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The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction 2024 — Q&A

January 31, 2024

We are thrilled to be celebrating the fourth biennial SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction. The reading period for this competition is February 1 to April 30. SmokeLong Quarterly will be closed to general submissions during this time though we will remain open for paid feedback submissions.

Do you have questions about the competition? Here are a few frequently asked questions answered by Christopher Allen, the publisher and EIC of SmokeLong. Do you have a question that’s not answered below? Send us an email: editor@smokelong.com

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What type of entries are you looking for?

SmokeLong Quarterly has published literary flash narratives for the last 20 years.  We’ve published a wide variety of work under 1000 words. We’re looking for compelling stories that are stunning and layered at the line level. Most of all though, we want to see honest work that feels fresh.

The best way to gain an impression of what makes a winning story is to read the journal. The last three special “SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction” issues are free to read. And they are also a joy to read.

Can you talk a bit about the judging process?

Our editorial process is anonymous. If the author’s name appears on the story document itself, it is disqualified. If judges recognize the work, because maybe they’ve seen it in a workshop, the judges recuse themselves and the entry is assigned to another judge. Two judges are assigned to each entry. If one of them votes yes or maybe, the entry continues in the process; if both judges vote no, the entry is respectfully declined immediately so that the story is not tied up for months.

The second round of judging involves the senior editors of SmokeLong and may take much longer, depending on when the narrative is entered into the competition. If we are taking more than 2 weeks, you can cautiously do a happy dance. You still might receive a rejection, but you can rest assured we are discussing your work. If you have entered multiple stories and have not heard back from us after 2 weeks, this means that at least one of your entries is still being considered. We cannot decline individual stories when multiple stories are entered together.

When will entrants be notified if they’re on the long list?

We plan to have a long list one week after the competition deadline (April 30). This is our plan. If 4000 people enter on the last day, we will need “a few” more days.

When should I enter this competition?

We know lots and lots of people enter at the last minute. This is fine. No matter when you enter, we will give your work the time and concentration it deserves. This having been said, please enter as soon as you’re ready and have received feedback from trusted readers. We make the competition fee a little cheaper during the first month to encourage people to get their entry or entries in. Even setting your competition entry alarm clock for April 15 would alleviate the last-minute entry madness. Thank you. Bless you.

Is formatting important?

Yes, but it’s not a dealbreaker. We’d prefer that you double space your entry and use a clear, dark font. Please don’t send us texts that involve odd spacing or line breaks.

I live in a country that doesn’t have or allow Paypal. Can I still enter?

If you win a monetary prize but live in a country where Paypal is not an option, we will work with you to transfer the funds.

My native language is not English. Can I enter this competition?

Of course. We consider work in any language as long as it’s accompanied by an English translation. This is an excellent opportunity for you to work with a translator. If you receive a monetary award from SmokeLong, this will be split equally between you and the translator. We would love to feature authors outside the Anglocentric world of flash, so please do give this a shot.

I want to enter multiple stories. How do I do this?

Multiple entries must all be in the same document. Please use the specific form for 2 or up to four entries.

My entry is 1004 words not including the title. Is this OK?

This is not OK. You need to delete those 4 words. Our word limit is 1000 words not including the title, and this word limit is very firm.

I screwed up. I put my name on my submission, or I entered 1 story when I’d meant to enter 4. Or I somehow got confused and entered a blank document, the wrong document, or a document with the track-changes edits from a friend. What do I do?

This happens to everyone at some point in their life. We’ll look at individual cases. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. We can’t promise that we’ll be able to right all wrongs, but we will do our best to respond graciously. Please also do your best to check and double check the document before you send it. Pro tip: submit sober.

Where can I read more?

HERE 

Where can I submit?

HERE

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Christopher Allen is the publisher and editor-in-chief of SmokeLong. He is the author of the flash fiction collection Other Household Toxins (Matter Press) and the satire Conversations with S. Teri O’Type. His work has been anthologized in Flash Fiction America (Norton), The Best Small Fictions, The Bath Flash Fiction Award anthologies, and SmokeLong Quarterly: the Best of the First Ten Years, among others. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in over 100 journals including Split Lip Magazine, Booth, Fictive Dream, and Indiana Review. Allen has judged The Bridport Prize (flash), The Bath Flash Fiction Award, and others. He is a nomad.

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The March Micro Marathon

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In March, we’re hosting a prompt-a-day marathon March 1-24! The March Micro Marathon is much more than a daily prompt event; it’s a peer-review workshop and three competitions. Book anytime in February. We can’t wait to write with you!