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Nominations — The Best Small Fictions 2019

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Congratulations to our nominees!


“We All Know About Margo” by Megan Pillow Davis

“History” by Maia Jenkins

“Itinerary” by Laurinda Lind

“Boy” by Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor

“Whale Fall” by Alvin Park


You may notice that “Whale Fall” by Alvin Park has appeared several times in our nominations. This story won The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction (The Smokey) in May 2018. In addition to winning a large sum of money, the recipient of this award is also nominated for every award we can find. Our next competition is in 2020. Start working on that award-winning story now. You all know how long it takes to write flash. And while we have you, we begin taking applications for the 2020 SmokeLong Flash Fellowship for Emerging Writers this summer (2019). New: We’ve opened this fellowship up to writers previously published by SmokeLong Quarterly. We can’t wait to read your applications.

— Christopher, Tara, and SLQ team



Flashgiving Winner: Ellipsis Zine

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For the month of November, we asked our readers to nominate other flash-focused journals that they thought were doing great work. In exchange, we would pick one to award $318 to (our tip jar donations for the month of October).

We received more than 100 entries, and we are pleased to announce that Ellipsis Zine stood out from the crowd. An online literary magazine for flash fiction and flash creative nonfiction, Ellipsis publishes three new stories per week as well as print anthologies several times a year. The press also publishes flash fiction collections and novella-in-flash.

This was not an easy decision—as there are so many great journals publishing flash fiction and treating their writers well—but time and time again, Ellipsis’ readers showed a great dedication and passion for the publication and its founder and editor in chief Steve Campbell.

“Positive and constructive. Accepting of writers of all backgrounds. Incredibly supportive. A joy to work with. A pleasure to work with. Modest and down-to-earth,” wrote one person. Another says, “It takes a lot of time and love to produce something like this.” And yet another, “When I saw this opportunity, I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving.”

We agree!

We got to chat with Steve Campbell recently about the publication and what he might do with the award money. Here it is, and also check out below the list of other wonderful journals that were nominated.

SLQ: Congratulations, Steve.

Wow. I’m beaming. Shocked, but very happy. It means a lot. I can’t quite get my head round it. It’s made my year. I’m so pleased that fellow writers get what I’m trying to do. I’m chuffed that people love the quality of the zines. That was important to me. I could have produced them much more cheaply, but I wanted the quality of the finish to reflect the quality of the writing. A big thank you for the vote of confidence. I promise I’ll keep on doing what I’m doing.

SLQ: Tell us about Ellipsis Zine. What motivated you to set it up?

I’d only been writing for about six months—just little bits here and there that I passed to friends and family to read—when I realised I needed to find more resources to broaden my reading, in the hope this would improve my writing. I began following other writers and online magazines en masse, reading as much published work as I could.

One of the writers I followed vented one day that they’d had a serious run of rejections (like we all do, from time to time)—and I thought, naively, that if I ran a magazine, I’d have published them.

It was that simple.

I have a background in web and graphic design, and so building the website and setting it up was actually the easy part. Getting people to engage, early on, was tough. I hid anonymously behind the masthead for the first few months, worried that my lack of publishing and writing experience would dissuade submitters and visitors; but almost immediately, I was inundated with great work. Once published, this work generated more and more interest and before I knew it, I was running a lit mag that people seemed to really, really like.

SLQ: The day-to-day running must be a lot of work, and you seem to fund it pretty much out of your own pocket. You have a full-time job and a young family. How do you do it?

Coffee and a patient wife. I spend a ridiculous amount of time with my nose buried in my phone tweeting, posting, liking, following and generally keeping Ellipsis in our followers’ timelines, and the published work out there. I’m surprised my wife hasn’t hidden my phone before now.

Did I mention coffee?

Initially, there was quite a bit of work, but I have a system in place now. Most of the submission reading is done while I commute (I have around three hours on a train each day). Selecting artwork and uploading work to the website can be done during lunchbreaks. Keeping on top of the workload is important. I have a great collection of writers who have joined the editorial board, and who’ve chipped in with blind reading, judging and been on hand to offer advice and guidance. This has helped me keep on top of things. I also schedule breaks throughout the year to give myself breathing space and time to concentrate on my own writing.

I do pay for the running costs myself, but I see it as an investment in my own writing. I feel I’ve developed so much more than I would have done without reading the diverse work I receive.

SLQ: How do you plan to use the FlashGiving award?

To attract authors from all backgrounds. We don’t charge submission fees, so this donation will go a long way towards covering our costs. I also plan to use some of the money to publish a second debut flash collection in 2019, and to hold a mini-giveaway of previous issues. We have plans for three zines and one collection, for which published authors receive complimentary copies and a share of the royalties.

SLQ: What’s next for Ellipsis Zine?

Long term, I’d love to expand the printed zine into a publication with a wider readership. I’m looking into ways to do this, but it’s a big step. It would potentially mean making funding applications to pay for larger initial print runs, and negotiating with stockists, etc. which is another whole mountain of work to take on. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that just yet.


SmokeLong FlashGiving Nominees 2018



Barren Magazine


Collective Unrest

Daily Science Fiction

Dead Housekeeping

Ellipsis Zine

Exposition Review

Flash Frontier

FlashBack Fiction


Ghost Parachute

Gigantic Sequins

Jellyfish Review


KYSO Flash

Longleaf Review



MoonPark Review

Okay Donkey


Pithead Chapel

Rhythm and Bones

River Styx

Split Lip Magazine

Synaesthesia Magazine

The Brown Orient

The Cabinet of Heed

The Citron Review

Third Point Press



Whale Road Review

Wizards In Space Literary Magazine

X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine


2018 Pushcart Prize Nominees

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Congratulations to the following writers whose stories we’ve nominated for a Pushcart Prize this year.

“Earlove” by Ashton Carlile

“We All Know About Margo” by Megan Pillow Davis

“History” by Maia Jenkins

“All the Other Dogs Screaming” by Devin Kelly

“Whale Fall” by Alvin Park

“Sky Like Concrete” by Mike Riess


Nominate Your Favorite Journal with SmokeLong’s 2018 #FlashGiving Contest

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For the month of October, SmokeLong Quarterly received $318 in tip jar donations. We’ve decided, in the spirit of giving, to send it to another journal. Nominate your favorite flash fiction journal and tell us why you love them, and we’ll pick one publication and give them $318 to do with what they wish!

Nominate a journal you had a great experience with or who you think treats writers particularly well. Or maybe you know of a journal who you think could do good things with a little boost of cash. If you are a journal editor, tell us what you would do with the money to make writers’ lives a little better. (Note: Publications that are nominated do not have to publish exclusively flash fiction or even publish flash at all, though we admit we are a little biased toward flash journals.)

To enter, fill out the Google form on or before Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018.

The winner will be announced in early December.

Thank you!

Nominate Your Favorite Journal for Our 2018 #FlashGiving Contest

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For the month of October, SmokeLong Quarterly received $318 in tip jar donations. We’ve decided, in the spirit of giving, to send it to another journal. Nominate your favorite flash fiction journal and tell us why you love them, and we’ll pick one publication and give them $318 to do with what they wish!

Nominate a journal that you had a great experience with or who you think particularly treats writers well or does great things. Or maybe you know of a journal that you think could do good work with a little boost of cash. If you are a journal editor, tell us what you would do with the money to make writers’ lives a little better. We’re open to whatever stories of goodwill you’d like to tell–and we look forward to hearing all the wonderful things that other publications are doing. (Note: Publications that are nominated do not have to exclusively publish flash fiction or even publish flash at all. But we admit we are a little biased toward flash.)

To nominate a journal, fill out this Google Form on or before Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018.

We will announce the winner in early December. Thank you!

Nominations and More Nominations

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The SmokeLong Quarterly team are thrilled to have more and more opportunities for celebrating flash fiction writers. A couple of new Best-anthologies are accepting nominations, and of course we’re nominating SLQ stories.

Best Microfiction is considering submissions under 400 words–eight micros per journal!–until the end of the year. We have nominated the stories below but still have two nominations open (and a December issue of SmokeLong yet to be filled). 

“Satellite” by Elaine Edwards

“Blemish” by Jessica Cavero

“It’s Over” by Molly Giles

“Taking Notes” by Kerry Cullen

“Safe” by David Lerner Schwartz

“Crossing” by Alice Mercier


Best British and Irish Flash Fiction will be taking nominations from editors until May 31, 2019. We have nominated one story so far but remain hopeful that we’ll publish gobs of British and Irish writers before the deadline. 

“I’m Ron McRain said Ron McRain” by Jonathan Cardew

Congratulations to these nominees from the SmokeLong team!

Best of the Net Nominations

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It’s that time of year again, when editors put on their Santa hats and make writers’ days and weeks and years. This nomination season is going to be particularly brilliant for Alvin Park, the grand prize winner of The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction (The Smokey). We’ve promised to nominate the story for every award, and we’re starting with Best of the Net.


2018 Best of the Net Nominations from SLQ

Whale Fall by Alvin Park

Boy by Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor


Congratulations to Alvin and Tochukwu from the SLQ team!

Christopher and Tara

The Long List and Finalists — SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction

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Well, our first flash fiction contest was an overwhelming success! Thank you to the writers who participated. Nearly 1,200 of you submitted around 2,000 stories to our 15th-anniversary competition. That’s a massive party. As many fifteen-year-olds will tell you, feeling popular rules. Each time we opened one–or two–of your stories, we hoped we’d find something that would rip us apart, and the stories on the following lists did just that.

While only the finalists will be published in issue 60 of SmokeLong Quarterly, we found something gut-wrenching, innovative, disturbing, hilarious or challenging–something really great–in each of the stories on the long list as well. We’re sure these stories will find their way. Some will go on to win other competitions; some will end up in journals that we all love. They are all memorable.

Congratulations to our finalists and long-listers!

Look for Issue 60 on June 18, 2018, at which time we’ll announce our grand prize winner.

The Smokey Finalists

“The Reader in the Square” by Sara Johnson Allen
“A Boy Who Does Not Remember His Father” by Joy Baglio
“The Cover-up” by KC Mead-Brewer
“Dark Little Spaces” by Samantha Burns
“‘I’m Ron McRain,’ said Ron McRain” by Jonathan Cardew
“Blemish” by Jessica Cavero
“Taking Notes” by Kerry Cullen
“How Leopards Sleep” by Molia Dumbleton
“Satellite” by Elaine Edwards
“It’s Over” by Molly Giles
“Haunt” by Theresa Hottel
“The Groundskeeper” by Devin Kelly
“All the Other Dogs Screaming” by Devin Kelly
“Everything There is to Love on Earth” by Lyndsie Manusos
“The Color of the Sea at Noon” by Kathryn McMahon
“Anywhere We’ve Ever Wanted” by Jonathan D. Nixon
“The Loneliness of the Siberian Chipmunk” by Michelle Orabona
“Whale Fall” by Alvin Park
“Mother of God” by Ulf Pike
“I Went to the Tardigrade” by Eliezra Schaffzin
“The Good Old Days” by Josh Weston
“A Matter Between Neighbors” by Jennifer Wortman

The Smokey Long List

“Sow Season” by Michael Alessi
“Burnt Toast” by Patricia Anderson
“Inheritance” by Madeline Anthes
“The Hog Drive” by Gregory Ariail
“Walks Like a Lion” by Nancy Au
“Weight” by Mandy Beaumont
“Daughter Language, Footnotes” by April Bradley
“Marmalade” by Jacqueline Carter
“Sporks, Knorks, and A Little Splayd” by Elaine Chiew
“Palm Line Constellation” by Chloe Clark
“Out of the Fields” by Bryna Cofrin-Shaw
“The London Underground has 270 stations, alphabetically ‘Angel’ is number 6.” by Laura Danks
“Flotsam” by Leonora Desar
“In this fantasy I went to live with my therapist–” by Leonora Desar
“Alien Love” by Daniel DiFranco
“Pandora” by Paola Ferrante
“The Balloon Animal Artist Goes to a Funeral” by Jennifer Fliss
“Wrong Half” by Lindsay Fowler
“Playground” by Magda Gala
“Life After” by Frances Gapper
“Dutch” by Amina Gautier
“The Tainting of the Nook” by Sean Gill
“Yoga Binge” by Melissa Gutierrez
“Linger” by Matt Hall
“The Moths Came” by Elin Hawkinson
“Red Shoe Twitch” by Dustin M. Hoffman
“Comet” by Carlea Holl-Jensen
“Stray” by Jess Jelsma
“Magpies” by Ingrid Jendrzejewski
“A Sky Full of Sheep” by Len Kuntz
“A Purse on my Head” by Lita Kurth
“Under the Biggest Drop” by Ruth LeFaive
“Teeth” by Marysa LaRowe
“Honeymoon” by Robert Maynor
“Orchestration” by Ciera McElroy
“Embers” by Michael Minchin
“let’s throw a party” by Jono Naito
“Here Devils” by L.W. Nicholson
“Piddocks” by Nuala O’Connor
“A Tether, a Cord” by Wendy Oleson
“First Apartment in the City” by Jeanne Panfely
“good is all that is left of us” by Jesus Pena
“The Guillotine Reimagined” by Claire Polders
“Lessons” by Brian Randall
“The Electricity” by David Rhymes
“Adaptation” by James Smart
“The Venom Is the Juice” by Pete Stevens
“Pretty Things” by Jennifer Todhunter
“Turning Ash to Bone” by Emily Webber
“Blood Bag” by Chloe Wilson
“I’m Exaggerating” by Kate Wisel
“Shedding” by Tara Isabel Zambrano

We Are Now a Paying Market!

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Since I took over as editor in 2010, I hoped that one day we might be able to pay our contributors for their work. Today, I am thrilled to announce that we’ve finally made that a reality.

Thanks to the overwhelming success of our first-ever flash fiction contest, we’ve been able to raise enough funds to award our grand prize and to pay our finalists each $25 (up from the $15 we’d previously advertised).

In addition, we are excited to announce that moving forward, we can offer payment of $25 per story for contributors to our quarterly issues.

Now, while our staff is super excited about this development, we also recognize that $25 is nowhere near the value that should be placed on our amazing writers’ words. It’s a beginning—and one that we hope to grow on as we move forward in making SLQ the best publisher of flash fiction out there. However, being able to value artists’ work in some small way is, for us, an immense step forward and one that was a long time coming for us.

Our contest closed yesterday, and we are still working our way through all the wonderful entries to find our winners. Look for an announcement over the next week or so of all our long list honorees and our finalists! Our grand prize winner will be announced on June 18, which is when we will publish our 15th anniversary contest issue as well.

Thank you to the wonderful SLQ editors for their hard work and dedication to our magazine. Thank you to all the writers who made this contest an overwhelming success. I am continuously grateful to be part of such an amazing publication and community.

Tara Laskowski
Editor, SmokeLong Quarterly

The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction — Submissions are open!

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15 Years. 15 Weeks. 15 Writers. $1500.

Do you have what it takes to write the best flash fiction we’ve ever seen? There’s $1500 on the line–both to celebrate SmokeLong Quarterly‘s 15th anniversary (yay!) and our first-ever flash fiction competition.

Starting February 5, 2018, our general submission queue will be transformed into a contest submission portal. For 15 weeks, we will be accepting only submissions for the inaugural SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction (the Smokey, if you will).

The winner will receive $1500, automatic nomination for The Best Small Fictions series, the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and other awards, publication in our 15th-anniversary Issue in June, and our undying love and devotion. At least 14 runners-up will also be published in the June 2018 contest issue–and each of the finalists will receive $15.

Entry fees:

February 5 – April 29                      $10, up to 2 stories

April 30 – May 20                             $13, up to 2 stories

Money tight? Watch SmokeLong social media accounts for special days when entry will be free!


Entries will be read blind by members of the SmokeLong Quarterly staff.

Finalists will be accepted on a rolling basis throughout the contest period. A long list will be announced one week after the competition closes on May 20. The winner of the competition and at least 14 finalists will be announced on June 18, when all of the contest stories will be published in SmokeLong Quarterly’s 15th-anniversary Issue.


Stories must be original works and not have been previously published anywhere online or in print, including personal blogs.

Word count: Under 1000 words, excluding the title, per story. If you are submitting two stories, they must be submitted in the same document.

Anyone over 18 is eligible to enter, excluding SLQ staff and their families as well as former SLQ editors/staff.  Former guest editors are welcome to enter.

All identifying information must be removed from the story and file name. The writer’s bio must appear ONLY in the cover letter, which is blind to the judges. If the author’s name appears anywhere in the story document, including the file name, the story will be disqualified and the submission fee will not be refunded.

You may submit as many times as you’d like during the contest period. All entries must be accompanied by the corresponding fee.

Simultaneous submissions are allowed, but we ask that you withdraw the entry immediately if the story is accepted elsewhere. If the entry is one of two stories submitted in the same document, withdraw the individual story by adding a note to the entry in Submittable. The submission fee will not be refunded.


Anticipated FAQs about the SmokeLong Award for Flash Fiction

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Submissions are live for The Smokey, so we’re already anticipating that some folks might have a few questions about the award and why the heck we’re doing it. Here is a handy guide (which may be updated as actual questions come our way) of all you’ve ever wanted to know about The Smokey. Enter through Submittable.

Why are you doing this?

Because we’re 15 now and we do what we want, regardless of what our parents tell us. And in celebration of those sweet 15 years, we decided it was time to hold a flash fiction contest. And give someone some money.

When will submissions open?

February 5, 2018. They will close May 20, 2018. Once submissions go live, we’ll post a link here.

Will I be able to submit to the general submission queue?

Not during the contest period. We are temporarily closing our general submission category during the contest so you don’t have to make a choice—and so we don’t get confused. Some of us on staff are old with bad knees and kind of scatterbrained and we like to streamline things to make it easier. Don’t worry, though—if you don’t want to pay the contest submission fees, we get it, and we’ll happily take your story submission on May 21 or beyond for free once the contest has concluded. We’ll also be offering free submission to the contest a day or two, here and there, but you have to follow us on Twitter @smokelong to find out when!

I have a story in your queue right now. Will it be considered for the contest?

No. All stories submitted before Feb. 5 will be considered as regular submissions to SmokeLong Quarterly. If you wish us to consider your story for the contest, you must withdraw it and resubmit the story in the contest submission category.

What’s the long list all about?

During regular submission periods, we sometimes find stories in our queue that we really like, but that just don’t quite make the cut for publication. We’ll often write to the authors of those stories letting them know that we really liked certain aspects of the piece and hope they submit again. We’ll do that again during the contest, but we also thought it would be nice to honor those folks in a bit more public way as well, hence the long list.

I’m a finalist. When will I know if I’ve won?

Congrats! If your story is accepted at all during the contest period, that means you’re automatically a finalist in the running for the grand prize of $1500. It also means that you’ll be published in our contest issue, quarterly #60, in June 2018. We will choose a winner from all our finalists and announce that winner publicly when the quarterly issue is published on June 18. We will probably let all the finalists know if they’ve won or not a few days before pub date.

I submitted once, but now I’ve written another awesome story. Can I submit again?

Yes. You may submit as many times as you’d like throughout the duration of the contest period, and include up to 2 stories in each submission packet. The appropriate fee must accompany each entry.

I was a guest editor for SmokeLong before. Am I eligible for the contest?

Absolutely! We welcome former guest editors and former contributors to apply, as well as newbies to SLQ. Former staff/editors at SLQ are not eligible. (They know too many of our secrets.)

Our Ten Most Popular Stories of 2017

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As we close out an amazing year of flash fiction, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of our contributors—the writers who sent us their beautiful words, the artists who contributed their amazing work, the interviewers who brought the stories behind the stories to life, and most of all our guest editors, who read thousands and thousands of stories, helping us select the very best for our weekly publication.

I also want to thank the SmokeLong staff editors, who I’m grateful for every single day. Our staff is a kind of magic, and I feel very lucky to be among a group of smart, talented, thoughtful, kind, savvy writers and editors. Thank you for all you do.

And one final special shout-out to our 2017 Kathy Fish Fellow, Allison Pinkerton. We so enjoyed working with Allison this year and seeing the great stories come to life in both SLQ and other publications, and we are thrilled that she’ll be staying on to work with us in 2018.

~Tara Laskowski

And now, one final look-back before we set our sights on the new year. Here are the 10 most popular stories we published in 2017—and your chance to read them if you missed them the first time around.

  1. Shit Cassandra Saw That She Didn’t Tell the Trojans Because at that Point Fuck Them Anyway by Gwen Kirby

This was by far the most popular story of the year—getting more than triple the number of hits of any other story or blog we posted. Gwen’s story hit a nerve with a lot of folks, who shared and tweeted the link all throughout the year. We are not surprised. It’s a delight.

  1. I’m Such a Slut and I Don’t Give a Fuck by Jen Michalski

Is the secret sauce for popular stories having the ‘f’ word in the title? Nope. The secret sauce is writing a story that lingers and stirs—and this gem by Jen about an aging rock star does both.

  1. Wolves by Bud Smith

From guest editor Daniel DiFranco, who selected this story, “I picked ‘Wolves’ because of its strong lyrical voice, sense of whimsy, and command of storytelling. It’s an Aesop’s fable for the modern day.”

  1. All of Us Are in Pieces by Melissa Goode

“‘All of us are in pieces’ is outstanding,” said guest editor Mel Bosworth. “It’s quiet and precise and has great movement. Big things happen but the tone remains the same. It’s got a great hum to it.”

  1. Manatees by William Todd Seabrook

Guest editor Kim Winternheimer said, “‘Manatees’ does everything a good piece of flash should do: it tells a great story in an economical way. ‘Manatees’ explores a passive attitude about death. How easily a group can move on from losing a member and what that means for the individual who is lost. A great question. All of this in just under 300 words. Wow.”

  1. How to Be Another Person in Five Days by Rebecca Bernard

“This story struck me immediately, with its odd, imperative voice of instruction,” said guest editor Leslie Pietrzyk. “We’re offered an immediate narrative drive—what will happen in five days?—and writerly authority, as we never question why we might want to be another person in five days. I’m still not done with this story; I find something new to admire each time I read these words.”

  1. Missed Connections by Kevin Hatch

“I love how the character’s fantasy spirals in such weird, surprising ways that feel very true to the voice,” says Tia Clark, the guest editor who chose this story.

  1. Dream Barbie by Mamie Pound

Our staff editor Brandon Wicks fell in love with this whimsical piece, calling it “economical and punchy” and a “a humanizing and disturbing reflection of our current moment.”

  1. I Utide by Lone Vitus

From our Global Flash series, this Danish story was chosen by guest editor and translator Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov, who said, “This story captured my curiosity – we are a society obsessed with linear time. We are supposed to take advantage of every second, move forward like the clock and be “busy” all the time. When do we ever just ‘feel’ time like the author describes? The story offers the reader to pause and reflect like a little meditation. That resonated with me.”

  1. Good Boys by Tamara Schuyler

Staff editor Shasta Grant selected this story. “If a story could punch me in the gut, this one did. Somehow the writer managed to make my heart break for these two boys, even though they are doing such a terrible thing. Every sentence crackles with energy and heart.”


This coming year is shaping up to be a memorable one, with our 15th anniversary rapidly approaching, our new Kathy Fish Fellow Tochukwu Okafor, and more fabulous flash fiction. We’ll see you all at AWP and elsewhere. Keep up to date with all our news by signing up for our mailing list serv at

Tochukwu Okafor Is Our 2018 Kathy Fish Fellow!

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Congratulations to Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor, our 2018 Kathy Fish Fellow and virtual writer-in-residence! We are so excited to bring his work to SmokeLong Quarterly and are thrilled to work with him in the upcoming year.

This year we also would like to name Latifa Ayad as an honorable mention, as we were particularly impressed by her application packet.

Tochukwu is a Nigerian writer whose work has appeared in The Guardian, Litro Magazine, and is forthcoming in Harvard University’s Transition Magazine. His No Tokens story, “Some Days,” has been nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize. He has been nominated twice for the Short Story Day Africa Prize for Short Fiction, with his stories, “Leaving,” appearing in Short Story Day Africa’s anthology, Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa, and “All Our Lives” forthcoming in the anthology, ID: New Short Fiction from Africa. His Warscapes story, “Colour Lessons,” featured in Columbia Journal, The Cantabrigian, and Volume 1 Brooklyn, has been shortlisted for the Problem House Press Short Story Prize (2016) and nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. His Open Road Review story, “Spirit,” featured in Juked, has been shortlisted for the 2016 Southern Pacific Review Short Story Prize. In 2014 he was awarded the Comptroller Charles Edike Prize for Outstanding Essays. He is an alumnus of the 2015 Association of Nigerian Authors Creative Writing Workshop and the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Writing Workshop, and a two-time recipient of the Festus Iyayi Award for Excellence for Prose and Playwriting (2015/2016).

Tochukwu is also a 2018 Rhodes Scholar finalist. He graduated with a cumulative grade point of 4.95 (out of 5.0) as the best graduating student in the Department of Electrical/Electronic Engineering and the whole of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Benin, Benin city. He is a programmer, an android developer, and has delivered talks at the TEDx and World Speech Day events.

You can read Tochukwu’s SLQ stories starting in our March 2018 issue.

We received more than 200 applications this year, and once again we were blown away by the quality of the stories.

Thanks again to our finalists Rebekah Bergman, Megha Krishnan, Lyndsie Manusos, Kathryn McMahon, Alice Mercier, Rachel Richardson, Michael Sarinsky, and Elisabeth Ingram Wallace.

2018 Kathy Fish Fellowship Finalists Announced

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Good news! We have 10 finalists for our 2018 Kathy Fish Fellowship. Out of more than 200 applications, these 10 writers really stood out for their originality and talent. Which makes our job very difficult in choosing a winner. We’d like to congratulate and honor these 10 writers for their accomplishment.

The finalists are:

Latifa Ayad
Rebekah Bergman
Megha Krishnan
Lyndsie Manusos
Kathryn McMahon
Alice Mercier
Rachel Richardson
Michael Sarinsky
Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor
Elisabeth Ingram Wallace

We hope to make a final decision about the winner of the fellowship in the next week. Congratulations to all our finalists, and thank you to all the writers who submitted to the contest this year. We’ve been truly stunned by the talent in the queue.

SmokeLong Nominations — Pushcart and Best Small Fictions

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The holidays seem to begin earlier and earlier every year. This year, for us, they’re starting right now. SmokeLong Quarterly is thankful for the opportunity to have published these stories (two are coming out in December actually, so you’ll have to wait a while on those). They all in some way add to and further the art of flash fiction, which is a gift to the entire literary community.

Thank you to everyone who sends work to us. We’re always excited to read your best flash fiction, and we love this time of year when we can spread some love. We wish we could nominate every single story we publish, and we’re always looking for more ways to promote the writers who trust us with their work. Congratulations to everyone on the lists below.


Pushcart Anthology

“I’m Such a Slut and I Don’t Give a Fuck” by Jen Michalski

“Good Boys” by Tamara Schuyler

“Filthy, Polluted” by Raul Palma (forthcoming in December 2017)

“Popcorn” by Andrew Mitchell

“Shit Cassandra Saw that She Didn’t Tell The Trojans Because at that Point Fuck Them Anyway” by Gwen E. Kirby

“The Jumper” by Geoff Kronik (forthcoming in December 2017)


The Best Small Fictions 2018

“Filthy, Polluted” by Raul Palma (forthcoming in December 2017)

“Shit Cassandra Saw that She Didn’t Tell The Trojans Because at that Point Fuck Them Anyway” by Gwen E. Kirby

“Sour Toe” by Justin Herrmann

“Gravity, Reduced” by Kara Oakleaf

“Manatees” by William Todd Seabrook


We wish you all tons of success. You are all stars!

13 Creepy Stories from Our Archives

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Here are some spooky tales from our archives to get you in the Halloween holiday spirit.


Art by Livia Meyers
  1. The Dead Are Not Hungry by Justin Lawrence Daugherty

Zombies like you’ve never seen zombies before. Also paired with possibly the best piece of artwork we’ve ever run at SmokeLong.





art by Aaron Grayum

2. Working Halloween for Christmas Money by John Minichillo

The insiders guide to those cheesy haunted hayrides and houses and corn mazes you scared yourself silly at when you were a teen.





art by Alexander C. Kafka

3. Laura Palmer’s Bar and Grill by Andrew F. Sullivan

Especially fitting to re-read this one after the new season of Twin Peaks this year. A trippy, Lynch-like fan tribute to the mysterious Laura Palmer.





art by Katelin Kinney

4. The Sadness of Spirits by Aimee Pogson

A Ouija board. Some lonely ghosts. A little boy. What could go wrong?






art by Kim Berkley

5. The Horrors by Joseph Lucido

Is it bad luck or something more sinister at work? The voice in this piece is so compelling it pulls you along, even as you dread what’s coming next.






art by Jason Ellison

6. Last Seen Leaving by Laura Ellen Scott

When Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington went missing after a Metallica concert, Laura Ellen Scott decided to explore what might’ve happened to her. Now that her killer has been convicted, this story has an even more chilling facet to it.




art by Alexander C. Kafka

7. The Eleventh Floor Ghost by Megan Giddings

A haunted hotel with all sorts of ghosts trying to find their identities. This is a whimsical, fun piece from our former Kathy Fish Fellow.





8. The Rise of the Witch–A Fridge Flash by Stella Urbanski

This Fridge Flash by kindergartener Stella fits our theme and has original art to boot!




art by Jan Fidler

9. An Old Woman with Silver Hands by A.A. Baliskovits

A.A. Baliskovits is a master of retelling and reinventing classic fairy tales, and this is no exception.





art by Allen Forrest

10. Monarchs by Andrew Wehmann

Here’s a world where in order to survive, you must keep killing.






art by Ashley Inguanta

11. Bait by Amy Sayre Baptista

That creepy man on the side of road? Just what are his intentions?






art by Karen Prosen

12. Under the Dark by Dawn Bailey

Daddy tells you to go crawl under the porch. Do you go?






art by Ash Baker

13. The Woodcutter’s Wife by Ben Black

A creepy retelling of Hansel and Gretel.








Here’s Our Playlist for Issue 57!

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Issue 57 of SmokeLong Quarterly comes with a whole new sensory experience. We’ve created a Spotify playlist for Issue 57, so you can listen to music that’s been paired with each story in the issue.

The songs were chosen by each author, and our associate editor Meghan Phillips curated the playlist order for your listening pleasure. If you do listen and read, let us know about your experiences!

Here’s the playlist:

“Cool Slut” by Chasity Belt (Jen Michalski, “I’m Such  a Slut and I Don’t Give a Fuck”)

“Catch a Wave” by The Beach Boys (Todd Seabrook, “Manatees”)

“Blood in the Cut” by K.Flay (Didi Wood, “Husking”)

“Texas Never Whispers” by Pavement (John Jodzio, “Floodplain”)

“I Want You to Want Me” by Cheap Trick (James Claffey, “Sins of Omission”)

“Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills & Nash (Tim Fitts, “Belly”)

“Otherside” by Red Hot Chili Peppers (Jane Blunschi, “San Miguel”)

“Levitation” by Beach House (Nikalus Rupert, “Fragore”)

“Every Breath You Take” by The Police (Cheyenne Autry, “Sexting”)

“Jackrabbit” by San Fermin (Kaely Horton, “”Apology Note To My Roommate Irene After My Chimaera Destroyed Her Blue Suede Heels”)

“I’m Done” by The Julie Ruin (Caitlyn GD, “What We Do For Work”)

“September Fields” by Frazey Ford (Tina Hall, “The Extinction Museum…”)

“Getting Ready to Get Down” by Josh Ritter (Allison Pinkerton, “St. Zelda’s”)

“Time Forgot” by Connor Oberst (Melissa Goode, “All of Us Are In Pieces”)

“Ode to Divorce” by Regina Spektor (Robyn Groth, “Still Life with Hairball”)

“Every Single Night” by Fiona Apple (Monica Lewis, “Night Run”)

“There Is a Light the Never Goes Out” by The Smiths (Skylar Alexander, “The Unicorn”)



Six Flash Fictions with Great Endings

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Editor’s note: We are fortunate to have Tara L. Masih, founding series editor for the Best Small Fictions anthology, guest blog for us this week. Tara takes a look at some of her favorite endings from flash fictions included in the BSF series. 

Anyone who studies or participates in writing sudden, flash, or micro fiction knows the importance of a great ending. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow so accurately said: “Great is the art of the beginning, but greater is the art of the ending.” Longfellow, who mostly published poetry and translated some of the world’s greatest writers, understood that leaving the reader with an indelible image or deep new understanding makes for a more powerful and resonant reading experience. In other words, exiting a story well is more important than how we enter. And it may be more difficult to achieve. With that in mind, here are my top choices for perfect endings from the Best Small Fictions series. Needless to say, choosing was a hard task. I believe every story in each volume accomplishes what Longfellow emphasizes, but these six have something extra special.

2015, guest edited by Robert Olen Butler:

1. “Let’s Say” by Julia Strayer, originally published in SmokeLong Quarterly (watch here)

This flash is a one-paragraph tour de force that hits the reader hard with a strong opening, then takes the reader on a journey that’s both internal and external. Strayer avoids the expected narrative direction that a victim story might normally take and moves us toward a conclusion that reaches above the victim’s, and our, basic instincts. “Let’s Say” was mentioned in many reviews and I think that’s a testament, of course, to the story as a whole but also to its powerful ending.

2. “The Garden Sky,” by Dave Petraglia, originally published in Necessary Fiction (Nov. 26, 2014)

One of the hardest things to do in any genre, but especially within the confines of flash, is to tackle subjects as large and complex as race relations, bias, and guilt of the conqueror/invader. Petraglia manages to cover all of these heavy themes in two pages. His narrator is a white businesswoman admiring a young female Vietnamese civil engineer during a work lunch. A lunch discussing apps that recognize bombs, which are unearthed and cleaned and sold in markets. Bomb is a heavy word in this story, with multiple layers of meaning for both parties. The ending is a masterful, poetic rewind of the bombs that fell on the engineer’s country, injuring her father. It’s tortuous because we cannot do rewinds on dropped bombs, and I think the ending helped put this story on many readers’ lists of favorites.

2016, guest edited by Stuart Dybek:

3. “Bug Porn,” by Robert Scotellaro, originally appeared in What We Know So Far (Blue Light Press)

Leaving readers with a strong visual image is one way to ensure they will remember your story. In this humorous Micro, Scotellaro uses visual interplay between a husband and wife to set up a strong statement. A daddy longlegs, squished on the ceiling, is not just a dead bug. Scotellaro narrows the focus of vision to a single insect leg, which angled just so, looks like a “forward slash. With all of the surrounding grammar missing.” The power is in the image, and in the space around the image, as it relates to the couple’s marriage.

4. “The Story, Victorious,” by Etgar Keret, originally appeared in Flash Fiction International (W. W. Norton)

Another humorous ending. Or is it an ending? Keret fools the reader into thinking he or she has reached one ending, but then produces another. Masterful and original, and got him recognition in the venerable Flash series.

2017, guest edited by Amy Hempel:

  1. “Sea Air,” by Matt Sailor, originally appeared in Five Points, Vol. 17, No. 3

Sailor’s brief almost post-apocalyptic story proves that an ending can be very simple, yet still be powerful. His final line is a fragment of just five words: “A tangle of disturbed sheets.” It’s both visual and metaphorical. Each word chosen carefully. This editor appreciated every word and nuance. The reader will, too.

  1. “In Our Circle,” by Kimberly King Parsons, originally from NANO Fiction, Vol. 10

Parsons’ ending is not only visual, but tactile. She manages to literally mold an ending that invests lumps of clay with Freudian symbolism and her narrator’s deepest thoughts and flaws. This little story is already getting attention in reviews. She has a great beginning, but an even greater ending.

For other great endings, see the individual stories recommended by the Flash Field Guide authors and editors in the downloadable PDF at Rose Metal Press’s website. The PDF will be available later this fall.


Tara Lynn Masih is editor of two ForeWord Books of the Year, The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction and The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays, and is author of Where the Dog Star Never Glows. Her flash appears in many anthologies, including Flash Fiction Funny, Flashed: Sudden Stories in Comic and Prose, and W. W. Norton’s forthcoming New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, and was featured in Fiction Writer’s Review for National Short Story Month. Additional awards include The Ledge Magazine’s Fiction Award, the Lou P. Bunce Creative Writing Award, a Wigleaf Top 50 and a Neville Award citation, and Pushcart Prize, Best New American Voices, and Best of the Web nominations. She is Founding Series Editor for The Best Small Fictions annual anthology and received a finalist fiction grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.


Bath Flash Fiction Anthology Giveaway!

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Congratulations to Bath Flash Fiction on their first anthology: To Carry Her Home: Bath Flash Fiction, Volume One! To celebrate flash from the UK and around the world, SmokeLong Quarterly is giving away 5 copies of the Bath Flash Fiction anthology. Details on how to win below.


Global Flash Series Update

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You may have noticed in the last two issues of SmokeLong Quarterly that things were a bit less Anglo than usual. In September 2016 we published Rupprecht Mayer’s “Aufgaben: ein Triptychon,” translated from German by Christopher Allen (that’s me), and in December Timba Bema’s “Accident,” translated from French by Michelle Bailat-Jones. And we’re just getting started.

In the March issue of SmokeLong we’ll be running a story in Danish translated by guest editor Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov, in summer a Spanish story translated by guest editor Cecilia Llompart. You can read all of this on the Global Flash Series page.

Writers and readers in French will be thrilled–and we are also thrilled–that Michelle Bailat-Jones is remaining with SmokeLong to become our French editor. Submissions have now reopened and will remain open on a rolling basis. Michelle Bailat-Jones is looking forward to your best work in French. Welcome, Michelle! We are excited to have you on board.

We have also decided to reopen German submissionsalso los! Schick mir etwas! This means that now SmokeLong is always open to submissions in English, French and German.

I would also like to welcome our newest Global Flash Series guest editor. John Obwavo is co-founding editor of Kikwetu: A Journal of East African Literature and has published fiction and literary criticism books on East African and European fiction. He teaches creative writing at St. Paul’s University in Kenya. He earned his PhD in Mass Communication from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya.

John will be reading submissions in Swahili starting June 1, 2017. He will consider submissions for the September 2017 issue of SmokeLong. If you know someone who writes in Swahili, please make sure they know about this opportunity.

Translators, if you are interested in guest editing for SmokeLong, please contact us. Ideally, you’ll have translation experience. You should also be well connected to your literary community in the target language, and you should be familiar with the kind of work SmokeLong publishes. If you’re not familiar with SmokeLong, just have a look at our archives.

Christopher Allen

Allison Pinkerton Is Our 2017 Kathy Fish Fellow!

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Congratulations to Allison Pinkerton, our 2017 Kathy Fish Fellow and writer-in-residence at SmokeLong Quarterly. Allison’s application packet blew us away with its originality and sense of play. We are thrilled to get to work with her over the next year.

Allison has an MFA from the University of Central Florida. Her work is forthcoming from Image, received an Honorable Mention from Glimmer Train, and has appeared online at The Pinch, the Ploughshares blog, and elsewhere. She teaches at the University of Central Florida, loves to travel, and is currently listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat.

You can read Allison’s SLQ stories starting in our March issue.

We received a record number of submissions this year—396—and were truly stunned by the talent within. In addition, thanks to the generosity of those applicants that added a $5 donation to their submission packet, we are thrilled to say that we’ve raised enough funds to host the 2018 Kathy Fish Fellowship! Look for more details on that award later in summer 2017.

We’d like to extend another congratulations to this year’s finalists as well: Maria Alvarez, Joy Baglio, Jacquelyn Bengfort, Rebekah Bergman, Hedgie Choi, Tayler Heuston, JSP Jacobs, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Andrew Mitchell, Eric Schlich, Mackenzie Smith, and Benjamin Woodard.

Thank you to all our applicants. It was a pleasure to read your work.

And Happy New Year to all!

SmokeLong Quarterly’s 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominees: Final Round

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SmokeLong Quarterly is excited to nominate six fantastic stories for the 2017 Pushcart Prize!

Today we are happy to announce that we have nominated Justin Lawrence Daugherty “The Dead Are Not Hungry” and “Independence Day” by Marysa LaRowe!


13731714_10101300238399253_1639912655228899218_nThe Dead Are Not Hungry

Zombies. Yes, this is a zombie story. A stunning and moving one. While “The Dead Are Not Hungry” is yet another sign-of-the-times story about a world spinning out of control, it’s also a very personal story about a father’s feeling of helplessness. And Justin Lawrence Daugherty aces the ending. It will leave you breathless. – Christopher Allen, Managing Editor

Read “The Dead Are Not Hungry

Smoke and Mirrors: An Interview with Justin Lawrence Daugherty


img_5365Independence Day

Marysa LaRowe’s “Independence Day” builds layer upon layer toward a shocking ending—a deluge that carries the reader away just as flash fiction should.   – Christopher Allen

Read “Independence Day


Congratulations to all of our 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominees!

2017 Kathy Fish Finalists Announced

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Out of more than 300 applications for the 2017 Kathy Fish Fellowship, our staff has narrowed the list to 13 finalists. We’d like to congratulate and honor these 13 writers for their accomplishment.

The finalists are:

Maria Alvarez
Joy Baglio
Jacquelyn Bengfort
Rebekah Bergman
Hedgie Choi
Tayler Heuston
JSP Jacobs
Ingrid Jendrzejewski
Andrew Mitchell
Allison Pinkerton
Eric Schlich
Mackenzie Smith
Benjamin Woodard

We hope to make a final decision about the winner of the fellowship in the next two weeks. Congratulations to all our finalists, and thank you to all the writers who submitted to the contest this year. We’ve been truly stunned by the talent in the queue.

SmokeLong Quarterly’s 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominees: Round Two

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SmokeLong Quarterly is excited to nominate six fantastic stories for the 2017 Pushcart Prize!

Over the next three Tuesdays, we will announce our nominees by posting links to the selected stories and author interviews.

Today we are happy to announce that we have nominated Steve Edwards “Sometimes My Father Comes Back From the Dead” and “The Sound and The Song” by Letitia Trent!


 11951227_10206328969001373_6824248467852297361_nSometimes My Father Comes Back From the Dead

“Sometimes My Father Comes Back from the Dead” draws the reader in so effortlessly. Magic realism is not easy. It can often seem heavy-handed or forced, but Steve Edwards pulls it off with a solid, engaging voice that urges the reader along to a sort of coda in the brief line “Love is a mess.” This is a brilliant example of flash fiction.  – Christopher Allen, Managing Editor

Read “Sometimes My Father Comes Back From the Dead

Smoke and Mirrors: An Interview with Steve Edwards


newhairThe Sound and The Song

The Apocalypse is coming. Our world in crisis has inspired an onslaught of end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it stories. “The Sound and the Song” is one of these. Letitia Trent deftly uses cadence to create a confused and dazed tone as her characters, an archetypal nuclear family, succumb to the effects of a gas attack. Trent manages to make this apocalypse personal and even beautiful.  – Christopher Allen

Read “The Sound and The Song

Smoke and Mirrors: An Interview with Letitia Trent


Check back with us next Tuesday for our final round of our 2017 Pushcart Prize Nomination Announcement!

SmokeLong Quarterly’s 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominees: Round One

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SmokeLong Quarterly is excited to nominate six fantastic stories for the 2017 Pushcart Prize!

Over the next three Tuesdays, we will announce our nominees by posting links to the selected stories and author interviews.

Today we are happy to announce that we have nominated Dennis Norris II’s “Daddy’s Boy” and  “Some Cool Heaven” by Emma Smith-Stevens!

Dennis Norris II by Nichole L. Knight
Dennis Norris II by Nichole L. Knight

Daddy’s Boy

Why we chose it: “‘Daddy’s Boy’ is an abuse story. You might even call it a conversion therapy story. We read a lot of abuse stories in the SmokeLong queue; and while they’re all troubling and tragic by nature, few add much new to the story. Dennis Norris II gives the reader a dialogue between a father and a son: the father teaching his boy how to be a man in the first section, the son showing his father the man he becomes in the second. The father’s voice embodies so well that damning voice church-reared gay men carry around with them: I’m hurting you because I love you. Painful and real.”  -Christopher Allen, Managing Editor


Read “Daddy’s Boy
Smoke and Mirrors: An Interview with Dennis Norris II
Read Dennis’ Guest Reader Interview “Writing is My Way of Chasing

esmithstevens-photoSome Cool Heaven

Why we chose it: “‘Some Cool Heaven’ is a linear narrative: an account of a mother taking her son to the fair for the last time. She’s dying, probably cancer. It’s one of those types of stories that we get again and again, but the difference is that Emma Smith-Stevens’ attention to detail is moving and so intelligent. This story has something to say, and it says it perfectly–in each and every line.” -Christopher Allen

Read “Some Cool Heaven
Smoke and Mirrors: An Interview with Emma Smith-Stevens

Check back with us next Tuesday for Round Two of our 2017 Pushcart Prize Nomination Announcement!

SmokeLong and D.C.’s Noir at the Bar Present ‘Cold, Dark Flash’ at AWP

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PLEASE NOTE VENUE CHANGE BELOW! This event is no longer being held at the Wonderland Ballroom.

Heading to AWP‘s conference? Washington, D.C. is COLD in February. So why not warm up with some dark, steamy flash fiction?

Join SmokeLong Quarterly and D.C.’s Noir at the Bar for an off-site AWP reading “Cold, Dark Flash,” an evening of noir flash fiction. RSVP on our Facebook event page.

Cold, Dark Flash
Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017
7 p.m.
The Pub and the People
1648 N. Capitol St. NW
Washington, DC 20002

(Three blocks from the Green Line Metro)

With readers:

Matt Bell
Tara Campbell
Rob Hart
W. Todd Kaneko
Jennifer Pashley
Amber Sparks
Art Taylor
and hosted by:
Tara Laskowski
E.A. Aymar

Music by DJ Alkimist

Books for sale, raffle prizes, music, and more! Hope to see you there.

News from Contributors and Staff

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We have six months worth of updates on book deals, publications, interviews, awards, and other accomplishments from SmokeLong contributors and staff, so take a deep breath and dive in. If you’ve previously written for SmokeLong, please submit your news for future updates via our Submittable form.



Meredith Alling (“Scooter”) has a short story collection, Sing The Songforthcoming with Future Tense Books in November.

Steve Almond (five SmokeLong stories) has a story, “Okay, Now Do You Surrender?” featured in the newly-released Best American Mystery Stories 2016. Additionally, his story “Dritter Klasse Ohne Fensterscheiben” was selected as a notable story in The Best American Short Stories 2016.

Jules Archer (“Hard to Carry and Fit in a Trunk”) has a story, “Everlasting Full,” in Literary Orphans’ Chicago issue.

Jami Attenberg (“The Off-Season“) has a novel, All Grown Up, forthcoming with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in March 2017. An excerpt, “Indigo Gets Married,” is available in Guernica.

A.A. Balaskovits (“An Old Woman with Silver Hands”) has a short story collection, Magic for Unlucky Girls, forthcoming with SFWP Literary Awards in April 2017. The collection was previously named the grand prize winner of the 2015 Santa Fe Writers Project Awards, chosen by Emily St. John Mandel.

Matt Bell (three SmokeLong stories) released the short story collection A Tree or a Person or a Wall with Soho Press in September. His story “Toward the Company of Others,” published in Tin House, is featured in the newly-released Best American Mystery Stories 2016.

Justin Brouckaert (“This Is What I Know about Being Gigantic”) published his chapbook of Drake-inspired breakup prose poems, Skin, with Corgi Snorkel Press.

Randall Brown (former Smokelong lead editor) has a story, “Something to Do with Horses,” in Literary Orphans’ Chicago issue.

Tara Campbell (“Universe, Multiverse, Miniverse“) has a novel, TreeVolution, forthcoming this fall with Lillicat Publishers.

Dan Chaon (“The Hobblers” and “Raymond Carver“) has a crime mystery novel, Ill Will, forthcoming in May 2017 with Penguin Random House.

Leland Cheuk (guest editor) published his short story collection Letters from Dinosaurs with Thought Catalog Books. 

Joyce Chong (“On Frayed Ends and Open Doors“) placed as a runner up in Noble / Gas Qtrly’s 2016 Birdwhistle Prizes with her poem “Attrition.”

Leesa Cross-Smith (“Sometimes We Both Fight in Wars“) published the short story “Out of the Strong, Something Sweet” with Paper Darts.

Justin Lawrence Daugherty (“The Dead Are Not Hungry” and “Blood”) was a finalist for the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize offered by Lake Forest College in conjunction with &NOW Books.

Gay Degani (former SmokeLong content editor) has a story “Brotherly Love” in Literary Orphans’ Chicago issue.

Dana Diehl (“Swallowed”) has a short story collection forthcoming from Jellyfish Highway in December.

Zachary Doss (“The Village with All of the Boyfriends”) won Puerto Del Sol’s 2016 Fiction Contest. He also recently had a story, “The Blood Mouth,” in Passages North, and two stories in Wigleaf.

Lara Ehrlich (“Foresight”) has a story, “Stone Fruit,” in Literary Orphans’ Chicago issue.

Scott Fenton (“Eighty-Eight Minutes at Sea”) has a short story, “Sweet Lydia Davenport,” published in Amazon Day One and a story, “The First Boyfriend,” in Green Mountains Review.

Matt Fogarty (“White Smoke”) published the short story and novella collection Maybe Mermaids & Robots Are Lonely with Stillhouse Press.

Kendra Fortmeyer (“Leonardo or Lenin or Princess Diana”) has a debut novel, Hole in the Middle, forthcoming from Little, Brown in summer 2017.

Molly Giles (“My X” and “Seahorse Sex”) has a story, “Eskimo Diet,” in Wigleaf.

Kat Gonso (“Puberty”) has a story, “Butcher Paper,” in Literary Orphans’ Chicago issue.

Kelle Groom (“Jimmy Wasabi, Juan Juan and the Toaster Oven“) recently published six new pieces: short story “25 Reasons to Attend the Gala” in Map Literary, poem “Hour” with No Tokens, poem  “Incurable” in Provincetown Arts Magazine, poem “Taxonomies” in Vinyl, essay “Six Ships” in BROAD! Magazine, and AWP panel talk “Blood & Water: Poets Writing Nonfiction” on the AGNI blog.

Sarah Hilary (“Two Minute Silence“) won the Theakstons Old Peculier crime novel of the year award for her book Someone Else’s Skin.

Ashley Hutson (“At Sea” and “At Night, By the Creek”) signed with Zoe Sandler at ICM Partners. Ashley also has a new story, “An Explanation of Guilt,” out with Sundog Lit.

Kathryn Kulpa (“Bricolage”) published her flash chapbook Girls on Film with Paper Nautilus’ Vella Chapbook series.

Hillary Leftwich (“The Flash That Haunts Us“) has a story, “The Difference Between a Raven and a Crow,” in The Airgonaut.

Carmen Maria Machado (“On the Mirror and the Echo”) has a debut short story collection Her Body & Other Parties forthcoming from Graywolf Press in fall 2017.

Jen Michalski (“Roots” and “Conjugation“) released her novel The Summer She Was Under Water with Queen’s Ferry Press.

Mary Miller (three SmokeLong stories) received a starred review from Publishers Weekly for her story collection Always Happy Hour, which is forthcoming in January 2017 with Liveright Publishing.

Angela Palm (“Ways to Make Money in Prison”) has a memoir, Riverine, out now with Graywolf Press.

Claire Polders (“Copycat” and “Flash Addiction“) published an essay, “The Empty Space in Front of Your Hand,” with Green Mountains Review.

Santino Prinzi (“Coming Out to Flash Fiction“) released his debut flash fiction collection, Dots, with The Nottingham Review.

Michelle Ross (“Of All the Animals in the Aquarium”) won the 2016 Moon City Fiction Award for her manuscript There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You, which will be published in spring 2017.

Melissa Scholes Young (“Storage”) has a novel, Flood, forthcoming from Hachette in 2017. She also published a reported essay, “Navigating Campus Together: First Generation Faculty Can Steer First Generation Students to Success,” with The Atlantic.

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (“Six Ways to Break Her”) released “Strange Monsters,” a music-and-words collaboration of fiction and poetry set to contemporary jazz.

Bud Smith (“Junior in the Tunnels”) has a collection forthcoming with Maudlin House in 2017, which will include his SmokeLong story. He also has six new pieces out: “Boss” and “Two Daydrinking Stories” with Hobart, “Reviews of My Life” at Barrelhouse, “Roast Beast” with Maudlin House, and “Grapes” at Real Pants.

Art Taylor (“Up, Up and Away“) has a story, “Rearview Mirror,” featured in the newly-released Best American Mystery Stories 2016.

Tori Telfer (“The Archetype”) has a nonfiction book, Lady Killers, forthcoming from Harper Perennial.

An Tran (guest editor) received a notable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2016 for his story “A Clear Sky Above the Clouds,” published in Southern Humanities Review.

Kara Vernor (“David Hasslehoff Is from Baltimore“) has a chapbook, Because I Wanted to Write You a Pop Song, out now with Split Lip Press. She also recently published two sex ed fictions: “If You’re a Girl…” with Minola Review and “How Much Tongue When Kissing?” with Your Impossible Voice.

Anne Weisgerber (“Summer Baby” and “Flash Fiction as Language Art“) was recently nominated for Best of the Net for her short story “How to Meet Marc Chagall,” originally published in The Airgonaut. She will also be reading at the FBomb NYC Best Small Fictions reading at The KGB Bar Red Room on Oct. 22.

Kevin Wilson (“Blue-Suited Henchman, Kicked Into Shark Tank“) received a notable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2016 for his story An Arc Welder, a Molotov Cocktail, a Bowie Knife, published in Ploughshares.



Managing Editor Christopher Allen’s story “The Air Between Us” is publishing today at Juked. His story “My Little Cuckoos” recently won third place in the 2016 Literal Latte Fiction Awards. His other recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in FRiGG and Chicago Literati.

Blog Editor Tyrese Coleman’s flash essay “Why I Let Him Touch My Hair” was published in Brevity’s special issue examining lived experiences of race, racism, and racialization.

Interview Editor Karen Craigo’s chapbook Escaped Housewife Tries Hard to Blend In will be released in November from Hermeneutic Chaos Press.

Staff Reader Josh Denslow was a finalist for the 2016 Moon City Fiction Award.

Staff Reader Sherrie Flick’s flash fiction “Chest Out” was published in New World Writing. Additionally, the Ploughshares blog reviewed her new collection of short stories, Whiskey, Etc. Her story “After the Fall,” written with Sam Ligon, was the first collaborative feature at New Flash Fiction Review. 

2016 Kathy Fish Fellow Shasta Grant’s chapbook Gather Us Up and Bring Us Home was selected as the first runner-up in the Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest and is forthcoming from Split Lip Press in June 2017. Shasta has recently published stories in Hobart, matchbook, Pithead Chapel, and Third Point Press.

Art Director Ashley Inguanta’s photography is featured in the current issue of Ghost Parachute.

Editor Tara Laskowski’s essay “Why Parents Should Take Their Children to Literary Readings” was published by Publisher’s Weekly. She recently interviewed Christopher Irvin in “On Writing Violence” for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Additionally, Blog Editor Tyrese Coleman interviewed Tara for The Rumpus about her short story collection Bystanders.

Blog Editor Virgie Townsend’s essay “I’ve known two convicted child sex offenders. But I refuse to parent by fear” was published by the Washington Post.

Finally, we are both saddened and excited to announce that today is Executive Editor and 2013-2014 Kathy Fish Fellow Megan Giddings’ last day at SmokeLong. Megan has accepted a position as co-Fiction Editor of The Offing. Although we will miss her keen editorial eye and professionalism, we look forward to seeing the work that she’ll do at The Offing. Please join us in thanking her for her service to SmokeLong.

SmokeLong Welcomes New Editors and Readers

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SmokeLong is pleased to announce the addition of two editors and two readers to its staff. Please join us in welcoming them.

Tyrese Coleman is SmokeLong’s new associate blog editor. Tyrese is a writer, wife, mother, attorney, and fiction editor for District Lit, an online journal of writing and art. A 2016 Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and a nonfiction scholar at Virginia Quarterly Review’s 2016 Writers’ Conference, her prose has appeared in several publications, including PANK, Buzzfeed, The Rumpus, Hobart, Washingtonian Magazine, and listed in Wigleaf’s Top 50 (very) short fictions. More information on her and her writing can be found at tyresecoleman.comA story Tyrese loves: “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid.

Sherrie Flick is a SmokeLong staff reader. Sherrie is a long-time contributor to SmokeLong and the author of the novel Reconsidering Happiness, the flash fiction chapbook I Call This Flirting, and the short story collection Whiskey, Etc. Her work has appeared in Flash Fiction Forward, New Sudden Fiction, Flash Fiction Funny, Flashed: Sudden Stories in Prose and Comics, You Have Time For This, Sudden Stories: The Mammoth Book of Minuscule Fiction, and The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. She lives in Pittsburgh and teaches in the MFA and Food Studies programs at Chatham University. A story Sherrie loves: “The Coat” by Lex Williford.

Huan Hsu is a SmokeLong staff reader. Born in the Bay Area and raised in Salt Lake City, Huan is the author of The Porcelain Thief: Searching the Middle Kingdom for Buried China. As a staff writer for the Washington City Paper in Washington, DC, and the Seattle Weekly, he won two Society of Professional Journalists awards and received recognition from the Casey Foundation for Meritorious Journalism. His essays and fiction have appeared in Slate, The Guardian, The Literary Review, and Lucky Peach. He received his MFA in creative writing from George Mason University and currently lives in Amsterdam where he teaches journalism and creative writing at Amsterdam University College.  A story Huan loves: “Fish Were Drowning” by Zeynep Ozakat.

Meghan Phillips joins SmokeLong as the associate editor for social media and marketing. Her flash has appeared or is forthcoming in Corium Magazine, Maudlin House, Chicago Literati, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and WhiskeyPaper. Meghan is the fiction editor for Third Point Press. She lives in Lancaster, PA, and tweets @mcarphilA story Meghan loves: “This Whole Majestic Thing” by Anna Lea Jancewicz.

Ten SmokeLong Stories Make Wigleaf’s Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions of 2016 Lists

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Flash fiction publication Wigleaf released its hotly-anticipated annual Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions lists last week. The top 50 included two SmokeLong stories: “Puberty” by Kat Gonso and “Broken Bird” by Debbie Kinsey.

The longlist featured eight more SmokeLong pieces: SmokeLong blog editor Annie Bilancini’s “Two Truths and One Lie about Marian ‘Lady Tyger’ Trimiar, Former Women’s Lightweight Champion of the World,” Daniel DiFranco’s “The Moon is a Wasteland,” Kathryn Kulpa’s “Bricolage,” Alexander Lumans’ “Bird of Paradise,” Angela Palm’s “Ways to Make Money in Prison,” Aimee Pogson’s “The Sadness of Spirits,” Rolli’s “A Window,” and Andrew F. Sullivan’s “Laura Palmer’s Bar and Grill.”

In addition to her SmokeLong piece, Bilancini’s story “The House of Schiaparelli,” which was published in The Collagist, made the longlist. Other longlisted SmokeLong staff include executive editor Megan Giddings for “Reunion” in PANK and reader Erin Fitzgerald for “Amazing” in Okey-Panky.

Congratulations to all these amazing writers!

We’re Changing Our Name—Introducing SipLong Quarterly

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SmokeLong Quarterly is no more. The online flash fiction journal with the problematic name has changed its official name to SipLong Quarterly, in response to pressure from readers.

The change is effective April 1, 2016. A new logo is also in the works.

SmokeLong‘s former name comes from the Chinese, who noted that reading a piece of flash takes about the same length of time as smoking a cigarette. “Our name spoke more to the length of our stories rather than trying to encourage cancer-inducing activities, but I can understand how some folks, especially if they’ve never read SmokeLong Quarterly or know what flash fiction is, could have interpreted that wrong,” says Tara Laskowski, editor of SLQ.

When SmokeLong underwent an extensive web site redesign last year, the new look raised suspicions from random Twitter users who saw the name of the publication flicking through their newsfeed. “The new design looks slick—maybe too slick,” Laskowski says. “One or two people thought we were sponsored by the tobacco industry, and that’s when we realized we had to do something about it.”

SipLong Quarterly keeps the same spirit as SmokeLong—readers can enjoy a story on the site in the time that it takes to delight in a small cup of tea—but without the nicotine-stained implications of the former name. “We considered naming it SipOfGreenTeaLong Quarterly, because green tea has less caffeine in it than other types, but the logo design was too tricky,” Laskowski adds.

She does, however, warn of the dangers of too much caffeine, and suggests that readers who are really enjoying the latest issue of SLQ should maybe switch to water about halfway through.

Founding Editor Dave Clapper could not be reached for comment. He was last seen face down in a pile of submissions covered in cocaine, conducting quality assurance for a possible name change to SnortLong Quarterly.

News from Contributors and Staff: AWP Edition

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This week, we’ve got the details on where and when you can catch some of our contributors and staff reading, panel-ing, and signing during AWP in LA. 

Contributor Notes:

Aubrey Hirsch will take part in the panel “In Case You Think You Don’t Belong Here: Imposter Syndrome and AWP” with Margaret LaFleur, Samantha Dunn, Jessie Carty, and Carmen Maria Machado on Thursday from 10:30-11:45am in Room 403 A.

Katy Resch George’s new short story collection will be available at AWP, published by Kore Press. The title story of the collection is her SmokeLong story, “Exposure.”

Alexander Lumans will take part in two panels: “There and Back Again: Writing from the Road” with Erika Krouse,  Kai Carlson-WeeAndrew McFadyen-Ketchum, and Maggie Shipstead on Thursday from 10:30-11:45am in Room 410; and “The New Atlantis: Readings by Five Eco-Fabulist Writers” with Rose Bunch,  Christian Moody,  Peter Grimes,  Tessa Mellas on Friday from 1:30-2:45pm in Room 510.

Kendra Fortmeyer will be be reading in the Black Warrior Review/Bennington Review offsite reading at R. Bar on Friday, April 1 from 6-8pm.

Kara Vernor will be reading at two offsite events: a book release party for John Jodzio’s new short story collection Knockout w/special guests Catie Disabato, Amy Silverberg and Kara Vernor. Wednesday, March 30 at 7pm at Book Soup; and the Split Lip Press + Little Fiction/Big Truths reading featuring Liz Harmer, Amanda Leduc, Katie Schmid, Jared Yates Sexton, Andrew Sullivan on Friday at 7pm at Wolf & Crane.

Kate Berson is part of the team behind the FC2 offsite reading featuring Karen Brennan, Lucy Corin, Stanley Crawford, Matthew Kirkpatrick, Jessica Lee Richardson, Steve Tomasula, and Angela Woodward. It will be held on Thursday at 7pm at PYO Gallery.

James R. Gapinski will be exhibiting for The Conium Review (table 1238). He will also be moderating the panel “What the Heck Does Innovative Fiction Actually Mean?” on Friday from 3:00-4:15pm on the Scott James Bookfair Stage.

Megan Louise Rowe will be representing Willow Springs in the bookfair. Be sure to say hello!


Staff Notes: 

Tara Laskowski will be signing copies of her new book Bystanders and Brandon Wicks will be signing American Fallout from 1-3pm Friday at the Santa Fe Writers Project table. Tara and Brandon are also doing an off-site at Barcito on Thursday from 5-7 pm.

Megan Giddings will be part of two offsite readings: “Switchback / No, Dear / Gazing Grain / Atlas: an AWP off-site” with Cynthia Arrieu-King, Mahogany L. Browne, Marisa Crawford, Tafisha Edwards, Christine Kanownik, Alyse Knorr, and Anne Lesley Selcer on Thursday at 7pm at City Tavern; and “North/South Short-Shorts Reading” with Zach Doss, Kathy Fish, Kelly Magee, and Michael Martone at 4:30pm at PYO Gallery.

Christopher Allen will be part of the panel “Limited Resources, Big Dreams: How to Mine the Rush of Online Lit Journals” on Thursday from 3:00-4:15pm in Room 511.

Ashley Inguanta will be signing For the Woman Alone from 3:00-5:00pm on Friday at The Florida Review table (931). She will be signing copies of Rough Magick with Francesca Lia Block, Logan Brendt, Laura Bennett, Tracy DeBrincat, Manny Chavarria, and Mary Pauline Lowry at table 1660.

Gay Degani, author of the suspense novel, What Came Before, and the collection, Rattle of Want, will be at the bookfair with copies of both to sell and sign. Check for her AWP schedule.

And join us at SmokeLong Quarterly’s table (831) on Thursday at 4:30pm where we’ll be signing copies of our anthology, The Best of the First 10 Years. We hope to see you there!

Students Take Over Our Queue! A Hands-On Approach to Teaching Fiction

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Creative writing professors Wade Geary and Huan Hsu teach at Amsterdam University College in the Netherlands. This week, their students will be reading the SmokeLong queue, discussing the stories, and ultimately picking a favorite for us to publish in our next issue. We talked with Wade and Huan about their class and what they hope their students get out of such an exercise.

What can you tell us about your college?

Wade: Amsterdam University College (AUC) is a fairly new liberal arts and science program; this year will mark its seventh in existence. It’s part of an expansion of university colleges within the Netherlands. Like the city of Amsterdam, the institution is quite international—close to 50 percent of the students are from outside of the Netherlands.

I feel pretty lucky to be teaching at AUC, especially to be teaching Creative Writing at the school. There aren’t many places on the European continent where students can take creative writing courses at the university level, especially in English. Many countries rely on art academies for these sorts of studies.

What is the creative writing course structure?

Wade: I’ve taught the course at AUC for four years now. Some of the students are studying literature, but there are several that are in other areas of the humanities or even in the sciences. This means the students view writing creatively in pretty diverse ways. And the course structure itself—split into three sections (Romance, Exposure, and Refining)—tries to celebrate a variety of writing practices. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the structure is borrowed from a math education researcher who studied how to get students interested in mathematics.

Huan: I think you’re being a bit modest here about the course structure, which I think is really effective in addressing the tyranny that genre can have on a creative writing syllabus. So rather than a rigid trudge through fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, we start reading (and writing) all three genres from the start, and put the focus on allowing students to explore, engage, and fall in love, hence the Romance. The upshot of this is that when we do get into the genres in the Exposure section there’s already a foundation.

Tell us about your students.

Huan: This is my second year teaching the course and I think my class composition is pretty typical of the creative writing sections: 20 students, mostly women (only 4 guys), comprised of second and third years (AUC is a three-year program). I have 6 exchange students (3 American, 1 South Korean, 1 British, and 1 Australian). The rest of the class is half from the Netherlands and half from the rest of Europe. They are well-educated, well-read, well-traveled, and far more sophisticated than I was as their age. They are sharp, motivated, and empathetic. All have excellent spoken and written English. They are so fluent that I have to constantly remind myself how marvelous it is that so many students are writing creatively in their non-native languages.

The writing backgrounds of the students vary widely, as do their ambitions. Some are just beginning to engage with creative writing in a structured environment; some know the New Yorker inside and out and have taken writing workshops before. Some are likely curious to explore the limits of their abilities—how far can they go with writing? Some seem to simply wish to scratch an itch. All of them do share the common trait among writers of feeling the urge to write—to say something—even if they aren’t yet sure what to say or how to say it. Many of them keep writing journals. I’m pleased that very few, if any, appear to be taking this course just because they think it will be easy. They all seem quite invested in getting the most from the class, and stretch themselves accordingly on the assignments. They are strong critical readers when it comes to other people’s work.

How familiar are they with SmokeLong?

We assigned them an exercise early in the semester in which they had to go explore SmokeLong and find at least one story that they really loved and explain why. Most found more than one, and there was actually quite a bit of overlap both in terms of stories they loved and also stories they disliked, and the subsequent discussion in class about why they loved their favorite story and why they didn’t love other stories was so lively and critical and helped to convince me that they were up for the responsibility of selecting a winning submission.

What do you hope they’ll learn from reading submissions from the slush pile?

Wade: An activity like this makes the act of writing more tangible. They’ll see that writing doesn’t exist within a bubble and isn’t only discussed in a classroom. And that the world of writing is multi-faceted, where editing is equally important.

Huan: Exactly. I think teachers naturally teach in reaction to their own experiences as students, and one of the things I disliked about my creative writing education was the sense that professors were gatekeepers for the larger writing world and thus enforced a hierarchy that turned established writers into celebrities beyond reproach and kept writing students (and their opinions) at the bottom. Questions about, say, how literary journals worked or which you should read were dealt with in a way that discouraged curiosity, punished inexperience, and suggested that students had to first be deemed “ready” to engage this larger world. Often this anointment could only be attained by gaining the favor of the instructor, which often meant hammering away at a story until it became “good” (whatever the instructor meant by that). This might be how that oft-maligned “workshop story” comes into being. I completely agree with the reasoning at the heart of this philosophy, that too many young writers get caught up on publication and that all writers should focus on process and not outcome. But the orthodoxy in practice was annoying (and counterproductive to developing writers, in my opinion) then and completely outdated now—it’s about as tone deaf as journals that still forbid simultaneous submissions.

So all this was in my mind while I was guest editing for SmokeLong in December, which, first and foremost, was just a lot of fun. There was a sense of falling in love with reading and writing again (Romance!), and a reminder of how a great piece of writing can inspire by making it all seem so easy and natural and possible. And that’s what we want our students to feel. Likewise, many submissions also affirm by not being great. In fact, it might be more helpful for young writers—who can struggle with confidence and courage and often get paralyzed by some imagined gulf between them and “real” writers—to see bad or mediocre writing to remind them that there’s nothing to fear. And it occurred to me as I was reading and deliberating over my selections that I was doing what we ask of our creative writing students when it comes to fiction: considering narrative and storytelling and voice and character and completeness, to name a few.

Given that the process of guest editing practices all the skills we are trying to build, and given my belief that writing should be demystified and democratic, why shouldn’t a group of bright young writers—and SmokeLong readers themselves—be trusted with determining the most worthy journal submission? In my experience, students—like all people who want to be successful—thrive when challenged, when trusted with responsibility, and when they feel their work is meaningful. Finally, it’s logistically more feasible to ask our students, who have little time between academics and extra-curriculars, to read 60 flash pieces in a week than full short stories.

Wade Geary teaches creative writing and academic writing courses at Amsterdam University College. In addition to his teaching duties, he is a tutor. His academic interests lie mainly in literary minimalism, a subject he researched while earning degrees at the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. After his studies, he taught composition, literature and fiction writing courses for seven years at the University of Northern Iowa.

Born in the Bay Area and raised in Salt Lake City, Huan Hsu is the author of The Porcelain Thief: Searching the Middle Kingdom for Buried China. As a staff writer for the Washington City Paper in Washington, DC, and the Seattle Weekly, he won two Society of Professional Journalists awards and received recognition from the Casey Foundation for Meritorious Journalism. His essays and fiction have appeared in Slate, The Guardian, The Literary Review, and Lucky Peach. He received his MFA in creative writing from George Mason University and currently lives in Amsterdam where he teaches journalism and creative writing at Amsterdam University College.

Best Small Fictions Selects Three SmokeLong Stories for 2016 Anthology

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SmokeLong Quarterly is pleased to announce that the 2016 edition of Best Small Fictions from Queen’s Ferry Press will feature three SLQ stories, the most of any publication. The SLQ winners are “World’s Worst Clown” by James Kennedy, “Parting” by Elizabeth Morton, and “Natural Disaster” by Jessica Plante.

“We are always amazed at the level of talent that comes through our submission queue. We know our writers are the best, and it’s always lovely when that validation comes from the outside,” says SLQ Editor Tara Laskowski.

Past SLQ contributors who are also featured in the collection include Justin Lawrence Daugherty, Kathy Fish, Rosie Forrest, SLQ Executive Editor Megan Giddings, Laird Hunt, Nathan Leslie, Paul Lisicky, Sophie Rosenblum, Vincent Scarpa, and Curtis Smith.

To see the full list of featured writers, visit the Queen’s Ferry Press website. Congratulations to the Best Small Fictions 2016 winners, finalists, and semifinalists!

News from Contributors and Staff

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Here’s the latest good news from contributors and staff! 



Matt Rowan’s story “No Me Say It” was published in the latest issue of Timber Journal, 6.1. Rowan’s story “Bad Traffic” was published in Issue Thirty-Seven. In addition to that, he’s also guest edited and interviewed contributors for SmokeLong.

Marisela Navarro won third place and publication in The Masters Review Fall Fiction Contest judged by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer for her story “Animalizing“, published January 2016. Her flash story “Melissa at the Mall” was published in Hobart, January 2016. Her story “My Escape” is in issue #6 of Tahoma Literary Review, out March 28th, 2016. Navarro’s story “Reset” appeared in Issue Forty-Six.

Simon Han’s story, “The Tale of the Hag,” has been published in Guernica. Han’s story, “First Story,” was published in Issue Forty-Five.

Julienne Grey‘s story, “Migration,” was published by The Brooklyn Review in February. Her story, “Womb Viewer,” appeared in Issue Forty-Three.



Editor-in-chief, Tara Laskowski’s story “Death Wish” was published at The Barcelona Review. This story is also part of her upcoming collection Bystanders.

ELJ Publications has accepted Karen Craigo’s second poetry collection, Passing Through Humansville, which due out in April 2017. Karen also recently published her first story “Delivering the Courier” at Hermeneutic Chaos.

Check out Christopher Allen’s interview with Kathy Fish at r.kv.r.y quarterly. Christopher’s chapbook, The Raging Melting Space Between, was a finalist in the 2015 Gertrude Press fiction chapbook competition.

Megan Giddings’ chapbook, The Most Dangerous Game, will be in be in The Lettered Streets Press‘s Split Series Vol 3. The poetry half of the series is The Romances by Lo Kwa Mei-en. Megan was a finalist for Mid-American Review‘s Sherwood Anderson Fiction Prize, and had three flash stories in Passages North Issue 37.

Gay Degani launched a feature at Words in Place called “Journey to Planet Write.”  Gay also has three 50-word flashes coming out in Blink-Ink, a story, “Vagabond” in Pure Slush’s  FIVE which is out in paperback and another story, “Unsuited,” was published at Pure Slush on March 9.

Ashley Inguanta’s piece “County Line Poem” is forthcoming in The Good Men Project, and she recently published a short memoir in The Rumpus called “A House, A Girl.” Ashley also has art in Reservoir Journal‘s first issue.

Shasta Grant’s essay “One Night Stand” is in the current issue of Gargoyle.

If you’ve contributed to SmokeLong in the past, keep in touch! Tell us about your latest pubs and awards here.

Welcoming New Staff Editors

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SmokeLong is pleased to announce two new staff editors.

Eshani Surya is the new associate editor for social media and marketing. She is based in New York City. Her writing has appeared in Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment, Publishing Trendsetter, Minetta Review, and First Class Lit. She also works in publishing at Bloomsbury USA, marketing both children’s and adult trade books. Her Twitter handle is @__eshani.

Virgie Townsend is our new associate editor for blog content. Virgie’s story “The Freeze” was included in SmokeLong Quarterly: The Best of the First 10 Years anthology and she has been a guest editor for us. Recently, she wrote a post for the SLQ blog about her experience teaching a flash fiction writing course to high school students. Virgie is from Syracuse, New York, and will be based there as of end of March. Her flash fiction has been featured in such publications as Tin House’s Flash Fridays, Gargoyle, and Bartleby Snopes, as well as the anthology Best of Pif, Volume One. Find her online at, or on Twitter @virgietownsend.

News from Contributors

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Here’s some of the latest good news from our wonderful contributors!

Amber Sparks’ fabulous new collection The Unfinished World and Other Stories is out now from Liveright/Norton. Her story, “Never Never,” was published in Issue Thirty-Three.

Sari Wilson‘s debut novel, Girl Through Glass, is out now from HarperCollins. Wilson was a recent SmokeLong guest editor.

Bud Smith has been busy these days! Check out his story, “Jant,” up at Monkeybicycle. Or head to his website to catch up on all his good publication news there. His story, “Junior in the Tunnels,” was published in Issue Forty-Four.

Laura Ellen Scott just received a multi-book deal for her New Royal Mysteries from Pandamoon Publishing. The first book is entitled The Mean Bone in Her Body and is scheduled for a Winter 2016 release. Her story, “Last Seen Leaving,” was published in Issue Twenty-Eight.

Be on the look out for a new collection, Whiskey Etc., by Sherrie Flick next month from Queen’s Ferry Press. Her story, “Ashes,” was published in Issue Forty-Six.


We love getting good news! If you’ve been a SmokeLong contributor in the past, feel free to send us updates about your recent pubs and general literary awesomeness, and we’ll include it upcoming news round-ups! 

We’re Looking for an Associate Editor

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SmokeLong Quarterly is looking for an associate editor, social media and marketing, to join our team. We are an award-winning online flash fiction publication founded in 2003. This is virtual and is an unpaid volunteer position.


Read and comment on submissions.

Handle SLQ’s social media accounts, including, but not limited to, posting about new stories and blog posts each week, responding to and interacting with our followers, generating ideas about new content, giveaways or other promotions, identifying new social media opportunities, and monitoring analytics.

Promote and market SmokeLong to new audiences and identify partnerships to increase SmokeLong‘s traffic and readership.

Offer feedback and critiques to our Kathy Fish Fellow.

Time commitment is a rough estimate of 2-5 hours per week and will vary based on number of submissions.


We want someone who is interested in and passionate about flash fiction, literary fiction, small presses and online publishing. We need you to use and be comfortable with social media, mostly Twitter and Facebook (bonus if you’ve already got a good network, but not necessary). Bonus also if you’ve had previous experience at a literary magazine or blog. We want someone with a keen eye for good fiction, a good sense of humor and easy-going personality. We are also looking for someone who responds quickly and efficiently to email and online group discussions.

Most of all, we need someone who is excited about reading submissions and has the time and interest in committing to regular check-ins to vote and comment on stories in our queue. Yes, this includes the slush pile. Some weeks we will only have a handful of stories to read, but other weeks you might find 50-60 in the queue, so some flexibility is needed.

No pay, but you will get:

Hands-on experience with a thriving, reputable literary publication

Networking opportunities with writers, editors, and publishers

Our undying love and devotion

To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to with the subject line: SLQ Associate Editor Position. In your cover letter, be sure to address why you’re interested in working with SmokeLong as well as how much time per week you have to devote to volunteering with us. We will accept applications until the position has been filled.

Thank you for your interest!

SmokeLong’s Most Popular Stories and Interviews of 2015

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We launched a newly designed site in April 2015, and you all responded kindly by actually visiting it! From April to December, SmokeLong Quarterly had more than 62,000 site visits and more than 147,000 page views. Our June 2015 issue (Issue 48) was the most read issue of the year.

Following are the most popular stories, blog posts, and author and guest editor interviews for the year. Check ’em out if you missed any of them:

Top Five Most Read Stories:

Bait by Amy Sayre Baptista (guest editor Christen Aragoni)

Old Man Falling Off of Stool by Timur Jonathan Karaca (guest editor Margaret Luongo)

The Moon Is a Wasteland by Daniel DiFranco (guest editor Ryan Bloom)

Puberty by Kat Gonso (guest editor Beth Cox Thomas)

Things You Won’t Tell Your Therapist by Colleen Kearney Rich (staff guest reader Isaac Boone Davis)


Top Five Blog Posts:

Part I of Teaching Flash Fiction by Virgie Townsend

Stories We’d Like to See More Of in 2016

Back to the Future: A Sestina by Angie Mazakis

SmokeLong Announces Pushcart Prize Nominations

The Excess of the Short-Short by Rachel Levy


Top Five Author Interviews:

Jessica Alexander

Coco Mellors

Kat Gonso

Amy Sayre Baptista

Mardith Louisell


Top Five Guest Editor Interviews:

Julia Strayer

Rion Amilcar Scott

Robbie Shapard

Christine Hyung-Oak Lee

Bezalel Stern

Shasta Grant is Our 2016 Kathy Fish Fellow!

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With 273 submissions, the most we’ve ever received for the Kathy Fish Fellowship, SmokeLong Quarterly is pleased to announce that Shasta Grant is the winner of the 2016 Kathy Fish Fellowship award. Shasta will be our writer-in-residence for our quarterly issues in 2016, and we are thrilled to get to work with her.

In addition, thanks to the generosity of those applicants that added a $5 donation to their submission packet, we are ELATED to say that we’ve raised enough funds to host the 2017 Kathy Fish Fellowship! Look for more details on that award later in summer 2016.

Shasta won the 2015 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest, judged by Ann Patchett. Her stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in cream city review, Epiphany, Gargoyle, Kenyon Review, wigleaf, and elsewhere. She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is a prose editor for Storyscape Journal. She also loves coffee, so she’ll fit right in with our staff.

Our editors thought Shasta’s stories had a consistent voice and a readable style. We liked how she takes the familiar themes of parenting and family to a new level. Her stories have a strong emotional quality to them and are surprising and original.

You can read Shasta’s SLQ stories starting in our March issue.

In addition, we want to recognize the following finalists. Their work was brilliant, and the competition was very tough this year. Congratulations to these 12 finalists:

Tyrese Coleman
Fiona Collins
Kerry Cullen
Leonora Desar
Kim Hagerich
Michele Johnson
Emily Koon
Eileen Merriman
Amy Rossi
Erin Somers
Kaj Tanaka
Cady Vishniac

Thank you to all our applicants. It was a pleasure to read your work.

And Happy New Year to all!

Stories We’d Like to See More of in 2016…and Some that Should Go Away Awhile

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In 2015, SmokeLong received 3,930 submissions and published 74 stories. We read a lot of flash fiction, and see a lot of trends. Many of the stories our editors receive come close, but they just don’t fit with the vibe of the issue. Or sometimes we just didn’t fall in love. Or sometimes, the story feels too similar to one we’ve just accepted.

The stories that grab our attention the fastest are ones that stand out from the pack because the subject matter is unique, or the form is different, or it’s just something, for whatever reason, that we rarely see or are craving more of.

With that in mind, we thought we’d share some story topics, styles, and themes that we would love to see more of in 2016, and some story topics and trends that, frankly, we’re a little sick of.*

*The disclaimer, of course, is that there are never any true deal-breakers. Just when we think we’ll never publish a story about dead dogs ever again, here comes the dead dog story that knocks our bedroom slippers off.

We want to see more:

Stories from international writers or set in places other than the U.S. Enough said. International writers, send us your stuff! We want to publish flash from all around the world. We’ll consider translations as well, as long as you have permission from the original author.

Stories about older people who don’t act stereotypically old and who aren’t super depressing. We see many stories about old people who just sit around waiting to die, or who are losing their memory as the story progresses. If you’re going to write about older people, make them as complex and dynamic as any other character. Check out Margot Taylor’s “A Question of Balance.”

Stories about sex that aren’t written like bad porn. There’s got to be compelling writing out there that looks at sex in interesting ways, right? Why don’t you send it our way?

Stories that hover the line between genre and literary fiction. We’re happy to consider science fiction, fantasy, crime, romance, western, and other genres, but we’re interested in genre-based flash that is rooted in language, imagery, character. No punchlines. Ground us in the world and make us care. We love “The Drive” by Gabrielle Sierra.

Stories that take huge leaps in time. It’s tough to do this in the word count restraints of flash fiction, but it’s so divine when it works. We like “Of Mice and Indians” by Toni Jensen, for example.

We want to see less:

Stories in which some sort of animal is inside someone’s body or body part. This one has been trending in our inbox for quite some time, believe it or not.

Stories about twentysomethings going through some kind of breakup or heartache. We get it. It’s good fodder for stories. But we’ve seen this subject so many times that it’s got to do something fresh and unusual to stand out.

Stories that use dead babies or animals as shock value.

Dialogue-heavy pieces that don’t develop into a story (only a scene). Stories with just dialogue always feel like they are floating in space, like the characters are speaking from a great black void.

Above all, what we’re always looking for, regardless of subject matter, form, or theme, are stories that, as our managing editor Christopher Allen says, use “thoughtful, breathtaking prose that astounds and frightens and makes you a bit angry that you didn’t write it.”

News from Contributors and Staff

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Here’s an update on what some of SmokeLong‘s contributors and staff have been up to lately.

From our contributors:

Rob McClure Smith’s collection The Violence was released on October 27th from Queen’s Ferry Press. Rob’s story “Glasgow Lullaby” was published in Issue Sixteen and is included in the collection.

Ashley Hutson‘s fiction piece, “I Am Going to Write a Poem Titled ‘The Mercy of Geography,’ and It’s Going to Be About How Unmerciful Geography Is” was published at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency on October 27th. On October 26th, her short story, “Treatment,” was featured at Enclave. She also had a triptych titled “Excoriation” published at The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts on November 9th, and her poem, “By the Abelia,s” was published in Pankhearst‘s print anthology, This Body I Live In on November 17th.  Her story, “At Night, By the Creek,” appeared in Issue Forty-Seven.

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam has just signed with Ann Collette of Rees Literary. Ann will represent Bonnie’s first novel, The Last Siren. Bonnie has also had four short stories appear in October 2015: “A Careful Fire” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, “Sleeping With Spirits” in Mothership Zeta, “Husband Wife Lover” in PRISM International , and “The Centaur’s Daughter” in A cappella Zoo.  Her story, “Six Ways to Break Her,” appeared in Issue Forty-Seven.


From our staff: 

Chris Allen’s story, “One for Rainbow,” appears in Change Seven Magazine 1.3, and his story, “Fred’s Massive Sorrow,” appears in Eclectica Magazine 19.4 and will be included in Eclectica Magazine’s 20th anniversary speculative anthology to be released spring 2016. Congrats to Eclectica on 20 years of fabulous work!

Isaac Boone Davis’ flash story, “Pictionary,” is live at Bartleby Snopes.

Gay Degani’s collection of 46 shorts stories and a novella, Rattle of Want, came out on November 25th from Pure Slush Press.

Ashley Inguanta also had work come out in Bartleby Snopes, a flash piece entitled “The Edge of the World.” Corium Magazine nominated her for Best of the Net in Poetry. And her story “Paradise” was included in Francesca Lia Block & Jessa Mendez’s anthology, Rough Magick.

SmokeLong Announces Pushcart Prize Nominations

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We are always thrilled to have such fine work in our issues, and 2015 was an especially great year. The following stories have been selected by SmokeLong for nomination for the newest Pushcart Prize anthology. Good luck to all the writers!


Our 2015 nominations:

The Pool Guy by Jessica Alexander

Aquarium by Elaine Chiew

The Moon is a Wasteland by Daniel DiFranco

Puberty by Kat Gonzo

Beethoven’s Fifth in C Minor by Pete Stevens

Stone, Well, Girl by Benito Vergara

Back to the Future: A Sestina

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We here at SmokeLong don’t normally do poetry, as you know. And yet…when a Back to the Future poem slides under our noses on the very day that Marty goes back to the future, well….it’s like density…I mean, destiny.

Angie Mazakis was kind enough to share this amazing sestina with us so we could share it with you.

Enjoy, Hill Valley friends. Enjoy.

May the power of love be with you.

Back to the Future Sestina

for Ashley

And I feel so much depends on the weather~Stone Temple Pilots

Back in the deadpan town where I grew up, it appears
that I’m alone. No one actually is home, McFly.
I’m on the clock, hanging by the long hand,
old blues riff I’d known, irresolute as the sound of the future.
I am the second you, burning the Sports Almanac before the rain,
the first you, who we liked better, invisibly home, we trust. I feel

like I’m in an alternate 1985, in this paradox Hill Valley, feeling
lonely without the Doc, however unlikely he was a peer,
my notion of time capricious as all the versions of Lorraine.
This town is freely, fourth-dimensionally, aloofly
unchanged as a note from a friend in the past sent to the future,
all of time happening at once, contingent as a guitarist’s sliced hand.

Fix the miscalculations, Calvin, connect the cables by hand
at the last minute, the time continuum continuing till all our life feels
like an old taped-together letter, whole though darkened at each suture.
I need 1.21 gigawatts of power to surge till a few years disappear,
pulsing into my flux capacitor, each incongruous moment flying
at eighty-eight miles per hour through my brain,

as chaotic as future cars flying through the rain,
dangerous as a time machine fallen into the wrong hands,
precarious as a 1955 with two teenaged, yet-unborn Marty McFlys.
I’m trying not to run into my other self– our unfinished, portions feeling
our way in time around each other, a dance around my past peers,
slowly, under the sea, a life-preserving vest to save myself from a future

I can’t see. Each day I retrieve just the dust jacket of the future.
You want it to depend upon all sentences starting with “Biff”. Lorraine
saying, “Biff, why don’t you take a long walk off a short pier?”
And George, divergent, aesopian, saying “Biff get your damn hands
off her.” We make others resilient by mistake. Don’t you ever feel
you’re always leaving just when you’ve arrived? You’d say you did in 1955, fly-

by-night I found my way back to the beginning. Time flies
when you’re pummeling through several years at once toward a fitful future.
Each of us has nearly unraveled the fabric of destiny with desire, but you can feel
the density of it all gone back to fine. You’ve saved Marty Jr.; Griff is arraigned.
After the TKO, there’s George looking incredulously at his own hand.
I’m here in my hometown, had to leave the place I was before; it appeared

that I altered some significant event, without flying on a time-travelling train
to some future rumored prequel where I held the wrong lover’s disappearing hand.
No, I was just there to feel it in mine when his hand appeared again.

Angie Mazakis’s poems have appeared in The New Republic, Boston Review, Narrative Magazine, Best New Poets, New Ohio Review, Smartish Pace, Drunken Boat, and other journals. She has an MFA from George Mason University.

SmokeLong News Digest, Issue 2

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News from SmokeLong Contributors and Staff:


Foust’s story collection Sins of Omission will be released this May (2015) by Tidal Press. It’s available for pre-order now.   Themes of family, home, memory and disconnectedness dance with a quiet power through these 42 short-short stories about people playing the cards life has dealt them the best they can.  The opening story is “Eye” which first appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly issue #26.







Gary Fincke’s newest collection of stories, A Room of Rain, was released March 3 by West Virginia University Press.  Fincke portrays the fluctuating emotions and self-protective reflections of fathers, sons, and husbands, creating a world where individuals rarely understand each other, yet still arrive at moments of compassion, tolerance, perseverance, and familial love. Read Gary’s SmokeLong Quarterly stories here: “Crushed Ice” and “Yams.” 






J.A. Tyler’s The Zoo, A Going, published this March (Dzanc Books),  is a story in which the commonplace act of a family visiting the zoo becomes a window through which a child contemplates the breakdown of his family, the loss of a brother he never knew, and his strained relationship with his father, newly back from a war that he cannot comprehend though he can feel its ripple effects. Read J.A. Tyler’s SmokeLong Quarterly story here, These Three Things That Noah Doesn’t .” 






SmokeLong staff news:

Tara Laskowski’s story, “The Heiress,” was published by the Journal for Compressed Creative Arts on March 2.

Gay Degani’s article, “As If Each Word is Worth $1000,” was published by Flash Fiction Chronicles on March 17.

Chris Allen’s story, “Green Graffiti,” was published by Litro on March 27.


Submissions to Digest:

The SmokeLong Quarterly blog will  list newly published works, achievements, and awards by our contributors and staff and asking them (you) to submit to us.  Entries should be recent, info regarding such should be no longer than 100 words including title of new work (flash, short story, essay, poem, memoir,or novel) and name of publisher  (ezine, print zine, publishing house) plus link to said work and/or how to purchase). Please also include all links to your published work at SmokeLong Quarterly.

There will be two lists in the Monthly Digest:

1) recent awards, achievements, and print publications

2) recent stories published online in journals, reviews, ezines  (not posted by author on blog or elsewhere)

SmokeLong News Digest, Issue 1

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News from SmokeLong Contributors and Staff:

Available at AmazonTom Cooper‘s novel, The Marauders, was released from Random House-Crown on February 3rd. The book was a long time in the making, and has so far received very strong reviews.

“More fun than a book about the aftermath of an ecological disaster has any right to be” – Esquire

“Wade into moral muck with the pill-popping, treasure-hunting, one-armed hero of this finger-lickin’-good Louisiana swamp noir.” – O, The Oprah Magazine

Read his SmokeLong stories: Cooper, Thomas: Ghost Bike (Issue Twenty-Three), Bluegills (Issue Twenty-Four), Scapegoat (Issue Twenty-Eight), Language Barrier (Issue Thirty)


Rosie Forrest is the winner of Rose Metal Publishing’s 9TH Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest with her entry Ghost Box Evolution in Cadillac Michigan.  Read Rosie’s SmokeLong Quarterly story:  “Next Rest Stop Twenty-Two Miles” (Issue Forty-Two)

Meg Tuite’s entry Beast is a semi-finalist in Rose Metal Publishing’s 9TH Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest.  Read Meg’s SmokeLong Quarterly story: Mutable Pleasures (Issue Forty-Seven)

Recent Pubs


Megan Giddings’s story, “Good-bye Piano,” up at matchbook.

Christopher Allen’s story, “Other Household Toxins,” up at Night Train.

Gay Degani’s story, “Last Four Songs” up at Pure Slush.

New Feature

The SmokeLong Quarterly blog is launching a new feature  listing newly published works, achievements, and awards by our contributors and staff and asking them (you) to submit to us.  Entries should be recent, info regarding such should be no longer than 100 words including title of new work (flash, short story, essay, poem, memoir,or novel) and name of publisher  (ezine, print zine, publishing house) plus link to said work and/or how to purchase). Please also include all links to your published work at SmokeLong Quarterly.

There will be two lists in the Monthly Digest:

  1. recent awards, achievements, and print publications
  2. recent stories published online in journals, reviews, ezines  (not posted by author on blog or elsewhere)