It’s the Most Wonderful Day of the Year – Announcing the 8th Annual “Deal Me In!” Short Story Reading Challenge!

“My short stories are like soft shadows I’ve set out in the world, faint footprints I’ve left behind.” – Haruki Murakami

stonehenge sunrise solstice

It’s a little known fact that, in ancient Britain, there once lived a race of great storytellers. They were, in fact, specialists in the form of short stories, generally told around a blazing campfire during their long hunting excursions. So great did their passion for the short story grow that they began to hold sacred the shortest day of the year and considered it a great feast day when all would gather and share their stories. Each “clan” of this race (there were about 52 known clans, broadly formed into 4 tribes of 13 clans each) would have a master storyteller, and at the great festivals beautiful painted stones would be drawn from a ceremonial bag to determine the order in which each clan’s grand storyteller would present his family’s best effort. Little-known-fact.png

Now, at this time at the mere Eve of Civilization, “Science” in its modern form was unknown and, in its form of that time,  was inexact and varied from tribe to tribe, leading to tribes calculating different days for the shortest day of the year, but, eventually, the tribes realized a standardized date for their feast would be a good thing so, on the great Plain of Salisbury, they created a great and wondrous stone calendar. The position of the rising and setting sun at certain times, when viewed from the center of this stone calendar would mark the shortest day of the year.**

Later, in the 21st Century, it was thoughts of this vanished civilization that led me to create the Deal Me In! short story reading challenge, which in 2018 will celebrate its 8th year, with thousands of stories having been read – and sometimes blogged about – by bloggers all over the world.

**Okay, I may have fabricated parts of this story, but there IS a great stone calendar in England that tells great time to this day!

Will YOU become part of this great tradition in 2018?  The rules of the challenge are not difficult:


Deal Me In logo above designed by Mannomoi at follow her on Twitter at

What is the goal of the challenge?

To read 52 short stories in 2018 (that’s only one per week – versions with a lesser story requirement are noted below)

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?

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 as little as 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 participants lists in last year’s sign up post at if you want to see some examples. I’ve already posted my own 2018 roster.

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 “2018 Deal Me In Participants.” This year, I hope to go back to a weekly wrap-up post, linking to other Deal Me In participants’ posts I’ve seen recently.  Late sign-ups (we always get a few) are allowed and encouraged too. If you can, I’d love you to add where in the world you’re blogging from and where or how you heard about the Deal Me In! challenge.


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:

Free online 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!” Not every calendar year has 13 full moons, but we are lucky in that 2018 IS one of the years it does – lunar calendar below for reference.

2018 moon phases calendar

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.

So, how about it?  Are you UP for a challenge? If so, Deal Me In 8.0 might just be for you!  Shall we “Deal YOU in?”




  1. marianallen said,

    December 21, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Deal ME in! I blog daily at I think I’ll make Tuesdays my short story posting day. I think I got here by following you from Goodreads. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      December 21, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      Glad to have you joining us this year, Marian! I look forward to seeing what stories you’ll be reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Paula Cappa said,

    December 21, 2017 at 10:11 am

    I wish I could do this, Jay, but I’ve been cutting back a bit since I’m working on another novel for 2018. And my short story blog which I now post twice monthly instead of weekly takes up much of my time. I do so enjoy following your blog and all the stories! Looking forward to reading here in 2018!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      December 21, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      Hi Paula,
      No worries and I completely understand. And thank YOU for introducing me to so many stories on your blog which later became part of my various Deal Me In decks over the years!


  3. December 21, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    I was thinking of using 3 suits for English short stories and 1 for stories in other languages. Is that allowed? Or do we have to select stories in English only?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. nsenger said,

    December 21, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Deal Me In again this year! Thanks for hosting again, Jay. My list of stories is on this page, along with a link to my intro post:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      December 21, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Glad to have you back again, Nick. I took a quick look at your story roster and will comment on your own post too. Good luck with the challenge!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. December 21, 2017 at 2:04 pm


    Thanks for hosting, Jay. This has become one of may favorite challenges and communities. 🙂


    • Jay said,

      December 21, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      Thanks for participating again! I look forward to following your progress!


    • Jay said,

      December 21, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      Good to see The Fish of Lijiang on your list. I loved that story.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dale said,

    December 21, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Exited to do this again! This will be my sixth year and I will have my list of stories posted soon.


    • Jay said,

      December 21, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      I look forward to seeing your list! Thanks for being such a steadfast participant in this challenge. Hard to believe it’s entering its eighth year already!


  7. Dale said,

    December 21, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    *Excited* I mean

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      December 26, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      I think I’ve only read five of yours this year Dale, though many of the authors have been encountered by me during DMI over the years. I’m particularly looking forward to your thoughts on Roses, Rhododendron, which was one of my very favorites the year I read it. – Jay

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dale said,

        December 26, 2017 at 4:11 pm

        That’s one that I had not heard of – or at least had forgotten that I had heard of it. Now I’m looking forward to even more.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. o said,

    December 24, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    Of *course* I’m in! Not sure if this is my third or fourth year with you, but I still love this challenge! My (tentative) list is here –


    • Jay said,

      December 26, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Glad to hear you’ll be back! I’d somehow lost track of your blog last year – did you change the location, or was it “private” for awhile or something? Anyway, I’ve found you now and will be reading/following… 🙂


  9. Linda Lamb said,

    December 24, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    So, would it be sacrilege to do a cut-rate version of this — choosing stories week by week or month by month, and skipping the deck of cards part?

    The “dealing in” would be metaphorical, but then again, so was your Stonehenge story. 🙂

    Linda L.

    On Thu, Dec 21, 2017 at 8:00 AM, Bibliophilopolis wrote:

    > Jay posted: ““My short stories are like soft shadows I’ve set out in the > world, faint footprints I’ve left behind.” – Haruki Murakami It’s a little > known fact that, in ancient Britain, there once lived a race of great > storytellers. They were, in fact, specialists in” >


    • Jay said,

      December 26, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      You’re really stretching it there… 🙂 Generally, I say that as long as using “the luck of the draw” is involved somehow, there will be “official recognition” as a Deal Me In site. I’ll refer this to our legal team… 🙂


  10. December 29, 2017 at 8:01 am

    […] in 2018, because I need another challenge, yeah? This is a good one, though. It’s the “Deal Me In” Short Story Reading Challenge. This is gonna be […]

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Martha G said,

    December 30, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Deal Me In again for 2018! This was such a great project. Here’s my new roster:


    • Jay said,

      December 30, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      So glad you’ll be joining us again in 2018, Martha! I’ve also commented on your roster at your site. Enjoy the challenge!


  12. Padmajha PJ said,

    December 30, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Deal me in! Here is the link to my list


    • Jay said,

      December 30, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      So glad you will be joining us in the challenge! I checked out your list and there were only five or six authors I’d read before, so I look forward to following your progress!


  13. Padmajha PJ said,

    December 31, 2017 at 6:29 am

    Thank You Jay :). And I was wondering if we need to read only the book that has an individual short story or is every single story from a short story collection eligible as a read?


    • Jay said,

      December 31, 2017 at 9:28 am

      The rules are VERY flexible. The only constant is the use of cards to randomize your reading order. You can read one or all from the same collection, if you read one it doesn’t mean you have to read the rest, though some participants often assign or dedicate a suit to stories from one book or anthology, Part of the fun of “hosting”the challenge for me is seeing all the different wrinkles participants come up with. Happy reading!


  14. N@ncy said,

    December 31, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Jay, looking forward to your challenge in 2018. Here is my link and reading list will follow very soon! Happy New Year….and remember
    ” …if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’ #Checkmate!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      January 2, 2018 at 8:49 am

      Glad to have you join us this year N@ncy! I look forward to following your progress!


  15. Carol said,

    December 31, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    Hi Jay, I’m from Sydney, Australia, joining in for the first time. I’ve seen your Challenge on a couple of blogs I visit (Cleo Classical was one) & always thought it would be a good idea. This year I actually got my act together & made a list. I’m doing the fortnight option:


    • Jay said,

      January 2, 2018 at 8:50 am

      Welcome, Carol! So glad you’re joining the challenge. The “Fortnight Option” is a good way to get your feet wet with Deal Me In. Happy reading!


  16. Bellezza said,

    January 1, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    Jay, I fell down completely on this in 2017. I almost abandoned my whole blog altogether. But, 2018 brings us to a new freshness, and I find myself eager to continue, so count me in. Thanks for hosting this fun event, I do have many books lying in wait for it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jay said,

      January 2, 2018 at 8:51 am

      I didn’t do such a good job either in 2017, with this challenge or with blogging in general, but I “resolved” to do better in 2018. Maybe we both can improve on our 2017 performance! 🙂

      Happy reading!


  17. mnmona91 said,

    January 2, 2018 at 3:46 am

    What an amazing challenge. I love to join you this year. It will be my first time. But I have this little question. I have a lot of short stories books uncommon type , difficult women and others. If I read one of these books can I count it’s stories for this challenge. Uncommon type is 17 short stories if I finished the book can I count it as 17/52 towards this challenge. And can the 52 short stories he like this? Collected in books by the same author?? and yes I will list them each story with a card. And each week I will let the cards choose the story for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      January 2, 2018 at 8:53 am

      Welcome, mnmona91! Yes, you can count all the stories in a book toward the challenge. The stories you read and where they come from are totally up to you. Isn’t Uncommon Type the Tom Hanks book? I got that for my Mom for Christmas! I look forward to hearing about those stories and also to seeing your list. Happy reading!


  18. vidyatiru said,

    January 3, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Deal Me In, Jay!! Last year, I kind of flagged out after the first quarter.. this year, I hope to stay in for the long run..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      January 3, 2018 at 2:47 pm

      Glad you’re giving it another go! I think the technique of “replacing” just the stories read last year with fresh ones has been used before, but I also think it’s a good one. I’ve added a link to your post on my sidebar. Good luck with the challenge!


  19. January 5, 2018 at 2:53 am

    Against my better judgement but because this challenge is SOOOO much fun, I’m going to do it again! Here’s my sign-up post: Thanks for hosting, Jay!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      January 5, 2018 at 9:06 am

      Hooray! Glad to have you back & always happy to look at a new list, even if only parts of it are new. Happy reading in 2018!


  20. Emma Donovan said,

    January 5, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    Deal me In! A few days late – Apologies! I am Emma and I am in Sidmouth, Devon, UK. I found out about this challenge in a few places when I went searching for a Short Story Challenge to do this year and this is perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      January 6, 2018 at 11:28 am

      Glad to have you joining us, Emma! I’ve add3d a link to your story list on my sidebar. Good luck with the challenge! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have come to.


  21. January 9, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    […] looking forward to joining this challenge in 2018 to help motivate me through some anthologies and pulps that have been on the shelf or the […]

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Joel said,

    January 9, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    I’m looking forward to this challenge. Here’s my signup post:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      January 9, 2018 at 4:51 pm

      Glad to have you with us and welcome to the Deal Me In challenge! I hope you enjoy it as much as i have over the years! Off to check out your post, which I will link to in my sidebar. P.S. We’ve also been using the hashtag #DealMeIn2018 on twitter if you tweet about any posts, etc.


  23. mnmona91 said,

    January 20, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    sorry for being late to put my list. here is my link
    I really loved the idea of the cards. I will be using this for movies and other books too. I will let the cards choose for me 😀 😀


    • Jay said,

      January 23, 2018 at 12:26 pm

      No worries! I have added a link to your list in my sidebar.

      The cards come up with some pretty interesting timing coincidences during the year (at least they do for me). Of course, I guess with 52 ‘chances’ you’re bound to hit a coincidental target or two…

      Happy reading!


  24. February 9, 2018 at 6:46 am

    […] Hosted by Bibliophilica […]


  25. February 26, 2018 at 8:00 am

    […] shuffled my deck. No, that isn’t MomGothSpeak for something else. I’m participating in Deal Me In, a short-story-reading challenge. We assign stories for ourselves to read on the basis of a deck of playing cards, SHUFFLE THE DECK, […]

    Liked by 1 person

  26. March 21, 2018 at 11:18 am

    I’m a little late to the party, but I definitely want to join this challenge! I may go with the “full moon fever” variation to start with and see how that plays out. I think I’m going to go with spades…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      March 21, 2018 at 4:25 pm

      Welcome, Frankie! The good thing with short stories is that you can also catch up quickly (if you wanted to do more than the Full Moon Fever version). I hope you enjoy this challenge as much as I do.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. May 24, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    […] many short stories, but not in any specific way and also not as part of a collection, so when I saw this challenge, I thought it would be a great way to experience […]


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