Q & A with Lines + Stars editor, Rachel Adams

Posted: October 14, 2010 by fsucenterforcreativewriting in Interview

How did Lines + Stars get started?

I went to college and graduate school in Washington, DC, and had considered starting a literary journal for some time; I detected a dearth of local-writing-centered publications, and wanted to do my part to help fill that void. In early 2007, after my own graduate studies had concluded, I began to seriously flesh out this plan. At first, I was solely interested in creating a print-based journal. I’d always loved the tactile and visual nature of printed periodicals — the feel of the paper, the shape of the font, the vibrancy of  the cover-art, and so on. As the realities of printing (financial in nature, of course) became more clear, though, I decided that an online journal would be far more feasible. With the help of graphic-designer friends, a website came into being. I collaged Lines + Stars postcards to distribute at local bookstores, added the journal’s information to several listservs and publishing websites, and began receiving submissions.

How have you seen the publishing industry change and how are you responding to it?

Because Lines + Stars is an online endeavor — with the exception of an annual chapbook — I believe that we’ve been able to avoid some of the challenges faced by subscription-based print publications. At the same time, it’s still a central aim of mine to have the journal published in physical form, and at some point we hope to do that on a regular basis.

I think that there’s much to be accomplished via online media. Accessibility and ease-of-dissemination are the positives; the difficulty of standing out amid countless other online publications can be a negative. The internet is daunting in its enormity. Because so many literary journals exist, I think that events like this — on a regional or national scale — are crucial for self-assertion and collaboration. Merely keeping an eye out for the work that others are doing in our same field, and supporting it, can help us all counteract those “death of the publishing industry” woes.

What are your opinions on self-publishing, online or in print?

As I’m sure that many of the conference’s participants would agree, self-publishing is a multifaceted entity with its requisite benefits and pitfalls. Working within the constraints of a minimal budget means that each aspect of production — vetting and editing submissions, managing and updating the website, designing and assembling the annual chapbook, promoting the journal — becomes the responsibility of a very small group of people. In this sense, self-publishing can be a stress-inducer. At the same time, through the direct absorption of our editors in all stages of the production process, we feel as though Lines + Stars is very carefully constructed and personally driven — something that may not be the case with a larger publication. The term “labor of love” is thrown around often, but it does, indeed, sum up our thoughts on this modest and self-directed project.

What benefits does a small press/journal offer writers?

As I’ve referenced above, I think that the individualized nature with which submissions are read and selected is our writers’ most tangible benefit. Their poems and stories aren’t going to go into some database and languish until they’ve been siphoned through the queue and onto our desks. We try to view each piece as promptly and succinctly as possible, and develop a relationship with the author as his or her work approaches publication.

What mistakes should writers avoid when submitting to Lines + Stars?

I have a limited amount of pet-peeves, but one thing truly prompts me to not read (or to not want to read) your submission: sending an impersonal, clearly mass-emailed document without even a brief introduction or cover-letter. It’s certainly not necessary to read through all of Lines + Stars’ archives and try to craft something similar — in fact, the differentiation between writers and topics is what helps give the journal its substance. But to obviously cut-and-paste one’s poem or story from one’s literary-journal desktop folder is juvenile and counterintuitive. Ideally, I’d like writers to, within the limited scope that an email offers, try to reveal a bit of themselves to me. That’s what ends up being represented in the journal, after all.

Also, neon-colored or huge fonts are silly.

Other than what’s listed in your submission guidelines, what are you looking for in a submission?

There are no hard-and-fast rules;Lines + Stars prides itself on the variegated nature of the pieces that we publish. We really do like to see nontraditional poetry and short stories — either in format or subject-matter. That’s not to say that the journal seeks out specifically “experimental” work, but we do favor writing that objects to traditionalism and formality in some way. We believe that one’s writing-brain can be capable of almost anything that you allow it to be.

What events/publications do you have coming up that we should look out for?

The newest edition of the journal should be published on our website, http://www.linesandstars.com, by November 1. A “Best of 2009-2010” compilation is now available for purchase, as well. And our Winter 2011 theme-issue, “Recurrence,” is now seeking submissions.

Rachel Adams


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