Tag Archives: “Gravity Reduced”

Shorty Royalty: SmokeLong Quarterly

28 Feb

On Market Monday* I’m considering my next submission to a giant of very short fiction.

smokelongqThe number of magazines where I’ve submitted more than twice is pretty low, and SmokeLong Quarterly ranks high on that shortlist. I keep knocking on the door because their home has so much love for very short fiction—they publish exclusively flash fiction no longer than 1000 words, and support the form in other powerful ways—and the range of voices they publish is so impressive.

Do I like what they publish? I talked about how much I enjoy a diverse selection of voices when I spotlighted River Styx last Monday. SQ is another rare magazine who finds gold in a variety of approaches and aesthetics. “Straight Lines” by Ryan Werner is a great fabulist flash, and I would label the equally great “Gravity, Reduced” by Kara Oakleaf as speculative fiction. I love this beautifully poetic flash from their Issue Fifty-Four, “The Body’s Amen,” by Brigitte N. McCray. Read that entire issue—you will find realist fiction, more fabulism, a fairy tale, a meta-fiction. Enjoy.

Do they do justice to the published work? Yes, they do a very nice job of setting off each story, but what truly thrills me is their devotion to flash fiction, apparent everywhere you go on that site. You’ll find a high-quality and well-maintained blog with reviews of flash collections, essays about flash fiction, and flash fictions written by children (yep, that’s what I said, see their blog posts marked “Fridge Flash”). They’ve recently launched a “Global Flash Series,” publishing flashes written in other languages alongside English translations. They even offer an annual fellowship (I’ll be applying this year, want to join me?) Like I said: Shorty Royalty, these people.

Do they nominate their authors for awards?** Their History page lists all the usual awards.

Do their guidelines speak to me? Again, they publish a wide range of voices, so this isn’t a magazine that’s going to get you excited about finding a perfect match to your work because of the way they’ve hammered out their wants. But the answer is HELL YES the guidelines speak to me, in that I have rarely come across such sincerity and warmth on a guidelines page. Their dedication to flash fiction shows here as a commitment to the authors they’re eager to publish: Their version of the “We’re writers, too” statement is relatable and friendly, and despite their wide-ranging aesthetic, they take a shot at clarifying for submitters what kinds of stories have a better chance of being selected. Best of all, they ask that you remove identifying information from your ms, so they’re apparently using a review process that is more or less blind. I respect and very much appreciate that approach, and continue to wonder why it’s not more widespread.

If you love very short fiction, you will love this site, for one reason or another. Send SmokeLong Quarterly stories, meditations on flash fiction, and your kid’s latest refrigerator masterpiece. They’re game for it all.

As always, if I’ve inspired you to submit here and your story is accepted for publication, please let me know so I can congratulate you!

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*Yes, I know, it’s Tuesday. I got a little mixed up over here in DailyShortyLand. Don’t be such a stickler!

** It’s clear to me that if a magazine doesn’t have the presence (and the editors the presence of mind) to nominate their authors, then neither of us should be considering them at all, ever, for our submissions. In other words, nominations isn’t just a plus, it’s a necessity. So I’m dropping this criterion from my Market Monday posts. If you see a magazine recommended for your submissions at Daily Shorty, you can be sure that magazine nominates its authors for awards.
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