Creative Writing + Nonfiction

By: Madison Larimore

My mom gets nervous at the thought of my concentration, creative nonfiction.

“Are you going to write about me? What are you going to say? Does the creative part mean you get to lie?” she asked, when I explained my degree to her for the fifth time.

I don’t blame my mom for having so many questions. I even find it difficult to answer those questions as a student who has studied the craft for three years. But creative nonfiction is not unfamiliar to us, no matter how hard to define the term may be.

The last time my mom asked me about it, I mentioned that the way we communicate on social media is a form of creative nonfiction: we use creative tools to best represent the nonfiction elements of our own personal lives.

In the craft of creative nonfiction, the creative tools are generally literary devices commonly found in fiction and poetry to tell the story well by crafting a scene, establishing character, etc. Of course, in creative nonfiction, the subject matter is true.

Creative nonfiction is not an oxymoron.

In other words, nonfiction, or the truth, does not have to be told boring and lifeless, and good writing does not have to be made up or imagined to be creative. Creative nonfiction can have literary merit, and those pieces that do represent the truth in a way that allows the reader to experience it in the most realistic, purposeful way possible. Creative nonfiction gives you an opportunity to directly expand your perspective through experiencing a piece of someone else’s.

In creative nonfiction, instead of the imagination, our main tool is memory. That’s where we get the term memoir, which is one of the largest sub-genres within the autobiography category. Another popular sub-genre is the personal essay, which commonly explores a question in the writer’s life. Sometimes you will hear both creative nonfiction and fiction referred to as prose, as opposed to poetry.

At the University of Nebraska at Omaha, students are lucky to have two departments with programs in creative nonfiction: the Writer’s Workshop in CFAM and the English department in ASH. Both of these departments are great resources to learn more. And of course, 13th Floor magazine, our campus literary magazine, publishes creative nonfiction. If you have any questions, please email me, the Lead Creative Nonfiction editor, at

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 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 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!


Featured Image:

Many days as a writer, we sit, we wait, we curse ourselves, all while wondering when the next time we will be able to write… anything.

During these troubling times, the times we feel lack significant inspiration, it is important for the troubled to look to their one true love.

That one true love, for me, is the world of sports. Simple to the naked eye, yet complex when studied. When I study athletes and the sports they conquer, I find not only athleticism, but also an abundance of self-belief and ambition. If anyone, and I mean anyone, is looking for inspiration, look to the city of Leicester, England, and their now-wonderful soccer club. With a population of 330,000, the vast majority of their citizens did not believe the Leicester City Foxes, of the Barclays Premier League, would finish in the Top Four of the league, let alone finish as champions.

The odds at the start of the season for the Foxes to win the most prestigious award in soccer, besides the World Cup, was a deflating 5,000/1. That means if you bet a dollar, you would reap in a reward of five thousand dollars. Wow.

After a 38-game regular season, , the Foxes were crowned champions of the Barclays Premier League, and each and every Leicester fan was overcome with jubilation.

And just what did this achievement and time of jubilation and inspiration look like? Below are photographs of the Leicester City trophy lift, and their championship city parade.


Find your inspiration. This city, this community, this team did, even when the odds were against them. 5,000/1 odds.

Event: New Voices Poetry and Fiction Reading


Image Credit: Joslyn Art Museum

Join us tonight, the 7th of April at 7pm, in the Abbott Lecture Hall at the Joslyn Art Museum for a wonderful series of poetry and fictional readings by local college students. Hosted by UNO and Creighton’s Writer’s Workshop, four students will be reading their own creative works, two authors from each university. Admission is free of charge. The venue is beautiful and very large, so do not be afraid to sit up front to support each reader.

New Voices will showcase some of Omaha’s greatest artistic talents performing for each and everyone of you. Two of the writers performing, Kellie Hayden and Kristin Pothast, currently work for the 13th Floor team. We are very excited to see them perform and hope you can join us!

For more information, contact us via our Facebook page.

“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. / (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 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 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!