The 17th Annual “Dead of Winter” Writing Contest

Stories submitted to the 17th Annual Dead of Winter contest (December 2017) must use the theme NEVERTHELESS SHE PERSISTED (your entry must follow guidelines below).

This year’s theme is inspired by women and their resilience.

SPECIAL:

Horror has long given us female protagonists and antagonists, both in literature and film. Your entry will not only follow the theme NEVERTHELESS SHE PERSISTED but also give us strong female characters facing and/or creating horrors in original ways.

We want them to be challenged by forces within and/or without; they might not make it to the end of your story. The threat your main character faces might be female or she may be female herself (or both). Your story may feature one woman or one girl or several females but at least one major character in your story should be a female who is persistent.

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 DOW2017 is 3000–5000 words.

HOW TO ENTER:

The contest opens October 1, 2017 and the deadline for submission is 11:59 PM ET December 21, 2017.

Email entries to dow2017[at]toasted-cheese.com with the subject line:
Dead of Winter Contest Entry

Follow general contest guidelines and general Dead of Winter guidelines

 

Three Cheers and a Tiger Fall 2017 — CLOSED

Stories submitted to the 2017 Fall “Three Cheers and a Tiger” short fiction contest must follow the theme: “the  de-escalation of a potentially violent situation.” Your entry must also follow guidelines below.

Entries must be received by 5 PM Eastern Time, Sunday, September 24, 2017. The challenge is to write and submit a complete story in 48 hours. There is no registration and no entry fee.

SPECIAL:

Conflict has long been an inspiration to spec fic writers. In choosing this year’s theme, we’re inspired by real world events and are eager to see how SFF writers interpret not only the theme but the world in which we find ourselves. What world will you create and what will it say about our own?

EVERY YEAR:

Stories MUST be based on the theme provided.

Stories MUST be speculative fiction (sci fi or fantasy entries are welcome; read past winners to get an idea of what subgenres judges prefer).

Stories MUST fall within word count parameters. The word count range for 3CFall 2017 is 3000–4000 words.

HOW TO ENTER:

The contest opens September 22, 2017 at 5 PM ET and the deadline for submission is 5:00 PM ET September 24, 2017.

Email entries to threecheers17[@]toasted-cheese.com with the subject line:
Three Cheers Contest Entry

Paste your story directly into your email. No attachments please.

Follow general Three Cheers and a Tiger guidelines and general contest rules:

Three Cheers and a Tiger Guidelines

General Contest Rules

 

Dead of Winter 2016 Winners

The winning stories in our Dead of Winter 2016 contest are:

1st: “The Hands of Fate” by Ellis Sinclair
2nd: “The Dead of Winter” by Catherine J. Link
3rd: “Helping Hands Retreat” by Red Lagoe

These stories will be published in our March 2017 issue.

We are also awarding an honorable mention to “The Philosophy of Pre-Determinism” by Michael Grantham. Although the story will not be published, we appreciated the story’s clever callbacks to Manos: The Hands of Fate and its telling of the story of two minor characters, both cleverly named.

We enjoyed reading every entry and thank the entrants for sharing their creativity with us.

Dead of Winter 2017 opens October 1 and we invite you to enter. Our next contest is the 48-hour challenge “Three Cheers and a Tiger,” which runs the closest weekend to the beginning of Spring.

Keep writing! The Master would approve!

The 16th Annual “Dead of Winter” Writing Contest

Stories submitted to the 16th Annual Dead of Winter contest (December 2016) must use the theme THE HAND OF FATE (your entry must follow guidelines below).

This year’s theme is inspired by the 50th anniversary of the cult horror film Manos: The Hands of Fate. You may take as much or as little inspiration from the film as you like. You do NOT need to use elements of it for your story, although we’d like you to be inspired and have included some ideas about that below. Your only “must” is to use the theme THE HAND OF FATE.

SPECIAL:

Manos is universally acknowledged as one of the worst films ever made but its fans have latched onto its endearing elements. If you invest an hour of your time in watching the weirdness unspool, you’ll find something memorable, whether that’s a line of dialogue, a thrift store quality prop, or the strangely charismatic Torgo (as well as “the haunting Torgo Theme”). There’s a good story buried inside this weird little movie.

Note: the commentary tracks make the film more bearable to sit through; both include supplementary material to pad out a two-hour run time so the film itself begins about a quarter to halfway through (look for grainy footage of a family in a convertible). Manos: The Hands of Fate runs a little over an hour.

There are also several articles, reviews, and synopses online.

Ideally, your entry will not only follow the theme THE HAND OF FATE but will also employ some element of the film that inspired it. Examples (plot & character) include:

  • A couple/family gets lost on their way to a vacation resort
  • A couple/family finds something unexpected when they arrive at their destination
  • A cult whose leader is betrayed by his/her assistant
  • A cult revolts against its leader
  • A man who embraces 60s-era masculinity finds himself at the center of a situation he can’t control
  • A child who replaces a beloved pet with something sinister
  • A woman whose physical beauty makes her a target of desire for one, a “prize to be won” for another
  • A caretaker who abandons his/her post and faces physical consequences
  • The making of a low-budget movie goes awry

You might also be inspired by the time setting (1966), geographic setting (rural Texas borderland), or the film’s underlying (and unintended) themes, like sexism or servility.

We are not asking for, nor will we accept, Manos fanfic or any point-by-point retelling of the story of Manos: The Hands of Fate. Do not use the characters of Michael/Mike, Margaret/Maggie, Debbie, Torgo, The Master, or The Wives. You may take inspiration from them for your original characters.

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 DOW2016 is 2000–4000 words.

HOW TO ENTER:

The contest opens October 1, 2016 and the deadline for submission is 11:59 PM ET December 21, 2016.

Email entries to dow2016[at]toasted-cheese.com with the subject line:
Dead of Winter Contest Entry

Follow general contest guidelines and general Dead of Winter guidelines

manos-torgo-dow2016

Apparently when you make a bet about telling a horror story, you end up either with Frankenstein or Manos.

A Podcast in Each Hand

Toasted Cheese presents A Podcast In Each Hand: original exercises and writing prompts from our archive to inspire you for the week ahead. Each podcast is briefer than the time it would take to sizzle up a toasted cheese sandwich. If you use any of our exercises or prompts, we’d love to hear about it!

Producer: Stephanie Lenz
Sounds: PacmanGamer and Corsica_S; Music: gadzooks. All shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license and available at Freesound.org

The 15th Annual “Dead of Winter” Writing Contest

The 15th Annual Dead of Winter Writing Contest is OPEN!

Dead of Winter is a horror fiction contest.

This year’s theme is: THE NEIGHBORHOOD CHILDREN

Word count parameters: 1500-3000 words

Stories submitted to the 15th Annual Dead of Winter contest (December 2015) must use the theme THE NEIGHBORHOOD CHILDREN. We invite you to take inspiration from this artwork by Tom McCarthaigh (described below):

Tom McCarthaigh is an illustrator from the United Kingdom. His work conveys an atmosphere of mystery, magic as well as possible danger. Tom has worked with local zine writers in Bristol as well as clients from around the world. This year, his moth design was chosen as the hologram for Bristol’s very own printed currency.

Tom McCarthaigh is an illustrator from the United Kingdom. His work conveys an atmosphere of mystery, magic as well as possible danger. Tom has worked with local zine writers in Bristol as well as clients from around the world. This year, his moth design was chosen as the hologram for Bristol’s very own printed currency.

You may take as much or as little inspiration from this work as you like. You do NOT need to use elements of it for your story; you must only use the theme THE NEIGHBORHOOD CHILDREN.

Be sure to read both the Dead of Winter contest rules and the general contest guidelines before submitting your entry. Due to the autumnal elements of our visual prompt, stories may be set in fall or winter for the 2015 contest.

Deadline for entries is December 21.

Image description: Black & white sketch with a marbleized blue sky. Five children wearing Halloween costumes (a small jack-o-lantern appears behind them). The background includes a house (or houses), barren trees and a few leaves. 

A Podcast in Each Hand

Toasted Cheese presents A Podcast In Each Hand: original exercises and writing prompts from our archive to inspire you for the week ahead. Each podcast is briefer than the time it would take to sizzle up a toasted cheese sandwich. If you use any of our exercises or prompts, we’d love to hear about it!

Producer: Stephanie Lenz
Sounds: PacmanGamer and Corsica_S; Music: gadzooks. All shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license and available at Freesound.org

A Podcast in Each Hand

Toasted Cheese presents A Podcast In Each Hand: original exercises and writing prompts from our archive to inspire you for the week ahead. Each podcast is briefer than the time it would take to sizzle up a toasted cheese sandwich. If you use any of our exercises or prompts, we’d love to hear about it!

Producer: Stephanie Lenz
Sounds: PacmanGamer and Corsica_S; Music: gadzooks. All shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license and available at Freesound.org

A Podcast in Each Hand

Toasted Cheese presents A Podcast In Each Hand: original exercises and writing prompts from our archive to inspire you for the week ahead. Each podcast is briefer than the time it would take to sizzle up a toasted cheese sandwich. If you use any of our exercises or prompts, we’d love to hear about it!

Producer: Stephanie Lenz
Sounds: PacmanGamer and Corsica_S; Music: gadzooks. All shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license and available at Freesound.org

A Podcast in Each Hand

Toasted Cheese presents A Podcast In Each Hand: original exercises and writing prompts from our archive to inspire you for the week ahead. Each podcast is briefer than the time it would take to sizzle up a toasted cheese sandwich. If you use any of our exercises or prompts, we’d love to hear about it!

Producer: Stephanie Lenz
Sounds: PacmanGamer and Corsica_S; Music: gadzooks. All shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license and available at Freesound.org