It’s my editor’s choice week this week, and man, am I nerdily excited about it. We get anything from about 90-250 submissions a week, and this week I get let loose to wander among them, reading every single one of them (blind) and picking my favourite. Yay! I often feel like Charlie Bucket, somehow getting to work at the best flash fiction place in the world – this week, even more than usual. Look at all the beautiful, sparkly, delicious things in the queue. HOW WILL I CHOOSE?
SmokeLong is travelling! The SmokeLong on the Road blog series will be featuring video interviews with as many of its editors and contributors around the world as possible over the course of the year. This interview was recorded in January this year, while I was visiting my friend and SmokeLong’s Co-EIC, Christopher Allen, in a snow-carpeted Munich. As always, we approach it with deep seriousness and nobody does anything silly at all. Nope. Not us. http://www.smokelong.com/smokelong-on-the-road-a-video-interview-with-helen-rye/?fbclid=IwAR2LHUeWjD5XQ_2_i3TTKxPKO7MgUsACXwQEnDQWThC7OdIzpRnITnpqHXw
A few weeks ago someone posted in a Facebook writers’ group about a flash fiction competition which had published guidelines which specifically excluded LGBTQ themes, putting stories about love and identity in the same list as graphic violence, profanity and pornography.
This kind of blatant, open discrimination is not something I’d seen in flash fiction before. The organisation concerned was one not normally associated with flash writing – in fact, nobody we knew had ever heard of them.
Flash writers are a close-knit and supportive community, in general, and do not take kindly to such offensive treatment of us, our friends and family. More than ever, in the current political climate, it is important that this kind of discrimination is challenged. My brilliant friend Christopher Allen (SmokeLong Co-EIC) and I started a protest campaign on Twitter, joined by dozens of outraged fellow writers.
Although the protests apparently had almost no impact on the stance of the competition’s organiser, they did bring out a beautiful demonstration of love and solidarity within the literary community. Contests have been set up in response to the discriminatory one, to celebrate LGBTQ+ writing and writers, fighting hate with love. And Steve Campbell, the editor of Ellipsis Zine, responded by asking if Chris and I would edit the next Ellipsis anthology, which he would call Love, Pride, and dedicate entirely to LGBTQ+ writers and stories.
Submissions open 29th November for stories by LGBTQ+ writers, or celebrating LGBTQ+ characters. Details here: http://www.ellipsiszine.com/five/ We will be reading blind. Please send us your best, most rainbowy work. Can’t wait to start reading.
What wonderful stories we received in this contest. There were nearly 300 entries. I read every one of them, most of them at least twice – most of the shortlisted stories six or seven times or more. There were stories we had to leave out that I really wanted to include in the longlist, and stories from the longlist I was sad to lose from the shortlist. Narrowing all of these down to just five felt like an amazing achievement, and a painful one. The contest organiser, Rupert, and I spent hours discussing and analysing our top 12, making the case for the merits of stories we each particularly loved. In the end we were united in the choice of the winners, but the standard was so high overall we had some tough decisions to make, and I expect to see many of the stories we deliberated over getting published and taking prizes over the next few months. Thanks so much to everyone who entered for making it so beautifully difficult for us.
The results and judges’ report are here. I hope you’ll go and read the stories as they are published on the site – we’re incredibly proud of them and you are in for a treat.