Books By UNO Faculty

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.

Fall 2017 Issue is Now Available!

Fall Cover

The Fall 2017 issue is here!

Check out some amazing pieces of writing and art for free via Amazon.com. This free edition is only available as an ebook. Make sure to download the Fall 2017 issue before September 1st. Click here to get your free copy.

Print versions of the Fall 2017 issue will also be available on blurb.com for only $11! Get yours here. Hurry, this sale will only last until September 1st!

We will also be selling print issues (while supplies last) at every Writer’s Workshop Reading Series event, starting Tuesday, September 20, from 7:30-8:30 p.m., at the University of Nebraska Omaha Art Gallery or Milo Bail Student Center, depending on where the reading takes place. You can see a list of the reading series dates and locations here.

5 Books To Read This Summer

Have you finished your summer reading list? Are you looking for something new to read? If so, check out these five books you should read this summer.

1. Hunger: A Memoir of  (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist. Her latest book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, was just released this June 2017! This memoir tackles vulnerable subjects such as body weight, food, and self-image. This powerful book is definitely worth checking out!


2. When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz, a Mojave American poet, published her debut poetry collection in 2012. When My Brother Was an Aztec gives readers a glimpse into life in and out of the Mojave Reservation. If you are interested in exploring family-narrative poetry, take a look at Natalie Diaz’s When My Brother Was an Aztec.


3. Enigma by Tonya Kuper

Tonya Kuper is a part-time instructor at UNO. Her debut novel, Anomaly, is the first book to the Schrodinger’s Consortium duology. Enigma, the second book, was just released on July 3rd of this year.

This young-adult fiction series follows a “nerdy” teenage girl named Josie, who discovers she is unlike most other teenagers. She is an anomaly and can make objects appear and disappear using her own mind. If you like young-adult fiction or want to follow Josie on her epic journey, read Tonya Kuper’s Anomaly and Enigma.


4. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Look familiar? Gene Luen Yang visited UNO in Spring 2016! Yang was also recently named the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress.

Have a look at Gene Luen Yang’s award-winning graphic novel, American Born Chinese. The story’s protagonist, Jin, is a teenager faced with racial struggles and stereotypes. Like most teenagers, he is also trying to figure out who he is. This graphic novel is sprinkled with humor and culture throughout. It certainly is worth a read!


5. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie is an award-winning writer of books like, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Flight, and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven to name a few.

His memoir, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, was just published this June. This book allows you to see into Alexie’s life through verse and prose as he experiences grief, from his mother’s passing, and memories from a complicated childhood. If you are a fan of Alexie’s writing, consider adding You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me to your summer reading list!

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!

Happy Finals Week from 13th Floor!

SadPencil_FinalsWeekHappy finals week from 13th Floor Magazine!  We hope all of your exams, papers, and projects are going well so you can get outside to enjoy the beautiful weather.  This year has gone surprisingly fast; Issue 1 was released ten months ago, but it feels like only mere weeks have passed.  Having time fly by so quickly can allow finals week to rear its unwanted head sooner than expected.  Some of you have gone through this routine for the last eight or so semester while other have only made it through one.  Either way, it is always a smart idea to refocus your energy and study habits when it comes to finals.  An article from Florida International University, published in December 2013, has eight great tips for helping you prepare for your finals.  This useful list covers the effects of study locations, switching subjects, study groups, snacking, sleeping, taking breaks, testing yourself, and the importance of organization.  This article, although likely containing information you’ve all heard before, is a useful reminder of the importance of doing your best during a week of examination.  To read the full article, click here.   After this week concludes, we will congratulate our class of spring graduates for all the hard work and effort they have put in over the last few years.  This is a very exciting time for undergraduate chapters to close and new ones to open.  So, congratulations to all of you who are graduating and to all those who are still working towards their degree.

Look forward to our special summer installment, or Editors’ Edition, coming soon!

After school is finished for the semester, many of you will be able to read for pleasure again, not just for homework.  If you haven’t yet done so, pick up a copy of UNO Writer’s Workshop faculty publication: Margaret Lukas’ debut novel, Farthest House, or Lisa Sandlin’s publication of her short story, “Phelan’s First Case” in USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series.  Truly great work from extremely talented instructions.

Photo credit: Jen Landis

Successful Events for Margaret Lukas and Farthest House

Photo credit: Jen Landis

Photo credit: Jen Landis

Last weekend, author Margaret Lukas attended two events that showcased her novel, Farthest House.  On Saturday, February 22nd, she participated in the third annual Author Fair at the W. Dale Clark Public Library downtown.  Over 75 local authors and publishers attended this information-filled and talent-driven event.  In addition to the excitement of Farthest House being debuted by its esteemed novelist, the Author Fair was an educational and enlightening experience, complete with words of wisdom from publishers, bookstore owners, and other various others whose work was exhibited.  Although Omaha has a relatively small literary community compared to other parts of the country, it was truly something special to see how much great work is in our own back yard.  To Margaret and each other the other participants of the Author Fair, thank you for you passion for the written word.

On Sunday, February 23rd, The Bookworm, a local bookstore in Countryside Village, hosted the book signing event for Farthest House.  Both a mother and a Creative Writing instructor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Margaret received support from her family, students, and colleagues, all of whom were excited to share in such a special event with her.  Thus far, her novel seems quite promising, especially according to recent reviews on Amazon.com, one of which stood out among the rest:

“Such a hypnotic story, full of beautiful images and heartbreaking vignettes, Farthest House is a great book for a long weekend of reading”

-L. Lloyd, Amazon.com customer review

To read more of the reviews about Farthest House, click here.  If you would like to get a copy of this novel for yourself or a friend and find out more about Margaret Lukas, visit farthesthouse.com.

We are in our first week of March, and that means the submission deadline for upcoming Issue 3 is in a few short weeks!  Get those submissions in as soon as you can!

-Please note that both photos for this post are credited to Jen Landis-

Upcoming Reading Events with Margaret Lukas

Margaret Lukas, author of Farthest House

Margaret Lukas, author of Farthest House

This coming weekend, Margaret Lukas, author of recently published novel, Farthest House, has two reading events right here in Omaha.  Along with being an author, Margaret is a creative writing instructor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is a sponsor of 13th Floor Magazine.  We are very excited for her and would love to have as much support for her events as possible. On Saturday, February 22nd, from 1:00 pm-4:00 pm, the W. Dale Clark Library downtown will be hosting the Author Fair.  Over 75 local authors and publishers will be attending this event, so you don’t want to miss it!  In addition to Margaret, this is an awesome opportunity for all you writers to meet and mingle with other local talent.  To learn more about this event, click here.

The following Sunday, February 23rd, beginning at 1:00 pm, Margaret will be doing a book signing for Farthest House at The Bookworm, a local bookstore in Countryside Village.  There will be wine and cheese available as well, so grab your friends and spend an afternoon showing your support for Margaret during this exciting time!  To see more about this event, click here.

The W. Dale Clark Library is located at 215 S. 15th St., just off 15th and Farnam St.  The Bookworm is located at 8702 Pacific St. across the street from Westside High School.  We look forward to see you this weekend!

Although it might seem like the March 31st deadline is far into the future, it will sneak up on you sooner than you think.  If you haven’t done so, get your submissions for upcoming Issue 3 in today!

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!