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interviews

Author Q & A with Tamara Nasution

Author Q & A with Tamara Nasution

June 22, 2022

This week’s Author Q&A is with Tamara Nasution. Tamara was born and raised in a small town in Indonesia. She has been writing since her preteen years and has several pieces of her works selected for publication, including for a poem contest organized by the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Her writings are mostly derived from her personal experiences; she often writes about what it is like to be queer in a heteronormative society. Her poem, “Your Name,” appears in our latest issue. 

We asked Tamara to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of her piece.

Her response: “The words to my piece “Your Name” came very naturally to me. It didn’t take much editing but I did cut some lines I thought were irrelevant or too sentimental. While it is obvious that this poem is directed at a particular person with a particular name (a given first name that I adore), I wanted this piece to resonate with other people so in love they find their partner’s name rhyming, rhyming, rhyming with everything, as Carol Ann Duffy beautifully put.

When then asked what she learned about herself or craft or life in general through writing and revising this piece? 

Her response: “From this piece, and others I have written, I learned that my style of writing is confessional and it’s easier for me to articulate my feelings for the people I love instead of writing about my personal experiences detached or devoid of other people’s presence. I also learned that I love religious references and analogies, as seen by the line “harmonious reading of the Psalm”.”

We asked Tamara to share her biggest fear as a writer? 

Her response: “While it is the goal of most writers to have their works published, I find that I am not too fussy about the recognition and instead I want my readers to find some kind of comfort and solace in my writing. Therefore, it is my fear that I might produce superficial pieces that my readers do not relate with. I also have baseless fear that someday I will run out of things to write about, which I know is illogical because hopefully, my writing will only get more refined as time moves forward.”

We asked what fuels her desire to write. 

Her response: “Writing poems for me is a channel to speak about what I cannot convey coherently, both verbally or through structured written pieces like essays. Poems allow me to daydream of words that go together with the meaning only implied but are always open for interpretation, even for me as the author.”

We asked Tamara what she would tell her younger writing self.

Her response:  “I would tell her to keep writing and to trust the process and that it doesn’t have to be immediately good or publication-ready. Write for yourself and enjoy the contentment and comfort that it provides you.”

And finally we asked her our favorite question… what she thinks of when she hears the phrase “The Good Life.”

Her response: “When I think of the phrase “The Good Life”, I think about my childhood, the time when I would spend my days picking gooseberries from my backyard and chasing dragonflies on a sunny day.”

When she’s not writing, Tamara works full-time in a nonprofit focusing on children. She is passionate about humanitarian aid and climate change adaptation. You can catch more of her on her social media: Instagram @kappaca and Twitter @sacredswamp

Thanks, Tamara, for being a part of our 7th issue and for participating in this Q & A!

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

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interviews

Author Q & A with Amy S. Lerman

Author Q & A with Amy S. Lerman

June 15, 2022

This week’s Author Q&A is with Amy S. Lerman. Amy was born and raised on Miami Beach, moved to the Midwest for many years, and now lives with her husband and very spoiled cats in the Arizona desert, so all three landscapes figure prominently in her writing. She is residential English Faculty at Mesa Community College, and her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in Willawaw Journal, Stonecoast Review, Broad River Review, Radar Poetry, Rattle, Slippery Elm, and other publications. Her poem, “Why Is It?” was the inaugural winner of the Art Young Memorial Award for Poetry. Her poem, “For Me–Desideratum,” appeared in our latest issue of The Good Life Review.

We asked Amy to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of her poem.

Her response:  “During my graduate work, I took a reading French course and learned what I felt were “impractical phrases” compared to more essential ones, one being “beton arme,” which means reinforced concrete, so this has become a recurring joke between me and my husband for the few times that term has crossed our conversations :).  It’s sort of a postmodern twist that I’ve used it in this poem, “For Me–Desideratum.””

We asked her what part of the writing process is the most satisfying and also what fuels her desire to write.

Her response: “I love the space I get into when I write–the freeing of everyday distractions and issues–and ending a poem far away from where I began it. I often start poems with an idea of what I want to write about, but I’m happy to cede to the process, and even if what I write will be chucked or revised, I like pushing myself/my writing to go somewhere unexpected and surprising.

“Eavesdropping fuels me a lot and has since I was a kid. My parents always knew that I’d come home with an impersonation or story from the group sitting next to us in a restaurant. And, now, though everything can be a poem, I feel like a lot of material comes from the periphery–peripheral conversations I might have, peripheral people I might see, peripheral stories (not the headlines) I might read–and there’s constant material (if only my brain and fingers were always cooperative :).”

We then asked Amy what advice she might give to her younger self. 

Her response: “Fly your freak flag! Don’t be afraid to experiment/go weird/play with form and imagery. After all, the worst thing/result is your work gets rejected and you can revisit/revise/reflect/redo/resubmit :).”

We think that is good advice for many writers. We know what comes in an early draft is rarely a poem’s best version of itself and also that the words are not set in concrete. The “playing” that happens in the revision process can often be just as satisfying as writing a first draft. 

We also asked what author(s) (or other persons) have been the biggest influence in her writing? Or what she enjoys reading and why?

 Her response: “Even though I’m mostly a poet, I read a lot of fiction. Some favorite authors include Elizabeth Stroud, Jhumpa Lahiri, Meg Wolitzer, Lauren Groff, Jess Walter, Tayari Jones, Richard Russo, and Haruki Murakami. Of course, there are too many poets of influence to list–Terrance Hayes, Sharon Olds, Adrian Blevins, and Stephen Dobyns come immediately to mind–and I’m drawn often to narrative poems, especially those using dark humor for levity, e.g., as Dobyns’ “Tomatoes.””

 Finally, we asked our signature questions, which is what she thinks of when she hears the phrase “The Good Life?”

 Her response: “I like to think that phrase can apply to all–that everyone can have the opportunity for happiness, access, advocacy, fulfillment, joy, creativity, peace–so “The Good Life” phrase has very positive connotations for me, and I wish it upon/for everyone.”

Quite lovely, Amy. We do too. Thank you for sharing more about yourself and your writing life and thanks also for allowing us to publish your wonderful poem.

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

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announcements

The 2022 Honeybee Prize Finalists!

2022 Honeybee Prize Finalists

June 12, 2022

Background Image: Cityscrape
© 2022 Lindsey Morrison Grant

Today friends and fellow lovers of the arts, we are tickled to announce the finalists for the 2022 Honeybee Prize.

Thank you to all who submitted to this year’s contests in fiction, nonfiction, stage & screen, and poetry. We had an impressive number of submissions to consider which made it tough for our editors to select the pieces that would be sent to the judges (more about the prize and judges here).

After much deliberation, the following finalists were chosen…

  • Willa Cather Would Not Approve by David-Matthew Barnes
  • Road Music by W. W. Webb
  • Scenes From a Breakup by Don Faust
  • Camp by Jennifer Downes
  • Prom Court by Michael Towers
  • Waiting for Jim by David Margolis
  • Love, Dad by Alex Sese
  • To Dust You Shall Return by Katharine Bost
  • Seth From Poison Control by Kaylee Schofield
  • The Children by Adeline Lovell
  • Connect : Disconnect by Suzi Banks Baum
  • Assembly Line by Michael Cannistraci
  • Where All My Sick Things Go by Liliana Rehorn
  • Backwards and Blind by Helyn Trickey Bradley
  • Reinventing the Circle by Jill Littig
  • I return to you, mother by Liz Holland
  • In Memoriam for a Chronic Pain Sufferer by Gillian Freebody
  • dear sister, by Sequoia Maner
  • For Those of Us Forced to Flee by Jane Muschenetz
  • (un)inhabited by Moni Brar
  • HOMO by C.W. Emerson

Congratulations to all the finalists for their wonderful pieces!! We will be announcing the winners and runners-up very soon. Stay tuned…

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

Categories
interviews

Author Q & A with Emdash AKA Emily Lu Gao

Author Q & A with Emdash AKA Emily Lu Gao

June 8, 2022

This week’s Author Q&A is with Emdash (AKA Emily Lu Gao). Emdash is a multi-genre writer, poet, and teacher who currently splits her time between NJ and SoCal. Her writing is propagated from Spoken Word Poetry and Ethnic Studies, primarily grappling with queerness, mental health, and healing. Her poem “Statistically Speaking” appears in our Spring 2022 issue. 

We asked Emdash to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of her poem and what she learned from writing it. 

Her response: “I pulled this poem from my ribs in Spring of 2020 during a class with Professor Brent Armendinger; it’s been incredible seeing it grow and heal alongside me. It has slowly become my opening number at readings!

“”Statistically speaking” affirmed what a dear poet friend once told me: sometimes the poem isn’t ready for you to finish it just yet. And now it is. On a macro level, I am constantly learning as I write and revisit pieces. One of the best (and scariest) parts of writing is the unavoidable path to your truth.”

Her response is on point. Poetry reveals layers of truth as the lines unfold down the page, or in this case, across and down a grid of cells in a chart. And often, what the poem needs is to be put away, in order for us to gain more experience and clarity so when we revisit it, new truths are ready to be revealed. 

Following this, we asked Em to share what fuels her desire to write. 

Her response: “An ache to heal, grow and decolonize, hopefully shedding shame in the process. An astute desire to shed more light on mental health issues. An acquired taste for humans, including myself.”

We then asked if she has any projects coming up she’d like to share with our readers. 

Her response: “My chapbook ABC Redux, a rerelease of a chapbook I made in 2019, is set to drop by the end of this summer/early fall. I am hoping to get back more into Spoken Word by the end of this year as well. Follow me @emdashh for juicy updates! 

We then asked what author(s) (or other persons) have been the biggest influence in her writing? 

Her Response: “Not an author but to two different entities: (1) open mics and (2) every teacher I’ve ever had a 1-on-1 conversation with. I owe my voice, my confidence, and my will to keep going, to you. These cosmic entities raised me. Thank you so much.”

Finally, as we always do, we asked Emdash to share what she thinks of when she hears the phrase “The Good Life.” 

Her response:  “Witty ice cream, shoulder kisses, and a trusty bookshelf.  Oh, and a well-reviewed Bluetooth speaker with mighty longevity.” 

We can certainly agree with that!

Emdash is currently an MFA candidate at Rutgers University-Newark and her poems can be found in The Agave Review, Curious Publishing, and Queer Rain. She recognizes mental health challenges many people experience and recommends free, 24/7 resources like the like NYC Wellness Line and The Trevor Project


Thank you, Em, for participating in our Q&A and being open to sharing more about yourself and your writing (and Spoken Word) life. We are grateful for the opportunity to publish your poem!!

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

Categories
interviews

Author Q & A with Emile Estrada

Author Q & A with Emile Estrada

June 3, 2022

This week’s Author Q&A is with Emile Estrada. Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Emile immigrated to the U.S. due to the deteriorating political landscape of his native country. He studied philosophy at San Jose State University and currently resides in the state of Arizona. His story “Waiting for Things to Die,” is available in our Spring 2022 issue.  

We asked Emile to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of his story. His response was as follows: 

“Even though much of what happens in the story is fictional, “Waiting for Things to Die” is based on reality to a certain extent. The story is in a way a tribute to my grandfather who in his last few years lived alone in a decrepit cabin in the Venezuelan countryside, the last survivor of his generation all but forgotten by most.”

Following through on that, we asked him to share something he learned about himself, writing craft, or life in general through working on the piece.

His response: “‘Waiting for Things to Die’ is a rewrite of a story I wrote nearly ten years ago when I was a freshman in college. I had tried time and time again to finish it but ended up shelving it in frustration. Finding it and going back to it made me realize that I need time in my writing, to put a story out of my mind for a while, and come back to it with fresh eyes and rested hands.”

We think this is true for many writers. Sometimes when a draft (or experience) is still fresh, you can’t see beyond it to understand what the piece really needs in order to be the best version of itself. This also ties in nicely with his answer to what part of the artistic process is the most satisfying. 

His response: “Definitely revising. I truly believe that a story is actually written during revision. My first drafts are word vomit. I have an idea of where I want a story to go, but that’s about it. I don’t plan my writing. I find the idea and it is a stream of consciousness until it’s finished. Whatever comes to my mind goes on the page. But revising I take far more seriously, and usually, my final drafts, if there ever is such a thing as a final draft, are much different from the original product.”

Again, we think a lot of writers can relate to this and probably also to his sentiment about what fuels his desire to write which, as he points out, is less about desire and more about compulsion and necessity. 

“I don’t see writing as something I desire to do. It’s not even something I particularly enjoy doing. I’ve written in the past but never seriously, not with intention of being published anyways. But in the past couple of years, writing has become something of a compulsion, something that I can’t help, and giving into this drive to write has done wonders for my mental health. Now it’s just part of my daily routine, like going to the gym or brushing my teeth.”

We also asked Emile if he could give his younger self some advice, what would that be. 

His response: “Start earlier. Start when you’re young. Writing requires time and practice. Any craft takes hours and hours of preparation. Athletes spend hours and hours every week practicing and lifting weights and doing conditioning just to perform for a few minutes once a week. Writing is no different.”

Such good advice!! And our final question, as always, was what he thinks of when he hears the phrase “The Good Life.”

His response: “I think of contradictions and impossibilities. I see a process without certainty. I see a need for steady ground and solidity in the face of the trembling phenomenal and the fluid noumenal. But if anything is Good it is living life like it’s a work of art and you’re the craftsman.”

Thanks, Emile, for taking the time to consider our questions and for allowing us to publish your wonderful story.

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

Categories
interviews

Author Q & A with Georgia White

Author Q & A with Georgia White

May 27, 2022

In order to keep the buzz about our spring issue going, we asked each one of our contributing authors some questions about their writing. This week we reveal the answers that Georgia White provided. Georgia is a queer writer based in Berkeley, CA, who is inspired by maligned women. Her previous work has been published in The Nasiona, the Santa Ana River Review, and the Nassau Review. Her piece appearing in this issue of TGLR is a flash fiction story titled “Iphigenia Recounts the Sacrifice.” 

We asked Georgia to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of her story and what she learned through writing it. 

Her Response: “This piece originally started as a monologue in a play in which Iphigenia was a side character at best. It was just her, in the underworld, speaking to the audience, and it was the first real moment where the fourth wall was broken and a character was allowed to ask questions. How many people watching remembered her name? What was she sacrificed for? Was it worth it?

“More than anything, I learned again what it felt like to be a teenage girl—the feeling that everyone already thinks you’re crazy and worthless, and all the world wants to do is take from you, and the only thing you can do is go for its eyes.”

We then asked what the most difficult part of the writing process is for her; and also the most rewarding. 

Her response: “I’ll sit for hours, even days, with just a first line or the seed of an idea or a handful of scenes. The difficult part for me isn’t coming up with what to write; it’s writing the parts in between the parts I most want to get on the page.

“I think the best part of the process for me is when I write something down and think, I need to send that to someone. I live for the moment when you feel something so strongly that it can to longer be contained to the page.”

We asked her what fuels her desire to write. 

Her response: “I am a person who needs to create more than anything. If I look down at the end of the day and all I’ve done is send emails, I’ve wasted the day. When I write, I’m creating people and worlds who wouldn’t breathe if I didn’t sit down and make it happen. The characters I write are real to me. It’s just a matter of letting them.”

We also asked Georgia what author(s) (or other persons) have been the biggest influence on her writing? Or what do you enjoy reading and why?

Her response: “If I had to pick my top three, they’d be Daniel Handler, Sofia Samatar (specifically her story Walkdog, which is one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever read), and Junot Díaz. Those are the people who I read and think, I need to write.”

And lastly, since we originally selected a name for our little lit mag, we have come to recognize that the phrase has been used in many ways and by many different people and industries over the years, but her response to the question of what she thinks of when she hears the phrase “The Good Life” is one we had not heard yet…

The Good Life EP, by Sammy Rae and the Friends (@SammyRaeMusic). That album’s gotten me through a lot.”

Thank you, Georgia, for participating in our Q&A and being open to sharing more about yourself and your writing. We are grateful that you gave us the opportunity to publish your words!!   

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

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announcements

Issue #7 ~ Spring 2022 is Now Live!

Issue #7 ~ Spring 2022 is Now Live!

May 10, 2022

Today friends, as we open our windows and doors wide to let more light and fresh air in, we are thrilled to present Issue #7 ~ Spring 2022. We appreciate all the patience our contributors have had with us as we’ve worked through compiling their amazing pieces into this wonderful and bold issue. We’re eager to share and celebrate their work!

Though we have not had and did not intend to have a themed issue, it is interesting to note, that as our editors’ selections came in, a theme of death and dying emerged organically. I believe that these themes are not a coincidence, but rather an anomaly created by the upheaval the world has endured these past two years; hardship felt by both writer and reader. 

Emile Estrada’s fiction, “Waiting for Things to Die” sets the tone for the issue as it reveals a young boy’s experiences witnessing his grandfather’s life in rural Venezuela. In Georgia White’s flash fiction her character, Iphigenia, is forever stuck at fourteen and forced to repeatedly remember the sacrifice she had no choice in making. 

Suicidal thoughts are explored by Sola Damon in her short nonfiction, “Under a Calm Wave, Not Killing Myself” and Craig Moeckly’s stage play, “Dakota County,” involves two characters that are dealing not only with death and loss but also with what it means to have lived life according to someone else’s expectations. 

Rounding out this issue are four evocative poems by three new GLR contributing authors, and one returning poet, Stelios Mormoris, sharing his poem, “Mass in Harlem.” Each of these pieces is accompanied by artwork by artists whose work can be found together here.

With this release, available now from our home page, we have crossed the threshold into our second full year of operations. Although we are still working to establish exactly who we are as a literary journal and organization, we believe we have found our stride with the collaboration, curation, and production required for these quarterly issues. Our hope is to provide a positive experience for all and enjoy The Good Life as much as possible as spring turns into summer.

On behalf of our entire team, we thank you for visiting, reading, and supporting the arts!

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review

Categories
announcements

Introducing Carina Faz

Introducing Carina Faz

April 27, 2022

It’s always exciting when someone new joins the team and we could not be more pleased to introduce our newest member and the third of three new fiction editors, Carina Faz, who joins us as of issue #7.  

Carina is an award-winning screenwriter/filmmaker residing in Brooklyn (NY), but originally from Dallas, Texas. She received her BA in Radio/Television Production from Texas A&M University at Commerce and is currently finishing her MFA in Fiction at the University of Nebraska Omaha. 

When Carina agreed to be an editor we asked her some of the same questions we’ve asked our contributing authors over the past few months. She shared this about what fuels her desire to write…

“Sharing aspects of my culture is one of the main reasons I write. Growing up, there weren’t too many films or works of literature with Mexican American characters. If I can create a story someone can enjoy and relate to, or help someone understand and appreciate my culture more than they did before, that is all I can ask for.”

Carina spends her time traveling back and forth between the Lone Star State and the Big Apple. When not working to pay the bills, Carina enjoys watching films directed by Robert Rodriguez, baking fresh Mexican pastries, and buying just one more book. If you let her pick what’s for dinner, it will always be tacos!

We second that decision. Welcome to the Good Life Carina! We’re delighted to be working with you!! 

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

PS. More about all of our editors can be found on our masthead.

Categories
announcements

Introducing Emily Marvin

Introducing Emily Marvin

April 20, 2022

We are pleased to introduce the second of three new fiction editors on the Good Life Review team, Emily Marvin! She is joining us as of issue #7 which is due out in just a few short weeks. 

Emily holds a BA in English, Creative Writing, and Publishing from the University of Iowa and is a recent graduate of the University of Nebraska’s MFA Writing program. Her work has appeared in Entropy Magazine, the single-issue University of Iowa magazine VII, and she was a finalist for the Reedsy Creative Writing Scholarship in 2018. 

When Emily agreed to be an editor we asked her some of the same questions we’ve asked our contributing authors over the past few months. She had this to say about writing, and how that which is most challenging is often the same as what creates the desire within us to capture and relay life’s struggles…

“For me, the most difficult part of the artistic process is finding a way to bring vulnerability to the page. At least with short stories, I’m always looking for characters grappling with some fundamental problem that stems from the heart of the character. As Neil Gaiman once said, “Fiction is a lie that tells us true things over and over again.” When I write, I look for universal truths in my characters’ stories, something that speaks directly to the human experience. It’s the hardest part of the process because none of us have life all figured out, and these truths are like water—hard to pin down and hold in your hands for the reader to see, even for the length of a short story. Incidentally, this exact struggle is what fuels my desire to write—that incessant need to find those heart connections over and over again in different ways and to relay the journey convincingly on the page.”

In her spare time, Emily enjoys bullet journaling, knitting, compulsively collecting books, and wrangling cats. 


Welcome to the Good Life Emily! We hope you enjoy working with us and reading all the amazing stories headed your way!!

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

PS. More about all of our editors can be found on our masthead.

Categories
announcements

Introducing Pamela Brodman

Introducing Pamela Brodman

April 13, 2022

Today we are delighted to introduce the first of three new fiction editors on the Good Life Review team, Pamela Brodman!

Though Pam is joining the fiction team as of Issue #7, she’s not new to The Good Life Review. She has been with us since the very first issue as a Spanish Translator. Pam has a double BA from the University of Nebraska Omaha in English Literature and Foreign Language Studies with a concentration in Spanish. She earned an MFA in Fiction Writing in 2021, also from UNO, where she completed a military women’s Fiction novel titled ‘No One is Here To Sleep.’

One of her favorite parts of the writing process is research and she enjoys researching all of her topics, no matter the genre. She’s very enthusiastic about composing stories and creating worlds that only she could come up with and states “It’s my artistic expression, and the best way I found to communicate my feelings.”

As a writer, her biggest fear is that her work is not strong enough to be published and that her topics are not going to interest anyone. This is a common fear among writers, and obviously not true in Pam’s case as she has had a story published in a Temptation Press anthology–Choices: A Collection of Questionable Choices and is she is also hot on the trail of getting her debut novel published. 

When she isn’t querying agents or writing novels, she likes to host dinner parties for her friends and family and show off her cooking skills. When we asked Pam to tell us some unique, fun, or quirky detail about herself, she told us that she has five adopted dogs and plans to sneak a few more home. That was over a month ago and we wonder if she has six by now. 

We’re excited you’ve agreed to do double duty as both a fiction editor and translator, Pamela! We hope you continue to enjoy working with us and reading some incredible stories!!

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

PS. More about all of our editors can be found on our masthead.