19th Annual Dead of Winter short fiction contest

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.


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.”


  • 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.


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

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