“Farewell, Not Goodbye”—Editor’s Letter

by Tara Laskowski September 16, 2019

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
~”Closing Time,” Semisonic

SmokeLong Quarterly saved my writing career. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I probably wouldn’t still be writing today if not for SLQ. When I applied for the Kathy Fish Fellowship in 2008, I was a few years out of grad school and fumbling around with my writing. I was trying to work out a massive doorstop novel manuscript and fruitlessly sending out short story submissions to journals I never heard back from.

Then I won the Fellowship, and it completely changed everything. I was suddenly part of a community I didn’t even knew existed. I don’t have to tell you that the flash fiction community is passionate, fierce, friendly, and generous. For that year, for the first time in a long time, writing felt fun again.

That year of writing flash was my most productive and prolific year ever. I met so many wonderful writers and editors—a trend which continued the next year when I took over editing duties at SmokeLong. Almost 10 years later—gulp—I continue to be amazed at how lucky I was to have stumbled into this job. The SmokeLong editors—past and present—are like a family to me. All of the issues we’ve produced feel like wonderful gifts to the world.

But, like everything good, there comes a time when it’s time to move on.

This is my last issue as editor-in-chief of SmokeLong. I say this with a heavy heart because SLQ has been such an important part of my life over the last decade. I’ve published 38 issues of SLQ. THIRTY-EIGHT. At an average of 20-ish stories an issue, that’s more than 750 stories. That, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

In the time I’ve been editor, we’ve also awarded five other Fellows, folks who’ve gone on to win awards, publish books, and stay here with us or began editing journals of their own. We redesigned our web site to better showcase our authors and their writing, created a Global Flash series to showcase writing from around the world, started a wonderful flash fiction contest, and—my most proudest achievement—finally can pay our writers!

I am so fortunate to have worked with such generous, talented people on staff—friends for life. I’m so fortunate to have the ability to publish so many beautiful stories—award-winning, gorgeous little gems that clunk around in my brain even years after I’ve read them. I’m so fortunate to be part of this community that gives so much and often receives so little in return.

Yet, life gets in the way, and after 10 years, I feel it’s time to pass the torch on to someone else. In my case, that someone else is Christopher Allen—the best torch-bearer I know—so SLQ will be in very good hands indeed. Of that, I have no doubts.

And this is more of a farewell than an all-out goodbye—I’m staying on as a consulting editor, so I’ll still be lurking about, causing trouble for everyone.

It’s been a true pleasure and honor to steer and grow this amazing publication over the last ten years, a journal that Dave Clapper—and later Randall Brown—built from the ground up and worked hard to establish a standard of excellence that I was only fortunate enough to inherit. Thank you all so much for reading our magazine and for entrusting us with your submissions. Our mission has always been to treat writers well, and I do hope we’ve been able to—and will continue to—do so.

So, farewell. But not goodbye!


I remind you that applications are open for the SmokeLong Fellowship (formerly that life-altering Kathy Fish Fellowship I mention above) until October 15. It is a rewarding and enriching experience, so don’t hesitate to throw your stories in the ring. We are excited to find our next Fellow!

Finally, please go read and fall in love with all the amazing stories in this issue. And make sure to check out the author interviews as well, to get an insider glimpse into the writing of these pieces and what’s next for the authors!

With love, always,

Tara Laskowski

Editor, SmokeLong Quarterly

About the Author:

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