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SmokeLong Quarterly

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“Call and Response”—A Letter from the Editor

Story by Tara Laskowski March 20, 2017

I want to write a piece of flash inspired by this issue’s cover art.

It is such a provocative image. What happened? Did she just fall down an elevator shaft? Is she imprisoned? Is she safely, securely sleeping in a womb-like room? Is this an inner psyche? A worst nightmare? The possibilities are all there, swirling around like specks of snow, waiting to be taken upon the tongue. What would your story be?

Writing a story in response to a piece of art is not a new concept. Call and response projects have been around for a long time, and there’s a reason for that. They are fun, inspiring, and always revealing. That’s why I’m excited to work on a call and response show this year here in the Washington, D.C. area with artist friends Jeff Herrity and Jessica Kallista (Jessica created the art for Gwen Kirby’s story from this issue). We’re still mapping out all the details, but select stories from upcoming issues of SmokeLong will be assigned to artists for a response that will be published with the story. We will have an opening reception at a local gallery and are planning other exciting events as well. Stay tuned for more details in the upcoming months!

In the meantime, I’m excited to present you with our spring issue #55. This issue is full of stories about connections and disconnections, about families and couples who strive to connect and sometimes mess up, about the fragility of our communications and emotions. Our 2017 Kathy Fish Fellow, Allison Pinkerton, debuts here with a poignant story about a group of teenagers trying to relate to their aging grandmother. Kevin Hatch’s “Missed Connections” is a reflection on a relationship that could’ve been. “The Life Cycle of Salmon” and “Straight Lines” look at sisters in very different ways. Andrew Mitchell uses humor in a touching way in “Popcorn,” which explores the loss of a father, and JSP Jacobs shows us the devastating effect emotional and physical distance can have on families in “The Expected Passing of Elliot’s Wife.”

We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Stay warm, stay safe, and keep writing.

Tara Laskowski
Editor, SmokeLong Quarterly

About the Author

Tara Laskowski

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.

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A SmokeLong Summer

May 30-Aug 28!


From May 30 to August 28 2022, SmokeLong is going to host a superworkshop. We want to spend the summer with you, the flash community. Our workshops take place on a devoted website where you can create a profile, interact with the flash community, and take part in group discussions on craft, but A SmokeLong Summer will be much more.