21st Annual Dead of Winter short fiction contest

Stories submitted to the the 21st Annual Dead of Winter contest (December 2021) will use the theme STAY OUT OF THE ___ .

Since childhood, we’ve been warned to stay away from certain places like the forest or an abandoned house. We’re also told to stay out of arguments or not to shake the family tree. After all, it’s for our own good. What could possibly go wrong if we disregard this fundamental advice? Your characters will get to find out in the horror story you’ll write by completing and using that 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. Give your story a unique title.


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


The contest opens October 1, 2021 and the deadline for submission is 11:59 PM ET December 21, 2021.

Email entries to dow2021[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 2021 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email