Dead of Winter 2022 Winners

The winning stories in our 2022 “Dead of Winter” short fiction contest are:

  • First place: The Facilitator by Alex Grehy
  • Second place: Quiet Child by DJ Tyrer
  • Third place: Sinister Melody by David Pugh

The first, second, and third place stories will appear in TCLJ 23.1, our Spring issue.

Our next contest is “The Savage Mystery Writing Contest,” which is a 48-hour contest for mystery stories.

Dead of Winter 2023 opens October 1; Toasted Cheese’s contest info is here.

22nd Annual Dead of Winter short fiction contest

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*.


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, 2022 and the deadline for submission is 11:59 PM ET December 21, 2022.

Email entries to dow2022[at] 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 22:1

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!

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.