Toasted Cheese 16:1


The March 2016 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Lana Bella, Jeff Burt, Theresa Kelly & Wern Hao See; flash by Melissa Ostrom & Sherry Welch; fiction by Brian Coughlan & Catherine Keenan; and creative nonfiction by Luanne Castle, Brett Peruzzi & Linda C. Wisniewski.

TC 16:1 also includes the 2015 Dead of Winter Writing Contest winning stories by Matthew Boyle, Robert James & John Howe.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews Poor Advice (and Other Stories) by Lou Gaglia.

This issue’s Snark Zone is by Theryn “Beaver” Fleming.

The cover image is by Roger Penguino on Flickr, with additional photos by photographers around the world, all of whom have generously made their work available for use under Creative Commons licenses. Please click through and check out their photostreams.

Congratulations to all. Happy reading!

April 2016
Daily Writing Prompts

  1. A Pen In Each HandThe feelings of the April Fool.
  2. Write about someone who is young but old at heart.
  3. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: fog, pestilence, through, toadstools, built.
    2. Use the phrase “Nobody was injured, but…”
    3. Write about complicated instructions.
  4. Start with: “Tonight I’m auditioning for…”
  5. “Well, that’s a proper train wreck.”
  6. Use these 5 words: mission, waiting, events, echo, time.
  7. Trying to stay awake after lunch
  8. “Stop whining and eat your dinner. Children are starving.”
  9. Everything I knew turns out to be wrong.
  10. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: secret, their, yard, misused, pianos.
    2. Use the phrase “I’m holding it in my hand.”
    3. Write about a late-night snack.
  11. Dividing up stuff after a breakup
  12. Have a character pose topless.
  13. There’s always one more thing you need.
  14. Use these 5 words: anecdotes, suspends, delicious, absolutely, ready.
  15. Unexpected last moment extension
  16. “You’re under contract.”
  17. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
  18. Give your MC some form of punishment.
  19. “I’d like to trade places with _____”
  20. Use these 5 words: text, hopes, impossible, audience, nautical.
  21. I could never get the hang of Thursdays
  22. “Another naked selfie?!”
  23. Maybe if it’s dark they won’t notice it.
  24. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: nothing, muttered, memory, factory, opened.
    2. Use the phrase “What are you going to say?”
    3. Write about a headache.
  25. Book ’em, Danno.
  26. Write about a massive disappointment.
  27. We’re oddly even.
  28. Use these 5 words: coloring, prejudices, profane, trending, blame.
  29. April showers bring May _______.
  30. Write about ‘a state of unlimited freedom’

Spring Three Cheers and a Tiger Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Spring Three Cheers and a Tiger contest!

Gold: “First in Time, First in Right” by Meredith Bateman
Silver: “Bus Stop” by Brian Behr Valentine
Bronze: “Rendez-Vous” by Erin McDougall

The winning entries will appear in the June 2016 issue of Toasted Cheese.

We’d also like to thank everyone who entered. There were very interesting and creative ideas for how a pair of glasses (or do I mean spectacles?) ended up folded and placed under a lamp post! The photo is one I took myself, having spotted the glasses laying there as I was walking by, and I still often speculate about what the real story behind it was. Of such moments are interesting stories made.

We hope you had as much fun writing the stories as I had reading them.

Amanda (The Bellman) Marlowe

March 2016
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. beautifully executed
  2. When all is said and done, much more is said than done.
  3. the bad kind of mushrooms
  4. Write about glare.
  5. Use these 5 words: salvage, currencies, diversity, faith, killers.
  6. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: morning, deeds, hand, curled, bookish.
    2. Fighting to stay awake and pay attention.
    3. Write about something unexpected and brightly colored.
  7. a 90-foot-tall billboard
  8. Variations on a recipe
  9. 5% battery left
  10. Make up a smartphone app for your characters.
  11. Use these 5 words: design, copyright, monarch, economy, victories.
  12. Spreading misinformation about the daylight time change
  13. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: plum, border, women, which, world.
    2. Scooping up an armload of _______.
    3. Write about a gadget that doesn’t work.
  14. Rescheduling a stressful appointment
  15. Some good news!
  16. look around to see if they’re looking at someone else
  17. a bunch of middle school boys
  18. A place where there are no landmarks.
  19. Use these 5 words: sweetens, pollution, server, exchange, finger.
  20. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: dismantle, public, dead, plum, excerpt.
    2. Write about hearing from a long-lost friend.
    3. Write about understanding misunderstanding.
  21. a pair of tickets
  22. An awkward position
  23. “It’s taking too f—ing long.”
  24. Perhaps I should have reminded her.
  25. Use these 5 words: acclaimed, celebrate, gaffe, making, judgmental.
  26. Passive aggression with a smile.
  27. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
  28. Obsessively playing a game.
  29. one last photo from space
  30. Going out like a [not-lamb].
  31. there is definitely something fishy going on!

Three Cheers Spring 2016 is OPEN

The Three Cheers and a Tiger Spring Contest is now open.

Entries must be received by 5 PM Eastern Time, Sunday, March 20, 2016.

Write a mystery story that explains the “why” behind what you see in this picture:

A pair of glasses, folded closed with the glass facing up, laying at the base of a lamp post on the sidewalk.

click to embiggen

Word count: Between 2,150 and 2,250 words.

  • Send entries to:
  • Your subject line must read: Three Cheers and a Tiger Contest Entry
  • Paste your story directly into your email. No attachments please.

For complete rules:
Three Cheers and a Tiger Guidelines
General Contest Rules

February 2016
Daily Writing Prompts

  1. A Pen In Each HandChange one essential detail & rewrite
  2. “They lit a fire for us.”
  3. End of a busy project: now what?
  4. your MC driving behind a truck with a “Trump 2016” bumpersticker.
  5. “It’s just like counting by sevens…”
  6. Use these 5 words: heart, congestion, parasitic, bookish, hallucinations.
  7. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: stairs, seasons, wanted, understand, memory.
    2. Making up nicknames for other people.
    3. Write about someone your character shouldn’t admire, but does.
  8. “You assume so much about me.”
  9. If your MC could manipulate the calendar…
  10. a competitive frenzy.
  11. “Oh that. How far behind am I?”
  12. Use these 5 words: zombie, onesie, marching, neutral, destroyed.
  13. “I’m not late yet.”
  14. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: twisted, street, hid, dismantle, chair.
    2. After a very long wait, it’s finally here.
    3. Write about napping in the sun.
  15. “What do you mean, there’s no more coffee?”
  16. “Why do some people have all the luck?”
  17. “Should I worry that you just read my mind?”
  18. a message that makes your MC’s blood boil.
  19. Picking up after a flood.
  20. Use these 5 words: bakery, cocoa, sunset, inventive, screen.
  21. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: slights, windy, rest, dress, pestilence.
    2. Use the phrase, “Just last week…”
    3. Write about the fourth example of something, breaking the rule.
  22. “I haven’t woken up from the dream yet.”
  23. In the seventh week of February…
  24. deadly weather
  25. Adapting to a new disability.
  26. Use these 5 words: red carpet, performance, diversity, ensemble, couture.
  27. It’s the last weekend in Feb, and we ALL know what THAT means!
  28. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: shakes, stair, stone, alter, working.
    2. Fill in the blank: “Next year in ______[place name]”
    3. Write about that one time, at band camp.
  29. An event that happens each leap day.

January 2016
Daily Writing Prompts

  1. A Pen In Each HandWrite about leaving something behind for the new year.
  2. Use these 5 words: opens, shelter, reached, sailing, holy.
  3. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: good, every, aeroplanes, women, broken.
    2. Use the phrase, “I used to know how to do this.”
    3. Write about negotiating about food.
  4. Write about an understudy.
  5. When’s the next day off work??
  6. “It takes a lot to shock me.”
  7. Make up a perfectly cromulent word and use it.
  8. Use these 5 words: secret, festive, landmark, global, midnight.
  9. “Don’t expect it to last.”
  10. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: earth’s, language, memory, battle, secret.
    2. Use the phrase, “There’s only one left.”
    3. Write about that song that’s stuck in your character’s head.
  11. Write about living in a tiny house.
  12. Your MC time travels.
  13. Write about an annoying roommate.
  14. “…dropped a bombshell.”
  15. “Well, learn how to like it!”
  16. Use these 5 words: research, excesses, wartime, yachts, music.
  17. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: broken, private, stone, moves, lunar.
    2. Use the phrase, “Come sit with me.”
    3. Write about washing glasses.
  18. The view from the top.
  19. Write about sleeping in a doorway.
  20. “I wasn’t referring to you, was I?”
  21. Hand-me-down clothing
  22. Use these 5 words: center, creepy, comfort, charge, collaboration.
  23. Obsessively reloading a website.
  24. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: every, walls, gloves. muffled, librarian.
    2. Use the phrase, “All around the area.”
    3. Write about a surprising photograph.
  25. Looking up a fact in an actual encyclopedia.
  26. A massive storm system.
  27. Use the phrase “This space intentionally left blank.”
  28. “Naked yoga?”
  29. Thinking up a strong password.
  30. Use one of the “I saw you” messages at this link to start your story.
  31. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: scribbling, rhapsody, color, hearts, bloom.
    2. Use the phrase, “By his paw, the lion is known.”
    3. Write about a peculiar hair color.

Dead of Winter 2015 Winners

We’re happy to announce the winning stories for our annual horror short fiction contest Dead of Winter:

  • 1st: “A Lovely Neighborhood: by Matthew Boyle
  • 2nd: “The Wran Song” by Robert James
  • 3rd: “Bittersweet” by John Howe

The first, second, and third place stories will be published in our March 2016 issue.

Dead of Winter 2016 opens October 1 and ends December 21 with theme and word count parameters to be announced. Our next contest is Three Cheers and a Tiger (Spring). As always, there’s no fee and there’s no registration required to enter any of our contests.

Congratulations to our winners and to everyone who entered!


15 for Fifteen

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

This month we’re celebrating 15 years of Toasted Cheese. As we look back on some of our proudest moments from the past decade and a half, we invite you to do the same.

Day to day, progress can sometimes be so slow, it feels like you’re not moving forward at all. Pausing and reflecting from time to time is a good way to not lose sight of the big picture.

Make a list of 15 things you’ve accomplished writing-wise since January 2001. Big or small, anything you’re proud of can go on this list. If you have a writing buddy or group, this would be a great exercise for all of you to do and then share with each other.

Celebrate your accomplishments. Write a blog post or share on social media. (When you hit a low point you can look back on your list to give yourself a boost.) Invest in your writing life. Get yourself some new writing supplies or that software you’ve been meaning to purchase (if you don’t have it yet, Scrivener is well worth the investment). Do something fun! Freshen up your writing space, go to dinner with your writing buddy and toast your successes, throw a party for yourself and your writing group.

What’s next? Set 15 new short- or long-term writing goals. Tuck it away somewhere safe and revisit it in a decade or so to see how you did. Happy writing!