SmokeLong Quarterly
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Smoking With Amy Sparks

How did the story "The 13th Toast" come together?
Back in my Smokelong days, I was writing regularly. A group of us were joking about the cliches we were noticing in flash fiction submissions. It's just like movies and TV—if something gets popular, everyone wants to get a piece of the action. I think it was you, Tommy, who wished for a story that contained all of the cliches we were seeing. Well, it was just like jumping straight to the Triple Dog Dare with me. I had to see what I could do. Since I started with satire, it felt right for me to put my tongue firmly in my cheek and go for it.

Was it fun to write or did you find it challenging?
Oh, it was fun, fun, fun! It was a blast to just go over the top and then keep adding to the pile. Flash fiction seems so imposing at times because of the word count, but this was as much fun as visiting an all you can eat buffet. I was amazed at how much I could cram into such a small space.

I love these dares. I still have some of the other prompts that my muse has supplied over the years so that I have a jumpstart. When I have writing droughts, wild and silly ideas like this get me unstuck.

What have you been doing since your time at SLQ?
Making babies. My older son, Jason, will be 4 in June. Little brother Dylan is an incredibly active 2 year old. I've also joined the realm of management at work. The hardest part about that is managing myself! My husband has been making a bigger commitment to his opera career, so I've been his unpaid travel agent/business manager; to help him as his agent is arranging auditions all over the country for him. We're celebrating anniversary #11 in June.

For a while, I really wasn't any fun. Most full-time working moms can appreciate the exhaustion I was encountering, and throw in multiple sclerosis to make me a viable candidate for a rubber room. I've really missed writing, so I've gotten back into writing satirical reality TV summaries, blogging, and committing to NaNoWriMo 2008.

How is your novel coming along?
I've got two in mind right now. One is an old novel draft that I'm revisiting as I resume a regular writing schedule. The other I'm going to outline so that I can write about it for NaNoWriMo.

What's next for you?
My boys are old enough now that I am ready to seek balance in my life. That means adding more to my life than work and taking care of my kids.

Oh, and my husband and I are potty training BOTH of the kids right now. One is bad enough, but two have been amazingly hard. Please keep us in your prayers.

I really want to get back into the regular writing habit. In addition to working on my novel, I've made a goal to write at least one new flash a month. My biggest goal is consistency. I'm also going to get involved in online writing forums again.

Read The 13th Toast.

Issue Twenty-One (June 15, 2008): Paper Mouse by Bob Arter «» The Folk Singer Dreams of Time Machines by Matt Bell «» The Bone Orchard by Randall Brown «» Disease Relics by Blake Butler «» We Decided to Make Porn by Brian Allen Carr «» The Baby Drop-Off by Natascia Casey-Dean «» The Cougar by Dave Clapper «» Anointed by Myfanwy Collins «» Sister Earth by John Colvin «» Soap by Katrina Denza «» The Interpretation of Light by Murray Dunlap «» The Hole by Ashley Farmer «» Repair Man by Kathy Fish «» In the Kitchen She Wakes by Stefanie Freele «» American Gothic by Scott Garson «» Lobster Girl by Alicia Gifford «» Pen and Notebook by Natalie Goldberg «» Memento Mori by Rosanne Griffeth «» BiC by Steven Gullion «» Parting by Evelyn Hampton «» Tuesday by Lindsay Hunter «» Waiting on Lombard Street by W.P. Kinsella «» Johnny by Nance Knauer «» Like Swimming by Jeff Landon «» Feeling Sad by Darby Larson «» Alone With Cooper by Ellen Meister «» The Angel's Visitation by Corey Mesler «» South Dakota by Mary Miller «» California Fruit by Meg Pokrass «» Home Made by Bruce Holland Rogers «» Handful of Dirt by Jim Ruland «» Steam City Girl by Paul Silverman «» Sugar by Claudia Smith «» The 13th Toast by Amy Sparks «» Gathering by Kelly Spitzer «» Tiny Shadows by Maryanne Stahl «» Double-Exposure by Thomas White «» Epistemology by Joseph Young «» Why This Isn't a Good Story to Tell by Shellie Zacharia «» Liquid by Michelle Zellers «» Real Estate by Bonnie ZoBell «» Interviews: Bob Arter «» Matt Bell «» Randall Brown «» Blake Butler «» Brian Allen Carr «» Natascia Casey-Dean «» Dave Clapper «» Myfanwy Collins «» John Colvin «» Katrina Denza «» Murray Dunlap «» Ashley Farmer «» Kathy Fish «» Stefanie Freele «» Scott Garson «» Alicia Gifford «» Rosanne Griffeth «» Steven Gullion «» Evelyn Hampton «» Lindsay Hunter «» Nance Knauer «» Jeff Landon «» Darby Larson «» Ellen Meister «» Corey Mesler «» Mary Miller «» Meg Pokrass «» Bruce Holland Rogers «» Jim Ruland «» Paul Silverman «» Claudia Smith «» Amy Sparks «» Kelly Spitzer «» Maryanne Stahl «» Thomas White «» Joseph Young «» Shellie Zacharia «» Michelle Zellers «» Bonnie ZoBell «» Cover Art "Five Years of SmokeLong" compiled from art by Marty D. Ison, Robert Dornberg, Malina, and Rebecca Gullickson «» Letter From the Editor
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