SmokeLong Quarterly

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Letter from the Editor: Decisions Decisions

Story by Christopher Allen June 21, 2021

I have so much to tell you. The long road of the last few months has finally brought us here to this stunning, eclectic group of 24 stories with this amazing cover by Anne Siems. Thank you to the dozens of editors and readers in residence who contributed to the selection of the 12 main pieces of flash in issue 72.

Alongside our usual—yet rare—narratives, issue 72 includes the 12 finalists of the SmokeLong Grand Micro Contest (The Mikey). Thirteen of our editors from seven countries participated in the reading, commenting, and voting on over 1700 entries. Each entry was read by at least two judges, the finalists by at least six. Decisions were hard. Congratulations to all the writers on The Mikey long- and shortlist. We read lots of amazing work. Making it to these lists was already a win.

In the end, we did in fact reach a decision on the ‘winners’ of The Mikey. Choosing the top three was a little like choosing a favorite child (impossible), but here goes:

First Place: ‘Undergrowth’ by Melissa Bowers

Second Place: ‘Don’t Be Alarmed’ by Gabriel Houck

Third Place: ‘Too Long Under Water’ by Emily Devane

I just let out a sigh I’ve been holding in for weeks. This decision was so hard. We love all 12 of our finalists. We loved them so much that we published them. We can’t say enough how thrilled we are that talented writers keep sending their work to us. Thank you.

Last week you might have noticed a radical change at SmokeLong. A few months ago we decided to do something new (for us). Since its inception 18 years ago, SmokeLong has always reached beyond the US-Americanness of the literary journal. Dave Clapper envisaged a journal that be truly global. A few years ago, in this spirit, I created the SmokeLong Global Flash Series. We published stories in German, French, Danish, Kiswahili, Mandarin, Hebrew, Filipino, and Spanish accompanied by an English translation. Now, we have set off on a new adventure: providing a paid market to writers in Spanish: flash in Spanish for readers of Spanish. The result is SmokeLong in Español, edited by María Alejandra Barrios.

And there’s more.

Last year, we began working with Roshan Learning Center in Jakarta Indonesia to offer creative writing workshops to young refugee women and girls. Roshan provides long-term education solutions to refugees, helping them get their GED or preparing them for university. We’re excited and honored to be working with them. Several of our editors have already given workshops, and we have published several of the participants’ work on our blog. If you want to donate to this cause, you can do so through the tip-jar option on Submittable, the donate button on smokelong.com, or you can give to Roshan directly.

Before you head off to read the 24 stories in issue 72, here’s a massive virtual hug. Thank you so much for reading SmokeLong over the last 18 years. We are gearing up for our 20-year celebration. We’ll have to do something crazy, right? Keep up with our social media channels to find out what we’re planning for 2023.

Enjoy the issue,


About the Author

Christopher Allen is the author of the flash fiction collection Other Household Toxins (Matter Press, 2018). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Flash Fiction America (Norton, 2023), in The Best Small Fictions 2019, 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. He and his husband are nomads.


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SmokeLong Fitness--The Community Workshop

Next Date to Join: January 1!

On September 1, SmokeLong launched a workshop environment/community christened SmokeLong Fitness. This asynchronous community workshop is happening right now on our dedicated workshop site. If you choose to join us, you will work in a small group of around 10-12 participants to give and receive feedback. Each Monday, you will receive a new writing task (one writing task each week) designed by the senior editor team of SmokeLong. The core workshop is asynchronous, so you can take part from anywhere at anytime. We are excited about creating a supportive, consistent and structured environment for flash writers to work on their craft in a community.