Archived entries for

The “Count”: failbetter, 2011

One late night, having had too much coffee, I got a little curious as to what our “count” might look like if VIDA had chosen to review our gender ratio as they had other publications at the conclusion of 2010 and 2011.  So, I took to counting our number of female and male authors, artists and interviewees whom we published in 2011. Happily, I discovered that –although we didn’t have an exact balance–our split was fairly even, with a total of 19 men and 15 women. Check out our pie-chart below and let us know what you think!

A breakdown of male and female authors, artists and interviewees featured on in 2011.

A breakdown of male and female authors, artists and interviewees featured on in 2011.

We have a winner! Summer Flash Fiction Contest

Heat Lightning

You had one summer and 350 words to impress us and, ladies and gents, we were impressed!

For the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with your spirited flash fiction submissions, engrossed in a genre where whole worlds are created in the smallest of spaces. Having received such a variety of submissions, choosing a winner required serious reflection upon the nature of the genre and how it fits into’s approach to literature.

The genre of flash fiction isn’t a “form” in the same sense as metered verse. But it’s similar in its pressures of confinement – especially when paired with a specific word limit, such as was the case in this contest. In his recent interview with failbetter, Dean Young says that form should inspire “a sense of liberation…[a]nd if a form doesn’t provide liberation, it’s just the display of antiquated handcuffs.”

Although we’re not entirely opposed to handcuffs, we agree with Young that there is no place for repression in form or flash fiction. Flash fiction shouldn’t feel panicked, as though we were trying to cram every possible piece of information into the allotted space. Instead, we should strive to create brief but complete moments that gesture towards the larger universe.

Therefore, when reviewing the entries, we considered which pieces used the conciseness of the genre as a tool of liberation. Still, it was tough to choose a winner. We admired the gutsy, raw reflection of Melysa Martinez’s “Swallowing,” the dreamy intensity of Dan Lewis’s untitled piece and Brooks Doughtery’s delightfully noisy untitled short.

In the end, Ryan Ainsley Scott’s “Until Next Year” resonated with us in the way that makes the most sense for Its precise details and tight dialogue created an insightful “flash” into the characters’ relationships and worldviews, ending with the powerful image of a low and yolky sun, destined to repeat its cycle another day.

Please join us in congratulating Mr. Scott and please check back soon to see his piece published on our site.

Thank you to everyone who entered. We genuinely enjoyed reading each of your submissions and hope you will participate in our next contest.

PS: Got an idea for a contest or social media event? Email me at mglover AT failbetter DOT com, or drop me a tweet @failbettercom !

A Literary Mash-Up Reading and Celebration in SF


The summer is ending and you’re feeling frisky. Don’t fret – we’ve got the cure for those end-of-the-summer shakes: & ModCloth’s Written Wardrobe present A Literary Mash-Up Reading & Celebration.

  • What: A celebration of writing and style! Bring your friends, buy some drinks and listen to our readers’ literary serenades. We’re even having a raffle! And there’s NO COVER.
  • When: Tuesday, Aug 30, 6:30pm-9:30pm
  • Where: The Make-Out Room, at 3225 22nd Street in San Francisco
  • Why: Because we love good writing, strong drinks and good company.

Want to let us know that you’re coming? RSVP on the Facebook event page.

See you there!

Questions? Email Maggie at

Summer Flash Fiction Contest

Heat Lightning: Flash Fiction

Having spent most of my life in the Northeast, I usually passed my summer nights on a front porch with a cold drink and a good book. Now that I live in San Francisco, the “front porch” has been replaced by a neighborhood bar stool and the book is usually replaced by my IPhone; there is nothing I love more than catching up on the latest literary happenings on the web, be it on Twitter, Facebook or the blogosphere.

This past April, we asked you to share some spring Haiku over Twitter. Now, in the spirit of summer, we’re asking you to share your best flash fiction with our Facebook community.

Here are the specifics:

  • You must like us on Facebook and post your entry on our Facebook page anytime from now through 11:59pm EST July 31 August 31. (We’ve extended the deadline!) You can enter more than once.
  • Your piece should not exceed 420 characters 350 words (simply post it as a comment to one of our Facebook posts if you have trouble posting it directly on our wall).
  • The winning entry will be announced and published on our site.

And that’s it. Got questions or comments? Email Maggie at Looking forward to reading your work!

Our Favorite Twitter Haikus

National Poetry Month has come to a close and so has our Haiku Contest on Twitter. We received so many great tweets over the past two weeks that it was difficult to choose which lucky few to feature, but we managed to agree on a handful of favorites. Here they are!

@SaadiaOnline made us contemplate the deliciousness of the season with her haiku:

on the interstate
the trees look like broccoli
delectable spring

@haikuclouds made us want to dance among the new growth:

train nasturtiums
through the trellis triangles
dancing to Cheap Trick

@haiku_andy wins the award for our most enthusiastic participant. He tweeted many haikus over the course of the contest. Here’s two:


tenderloin evening
red wine served in hip cafes,
on the sidewalk, too


spring is halfway spent
and what have I got to show?
handful of haiku

@hunterjess’s haiku made us shiver with anticipation for what Spring will bring:

Inspire cold air
Hot sun hidden by water
A rainbow of gray

And @kennynowell made us smile with his failbetter shout-out:

Thank you failbetter
for giving my nervous brain
a task to gnaw on

Thank you, @kennynowell, and all of our participants! We hope you will continue to share with us your inspirations, writing, musings, and whatever else is on your mind. More contests like this are on the way, so be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on FB to stay in the loop!

Questions or Comments? Email

National Poetry Month Haiku Contest on Twitter

It’s National Poetry Month and, this year, we’re excited to celebrate with our community in an extra-special way – we’re holding a Haiku Contest on Twitter!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Follow failbettercom on Twitter.
  2. Tweet @failbettercom a haiku, using the hashtag #failbetterhaiku by April 30 at 11:59pm ET.
  3. If you’re interested in checking out the other entries, search Twitter using the hashtag #failbetterhaiku

At the end of the month, we’ll pick our favorite haikus and publish them on our blog.

Allow me to steal from one of the masters to show you an example of how your entry should look:

maggieannglover: @failbettercom  An old silent pond / A frog jumps into the pond, / splash! Silence again. #failbetterhaiku

See how easy that is?

You have all month to enter but, since we’re okay with you submitting multiple entries, we recommend that you start tweeting as soon as the mood strikes you.

If you have any questions about the contest, feel free to email Maggie at .  We’re looking forward to reading your entries.

Need some help getting started with Twitter? Click here!

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