Staff Reading Weeks

For the next three weeks, all SmokeLong submissions will be read by permanent staff editors and readers.  Stories accepted will appear in SmokeLong Quarterly Issue 47 slated to come out in March 2015.

Stories that have recently been selected from all staff reads are:

The easiest way to know what we’re looking for is to read the guidelines. We’re excited to read your work!

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Alan Orloff Guest Edits SmokeLong December 8th – December 14th

Alan Orloff, SmokeLong Guest Editor for December 8th -14thAlan Orloff’s debut mystery, DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD (Midnight Ink), was a 2010 Agatha Award Finalist for Best First Novel. He’s written two books in the Last Laff mystery series, KILLER ROUTINE and DEADLY CAMPAIGN, and writing as his darker half Zak Allen, he’s published three books: THE TASTE, FIRST TIME KILLER, and RIDE-ALONG. His latest novel, RUNNING FROM THE PAST, will be released later this month from Kindle Press (via the Kindle Scout program). He served on the editorial committee to select stories for the anthology Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays. He can be followed/stalked on Facebook ( and Twitter (@alanorloff).

He loves arugula and cake, but not together. Never together.

Two Flash Fiction Stories Alan has recently read and admired are “The Age of Discovery” by Jason Peck and “Bonnie and Clyde” by Lia Mitchell

What is Alan looking for? In a word: voice. I’ll know it when I see it. When I hear it. When I feel it. In other words, just wow me with your distinctive voice.
Although I read a lot in the crime genre, I’m open to pretty much anything, genre-wise.
As far as dealbreakers go, stay away from second-person POV pieces and no one will get hurt.

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SmokeLong Toasts: Avital Gad-Cykman’s Flash Collection

Congratulations to former SLQ contributor Avital Gad-Cykman, whose collection Life In, Life Out, featuring the story “Fire. Water.” from SmokeLong Quarterly Issue 6, has been published by Matter Press for Compressed Creative Arts.

Life-In-Life-OutFrom the publisher: “This spirited collection of flash fiction deals with war and resistance, parenthood and childhood, passion and longing. There’s the slant of exile in it, as it reflects the author’s situation: an Israeli, living in Brazil and writing in English. These thirty-four stories have been published in places like W.W. Norton’s Flash International Anthology, Los Angeles Review, Salon, and Prism International. Avital’s work has also appeared in Glimmer Train, McSweeney’s Quarterly, and Michigan Quarterly Review.”


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Sarah Meltzer Guest Edits December 1st – December 7th

Sarah Meltzer Wearing Awesome Glasses and Getting Ready to Guest Edit SmokeLong Quarterly December 1st- December 7thSarah Meltzer lives in Chicago, where she organizes the Wit Rabbit reading series. She is still looking for the notebook she left by the Logan Square book depository some time in 2008. Her first print publication was a thank-you letter that appeared on the record jacket of a Raffi album, circa 1986. Two decades later, she received her MFA in fiction from George Mason University and now writes stories about breathing through small fires and large deaths. She is still looking for the notebook she left by the Logan Square book depository some time in 2008, and has been known to leave on tables love letters to people she doesn’t know.

Two flash fiction pieces Sarah has recently read and admired are: Barbara Harroun’s Blood Proof published in Requited and Tim Horvath’s “The Other Work” in Wigleaf.

To consider when submitting for Sarah’s week: “In fiction, few things are absolute dealbreakers for me. I’m not a fan of moralizing or of incomplete narrative sandwiched into tidy opening and closing lines. In the short-form, I think the first-person progressive is really difficult to pull off without turning language into distraction. There are always exceptions, though. Most of the big no-no rules are things authors already know; when I see anyone breaking these rules, I usually presume an intentional rebellion (whether or not it’s successful).

What I’m looking for in an ideal submission: Tangibility, if I had to choose one word. I want the narrative to be immediate and impossible to forget. But I want to be grateful that I remember it – I don’t want it to simply be stuck in my head. One of the most perfect pieces of flash fiction I’ve read is Elissa Cahn’s On Behalf of the Class (which you may remember appearing in SmokeLong last year). There is kindness in the story without the author even trying; nothing is overwritten and yet, no angle of it feels incomplete. Maybe after typing the last few sentences, I might have to change my one word to sincerity but only if an author can pull that off without sounding as hackneyed as I just did. I think I’d like to see pieces from writers who can make my heart hurt without forcing the form.”

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Announcing our 2014 Pushcart Prize Nominations

SmokeLong Quarterly has nominated the following six stories for this year’s Pushcart anthology:

Doubles” by Stephen Mills

Flicker” by Erin Armstrong

White Guys Are All the Same” by Thaddeus Gunn

A Question of Balance” by Margot Taylor

In Which a Truck Driver Parked at a Rest Stop Outside of La Grange Experiences Trauma-Related Erectile Dysfunction” by Vincent Scarpa

Salvador Dalí Eyes” by Douglas Campbell

Congratulations and good luck to our nominees!

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Gay Degani: Guest Editor November 24th – November 30th

Gay Degani: SmokeLong Quarterly Guest Editor & Staff Editor

Gay Degani

Gay Degani’s suspense novel What Came Before is available in trade paperback and e-book formats. She is founder and editor-emeritus of EDF’s Flash Fiction Chronicles, content editor at Smokelong Quarterly, and blogs at Words in Place where a complete list of her published work can be found. She’s had three stories nominated for Pushcart consideration and won the 11th Annual Glass Woman Prize. She has written a suspense novella, The Old Road, as part of Pure Slush’s 2014-A Year in Stories project and is working on the prequel to What Came Before.

Here are three stories by Gay:

  •  “Appendages”  (Nominated for Pushcart consideration by Atticus Review)
  • Oranges” (Nominated for Pushcart consideration by Every Day Fiction)
  • Complicit” (Smokelong Quarterly)

And here are some of Gay’s favorite stories published in SmokeLong:

Deal breaker for Gay’s Week: Stories that are unfinished.  The writer gets to the end of the story and in the flush creative euphoria, he/she submits immediately. This is not a good policy. Like bread, stories need to rest to rise.  They need to be set aside if only for a couple hours. They need to be questioned: Is my character unique? What does my character want? What stands in his/her way? What does he/she fear? What quality does the character have that will help her win or lose the prize? Is the setting specific? Have I painted a picture in the reader’s mind to anchor the story? Is my first paragraph clear? Does it hint at the story to come in some provocative way? Is everything in the first paragraph do a job: such as set up the “who what when where why and how” of the story in some small way?  Will the reader believe it? What emotion do I, the writer, feel about the ending? What impact could the ending have on the reader? Have I looked for patterns and motifs that will strengthen and deepen impact? Is everything that needs to be clear, crystal? Have I searched for excessive words, excised unnecessary prepositional phrases, adverbs? Have I used precise and specific words throughout the story? Have I read the story aloud and made necessary changes?  Have I polished? Have I proof-read?

Yes.  This is a lot of work.  This is a good thing.

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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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