The Most Wonderful Day of the Year – Announcement of the 6th Annual Deal Me In Challenge!

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: 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. 🙂



  1. tracybham said,

    December 21, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    I am very excited, Jay, I was waiting to see your announcement before I firmed up my plans. I am going to up my number of short stories to read this year. I will comment again when the sign up post is done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      December 24, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      Hi Tracy, I was actually going to use this as my “sign up post” (I’m not sophisticated enough yet to figure out the “Mr. Linky”-type stuff I see on other blogs. Feel free to post a link here in the comments when you come up with a story roster. Happy reading! – Jay


      • tracybham said,

        December 24, 2015 at 2:32 pm

        Sorry, Jay, I meant my signup post, not yours. I will be getting it up soon and I will attempt to put a link in the comments here. I have had problems with doing that at other WordPress blogs lately. But I will let you know here when I get it up, one way or another. I am still having a good time coming up with my final list.


        • Jay said,

          December 24, 2015 at 2:37 pm

          Ah, gotcha. Yep, I misunderstood. – just wanted to make sure you weren’t waiting on me to do something else. :-).

          Creating the list is half the fun for me. 😀


  2. December 21, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    I’m in! I may or may not have had my list ready for a month now. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      December 21, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      I like your list a lot. 🙂 I’m naturally excited to hear what you think of your last four stories too. Thanks for including them. They are some of my favorites.

      I literally spent 4-6 hours saturday working on populating my 2016 list of “Indiana Stories” and think I finally have enough with some good “suit themes” too. I spent an ‘enormous amount’ at my old neighborhood’s bookstore (where I knew they had a couple shelves of ‘local’ books) to add grist for the mill. When I left, the owner said “have a nice holiday – you just made mine nicer!” 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Dale said,

    December 21, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Jay, I’m excited about 2016 and can’t wait to see what Indiana stories are on your list!


    • Jay said,

      December 22, 2015 at 9:03 am

      I finally have enough stories to fill my roster (actually more than enough now, so I’m going to have to make some tough cuts). My tentative suits: “CLASSICS” (famous Indiana Writers of the past) “NON-FICTION” (several essays about ‘forgotten hoosiers’ and satires, and a few Ernie Pyle war correspondent reports, etc) “FROM MAGAZINES and JOURNALS” (Midwestern Gothic, Indiana Review, Booth (Butler’s literary mag) and Punchnels) and “EMERGING or LESSER KNOWN” (contemporary authors – this is the suit for which I have way more than I need, but I hate to leave anyone out. Maybe the ‘leftovers’ will become a New Moon Add-On suit for me..

      Oh, and I have an Indiana-themed deck of cards I found on line that I’m going to feature also. Stay tuned…

      The planning of this project is always as fun as the execution, isn’t it?


  4. Kathleen angelone said,

    December 22, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Another source for hoosier short stories would be jessamine wrests except for me and thee. It is a collection of stories about Quakers in southern indiana during the 1800 s.


    • Jay said,

      December 22, 2015 at 9:05 am

      Thanks for the recommendation, Kathleen, and happy belated birthday! 🙂 I found the West book on-line and added it to an existing order that’s been pending. I’ll probably include a story or two of hers in my “classic authors” suit. 🙂

      btw at least a dozen of my stories were acquired in my visit Saturday and several more (Decades of Dirt, Midwestern Gothic) in previous visits.


  5. December 22, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I’ve still have 22 cards left in my current deck which I really did intend to make a big dent in over winter break. When I do finish the current deck, I’m sure I’ll start another. I really like having a deck around for when the short story mood strikes. I just didn’t strike as much this year as it has in year’s past.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      December 22, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      Good to hear you’ve kept that deck around. 🙂 I’ve thought about adopting your twist (of trying to relate two stories at a time) and adding another twist. I may still read one per week (or at a time) but try to tie the current one to the prior one and see how long of a “chain” I can make without stretching the link too much…


  6. December 24, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    My favourite challenge! Thanks so much for hosting again 🙂

    Here’s my list.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. December 24, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    In spite of failing miserably at this challenge (14 cards completed) in 2015, it was my favourite challenge. Instead of just short stories, I chose short stories/essays/poetry/children’s classics and this challenge forced me to read in these categories in which I plan to read, yet never seem to get to. Some of my most popular posts were from the Deal-Me-In Challenge. So that said, I’m going to attempt it again in 2016 and hopefully manage to keep more on track!


  8. December 28, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    Awesome challenge. I was kicking myself for not joining last year. Here is my list 🙂


    • Jay said,

      December 28, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      Welcome, Keely! I hope you’ll enjoy Deal Me In as much I do. Off to check out your list! 🙂


  9. December 30, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    I’d like to join Deal Me In 2016.


  10. tracybham said,

    December 30, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    I have my list up now. It was a lot of work putting that together.
    Here is the link:
    Looking forward to reading one a week this year.


    • Jay said,

      December 30, 2015 at 5:44 pm

      Glad to have you join in again this year, Tracy! I notice on your list you have a couple stories by Brendan Dubois. I read a non-fiction book by him earlier this year. It was about his experience on the tv show Jeopardy! I knew he was a “mystery writer” but this is the first time I’ve seen him mentioned on another blog I follow. 🙂


      • tracybham said,

        December 30, 2015 at 6:34 pm

        Very interesting, Jay. I remember the post that included information about Brendan DuBois and Jeopardy (although I did have to go find it to refresh my memory), but I did not make the connection when I bought the book of his short stories. I will have to try one of his novels also someday.


  11. December 31, 2015 at 12:39 am

    […] Click here or on the button above for more info […]


  12. Vicki said,

    December 31, 2015 at 12:42 am

    I love how this challenge works and so glad I found it, but wow, it sure was a lot of work making the list 🙂

    Here is my link:


  13. December 31, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    […] version of one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve participated in in the past:  The Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge, hosted as always by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.  I discovered so many wonderful new-to-me authors […]


  14. Candiss said,

    December 31, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    I’m so excited to start reading through a new deck of stories and get back into the swing of blogging! Here’s my sign up post:


  15. John-Paul said,

    January 1, 2016 at 4:59 am

    This was incredibly stimulating and memorable for me last year until I dropped out in March. Giving it another go this year.


    • Jay said,

      January 1, 2016 at 9:26 am

      Welcome back, John-Paul. The title sounded interesting, so I went ahead and read the first article you’ll be reading. 🙂 I liked it and look forward to hearing your thoughts on it. -Jay


  16. Marian said,

    January 1, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Like the previous commenter, I’m going to try again this year – mostly with the same list, but a couple of new ones too:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      January 1, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Glad to have you back, Marian. I’m sure you’ll ace it this time. 🙂 -Jay


  17. Kinna said,

    January 4, 2016 at 6:44 am

    I’m in. I’ll publish my list soonish. Also doing the TBR Triple Dare so I’ll probably stick to anthologies and collections that are already on my shelves. Thanks for hosting.


    • Jay said,

      January 4, 2016 at 7:54 am

      Welcome, Kinna! Looking forward to seeing your list of stories, and good luck with the challenge! 🙂


  18. January 10, 2016 at 6:27 am

    […] Short.  I read plenty short stories every year so my yearly 100 Shots of Shorts is no big deal.  Deal Me In involves a deck of playing cards, four categories and 52 stories.  Crazy fun.  I’m yet to […]


  19. Hannah said,

    January 10, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    This will be interesting! I don’t normally read a lot of short stories, so I’m curious to see how it will be reading them so regularly. Here’s a link to my list for 2016!:


  20. January 11, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    […] For Week 2 of Deal Me In 2016, I drew the Six of Hearts which corresponds to the short story “The Perfecting of the Chopin Valse No. 14 in E Minor” by Sena Jeter Naslund. The stories in the Hearts section of my Deal Me In list for 2016 are written by authors with a Kentucky (my current home state) connection. This story is included in my copy of Home and Beyond: An Anthology of Kentucky Short Stories edited by Morris Allen Grubbs. According to Grubb’s introduction to this story, Naslund teaches creative writing at the University of Louisville.  In 2005, she was named Poet Laureate of Kentucky.  My Deal Me In 2016 list can be found here. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. […]


  21. January 14, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    […] (Friday the 15th,) I will have write-ups for my first two Deal Me In stories of 2016.  (The story I drew for Week 1 was no more than half a page in length, so I […]


  22. RJG said,

    February 7, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    What a great idea. I’m up to my neck in university stuff but hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained so I’ll give this my best shot. Deal me in!! I’ll start with some flash fiction and go from there.


    • Jay said,

      February 8, 2016 at 8:07 am

      Great! Maybe you can use a weekly dose of deal me in as a break from your university obligations. Kurt Vonnegut referred to shorts stories as “Buddhist Catnaps” (with presumably therapeutic effects). Good luck with the challenge!


  23. Lady T said,

    March 10, 2016 at 2:36 am

    I am Lady T and I would love to join – my URL is

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      March 23, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      Hi Lady T,
      (So sorry, your comment initially went to my spam folder for some reason.) Nonetheless, welcome aboard and I hope you enjoy the Deal Me In challenge. 🙂


  24. Kenia Sedler said,

    April 5, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    I’m joining a bit late here, but I’m in! This is going to be SO much fun. 🙂


    • Jay said,

      April 5, 2016 at 10:02 pm

      Welcome, Kenia! Happy you are joining the fun! 🙂


  25. jason C. said,

    April 28, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Hi Jay, hope it is ok if I join your challenge again!


  26. Risa said,

    December 2, 2016 at 6:03 am

    Hello, Jay! Are you hosting this challenge again next year?


    • Jay said,

      December 2, 2016 at 9:35 am

      Hi Risa! Nice to hear from you. Yes, I’ll be “hosting” again. Hope you will consider participating. Look for an announcement post on 12/21 – the SHORTEST day of the year. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Risa said,

        December 2, 2016 at 10:11 am

        I’m definitely participating! In fact, I’ve already got my list ready. 😀 Looking forward to it!


        • Jay said,

          December 2, 2016 at 10:14 am

          Great! I always starting thinking about my next year’s list about this time of year – sometimes to the detriment of my current reading! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • Risa said,

          December 2, 2016 at 10:16 am

          That is hard! I’ve told myself this challenge is going to be more an act of self-control and discipline than anything else!!


        • Jay said,

          December 2, 2016 at 10:51 am

          I will look forward to seeing your list. One of my favorite parts of Deal Me In each year is seeing what stories everyone comes up with and what different wrinkles they sometimes add to the challenge. It’s been great fun for me this year reading only “Indiana-related” stories, but I am ready to have less limiting criteria for 2017.


  27. December 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    […] Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis What is Deal Me In? […]


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