Archived entries for awards

Show Our Failbetter Fictioneers Some Love

2014 storySouth Million Writers AwardThe storySouth Million Writers Award is now open for reader and editor nominations! So failbetter fans, give our writers a little love by nominating their deserving stories at:

Nominations will be accepted through 15 August 2014.

Good News in the New Year

pushcartJust before the hell of the holidays, we took a moment to reflect upon our greatness in 2011 to single out the best of what we had to offer.  Thus,  here are our Pushcart Nominees:

for poetry:

*   “The Domino’s Pizza Gorilla” by Kerrin McCadden from failbetter 39

*   “Firsts” by Margot Schilpp  from failbetter 40

*   “Dark Matter”  by Henry Israeli from failbetter 41

for fiction:

*  “He Tells Her a Story” by James Fleming from failbetter 38

*   “Aero ● phobe” by Nathan Hill from failbetter 38

*   “The Escape Artist” by Ken Weaver from failbetter 41

Congrats to all!

And the Nominees Are…

pushcartIt’s that time of year.  Time we recognize the best of the failbetter best for 2010.  Here are our editors’ top six picks – 3 poems, 3 works of fiction. We’ll be submitting all of them for consideration for various 2010 lit awards, including the Pushcart Prizes:

for poetry:

* “Previous Theories on the Body” by Matthew Olzmann from failbetter 37
* “Near the Old Packard Plant” by John Rybicki from failbetter 36
* “In West Virginia” by Maggie Glover from failbetter 37

for fiction:

* “Dusting” by Peter Grandbois from failbetter 35
* “All-American” by Jenn Stroud Rossmann from failbetter 35
* “Stairs” by James Terry from failbetter 34

Congrats to all six authors! And if you, dear reader, missed their work… Well, don’t you dare make the same mistake twice.

NEA… No way? Yes way!

NEACongrats to fb alum Maggie Smith – poems in issues 16 & 27 – who was recently awarded an NEA Literature Fellowship!  We’re told the honor is worth $25,000… which by our best guestimate is about $24,999 more than a poet usually makes in annual salary.  Congrats, Maggie!

Congrats to fb Alum, Terrance Hayes

hayes_tSpecial congrats go out to failbetter alum, Terrance Hayes, who was named one of five finalists in poetry by the National Book Foundation. The prizes will be awarded Nov. 17 in New York.   Terrance earned the nomination for Lighthead, published by Penguin in April.  “Terrance just keeps getting better and better,” says his editor Paul Slovak. “He’s got a fantastic imagination, a wide range of feelings, plus he’s very good at telling stories.”  Of course, we here at failbetter have known that for some time.  You can check out Terrance’s earlier work in Issue 2 and Issue 27 – and he’ll also be included in our forthcoming 10th anniversary anthology, FAILBEST.

Lou Mathews wins our
Tenth Anniversary Novella Contest for
The Irish Septet

Lou Mathews has won our Tenth Anniversary Novella Contest for The Irish Septet. Chosen by a team of judges from nearly 900 contest entries, Septet tells the heartrending, poignant, ultimately redemptive story of an L.A. priest whose life is nearly destroyed when he stands up to the Church’s attempts to sweep its pedophilia scandal under the rug.

Mathews receives a $500 prize1 for his winning entry, which we’ll serialize beginning October 12.

A master of understated language and rich characterizations, Mathews is a widely published fiction writer and journalist. His first novel, L.A. Breakdown, was a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 1999. A former contributing editor at L.A. Style, he teaches fiction writing and literature in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Two of his stories have run on our site: “The Garlic Eater,” in early 2006, and “Huevos,” in the fall of 2008. “The Garlic Eater” earned a Pushcart Prize Special Mention.

Thanks to everyone else who sent us a novella – we very much enjoyed reading them! And if you haven’t yet heard from us, in response to your submission, do hold tight for now. We are still considering a number of other entries for publication, and will be in touch with you soon.


1 Wait! you’re saying… We didn’t charge a fee to enter our contest, yet we’re giving our winner a sizable prize? How in the name of holy litmaggery can we do that?

Simple: we’ll use a bit of the revenue we make by selling the ads that appear in the right sidebar of our site. And why don’t other litmags, print and online, do something similar, when they run contests? We’re not sure, but we wish they’d join us in the practice, and start looking at submissions as a way to find great fiction and poetry, rather than as a way to make money off writers. We predict that if they do so, they’ll get far stronger entries to their contests. It’s better, after all, to get submissions from people who don’t have to pay editors to read their work. As a bonus, winning those contests will be far more meaningful than it is now.

A best, again

We’ve just received the news that Terese Svoboda’s story “Swanbit,” which we published last July, has been selected for inclusion in the next edition of Dzanc’s Best of the Web. Congratulations, Terese!

Our Pushcart Prize nominees

We’ve published a lot of great stuff over the course of the past year, and had a hard time deciding which three stories, and three poems, to nominate for Pushcart Prizes. But after much back-and-forth among ourselves, we managed to do so. Here’s the list:


Glen Pourciau, “Self-service
Jason Schwartz, “Winter register
Alix Ohlin, “Stranger things have happened


Karen Rigby, “Black Roses
Natalie Shapero, “Timber
Michael Homolka, “Vertigo

Congratulations and best of luck to all our nominees! We’ll keep our fingers crossed for you right through next fall, when Bill Henderson uncrosses them, with the publication of the 2011 PP anthology.

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