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editor's notes

7-editors-note

Issue #7 ~ Spring 2022
Editor’s Note

Precious Readers,

For your enjoyment, we offer you this bold collection of art and literary work by people who are both close to home here in Nebraska and those far from our familiar doorsteps. With this issue, 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. 

I’ve personally spent many moons on platforms such as Submittable and Duotrope and have become familiar with a vast number of magazines, journals, and publishers seeking work that fits their particular vision. I’ve seen many calls for writing about specific topics and themes such as racial injustice, environmental concerns, grief, and mental health to name a few. When I read these, it has crossed my mind that we too could put together a themed issue, but have so far not wanted to limit the scope of what writers are sending us. Our vision has simply been to explore the overlooked; to feature work that is extrodinary, provide a beautiful home for the selected pieces, and celebrate the artists who have put their trust in us.

It is interesting to note, however, that as this issue took shape, a theme emerged organically. Our editorial teams all work remotely from their respective locations in Nebraska, Colorado, Indiana, Texas, Missouri, and Iowa and I’m sure they rarely have cross-genre communication. Yet as they began to send their selections to Ed and me, an overarching theme of dying and death was prevalent. 

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.

I believe that the themes in this issue 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. I’m optimistic that as the spring season brings a revival, it will also allow us to open our doors and windows wide to let light and fresh air in. It has been wonderful to return to a more normal way of being together and moving about the world, even if it is, for many, “a new normal” and I’m hopeful that all things will continue to move in the right direction. 

As always, we’d like to thank you for visiting and reading. We’re grateful for your support and also the efforts of the contributing artists and dedicated team of editors that make this journal possible. That’s it for Issue #7 ~ Spring 2022. Next stop, HoneyBee town!!

With Peace, Love, and Strawberry Pie,

~Shyla Shehan

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editor's notes

6-editors-note

Issue #6 ~ Winter 2022
Editor’s Note

Hello friends,

So far, winter here in Nebraska has fluctuated between terribly cold \ and warmer-than-usual weeks; it mirrors the world’s peripatetic surge and lulls in Covid, international conflicts, and climate crisis events. Last year at this time, there was a fair measure of hope that 2021 would be the antithesis of 2020, and we’d be lifted out of its vortex of uncertainty and unrest. But here we are, one year later, and that hope has been blotted out. Nothing seems predictable or particularly comfortable anymore. In these times, we find ourselves retreating further into our safe spaces, with the people and activities that bring us comfort and stability. For us, these activities include art-making–through writing, crafting, and pouring effort into projects like this journal. We know we are not alone in this because of the constant stream of submissions received through the long weeks and months.

In this issue, we celebrate those artists who have made writing and art their commitment and their constant; who have dared to share the fruits of their labor with us so that we can share it with others. We’re entertained by the absurdist and magical realist flash fiction by Jiahui Wu and left with a sense of outrage by the unfair nature of the scene that unfolds in Joe Capello’s play, Sell Bots.

The poems in this issue are vulnerable, complex, and take risks. Ellen June Wright grabs us with these opening lines: “They carried everything one can bring | when one can bring nothing.” And the poem does not let go even after the last line. Jack Phillips’ poem, Felis Ellipses, makes us contemplate humanity and our place in the natural world, and Christina Legarda’s poem, Imelda, provides an eerie and evocative character profile. 

In Cassie Burkheart’s nonfiction essay she writes “… art is born when opposing feelings collide, rub up against each other, start a dialogue. Loneliness can be celebrated, or at least renamed “solitude,” which sounds more romantic. Anger is really fear and my worst fear is losing myself.” 

We feel that, and we believe that her struggle to exist and create despite all the “triggers” around us is a common one. 

There is much to explore in this winter issue, and in the coming weeks, we will be revealing more about these pieces and the people who wrote them through our author Q & A segments. 

At this time, we also want to express thanks to three respected and admired editors who have been with us since our first issue: MA Boswell, Michelle Kimberly, and Trelana Daniel. All three have chosen to step away from the fiction editor role. However, Michelle and Tre will remain on the team to help support our mission and vision with their respective talents in design editing and social media promotions. We’re extremely grateful to these three wonderful humans for believing in this effort and for their willingness to spend their time making our little lit mag the best it can be. 

This change leaves quite a gap to fill, but we’re pleased to announce the three fellow MFA graduates/candidates who have agreed to join us on an all-new fiction team: Pamela Brodman, Emily Marvin, and Carina Faz. Be on the lookout for more in-depth introductions for each shortly. Welcome, ladies. We are excited to have you!! 

Before closing, we’d also like to share a bright milestone we achieved near the end of 2021. The Good Life Review is now officially recognized as a nonprofit entity by Nebraska and the federal government, which opens the opportunity for us to apply for funds to help achieve our goals. We have hope that 2022 will be better than 2021, and to show that, our first order of business this year is to become a paying market. Beginning with our next issue, authors will receive $25 for each published piece. We recognize that it is not much, but it’s a start and a springboard for all that is to come. 

Thank you for reading. That’s it for Issue #6 ~ Winter 2022. 

With Peace, Love, and Amaretto Sours,
~Shyla and Ed 

Good stuff from Issue #6…

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editor's notes

5-editors-note

Issue #5 ~ Autumn 2021
Editor’s Note

Hello friends,

It is autumn again here in Nebraska, and for me, it often feels like the most ironic season of all; when juxtaposition reigns supreme. The weather gets cooler, yet we find ourselves cozy and warm as we gather around fires and swap our summer wardrobes for sweaters, boots, and hats. It’s the season when the nights become longer than the days, farmers’ markets disappear, and we have to mentally prepare for what we know is coming. It’s a dramatic volta, indeed. I’ve learned that one great way to settle into autumn is to wrap my hands around a hot drink and dig into a good book or an engaging collection of stories or poems. Which is exactly why we are delighted to present our 5th issue of The Good Life Review

This issue features the ten-minute stage play, The Farewell Burn, by Kara Davidson, selected as the winner for our inaugural Honey Bee Prize in the Stage & Screen category by judge Michael Oatman. 

We’re also pleased as punch to present a poem by the Emperor of Ice Cream himself, Todd Robinson, alongside a stellar line-up of other talented writers and artists. Michael Wesner’s story “The Shapiros” will make you laugh and Soo Yeon Chun’s poem “Oath of Assimilation” will roll through you like a heavy freight train. And we would be remiss if we failed to mention the artwork included in the pages of this issue; these pieces are incredible. 

As autumn slips into winter it reminds us that change is inevitable. It is with that sentiment that we say “See you down the road” to two editors that have been with us since our first issue, Stepha Vesper and Mike Keller-Wilson. They are both talented writers and wonderful humans who have been a joy to work with. Ed and I are happy that they were willing to volunteer their time and insight, and we wish them well with their exciting new adventures. Despite these departures, the GLR is growing larger as we have three new editors joining for Issue #6: Kim Whiteside on the Stage & Screen team, Michelle Battle Lyles as a Poetry Editor, and Tana Lee Buoy on the Flash Fiction team. Welcome, ladies. We are excited to have you on board!! 

As always, we express gratitude to everyone who contributed to this issue and to all who will read it. We hope you enjoy it  and that you will return again and again!

That’s it for Issue #5, Autumn 2021. 

With Peace, Love, and Caramel Apple Pie,

~Shyla

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editor's notes

4-from the editors

Issue #4 ~ Summer 2021
Editors’ Note

Dear Friends and Lovers of Fine Literature and Art,

At long last, we are pleased to present our 4th issue of The Good Life Review. This release is significant for us as it marks the end of our first full year as a budding literary journal. With any new endeavor, you never know quite what to expect until you are in the thick of it. That has certainly been true for this journey thus far and as we look back over the past year and a half, we can’t help but feel fortunate, proud, and grateful.

When we initially began, we were hopeful that we would have twenty submissions in the first month, worried that we might not have enough to provide readers with full issues, and concerned that our editors would tire of volunteering their time. Instead, we came to realize that the love of sharing between artists in the world is limitless. We have received thousands of submissions with letters from writers who have a desire to share their passion and the fruits of their labor with us.

All the editors on our team are artists just like those who send their work to us, and we understand that each submission, be it writing, painting, photography, etc., is much more than just a name, letter, and manuscript to consider. It is a reflection and exploration of the deeper parts of ourselves. These reflections are raw and vulnerable which can make sharing them scary and difficult. It is a risk, but the desire for human connection is a powerful one and when we put our hearts on display for the world to see, the reward can be equally great. 

In this issue, we are excited to feature the winners of our first contests in poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. Congratulations to Pamela Sumners for her poem, “April is the Cruelest Month;” Sarah Lass for her nonfiction essay, “Here, Gone, Again;” and Koree Schueler for her fiction story, “Inspection Checklist.” Brava to these incredible pieces, and thank you for being a part of our inaugural Honey Bee Prize. 

We also want to express gratitude to our guest judges: Marco Wilkinson, Douglas Manuel, and Kate Gale who not only volunteered their time and expertise but were also wonderful to work with and provided insight and direction when we needed it. Thanks also to the editors who did double duty reading both issue and contest submissions—Annie Barker, Mike Keller-Wilson, Tacheny Perry, Allison Guenette, and Stepha Vesper, 

As it has been for our previous three issues, we are still feeling our way through the ins and outs of this business. As such, we continue to make changes to improve how we operate and take steps toward being a more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming space. One of the changes in this issue is the presentation of submitted artwork alongside the scripts, poems, stories, and essays that were selected. 


Our decision to accept artwork and photography via our submission platform was actually one of the easier ones, and we were blown away by the sheer number of pieces to consider. Those selected were chosen because of their thoughtfulness and the ways in which they visually complement the writing in the issue. Special thanks to Michelle Kimberly who urged us in this direction and whose talents and eye for design and detail are incredible. She has worked tirelessly on our web platform and all of the pdf versions of our issues and is truly an invaluable member of our team.   ❤️

Lastly, to everyone who contributed in some way to the successful release of this issue, thank you. We appreciate the love and support we’ve received and could not have come this far in such a short time or continue without it. We hope you enjoy all of what this issue has to offer and that you will return again and again!

That’s it for Issue #4, Summer 2021. 

Cheers to Celebrating Together for Years to Come,

~Shyla and Ed

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editor's notes

3-letter from the editor

Issue #3 ~ Spring 2021
Editor’s Note

Dear Readers, 

Spring has arrived in Omaha and with it, the promise of daffodils, tulips, and iris pushing through the newly thawed ground, rain to wash away winter grey, and this—The Good Life Review’s first Spring issue. 

Our aim from the start was to create a space worthy of the myriad of voices that surround us. For our third issue, we attempted to draw in a larger, more diverse population of writers, and were pleased by the number and quality of submissions we received, some of which found us from half a globe away. I was personally touched by the submission letters from students in South Korea, who were hoping to publish their work in order to build their portfolios for school. I could not help but think what amazing times we are living in, that such connection and communication are possible.

This issue includes poems, stories, and personal essays by a group of incredible writers from the likes of Nebraska, Georgia, New York, Oregon, California, Michigan, Illinois, Washington, the Philippines, London, and Australia. It’s truly more than I could have hoped for and a wonderful representation of what The Good Life can be. Thank you to all of our contributors for making this issue fabulous! 

I’m also thrilled about the addition of stage and screen plays to what we are offering our readers. This would not have been possible without our two skilled script editors, Jacob Lawson and Joe Atkinson. I am thankful that they were willing to join our team and spend their time and effort with us. I’m also pleased as punch to have the lovely Tacheny Perry joining our flash fiction team. Welcome Jake, Joe, and Tacheny! And similar to our previous issues, I’d also like to extend my gratitude to the rest of our staff who continue to dedicate their time and talent to our organization. 

In producing this issue I developed a greater understanding of the potential impact that our publication could have on an individual as well as the literary community we support. Quite a responsibility, indeed, and one that I don’t take lightly. It is one thing to state that we are working toward becoming a more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming space, and another altogether to be active in pursuit of this goal. There are a number of challenges that we need to work through in order to hold true to our mission and vision. How we approach these challenges and the actions we take to amplify marginalized voices, support other local and national organizations, and fairly evaluate the writing that we receive will solidify who we are as a publication. I’m excited to see what 2021 will bring and hopeful that we can continue to grow and learn together. 

To our readers, thank you for visiting, for reading, and for your support of the arts. We hope you enjoy all of what this issue has to offer and that you will return again and again!

That’s it for Issue #3 Spring 2021. 

Cheers to Sitting on Patios and Sipping from a Full Cup,

~Shyla

Issue 3 Good Stuff:

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editor's notes

2-from the editors

Issue #2 ~ Winter 2020/2021
Editors’ Note

Hello again, Friends. Today, as we write this letter, we can’t help but think about the fact that it is the last day of 2020. This year has been a doozy, for everyone, an ominous presence hovering over every inch of the year and one that we are looking forward to leaving behind. Of course, in the months of planning our debut of The Good Life Review, we were not thinking about that. When deciding to publish quarterly issues, the cadence of the seasons for a journal based in Nebraska felt very natural. 

The progression from Issue 1 in autumn to Issue 2 in winter just works. Until you get to get to winter and realize that there’s a question about the year. Such a small detail, but one that concerned us: Would our second issue be Winter 2020 or Winter 2021? Surely there was enough time to produce the issue before the end of the year. Surely we would have learned enough from the first issue to roll quick and smooth through the process. Surely it would not be a problem promoting our second issue as “Winter 2020.” 

It now seems fitting to close out this year with our second issue. 2020 may have been tough but art continues to flourish, and this issue is proof that life continues and can thrive in the direst circumstances. It is the end-cap to a year that will be remembered as especially difficult, but we hope that this issue serves as a celebration—in a way preserving the beauty that can come out of hardship. 

And what a celebration indeed! We’ve poured over each piece in this issue and are so invested in all of them. We are once again grateful to our contributors for trusting us with their words and we hope that they find we’ve created a good home for their work. These pieces are the biggest part of what defines the voice and image of The Good Life Review and for that, we thank you!

In a way, it is also a celebration of what we anticipate and hope for in the coming year. The journal is very new and we are, as a team, still in the early stages of figuring out which directions to go with this endeavor.  We have learned a great deal at every turn, but expect there will be quite a bit more as we progress through producing future issues and running our first contest in 2021. 

One thing we know for certain is that whatever developments occur, we have the right team to continue being successful with what we are in the midst of planning. We want to express our thanks to the team and acknowledge their efforts, too. Without their dedication to craft and the time they take to carefully consider every submission this endeavor would not be possible.

To our readers, thank you for visiting, for reading, and for your support of the arts. We are confident that you will enjoy this issue and hope you will stick with us through 2021 and beyond! 

That’s it for Issue #2, Winter 2020 / 2021. 

Cheers to Hot Cocoa with Whipcream on Top,

~Shyla and Ed

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editor's notes

1-from the editors

Issue #1 ~ Autumn 2020
Editor’s Note

Hello Friends,

As autumn unfurls its bounty of color here in Omaha, it is hard to believe that nine short months ago we were sitting at a table at the Lied Lodge in Nebraska City, home of the low-residency University of Nebraska MFA program, entertaining the idea of starting a literary magazine. 

At the time we did not know what we were in for. The seed was planted by faculty mentor Tom Paine, and the idea sparked excitement around the Lodge. Of course we would need a solid crew who were just as passionate about the idea. Of course we would need to establish our presence and somehow get the word out. And of course, we would need people to take a risk and trust us with their precious words. 

We envisioned creating a space that would showcase the writing of everyday people, who live and work among us. Writers whose stories and lives are often overlooked. As it is written in our mission statement: We are committed to exploring the overlooked. We recognize the diversity of voices that exist in the Midwest and know that a great many have something extraordinary to share. We were excited about the prospect of reading those remarkable works, and we imagined creating a good home for those poems, essays, and stories.

What we could not have imagined, in those early conversations, was that in the weeks and months to follow, the world would spin into a swirling vortex of doom–escalating racial injustice, riots, protesting, natural and unnatural disasters have all been in ample supply in 2020. Not to mention, the onset of a global pandemic. 

Given that, we could have halted our progress; we could have piled our plans on the back burner or canceled altogether. But that’s not who we are. The team decided to press on, fueled by the notion that art and literary celebration is so valuable in these difficult times. Passion for our craft is what brought us together, and we wanted to continue to contribute to the conversation by connecting writers and readers. The team, our friends:  Annie, Joel, Erin, Mike, Pamela, Allison, Suzanne, Stepha, Mimi, Cat, Tre, Kelsey, Luna, and Michelle, each played an important role in getting us to the finish line with this first issue. We’re grateful for you, your decision to join us on this journey, and your dedication!! We would also like to acknowledge Avery Kester for their contribution of drawings and website prototyping early in the project. Their ideas, banners, and logos allowed us to get our website live and open for promotion.

Special thanks to Michelle Quick, whose talents as a designer, writer, and maker extend to every corner of what the GLR has to offer. Her work on design and branding has been incredible, and her keen aesthetic eye invaluable throughout the process. We’re lucky to have her on our team.   

Special thanks also to Trelana Daniel, for her vision and follow-through in creating a podcast to supplement the content we have to offer readers. A weekly podcast was not part of our original plan, and she not only pitched the idea but also did ALL of the work to make it a reality. We’re grateful for her contribution, skills, and for her amazing voice. Tre has also taken on the task of being our social media manager which, as we came to realize, is vital to our success. 

We also owe a fair bit of gratitude to the people who provided guidance, direction, advice, and promotional support throughout this process: Tom Paine, faculty mentor for the MFA program at the University of Nebraska Omaha; Kevin Clouther, Program Coordinator for the MFA program at University of Nebraska Omaha; Kate Gale, faculty mentor for the MFA program at the University of Nebraska Omaha and Editor of Los Angeles Review. A final thank you to Sarah O’Brien, Tobi Harper, and Rebeccah Sanhueza for their wise words about operating and producing a literary journal. Thank you! 

To our contributing authors, thank you for taking a leap of faith with us and being a part of our inaugural issue, which would not exist without you! 

And to our readers, thank you for supporting and believing in the arts. We hope you find something you love in this issue. And we hope you decide to return for more.  

That’s it for Issue #1.

Peace, Love, and Tacos,
~Shyla and Ed

Good stuff from issue #1: