Press

The Winter People Review

By: Sydney Andre

If you enjoy a good, suspenseful novel and being slightly scared by it, then The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon is for you. The book centers on the town of West Hall, Vermont, a small town full of old legends involving an old house and the Devil’s Hand, a rock formation just behind the house. The use of these legends and history is extremely important in this novel as the main plot revolves around the 1908 diary of Sara Harrison Shea, a local who was found dead shortly after the death of her daughter. The story flips between the diary and present day with two different narrators- Ruthie and Katherine. Ruthie is a girl who lives in the same house as Sara and whose mom mysteriously goes missing. Katherine is a woman who has recently lost her husband and is searching for answers in the town that her husband spent his final moments in. While all of these narrators are searching for different things, the author connects all of these moving parts in a very fluid way.

This story revolves around a strong theme of the dead and what lengths people will go to in order to see their loved ones again. Sara has found a way to bring back the dead, but only for a short time. In her diary, she does not recount the way to bring them back but does mention that the instructions are hidden in various parts of the house. Driven by selfish desire, different characters search for these instructions while Ruthie still searches for her mother.

Overall, I thought this was a very good book, but I did think that it left some things hanging at the end. It was a very suspenseful read that kept me flipping the pages until the very end. Yet, the ending did not seem to wrap up the whole story, only parts. I encourage everyone to pick it up as it is truly an immersive tale with a lot of moving parts that keep you guessing until the very end.

Publishing Tips

By: Kelsey M. Bee

As writers, many of us can agree that the publishing process is exciting, but at times, it can be equally panic-inducing. So often do we pour ourselves into that one piece that inevitably becomes a tender extension of ourselves. We owe it to that piece to let it breathe outside of our notebook; we know it deserves a life beyond our laptop. But then, we start to think about the logistics of sending that piece out, and the alarms in our heads go off: How do I go about doing this? What if it gets rejected? What if it gets accepted?!

When it comes to publishing, it is okay—normal even—to feel a little out of the loop. Publishing know-how comes with trial and error, familiarizing oneself with the market and the process, and consistent research. Below are some tips that might help those who are considering sending out pieces for publication, to 13th Floor Magazine or otherwise.

Tiered Lists

To help combat some of the fear and frustration, it is a good idea to compile a tiered list of journals or magazines in which you hope to be published. This list, which often has three or four tiers, enables you to narrow down the possible outlets for your work while also pushing you to research the publications. If that sounds tricky or time consuming, that’s because it is. Luckily, websites like Duotrope, Submittable, and Poets&Writers have gathered information about numerous publications, their submission deadlines, and any upcoming writing contests. These sites are great starting points for crafting your own tiered list. It will help you assess which publications are top-tier, second-tier, or third-tier. This might depend on the reputation of the publication, but it can equally depend on what you value in an outlet for your creative work.

Submission Guidelines & Masthead

When sending out your work, it is imperative to look through each journal’s submission guidelines and masthead. Often times, submissions can get rejected for not adhering to the guidelines, and we can all probably agree that if we are to get a rejection letter, we’d rather it be for the actual work rather than submitting incorrectly. Many publications have a masthead, or a Meet the Staff page, which identifies editors and their specific positions. If this is available, it is beneficial to know a little bit about which editors will likely be reading your piece. Additionally, it might be a good idea to address your cover letter to the lead editor of the genre that corresponds to your piece.

Attend Conferences

One way to help ease the stress of sending work out for publishing is to attend conferences. This can sometimes be expensive, but universities frequently offer travel funding for students, and it is definitely worth looking into. Conferences are a great place to network with fellow writers—established or up-and-coming—with representatives from MA or MFA programs, and with representatives from literary magazines or journals. Although networking might seem just as frightening as sending work out for publication, it can be a lot of fun even for the most introverted of writers. Conferences are great opportunities for like-minded people to learn from one another about the ins and outs of our industry, something that has proved invaluable over and over again.

If you’re feeling nervous about publishing fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, that’s natural and understandable. Just be sure it doesn’t hold you back from submitting your work.

The Spirit of the City: Kings of Broken Things

 

By: Phil Brown

By trade, Omaha’s Theodore Wheeler is a civil law and politics reporter. That background shines through his moonlight work in fiction. An alumnus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who received his M.F.A. from Creighton University, Wheeler has seen publication in various literary magazines across the country, and published a fiction chapbook and a short story collection in the past two years. This August he published his debut novel, Kings of Broken Things, through Amazon’s new literary imprint, Little A.

Representing seven years of work according to the author, Kings is ambitious in scope, attempting to wrangle the entire sprawling city of Omaha into focus a few years into the 20th Century. Wheeler writes about a time fraught with sweeping change and social upheaval, and a particularly formative time for the young city of Omaha, Nebraska. On his website, Wheeler professes the desire to channel DeLillo, Denis Johnson, and Colum McCann, and Ralph Ellison in his work. While he may not yet be included in that pantheon, Kings certainly doesn’t lack for trying.

The narrative follows a few main characters around the city as social tensions rise. There’s Karel, a recently immigrated adolescent from Europe; Jake, a farm boy come to make it big in the city; Evie Chambers, a kept woman who dwindles in a lonely brownstone; and even a few chapters devoted to the infamous Tom Dennison, a true ghost from Omaha’s past: crime lord, political boss, real-life supervillain. The experience a city far removed from the one we know now, but one that resonates with it, a distant echo.

We read about Karel’s attempts to adjust to life in America, learning baseball, attempting to care for his sickly younger sister, and always striving to fit in with the rest of them. Jake begins to sink into the city’s underworld, working for Dennison, sometimes dirty work. Evie works to survive as well, in a part of town not too hospitable to young women. They have intertwining connections to each other; Jake mentors Karel, Jake and Evie strike up an affair, Dennison looms over all.

The spirit of Omaha in the novel is much the same as it is now, although it may not be immediately recognizable. The town grew due to the hunger for growth and labor caused by its position as “Gateway to the West.” The restless insatiability of the city for resources is well-captured in the novel. The plight of laborers, many of whom are immigrants or racial minorities brought in cynically to break the backs of domestic workers, is clearly drawn. The ugly racism and violence that followed as a result of the domestic workers’ fear, instability, and weakness, is also indelibly marked. This is the heritage of Omaha.

Wheeler’s prose is often evocative, particularly when writing about Karel, his youngest protagonist. Rarely a wrong note is struck with his description of the young immigrant’s adjustment to life in Nebraska. Most memorable are the passages devoted to baseball. Even readers who don’t appreciate the sport will have to grudgingly respond to the game as Wheeler writes it. Karel, his adventures, and his young friends, are the strongest parts of the novel.

Old Man Tom Dennison, too, is well-rendered. Presented as pragmatic before anything else, and with a staunch refusal to chew the scenery too much, Wheeler’s Dennison is a cold, yet still human, worthy antagonist. The novel is less effective in degrees when it studies Jake or Evie. The pair are more conventional characters, their plots often falling into well-worn grooves in the American fiction landscape. Nonetheless, time spent with them is rarely unpleasant.

Kings shines in the details: there’s a sense of thoroughness throughout the book, of solidity. Wheeler builds a city in the novel, brick-by-brick, and it feels authentic. Wheeler’s reporter’s hat doubtless comes in handy. The strength of his research and confidence in the city are what make this novel what it is.

Wheeler struggles in more turgid waters. His descriptions of the city vice district venture into the lurid and moralistic, like a graphic description of an aging sex worker in the opening few chapters. All too similarly, the sex scenes are blue without being particularly fun or interesting. These passages are clumsy foibles in an otherwise well-crafted work.

Kings of Broken Things is a highly evocative read, with its portrayal of the historical city of Omaha and its winsome young protagonists. It reminds us where we came from, all of us, and the forces that still run deep underneath our society. Many of us, like the young Karel, are immigrants or descendents of immigrants, and we face similar choices in our own lives. Imperfect like its subject, Kings nonetheless manages to capture this spirit and these messages in a way that leaves an impression, and leaves us anticipating Wheeler’s follow-up.

Kings of Broken Things
By Theodore Wheeler
Published 8.01.17
Little A
322 pages

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!

 

Review of Lisa Sandlin’s Story, “Phelan’s First Case”

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Author and Instructor, Lisa Sandlin

Happy Holidays from 13th Floor Magazine, and hooray to being finished with finals!  A special congratulation goes out to those who have recently graduated, two of whom being our Photographer, Chelsey Richardson (Risney), and our former Promotions Editor, Ali Hodge.  These ladies have contributed so much over the last few semesters, and we are thankful for their creative talents.

Lisa Sandlin, an instructor in the Writer’s Workshop program and sponsor of the only literary magazine at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, has a short story featured in USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series (October 2013).  Her story, “Phelan’s First Case” has received a positive review featured in The Austin Chronicle.  The article’s author, Wayne Alan Brenner, thought Lisa’s work was a must-read.  He says:

Sandlin’s tale of a young PI and his ex-con insinuation of a secretary was engaging as hell. The writing was brisk, the genre style familiar enough – not quite subversive, nowhere near trite. The plot was jake, too, but it was only a hanger for characters – the private dick Phelan and his canny amanuensis Delpha Wade – that you wanted to spend entire novels getting to know. Over too soon, the story, goddammit – as if it were too good to last. 

To read the full review of Lisa’s story, click here.  While our resident creative writing instructor and supporter of 13th Floor Magazine is featured in this collection, there are other worthwhile stories included in Akashic’s USA Noir. If you’re interested in having this book for yourself, or know of a friend who wants some quality reading material to curl up with over the holiday break, you can purchase it here.

As always, we are accepting submissions for our next issue.  If you are unfamiliar with the submission guidelines, please review below.

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!

Final Reading Series Installment Next Week!

Fall2014WWRSFrom all of us here at 13th Floor Magazine, we’d like to thank everyone who took time to submit some of their writing and/or art to us.  We received nearly 70 submissions of prose, poetry, and various kinds of art, and we couldn’t be more excited to begin the selection process.  To those of you who were unable to submit anything for this upcoming issue, we hope to see your work next time there’s a call for submissions.

While the semester is undoubtedly growing more hectic each day for everybody, hopefully there will still be time in your schedules next week to see UNO faculty authors Margaret Lukas and Cat Dixon.  Both of them are adjunct faculty members of the Writer’s Workshop program and are known for their fiction and poetry, respectively.  This is the final event of the UNO Writer’s Workshop Fall Reading Series, and like the four previous readings, it should be great.  So mark your calendars for Wednesday, November 19th, at 7:30 in the Dodge Room of the Milo Bail Student Center.  Best of all, this event is free and open to the public.  Two awesome authors for free on the same night?  There’s really no reason not to attend!

This reading series is presented each fall and is meant to get writers and artists involved in a literary community beyond the UNO campus grounds.  Sometimes, that might seem quite overwhelming to those who are apprehensive about what comes after the undergraduate chapter.  Having the opportunity to interact with these authors, can help put into perspective what life might be like after obtaining a degree.  Fortunately this year, the series has been comprised of readers who are based in and beyond Omaha.  If you haven’t made it to any of the other installments of this semester’s series, this one might be exceptionally helpful, given Margaret and Cat are familiar faces for most of us.  We hope to see you all there!

Feedback: A New Reading Series at the Kaneko Library

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Sarah Mason: Host of Feedback Reading Series

Mark you calendars, everyone.  There are a lot of important dates coming up that you do not want to miss.  First and foremost, the next submission deadline is Friday, October 31st!  This is a busy point in the semester, so if you can send us your work sooner rather than later, that’s one less thing you need worry about. We know and appreciate that it takes extra time to prepare submissions for 13th Floor Magazine on top of your other school work, but we don’t want you to miss out on having your work published.  If you are unfamiliar with the Submission Guidelines, see below.

Secondly, and just as important,  Poet and Adjunct Professor, Sarah Mason, will be hosting a new reading series at the downtown Kaneko Library called feedback.  This reading series coupled with a follow-up workshop will be a new and exciting opportunity for experienced and up-and-coming writers in the Omaha area.  The reading event will take place on Thursday, October 16th from 7-9 p.m.  How it works: The readings will feature two writers who are seeking feedback on writing they have previously completed.  They will present their chosen works to the audience, who will, in turn, give their feedback to the reader.  Then, on Saturday, October 18th at 2 p.m., the same readers from Thursday will continue their dialogue with the audience members as they lead a workshop session to conclude the feedback process.  The featured readers/workshop leaders this month will be Jen Lambert and Stacey Waite.  Both authors are fantastic for agreeing to be part of the first feedback session, and it should be a blast getting to work with them.  If you’d like to know more about Jen, click here, and for Stacey, click here.

The goal of feedback is to spark a conversation between writers – whether they are seasoned authors or students in their first semester of the Writer’s Workshop program, it doesn’t matter.  It’s important that there is good attendance at this event in order to have substantial dialogues between the readers and the audience.  Best of all, feedback is free and open to the public! As these readings will be every three months, once per quarter, you will want to attend as many as possible to really immerse yourself in the feedback process.  Get excited, this is going to be great for the literary and art community in Omaha.  Hope to see you all there!

 

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!