Elizabeth Eslami: Guest Editor for November 17th – November 23rd

Elizabeth Eslami, Author of HibernateElizabeth Eslami is the author of the story collection, Hibernate, for which she was awarded the 2013 Ohio State University Prize in Short Fiction, and the acclaimed novel Bone Worship (Pegasus, 2010). Her essays, short stories, and travel writing have been published widely, most recently in The Literary Review, The Sun, and Witness, and her work is featured in the anthologies Tremors: New Fiction By Iranian American Writers and Writing Off Script: Writers on the Influence of Cinema. She’s a Visiting Lecturer in the Creative Writing Program at Indiana University.

Two recent examples of stories by Elizabeth are “Hibernators” from the Minnesota Review and “Sour Milk” from Fifty-Two Stories.

And two flash pieces Elizabeth has recently read and admired are: “Say” by Joe Wilkins and “Restoration Efforts Underway” by Chase Burke.

Elizabeth is looking for the following in this week’s stories: “Compression, movement, maximum dramatic impact, an anchoring voice, and language that glimmers. Each word should be essential. I want the brevity to contribute to the emotional wallop. And that last sentence must gut me.”

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Rebecca King: Guest Editor for November 10th – November 16th

RebeccaKing_picRebecca King is a writer, editor, and podcast producer living in the Midwest. She is the founding editor of Origami Zoo Press and received her MFA from Chatham University. Her stories have appeared in many journals including Necessary Fiction, Smokelong Quarterly, Corium Magazine, A-Minor Magazine, and others. She can be found on Twitter as @AlwaysRaking

An example of a flash story she’s written is “Lot’s Wife” from our 42nd Issue.

Two flash pieces that Rebecca really admires are: “What We Understand to Be Ghosts” by Andy Myers and “Miracle” by Chad Simpson.

Some thoughts Rebecca has on flash fiction: “No deal breakers that I can think of, but I do have a penchant for magical realism (as you can probably tell from my story choices above). That being said, all good magical realism, and all good stories in general for that matter I think, are rooted deeply in human emotion and experience. I like to be moved by what I’m reading.”

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Moments of Grace ~ from Dani Shapiro

by Kathy Fish, reprinted with permission from her blog.

still-writing-by-dani-shapiro1Here, in Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, Dani Shapiro speaks of flawed, unpredictable, risk-taking, rule-breaking prose (my favorite kind):

“These instances of creative daring are moments of grace. They are moments when we get out of our own way. They break the rules, and break them beautifully. They arrive with no fanfare, but there is no mistaking them. They glide past our hesitation, our resistance, layers of reasons why we can’t, we mustn’t, we shouldn’t. They are accompanied by an almost childlike thrill. Why not, the whole universe seems to whisper: Why not now? Why not you? What’s the worse thing that can happen?”

I admit I’m reading and rereading this book like a bible. Somewhere along the line, I got in my own way, I think. I stopped taking the sort of thrilling chances that made writing such a blast for me. It started to matter too much what other people thought. Now, I’m writing things and not sending them out and not sharing them in an attempt to get back to that. I’m having fun again. I’m getting out of my own way.


So we asked Kathy, “What stories have you written that you consider riskier?”

Her answers: There’s “Snow” which appeared originally in print in New South. I published it on Fictionaut and it was showcased there by Susan Tepper. I took a risk in this one in that it was all one paragraph (on Fictionaut, I set one sentence off by its own). This story and a 500 word one-sentence story were actually both published by New South, so they must like weird forms there.  Here is the link: “Snow” by Kathy Fish — Fictionaut

Another one is “Petunias” which was originally published in print in Sleepingfish, but our own Randall Brown reprinted it on the FlashFiction.net site. And it’s just strange because there’s no hint of a plot, I was going more for rhythm and tone, I guess. Here is the link: “Petunias”  or if that link doesn’t work, it’s also on Fictionaut: “Petunias” by Kathy Fish — Fictionaut

“Rodney & Chelsea” is a segmented flash, with subtitles (a lot of people are doing this sort of thing now though) but I like it. It was originally published in Mississippi Review online, but then all that stuff got migrated to the New World Writing archives, so here’s the link: Blip Magazine Archive

“Movement” is just so weird. I really like it and Joseph Young used it when guest editing for Everyday Genius. And it’s just all language and surreality: Everyday Genius: Kathy Fish

“Still They Hear What They Want to Hear” in Corium: Corium Magazine » Kathy Fish

And lastly, for now, a more recent story, “The Blue of Milk” which felt really scary to publish for some reason, but I loved writing it. And it was nominated for Best of the Net. The problem with this link is that you have to scroll down to find my story, but it’s there: the blue collection 4: collaboration (Winter 2013/ 13.24)


Kathy Fish has joined the faculty of the Mile-High MFA at Regis University in Denver. She will be teaching flash fiction. Her stories have been published or is forthcoming in The Lineup: 25 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press, 2014, Richard Thomas (ed.), Slice, Guernica, Indiana Review, Mississippi Review online, Denver Quarterly, New South, Quick Fiction, and various other journals and anthologies. She was the guest editor of Dzanc Books’ “Best of the Web 2010.” She is the author of three collections of short fiction: a chapbook of flash fiction in the chapbook collective, “A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women” (Rose Metal Press, 2008), “Wild Life” (Matter Press, 2011) and “Together We Can Bury It” available now from The Lit Pub. She has been a fiction editor for Smokelong Quarterly and judged a number of flash fiction contests. She has taught flash fiction to high school students at American University’s Discover the World of Communication summer program.

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Richard Lee: Guest Editor for November 3rd – November 10th

Richard Lee

Richard Lee, SmokeLong Quarterly’s Guest Editor for November 3rd through November 10th.

Richard Lee is Professor of English at the State University of New York College at Oneonta, where he teaches courses in world literatures, linguistics and critical theory. He received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from Rutgers University in 2000, and he is co-editor of two editions of The Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Short-Story Writers since WWII (series 3 & 5). Other publications include a monograph on globalization and sociolinguistics, articles on theoretical issues in fiction, and on authors such as Barry Hannah and George Saunders. He has presented research on flash fiction as recently as 2014 at a conference on short fiction held in Vienna, Austria.

Richard’s thoughts on successful flash fiction:

The flash fiction that excites me most unfolds in my mind because the flash implies some form of a temporal element, a conflict or quandary, and some ambiguity about what we might loosely refer to as “plot.” I don’t need or expect hints of plot in the standard sense of a beginning, middle and end, but I like the implication that those might exist—or that multiples might co-exist in what is implied in the flash. I like the germ of story complications in what author and anthologizer Robert Swartwood has termed “hint fiction.” I also respect prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler’s comment that the very best flash or micro, etc., fiction always involves some aspect of yearning—desire, striving, or expectation achieved or dashed. I think that flash fiction should be more than a witty saying or an epigram, though such things might reach the status of flash if they strove to be more than mere wit. I general, I want a piece to make me stop, think and then wonder—in awe of options and a story world contained in the kernel!

Links to some Flash Fiction that Richard really admires: http://www.buzzfeed.com/kimberlywang/17-flash-fiction-stories-you-can-read-right-now

Here’s a story that Richard has recently read that he thinks exemplifies the four criteria SLQ lists as it guidelines/principles/things to consider prior to submission:”Egocentric Orbit” by John Cory

And here’s a piece of shorter fiction that Richard loves: “Incarnations of Burned Children” by David Foster Wallace:

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Jacinda Townsend: Guest Editor for October 20 – October 26

Gides_Jacinda_PP-1005-(ZF-10165-89257-1-001)(2)Jacinda Townsend is the author of Saint Monkey (W.W. Norton, 2014).  A native of Southcentral Kentucky, she is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has also published nonfiction and short fiction in numerous literary magazines and anthologies.  She teaches at Indiana University and lives in Bloomington with two beautiful children, and is currently working on a novel set in Morocco.

Here’s a link to a story by Jacinda: “April 2007; Essaouira, Morocco.” A flash piece that Jacinda has recently read and admired is “The Sleeping of the Stones or Mae and Her White Teeth” by Cameron Brindise.

And here are her thoughts on what she’s looking for in a successful submission: Seduce me with your beautiful language but seal the deal with your understanding of character.  You need not try to impress me with literary allusions; just be who you are, with your own quirky, original voice.  Convince me that you are doing a new dance in this vast literary ballroom in which we’re all standing.  Offer me an ending that makes me connect with humanity rather than plot.

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This Week’s Guest Editor: Sara Lippmann

IMG_0199 - Version 2  Sara Lippmann is the author of the story collection Doll Palace. Her stories have been published in The Good Men Project, Wigleaf, Slice magazine, Tupelo Quarterly, Joyland and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2012 fellowship in Fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts and co-hosts the Sunday Salon, a longstanding reading series in the East Village. For more, visit: saralippmann.com.
And here are two flash stories that Sara has recently read and admired: “An August in the Early 2000′s” by Emma Smith-Stevens. And “Moro” by Kathy Fish.
What Sara loves  about flash fiction is how it requires you to do more with less. Compression forces decisions on structure, narrative and language; it demands selectivity and precision. Commit to your work. Get in, get out. Keep it honest. Startle me, unnerve me, cut to the heart of what matters. Be merciless. Make your words count. Above all: Tell me an unforgettable story.
Please note that Sara is only accepting blind submissions this week. Do not put your name or contact information on your submission. Please still write a cover letter; Sara won’t be able to see any of the information in the cover letters attached to the submissions until after she’s picked her story for the week.
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Leigh Allison Wilson: Guest Editor for the Week of October 6 – October 12


Leigh Allison Wilson is the author of two collections of stories, one of which won The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Her prose has appeared in The Georgia Review, Grand Street, Harper’s, The Kenyon Review, Smokelong Quarterly, The Southern Review and elsewhere.  She lives in upstate New York.

 A link to one of her stories: “The Five Different Ways They Died”

A piece of flash she really enjoys: “That’s Him! That’s the Guy!” by Dan Chaon

What she’s looking for in this week’s submissions: My idea is that good flash fiction is like a good gift.  Once we begin to unwrap it—say, by reading the first sentence—we can’t stop until the whole thing is before us.  Oddly, the act of unwrapping only increases our desire to unwrap; as we progress, words strewn like paper in our wake, we already want to begin again, to keep the experience happening.  Nevertheless we come to the end, all anticipation spent, the desire re-desired, and we get the gift.  There’s an almost perfect moment of gratification and surprise and fulfillment.  We did not anticipate this gift, could not have given it to ourselves, could not have imagined the emotions produced by it.  It took someone else’s genius to please us in quite this curious way.  And we won’t forget it.  We simply will never forget it.

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