SmokeLong Quarterly

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Letter from the Editor 83

March 18, 2024

I have so much to tell you. Issue 83 is somewhat of a milestone. With the current issue we are introducing audio to SmokeLong, after 20 years. It took us a while. Please forgive us. Flash is meant to be heard, so we’re excited to offer this option.

Issue 83 contains five narratives. This is the smallest issue we’ve ever published. We’ve never restricted the number of pieces in an issue by any criterion apart from absolute love for the work. We usually end up with 8-10 pieces (out of 3000); this time we found five. And we love them all. Didi Wood has given us a COVID narrative we can get behind. Since COVID hit us, we’ve probably read a few thousand pandemic narratives in the queue. It’s such a hard topic to get right. Maya Jewell Zeller’s “Recipe” is an indictment, “A Case for Forbidden Words” by Ifreen Raveen a reminder that our world has always been caught up in cycles of cruelty, that behind every wall is another where someone is still hoping for freedom. Marguerite Sheffer’s “Jubilee” takes us to a post-apocalyptic world we might not have thought was possible until recently, and Sheffer does this with a deft and dark sense of comic timing. “Under the Rose” by Dana Brewer Harris is a personal story of a mother reluctantly finding her way back to her daughter. Each of these narratives does something compelling with the form, and we can’t wait for you to read them–and also listen to three of them.

If you’ve visted our Submittable page lately, you will have noticed that we are reading for The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction until April 30. This biennial (for now) award in its fourth year recognizes and compensates excellence in flash with the largest prize pot in the community: at least $4700.

SmokeLong Fitness, the year-round community workshop of SmokeLong is going strong with nearly 200 participants. If you’re thinking about participating in SmokeLong Fitness, we suggest starting with the “Try SmokeLong Fitness” two-month trial in the shop (offer ends March 31). Thank you so much to Helen Rye, who puts in countless hours making this workshop a fun and inspiring place to hang with the flash community. Thank you also to all the workshop leaders who bring their knowledge and passion to the workshop. And to our participants: your enthusiasm is the heart of the SmokeLong Fitness experience. Over the last year you’ve communally shared over 12,000 drafts and given more than 45,000 feedback responses to your group mates. We’ve all created something special. And—no matter what anyone says—we are not a cult.

We are in the last octet of The March Micro Marathon with 165 hardcore workshoppers drafting micros every day since March 1. We can’t wait to see where all these micros land. Some of them have already been accepted by journals, and nothing makes us happier.

Because we get several emails each day and we’re almost ready to announce this anyway: A SmokeLong Summer 24 is planned for June 3-August 4. If you are participating in SmokeLong Fitness, A SmokeLong Summer 24 is included at no extra charge. In the next few days we’ll be announcing all the various ways you can join in. It’s going to be hot.



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"Reading Your Work Like a Pro" with Farhana Khalique

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Are you nervous about reading your work aloud, or worried that you’ll ‘flatline’ or sound monotone? Join writer and voice over artist Farhana Khalique for this workshop, which includes tips on how to deal with nerves, how to ‘mark-up’ your story so it’s easier to read and hear, how to inject more energy and emotion into your performance, and more. We’ll also do writing and reading exercises to put the above into practice.