria) Journal Star, Dec. 24, 2006.

Entire site copyright ©1992-2022 by Downstate Story, Inc.
Original site by Eldon Brown
1998 Update by Ted Eselgroth,
[email protected]

About Downstate Story

Downstate Story

Downstate Story: The Details:

  • Always remember...
    • The comments and situations of the characters depicted in Downstate Story represent only themselves, and they are not meant to reflect or characterize other people or groups of people. The characters are fictitious and any resemblance to actual people is coincidental.
    • Downstate Story, ISSN 1066-1662, is published by Downstate Story, Inc., an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, 1825 Maple Ridge, Peoria, Il. 61614-7915. Email [email protected] .
    • Downstate Story is copyrighted by Downstate Story, Inc. Permission to reprint must be obtained from respective contributors.

  • Downstate Story, Just the Facts...
    • Probable collector's item, especially for the art.
    • Politically correct. Contributors paid for their work. Printed by union printer. No government funds used (except as awards for merit).
    • Something for everyone. Stories reflect diversity of authors, and include romance, horror, fantasy, mainstream fiction.
    • Promotes reading. Content realistic but not X-rated.
    • Promotes Illinois and Midwestern writers and artists. Copies go to libraries, short story contests. Contributors free to re-sell their work.
    • New concept for the arts. Provides outlet for regional writers and artists to reach audiences in their own communities.
    • Original work. None ever published before.
    • Quality work. Stories comparable to those found in Harpers, Atlantic, The New Yorker.
    • Reader participation. Readers can submit comments and stories for the next issue.
    • No poetry.

  • About Downstate Story...
    • Downstate Story Inc. is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation founded in 1992 to publish Downstate Story, an independent, annual, literary magazine.
    • Each issue contains 10 original short stories with original illustrations. Some issues also contain photographs from readings and other events.
    • The magazine carries no advertising, except for some joint ads with other small magazines, and relies on sales to survive. It is sold on consignment through book stores and gift shops, and by mail. To order it, see other information at this site.
    • In March, 1993, Downstate Story received a $1,000 grant from The Puffin Foundation of Teaneck, New Jersey. The money paid for advertising, mainly in publications of other arts groups such as theater programs.
    • In 2002 a story published by Downstate Story in Vol. 10, "Fallout" by Deborah Correnti, received a $1,000 Literary Award from the Illinois Arts Council. Downstate Story also received $1,000 for publishing the story.
    • All Downstate Story contributors are paid for their work. A volunteer board of directors oversees the magazine.
    • Publisher Elaine Hopkins is a journalist with an interest in fiction, who also has taught college-level literature courses. Former editor-in-chief for some issues Jan Burkholder taught journalism and desktop publishing in college and has worked as a magazine editor. Readers for each issue are literature fans and some are writers and artists.
    • Downstate Story has held readings in Peoria, Normal, Macomb and Chicago. Several writers have been interviewed on radio and TV, and a Public Access TV program on Downstate Story was broadcast in Chicago.
    • These events have raised the visibility of short fiction as an art form, encouraged the writing of short fiction, and have promoted the talents and careers of the writers and illustrators.
    • Comments from Bonnie Matheis, Coordinator for the Illinois Center for the Book at the Illinois State Library in Springfield. "Downstate Story('s publication of) Susan Srikant's winning story "My Arrival in Horseshoe, Nebraska," (in Vol. 16, 2007), could be such a turning point for Susan. Just thinking of the potential opportunities she might receive as a result of (the) decision reminded me that this was what the Illinois Emerging Writers Competition was all about.

      "Kevin Stein, the Illinois Poet Laureate and final judge of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award portion of the Illinois Emerging Writers Competition, at the last two emerging writers award ceremonies, related to the winners what it was like to be an aspiring poet. He well remembers the writing, the entering of competitions and the waiting for some hint of validation. Thanks to Downstate Story, Susan Srikant has just received a very significant validation of her work as an aspiring writer and we thank you for that.

      "Downstate Story's willingness to participate in the James Jones Short Story Award of the Illinois Emerging Writers Competition from the very beginning is truly appreciated. While we are especially thrilled that Susan Srikant's winning story has been selected for publication, please know that the opportunity you are giving Susan and all of the winners of the competition just by reviewing their stories is something most of them could only dream of. Downstate Story's commitment to the up and coming writers in Illinois does make a difference in the lives of those that are still struggling to be recognized for their talent.

      "Thank you for your support of the competition (and) your support to the writing community."

Entire site copyright ©1992-2022) by Downstate Story, Inc.
Original site by Eldon Brown.
1998 Update by Ted Eselgroth,
[email protected]

Tables of Contents

“The Dreamer,” by Douglass G. Norvell.
“Frog,” by Steve Meiss.
“The Smartest Man in the World,” by Forrest Robinson.
“Face to Face” by Cinda Thompson.
“The Gift of Love,” by Yvonne M. Grapes.
“The Quilt,” by Ginger H. Wheeler
“Sixty-Eight and Single,” by Gayle Arrowood.
“Murder Most Fowl,” by Jessica J. Frasca, illustrated by the author.
“Tougher Than Most,” by Jim Courter.
“Maxwell Forest and the Wanna Bee,” by Don Axt.
Original art by Loretta Hoback and S. LaMont Waithe.
“Mayor Ben,” by Cinda Thompson.
“One Quality Hour,” by Don Axt.
“The Killing,” by James R. Heuer.
“The Bad Antique Dealer,” by W. G. Bliss.
“The Paterkiller,” by Jessica J. Frasca, illustrated by the author.
“Rings,” by Irene Sedeora.
“Kate at Work,” by Orville Starnes.
“The Last Word,” by Kristel Taylor.
“The Ideal Spouse,” by David Quinn.
“In Stitches,” by Jim Courter.
Original art by Gary Schwartz, photos by Keith Berry.
“Value City,” by Bernadette Bartlett.
“The Yellow Brick Road,” by Brian Cooper.
“The Electric Chair,” by C. L. Shurtleff.
“The Caller,” by Kristel Taylor.
“Fidelis,” by Thomas Laird.
“The Love Seat,” by Steve Meiss.
“Growing Up Slowly,” by Claire Hutchison.
“Baby Eyes,” by Jessica Frasca, illustrated by the author.
“Girl from Pandora, Iowa,” by Don Axt.
“Deus Ex Machina,” by Burt Raabe.
Original art by Penny Wang and S. LaMonte Waithe, photos by Keith Berry.
“LuEllen on Oprah” by Pamela M. Patton
“Addiction” by Claire N. Hutchison
“Baby, Tonight” by Lori Westermeier
“1968” by Cinda Thompson
“Mallards” by C. L. Shurtleff
“Rock River Paradise” by Kristel Taylor
“The Perfect Man” by Kathy O'Hara
“The Window of Opportunity” by Constance Stepe
“That Miserable, Sadass Shaman” by Don Axt
“Stop Me If I Make A Mistake” by Robert Grindy
Original art by Jacki Willis and Anthony Hirner.
“Ambitions" by Jessica J. Frasca
"Twine God Story" by Daniel Gerdes
"The Open Window" by Louise Muehe
"Scat" by James Plath
"Not the Virgin Mary" by Cinda Thompson
"Breakfast with Jesus" by Don Axt
"Places" by Kristel Taylor
"Ghosts by Thomas Laird
"Green Hands of God" by Jerry Kilbride
"Hot and Gritty" by Tom Brand
Original art by Wayne Forbes, Christy Goodman and Julie Wyckoff
"The Shirt" by Pepper Bauer
"The Man With the Rusty Mustache by Don Axt
"Children We Have Something to Tell You" by Marie Micheletti
"Taking Care" by Jessica Frasca
"One Last Time" by Jeffrey D. Sandrone
"Red Light, Green Light" by Debra R. Borys
"The Hitchhiker" by Ray Pierce
"A Matter of Suicide" by Gary King
"The Business of Dying " by Amy L. Davis
"Short on Top" by Carolyn Owen
Original art by Preston Jackson, Eric Bell and Brenda Hanshaw
"Birds of a Feather" by Kate Burgauer
"Mime" by Barry Schwartz
"Romance" by Laura Winton
"Space Shoot" by Ray Pierce
"Libby and the Deer" by O. Starnes
"Women of Robert" by Karen Lagerbloom
"Rattlesnake Stare" by Michael Berry
"Where Have You Gone Maxwell Perkins" by Tom Laird
"The Cow" by Tom Snee
"Dirty Laundry" by Charles Rammelkamp
Original art by Bob Emser, Brenda Hanshaw and Sheilagh Foster
_______________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY VOL. VIII, 1999
"Walking Back" by Catherine Lawless
"Sixties or Bust" by Arnold Edwards
"In Memoriam" by Pepper Bauer
"Bread and Circuses" by Kate Burgauer
"Dante's Dilemma" by Tom Laird
"Gardening" by Leslie Farnsworth
"I Don't Want to Go to Heaven" by Mike Standaert
"City News" by Lydia Webster
"Lucid Moments" by Cinda Thompson
"Transactions" by Tom Snee
Original art by Daniel Botkin, Rose Haynes and Sheilagh Foster Hill
__________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY Vol. IX, 2000
"My Paper Angel," by Gwen Dina
"Discussing Politics with My One True Love," by Michael Downs
"Spitting Image," by Thomas Laird
"Death's Apprentice," by Bryan A. Bushemi
"You Bet Your Life," by Jessica Frasca
"Screaming Eagle," by Kate Burgauer
"Zinnias," by Steve Fay
"Mates," by Carol Howell
"Adoption," by Daniel Botkin
"Hoops," by Raymond Pierce
Original art by Vin Luong, Daniel Botkin and Jessica Frasca
_______________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, Vol. X, 2001
"Wake Me When It's Over," by Raymond Pierce
"It's Not the Money," by Jim Courter
"Willie the Wisp," by Norman V. Kelly
"Tobacco Juice," by K. G. Kalb
"Incorporation," by Pepper Lambie Bauer
"Fallout," by Deborah Correnti
"Black Ribbon," by Barbara Johnson-Haddad
"The Lake Story," by Nicholas Antosca
"If Life Were Music," by Arnold L. Miller
"The Phone Call," by Dina Rabadi
Original art by Brenda Hanshaw and Rose Haynes
_______________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, Vol. XI, 2002
"Quilt Pieces," by Kate Varness
"Train of Thought," by Josiah McClellan
"Midwinter Lightning," by Jean Z. Slonneger
"Will Work for Food," by O. Starnes
"Hot Tub Romance," by Gary King
"On the Occasion of Hemmingway's 100th," by Patrick Riley
"An Early Winter," by Patrick Archer
"The Visit," by W. C. Scheurer
"I Feel Your Pain," by Pepper L. Bauer
"Paying Attention," by Rita Haag
Original art by Connie Andrews and Ed Levene
_______________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY,Vol. XII, 2003
"July 4, 2002," by Allen Hartter
"P.O.W." by Marion Spillman
"Mabel and Ivy," by Erin Pringle
"WWW.GETHSEMANE.COM," by Mary Gannon
"How I Got Saved," by Carol Manley
"Midwest Adventures," by Gloria M. Hedberg
"Owl," by Ray Pierce
"Half the Man," by Marqus P. Bobesich
"Catatonic," by Pepper L. Bauer
"Vindictive," by Jeff Poolev
Original art by Ed Levene
_______________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, Vol. XIII, 2004
"Chicago Eve," by M. W. King
"Lunch Date," by Eva Schultz
"A Prayer for Rain," by Norm Kelly
"A Door of Her Own," by Eric Johnson
"A Cry from the Edge of the World," by Chad Wys
"The Twelve Roses of Christmas," by Shirley Splittstoesser
"Riding With Otis," by Stephen M. Dare
"In Bloom," by Bill Oberg
"No Strings Attached," by Susan Duke
"Snake in the Stairwell," by W. Aaron Wilson
Original art by Ed Levene and Connie Andrews
_______________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, Vol. XIV, 2005
"Witch's Wand" by C. E. Jones
"The Safety Zone," by Keir Graff
" A Spring Day," by Jean Shrier
"Absolutely Zeke's Blues," by Kent McDaniel
"Living Pressure," by Bob Liter
"Tomorrow is a Brand New Day," by Pepper L. Bauer
"Squall in Plain Quiet," by Amy Ealy
"Children of the Light," by Nancy Swanborn
"Present," by Kimberley Donald
"Say 'Cheese,'" by Gordon Petry
Original art by Ed Levene and Emily Davis
_______________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, Vol. XV, 2006
"Two Falls," by Jim Courter
"Madam Maria, Seer of All," by M.W. King
"The Sink Hole," by Stephanie Freele (now in book form, see http://www.stefaniefreele.com/id25.html)
"Just Like Her Father," by Joyce Frohn
"The Assignation," by Pepper L. Bauer
"Once Inside," by Ruth Cox Anderson
"Even Steven," by Tracey Baldwin
"Liverwurst," by Ray Pierce
"Jason and the Tit Lady," by Dan Seiters
"Buddy's Magic," by Gordon Petry
Original art by Ed Levene, Amy Frasca, Gabriele Dabasinkaite and Connie Andrews
_______________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, Vol. XVI, 2007
"The Joining," by Pepper L. Bauer
"Killing Time," by Eric Strand
"Top Down Day," by Bud Bartlett
"Mile Markers," by Lorie Kolak
"Lady Justice," by Kimberley Donald
"From the Bowl of the Spoon," by Dick Quinn
"Crayola," by Connie Steppe
"My Arrival in Horseshoe, Nevada," by Susan Srikant
"Soil Searching," by Robert E. McKown
"Anna's Eyes," by Robert McEvilia
Original art by Amy Fraska, Ed Levene and Bill Whitney
_______________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, Vol. XVII, 2008
"Escape Velocity," by Jean Shrier
"Next Move," by David C. Metz
"A Trick," by Jim O'Loughlin
"Ward Off Crosses," by Bridget Fallen
"The Case of the Greedy Oil Barons," by Pepper L. Bauer
"Romance" by Jim Courter
"The Assignment," by Marie Anderson
"Pizza Night," by Kelli Landon
"Uncle Joe, the Hero," by M.W. King
"A Tall Man," by John Harvey
Original art by Ed Levene, Jessica Frasca and Bonnie Gahris
_______________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, Vol. XVIII, 2009
"The Box Under the Bed," by Marie Anderson
"Among Equals," by Maria King Carroll
"Accomplice" by Dick Bentley
"Smiling Through the Tears" by Pepper L. Bauer
"Get a Job," by Elaine Tuman
"Freaks," by A. R. Braun
"Premature Death" by John Pollard
"This and That," by Kent McDaniel
"A Puzzling Solution," by Connie Stepe
"The Drowning Hour" by Arlynn Presser
Original art by Ed Levene, Amy Frasca and A. R. Braun
______________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, Vol. XIX, 2010
"No More, No Less," by Robert Herzog
"Al Capone Slept Here," by Dennis Shannon
"What Ever Happened to Gloria?" by Connie Stepe
"Ida Schupp Does Attitude Adjustment" by Don Axt
"River Rats," by Kelly Robinson
"The Call of the Mild," by Norman Kelly
"Arnie Goes With the Flow," by Jessica Frasca
"Four Brothers Foregrounded," by Richard Holinger
"Of Flies and Men," by Pepper L. Bauer
"Bad Things," by Marie Anderson
Original art by Ed Levene and Amy Frasca
_______________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, Vol. XX, 2011
"Oscar's Animated Shorts," by T. R. McKay
"Jesus Loves Me,This I Know," by Pepper Lambie Bauer
"Catharsis-Cox,," by A. Tacuma Roeback
"Bear Hunter," by Ray Pierce
"Self-Regard," by James Linn
"Chalk Lines," by Derek Kohlhagen
"Odd Man Out," by Jim Courter
"Twenty-five Years is Silver," by Janice Croom
"The Blood That Binds," by C.D. Baker
"In This Small Town," by Dan Hankner
Original art by Amy Frasca and Ed Levene
_______________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, Vol. XXI, 2012 (on the Web, free.)
"Compulsion," by Pepper L. Bauer
"Variance," by Jim Courter
"That's the Way with Mens," by Don Axt
"No Comparison," by Susan F. Duke
"Or Someplace Shining," by Kent McDaniel
"Field Station 134," by Elaine Fowler Palencia
"A Story Never Heard," by Terry Cobb
"Greed Takes Over the Human Soul," by Gary R. Hoffman
"A Solo in Two-Part Harmony," by B.F. McCune
"Anna's Hair," by Stefani Christova
_______________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, Vol. XXII, 2013 (on the Web, free)
"For Reasoms Unknown) A Sudden Madness)" by Adam Middleton-Watts
" No Picnic" by Greg Jenkins
" Love Me Tender," by Melanie Doweiko
" Selected Excerpts from the Detwiler Journal," by Ralph Hayes
"Dry Run," by Margaret Lisle
"Cows Don't Know," by Rebecca L. Monroe
"But Not For Me," by Gordon Petry
"Eugene," by David Seaman
"Edward Opulence - Magician Extraordinaire," by Michael McGlade
"The Perfect Plan," by Deborah Schubbe
_______________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, VOL. XXIII, 2014 (on the Web, free.)
"The Heart of Deception," by Grazina Smith
"Three Reasons for Working Out," by Matt LeShay
"Divorced Twice, Two Kids, No Pool," by Mary Rodriguez
"Easy's," by Tom Graham
"Good Men," by David Alan Goldstein
"Blood Sausage," by Mardelle L. Fortier
"My Soul To Take," by Gordon Petry
"Killing Kathy," by Cathryn Goodman
"My Yoga Journal," by Pepper L. Bauer
"Private Woods," by Barbara Schmidt
_______________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY, VOL. XXIV, 2015 (on the Web, free.)
"Urgency," by Margaret Brinton
"Myrtle," by Pepper L. Bauer
"The Distance, by Susan Duke
"Heartbeats," by Paul Cioe
"Change of Color," by Marie Anderson
"A Double Whammy," by Margaret Lisle
"Her Viewpoint," by Rebeca Lane/T.F. Farnsworth
"Xmas Gift," by Thomas S. Lane
"Words and Music," by Steve Slavin
"Blueprints," by Harris Leonard
_______________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY VOL. XXV, 2016 (on the Web, free.)
"Scaredy Cat," by Marie Anderson
"Cliche Caper," by Pepper L. Bauer
"Something Outrageous," by Daniel Botkin
"Military Maneuvers," by James Chmura
"Charles Wants to Know Why," by Jim Courter
"In Due Season," by Susan Duke
"Myra," by Matt LeShay
"Counting Flowers on the Wall," by Kent McDaniel
"Ancient Days," by Connie Cook Smith
"Bucko," by Grazina Smith
_______________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY VOL. XXVI, 2017 (On the Web, free.)
"Free to a Good Home," by Grace Kuikman
"Life is but a Dream," by Loren Logsdon
"The Map of Florence," by Jim Courter
"The Great Party Barge Battle," by Dennis Shannon
"Meme Magic," by Pepper Bauer
"It's a Great Life if You Don't Weaken," by Don Maurer
"You Slow it Down," byAlysssa Murphy
"A Morning Shave," by Paul Bowman
"Mystery Gifts," by Marie Anderson
"Cash Lemont," by Margaret Lisle
_______________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY VOL. XXVII, 2018 (On the Web, free.)
"It's What You Do," by Marie Anderson
"Campo del Alfareo," by David Seaman
"Symmetry," by Jim Courter
"The President's New Suit," by Harry Lowther
"Riders on the Storm," by Kent McDaniel
"The City Boy and the Village Chicken," by Connie Cook Smith
"Everything is OK," by Paul Bowman
"Fool's Gold," by Susan Duke
"A Dream," by Jim Haase
"Behind Closed Doors," by Loren Logsdon
_______________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNSTATE STORY VOL. XXVIII, 2019 (On the Web, free.)
"Home," by Pepper L. Bauer
"Retrograde" by Ralph Hayes
"The New Girl," by Connie Cook Smith
"Till Time and Times Are Done," by Loren Logsdon
"Under Wraps," by Susan Duke
"Homecoming," by Jessica Gorogianis
"Keep the Tree Lights Burning," by Audrey Carli
"Men's Work," by Arlene Shovald
"Pink Palace," by Marie Anderson
"Devotion and Deception," by Grazina Smith
_______________________________________________________________________________________ Downstate Story, Vol. XXIX (29), 2020 (On the Web, free.)
"A First Date," by Margaret Shafer
"The Haunted Cell Phone," by Jason Siber
t "Senior Prom," by Arlene Shovald
"Four Second Response," by James Chmura
"Wrong Way," by Marie Anderson
"Inspiration in a Family Tragedy," by Audrey Carli
"Help Wanted," by Grace Kuikman
"The Connoisseur," by Jim Courter
"The Interview," by Brett Warnke
_______________________________________________________________________________________ Downstate Story, Vol. XXX (30) 2021 (On the Web, free)
"A Serpent in the Garden,"by Jim Courter
"If I Loved You," by James Wilhelm
"Roger," by Laura McPherson
"Eve," by Jason Sibert
"Hex," by Jackson Courter
"The Crone," by Elise Warner
"Love is Blind," by Arlene Shovald
"Graduation Ended Our Love," by Audrey Carli
"Love Divided," by Natalie Dale
"Conversation With a Deer Mouse," by Pepper L. Bauer
________________________________________________________________________________________ Entire site copyright ©1992-2022 by Downstate Story, Inc. Original site by Eldon Brown 1998 Update by Ted Eselgroth, [email protected]

Writer's Guidelines

Downstate Story
Writers Guidelines

Writers Guidelines:

  • Downstate Story has been published every fall and beginning in 2012, only on the Web. Each issue contains 10 original short stories. With the 2021 issue, Vol. 30, we are ending publication, so this information is for historical purposes only.  We accepted a variety of genres so that every reader who looks at Downstate Story will find something fascinating.
  • The deadline was always June 30.
  • Meanwhile we also promoted Downstate Story, as well as the reading of fiction in general. We held readings, and our writers have read and been interviewed on radio and TV.
  • As a not-for-profit venture, our goal was to break even financially through sales and donations, so that Downstate Story could support itself and need not depend on subsidies, grants or advertising - though we're were flexible, and not ruling these out entirely. People can help by mentioning Downstate Story and similar publications to friends, encouraging libraries to order copies, or buying the back issues of the print copies for themselves or friends. It costs $10, postpaid in the USA, and makes a good gift. Add $2 more for non-USA postage. You can reach an order blank at the end of this page. Or click on the Website with the 2012 edition and make a donation through Democracy Engine.
  • We encourage potential contributors to buy a copy to support the magazine, and to become familiar with it. Read it for free on the Web.
  • Story guidelines, in general: short fiction or narrative written to the standards of fiction, under 2000 words, never published before. Shorter is better. We prefer some connection with Illinois or the Midwest. All contributors are paid $50 on acceptance for their work. We only buy first rights, including Internet publication. Anyone can submit work.
  • Send your work through the mail. No email submissions, please, as we circulate the manuscripts to our readers. Enclose an SASE for a response. In this age of cheap copies we do NOT return manuscripts. We do NOT accept e-mail manuscripts, but we REQUIRE corespondance via e-mail for the speed and cost savings. If you plan to send us a manuscript, be sure you have access to e-mail. All manuscripts should have a valid e-mail address, as well as a valid phone number on the manuscript itself!
  • We notify all authors of our decisions in late fall. Don't call us -- we will notify you!
  • Send manuscripts to:
    Downstate Story
    1825 E. Maple Ridge Dr.
    Peoria, IL 61614

    Questions? Email [email protected]


Entire site copyright ©1992-2020) Downstate Story, Inc.
Original site by Eldon Brown
1998 Update by Ted Eselgroth,
[email protected]

How to Order Print Issues of Downstate Story

Downstate Story
How to Order

To Order the Print Editions of Downstate Story:

Print out and mail this page, with check or money order enclosed.
(Yes, we know that's low-tech, but we're old fashioned about some things! At least we pay the postage!)

OR -- to buy using Democracy Engine, click here.

Yes! Send me ______ copies of Vol. I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV.XV.XVI. XVII, XVIII, XIX.XX. Circle choice(s).

I enclose (US Dollars):

  • $10 for 1 copy. Second copy of same issue is $6. (Website discount!)
  • $17 for 2 different issues
  • $25 for 3 different issues
  • $55 for all 19 issues, Vol. 1-20. (The artwork alone makes Downstate Story a collector's item!) And the stories are timeless.)
Name _______________________________________________________

Address ____________________________________________________

City _________________________ State______ ZIP _____________

Country ______________________ Email _______________________

Downstate Story makes a terrific gift! Great for libraries and waiting rooms, too! Add additional names, addresses, etc. as appropriate.  Good fiction is never dated.
Mail to:
Downstate Story
1825 E. Maple Ridge Dr.
Peoria, IL 61614

If the name and address you entered above is not yours (a gift recipient, for example), please also include your return address on your order. And include your email address.

Questions? Email [email protected]

Thank you!

Entire site copyright ©1992-2022 Downstate Story, Inc.
Original site by Eldon Brown.
1998 Update by Ted Eselgroth, [email protected]
This page is http://www.wiu.edu/users/mfgeh/dss/order.html