SmokeLong Quarterly

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“There is Still Light Here” — A Letter from the Editor

Story by Christopher Allen December 21, 2020

Is there a word for every feeling? No beauty without disaster? Is it easier to love a wild thing? Issue seventy is full of unanswered and often unanswerable questions–and it’s a stunner. Formatting these stories and interviews is always a highlight of my quarter. Especially the interviews. By the time I proofread the stories for publication, I’ve read them many times already; but the interviews are like this amazing gift a few weeks before the issue comes out. They are always full of insight into the craft of flash narrative, and I’m so grateful to the interviewers and our interviews editor, Michael Czyzniejewski, for putting their souls into this integral part of SmokeLong.

In December 2016, Tara Laskowski chose a cover for our quarterly issue that depicted a solitary light in an otherwise dark parking lot. This was to symbolize a light still on in the US. We–and I’m speaking mainly for the “we” here at SmokeLong–were pretty down then. You might have been feeling the same pall of mourning, despair, gloom. Fury? But four years later we are still here and, yes, full of hope for the future. Our cover today, with art by Chaniviro, is sparkly.

It’s news to no one that 2020 has been rough. But it’s also been full. SmokeLong has been busier than ever. So many exciting things are happening. It is such a privilege to work with my colleagues at SmokeLong.

We are especially proud of our SmokeLong Fellow, María Alejandra Barrios, who will be staying at SmokeLong as a submissions editor for the time being (we have big plans). SmokeLong is growing. We’ve invited several of our Readers in Residence to stay on as submissions editors. Farhana Khalique, Tim Craig, Jemimah Wei, and Zainab Omaki are continuing to read and comment on stories, and we are so grateful.

We are just finishing up our first year of SmokeLong workshops and are busy planning for 2021. The January-February flash CNF workshop is sold out, but we will be announcing our plans for April-May soon. If you’d like to be on our workshop mailing list, send us a request at editors@smokelong.com.

In keeping with the SmokeLong vision to compensate editors, we started offering feedback through our Submittable queue a few months ago. In December, we are offering our feedback at half price but paying the editors full price (a holiday gift for everyone brought to you by writer maths). The response has been amazing. We’ll have to dig deep into the SLQ coffers this holiday season, but I hope we’ll have to dig even deeper. If you are a writer and you want feedback on a story under 1000 words from an experienced flash-narrative editor, you have until December 31 to get this feedback at half price. Prices will return to their normal, very reasonable amounts on January 1.

And here’s a big announcement: We are thrilled to announce The SmokeLong Quarterly Grand Micro Competition 2021. We will consider entries under 400 words from March 1 to May 16, and our June issue will be a double issue containing all the finalists and winners of this competition alongside our usual offerings.  Grand prize: $1500. Look for details soon.


But for now, have a look inside Issue 70. It’s all sparkly.

— Christopher

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. A regular workshop leader for the UK flash fiction festival, 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

Beginning September 1, 2022! Register Now!

Starting September 1, SmokeLong will launch a workshop environment/community christened SmokeLong Fitness. This asynchronous community workshop will happen on our dedicated workshop site. You will work in small groups of around 10 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.