19th Annual Dead of Winter short fiction contest

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Stories submitted to the 19th Annual Dead of Winter contest (December 2019) will use the theme: FAMILY TREE. Your entry must follow guidelines linked below.

Have you shaken the branches on your family tree and found a character you’d like to fictionalize? Have you taken a DNA test from a popular website and thought about how it could go wrong? With the growing focus on our roots and branches, we hope you’re inspired by this theme.

SPECIAL:

Your entry will not only use the theme but will also use it in a central way, not as a peripheral or “dropped in” detail. Examples of ways to use the theme might be a discovered family Bible has missing information, a man claiming to be an uncle appears out of nowhere, or a visit to the local cemetery reveals the headstone of a twin.

Please give your story a unique title, not “The Family Tree.”

EVERY YEAR:

  • Stories MUST be based on the theme provided.
  • Stories MUST be set in winter.
  • Stories MUST fall in the horror genre
  • The word count range for DOW2019 is 2500–5000 words.

HOW TO ENTER:

The contest opens October 1, 2019 and the deadline for submission is 11:59 PM ET December 21, 2019.

Email entries to dow2019[at]toasted-cheese.com with the subject line:
Dead of Winter Contest Entry

Follow general contest guidelines and general Dead of Winter guidelines

September 2019
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: program, honest, instrument, willpower, resist.
    2. Fill in the blank: “Last time we did this, _________ happened.”
    3. Write about a character meeting someone who knew their parents.
  2. Use these 5 words: surprise, help, superheroes, wrongdoing, threatens.
  3. Write about kneading bread while having a difficult conversation
  4. Use these 5 words: remembrance, immigrants, letter, portrait, fire.
  5. Write about waiting for a machine to finish.
  6. Write about: the only human left in the world.
  7. Write about a busy day after several days off.
  8. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
  9. Write about an autocorrect disaster
  10. Your setting is: evening, thick fog, by the sea, sad atmosphere.
  11. What goes through a busy mind during a shared moment of silence?
  12. Your setting is: noon, thunderstorm overhead, on a ship, lonely atmosphere.
  13. Invent a new 13-phobic superstition
  14. Write about a character who is: inspirational, restless & nurturing.
  15. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: supply, side, corruption, mourning, belly.
    2. Fill in the blank: “_________ you very much.”
    3. Write about getting drafted for some task.
  16. Start with this line of dialogue: “This is a stretch.”
  17. Write about a malfunctioning thermostat.
  18. Write about a character who is: nurturing, idealistic & adventurous.
  19. Setting: That snow cave they dug last year.
  20. Write about a character who is: optimistic, considerate & fun-loving.
  21. Day and night, evenly balanced. What is unbalanced?
  22. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: smile, crack, back, labour, pioneer.
    2. Fill in the blank: “Once a _________, whether we need it or not.”
    3. Write about a pair of things (or people, or creatures …), one of which is missing.
  23. “This is the part of the job where we ______.”
  24. Write about: how you define love.
  25. Write about a sudden distraction.
  26. Write about a character who is: lively, adventurous & selfish.
  27. Write about something only the mathphobic people see.
  28. Start with this line of dialogue: “This is unacceptable.”
  29. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
  30. Start with this line of dialogue: “He made an ass of himself.”

Three Cheers and a Tiger Fall 2019 is CLOSED

Your challenge for the Fall 2019 Three Cheers and a Tiger Writing Contest:

Write a fantasy or science fiction story under 5000 words that opens with something needlessly dramatic, which becomes actual drama when…

Be sure to read both the Three Cheers and a Tiger contest rules and the general contest guidelines before submitting your entry.

Your 48 hours start now. Good luck!

August 2019
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write about very hot weather.
  2. Start with this line of dialogue: “You know it’s bad when…”
  3. Write about lingering over dinner.
  4. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: bedroom, adopt, quaint, school, reproduction.
    2. Write about a power (or other infrastructure) failure.
    3. Use the phrase, “This is the answer to everything.”
  5. Second time a show is watched, it’s a rerun of the same episode.
  6. Your setting is: dawn, heatwave for days, a film set, dream-like atmosphere.
  7. Write about a delayed dentist appointment.
  8. Write about: a journey.
  9. Write about being unable to talk to the very attractive person.
  10. Start with this line of dialogue: “I wanted it to be real so bad.”
  11. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: admission, arrogant, cup, hope, prestige.
    2. Write about trying to comfort someone.
    3. Use the phrase, “I don’t do that kind of thing.”
  12. Use these 5 words: smoky, malfunctioned, smells, directions, headquarters.
  13. Setting: A comic book store.
  14. Use these 5 words: fundraising, gallery, culture, significant, dialogue.
  15. Use the phrase, “Tell me more lies.”
  16. Write about a character who is: optimistic, depressed & arrogant.
  17. Write about a last dinner together.
  18. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: pocket, south, unfortunate, endure, cope.
    2. Fill in the blank: “that dream where _________ and no one notices.”
    3. Write about ignoring something obvious.
  19. Use the phrase, “What year is it again?
  20. Start with this line of dialogue: “You lose them how you get them.”
  21. Use the phrase, “Did I hit the hyperspace button by mistake?”
  22. Write about: holiday traditions.
  23. Write about a secret transformation.
  24. Use these 5 words: magicians, kittens, embarrassed, coerced, face.
  25. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: accent, dirty, evening, stroll, morsel.
    2. Fill in the blank: “All that’s left is _________ .”
    3. Write about stealing something from another culture or language.
  26. Use these 5 words: recipe, garnish, note, rabbit, rain.
  27. Setting: A funky cheese shop.
  28. Write about: a farm to table menu.
  29. Write about someone getting something stuck in their hair.
  30. Your setting is: dawn, bright sunshine, desert island, restless atmosphere.
  31. Use the phrase, “They’re serving brunch.”

2019 A Midsummer Tale Winners

Toasted Cheese is happy to announce the winners of the 2019 A Midsummer Tale Narrative Writing Contest.

1st: “Tulips” by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky
2nd: “Dirty Secrets Make for Orderly Lives” by Amberdawn Collier
3rd: “The Empty Mirror” by Sarah Evans

Congratulations!

First place receives a $50 Amazon gift card, second place a $15 Amazon gift card, and third place a $10 Amazon gift card. All three stories will appear in the September issue of Toasted Cheese.

Kudos to everyone who entered! We received over 50 entries again this year and enjoyed your many interpretations of the “secrets” theme. We hope you’ll join us for A Midsummer Tale again in 2020 and that you’ll pass the contest info along to your writing friends! Next summer’s theme will be announced April 1, 2020.

Our next contest is the fall Three Cheers and a Tiger 48-hour writing contest, which runs the weekend of September 20-22. See our contest page for details.

July 2019
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write about a sudden rain shower
  2. Use these 5 words: saint, fearless, courage, beaming, listen.
  3. Use the phrase “I meant to do that.”
  4. Your setting is: noon, light cloud, national park, friendly atmosphere.
  5. Start with “There’s more wine.”
  6. Write about: an avalanche.
  7. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: course, commitment, stretch, dressing, wrist.
    2. Write about help coming from an unexpected direction.
    3. Use the phrase, “There’s more where that came from.”
  8. Start with this line of dialogue: “Show the evidence.”
  9. “On this date in history…”
  10. Write about a character who is: secretive, unkind & cheerful.
  11. Use the phrase, “We’re stuck with each other.”
  12. Write about: a no-confidence vote.
  13. Write about forming new habits.
  14. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: behavior, profit, cat, underline, tongue.
    2. Write about needing more of something before starting.
    3. Fill in the blank, “Let’s try that out before _____.”
  15. Use the phrase, “How is that possible?”
  16. Start with this line of dialogue: “I have the best job.”
  17. Use the phrase “It’s all downhill from here.”
  18. Use these 5 words: pancakes, books, soulful, inspiration, music.
  19. One character is obsessed with numbers.
  20. Use these 5 words: wildfires, hurry, sprinting, monster, entangled.
  21. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: carbon, tiptoe, teenager, stitch, clock
    2. Write about not wanting to talk to anybody at all.
    3. Use the phrase, “It needs a refill.”
  22. Start with this line of dialogue: “I’m going to call her now.”
  23. Write about the new neighbors who don’t fit in.
  24. Use these 5 words: matrilineal, Martian, refugees, flu, spacecrafts.
  25. Write about going to do something you forgot you already did.
  26. Start with this line of dialogue: “He was going to propose.”
  27. Use the phrase, “Why did I come into the kitchen?”
  28. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: skeleton, calorie, modernize, grind, rob.
    2. Write about a minor annoyance that can’t be ignored.
    3. Use the phrase, “The end result is…”
  29. Use the phrase, “Don’t make me come back there.”
  30. Use these 5 words: orchestrated, revoke, pathos, exciting, challenge.
  31. Write about training the computer to expect something new.

June 2019
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write about new beginnings
  2. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: color, index, dependence, herd, rocket. Bonus word: earthwax.
    2. Write about a new way of thinking about the same old things.
    3. Fill in the blank: “It’s different for _______.”
  3. Let the setting be as important as a character.
  4. Your setting is: mid-morning, misty, rough neighborhood, joyful atmosphere.
  5. Write about not asking important questions.
  6. Write about: living through loss.
  7. A character who thinks they are alone, but is not.
  8. Use these 5 words: icon, idiosyncrasies, ensemble, heels, altered.
  9. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: lace, inspector, growth, mood, fee.
    2. Write about developing a blister.
    3. Fill in the blank: “That is so _______ that I have to scream now.”
  10. Write about a character who is: fearless, inspirational & judgmental.
  11. Here’s how you find out about that…
  12. Use these 5 words: isolating, sailing, fish, beaches, simplicity.
  13. Write about a child who is sick.
  14. Use these 5 words: sand, lobster, oceans, message, dolphin.
  15. Write about trying to understand a cat.
  16. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: penetrate, lump, object, destruction, flourish.
    2. Write about a forgotten holiday.
    3. Fill in the blank: “I hope you have a nice _______.”
  17. Write about a significant birthday.
  18. Write about: a welcome guest.
  19. Weave a story around an improvised recipe.
  20. Write about a character who is: generous, mysterious & industrious.
  21. Write about admiring nice weather through a window.
  22. Start with this line of dialogue: “Crews are responding.”
  23. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: mist, traction, exploration, diet, whole.
    2. Write about going out just after the rain ends.
    3. Fill in the blank: “I never would have thought you were _______.”
  24. Write about a character who is: rude, aggressive & selfish.
  25. Write about visiting an abandoned building.
  26. Write about: having everything you want.
  27. Write about exploring a new website.
  28. Write about a character who is: dependable, unkind & timid.
  29. Start with “You may ask yourself…”
  30. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: reach, strange, impact, priority, wrap.
    2. Write about finding a way to do something better.
    3. Use the phrase, “This is the interesting part.”

Toasted Cheese 19:2

The June 2019 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Timothy Robbins, Josh Smith & Peter D. A. Wood; flash by DS Levy, Tim Love, Buffy Shutt, Nan Wigington & Savera Zachariah; and fiction by Greg Jenkins.

TC 19:2 also includes the Spring 2019 Three Cheers and a Tiger Writing Contest winning stories by Miguel A. Rueda, Cayce Osborne & Charmaine Braun.

Candle-Ends is taking a break this issue but will return in September. Are you a TC author with a recently published book? Let us know about it: reviews@toasted-cheese.com. Must be able to provide a PDF copy for review.

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

The cover image is by Marco Verch 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!

May 2019
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. “Mayday, mayday!”
  2. Write about: an unwelcome conversation.
  3. Write about the birthday of a departed loved one.
  4. Write about: comparing notes.
  5. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
  6. Start with this line of dialogue: “Thank goodness for plastic surgery!”
  7. Answer a question with “Did you mean…?”
  8. Write about: a marriage of convenience.
  9. Write about dumping information on a new person.
  10. Start with this line of dialogue: “This song is actually a cover.”
  11. Write about obsessively staring at a phone screen.
  12. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
  13. Write about seeking out other native speakers of your language.
  14. Write about: an act of ecoterrorism.
  15. Having a hard time explaining something.
  16. Your setting is: mid-morning, heavy rain, city park, hostile atmosphere.
  17. Use the phrase, “Tell me that you love me.”
  18. Write about: an offensive nickname.
  19. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
  20. Use these 5 words: flabbergasted, murders, cookies, dolls, psyche.
  21. Write about a new box of crayons.
  22. Your setting is: mid-morning, thick fog, on a train, gloomy atmosphere.
  23. Fill in: “On this date in ______ (year)”
  24. Use these 5 words: cabaret, hipster, synthetic, smolder, condescending.
  25. “There are only 210 shopping days til Christmas!”
  26. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
  27. Write about the 13th ad for the same product.
  28. Start with this line of dialogue: “I’m sad to see _____ go.”
  29. Write about new beginnings.
  30. Write about: a resignation letter.
  31. Write about very strange weather.

April 2019
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write about an April Fools Day joke gone bad.
  2. Use these 5 words: musical, delightful, memorized, captioned, applause.
  3. Use the phrase, “What’s this thing for again?”
  4. Write about a character who is: optimistic, lonely & cruel.
  5. Write about trying to guess an acronym’s meaning
  6. Use these 5 words: wildland, dangerous, season, bear, pioneer.
  7. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: highway, terms, cultural, arena, circle.
    2. Write about borrowing something.
    3. Fill in the blank: “Can we talk about ______? Because we’re talking about it without using the word.”
  8. Your setting is: midnight, light snow falling, a desert, scary atmosphere.
  9. Write about that first birthday after a loss.
  10. Use these 5 words: scary, resort, monkey, lizard, naughty.
  11. Write about deflecting praise.
  12. Use these 5 words: poll, overseeing, representation, power, judges.
  13. Write about being distracted by conversation at the next table.
  14. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: graphic, receipt, contain, landscape, bring.
    2. Write about reversing roles.
    3. Use the phrase: “Does that ever work?”
  15. Write about anything except taxes.
  16. Use these 5 words: imagination, narrative, sparked, affected, transformed.
  17. Write about wearing the wrong thing to a gathering.
  18. Start with this line of dialogue: “You know where my head and heart are.”
  19. Write about aging ungracefully.
  20. Write about: the worst storm in a decade.
  21. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: sweet, restless, enlarge, ridge, strategic.
    2. Write about not wanting to talk about something.
    3. Fill in the blank: “But you told me _______.”
  22. Use these 5 words: grumpy, cats, fly, treats, curious.
  23. Write about arranging a complicated event.
  24. Use these 5 words: pool, poised, candid, daughter, duo.
  25. Write about getting the day of the week wrong.
  26. Write about a character who is: anxious, optimistic & conceited.
  27. Use the phrase, “What could go wrong?”
  28. Get today’s prompts on Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: traction, manager, reverse, creation, plan.
    2. Write about indecision.
    3. Fill in the blank: “I never thought I’d see the day when _______.”
  29. Write about going off shift at midnight.
  30. Start with this line of dialogue: “I’m scared.”