It’s December 21st, the SHORTest day of the year. What better date to take the plunge and sign up for a short story challenge? So, without further ado…
Welcome to the Short Story Reading Challenge, Deal Me In 2016!
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
Yes, I know you’re being bombarded with posts about all sorts of reading challenges for the new year, and they all sound like a lot of fun. But here’s a unique challenge where your reading burden is relatively light AND where you still can experience a lot of different authors and genres.
What is the goal of the project?
To read 52 short stories in 2016 (that’s only one per week – versions with a lesser story requirement are noted below)
What do I need?
1) Access to at least fifty-two short stories (don’t own any short story collections or anthologies? See links to online resources below)
2) A deck of cards
3) An average of perhaps just thirty minutes of reading time each week
Where do I post* about my stories?
(*You don’t have to post about every single story, of course, but if you have something to say about the story you read any given week, your fellow participants would love to hear it.)
1) On your own blog or website if you have one (I will link to your post at the bottom of my weekly post. I currently plan to do my weekly post on Sundays)
2) if you don’t have a blog or website you may comment on any of my Deal Me In posts, sharing thoughts on your own story – or start one at WordPress or blogspot – it’s easy and free to create a basic blog.
How do I pick which stories to read?
(The 52 stories themselves are totally up to you.) Before you get start reading, come up with a roster of fifty-two stories (you can use any source) and assign each one to a playing card in a standard deck of cards. It can be fun to use different suits for different types of stories, but that is optional. I’ve often included one wild card for each suit too, so I can maybe read a story I’ve heard about during the year, or read another by an author I’ve discovered through this challenge. Each “week,” (if you’re like me, you may occasionally fall a story or two behind – that’s okay) you draw a card at random from your deck and that is the story you will read. There are links to last year’s participants’ rosters in the comments to last year’s sign-up if you want to see some examples. I’ll be posting my own 2016 roster soon. My twist this year? Since 2016 is my home state of Indiana’s bicentennial, I’ll be reading all Indiana-related stories and changing the name of my version to “Deal Me IN” (“IN” being capitalized on purpose as a nod to Indiana’s postal code abbreviation 🙂 ) (Dale, a four time Deal Me In participant at Mirror With Clouds has already posted about his plans for DMI 2016. Will you be next?)
What if I don’t have time to read a story every single week?
You don’t have to read your stories on a regular schedule (I almost always fall behind at least once during the year) and can catch up once a month if your prefer – OR try one of the challenge variations noted below, the Fortnight (or “payday” if you prefer) version is one story every two weeks or the “Full Moon Fever” version with just thirteen stories read or selected on seeing each full moon…
How do I sign up?
Leave a comment below with your URL and I will link you on my home page, where I’ll have a section in my sidebar for “2016 Deal Me In Participants.” I’ll try to periodically link to other Deal Me In posts I’ve seen recently too.
What is the purpose?
To have FUN and to be exposed to new authors and stories and maybe get in the habit of reading a short story a week. Isn’t that enough? 🙂
Some short story resources:
Classic Horror Stories:
AmericanLiterature.com short story of the day
EastoftheWeb’s short story of the day:
The Library of America’s short story of the week archive:
Looking for some really short stories? Try here
Deal Me In Variations:
The Deal Me In “Fortnight Version” – just use two suits from your deck and assign a story to each card, drawing a card every two weeks. If you get paid bi-weekly, you can use that as a reminder to draw a new card (I guess this makes the fortnight variation a.k.a. The “payday version.” 🙂
The Deal Me In “Euchre Deck Version”If you work for “one of those companies” where you only get paid twice a month on the 15th and 30th, e.g., use a euchre deck!
The Deal Me In “Full Moon Fever Version” – this would be the baby steps way to ease into the Deal Me In routine, basically reading just one story a month (who doesn’t have time for that?). Just use one suit or face cards only and you’re set. Seeing the full moon in the sky can also serve as a reminder – “hey, I need to read my next short story!” We only have twelve full moons in 2016, so maybe you can have a ‘discretionary read’ sometime during the year where you draw a thirteenth card.
Dates of the full moons in 2016: 1/23, 2/22, 3/23, 4/22, 5/21, 6/20, 7/19, 8/18, 9/16, 10/16, 11/14, and 12/23.
Want to “play with a full deck” – er, I mean full suit? You can try the using the new moons, there are 13 of them in 2016. 🙂 1/9, 2/8, 3/8, 4/7, 5/6, 6/4, 7/4, 8/2, 9/1, 9/30, 10/30, 11/29, and 12/29
Other participants in the past have added their own wrinkles: Reading a story a week for only half the year, reading two at a time and trying to find a “connection” between them, reading essays, plays, poems, or famous speeches… Feel free to twist, spindle or mutilate this challenge any way you see fit to suit your own plans – the only element that should probably remain is the use of playing cards to determine your reading order.
Last of all, please help spread the word about Deal Me In. It’s been so much more fun the past few years with others playing along. I haven’t been counting, but we’ve certainly passed the “1,000 stories read” mark by challenge participants – something I’m a little proud of. 🙂