A Midsummer Tale 2022

A Midsummer Tale is a summer-themed narrative writing contest open to non-genre fiction and creative nonfiction.

The theme of the 2022 A Midsummer Tale writing contest is: The End. This year your challenge is to write about a personal ending that ties into a concurrent cataclysmic event and together feel like the end of the world for your protagonist.

Your story must be set during the hot summer months and the theme must play an integral role in the story.

Deadline for entries is June 21, 2022.

March 2022
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Use “Once a season, whether we need it or not.”
  2. Start with this line: It’s pretty scary.
  3. Write about an all-day meeting.
  4. Start your story during a break-up.
  5. Write about wondering where you got an idea.
  6. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: modest, embrace, quarter, auditor, afford.
    2. Fill in the blank, “Now subtract ______.”
    3. Write about the pitter-patter of little feet.
  7. Write about waiting for a storm.
  8. Start with this line: I wanted to be there for you.
  9. Write about finding something under a rock.
  10. Start with this line: Here are some suggestions.
  11. Write about people watching at a railroad crossing.
  12. Start your story during a virtual class or workshop.
  13. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five reporter, eavesdrop, chapter, conviction, celebration.
    2. Fill in the blank, “I don’t need to do that any more.”
    3. Write about an obsolete skill.
  14. Use these five words: overdue, exit, homelessness, protests, embryos
  15. Start next to an ice-covered pond on a warm day.
  16. Start your story at the beach.
  17. Write wordless dialog.
  18. Use these five words: roof, summer, humanity, freak, crash
  19. Write about a vacant restaurant.
  20. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five compartment, challenge, gene, horse, greeting.
    2. Fill in the blank, “Am I the only one left?”
    3. Write about birdwatching.
  21. Use the phrase, “All else being equal”
  22. Write about eavesdropping.
  23. Write about getting up very early.
  24. Start your story in a restaurant closed for a private event.
  25. Start with “Tell me a story.”
  26. Use these five words: banana, clear, credits, game, wars
  27. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: assume, blackmail, registration, consideration, personal.
    2. Fill in the blank, “I remember when this was empty space.”
    3. Write about watching a fire.
  28. Write about sneaking in contraband.
  29. Write about meeting a friend for coffee.
  30. Start your story in an artist’s studio.
  31. Write about leaving a task unfinished.

The 2022 Savage Mystery Writing Contest is CLOSED

The 2022 48-hour Savage Mystery Writing Contest is now open.

Entries must be received by 5 PM Eastern Time, Sunday, March 20, 2022.

Write a mystery story that features an antique dollhouse.

Word range: Between 2400 and 2600 words.

  • Send entries to: savagemystery22@toasted-cheese.com
  • Your subject line must read: Savage Mystery Contest Entry
  • Paste your story directly into your email. No attachments please.

For complete rules:

Toasted Cheese 22:1

The March 2022 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Carla Scarano D’Antonio & Diane Webster; fiction by Aishani Biswas, Jim Ray Daniels & Joshua Shapiro; and creative nonfiction by Mark Liebenow & Layla Sabourian.

TC 22:1 also includes the 2021 Dead of Winter Horror Writing Contest winning stories by Jason Porterfield, Gail A. Webber, Bunny McFadden & DJ Tyrer.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews Where the Stork Flies by Linda Wisniewski and Garrett Ray Harriman reviews Sneezing Coyotes by Salvatore Marici.

The cover image is by Ruth Hartnup 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!

February 2022
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Start with “Twas the night before Groundhog’s…”
  2. Start your story while stranded without cell service.
  3. Write about something that falls between categories.
  4. Use these five words: bridge, serenade, detectives, sensitivity, blackbird
  5. Write about a group project.
  6. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: real, copper, grimace, opponent, swear.
    2. Use the phrase, “Maybe if I don’t watch it.”
    3. Write about equipment failure.
  7. Write about a multi-colored graphic.
  8. Use these five words: peacemaking, finesse, unpack, battles, blue
  9. Write about falling off a bicycle.
  10. Start your story while watching a scary movie.
  11. Write about a lone goose on a frozen pond.
  12. Use these five words: museum, brilliance, radar, elephants, sailing
  13. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: joke, wander, exhibition, injection, headline.
    2. Use the phrase, “I ate that for lunch.”
    3. Write about an unexpected color.
  14. Start your story during a costume party.
  15. Use the phrase, “I’m not late, yet.”
  16. Start with this line: He has no regrets.
  17. Write about canceling a party.
  18. Use these five words: bee, nutty, straightening, uncut, tuna
  19. Write about children’s team sports.
  20. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: consumer, necklace, justice, obscure, promise.
    2. Use the phrase, “Tell me a story.”
    3. Write about overlooking an important detail.
  21. Use “The 21st is not a Thursday.”
  22. Start your story on a ferry.
  23. Write about improvising for a missing chess piece.
  24. Use these five words: agencies, teams, shoulder, cocktail, textiles
  25. Write about a folder stuffed full of papers.
  26. Write about negative space.
  27. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: pile, chocolate, decisive, dedicate, disorder.
    2. Use the phrase, “Isn’t that a mouthful?”
    3. Write about a different solution to a problem.
  28. Use these five words: lawmaker, heroes, plans, godsend, renaissance

Dead of Winter 2021 Winners

The winning stories for our 21st annual Dead of Winter horror fiction contest are:

  • 1st: “Fitting Room #3” by Jason Porterfield
  • 2nd: “Rules” by Gail A. Webber
  • 3rd (tie): “Cutting Your Own” by Bunny McFadden
  • 3rd (tie): “Broken Bridge” by DJ Tyrer

The first, second, and both third place stories will appear in TCLJ 22.1, our Spring issue.

Our next contest is The Savage Mystery Writing Contest, which opens Friday, March 18 and ends Sunday, March 20. Please remember to follow theme, genre, and word count parameters on all contests. There is no registration, entry fee, or geographic restriction for this or any TC contest. Toasted Cheese’s contest info is here.

January 2022
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write about promises kept only approximately.
  2. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: roll, green, pigeon, storage, fling.
    2. Use the phrase, “We appreciate…”
    3. Write about a favorite childhood toy.
  3. Write about a support person in a work group.
  4. Start with this line: My dad doesn’t approve of him.
  5. Write about a hospital stay
  6. Write about quitting a competition.
  7. Write about weather very different from today’s.
  8. Write about a big discovery.
  9. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: concrete, performer, soil, mild, father.
    2. Use the phrase, “with raisins in it.”
    3. Write about not knowing the day of the week.
  10. Start your story in a science lab.
  11. Write about a wrong-number phone call.
  12. Use these five words: bullied, farm, diverse, born, hell
  13. Write about a big round-number birthday.
  14. Write about a maverick.
  15. Write about a welcome-home from a pet.
  16. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: punish, sausage, range, grace, network.
    2. Use the phrase, “What is it thinking?”
    3. Write about a hurry-up-and-wait situation.
  17. Write about a chosen family relationship.
  18. Use these five words: inferiority, grisly, icons, raven, references
  19. Write about working toward a dream.
  20. Start your story in a dystopia.
  21. Write about learning to do something complicated.
  22. Write about a frightening question.
  23. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: merchant, hall, goalkeeper, depart, slippery.
    2. Use the phrase, “supposedly ancient.”
    3. Write about the final issue of a magazine.
  24. Write about a red flag.
  25. Write about deciding not to buy something that’s wanted.
  26. Start your story at a protest of old-growth logging.
  27. Write a shaggy-dog story.
  28. Start your story on a Sunday afternoon.
  29. Write about an unsung hero.
  30. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: harvest, bulletin, gutter, braid, acute.
    2. Use the phrase, “everyone I don’t like.”
    3. Write about an odd posture or position.
  31. Write about malfunctioning equipment.

December 2021
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write in a dialect not your own.
  2. Set your story in a medical research laboratory
  3. Write about a book club.
  4. Start with this line: We will fight all the way to the Supreme Court.
  5. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: confession, pony, welcome, distant, elect.
    2. Use the phrase, “Is that the beer talking?”
    3. Write about walking away from something familiar.
  6. Write about a violation of policy
  7. Write about being at sea in a storm.
  8. Write about a betrayal
  9. Write about the Little People.
  10. Start with this line: She’s jealous of people who live in California.
  11. Write about waiting for the mail to come.
  12. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: detector, variety, directory, light, corn.
    2. Use the phrase, “justify the expense.”
    3. Write about an expected surprise.
  13. Write about using an old calendar.
  14. Write about a video conference call incident
  15. Write about waiting in the cold.
  16. Start with this line: I may not have all of the facts but…
  17. Use the phrase, “What I should have done.”
  18. Write about baking a pie
  19. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: district, cottage, relation, steel, genuine.
    2. Fill in the blank, “Cheap _____ is not worth the money.”
    3. Write about intentionally violating rules.
  20. Write about a meteor shower
  21. Write about something that can only happen on the solstice.
  22. Write about an artist’s process
  23. Write about a small child jumping up and down.
  24. Use these five words: veterans, additional, range, gamble, dynamic
  25. Write about staying up after midnight.
  26. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: death, parade, time, potential, public.
    2. Use the phrase, “Can you hear it?”
    3. Write about doing something other people thought impossible.
  27. Write about turning down dessert.
  28. Use these five words: perfectionism, unworthy, Emmy, B-roll, aesthetic
  29. Write about trying to resume after interruption.
  30. Start with this line: We are raffling off two tickets.
  31. Summarize last year’s writing. What can you do differently next year?

Toasted Cheese 21:4

The December 2021 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Nathaniel Krenkel, DS Maolalai & David Sapp; flash by Hibah Shabkhez; and fiction by Mari Carlson, Mary Sophie Filicetti, Bari Lynn Hein, Ewa Mazierska & Andrea Stephenson.

TC 21:4 also includes the 2021 Savage Science Fiction / Fantasy 48-Hour Writing Contest winning stories by Cara Brezina, Robin Hillard & Ian Bentwood.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews I, Menagerie by Garrett Ray Harriman, Anne Greenwalt reviews Gare de Lyon by Bill Lockwood, and Bill Lockwood reviews The Dime by Mark Paxson.

The cover image is by John Kroll 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!

November 2021
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write about waiting for the first winter storm.
  2. Start with this line: Stop crying!
  3. Write about an old stuffed animal toy.
  4. Use these five words: charmed, soldier, fishing, realist, beach
  5. Write about struggling with a computer.
  6. Use these five words: weekend, marches, surprising, weather, park
  7. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: violation, understanding, quaint, husband, pole.
    2. Use the phrase, “I need help.”
    3. Write about losing an important item.
  8. Start with this line: The tsunami has been upgraded.
  9. Write about losing a shopping list.
  10. Start with this line: All the rats are leaving that sinking ship.
  11. Write about the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
  12. Start with this line: You dance like my mom.
  13. Write about looking through smudged glasses.
  14. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: benefit, treatment, embark, helmet, litigation.
    2. Use the phrase, “That’s not part of the celebration.”
    3. Write about things we no longer wear.
  15. Write about a mountain in the mist.
  16. Start with this line: The odds are stacked against us.
  17. Write about missing a quota.
  18. Start with this line: Well, that didn’t age well.
  19. Write about a dangerous intersection.
  20. Start with this line: I really want you to win.
  21. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: bike, meet, pill, gradient, manage.
    2. Use the phrase, “The world seems smaller.”
    3. Write about photographing a landscape.
  22. Use these five words: midnight, exposure, nothing, cheat, air
  23. Write about losing touch with a friend.
  24. Start with this line: I just wanted to say thank you for…
  25. Write about celebrating the wrong holiday.
  26. Use these five words: clinical, halt, unconscionable, debate, disrupting
  27. Write about a houseplant blooming.
  28. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: suspicion, admission, detective, joke, inspire.
    2. Use the phrase, “book of inspirational quotes.”
    3. Write about wrestling with technology.
  29. Set your story at a rehearsal.
  30. Use these five words: envoy, partners, affordability, heart, digital