I have so much to tell you. SmokeLong Quarterly will be 20 years old in 2023, so we’ve already started celebrating with our summer-long event A SmokeLong Summer. Two hundred and eighty flash writers have drafted so many stories in the first three weeks already, and at least a couple of these stories have already found homes. We have come a long way since Dave Clapper first had the idea to create an online journal devoted exclusively to the flash narrative. His vision was to provide a space that would always be free to read and free to submit to, and we are committed to maintaining this vision. We are committed to the flash community.
Issue Seventy-Six is eerily, almost entirely about parent-child relationships. Almost. Because we don’t plan things like themes. We simply–and always–publish the stories we fall in love with. Maybe this issue is a supportive missive to all our readers for whom Mother’s and Father’s Days are hard days. I definitely get it. As hundreds of millions of people around the world are celebrating PRIDE this month, I’m reaching out right now with a big hug to anyone who doesn’t feel supported and loved–but even more to those of you who are in physical danger because of who you are and who you love. I did not grow up with PRIDE; I grew up with SHAME. Though my experience is slightly different from the narratives written by Vincent Anioke and Nathan Xie in Issue 76, I share their identity as SON who lost something when he came out, as estranged child. I’m grateful for the relationship I now have with my parents, but it took decades. Not that I’m old. No one said I was old.
By coincidence we have a story entitled ‘Three Facts about You’ by K.S. Dyal and one entitled ‘3 Kinds of Lies’ by Kayla Rutledge. Both are compelling explorations of truths in their own ways but would be interesting read alongside each other. Both ‘The Pelican’ by Arlaina Tibensky and ‘Paradise Cut’ by Katie M. Zeigler treat the loss of a parent–an evergreen topic so difficult to write in a fresh and singular way–with deft precision at the line level. Stephanie Frazee’s ‘Conversation Topic’ is a remarkable one-sentence story that happens at the dinner table but also out there in the universe. And lastly, Alexsandr Kanevkiy’s ‘Upstream, Up!’ brings us the mysterious reappearance of an estranged father with a potential future as unsettling as an alien abduction.
I’ve read all these stories 10 times, and I think you should too. And then read what the author had to say about the process.
Thank you to the village of editors, interviewers, artists, and writers who’ve given so much to SmokeLong. Twenty years. We’re planning parties.
I hope you are all having a cooler June than I am. For those of you participating in A SmokeLong Summer, I can’t tell you enough how excited I am to see you creating. For those of you who are saying What the Hell is A SmokeLong Summer, you probably aren’t the person who gets to the end of a letter from editor either, so I guess I’ll be sending this into a black hole. You can find out more HERE, and you can still book the last two months if you book by June 25.