SmokeLong Quarterly

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Letter from the Editor–A SmokeLong Summer

Story by Christopher Allen September 19, 2022

I have so much to tell you. This summer we began the celebrations toward our 20th year publishing SmokeLong Quarterly, kicking it off with a three-month superworkshop hosting 300 participants: 250 in the main peer-review workshop, 35 who received only the writing tasks in their email, and around 15 who participated only in one or two of the nine intensive weeks with star workshop leaders. We lost a few participants along the way, but even at the end of the summer we had 15 small groups of around 12 participants sharing their drafts in the main peer-review workshop. There were even a few participants who managed to write a draft for each of the 60 writing tasks. Those who chose to give feedback at the end of the summer called the workshop “transformative”, “game-changing”, and “nuts! What the Hell did I just do?” A few who dropped out fairly quickly noted “not the way I write”, “I don’t have time for this”, and “COVID”. We hope everyone who participated gained something from the experience. We also hope, seriously, that everyone who fell ill this summer has recuperated. I was also quite ill there for a few weeks.

As a group we drafted more than 1500 narratives, quite a few of which will have a pack of Sweet-N-Low™ in them—in case some editors are scratching their heads, wondering why Sweet-N-Low™ is suddenly such a popular object.

As part of A SmokeLong Summer, we ran several competitions. We awarded “Star Reviewer” prizes of $200 to Josh Jones, Keith Hood, and Amy Foster Myer. If you ever have the opportunity to workshop with these people, you’ll see why they were selected by their peers in A SmokeLong Summer to win this award. Over fifty people, though, were nominated by their peers. We were thrilled to have so many dedicated reviewers this summer.

The winners of the CNF, Fiction, and Micro competitions are Rebecca Fishow, Dawn Miller, and Shareen Murayama respectively. Their stellar work is included in this special issue, and they each received $500. We are also delighted to present 15 additional narratives from the summer in this issue.

On occasion, contributors donate their honorarium back to SmokeLong, which is very cool and very much appreciated. Donations help us pay writers, editors, artists, and reviewers. They also help us provide free workshop places to writers who can’t afford to participate. In A SmokeLong Summer we were very happy to provide 9 free places. All money contributors donated back from this special issue has been given to Live, Write, an organization founded by Venita Blackburn that provides workshops free of charge to communities/writers of color.

Enjoy this hefty issue.


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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From sentence-level craft concerns to questions of overall approach, this 90-minute webinar will explore strategies for adding shape, intensity, and depth to your flash creative nonfiction.

Steve Edwards is author of the memoir BREAKING INTO THE BACKCOUNTRY, the story of his seven months as caretaker of a 95-acre backcountry homestead along federally protected Wild and Scenic Rogue River in Oregon. His work has appeared in Orion MagazineThe Sun MagazineLiterary HubElectric LiteratureThe Rumpus, and elsewhere. He lives outside Boston with his wife and son.