Friday, April 6, 2018

Six Questions For Tara Laskowski, Editor, Smokelong Quarterly

Established in 2003, Smokelong Quarterly publishes previously unpublished flash fiction to 1000 words. When funding permits, it hosts the Kathy Fish Fellowship and writer-in-residence, a one-year fellowship for an emerging writer with a $500 award. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: I last interviewed you in January 2011. What are perhaps the biggest changes that SLQ has experienced since then?

Tara Laskowski: Oh! That was quite some time ago. A lot has changed, actually. Our web site went through a redesign a few years ago, thanks to a bunch of really generous folks who donated to our Kickstarter campaign. Our managing editor Christopher Allen also started our Global Flash series, where we publish flash fiction in other languages, with translations from guest editors. We've published stories in German, Spanish, Hebrew, and other languages. We're also hosting our first-ever flash fiction contest to celebrate our 15th year of publishing. This is open through May 20, 2018, and the grand prize is $1500.

What hasn't changed? We still are fortunate to get to publish some of the best flash fiction on the planet. Thank you to our contributors!

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?


  • Originality, both of subject and of style.
  • Confidence, by which I mean a confidence in the narrative. A sense that the writer has a handle on the story he or she is trying to tell and knows we're going somewhere.
  • Urgency. There's a reason we're reading this story. It not only needs to be told, but we need to finish reading it.

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

TL: Unnecessary words. Gimmicks.

SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

TL: Erotica is tough, though in a recent issue we did publish a lot of sex stories. This was sort of a happy accident-we just happened to get a bunch of really good stories that had to do with sex. I think it would be hard to get something with a lot of violence in it past our editorial process. And humor in flash is really hard to do well. Most humorous flash just reads like a bad joke.

SQF: If Smokelong had a theme song, what would it be and why?

TL: Ok, this one stumped me, so I ran it by our editors, and we all agreed Tyrese Coleman had the best answer. "I don't think we'd have one. We'd be one of those modern shows that flash the name of the show and then, boom!, get right into it. We do flash...start in medias res. No reason for intros."

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

TL: What's the secret to SLQ's 15 years of success?

The staff. Our editors are simply amazing, smart, dedicated people that I'm grateful for every single day.

Thank you, Tara. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

1 comment:

  1. Since Writer Advice, runs flash fiction and flash memoir contests, it's fun to read these answers. Glad you have a strong team! I've been lucky to work with good people also.