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!

 

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. 

Toasted Cheese 15:1

The March 2015 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Holly Day, John Grey & Anne Britting Oleson; flash by Jill Boyles, Bradley Sides & Christopher T. White and fiction by Louis M. Abbey, Arika Elizenberry, Lane Kareska, Daniel Nazer, Marlene Olin, Jonathan Pauls & Tony Press.

TC 15:1 also includes the 2014 Dead of Winter Writing Contest winning stories by Erin McDougall, John Howe & Amelia Diamond.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle & Work to Do by Bob Zeanah and A.R. Cook reviews Swish Swirl & Sniff by Salvatore Marici.

This issue’s Snark Zone is by Stephanie “Baker” Lenz & Theryn “Beaver” Fleming.

The cover image is by Benny’s Chop House, 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!

Dead of Winter Winners!

Thank you for entering our Dead of Winter 2014 contest. Competition was tight, with a record number of entries. The winning stories are:

  • 1st: “Heirlooms” by Erin McDougall
  • 2nd: “The Others” by John Howe
  • 3rd: “The Snake” by Amelia Diamond
  • Honorable Mention: “Le Greniere” by Hortense De Castro

The first, second, and third place stories will be published in our March 2015 issue. Because of our record number of entries, first place receives a $50 Amazon gift card, second a $15 Amazon gift card & third a $10 Amazon gift card.

Thank you for providing such wonderful and diverse reading material for the judges. Dead of Winter 2015 opens October 1 and we invite you to enter. Our next contest is the 48-hour challenge Three Cheers and a Tiger, which runs March 20-22, 2015.

Keep writing!

Stephanie Lenz and Erin Bellavia

Three Cheers and a Tiger Winners

We have (finally) finished reading and judging the stories for the fall Three Cheers and a Tiger writing contest, and are happy to announce the winners:

  • Gold: Jill Spencer, “Something Wicked”
  • Silver: Amelia Diamond, “A Small Miscalculation”
  • Bronze: Alexander Pawlowski, “My Funeral”

Congratulations to the winners! These stories will appear in the December issue of Toasted Cheese Literary Journal.

Our next contest, Dead of Winter, is currently open.

14th Annual Dead of Winter Writing Contest

The 14th Annual Dead of Winter Writing Contest is OPEN!

Dead of Winter is a horror fiction contest. This year’s theme is: TOYS IN THE ATTIC.

Stories submitted to the 14th Annual Dead of Winter contest (December 2014) must use the theme Toys In the Attic. A child’s plaything must feature prominently in your story and the story setting should be an attic, penthouse, or other “top floor.” Be creative with other setting elements, including time period and geographic location.

Be sure to read both the Dead of Winter contest rules and the general contest guidelines before submitting your entry.

Deadline for entries is December 21.

Questions? Feel free to ask them here or at the forums.

Toasted Cheese 14:1

The March 2014 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by April Michelle Bratten, Kathryn Jacobs, Erren Geraud Kelly, Marisa Marinelli & John Roth; flash by Rick Bailey & Rupprecht Mayer and fiction by Skye Allen, Terry Barca, Eileen Gonzalez & Tony Press.

TC 14:1 also includes the 2013 Dead of Winter Writing Contest winning stories by J. Chad Kebrdle, Lynn Bauman-Milner & Stephen Lawson.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews As We Refer to Our Bodies by Darren C. Demaree.

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

The cover image is by Alpha/avlxyz, 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!


p.s. This issue also brings the biggest behind-the-scenes changes since TC began—we’ve moved the entire journal to WordPress. If you happen to notice any glitches, we’d appreciate it if you pointed them out. You can use this form. Thanks! We hope you enjoy the updated site.

Dead of Winter 2013 Winning Stories

Winning stories for our 13th annual Dead of Winter short horror fiction contest are:

First place: “Mother” by J. Chad Kebrdle
Second place: “Mother’s Nature” by Lynn Bauman-Milner
Third place: “Flea” by Stephen Lawson

These three stories will be published in the March 2014 issue of Toasted Cheese.

Our next contest is “Three Cheers & A Tiger: Spring,” which is a 48-hour mystery contest that will take place March 21-23 this year. The 14th annual Dead of Winter contest theme and word count parameters will be announced when the contest opens October 1.

2014 Writing Contests

Toasted Cheese runs four writing contests annually. Before entering a contest, please make sure you read the general guidelines that apply to all the the contests as well as the specific guidelines for the contest you are entering.


Three Cheers and a Tiger is a writing contest that challenges you to write a complete story on a specified topic within a single weekend (48 hours). Three Cheers runs twice a year, in spring and fall.

The Spring 2014 Three Cheers and a Tiger mystery writing contest will run the weekend of March 21–23, 2014. Topic and word range will be announced Friday, March 21 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time at Just the Place for a Snark. Winning stories will be published in the June 2014 issue of Toasted Cheese.

2013 winning stories (topic: the “There was an Old Man of New York” Edward Lear limerick plays an important role):

  1. Derry’s Down, Deary” by Alison Reeger Cook
  2. Rare Books” by Ellen Wright
  3. Marginalia” by Jen Julian

The Fall 2014 Three Cheers and a Tiger science fiction / fantasy writing contest will run the weekend of September 19–21, 2014. Topic and word range will be announced Friday, September 19 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time at Just the Place for a Snark. Winning stories will be published in the December 2014 issue of Toasted Cheese.

2013 winning stories (topic: underground railroad):

  1. Nights and Wishes” by Cheryl Clark
  2. Save What We Can” by Kate Lansky
  3. Get Carter” by Lorraine Nelson

We also hold two more traditional writing contests with longer time frames each year. A Midsummer Tale runs April–June, while Dead of Winter runs October–December.

A Midsummer Tale is open to creative nonfiction and non-genre fiction stories of 1,000–5,000 words. The 2014 theme will be announced April 1. A Midsummer Tale closes for entries June 21, 2014. Winning stories will be published in the September 2014 issue of Toasted Cheese.

2013 winning stories (theme: retreat/encounter):

  1. As I Walk Out One Evening” by HC Hsu (cnf)
  2. Hell is a Dry Heat” by Chris DeWildt (fiction)
  3. Summer Fruits” by Pauline Wiles (fiction)

Dead of Winter is a horror fiction writing contest for stories set in winter. The 2014 theme and word range will be announced October 1. The contest closes for entries December 21, 2014. Winning stories will be published in the March 2015 issue of Toasted Cheese.

2012 winning stories (theme: heart and soul):

  1. The Perfect Gift” by Greg Osadec
  2. Inversion” by Steven Till
  3. The Dangers of Living Vicariously” by Stephen Lawson

Reminder: Prize money will increase if we receive more entries, so pass the contest information along to your writing buddies and encourage them to enter!