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 2017!”
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
“Since I was a child, I’ve always loved a good story. I believed stories helped us to ennoble ourselves, to fix what was broken in us, and to help us become the people we dreamed of being. Lies… that told a deeper truth.”
-Anthony Hopkins (portraying Dr. Robert Ford) in Westworld, season 1, episode 10.
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 challenge?
To read 52 short stories in 2017 (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, – or even ANY story – 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 many of 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 2017 roster soon. My twists this year? I’m actually including 13 essays this time around (inspired by “o” at the Behold the Stars blog) One of my suits will be stories by authors who the streets in the neighborhood I grew up in are named after (Irving, Hawthorne, Wallace, etc.) I think my other three suits will be loosely based on the three fates (Moirae) from Greek Mythology who, we are told in Plato’s “Republic” sing of “things that were, things that are, and things that will be.” Not sure how I’m going to manage that, but I have a few days left.
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 eventually have a section in my sidebar for “2017 Deal Me In Participants.” This year, I think I’ll try to go back to a weekly wrap-up post, linking to other Deal Me In participants’ posts I’ve seen recently too. Late sign-ups are allowed and encouraged 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:
Free online novels.com has a wide selection; or check here for a few more. Heck just google “free short stories on line” and you’ll have enough to last a lifetime of Deal Me In Challenges! Check out The New Yorker too. Last I checked you could access a limited number of their published stories per month. If your local library is like mine, they’ll likely have a good collection of annual O’Henry Prize-winning volumes, or the yearly Best American Short Stories anthologies.
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! Note: I’ve experimented with an accelerated euchre deck version for a couple readathons, especially the 24 in 48 readathon, where, instead of trying to read 24 hours out of 48, I try to read 24 short stories in 48 hours. Also pretty challenging.
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 2017, so maybe you can have a ‘discretionary read’ sometime during the year where you draw a thirteenth card.
You can try the using the new moons, as well, or BOTH new and full moons. In the past, we’ve had a couple Deal Me In’ers have a full moon add-on in addition to their 52 stories.
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.
Giveaways! I’m working on a system to actually do a few giveaways this year. Maybe one a quarter. Nothing extravagant, just maybe a B&N or Amazon gift card or something. Winners will be determined somehow by luck of the draw (naturally!) I’ll try to have that figured out and announced with my first wrap-up post of 2017.
So, how about it? Are you UP for a challenge? If so, Deal Me In 7.0 might just be for you! Shall we “Deal YOU in?” 🙂
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. Bloggers from all over the world have participated – from Great Britain to Ghana and from Tempe to Tasmania! 🙂 I haven’t been counting, but I know we’re well over the “1,000 stories read” mark by challenge participants – something I’m a little proud of. 🙂