Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

I Think I Am Ready…

…To Start My Challenge…

For those of you new here or not following my trying to make a decision on a new challenge for 2022 all those weeks ago, here is what I decided to do in shorthand.

— I will write a new short story per day every day of the year in 2022.

— I will blog at least once a week, maybe twice a week about the stories being written and the days of writing.

— I will do a cover for every short story as I go along and show it to you.

— Each month the stories and the blogs and the covers will be put in a book called “Short Stories from…” First one will be January and so on. The first one  (Short Stories from January) will be published in March and then every month for 12 months after that.

— I will write an original novel every month as well.

— I will continue to publish my magazine Smith’s Monthly every month.

That’s the challenge. 365 short stories and 12 novels. Including my blogs and introductions to books and such, that will end up around 2 million or so consumable words in the year.

To get ready and up to speed the last few days of the year, I’m first clearing out all stuff I am behind on, recording a number of workshops, and I’m going to write a couple of short stories this week just to get the feel of doing them again.

I have my tracking system in place and my back-up systems in place and ready to roll. I have my title generating sheets as well beside my writing computer.

And I have three times rechecked the time I seem to think I have every day to write that I am filling right now with other stuff. (Honestly, that’s the scary part.)

I am seven pounds down from four weeks ago, hope to lose more. Got my eating and exercise back totally under control. Critical for a writing challenge because some nights I will be short of sleep. (Nature of the beast for something like this.)

I will be revamping my Patreon page and will add in a way for those who want to read my “raw” stories every day to do so. (Raw meaning not copyedited, just finished as it came from my computer. Numbers of writers seem to want to do that.) Also levels to get Smith’s Monthly and also the Short Stories From… books and also each new novel every month. I will announce here later this week when I have that done and those of you who have been supporting this blog and not getting anything extra, I have some fun stuff for all of you before the switch-over.

So almost ready.

One day at a time for this challenge. I know I will get behind some days and ahead other days. I’m going to make each month a mini-challenge inside the big challenge.

I have no idea what will happen. A year is a long time, but I have zero doubt that it will be fun no matter what. Stay tuned.


  • Mihnea+Manduteanu

    Good luck, Dean! I will be going for, at least, your fail to success challenge.
    Still curious about your excel sheets for monitoring, what columns you have there and whatnot. I am working hard on the logistics of tracking and monitoring.

    • dwsmith

      Real basic. Story title, series (if any), which issue of Smith’s Monthly it appeared in, date written (so I can track the ones not in Smith’s Monthly) and three columns for collections I am in. If you are submitting stories to magazines (which everyone should be in my opinion), I would put that on a different spread sheet.

      Back when I was submitting stories to magazines, I had a three-point system on paper in a binder. I had a section of the binder with pages for each magazine and all the magazine information and submission guidelines right there, including editor name spelled correctly. If I sent that magazine a story, I wrote it on that page, date sent and date returned or bought.

      Then each story had its own page. Details about the story and word count and then where it had been sent to and when back. So at a glance I could tell the history of the story. Later on I put this page on the inside of the folder with a paper copy of the story in a file cabinet.

      Then as a third point I had a big list on the back of my office door of every story that was out and where in the order I sent them out. Then I would cross off the story when it returned or was bought. That system worked well for me for a decade or more. Now it could all be done on a spreadsheet with a few tabs. But I would still print out a paper copy and put it in a folder with contracts and submission history. And I would back the stories up three and four times out of your house and one at least into a cloud storage somewhere.

      • Mihnea+Manduteanu

        Thanks for this!
        Now a question, silly probably, but so far I only published, without sending to magazines. Where do I find magazines to send to? Do I randomly google for them? Is there a portal that has some of them?

        • dwsmith

          Oh, I would have no idea. Anyone? I know of one person that has over 70 different short stories in the mail. So I know there are a lot of paying markets out there. But I have my own magazine that i fill monthly, remember? (grin)

          • Mary Jo Rabe

            I am very happy with Duotrope and consider it the best $50 I spend every year. Their search engine for magazines is good, immediately giving you their information such as genre, word count, and payment for each magazine with a link to the magazine’s website. Their submission tracker is excellent, letting you see at a glance which stories you have submitted to each magazine, how long it generally takes to get a response, and whether the magazine is currently open to submissions. According to Duotrope, at the moment I have 63 stories out making the rounds. So it’s time to get more out there. I have found the submission process to be more time-consuming than I expected since each magazine seems to have individual and arbitrary rules for length, format, font, anonymity, cover letter, bio, how long you have to wait to submit again after receiving a rejection, etc. I obviously don’t want to have a story rejected because I violate any of these rules.

          • Mary Jo Rabe

            There are also at least 2 Facebook groups that list current markets,



            Calls for Submissions (Poetry, Fiction, Art)

        • Kate+Pavelle

          If you google “Story Markets” and scroll past the ads, there are some good compilations of resources. Here is one of them.
          Just look around and keep notes, it’s fun to see what other people are publishing.

        • Julie

          This is a good question, particularly for mystery! I’ve looked on Ralan, Grinder and Duotrope and have found a lot of fantasy markets (about 20 that pay professional rates) but only a couple of pro-rate mystery markets (Ellery Queen and Hitchcock’s).

          I’ve also looked at where stories published in every mystery anthology on my shelf were first published; I’ve searched the Internet and scoured through lists of markets there; I’ve looked at author bios in mystery magazines to see where they’ve been published before. But all that searching has added no specialist mystery markets.

          That leaves magazines that take general fiction as possible targets for my mystery stories. But as someone in the UK, I’m not familiar with any of the US titles that I see (Iowa Review, Prairie Review, etc. ) and many don’t do electronic or ship overseas. UK pro markets seem to be pretty much non-existent.

        • Eric Stever

          For fantasy and science fiction short story markets, I use the free website (That’s: ralan [dot] com).

          They have most markets and divide it by pro, semi-pro, and pay. Also have anthologies from time to time. Best of luck out there! Eric

  • Judy Lunsford

    I had so much fun doing the 100/100. It got to the point where it felt WRONG to not start the day with a short story. And it was a total blast to do! You can do this!!! I can’t wait to watch the process. 2022 is going to be a fun writing year!

    • dwsmith

      Judy, I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I was watching you do that challenge and never falling from it. And what I find more impressive is that you beat my record of 70 different stories in the mail to markets at the same time. You are up in the numbers Kris and Kevin Anderson used to get to back in the day. Of course, when you are counting numbers of submissions in the mail, it gets annoying when they sell. (grin) Congrats on the recent sales. An offshoot of having that many stories out there. Congrats on the incredible challenge completion!!

    • Mihnea+Manduteanu

      100/100, what was that?
      Also, if you have 70 stories in the mail in the same time, where did you send them? Do you have alist of magazines or something? I have no idea where to start with this…

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Harvey, but we shall see about the successful part. I will be happy to hit half the story count, which is still 182 short stories in one year. Fail to success with that, but going to give this a real run. It will not be a smooth, straight line. (grin)

  • E.M.

    Good luck! That sounds like quite the challenge! My own goal is to increase my wordcount every day, whether that be short stories or novels, very much inspired by your post on Warp Speed writing.

  • Cheryl

    This is a great week for preparation, reflection, goal-setting.
    I want to thank you and Kris for — well, for the sale. And for the Motivational Mondays. What a brilliant idea.

    Oh, and sorry for ignorance but what are ‘title generating sheets’ — is that for when you get idea for story and the title comes to you and you jot it down to remember? Or something else entirely? (thx)

    • Cheryl

      Just as a quick PS – I should have said that I’m rotten with titles. A skill I earnestly hope to improve upon as they’re pretty damn critical.

    • dwsmith

      Cheryl, I almost always start a story with a title. My title generating sheets are from my digest collection. I will look at the table of contents of say a Galaxy magazine from 1962 and take half titles (not full, only half or partial) and list them in a column. Then I will go to say Mike Shayne Magazine and take half titles and list them in a half column. So I have pages and pages and pages of two columns of half titles from magazines ranging from the 1940s to 2000. (It has taken me a few years to build up these pages of two columns of half titles, but I think there must be twenty pages there, some with a lot of titles crossed off, some not used.

      For example: I had a half tile “In the Shade” and another half title “Slow Boat.” I combined them to make the title “In the Shade of the Slow Boat Man.” And then wrote the story that has got all kinds of attention over the years.

    • Sheila

      Cheryl, I think Dean’s referring to the lists of published story titles from back in the day (from various magazines) that he uses to come up with titles. Part from one story, part from another, mash together. He’s discussed it a few times in previous posts.

  • Jason M

    Can you tell us more about how you’re tracking the stories?
    Also, do you have concrete plans for how to use them afterwards?

    • dwsmith

      Scroll down to my response below. I detailed how I am tracking them in a spreadsheet. Not much else.

      Every month I will put my blogs about the challenge and every short story with a cover I do in a book called SHORT STORIES FROM (month), so all the January stories I managed to write will be in SHORT STORIES FROM JANUARY with the blogs and a cover for each story. That book will come out in March and every month there will be a new one until I have twelve volumes. I will also use 5 of the stories each month in Smith’s Monthly plus the new novel each month will first appear in Smith’s Monthly. Then a month or so later the novels will come out stand alone.

      I will also be letting people read the “raw” short stories regularly on Patreon, meaning they will not be proofed, just the raw story coming from my computer. That will be $15 a month level and higher on Patreon once I get it set up. So all 365 stories will be published in the monthly book, 60 or so will make it the first year into Smith’s Monthly. Over time some will make it into other collections. All novels will be published as normal.

  • Kate+Pavelle

    That’s insane, Dean. I am sure it will be fabulous!
    So are you letting go of your blogging streak? That would free up a good bit of your time, I imagine. And we’ll still be here (or we’ll move to Patreon!)

    • dwsmith

      Oh, heavens, no. Still planning on the blogging streak. I got some nonfiction books to write and finish and other stuff to do as well as blog about the challenge.

  • Mihnea+Manduteanu

    Hm. Does magical realism fit into fantasy? Most of my works are in this genre and I am not sure where to submit.

    • dwsmith

      Most of the time, some of the time, maybe… Mostly it is just that, sort of standing alone. I am not sure at times what that is, actually. It comes out of the romance languages and is difficult to do well in English at best.

  • Sheila

    Dean, you put the “pro” in prolific! I’ll be following along with the challenge, and doing my best to get my own done (not nearly as ambitious as yours).

    • Daniel O'Hanlon

      This might be an odd question, but do you think this much output might put fans of your writing in an odd position, to have maybe more material from their favourite writer than they have the time to read? Would you like the people who follow you to read every story as it is released, or kind of dip in and out, or is that something you leave completely up to the universe?

      • dwsmith

        Daniel, I honestly couldn’t care. The day I try to control readers of my work or anyone’s work is the day you can certify me insane. I have fun writing it, when and what people read is up to them totally. I just entertain. Any writer who tries to control readers are fools. And will soon run out of time.

        However, I do try to control what a reader is reading in my story when they read it. I pull them in and try to make them stay until the end. That I do attempt to do in controlling a reader.

        • Daniel O'Hanlon

          I suppose what I was wondering is if you worry about overloading the Dean Wesley Smith completists out there – your fans who want to read everything you put out – but I think you answered that fairly succinctly!

          • dwsmith

            Dean Wesley Smith completists??? I would highly doubt there is even one. I write over so many genres, and have written under so many names that I can’t even count them all (actually can’t remember them all). But thank you for the very nice thought. I am an entertainer. I just hope to entertain someone for a few minutes or hours while they read my work. That to me is the biggest thrill.