From the Editor — With Gratitude to Tara Laskowski

by Christopher Allen December 16, 2019

I have so much to tell you. As always. A quarter goes by, and so much happens. First, if Tara Laskowski published your work, gave you some great editing advice, championed you in any way while she was editor-in-chief of SmokeLong, give her a shout out. She gave nine years of her life to this journal and the flash community, only recently handing over the baton to me (and she’s still with us at SmokeLong to provide much needed advice). We are grateful for everything she’s done. Nine years. A lot has happened in Tara’s life since she won the Kathy Fish Fellowship almost a decade ago. One of those things is her third book, One Night Gone; and if you’re one of the first nine people to send me your physical mailing address (send to:, I’ll send you that book. Do that now and come back to read the rest of this letter. Tara, I know I speak for everyone at SmokeLong when I say you have been an inspiration to us all. And I’ll sing karaoke with you anytime. Any. Time.

Every time we publish an issue of SmokeLong Quarterly, I feel the need to thank a thousand people. We couldn’t get this thing done without the generosity of 17 editors and a group of dedicated interviewers and artists. We depend on their energy, thoughtfulness and experience to present something we’re very proud of.

Before I talk about the current issue, I know 12 of you are anxiously awaiting the announcement of our 2020 SmokeLong Fellow. We are in the final stages of choosing the fellow (fellx?). We have 12 amazing finalists, and they couldn’t have made it more difficult for us to choose just one. Look for this announcement very soon. Our process is blind, so if you’re a finalist please please please don’t mention this on social media. Our editors are still worrying over each application.

Unusual for SmokeLong, Issue 66 focuses almost entirely on the real. Even the issue’s one piece of magic realism, “Mother,” is about the real toll motherhood can take. I’m sure this has happened before, but Issue 66 has seven stories about mothers, from childbirth to deathbed. We never consciously create an issue around a theme, but they almost always happen. Since flash fiction tends to be character driven, we do end up with a lot of stories about families and relationships in general. It’s so difficult to write something that feels new or defamiliarizing when it comes to a subject as done-to-death as the family. All this to say, bravi to the twenty-one writers in this issue who managed to do something innovative, profound, and/or downright stunning with the word count.

Finally, in 2020 we will be making a few minor changes. Nothing radical (we’re not going to change our name to SipLong Quarterly or start publishing poetry). One of these changes has already been completed. We now offer a reader tip jar. If you love the stories you read at SmokeLong, please consider sending the journal a few dollars through the link at the bottom of each page. It’s down there minding its own business. Reading and general submissions to SmokeLong will always be free.

And finally finally, writers, I hope you’re working on your entry/entries to The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction. We open for entries in February.

I hope Issue 66 inspires you.


About the Author:

Christopher Allen is the author of the flash fiction collection Other Household Toxins (Matter Press). His fiction has appeared in The Best Small Fictions, Split Lip Magazine, Lunch Ticket, Booth, and lots of other fine places. He is the editor of SmokeLong Quarterly.