April 2021
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write about why April fools get their own day.
  2. Write about winning
  3. Write about an animal mascot.
  4. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: jump, extension, waterfall, pile, monopoly.
    2. Use the phrase, “Can we afford that?”
    3. Write about an auction.
  5. Write about figuring out a weird calendar.
  6. Use these five words: groups, masks, doctor, refused, office
  7. Write about an unlucky number.
  8. Start with this line: This rhetoric is inciting violence.
  9. Write about introducing old and new partners.
  10. Write about an intense class
  11. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: defeat, growth, ask, highlight, grace.
    2. Use the phrase, “I don’t know what’s in it.”
    3. Write about interruptions.
  12. Write about a shooting
  13. Write about struggling to read fine print.
  14. Set your story under the surface of the ocean
  15. Write about a last-minute reprieve.
  16. Write about an important vote
  17. Write about a lazy Saturday spent with a friend.
  18. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: claim, velvet, acquit, argument, loose.
    2. Use the phrase, “It’s better not to ask.”
    3. Write about a moth drawn to a flame.
  19. Write about a formal tea ceremony.
  20. Start with this line: Do you think he will leave peacefully?
  21. Write about tedious repetition.
  22. Use these five words: discovery, collaboration, hug, plant, voice
  23. Write about confusion over an acronym.
  24. Use these five words: staffing, rock, recipients, counted, author
  25. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: chord, chain, exercise, smart, album.
    2. Use the phrase, “Here’s the plan.”
    3. Write about waiting for dinnertime.
  26. Write about dancing in the rain
  27. Write about a recurring nightmare.
  28. Start with this line: What are you most looking forward to?
  29. Write about the last of its kind.
  30. Use these five words: outlandish, shattering, accident, syndrome, modicum

2021 Savage Mystery Writing Results

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Savage Mystery Writing Contest!

First Place: “Off Your Block” by Cara Brezina
Second Place: “Mystery at the Museum by Morgan-McKay Hoppmann
Third Place: “Memories from Franklin County, Missouri” by Jay Bechtol

The winning entries will appear in the upcoming issue of Toasted Cheese.

We’d like to thank everyone who entered. The unexpected uprooting of trees revealed a variety of mysteries. I hope you had as much fun writing the stories as I had reading them.

Amanda (The Bellman) Marlowe

A Midsummer Tale 2021

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

The theme of the 2021 A Midsummer Tale writing contest is: Coming of Age. A coming-of-age story focuses on the main character’s growth from adolescence to young adulthood. This could be your personal story or it could be a fictional one.

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, 2021.

March 2021
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Start with the names of three colors.
  2. Use these five words: forgotten, identities, weird, attribute, completed
  3. Write about a failing battery.
  4. Set your story in a casino
  5. Write about taking all day to do a simple task.
  6. Write about your writing routine
  7. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: dive, court, neighbor, collar, organize.
    2. Use the phrase, “Is that a cactus?”
    3. Write about an arithmetic mistake.
  8. Start with this line: I shouldn’t be laughing.
  9. Use the phrase, “Tell me a story.”
  10. Write about unwelcome paparazzi photos
  11. Write about a failed software update.
  12. Use these five words: hopeful, detour, roadblock, active, loudly
  13. Write about being afraid to go out.
  14. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: glare, clerk, feign, conclusion, aloof.
    2. Use the phrase, “It’s not a good place.”
    3. Write about remorse or regret.
  15. Write about being stuck with an uncertain welcome.
  16. Start with this line: I don’t make the rules.
  17. Give your character an unusual name.
  18. Start with this line: The only thing that would horrify me is…
  19. Use “I used to know how to do this.”
  20. Set your story on a fishing boat
  21. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: disorder, performer, waste, tropical, grief.
    2. Use the phrase, “What are you feeling?”
    3. Write about picky food preferences.
  22. Start with this line: What a trip down memory lane.
  23. Write about an apprentice.
  24. Set your story in a dream
  25. Write about a summer hockey league.
  26. Set your story at a yoga class
  27. Write about a childhood embarrassment.
  28. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: medium, hard, unpleasant, care, orgy.
    2. Use the phrase, “mended feelings.”
    3. Write about an uncanny feeling.
  29. Write about a bad case of the Mondays.
  30. Write about making a big move
  31. Write about pushing up against limits.

The 2021 Savage Mystery Writing Contest is CLOSED

The 2021 Savage Mystery Writing Contest (formerly Spring Three Cheers and a Tiger) is now open.

Entries must be received by 5 PM Eastern Time, Sunday, March 21, 2021.

Write a mystery story that features something that is revealed when a tree is uprooted in a storm.

Word count: Between 2900 and 3100 words.

  • Send entries to: savagemystery21@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 21:1

The March issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Mandy Haggith, Jenny Hockey, W. Joseph O’Connell, Liam Tait & DJ Tyrer; flash by Gigi Papoulias, Clara Schwarz & Shelbi Tedeschi; and fiction by Mari Carlson, Joey Dickerson, Samyuktha Iyer & Allison Meldrum.

TC 21:1 also includes the 20th Annual Dead of Winter Horror Writing Contest winning stories by Karen Sheard, H.B. Bendt & Matt Boyle.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews Hinterland by L.M. Brown and The Reflection in a Glass Eye by Simon Perchik.

The cover image is by Jonathan Ooi 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 2021
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write about a wild speculation.
  2. Start with this line: I’ve always been there.
  3. Write about trying to revive an extinct holiday.
  4. Set your story at a city council meeting
  5. Write about waiting for a computer to update.
  6. Start with this line: Are we allowed to go to bed yet?
  7. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: vehicle, promote, perforate, green, friend.
    2. Use the phrase, “add that to the list.”
    3. Write about something that’s undercooked.
  8. Set your story in a room with a fireplace
  9. Write about watching events without being able to do anything.
  10. Use these five words: books, school, talked, rushing, quality
  11. Use the phrase, “That wasn’t there 5 minutes ago.”
  12. Use these five words: scientists, freelancers, erupted, figures, question
  13. Describe a sunrise or sunset.
  14. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: fame, hesitate, sign, character, referee.
    2. Use the phrase, “Is your heat on?”
    3. Write about vigorous exercise.
  15. Use the phrase, “Didn’t I just do that?”
  16. Use these five words: bidding, positive, donuts, tycoon, wealthy
  17. Use the phrase, “I’ll check that right now.”
  18. Start with this line: She can’t say anything that will upset her boss.
  19. Use the phrase, “Tell us that story again.”
  20. Use these five words: parole, snowfall, riot, teachers, red carpet
  21. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: mean, overall, circumstance, progressive, grind.
    2. Use the phrase, “You never listen.”
    3. Write about putting something in the wrong place.
  22. Start with this line: Here’s what you need to know.
  23. Write about treachery.
  24. Use these five words: carriage, kneecap, garlic, terminated, uneasy
  25. Write about kids playing on a statue.
  26. Start with this line: The next scheduled departure is at 5pm.
  27. Write about being “randomly” selected.
  28. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: salon, twin, stroke, organ, breeze.
    2. Use the phrase, “How can that exist in the same world as this?”
    3. Write about a sad memory.

Dead of Winter 2020 Winners

Thank you for your patience as we determined our final Dead of Winter results, which are:

  • 1st: “The Cold Face of the Mountain” by Karen Sheard (Theme: Alaska)
  • 2nd: “A Guiding Light” by H.B. Bendt (Theme: The Haunted Lighthouse)
  • 3rd: “Carriers” by Matt Boyle (Theme: The Award)
  • Honorable Mention: “The Reborn” by Becca Yenser (Theme: Heart and Soul)
  • Honorable Mention: “The Seagull” by Alex Grey (Theme: Nevertheless She Persisted)

The most popular themes submitted to our 20th annual horror fiction contest were “Nevertheless She Persisted” and “The Hand of Fate.” The first, second, and third place stories will appear in Toasted Cheese 21.1, our Spring issue.

Our next contest is the renamed The Savage Mystery Writing Contest (formerly Three Cheers and a Tiger), which opens Friday, March 19 and ends Sunday, March 21. 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.

January 2021
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Write about looking back on hopes for last year.
  2. Use these five words: boundaries, fraud, exhibition, intimacy, display
  3. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: irony, die, mood, tissue, sound.
    2. Fill in the blank: “Love is what happens when _________.”
    3. Write about a preposterous excuse.
  4. Set your story in a downtown alley
  5. Write about a morning without coffee.
  6. Start with this line: I have two options.
  7. Use the phrase, “Read this and summarize.”
  8. Use these five words: intelligence, awareness, power, bottleneck, sanctions
  9. Write about translating a poem.
  10. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: arrogant, qualification, overwhelm, listen, reflect.
    2. Fill in the blank: “_________ is what makes the world go around.”
    3. Write about being slightly too late.
  11. Use the phrase, “Help me take this off.”
  12. Write about a frightening book
  13. Write about a birthday party.
  14. Start with this line: What you are describing is a crime.
  15. Write about rediscovering old music.
  16. Start with this line: It’s not over yet.
  17. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: body, grind, secure, spirit, disappoint.
    2. Use the phrase, “I don’t know what to think.”
    3. Write about refusing dessert.
  18. Write about a medical diagnosis
  19. Fill in: “Aren’t you tired of _________?”
  20. Use these five words: essential, gifts, necessary, trend, soundtrack
  21. Write about new beginnings.
  22. Set your story in the home of a wealthy family that hates each other
  23. Write about not participating in a common activity.
  24. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: picture, doll, control, rule, eavesdrop.
    2. Use the phrase, “Look at the shadow.”
    3. Write about deciding if something is safe.
  25. Write about blocking someone on social media.
  26. Write about an asteroid headed for Earth
  27. Write about a delivery that arrives early.
  28. Use these five words: comeback, life, trading, badly, direction
  29. Write about finding patterns where there are none.
  30. Use these five words: hibernation, clothes, undercurrent, walks, log
  31. Join us for a live Writing Chat every Sunday!
    1. Use the following five words: meet, date, announcement, practice, rainbow.
    2. Use the phrase, “There’s only one left.”
    3. Write about hoping someone understands.

Dead of Winter delay

Due to (gestures around) everything, TC will be a little late announcing Dead of Winter winners. We will have our picks by February 6, hopefully earlier.

As always, entrants will be notified first. Then we will have a post here at TC for sharing on social media and finally on social media itself.

Thanks for your patience and for entries that have made choosing our finalists such challenging fun.