A possible new feature, the Associate Editor Highlight! Thanks to PR intern Bru for the words. It’s not that Potomac Review is narcissistic, but we just want you to know the caliber and type of readers that are reading your great submissions.



One name that has faithfully been printed on every Potomac Review edition since 2005 is Lynn Stearns, who represents a writer, swimmer, composer, and most relevant for your purposes, an editor.



Lynn first met Julie Wakeman-Linn at a short fiction writing workshop several years ago. When Julie became Editor-in-Chief for the Potomac Review, she contacted Lynn to be a Fiction Associate Editor. The position had mutual benefits– Julie had an editor who could give critiques she trusted and was familiar with, and Lynn could read manuscripts that as a writer she found inspiring to her own creative ventures.

After her five years at PR, Lynn has all sorts of stories to tell. One submission came in all pink, with heart stickers in the margins. Perhaps you are thinking that the story was so good, Lynn was just seeing it through a pair of rosy glasses. But, no. The writer was trying to seduce the editor: perfume had been sprayed around the edges.



Lynn protests when I call her Potomac Review responsibilities “work,” and she reads each manuscript twice. The editors do not share opinions on stories until they have already read it through on their own. Lynn says, “I don’t know anyone else’s take on the stories I read, and I like it that way.” Curled up on her couch, writing notes for herself, Lynn reads 10 submissions every week.

The double readings ensure that the standards Lynn have for stories are met. “A compelling voice is a must,” says Lynn. A reliable protagonist, even if it is an unlikable protagonist, is also necessary. All factors of the story should “promote the theme,” and the story should be interesting enough to care about the resolution, which, in order to be satisfactory, should link to the opening dilemma, and, also, “gives me that ahhh feeling.”



Do not balk at these guidelines. Lynn’s basic principal is only that everything should be essential. “Put the integrity of the story ahead of your ego.”