Thank you to the folks at the Potomac Review for publishing my story "Let Your Light So Shine." I admire the journal and am very excited to appear in it!
This story has a bit of a history. A few years ago, my brother-in-law told a story about how his church was doing kindness ministries, such as handing out light bulbs. I was taken with the idea and decided to write a story about it, with all the characters and details made up, of course.
I finished the story and started sending it out. To my delight, after sending it about a dozen places, I got an acceptance, from a well-regarded journal. I excitedly told my husband and a few friends. I followed the journal on Facebook so I could see when the issue came out.
And then after a few months, via Facebook, I saw the announcement that the journal was folding. They had just published their last issue. I checked the table of contents, and my story wasn't there. Usually when a journal folds, they make an effort to publish every story they accepted. Not this journal.
So I started sending the story out again. One positive from the whole situation was that, knowing one journal had accepted it, I had a lot of confidence in the story. Still, I had to send it forty-five more places before it was accepted.
However, I've noticed before that the stories that take the longest road to publication are often the stories that I think are the strongest, and often end up in the journals I like the most. So it is with this story. I think it's one of my best, and I'm very proud and excited to have it in the Potmac Review.
I'm absolutely thrilled that The New Southern Fugitives has published my story "Aces" and nominated it for the Pushcart Prize.
A story inspired this story. (Note, there are spoilers ahead, so read the story in the journal before continuing). My husband and I belonged to a group for newcomers to the area, in which we took turns hosting get-togethers. At ours, I asked a couple of icebreaker questions so that we could get to know each other better. One was the classic writing prompt: tell about the best gift you ever got.
One man told the story of how he and his brother were given a single bicycle for Christmas one year. When asked whose bicycle it was, their parents told them to work it out for themselves. So they decided to play poker for it.
That's the basic setup I took for this story, though of course the details and the outcome (and how the narrator brother won) are all mine.
You might remember the pack of playing cards that was a writer gift last year. Every year, my writer's group gives holiday gifts referencing the recipient's work. The Bicycle playing cards referenced this story.
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Bayou, The Laurel Review, and Sou’wester.
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