SmokeLong Quarterly

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Business Unusual: A Letter from the Editor

Story by Christopher Allen March 23, 2020

I already work 100% online, so nothing much has changed for me–except my trip to Namibia has been canceled, my trip back to the US is in danger, the skin on my hands is peeling off because of all this sanitizing. Oh, and our gym closed yesterday, which we mourned with cookies and gin. Otherwise, it’s business as usual: my husband and I stuck in close quarters (usually a hotel room, but for now our home in Germany), getting all over each other’s nerves.

I’ve self-quarantined myself in my office since I was traveling a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been busy getting Issue 67 out, planning new workshops, even venturing into my own stories. I’m looking forward to a productive solitude. And I’m also looking forward to reading all the stories that come from other writers’ alone time. This is a perfect time to write, and lots of beautiful people online are there to support us. Kathy Fish and Nancy Stohlman are offering a prompt each day. Just follow one or both of them on Twitter, and you’ll find them.

Our current SmokeLong Quarterly Flash Fiction Workshop online has just finished, and we’re gearing up for the next one beginning at the end of April. This one is sold out, but if you’re interested in doing the July-August workshop, drop me an email at callen@smokelong.com and I’ll add you to the first-to-know mailing list.

Until May 24 we are considering entries in the SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction. On March 28 and 29, we will offer free entry to those of you who cannot afford the fee. Please use this opportunity only if you really need it. Maybe you have lost your income due to the pandemic? Maybe life wasn’t all that great even before the world began going into lockdown? We want everyone to have the opportunity of being considered for our 17th-anniversary competition issue, and we understand that for some people things aren’t going as usual.

And what words we have for you in Issue 67! It’s a stunner. As always, reading these stories and interviews gives me great pleasure. The stories in Issue 67 have made me cry and laugh and gasp. They are both timely and timeless, and we’re thrilled to be able to share them with the world. For two of these authors, SmokeLong is their first publication. We love being the first.

If you’re a creative writing instructor (and even if you’re not), have a look at Brendan Stephens’ essay on teaching compression as part of our series Flash in the Classroom. If you have a great idea about how to incorporate flash fiction into your own creative writing course, we’d love to hear it!

One last thing: We are giving some money to San Antonio Youth Literacy. If you want to help, all you need to do is buy a book and let us know. Find out more HERE.

If you’re a writer, keep writing the stories you need to tell the world. If you’re a reader, thank you. Readers are pretty.

Stay safe,


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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