22nd Annual Dead of Winter short fiction contest

Featured

Stories submitted to the the 22nd Annual Dead of Winter contest (December 2022) will use the theme OMINOUS WHISPERS.

When you think “ominous whispers,” what are they? How would they manifest? What would they do to the target? Where do they come from and what do they want? Think: the heating system kicking on under the bed, a mechanical sound that your protagonist is sure comes from the back seat, or susurrations among the gravestones on a bleak winter’s night… sure. That’s what that sound is. Feel free to play with the theme, like making “Ominous Whispers” a private club, an underground organization, or the captioning on a TV show. The “ominous whispers” can be as defined or undefined as you like and in just about any type of world you can imagine*.

EVERY YEAR:

Stories MUST be based on the theme provided.
Stories MUST be set in winter.
Stories MUST fall in the horror genre.

HOW TO ENTER:

The contest opens October 1, 2022 and the deadline for submission is 11:59 PM ET December 21, 2022.

Email entries to dow2022[at]toasted-cheese.com with the subject line:
Dead of Winter Contest Entry.

Include at the beginning of your entry: Title (word count)

The word count range for DOW 2022 is 1000–5000 words. You may round your word count however you like (example: a 4853-word-story could be “4853,” “4850,” or “~4900”). Stories that do not fall within word count parameters will be disqualified.

Follow general contest guidelines and general Dead of Winter guidelines.
See DOW guidelines for prize information.

* note: while we did take our inspiration from the Thaumaturgy cantrip in DnD, this is not a SFF or spec fic contest. Please no high fantasy; just horror! Roll initiative and write us a spooky story, bards!

Toasted Cheese 22:3

Featured

The September 2022 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Timothy Pilgrim & Ivy Raff; flash by Michael J. Brien, Hugh Cartwright & Sarah Kelleher; fiction by Swetha Amit, Kathryn Bashaar, Victoria Kemsley & Sarah Turner; and creative nonfiction by Laurel Doud.

TC 22:3 also includes the 2022 A Midsummer Tale Writing Contest winning stories by Jessica Upper, Tierney Acott & Laura Sweeney.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews Hollowed by Lucy Zhang, Bill Lockwood reviews Was Am Going by Ruth Ticktin, and Ruth Ticktin reviews Forced Entry? by Bill Lockwood.

The cover image is by Joe Haupt 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!

September 2022
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write about spending all day waiting.
  2. Use these five words: story, child marriage, happy, service, results
  3. Write about the first day on a new job.
  4. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: annual, miserable, hilarious, possession, eye.
    2. Use the phrase, “bleached by the sun.”
    3. Write about an unusual coffee break.
  5. Write about confusing tasks while multitasking.
  6. Write about an unpopular opinion.
  7. Write about computer-aided chaos.
  8. Use these five words: soprano, indigenous, winter, root, alien
  9. Write about a stone circle.
  10. Use these five words: showrunner, spine-chilling, cozy, comeback, avocado toast
  11. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: allow, restrain, main, splurge, valid.
    2. Use the phrase, “That’s revolutionary.”
    3. Write about translation problems.
  12. Use these five words: motor, horse, regular, special, boars
  13. Write about hiking with a kid who loves bugs.
  14. Start with this line: How much concern is there for…
  15. Write about doing something with the wrong hand.
  16. Write about a good habit.
  17. Write about forgetting to water plants.
  18. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: practical, queen, disgrace, manual, player.
    2. Use the phrase, “rooted out.”
    3. Write about losing several games in a row.
  19. Use the phrase, “Are we having fun yet?”
  20. Write about authenticity.
  21. Write about someone who’s always angry.
  22. Start with this line: I want one of everything!
  23. Write a story and enter the Savage memorial Sci-Fi/Fantasy writing contest.
  24. Start your story behind a camera.
  25. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: contact, free, circulate, explosion, electron.
    2. Use the phrase, “a lot of water.”
    3. Write about a lemonade stand.
  26. Start with this line: We’ve reached a deal.
  27. Write about a job interview.
  28. Start your story with a character saying “no.”
  29. Write about meeting prospective in-laws.
  30. Use these five words: adopted, construction, smack, blocked, vans

The 2022 Savage Science Fiction / Fantasy Writing Contest is CLOSED

Your challenge for the 2022 Savage Science Fiction / Fantasy Writing Contest:

Write a science fiction or fantasy story of 4,500 words or less involving secret information that has been leaked. It can be large or small, for example the name of the father, state secrets, a formula or spell.

Be sure to read both the Savage Writing Contest rules and the general contest guidelines before submitting your entry.

Your 48 hours start now. Good luck!

August 2022
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write about turning in homework late.
  2. Start with this line: Will it be enough?
  3. Write about waiting for results.
  4. Use these five words: dormant, soprano, angel, smile, dream
  5. Write about a remote control that only works close up.
  6. Use these five words: dream, passengers, define, undermining, neighborly
  7. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
  8. Start your story during a storm.
  9. Write about cracking a code.
  10. Use these five words: together, unvaxed, berries, electricity, porcupine
  11. Write about a bad customer service experience.
  12. Start with this line: I was feeling really confident.
  13. Write about being absorbed in a piece of art.
  14. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: flavor, motorist, room, joint, burn.
    2. Use the phrase, “and their siblings.”
    3. Write about an occasional dinner with a friend.
  15. Start your story on board a ship, at midnight, with a strong wind blowing.
  16. Use these five words: accident, nip, tied, eerie, haystack
  17. Write about a transformation.
  18. Start your story with a cancellation.
  19. Write about weather completely unlike today’s.
  20. Use these five words: design, horseshoe, livestream, map, grandma
  21. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: palm, adult, mixture, trouble, aisle.
    2. Use the phrase, “closer to the track.”
    3. Write about an event that cannot be rescheduled.
  22. Write about breaking tradition.
  23. Write about a band trying to distract people.
  24. Write about an avoidable crisis.
  25. Write about gazing out the window, daydreaming.
  26. Write about a special date.
  27. Write about using a broken tool.
  28. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: judicial, cottage, owe, bell, grant.
    2. Use the phrase, “very close to the edge.”
    3. Write about something that’s urgently needed but unavailable.
  29. Write about a dreaded anniversary.
  30. Start with this line: He’s quite stubborn.
  31. Write about being unable to please a customer.

2022 A Midsummer Tale Writing Contest Winners

Toasted Cheese is happy to announce the winners of the 2022 A Midsummer Tale Narrative Writing Contest.

First: “The Hardest Part” by Jessica Upper
Second: “Grow” by Tierney Acott
Third: “August in the Time of COVID” by Laura Sweeney
Honorable Mention: “Ambushed” by Adam Heenan

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! This year’s theme of “The End,” a personal ending that ties into a concurrent cataclysmic event, sent you in many different directions and I enjoyed reading all of your interpretations.

Please join us for A Midsummer Tale again in 2023 and pass the contest info along to your writing friends! Next summer’s theme will be announced April 1, 2023.

Our next contest is the Savage Science Fiction / Fantasy 48-hour writing contest, which runs the weekend of September 23-25. See our contest page for details.

July 2022
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write about special event parking.
  2. Start your story during a strike.
  3. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: harm, morale, joint, cheese, episode.
    2. Use the phrase, “It seems harmless.”
    3. Write about cancelling an event.
  4. Use these five words: honestly, takeaway, grift, favor, auditor
  5. Write about an old favorite song.
  6. Write about an accidental success.
  7. Use the phrase “On this date…”
  8. Start with this line: I’m in a good position.
  9. Write about a knife that needs to be sharpened.
  10. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: enjoy, land, output, detective, picture.
    2. Use the phrase, “It seems crowded for this time of day.”
    3. Write about waiting to see how something ends.
  11. Write about procrastination.
  12. Use these five words: rioted, dopamine, climate, heart, daylight
  13. Write about unlikely roommates.
  14. Start with this line: We’ve still got work to do.
  15. Invent a superstition for your story.
  16. Start with this line: Don’t get hung up on logistics.
  17. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: capital, belief, statement, overeat, stab.
    2. Use the phrase, “This won’t take very long.”
    3. Write about feeling chilled on a hot day.
  18. Use these five words: festivals, powerlessness, elaborate, exchange, sweaters
  19. Write about an odd way of figuring something out.
  20. Write about a blue rock.
  21. Use the phrase, “And now I’m writing to you.”
  22. Write about a new love language.
  23. Write about a lazy Saturday at home.
  24. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
  25. Write about a deceptive advertisement.
  26. Use these five words: expressway, failure, headache, shock, warbler
  27. Write about an unidentified sound.
  28. Start with this line: My soul is crushed.
  29. Write about an unwelcome visitor.
  30. Start with this line: I’m so angry.
  31. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: summer, freckle, expand, preference, steward.
    2. Use the phrase, “Let me show you.”
    3. Write about pulling a wine cork from the bottle.

June 2022
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write what you’re afraid of.
  2. Start your story on a playground.
  3. Write about explaining the meaning of an armband.
  4. Start with this line: All art is political.
  5. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: knowledge, favor, hospitality, coverage, departure.
    2. Use the phrase, “it helps me sleep.”
    3. Write about travel difficulties.
  6. Write about a hidden talent.
  7. Buy and read a banned book.
  8. Use these five words: tackling, volcano, stranger, forever, hellcat
  9. Write about forgetting to check that one box on the form.
  10. Start your story during a drought.
  11. Write about sticker shock.
  12. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: leave, rule, sand, particular, extort.
    2. Fill in the blank, “coming up on time to _________.”
    3. Write about an unidentified clomping noise.
  13. Use the phrase, “For my next trick.”
  14. Use these five words: versions, certificates, recorded, subway, sentences
  15. Write about negotiating a time for a meeting.
  16. Start with this line: Welcome back.
  17. Write about an adult’s birthday.
  18. Write about playing an instrument.
  19. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: facility, survivor, stroll, sausage, mourning.
    2. Use the phrase, “Are we ready yet?”
    3. Write about a frustrating experience with technology.
  20. Start with this line: This is heartbreaking.
  21. Write about misidentifying a national flag.
  22. Start your story while waiting for an answer.
  23. Write about being bored during a medical recovery.
  24. Start with this line: He’s watching what she does.
  25. Write about watching a game you don’t understand.
  26. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: undermine, product, column, dozen, quota.
    2. Use the phrase, “That puts things in a different light.”
    3. Write about reading between the lines.
  27. Write about cleaning up a mud-covered kid.
  28. Start your story while doing laundry.
  29. Write about hooking up a music player.
  30. Write about a journey.

Toasted Cheese 22:2

The June 2022 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Lori Bellamy, Sara Falkstad, Jenny Hockey, Hannah Ray, Lacie Semenovich & John Sweet; flash by Mike Hickman, Emma Pearl & Renée Perry; and fiction by Elisse Sophia Ahmet, Sophy Bristow, Mary Chambers, Sarah Hills, Hannah Hopkins, Inés G. Labarta, Tony Press & Annabel White.

TC 22:2 also includes the 2022 Savage Mystery Writing Contest winning stories by Robin Hillard, Janet Innes & Sue Seabury.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews The Italian Professor’s Wife by Ann Pedone and Salvatore Marici reviews A Child Walks in the Dark by Darren C. Demaree.

The cover image is by Joe Flood 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 2022
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: projection, fox, helpless, integration, forum.
    2. Use the phrase, “When does that start?”
    3. Write about trying to remember where someone lives.
  2. Start with this line: My plan is coming together.
  3. Write about gathering dry leaves.
  4. Write about what lies under the surface.
  5. Write about a lost loved-one’s birthday
  6. Use these five words: spin-off, slash, progress, rejoin, critique
  7. Use “such is the life of a houseplant.”
  8. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: quota, drag, husband, recommendation, bargain.
    2. Use the phrase, “Let me answer a different question.”
    3. Write about talking yourself out of a corner.
  9. Write about doing a word puzzle.
  10. Use these five words: afloat, independent, route, stagecoach, Hollywood
  11. Use the phrase, “I can live with that.”
  12. Write about a shared vision.
  13. Write about wondering how thorough a search was.
  14. Write about revisionist history.
  15. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: community, orientation, pasture, problem, loot.
    2. Use the phrase, “And then it’s gone.”
    3. Write about watching a bird.
  16. Write about an adrenaline rush.
  17. Write about making people participate in a group project.
  18. Use these five words: botox, vanishing, pumpkin, novelist, addiction
  19. Write about procrastination.
  20. Write about conquering a fear.
  21. Write about a quiet weekend at home.
  22. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: jewel, paint, opinion, table, average.
    2. Use the phrase, “Does Tuesday work for you?”
    3. Write about noticing a tree.
  23. Write about running out of coffee.
  24. Write about a rude phone conversation.
  25. Write about avoiding a holiday.
  26. Start with this line: You don’t intend to trust me.
  27. Your character is trying to ignore losing someone.
  28. Start with this line: I’m really conflicted.
  29. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: reduce, trade, station, snack. gift.
    2. Use the phrase, “the duck problem.”
    3. Write about struggling with technology.
  30. Start your story at a city council meeting.
  31. Write about not quite catching up.