“Air pockets of beauty”—A Letter from the Editor

by Tara Laskowski June 17, 2019

The world is kind of a terrible place, but there are air pockets of beauty and wonderfulness within all that horrible. Like, for example, red hot potato chips. And the way a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. And the sound of a child’s laughter.

I’ve discovered another air pocket of amazing—the Flash Fiction Festival, an annual writing festival in Bristol, U.K., which this year is June 28-30, 2019. What wonder is it that there is a writing festival focused solely on flash fiction? Where hundreds of writers who love flash will gather and spend a weekend talking about all aspects of the art of the short-short form?

I have the pleasure of attending this year as a presenter, and I cannot wait to be immersed in a weekend of conversations about the complexities of flash fiction. Attendees from all over the world will gather to learn about all kinds of topics, from how to write a flash memoir to how to craft amazing beginnings, endings, and everything in between. It is a beautiful way to kick off my summer, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

We’ve got a stellar issue to kick off summer as well. I’ve always loved that SmokeLong pairs artwork with stories, but our new art director, Paul Bilger, has really outdone himself this time. The art he’s discovered seems to add something new to the stories, enhancing them and giving readers something new to think about. Check out “What I Wore” by Claudia Monpere for a great example of this. I also particularly love the way Jolene Casko’s art for “Parasol, Demetrios Jameson, 1947” allows you to feel the spookiest moment of this story in a real way.

There are many stories awaiting you in this issue, ready to paint a picture in your mind as you read them. We hope that you enjoy our summer issue!

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Some news, in case you missed it. First, we are now paying contributors $50 per story. Submissions are always open and always free, though should you feel like making a donation, you have that option when you submit (and we thank you kindly for it!).

Second, applications for our next SmokeLong Fellowship for Emerging Writers (formerly the Kathy Fish Fellowship) will open in mid-August. Check back here on our site for more information later in the summer and get your stories ready!

Third, we are looking for stories written in Chinese (true “smoke-long”s!) for our Global Flash Series. You can submit here.

Have a wonderful summer!

~Tara

About the Author:

Tara Laskowski has been editor at SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010. Her short story collection Bystanders was hailed by Jennifer Egan as "a bold, riveting mash-up of Hitchcockian suspense and campfire-tale chills." She is also the author of Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons, tales of dark etiquette. Her fiction has been published in the Norton anthology Flash Fiction International, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and numerous other journals, magazines, and anthologies. Tara lives and works in a suburb of Washington, D.C.