Ticket to Heaven, a ten-year-old story

Another short story published! And this one, anyone can read.

"Ticket to Heaven" is now available online at Faith Hope and Fiction.
I wrote this piece in 2005, a year or so out of college. It sat in my computer files getting digitally dusty, but I've always had a difficult time figuring out what I should do with it.
The story is about a college-aged drug addict in-denial who encounters an old man handing out tickets to heaven. After she accepts the ticket, a miracle happens and leads her on a path to redemption. The story includes, among other things, drug use, a Bible-quoting drug dealer, and the Gospel message.

Why has it been so difficult for me to find a place to submit the story? It's not because of the drug use or real-world scenarios, but because most of the magazines accepting spiritual/inspirational/Christian themes want non-fiction. I've had a really hard time finding places that accept Christian fiction. The word count was a little long for some of the places I did find, and I received a rejection from one well-established magazine with a form letter.

When Patricia Crisafulli, editor of Faith Hope and Fiction, responded with a rewrite request, I was thrilled. I'd edited the story throughout the years, but the gist of it remained. I was glad to have her input (she requested that I cut over 1,000 words) because it's a much better story now.

This is my first published story with a clear (blatant?) Gospel message. Many of my stories have the message buried very deeply, just out of reach, or merely implied. I prefer to write stories that way. My hope is that I'm allowing the reader to interpret my pieces as they see fit. That's what I do when I read. I bring myself to the table like any reader does. Some stories were probably never intended to be taken with Jesus in mind, but I've often found myself discovering Him within the pages of books and short stories.

With the ten-year gap between the original draft and publication, I continue to learn my lesson: persistence.

I used to think my dad invented the term stick-to-itiveness, but it turns out Merriam-Webster defines it online.

noun stick–to–it·ive·ness \stik-ˈtü-ə-tiv-nəs\

: the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult or unpleasant

Several thesaurus terms give deeper meaning:


I purposefully moved backbone to the end because it's such a funny idea to me. We all have a backbone, but the meaning as it relates to stick-to-itiveness is not physiological, but psychological: resolve and obstinacy.

In my own terms, steady as she goes.

That's been true for me as a writer and a runner. I'm not fast, I'm more of a middle- to a back-of-the-pack runner. Even with over a dozen short stories now published, I still don't have a novel published, but I'm getting closer. My novella, Little Angel Helper, is halfway to the official novel-length. It's self-published, but as an RPLA Finalist, I'm convinced it meets the necessary standard to be out in the world. Hopefully, it exceeds the standard (as the bar has dropped quite low).

The writing life is not at all what I imagined as a kid when I used to dream of being published. Instant gratification would be a good way to describe how I thought things would go.

Reality check. Almost nothing worth having in this life results in instant gratification.

Steady as she goes.