Hey guys, today’s ‘Say What’ will feature Amanda Mays who is the editor in chief of Anchor and Plume Press as well as the literary magazine Kindred! We asked Amanda some questions about her recent projects, press goals, and her life in general. Read on!
BE You’re a Jill of all trades! Can you describe some of your projects?
A My biggest project is the press in the sense that I spend most of my time contemplating and planning ways to grow the press. I also work with writers who need someone to bounce ideas off of or someone to help them find their focus as well as manuscript consultations and copyediting.
BE You write that your magazine, Kindred, “honors the power of story to bring people together” and you’re now preparing to release issue 10. How have you seen your contributor’s stories fostering community?
A One of my favorite things is popping up on Twitter and discovering that contributors past and present are letting each other know they enjoyed each other’s work in Kindred as well as contributors helping each other promote their work in general. Writing is such a solitary thing and it is delightful to see writers supporting each other.
One of our goals is to begin including letters from Kindred readers beginning with Issue 11. Hearing from readers and passing along letters from readers to our contributors is gratifying. I would love to see more letters in response to the work we feature and share them with our readers and contributors alike by creating space for them in the journal.
BE A significant part of your work has been collaborating with other writers and providing copyediting and manuscript consultations. How has this work informed your position at Anchor and Plume Press?
A Greatly! Reading the work of others with a critical (and constructive) eye is what my role with the press requires. I enjoy the work and the opportunity to engage with writers whether they’re emerging or established. When reading for Kindred I lament the fact that there isn’t more time for me to respond to each submission individually—there are too many and there is only one of me—with notes and/or suggestions.
BE Do you have any specific long-term goals for the press or the magazine?
A Yes but the list is lengthy! Some of the ideas are more fully developed while others are an idea, a seed planted. The biggest goal right now is to increase our readership (Kindred and books) so we can begin to pay the writers we publish. This is at the top of our list.
Beginning in 2016, we begin publishing Anchor & Plume shorts. These are smaller books—in size and in page count—that will feature a handful of poems, an essay, etc. by one writer. Recognizing that many people don’t read poetry or aren’t sure what kind of work we publish, the shorts are an invitation to discover the work of a writer you may not be familiar with. Since they’re smaller in size, the cost won’t be prohibitive. We will be publishing four of these during 2016 and they’ll be available for purchase individually or as a subscription option.
BE What advice would you give new writers?
A Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Write some more. Read some more. Live in between all the reading and writing so you have something to say.
BE What advice would you give young lit mag editors?
A I’d encourage them to read widely and with a critical eye. There are great moments (sending out acceptance letters) and there are moments that aren’t so fun (declining work). The work can be thankless and the pay nonexistent but opening up your submission queue and reading something that makes your breathe catch in your throat or makes you exclaim, “Hell yes!”—I consider that payoff.
BE Switching gears just a little. You’re not only a busy editor, but a busy mom, too! Sometimes it’s hard, especially as parents, to maintain a healthy balance between our personal and professional lives. What has helped you?
A Coffee? No really, I don’t know that I’ve ever come close to achieving balance between my personal and professional life. My family is my top priority and always comes first. Usually I spend the mornings with my children and I work in the afternoons. I guess there is a sort of balance in that. My husband is a creative and also works for himself so he is both supportive and understanding of my need to split my focus between home and work.
BE On writing: On a schedule or when inspiration strikes?
A Schedule is such a dirty word. The thought of having to write everyday upon waking or at noon seems overly rigid. I do think it is important to write daily but I rather like the idea of incorporating it into the rhythm of my day—for example, while enjoying my morning coffee or during the baby’s afternoon nap. Inspiration can be fickle and sporadic so having time to write each day, even if it’s only 15 minutes, is important. That said, if inspiration suddenly strikes, I write my heart out or if I’m stuck in traffic, I make notes on whatever paper is at hand so I can return to the idea and see if there really is something there worth exploring.
BE Writers [and editors!] are readers! How many books on average, do you read at one time?
A Many and it isn’t limited to books. There is a stack of submissions on my desk right now as we’re already reading for Kindred 11 (our southern-themed issue). I have a few manuscripts for 2017 in that stack as well. On my bedside table I have a book of poetry (Little Arias, Kristen Case), a fiction book (Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff), an essay collection (The Wet Collection, Joni Tevis), a New Yorker, the fall issue of The Paris Review, and a few chapbooks from other small presses. There is also a small stack of ARCS waiting for my attention on my coffee table.
BE Is it okay to judge a book by it’s cover?
A Absolutely! I do judge books by their covers and I’ve only been led astray once and I feel badly divulging the title so I’ll keep that tucked away. It was such a lovely cover, right up my alley with a sea motif, and yet the book was utterly disappointing. It was one of the few books I’ve abandoned.
Thank you so much, Amanda! If you have additional questions for Amanda or would like to comment on her answers here, give this post some comment love!
Graciously, Amanda is offering Buffalo Elliot readers a discount on books/chapbooks/ issues of Kindred at the Anchor and Plume website. Enter code BUFFALOELLIOT20 for 20% off your purchase! Visit the shop now! http://anchorandplumepress.com/shop
Finally, if you’d like to WIN a copy of the latest issue of Kindred magazine, please LIKE AND SHARE this post and comment to let us know you’ve entered!
Amanda Mays lives with her husband and six children in Louisiana. She runs a small press, Anchor & Plume, works as a literary collaborator, and is working on a collection of essays.