This Week’s Reader: Matthew Brennan

Matthew Brennan is a writer, editor, translator, and blogger from the Pacific Northwest. His fiction has earned a variety of awards and fellowships, and more than sixty of his short stories and literary translations have appeared in journals such as SmokeLong Quarterly, Emerge Literary Journal, The Citron Review, The Los Angeles Review, Two Lines, and Superstition Review. He earned his MFA in fiction from Arizona State University. Online, Matthew can be found at or @MatthewBrennan7.
What Matthew is looking for:
What I’m looking for in flash is world-building and nuance. The best flash will do a little of both for me. Here are links to two of my stories that are examples of each: 
World-building: “The Fire Keeper” (page 23)
Nuance: “The Water Is Wide
A deal-breaker:
 A boring first sentence or an unearned twist or surprise ending.
Posted in Weekly Guest Editors | Leave a comment

This Week’s Reader–An Tran

An Tran’s fiction and non-fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in the Southern Humanities Review, Gargoyle Magazine, the Carolina Quarterly, the Good Men Project, and Eclectica Magazine, among others, and has received a “Notable” distinction from the Best American series. He is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte and lives in Arlington, VA.
One of An’s stories:
And a flash he really enjoys:
Some thoughts on flash fiction:
I think the magic of flash fiction is the ability to say, in very few lines, something large, expansive, universal. By the end of a piece, each sentence comes alive in a new way like cells in mitosis, a multitude of meanings splitting from single strings of sound. The narrative momentum is found in the spaces adjacent to the words themselves; the story itself is stillness. A flat piece of flash fiction might move within the text, but has neglected the form’s power to manipulate space and time around it.
Posted in Weekly Guest Editors | Leave a comment

This Week’s Reader: Matthew Norman


Matthew Norman is the author of the novel Domestic Violets, which was nominated in the Best Humor category in the 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards. He lives outside Baltimore with his wife and two daughters and is currently working on another novel.

“Miss November,” A Story by Matthew Appears In:

Forty Stories,  a Harper Perennial collection

Matthew’s Taste

I love humor in writing. Not all stories can be funny—nor should they be—but I’m most attracted to fiction that has threads of humor. Richard Russo and Jess Walter are perfect examples of writers who balance humor and “serious” very well.

A Deal Breaker:

A deal breaker for me is overwriting. The older I get, the more infuriating I find it. Less is more.

Posted in Weekly Guest Editors | Leave a comment

This Week’s Reader: Matthew Dexter


Like the nomadic Pericú natives before him, Matthew Dexter survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of shrimp tacos, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine. He is the author of the novel, THE RITALIN ORGY (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, 2013). His flash fiction and narrative nonfiction has been published in hundreds of literary journals and dozens of anthologies. Thousands of articles sold for fish tacos. He is the memoir editor at Split Lip Magazine and reads submissions for PANK. He lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

A Flash of Matthew’s:

Restraining Order

A Flash He Really Likes:

Steady Hands At Seattle General” by Denis Johnson

Deal Breaker:

A “deal breaker” would be a piece that does not take any risks. Please don’t be afraid to write poetry between the lines. Also, something riddled with simple grammar errors and pervasive typos at the expense of the narrative. Be experimental; but proofread with bloodshot sclarae. Write fearless—with no remorse or regret—but edit that thing to beautiful death.

Posted in Weekly Guest Editors | Leave a comment

This Week’s Reader: Angela Readman

Style: "gt 2"About:

Angela Readman’s stories have won The National Flash Fiction Competition, and The Costa Short Story Award. Her work has appeared in several journals online and in print, including Smokelong Quarterly, Gigantic Sequins. The Asham Award anthology, The Bristol Short Story prize anthology and Unthology 5. Her story collection, Don’t Try This at Home is out in 2015 with & Other Stories.

A Story by Angela:

The Honey Gatherers”

What Angela Likes in Flash:

I love stories that do something to me. The language in a story can wake me up,  characters can make me consider something I haven’t before, or confirm something we all know in a way that surprises me. A  deal breaker for me is a last line that makes the story seem like a joke or adds a twist that makes me feel cheated. I’m looking forward to reading your stories. I know I won’t be disappointed.

Posted in Weekly Guest Editors | Leave a comment

This Week’s Reader: John Copenhaver

John CopenhaverAbout:

John Copenhaver chairs the English department at Flint Hill School, an independent high school outside of Washington, DC. His novel manuscript Dodging and Burning placed as a quarterfinalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. He attended Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2012 and 2013, and Tin House in 2013. In 2011 he was a fellow in genre fiction at the Lambda Writers Retreat. He graduated with his MFA from George Mason, where he edited the literary magazine Phoebe. He has published in regional journals, including Timber Creek Review and The Roanoke Review, and was first runner-up in the F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story Contest and Narrative Magazine Winter Story Contest, 2014. His blog is called Talking the Walk.

A Flash He Admires:

Hannah Bottamy’s “Currents.”

One of John’s Stories:

 “The Fledgling”

Deal Breaker: 

“Please no purple prose. Have a vivid, textured, and authentic voice, but be clear and concrete.  Remember, your job as a writer is to communicate, not obfuscate.”

Posted in Weekly Guest Editors | Leave a comment

New England Flash Contest–Brattleboro Literary Festival

Is there any better place to be than New England in early Fall? SmokeLong Quarterly is teaming up with the Brattleboro Literary Festival to host a flash fiction contest and reading at the festival, held in early October in Brattleboro, Vermont.

You could read here! Downtown Brattleboro, VT.

You could read here! Downtown Brattleboro, VT.

Stories of 1000 words or less about New England or from writers living in New England are welcome. Submissions will be open from July 1-31, 2014 on SmokeLong‘s Submittable page (please submit under the Brattleboro Literary Festival Flash Fiction Contest category). The winner will be invited to read at the Flash! reading at the festival on October 4, 2014 in Brattleboro, Vermont, with authors Pamela Painter, Tara Laskowski, Jeffrey Friedman, Leslie Jamison, Ann Hood and Tim Horvath.

In addition, the chosen story will be published in the September issue of SmokeLong Quarterly, and the winning author will be given a copy of SmokeLong Quarterly: The Best of the First Ten Years.

We are very excited that the winning story will be chosen by contest judge Pamela Painter. Pamela’s third story collection is all flash fiction, titled Wouldn’t You Like to Know. Her stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Harper’s, Narrative, Ploughshares and SmokeLong Quarterly, among others, and reprinted in numerous anthologies, such as Sudden Fiction, Flash Fiction, Flash Fiction Forward, Microfiction, Stripped, Sudden Flash Youth and Flash Fiction Funny. She is also the co-author of What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers. She has won three Pushcart Prizes and Agni Review’s The John Cheever Award for Fiction. Painter lives in Boston and teaches in the Emerson College MFA Program.

There is no entry fee. One entry per writer, please. Winners will be announced in late August. The winning author will need to provide his or her own transportation to the festival. Previously unpublished work only. No simultaneous submissions, please.

Submit here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment