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The Short Story and a Challenge…

March 14, 2014

First off, a bit of screaming and gratitude. Beyond Me hit the New York Times and the USA Today bestselling list, and I couldn’t have done it without my amazing, supportive readers. Thank you for loving and sharing my stories and allowing me to keep writing for you.

Second, I want to talk about writing. I love everything about creating a good story, in various formats, and consistently try to grow and get better. When I was in college, I took a short story writing course. The class was small and intimate, and each week we’d create a new short to read and discuss. By studying and delving into the craft of the short, I learned about the power of vivid words, getting straight into the action, and how to give readers a satisfying experience in a limited amount of time.

Yesterday, I was on twitter and saw a site called 81words.net.  I clicked on it out of curiosity and found a site that is dedicated to sharing stories of exactly 81 words. Readers vote and the stories are ranked. After scrolling through some of the top rated ones, I was blown away and reminded of what I love about the art of writing. In only 81 words emotions were evoked. A story was told.

Powerful stuff.

Of course, instead of going back to working my novel with a looming deadline, I got excited. I wanted to write a story in 81 words! Could I push myself to try?

Yes. So, I did.

You can read it right here. I titled it Unspoken.


After I posted, I got a huge adrenalin rush I always experience when I write The End on my book. I was also inspired by the other talented writers who pushed themselves and tried something new. I think in any career we may reach plateaus or forget to try something different.

So, I give you a challenge. Write a story of 81 words. Post it on the site here , or on your blog. Show me the link so I can read it, either on my website or on my author facebook page which is shown on the right side of my site.

Whoever takes on the challenge, I’ll put the names in a hat and give away a copy of my new digital release, Beyond Me. If you read it already, you can pick something from my backlist.

Are you a loyal reader but not a writer? That’s ok – just post that you checked out my new short Unspoken and I’ll put you into the contest!

Have fun. Happy reading. Happy writing.



❤️ Leave a comment → 


  1. Patricia Schafer says:

    I have posted a comment on your story ‘Unspoken’.

  2. Nickie Adler says:

    Jennifer just wanted you to know I finished Beyond Me, and WOW! I read it twice because I loved it soooo much. I’m sure I’m not the only one saying that I would love a novella of the three friends five years later. You are an amazing writer. Thank you and I am beyond proud to be one of your original posse girls.

  3. Vilma Akins says:

    Unspoken was powerful!

  4. Shirley Bastian says:

    Jennifer ~ thank you for sharing “Unspoken” with us. It’s amazing how powerful just 81 words can be and these 11 especially: “You don’t have to take any time. The baby isn’t yours.” Can only imagine the pain felt by the person who had to hear those words.

    I’ve never written, but have been encouraged to, and 81words may be the perfect place for me to start.

    ~ shirley

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Shirley! You should def try! It’s fun, and creative, and anything goes. I’m so happy you enjoyed it and let me know if you do write it I’d love to read it!

      • Shirley says:

        Jennifer ~ I wrote my first 81 words. I’m sure they’ve been in me just waiting to find that nudge that would bring them out. Thank you for that nudge. 🙂

        THOSE Five Words

        “Good morning, Ann. It’s Family Practice, and we have your mammogram results.”
        I already knew what would be said next, even though it had only been two days since my routine annual mammogram. They never call when things are normal.
        And so it began, the fear, the worry, the insomnia, the questions . . .
        Why me?
        Why now?
        How do I tell my husband and children?
        What next?
        The plea . . . Please, God, help me!

  5. July Gzn says:

    What?! The last sentence she said broke my bubble! hahaha loved it and now I’m intrigued what has happened before and what’s he gonna do…

  6. Marina says:

    Hi Jennifer 🙂

    I loved Unspoken. I would love to read these words as a part of a longer story. As Shirley mentioned above, the words ““You don’t have to take any time. The baby isn’t yours.”

    I watched her walk away; my future, my loss, my silence.”

    Are so strong. It definitely touched my heart. I would love so much to hear the story of that guy. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    Unfortunately, I am completely hopeless in writing so I am going to stop here 🙂

  7. Chanpreet says:

    That is some story Jennifer!

    It also makes a great premise for a full length book! 😉

  8. Madeline4994 says:

    ooo that was really powerful, but now i want more, which, I suppose, is the hallmark of a great “hook”.

  9. Jackie Dickson says:

    I decided to give it a shot. Here’s “Stuck”

    High school graduation! It’s supposed to be the happiest day of my life, but it’s not. This August, John will move away, go to college, make a new life, new friends, a new girlfriend. And I’ll be here. Stuck. I can’t leave my mom when she’s sick with no one to care for her and my little brother. A tear slips down my cheek as I start the “Dear John” email telling him to move on now rather than in August.

  10. Joanna Lessor says:

    WOW! I read your story on 81words.net and in just 81 words you told a whole story that really had a huge emotional impact! I’m going to try to write one but…not sure if I can! But trying is good!

    Congrats on making the NY Times & USA Today Bestselling list! That’s so awesome!!!

  11. Joanna Lessor says:

    Ok… I wrote something. Here it is…
    “Why Me”
    I’m at the doctors, again.
    I check in and sit down to wait nervously…
    A nurse comes out and says “Elizabeth Connor?”
    “That’s me.” I say & follow her. As we walk back I think “the test will be negative, it always is!”
    Then the doctor comes in. My mouth goes dry and I start shaking, afraid my dream is over.
    “Mrs. Connor, you’re pregnant!”
    I hear the words, I wake up, put my hands on my flat stomach and cry….

  12. Kate Squires says:

    This sounded like so much fun so I’ve decided to post my story here and on my website! I love a challenge!
    Here goes nothing…

    She ran as fast as she could, trying to finally win, but he was too fast. When he passed her up, his tongue poked out. Anger formed as tears in her eyes as she tried to speed up. She never saw the stone in her path. Megan tripped headlong as screams of pain came from her lips. He was there I an instant.

    “It’s okay, I’m here,” he cooed and held her.

    She knew, as usual, he would make everything alright.

  13. lori says:

    Not a writer myself but an avid reader. Unspoken was powerful. I would hate to be the both the person who said those words or the person who had to hear them. Wow.

  14. Patsy Fox says:

    Oh your good!!! It doesn’t matter if it is just 81 you have a talent. That was so full of possibilities..

  15. Donna Aylsworth says:

    I am not a writer, do not know the first thing about writing, ask any of my college professors, but I am a voracious reader. Thank you for every word!

  16. elena k says:

    this was so much fun! I don’t even speak english as my first language but I hope you like my stories. kisses from greece

    “I have a secret.”
    My heart started racing full of anxiety. Dimitris has been my best friend since I stole his chocolate in kindergarten, but those feelings I had boiling inside me now were much more than friendship.
    He touched my face and he whispered in my ear “s’agapo.”
    I didn’t know what that meant, but then I looked into his eyes and I saw the truth in his beautiful blue eyes.
    “I love you too”. Then I kissed him passionately.

  17. elena k says:

    my second story… here it is 🙂

    I was lying on my bed, when I saw a man approaching holding something. Was he going to hurt me? My hands started shaking and my bottom lip was trembling. Was I going to die?

    I wanted to see her. Maybe I would see the light in her eyes, but when I looked at her I only saw fear.
    “Happy anniversary my love”. I gave her a rose and left. Alzheimer had stolen my wife and broken my heart.

    • Jennifer says:

      OK, Elena, you have to submit that to the site – this was amazing! People should be able to read it that was so damn sad and powerful!

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