SmokeLong Quarterly

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A Letter from the Editor (74)

Story by Christopher Allen December 20, 2021

I have so much to tell you. This year the SmokeLong staff have read nearly 12,000 submissions and have published 58 narratives–each one our favorite. We are also thrilled to have published 12 cuentos in the first three editions of SmokeLong en Español, which comes out each quarter the week before the usual issue.

Before we look at our plans for 2022, let’s get right to the funny stuff. Funny is hard. Funny is real hard. Funny is not even the same funny for everyone. Reading The SmokeLong Quarterly Comedy Prize entries was an amazing learning experience for all of the SmokeLong judges, an eclectic group from six countries. We vehemently discussed what was funny and what was not, and it was really quite rare that all the judges agreed. We are thrilled–and a bit frightened–to share our four winners with you.

Some of the other seven narratives in this issue employ shades of humor (if also dark at times): a child telling a classroom of children and her stunned teacher that all she wants to be when she grows up is dead, two guys flirting with roadkill jokes, a woman reviewing her life as a car, a group of people feeling that smile of relief when they find they’ve been fooled. Sometimes it’s the narrative voice that lends a humorous slant to a story, as in ‘Sweetie’ by J.V. Skuldt. And sometimes stories aren’t (meant to be) funny: a boy obsessed with conspiracy theories as he mourns the loss of his father and a young woman who refuses to bring a child into a world drowning in plastic. In the end, this issue is full of solid writing that shows what the flash narrative can do.

I’m always so grateful for the experience of SmokeLong. Everyone works so hard. I know I say this in every letter from the editor, but it needs to be said again and again. SmokeLong wouldn’t exist without the commitment our editors and readers demonstrate every single day. And this is why I’ve been working on channels to increase pay to editors and contributors. We have a long way to go, but at least we are on our way. When you pay for editor feedback at SmokeLong, all of your payment plus a few more dollars goes to the editor providing the feedback. Nearly 400 of you chose to receive feedback in 2021.

We are also thrilled that every single workshop we have offered since we began offering them has sold out. Thank you to the more than 200 workshop participants in 2021! We receive emails almost daily from you celebrating your published stories, and we are so happy for you! Interested in participating in a SmokeLong workshop? Send us an email to be added to our mailing list (editor@smokelong.com). If you are on this list, you will receive advance information about ‘A SmokeLong Summer‘–our thirteen-week workshop event in ’22. This superworkshop will also feature competitions open only to the workshop participants, discounts on one-week intensive workshops with killer workshop leaders as well as reduced-price senior editor feedback. We’ll be saying lots more about this over the next couple of months, so please watch our social media channels.

But for now, tuck into Issue 74. It will pull you every which way.


About the Author

Christopher Allen is the author of the flash fiction collection Other Household Toxins (Matter Press, 2018). His work has appeared in Flash Fiction America (Norton, 2023), The Best Small Fictions 2019 and 2022, Split Lip, Booth, PANK, and Indiana Review, among other very nice places. Allen has been the publisher and editor-in-chief of SmokeLong Quarterly since January 2020 and was the 2023 judge of the Bridport Prize for flash fiction. He and his husband are nomads.


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