SmokeLong News Digest, Issue 1

News from SmokeLong Contributors and Staff:

Available at AmazonTom Cooper‘s novel, The Marauders, was released from Random House-Crown on February 3rd. The book was a long time in the making, and has so far received very strong reviews.

“More fun than a book about the aftermath of an ecological disaster has any right to be” – Esquire

“Wade into moral muck with the pill-popping, treasure-hunting, one-armed hero of this finger-lickin’-good Louisiana swamp noir.” – O, The Oprah Magazine

Read his SmokeLong stories: Cooper, Thomas: Ghost Bike (Issue Twenty-Three), Bluegills (Issue Twenty-Four), Scapegoat (Issue Twenty-Eight), Language Barrier (Issue Thirty)


Rosie Forrest is the winner of Rose Metal Publishing’s 9TH Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest with her entry Ghost Box Evolution in Cadillac Michigan.  Read Rosie’s SmokeLong Quarterly story:  Next Rest Stop Twenty-Two Miles (Issue Forty-Two)

Meg Tuite’s entry Beast is a semi-finalist in Rose Metal Publishing’s 9TH Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest.  Read Meg’s SmokeLong Quarterly story: Mutable Pleasures (Issue Forty-Seven)



Recent Pubs


Megan Giddings’s story, “Good-bye Piano,” up at matchbook.

Christopher Allen’s story, “Other Household Toxins,” up at Night Train.

Gay Degani’s story, “Last Four Songs” up at Pure Slush.


New Feature:

The SmokeLong Quarterly blog is launching a new feature  listing newly published works, achievements, and awards by our contributors and staff and asking them (you) to submit to us.  Entries should be recent, info regarding such should be no longer than 100 words including title of new work (flash, short story, essay, poem, memoir,or novel) and name of publisher  (ezine, print zine, publishing house) plus link to said work and/or how to purchase). Please also include all links to your published work at SmokeLong Quarterly.

There will be two lists in the Monthly Digest:

1) recent awards, achievements, and print publications

2) recent stories published online in journals, reviews, ezines  (not posted by author on blog or elsewhere)

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Fridge Flash: Bluebird and Girl

Bluebird and Girl

by Venice Poggi

This is a girl invited to a castle ball.  In this picture, she’s in the garden away from everything.

Venice Poggi

Artwork by Venice Poggi



Venice Poggi-photoVenice Poggi is 9 years old and LOVES to read.  She would read all day if she didn’t have to go to school.  She is a very good student, likes to draw and wants to take the short stories she writes and sell them from a kiosk in the park.  She lives with her mom, her little sister and her cat Seuss at her mom’s, and with her cat named Champ at her dad’s.  There is rarely a Saturday afternoon where crafts can’t be found strewn all over the kitchen table, madly making creative art projects.


Got a Fridge Flash from someone under the age of 12? Submit it to us!

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Nancy Stebbins Returns to Edit 2/23 – 3/1

Nancy StebbinsNancy Stebbins is a psychiatrist in the Denver area. She earned an MFA from Pacific University and her short stories have been published in Indiana Review, Cutbank Review, St. Ann’s Review, and elsewhere. She is a past editor at SmokeLong Quarterly. Currently, she is working on a novel.
Nancy is reading blind submissions for the week February 23rd – March 1st. Please don’t put any identifying information on your submission. Do still write a cover letter with a print-ready bio.

SLQ: Can you tell us about a flash fiction story or two you’ve recently read and enjoyed? (and please provide links if they’re online) What is it about this story that appealed to you?

NS: I recently re-read some older SLQ pieces — “Our Littlest Brother” by Dan Crawley and “A Collector” by Bess Winter. They are such different stories: the first made me laugh from the beginning, the second is quietly beautiful. But they both feel perfectly formed, and they both have a great deal of depth–they’re about something bigger than the story. (See writing advice, below.) I especially adore how Crawley’s narrator is true to his nature (unrepentant) even after the painful revelation about the neighbor woman.

What writing advice would you give to someone who has just recently started writing flash?

1. Make your story about something deeper than what’s on the surface. 2. Read lots of flash 3. Revise

What are you currently working on? And what is your process like for writing this piece?

I’m working on the novel I started during my MFA program. It is a complicated, multi-POV work set in three time periods, and my process is very circular, which means I may never finish.

Who are the authors that once you finish reading their work make you want to go write?

There are so many! But sometimes I read Muriel Spark, Margaret Atwood, or Carson McCullers to remember why I love to write.

You find out one of stories has been turned into a screenplay. Who do you hope directs the movie of your story?

 After seeing her interview about making the movie Wild, I think I’d choose Reese Witherspoon.

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Tara Dwyer Guest Edits February 16th – February 22nd

Tara Dwyer, Guest Editor of Smokelong Feb 16 - Feb 22Tara Dwyer, by day, is a high school English teacher and by night, she is one of a pair of moms to a pretty magnificent 5 year old boy who alarmingly displays writerly leanings. She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Fiction in 2004 from George Mason University.

Tara will be reading submissions sent in February 16th – February 22nd.

Below is a brief interview with Tara.

You lose a bet and can only read the same story over and over for a month. Which story do you pick? I am not sure how I can pick just one…. Truly. Banish me for a 6 month period, one story a month? Indian Education by Sherman Alexie…. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates…. Life is Sweet at Kumansenu by Abioseh Nicol… The Blue Bouquet by Octavio Paz…. Sucker by Carson McCullers… Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl.

If you were teaching a class on short fiction, what components would you encourage your students to focus on to make their stories successful? Clever and subtle character development is key– please surprise the reader a little; make your characters someone we’d want to read about. Even better, maybe make them someone we’ve not seen before? Also, don’t arbitrarily kill the pet/small child/inspirational elderly person in your story.

Who are the writers (famous, friends, people on the internet) who make you feel inspired after reading their work?  The writers that I’m inspired by tend to remain faithful standbys when I am in a writing rut. Sherman Alexie… Always. Often Grace Paley, Ethan Canin, Allan Gurganus, Dorothy Allison… Poets, too: Sherman Alexie… Always. Often Carolyn Forche, Jorie Graham, James Wright…. I still have folders and folders of work from graduate school; I’ve saved nearly every piece from workshop, mine and my classmates– I often take these out and read through them, which always makes me feel an urgent need to write.

Because we’re SmokeLong and we admire brevity, give us ten words (they can be a sentence or just words) that sum up your pet peeves in fiction.  First line in medias res: ringing phones, doorbells, alarm clocks….

Which font do you prefer to use while writing? Candara for me. Times New Roman for you.

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Steve Weddle Guest Edits 2/9 – 2/16

Steve Weddle’s novel-in-stories, Country Hardball (Tyrus, 2013), was called “downright dazzling” by the New York Times. The French translation, Le Bon Fils, will be published in 2016 by Gallmeister. Weddle holds an MFA in creative writing from Louisiana State University, where he also taught.

He is guest-editing SmokeLong Quarterly February 9th – February 15th. Below is a brief interview with Steve.

What do you think makes a story excellent?

Anything from compelling characters to a consequential conflict can make a story good. To make it excellent, a story needs to work on multiple layers and dislodge the reader from certainty.  The best stories, whether 1,000 words or 10,000 words, are the stories that don’t simply tell you what happened – the stories themselves happen. There is a resonant vibrancy humming just outside your reach that you strive for, a glimmering presence that connects the reader and the writer. If the reader finishes the story by nodding a pleasant acceptance, then you’ve written a good story. You’ve written an excellent story when the reader isn’t nodding, but shaking.

Can you tell us about the most recent story you’ve written and about your process for writing it?

 My most recent story, “South of Bradley,” picks up shortly after the ending of my debut, Country Hardball. This new story is pulled from what I had intended to be a sequel to that book. Instead, I found myself doing something else with that book, which left me a number of fragments lying around unused. I was asked to submit a story and began working on this loose piece of narrative to create a new story. “South of Bradley” is scheduled to appear this summer in Playboy Magazine.

In one paragraph, can you tell us about a favorite piece of flash written by someone who’s not you and why you like it so much?

 “Hills Like White Elephants,” which clocks in a little over 1,000 words, is a story I keep coming back to, drawn by its overflowing emptiness into a kind of emotional huddle, a sad appreciation of the misaligned levels of human contact.

A mysterious, literary loving billionaire invests in SmokeLong and tells us to arrange a writing residency for you with three authors (living or dead) for a week. Who do you pick? Why?

 Haruki Murakami, Kelly Link, and Rebecca Lee. I’d want to work towards an understand of the “strangeness” of contemporary fiction that seems to be interesting so many people these days.  Each of these authors seems to be working at a different level, and I suspect chatting together would yield some fascinating results. Of course, I’m also tempted to ask that Norman Mailer be resurrected so that I could punch him in the nose. He’s always seemed like a bit of jerk.

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Wish You Were Here: A Flash Fiction Postcard Project

By Nathan Leslie

postcard 3Those who teach know it is, by most measures, a seasonal job—as intense and fleeting as a month-long stint working retail at a mall nook at Christmas or a summer mowing grass in suburbia. Intensity is fine, but it interrupts a writer’s flow; personally, I’ve always struggled maintaining a consistent writerly rhythm during the semester proper. Teaching 15 credits at a community college is heavy lifting and at times between August and early May (outside of grading the thousands of pages), I’m left bereft of words and sometimes, frankly, weary of them. As a result, I almost exclusively compose during the summer and holiday breaks. This is not unusual. But this semester I decided to trick myself into a writing project, at least a morsel or two, when I can.

I stumbled upon the idea of this postcard project when a Facebook poet friend began a similar venture a year or two ago. I thought, Why not do my own fictional version? It will force myself to condense my writing and be selective, force myself to stay active in some small way and be selective and I can share a modest story or vignette with one person—a kind of gift. Who doesn’t like receiving real mail these days?

I thought long and hard about how I would go about doing this; initially I intended to send postcards to anyone, off the cuff. Postcard spam. But so far I’ve been working with those who expressed interest (via Facebook) in receiving a freebie story—about 35-40 brave souls at this point.

So far I’ve constructed 11 postcards—I say “constructed” because I’m attempting to work with color and shape as much as with the words themselves. Plus I have to consider the postcard itself to make each one a unique item, 1/1. The process has been amusing and different than what I normally do in the summer—hunching over a pad of paper or typing on the computer—a briar patch of words. This postcard project has more to do with glue and scissors and images and matching what I see with some aspect of the story I’m sharing with the one reader (easier said than done). The postcards themselves are a mish-mash—some are art postcards from museums or galleries, some are miscellaneous postcards I picked up at coffee shops or movie theaters, but most are so-called “vintage” postcards bought in bulk.

postcard B1

postcard B2Why must I worry about declining readerships or evaporating bookstores? If I find one reader who cares, who finds him/herself smiling and nodding into the mailbox, my job is done. At any rate, I consider myself the reader. The rest of you all can join in, if you care to. Plus, these postcards are interesting and unique—relics really. Who sends postcards anymore? But does this mean we shouldn’t?

postcard A2PostcardA1

As for the stories, I’m thinking of these as charcoal sketches (why should painters be the only artists who have a chance to sketch something out?). They could be complete, but most likely they aren’t, and I’m considering all of them for further elaboration and development. We’ll see what happens. It will be an interesting ride. I’m hoping to create 80 of these suckers. We’ll see if I can. Friend me on Facebook if you want to follow the project.

Nathan Leslie’s seven books of short fiction include Sibs, Madre, Believers and Drivers. He is also the author of Night Sweat, a poetry collection. His first novel, The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice, was published by Atticus Books in 2012. His short stories, essays and poems have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines including Boulevard, Shenandoah, North American Review, South Dakota Review, and Cimarron Review. He was series editor for The Best of the Web anthology 2008 and 2009 (Dzanc Books) and edited fiction for Pedestal Magazine for many years. He is currently the fiction co-editor for Shale, a fiction anthology.

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Caren Beilin Guest Edits 2/2 – 2/8

Caren Beilin Caren Beilin’s novel, The University of Pennsylvania came out this past November with Noemi Press, and her fiction chapbook, Americans, Guests, or Us, is available from DIAGRAM/New Michigan Press. She is from Philadelphia and currently living in Salt Lake City, studying and teaching.

The author whose story Caren picks will receive a free copy of The University of Pennsylvania, as well as a mystery book from her personal library.

Fiction Caren has recently published online are “Portrait of a Writer I Remember as a Young Masturbator” and “3 Stories.”

Four stories Caren recently has read and admired are “Domestic Still Life” by Jessica Alexander, “Witness” by John Edgar Wideman, “Cribs” by Kate Wisel,  and these five section from MW: A Field Guide to the Midwest by Dot Devota.

Caren’s brief thoughts on what she likes and dislikes in writing: “I like writing that’s desperate enough. Pet Peeve: unexamined realism.”

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