Issue 2

On Campus: Exclusive Interview with Margaret Lukas on Farthest House

Author Margaret Lukas sits for an interview about the release of her very first novel, Farthest House, available on January 14, 2014.  As a valuable member of the University of Nebraska at Omaha community, she is an instructor of creative writing in the Writer’s Workshop program.  She received her BFA from UNO’s Writer’s Workshop in 2004, and obtained her MFA from Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma, Washington, in 2007.

Margaret is a recipient of a 2009 Nebraska Art Council Individual Artist Fellowship.  She is a contributor to NEBRASKAland magazine  as well as an editor for the quarterly literary journal, Fine Lines. Her writing also appears online and in the 2012 anthology, On Becoming, published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Her award-winning short story, “The Yellow Bird,” was made into The Yellow Bird, a short film and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

For this exclusive interview, we wanted to get better acquainted with Margaret, and wanted her perspective on Farthest House as the author, an educator, and a woman of exciting literary achievements.

Q. Although there is a short summary available, what would you, the author, say Farthest House is about?

A. The book is about my passions: passionate people, whether it’s painting or writing, or criminal investigation. And it’s about bad people who need smacked upside the head for hiding their evil deeds behind the cloaks, or vestments, of organized religion. It’s also about love and self-acceptance. As Clay in Farthest House says, “Everyone has something.” I really believe that. If you’re here, in human form, then just like Willow, you inherited a bum shoulder—whatever shape your particular defect takes. I hope through Willow’s struggle to reach self-acceptance, people are helped to reach their own.  I also wanted to write about family. There are so many lonely people in the world who feel that without blood relatives in their lives they have to live alone. I think we can find families and gather families.

Q. Do you prefer character driven or plot driven novels?

A. For me, characters are much more interesting than plot. I find people endlessly fascinating, and I can put aside a character-driven novel and reread it a year later and be fascinated all over again.  A plot-driven novel, again, this is just me, doesn’t hold that magic. Once the punch line has been revealed, and if that was the driving force, I’m done.  Characters stay with me.  My motto is “Fiction is Folks.”

Q. How long have you had the idea for the novel? How long did it take to write?

A. I spent about five years working on the novel before it was accepted for publication. But that’s not day-in-day-out time on just this piece. I was also working on a couple of other novels, and life happens as well. Weeks on end, no writing was done.  On a good day, I try to write two hours. If I get in fourteen hours a week, that might be the number of hours a Stephen King is able to put in a day.  So, to measure all writers by the same measure—say years—is really deceiving.

I hope that’s encouraging to people who aren’t finding much time to write. Keep at it. You’re still a writer, even if you’re only putting in one hour a day or week.  Keep plugging.  Those odd hours add up; the pages begin to form a neat little stack. Stay with it. There’s a saying, though I doubt I’ve got the wording exact, “Come as far as you can, and the Universe will meet you there.” I think that’s a great philosophy. Do your best, write when you can, and don’t compare yourself to the guy who’s knocking out a book a year.

Q. How long did it take Farthest House to be published? What was your most valuable lesson from that process?

A. The process (from acceptance to publication) took about two and a half years.  Which is pretty standard for publishing houses.  During that time, the novel was read by four different editors and I did four or five edits. It’s a long process, but necessary.  The one thing I learned was pay attention to punctuation.  When the comma guru went through it a final time, I was embarrassed to see my errors.  I teach this stuff, and I’d never let my students get away with so many errors.  But I was so absorbed in setting and characters, or so sure I couldn’t error, I just wasn’t paying close enough attention.

Q. At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to become an author?

A. I’ve wanted to be a writer since about the age of 12. I read Great Expectations at that age and was blown away.  That was the book that did it for me and probably countless others.  I tried to rewrite it.  After I married and the babies started coming, I quit writing fiction and took up journaling. I could pick up my journal even if I only had ten minutes and write without having to get into a fictional zone.  I was also an avid reader during those years and absorbing craft without realizing it.

Q. Do you have any specific exercises to help you during your writing process?

A. What works for me is early in the morning. I pour that cup of coffee and turn on the computer. The longer I wait in the day, the more likely it is that something else will rear its head and interfere.  If I’m writing, but feel nothing important is happening on the page and I want to quit, I’ll first set a timer. Just an old wind-up egg timer for an hour. Something about that thing ticking, and knowing this hour is it for the day, spurs me on and almost without fail the writing improves.  Silly, likely self-hypnosis, but it works. I also like music, instrumentals, the tempo. If I’m stuck, I’ll often pick up a pen and my novel journal and write in long hand for a bit. I’ll ask the characters what they think, and I’ll get pages of just what it is they do think.   That practice deepens the work.

Q. What inspired your novel?

A. The inspiration was not as clear cut as you might imagine. I had an image of an old woman who wrote mysteries and was neo-pagan. By that, I mean spiritual but not religious. When I first conceived of Mémé, that woman, I had her Native American.  Then I started reading about the campaign Native American’s have to stop the misappropriation of their religions.  I dropped that aspect of her character.  The rest of the novel has evolved in the writing. Draft after draft.

Q. Did you do a lot of research for Farthest House?

A. Not much. I did some research into the area in France where the narrator was born, and I studied Google maps of the region. Most of the novel though, is set in a fictional small town in Nebraska and in Omaha. I was raised in a small town, and for the last forty years have lived in Omaha, so no research was necessary on those two locations. I did have to look into the Willie Brown lynching for Jonah’s character. There’s so much written about that horrible day in Omaha history. It was easy to find far more material than I could use.

I love research, and it’s always a temptation to stop right in the middle of a paragraph and go off on some hunt that will consume the rest of my writing time.  I have to rein myself in. One thing that I’ve learned in terms of research is to print off everything that I’m going to use or even might use.  So often, I’d find something, use it, then feel the need six months later to recheck the fact. I’d be back revisiting sources—spending twice the time on research. Now, I make a copy of everything and put it in a three-ring binder under a proper heading. That single practice has saved me hours.     

To order your copy of Farthest House, click here!  To hear the first two chapters read aloud, click here!

In addition to congratulating Margaret on the release of her first novel, 13th Floor Magazine would also like to extend our thanks for her continued support and sponsorship.  It is greatly appreciated and we could not be more excited to share in her wonderful accomplishment!

Issue 2 is Available! Get One While it’s Free!

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Get your copy today!

It’s finally here! We are very excited to release Issue 2, our Spring 2014 issue, which contains creative works from truly talented writers right here at University of Nebraska at Omaha.  Our appropriately spring-themed cover image was created by our resident photographer, Chelsey Rinsey.

For the first week of the semester, January 13-17, you can receive your copy for FREE, through Amazon, of both Issue 1 AND Issue 2!  After the 17th, the issues will be $4.99 each, so there is no time to waste. Get your copy of Issue 2 today!

To get these issues of 13th Floor Magazine, all you have to do is use the Amazon Kindle ereader, which is available as a free application for your desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone. To download and learn more about the free Kindle reading application, click here.

Although the year just began, Fall will be here before we know it.  Don’t hesitate to start on your Fall 2014 submissions now!

Submission Format

  • 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.
  • 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!

Issue #2 to Release January 13th

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We received a lot of amazing submissions for this round, and we are very excited to showcase the talented writers we have at University of Nebraska at Omaha. Issue 2, our Spring 2014 issue, will be released January 13th just in time for the start of the Spring semester. The beautiful cover image is by our resident photographer Chelsey Risney and sets the mood for spring perfectly.

You can get yours for FREE during the first week of classes, January 13th-17th, from Amazon. After January 17th, the magazine will be $4.99.

13th Floor Magazine is an ebook format magazine for the Amazon Kindle ereader, which is also available as a free application for your computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone. Learn more about the free Kindle reading application here.

Don’t wait, start getting your submissions for Fall 2014 ready now!

Submission Format

  • Files should be in the following formats: .doc, .docx, .rtf
  • Do not put your name anywhere in the documentDo not put your name in the filename. Use the title of your work in the filename only. We read blind, so that our editors do not know the name of the submitter and our selection process is fair and unbiased.
  • Include a brief bio in the body of your email (NOT in your submission document file). How you write your bio is up to you, but you can look at our Meet The Staff page to get some ideas. If your submission is accepted for publication, your bio will be included in the magazine.
  • All prose and poetry should be double spaced and in a standard font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Ensure your submission has been thoroughly edited for spelling and grammar so that it represents your best work possible. Remember, you can use campus services like the Writing Center.
  • For more tips on professionally formatting your document, please read Formatting 101 by Marlys Pearson.

Email Submission

Once you have professionally prepared your submission, email it to 13thfloormagazine@gmail.com. Don’t forget to include your bio in the body of your email!

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!

You can still get your copy of 13th Floor Magazine Issue 1 on Amazon.com for $9.99. The proceeds for all sales go directly toward making future issues more awesome!13th Floor Magazine is an ebook available exclusively on Amazon. If you don’t have a kindle ereader, you can get Amazon’s FREE Kindle app for your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or home PC. Visit Amazon to learn more.
Good Luck!

In The News: 13th Floor Magazine Wraps Second Round of Submissions

13th Floor Magazine wraps second round of submissions, plans for future

By Hannah Gill, Contributor

Published: Tuesday, November 19, 2013  in Gateway

The second round of submissions is in and 13th Floor Magazine has begun the editing process.

“We are always trying something new,” Kate Bard, managing editor, said. “We are a budding student art magazine, and we’re just trying to figure everything out as we go.”

The editing process has been changed this year. Instead of one month for editing over a Google Doc open comments forum for editors, Lead Editor Jared Newman has decided to streamline the process. There will be two weeks of editing to select pieces for inclusion and two weeks for copy editing. A minimum of two editors will look at each piece and make recommendations to Newman.

“It was more about having separate opinions and not a debate,” Newman said.

Last year’s process lead to a lot of agreeing and less commentary, Newman shared, and concerns about editors being swayed by other comments before reading the piece, Bard said.
13th Floor Magazine has also decided to create fall and spring issues instead of just one.

“This issue we are working with is a smaller time frame, so we created a production schedule that’s tight and leaves very little room to mess around,” Bard said.

The magazine received 53 total submissions, 26 poems and 27 prose pieces.

“The fact is we got more submission,” Newman said, “I was glad for that because it means we might be gaining momentum.”

They have extended the deadline for art submissions with the hope more will come in. 13th Floor wants to be inclusive of the entire art community at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. For their submissions guidelines, visit the website at 13thfloormagazine.wordpress.com.

The first volume of 13th Floor Magazine distributed 100 copies, 96 of these free copies from the first promotional week. It is still available on Amazon, at 79 Kindle pages, for $4.99, and has three five-stars ratings.

13th Floor Magazine has another goal this year beyond publication.

“It is a personal goal of mine, and the rest of 13th Floor Magazine’s founding staff, to see this magazine thrive beyond our time and efforts,” Bard said. “We are working to find people who are as passionate as we are about creating an art community on UNO’s campus and to convince them to join our team.”

As the original staff, including Newman and Bard, graduate, they are looking to fill editing positions and continue the magazine’s legacy.

Original Article: http://www.unogateway.com/entertainment/13th-floor-magazine-wraps-second-round-of-submissions-plans-for-future-1.3122865

Issue 2 Submission Deadline: Oct 31st

Submit your work for Issue 2 now. Deadline is Oct 31st!

1838_517146578337229_1805674618_nWe are currently seeking submissions for Issue 2! We want to see your polished fiction, non-fiction, micro-fiction, poetry and other creative endeavors in our email inbox by October 31st, 2013.

Submission Format

  • Files should be in the following formats: .doc, .docx, .rtf
  • Do not put your name anywhere in the documentDo not put your name in the filename. Use the title of your work in the filename only. We read blind, so that our editors do not know the name of the submitter and our selection process is fair and unbiased.
  • Include a brief bio in the body of your email (NOT in your submission document file). How you write your bio is up to you, but you can look at our Meet The Staff page to get some ideas. If your submission is accepted for publication, it will be included in the magazine.
  • All prose and poetry should be double spaced and in a standard font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Ensure your submission has been thoroughly edited for spelling and grammar so that it represents your best work possible. Remember, you can use campus services like the Writing Center.
  • For more tips on professionally formatting your document, please read Formatting 101 by Marlys Pearson.

Email Submission

Once you have professionally prepared your submission, email it to 13thfloormagazine@gmail.com. Don’t forget to include your bio in the body of your email!

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!

You can still get your copy of 13th Floor Magazine Issue 1 on Amazon.com for $9.99. The proceeds for all sales go directly toward making future issues more awesome!13th Floor Magazine is an ebook available exclusively on Amazon. If you don’t have a kindle ereader, you can get Amazon’s FREE Kindle app for your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or home PC. Visit Amazon to learn more.
 Good Luck!