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The 6th Annual Halloween Short Story Contest

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The Castle’s 6th Annual Halloween Short Story Contest.

Just over 50 years ago, a movie was released that changed the world of horror. It swept away the dusty cobwebs of the horror genre and pulled it out of the dark corners of the castles it resided in and made it modern. Unleashing a horde of flesh eating zombies on rural pennsylvania “Night of the Living Dead” would change the way we view the horror genre forever.

Can you live up to the expectations of the zombie loving fans or will your brains be eaten by the very creatures you try to bring to life or death in your story?

This year’s contest theme should be your take on the classic “Night of the Living Dead” Zombie Genre. Challenge yourself and tell us the story from a different perspective. Can romance blossom or can love endure during a zombie invasion. Set your story in any time period post 1950 and include at least two characters that develop or maintain an LGBT affair, romance or relationship in the story.

Who will survive this contest and who will be eaten alive? 

The Rules

Castle Roland's 6nd Annual Halloween Short Story Contest timeline

Submissions Open Date: September 1, 2019 Midnight Eastern Standard Time
Submission Deadline: October 3th, 2019 Midnight Eastern Standard Time

Forum Member Voting start: October 7 th, 2019 
Forum member Voting conclusion: October 25th, 2019 Midnight Eastern Standard Time

Winners Announced in Special Halloween Edition of The Castle Herald and a Special Halloween Update: October 31, 2019

Story Guidelines:

  • Stories should be edited and polished. They will be posted exactly as you send them.
  • We will not edit for you once you submit it however it is acceptable to get help with editing
  • Stories should contain a Halloween theme with zombies and
  • Embrace it and have a blast with it
  • Challenge yourself to create a short story with the classic theme but with your twist.
  • Stories should be more than 7,500 words and less than 25,000 words
  • Castle Roland short story contests are designed to challenge.
  • For those that typically write less than the minimum challenge yourself to stretch to the minimum
  • For those that typically write more than than the maximum challenge yourself to stay under the maximum and still get your story told

Submissions must be sent to  castlerolandpr@gmail.com Submissions sent to any other email address with be returned as disqualified. This is to maintain the anonymity of the stories so it's a true blind vote.

Submission will be posted to a special members only forum on the Castle Roland Community Forum Site and will be posted without author name and title. They will be listed as a numbered submission for example
Halloween Story #1
Halloween Story #2

The Forum members will be asked to Judge the stories based on the following Criteria.
Theme: Does the Story fit the Zombie theme

  • The Theme was the primary focus point of the story 10 points
  • The story used and followed the theme but it wasn’t the primary focus 5 points
  • The story was set using the theme but the theme did not affect the characters 2 points
  • The story did not use the theme at all 0 points

Romance in the zombie apocalypse

  • The realtionship between the queer characters was so believable I wanted to hug them both 10 points
  • The realtionship between the queer characters was pretty realistic 5 points
  • The relationship felt forced but was there 2 points
  • The author did not include a relationship between queer characters 0 points

Content. Did the story engage you all the way to the end

  • I couldn’t stop reading it 10 points
  • It was great but there were a couple dull spots 5 points
  • It was enjoyable but not gripping 2 points
  • I had to force myself to finish it 0 points 

Character Development: Where the characters believable

  • The Characters reactions to theme and each other was very realistic 10 points
  • The characters reactions to the theme or each other was very realistic 5 points
  • The characters reactions were a bit of a stretch in some places 2 points
  • The characters reactions where not believable at all 0 points 

Technical: did the authors follow the rules and tell a good story

  • The author told a great story and kept within the word count challenge 10 points
  • The author stretch the story will fluff to make the minimum word count 5 points
  • The author cut important details to get under the word count maximum 5 points
  • The author was under the minimum or over the maximum 0 points

 Overall satisfaction with the story

  • I am thrilled with this story 10 points
  • I am happy with this story 5 points
  • It's an ok story 2 points
  • I am unhappy with this story 0 points

The points will be tallied as a grand total and a winner declared
In the event of a tie the story with the highest points in the theme category will be declared a winner.
If this does not resolve the tie then two 1st place winners will be declared. 
Administration of the contest
The Contest will be administered by Ken Barber and Al Norris
All questions should be submitted to castlerolandpr@gmail.com. 


Publicity and copyrights


  • Authors retain all rights to submitted works with the following exceptions
  • Castleroland.net reserves the right to post, promote and present all submitted stories through its website and forums.
  • Castleroland.net and its officers may decide to remove any submission from its website and forums at any time without notice
  • Castleroland reserves the right to use any submissions in promotions and specials in the future without advanced notice. 
  • Authors agree to not publish or post their Halloween Contest Submission on any site or media other than Castle Roland for a minimum of 6 months after the contest ends. 
  • Contest official end date: November 1, 2019
  • Stories are no longer held as exclusive to Castle Roland on May 1, 2020
  • Castle Roland does not have the right to release submissions to other online hosting services or publishers without express written permission from the author.
  • Authors must be recognized as the original creator in any future promotions and/or specials.
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Sorry, for me the zombie genre has been way over-made in the past few years with tons of tv series and movies, I have been saturated from the genre unfortunately I will not be participating neither as a reader or a writer  Maybe next year.

Here is a list the past few years of what I have seen

Ash vs evil dead, Izombie (multiple seasons cant get into the latest one I'm just too bored for zombies anymore) Santa clara diet again multiple season, Fear of the walking dead Z nation, scout guide to zombie apocalypse, Night of the living dead remake even cooties from the top of my head I'm probably forgetting some more.


I'm just getting difficult seeing over and over the already seen from Hollywood, remakes of the same movies.  For me those zombie movies I actually liked best beside this one you base your contest on this time would be Zombieland (2009) shaun of the dead and the 28 days and 28 weeks later.  its funny that I actually the British zombie movies more than the American ones.


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While there has been a great deal of interest in zombies these past few years I don't think it's likely that we will run out of new ideas anytime soon. I have one that I hope will draw some controversy.

I had hoped that my previous story contest entry about the end of the world would have garnered a comment or two, but I was disappointed when I heard nothing but crickets. I thought I was being outrageous, but either no one read the story or everyone has become so jaded that they were not bothered by the content. I did get one delightful comment that came second hand that expressed outrage and said that I needed counselling. That made me happy.

I am halfway through this new one.

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I don't believe I was on this site last year if it is when it was that you made the story, but if in the descriptions there were werewolves vampires or zombies, I would have skipped it, I even skipped the one from my favorite author here Kyle Aaron about vampires.

There is a lot of stories out there to read, so if a genre no longer interest you like it happened to me there is plenty of other choices.  Its just how I am as I'm getting older lol way more picky

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Even with that caveat, Wizard, I would at least advise you to look over the past entrants in this competition.  Even those that might seem a genre based turn off at first.  The creativity and often humor that comes about from the stories that our contests bring about can be a breath of fresh air in even the most played out horror motif.  The challenge is in making something new of something well known.  A different angle, a different perspective.  And because we only have a few weeks to get it done, you can sort of see some of the thought processes that goes into what might normally get weeks of writing, then weeks of editing, then weeks of beta reading(should the writer be so lucky), re-writes, spell checks, edits, edits, edits.  What normally is a story marathon becomes a sprint.  You get to see the hot bright fiery brilliance of, uh, the dark, macabre, twisted, sick side of our creativity.  I guess.

Anyways, give them a look over.  Some of them might have those elements you don't like, but there are plenty of gems in the previous years.  I may try my hand this year as well, but i think my spirit-touched boys will be sitting this one out.  They have something else going on, so they're busy, LOL.  With the zombie theme, I think I will focus more on the spooky and horror laden side.  The temptation to make the story a zombie/human love story was strong in me at first, and I'm sure someone might try it with spectacular results.  I think I have a different angle though.  And I wont give any further hints than that. So GHNAHHH!  (tongue)  

And in all honesty, even if you don't like vampires and such, perhaps you should give Kyle's take on it a shot.  He's one of the best authors on this site, and if you look around at the others he keeps company with, that's saying something.  I count myself lucky to be starring up at their constellations while I plug along trying to get my own stuff done.

Besides, surprises only catch you off guard when you think you know exactly how things will end, how they will go.  You never know.

To all the other writers thinking of entering the competition, I hope you bring your "A Game" this year.  You've never let us down before.  Show us what you got!

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On 8/20/2019 at 1:30 AM, Parker said:

I had hoped that my previous story contest entry about the end of the world would have garnered a comment or two, but I was disappointed when I heard nothing but crickets.

I tracked down and read your entry, then emailed my comments, I heard nothing back. So either the email forwarding from Castle Roland doesn't work or your own email doesn't work. I don't know which, because I emailed 3 days ago, maybe you're too busy to reply, maybe you didn't receive my email, and maybe you never received other emails. It's always a bit hit and miss with this system. I've written authors via the website messages and never got any reply same with emails. I usually don't bother anymore because it's a crap way to get feedback. You need a like button and online comments which I suppose this forum offers, but I don't necessarily like making criticism public, even if it's minor points.

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Thank you for letting me know about your email. It never got delivered. I always respond to anyone who takes the trouble to write to me because I know how easy it is to not bother. My email is parker.sheaffer@gmail.com . I've sometimes wondered if the Castle Roland link works. 

Anyway, was inspired by Cormac McCarthy's book, "The Road", which was a dark journey toward an uncertain future. The book left me unsettled and I almost wish I had not read it. When it came time for the contest I thought that there would be a lot of entries and that they would all end with a message of hope for a better world. I was feeling mischievous and thought it would be fun to write a horrifying and depressing story, one that might upset people a bit. It was really meant to be sort of tongue in cheek. 

Thanks again, Talo, for contacting me. I feel better now knowing that someone read the story.


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I would respectfully suggest that the world of horror was forever changed  over a decade before "Night of the Living Dead" with the 1956 movie "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers," jokingly and reverently referred to by us as "The Pod People movie"!  It was truly disturbingly creepy, as one could almost believe something like that happening! Indeed, don't echoes of that appear almost routinely in headlines of today...where people one would never suspect do horrible things!

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I am excited to see how the authors attack this. I am sure there are going to be some amazing Halloween late night ready, with a cup of mulled cider and a warm blanket. The doorbell will ring and I will laugh and grab the almost empty candy bowl. There is always those last few trick or treaters right at the time that it’s almost to let’s. You will open the door and laugh. “Wow those are some great zombie costumes.....

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  • 1 month later...

Unfortunately I ended up not having the time to write this one. I'm still adjusting to my new job and I simply didn't have the ability to write for it when there were other projects that I needed to prioritize. I wish the best of luck to anyone who participates and I'm excited to read them. :)

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