Make Writing Your New Year’s Resolution

By: Breany L. Pfeifer

Happy New Year!

Ringing in the new year is a great way to start 2018 off on the right foot. With that being said, what are your goals for 2018? More specifically, what are your writing goals for this fresh new year?

As writers, it is important to set valuable and realistic goals for yourself. You may often have peers, mentors, instructors, or other writers tell you to “write every day,” and they are right. What better way is there to improve your writing besides practice?

I get it; it’s not easy to feel inspired to write every day, and it may be difficult to find the time. However, writing is a great way to relieve everyday stress, and is an amazing way to vent or escape reality. Consider making writing each day your new year’s resolution.
Here are five things to help you keep writing—whether it’s journaling, writing poetry, making short stories, or writing a full novel:

1. Set a daily word count. Whether its 500 words or 2000 words. Give yourself a challenge, but keep it realistic. If you know you don’t have time to write 1,600 words per day, set your goal to 700, and don’t stop writing until you reach that number.

2. Make a specific writing time, and find a comfy place. Perhaps you have free time at 6:00 p.m. every day. Spend that time writing non-stop, until you feel ready to be done. Also, find a spot to write. Whether it’s in your living room, kitchen, the coffee shop down the street, or your roof (be safe up there), find an inspiriting location you love, and make it your writing space.

3. Don’t push yourself too hard, but stay persistent. As previously stated, make sure your goals are realistic, but challenging. If you find writing 500 words per day too easy, bump up to 700 or 1,000. Challenge yourself to write in a genre outside of what you usually write. For example, if you normally write fiction, try a day of poetry. You could even spend a day revising some of your previous work. Whatever you do, don’t stop writing!

4. Determine what plotting method works for you. This doesn’t only apply to only story or essay writers. Poets can choose a “topic” to write about. This is when you must ask yourself: “Do I prefer to create outlines and plot out my work? Or, do I want to put the pen on paper and let my hand and mind soar freely?” Knowing which method you use may help you create your best work.

5. Surround yourself with other writers. You don’t have to know New York Times Bestselling authors to find yourself some writing buddies. Look for a local workshop group, or a writer’s group on Facebook to make some new friends. Find a workshop pen-pal to share your work with and discuss ideas. If you’re a student, join a writing club. If you already know some other writers, take the initiative and invite them to have coffee one day and talk about writing. Getting involved in a writing community will inspire you to do more with your creations.

On Summer Writing Workshops

By: Sophie Clark

In the summer of 2017, I was willing to try anything. During the semester prior, I had become distant to my writing and decided to devote my free time in the summer to attending poetry workshops and traveling. First, I planned to attend the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at UMass Amherst for a week in June. Then, in July, I signed up for a weekend workshop at the University of Iowa in Iowa City for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. I anticipated a summer of inspiration and dreamed of meeting and learning from well-known writers as well as finding the path to becoming one myself.

At UMass Amherst, I was placed in a poetry workshop with Timothy Donnelly (Author of The Cloud Corporation). For a week, I would attend a craft talk in the morning, a workshop in the afternoon, and enjoy a reading by a contemporary writer in the evening. I found the writers involved in the program to be wonderful and the attending students encouraging. However, while I was there, I noticed I had done very little writing. Although I attempted to write in my free time, I felt too intimidated to write amongst the attending writers and decided to settle for taking a lot of notes instead. At the end of the week, I was glad to have gained a lot of books and information but was ultimately disappointed that I didn’t write more.

After my experience at Juniper, I had not given up hope on my Iowa Summer Writing workshop experience. I planned to do nothing but write for an entire weekend. Although I ended up writing a bit more because my group was writing from prompts in our workshop, I still wasn’t writing from that great source of inspiration I had hoped to find there. Again, I settled for mostly taking notes and exploring the city.

At the end of the summer, I was left with a good amount of books and a good amount of advice written in my notebook. In the coming semester, I would learn my inspiration was just around the corner and that I would soon find my voice in writing once again. Since that summer, I’ve not only learned that you cannot force inspiration but also that you cannot simply expect it. I was waiting for something to happen to me while, in truth, I had to make it happen myself. While I would recommend attending these workshops if you have the time and money, I would also advise you to truly make it worth your resources. Work hard while you’re there and try to get into good writing habits you can stick with afterward. And if you are unable to attend these workshops (which many of us college students are), know that if you work hard, you can gain the same knowledge on your own. Your greatest inspiration is waiting for you, but you ultimately have to find it for yourself.

National Novel Writing Month, it’s Happening Now!

By: Iona Newman

November is in full swing, and for writers across the country this means one thing: National Novel Writing Month.

If you are a writer or are friends with a writer, chances are that you have heard about National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, through panicked social media posts or a friend’s sudden radio silence. For those who have not heard of it, NaNoWriMo is a writing marathon during the month of November in which participants challenge themselves to write a complete 50,000 word draft of a novel. This means writing about 1,667 words every day in November.

The purpose of the challenge is to give writers permission to finish a first draft and help propel them further into the novel writing process. This can help writers at any level of experience, and can be particularly useful for students who may or may not have completed their first longer manuscript.

But students also know that November is the time of looming final projects and preparing for final exams. Whether or not you choose to participate in NaNoWriMo, below are three reminders for student writers going into November and the pressure this month brings.

1. Health is the top priority.

Mental and physical health should be the top priority regardless, but this is also a practical reminder for writers. Writing is a much harder task when you feel ready to collapse. Scheduling enough time to sleep is as important as scheduling time to study or write the day’s word count goal. Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking water, not just cup after cup of coffee, and to eat real food.

For college students, November is full of stressful school projects and preparing for the spring semester. Taking on a writing marathon at the same time will be hard work, but it should be enjoyable hard work. Make sure to take breaks when you need them. Putting a self-challenge writing project to the side is better than letting yourself burn out, believe me.

2. Take advantage of the opportunities and resources that are available.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to make time for your writing. Whether or not you participate, writers can use this spirit of dedication at any time of the year. Give yourself permission to skip the occasional social event to write 1,000 words instead. Use Netflix as a reward for when you finish something, not for procrastination. Carry a small notebook with you or write on your phone while on the bus or waiting in line. Schedule twenty minutes between study sessions or class periods to sketch out the day’s mini creative project. Developing these habits allows us to take ourselves seriously as writers. NaNoWriMo gives us permission to carve out time for our passion and let our first draft be imperfect.

What makes NaNoWriMo attractive is that there is a community of writers out in the world who are also visibly making time for creativity. Through the event’s official website, you can find local write-ins, online forums, social media posts, and pep-talks from established writers to support you. This support does not have to be limited to NaNoWriMo. Instead, NaNoWriMo can serve as a way to practice developing a support system for the rest of the year. Get in contact with local writing communities through social media or your university, follow writing blogs you find inspiring, and create a list of author role models. Store those writing relationships and resources for the long winter ahead.

3. Success is in the eye of the beholder.

As a NaNoWriMo participant, I have only won the 50,000 word challenge once. As a student, I am a great believer in personal successes. My goal for November may be very different from the goals of other NaNoWriMo participants in my area. Maybe I will write 15,000 words by November 30th . Maybe I will finish one short story during this month. For me, completing these goals will still be an accomplishment. 50,000 words is a worthy goal, but any extra words I write this month will be words I might not have written otherwise.

The world needs flash fiction, short stories, narrative essays, blog posts, and prose poems just as much as it needs 50,000 word novels. Get out there and try writing something new this November! Word count doesn’t have to hold you back.

And remember: there is always the camp session of NaNoWriMo in the summer.

“Untitled Dancer”: Mary Heldridge on Exhibit


“Untitle Dancer” by Mary Heldrige, on display at the UNO Art Gallery

Two of artist Mary Heldridge’s works are on display in the Spring 2016 Juried Student Art Exhibit held the UNO Art Gallery on the first floor lobby of the Weber Fine Arts building. Heldridge’s work “Untitle Dancer” was published in the Fall 2015 edition of 13th Floor Magazine. See this work and one other full size and in person while you can.


Mary Heldiridge’s art on display at the UNO Art Gallery.

Exhibition Dates: February 19 – March 31, 2016

(Closed March 20-27 for UNO Spring Break)

The exhibit features works by current studio art majors selected by guest juror Tim Barry, ceramic artist & building manager, Hot Shops Art Center.

All Events are free and open to the public. UNO Gallery hours are 10AM – 3PM Mon through Thurs.

artgallery.unomaha.edu / (402)554-2796

Mockup_FL2015The Fall 2015 edition featuring “Untitled Dancer” is still available in ebook and print format.

Interwoven Reading Series

Featured Image: UNO Gateway

On March 9th, 13th Floor Magazine and the UNO Bookstore invite you to join them in the Durham Science Hall’s Mallory Kountze Planetarium for the next installment of the Interwoven Reading Series. Doors open at 3:30PM, and the readings begin at 4:00PM. Our university’s very own published authors D.S. Hudson, Kelsey Bee, and Michelle Lyles will present their selected works. Indulge yourself in local, creative minds as we give these authors a platform to present their works to a public audience.

Mockup_SP2016Inside the Planetarium, the audience will experience some of what the Planetarium has to offer visually, while listening to well-voiced authors. We look forward to filling the room and will have complimentary snacks for all guests! We can’t wait to see you there, and our authors cannot wait to perform their work for you.

On Campus: Publishing with Britny Cordera Doane

Old Market Poet Britny Cordera Doane: A Writer’s Workshop success story.


The “Wingmakers” cover

This was going to be a rallying piece intended to garner support for a Kickstarter campaign, but instead it is my great pleasure to have turned this into a success story piece. Britny Cordera Doane is known as “The Old Market Poet.” She is often found typing poetry on an old analog typewriter in Omaha’s Old Market district. She is currently attending The University of Nebraska at Omaha as a religious studies and poetry major with an ancient Mediterranean studies minor. Doane’s book of poetry “Wingmakers” was recently accepted by the small but prestigious Pinyon Publishing due to release early March of 2015. She is running a Kickstarter fundraising event to get funds to buy author copies to sell locally and at author events. The book will include original illustrations by David HL Burton. With more than five days to go, Doane achieved and exceeded her fundraising goal of $1,000. The event will end February 6th, so don’t miss your chance to participate in funding this worthwhile project. Doane sat down with 13th Floor Magazine staff to discuss her experience getting her book published. Q: Describe your process for selecting publishing companies to query with your book. A: I started going around to local bookstores specifically looking for books of poetry by local authors, and I took notes of the publishing houses they were published under. Many of the publishing companies had websites so I could see if my writing, particularly for “Wingmakers,” would best fit what they were looking for. I decided to go with Pinyon Publishing because [Writer’s Workshop department chair] Lisa Sandlin introduced me to them with her amazing book “You Who Make the Sky Bend.” And I knew [Writer’s Workshop faculty] Miles Wagner also had a book published by them. When I checked out their website the type of books they were publishing were right down my alley.


An original illustration by David HL Burton, to be included in “Wingmakers”

Q: Once accepted, what was the process like for preparing your book for publication? A: “Wingmakers” was edited a total of five times. Once or twice by me, once by my dear friend and incredible writer himself, DJ Carlile, and then a few times with Gary and Susan, the owners and head editors of Pinyon. When the full manuscript was sent to them and accepted, they made the editing process very smooth for me. They didn’t ask for many changes and all changes that were made, were approved by me ahead of time. We worked together really well; thoroughly, but also swiftly. I fell in love with the cover as soon as I saw it. Q: How did you choose kickstarter to obtain funding for your project? A: My friend, Sophia, has a non-profit strings ensemble, who did her own fundraising to make her dreams come true. She helped and inspired me to go with Kickstarter to help fund my book. I wanted to do grants, but the grant writing process took too much time, was too complicated, and there were too many grants I couldn’t apply for because of how specific they were. Plus there are so many successful publishing campaigns on Kickstarter. Q: How will you use the money you get from Kickstarter? A: I am hoping to buy 50-75 (maybe less, maybe more) copies of “Wingmakers” upfront, to sell (give as rewards to those who have donated), distribute to review journals, and different poetry awards. Then the rest I would like to pay my illustrator, go to writing conferences and workshops, and setup book readings, and signings, locally and possibly out of state. Q: What have you learned from the publishing process so far that you think other newcomers might appreciate knowing? A: When it comes to publishing, whether it be a book or individual pieces, do it often and don’t let fear of rejection get in the way of amazing opportunities. From my experience, I have learned that it is also important to really pay attention to what the editors of literary magazines or publishing companies are looking for. Actually read the books they publish and the literary magazines or reviews they come out with. Though most publishing companies and literary magazines or reviews are not genre specific, they have a good idea of what they are looking for in a poem or a piece of fiction. Lastly, if you have a manuscript ready to be sent to a publisher, send it to them over the summer. When my book was accepted in July or August of 2014, literally that same day I read an article that said to send your books to publishers over the summer. Their reasoning was that during the summer people aren’t sending in manuscripts because most people are on vacation, not writing or submitting anything. I can definitely attest to this being true as my book was accepted during the summer. Q: Where do you draw your inspiration for your writing? A: For “Wingmakers” in particular, I was inspired by a owl late at night hooting as loud as he could. A desire to write a book was brewing in me for a while, and I was always told: “write what you know.” For the longest time I really didn’t know what to write, but that night I figured it out. I wrote about what I knew and that consisted of ancient world mythologies, combined with my love for birds. I still draw my inspiration from world myths, but now a days I am working on being inspired by any and everything.

Spring 2015 Issue is Available!

spring2015We are very excited to announce that our Spring 2015 issue is now available! You can download it for free through Amazon.com from now until Friday, January 16th at midnight. In addition, our previous issues are also for free until the 16th. After that, they will be $4.99 each, so get them now! All of our issues can be viewed on your Kindle, smartphone, desktop, or tablet. This new issue is particularly exciting because there is a wonderful blend of original, creative written work and unique, visual art. Our contributors submitted their best, most publishable work, and we were thrilled about the variety of talent that we received.

That being said, we are already looking forward to what is to come for our Fall 2015 issue. So if you were unable to submit your work last time, we are now accepting submissions. Please send us your original written or visual work of fiction, photography, non-fiction, drawings, poetry, sculpture, etc.  If you’ve never sent your work to 13th Floor Magazine before, our submission guidelines are listed below. A fresh issue filled with local talent is a great way to begin a new year and a new semester.

Submission Guidelines

  • All files should be in .doc, .docx, or .rtx formats
  • Do not put your name in the document.  Do not put your name in the filename. Please use only the title of your work in the filename.  This is very important to us as we want to maintain a fair and unbiased selection process for each of our submissions.
  • In the body of your e-mail, please include a brief biography.  You can write whatever you’d like, but feel free visit our Meet the Staff page if you need some ideas.  If your submission is chosen for publication, your biography will be included in the magazine as well.  Remember, the biography needs to be in the body of your e-mail, NOT your submitted work.
  • For visual art, sent us pictures of your artwork.  If there is any special information about the art, like the medium, influences, etc., feel free to include that as well.
  • All prose and poetry should be double spaced and in standard fonts Times New Roman or Arial.  
  • Be sure to thoroughly edit your work for spelling and grammar errors so you can represent your best work possible.  If you need editing assistance, don’t hesitate to use campus services like the Writing Center.
  • If you would like more tips on professionally formatting your document, please read Formatting 101 by Marlys Pearson.

E-mail Submission

Once you have professionally prepared your submission, e-mail it to 13thfloormagazine@gmail.com Remember, include your biography in your e-mail!

If You Are an Educator

Please encourage your students to submit their best work. It’s a great way to get experience submitting professionally, and may result in publishing credits! Your help is crucial to making our campus magazine a success!