I got the news that I’d sold my first novel in May of 2011. Since then, I’ve been writing on deadline for most of the time. I have no complaints — it’s been wonderful to be a young-adult novelist. In the past 8 years, I’ve written 6 books. That feels great.
But if you know me, you know that I tend to get a lot of story ideas. The topic of how and where I get my ideas is best left for another newsletter article, but let me say that my cup runneth over with ’em. Not only do I have three solid ideas for Young Adult novels in the back of my head, I also have a middle-grade series, several musicals and, no kidding, five short story concepts. Friends, that’s a lot of story to carry in the back of your head.
After turning in Ransacker, the delightful and hefty 425-page manuscript for my latest novel with Feiwel & Friends, to take a bit of time to explore the concepts rolling about in my brain pan. All this leads me to my big news:
This summer I’m taking time off writing novels to focus on short stories.
Photos: Alexander Andrews and Thomas Charters
This is the one I’m working on now.
“Cellsong” is the first short story up in the queue. It’s about a violent criminal who voluntarily enrolls in an experimental prison initiative where inmates receive therapeutic music treatments — and what happens a complication arises. It’s a dark, adult literary sci-fi piece and I’m having a ball.
(By the way, this is a cover mock-up I made on Canva. One nerdy thing you probably didn’t know about me is that I like to design covers as a part of my creative process. This is the first time I’ve ever let anyone see one. What do you think?)
Besides Cellsong, I hope to finish at least three more.
What are your other story ideas, you ask?
Oh, all sorts of crazy things.
- A dangerous cult of macrame weavers in a small town in New Mexico.
- The first Berserker (creating a short story prequel for my recent book).
- A kid with PTSD trying to go to a party.
- A wealthy woman going to visit a Mexican lady-milk farm. (Yes, you read that right. Dystopian + breastmilk = the kinds of ideas I get.)
What are am I going to do with the stories, you wonder?
After I get some help from beta-readers and a proofreader or two, I’ll submit the stories to literary magazines and anthologies. I may decide to self-publish them if that seems promising, or I might give them away for free, to bring new readers to my work. I’ve been hearing good things about the fiction scene over on Medium, so that might be a good place to start.
Whatever I do, I’ll keep you posted. I know you want to read about that lady-milk farm.
But Emmy, what’s your next book going to be?
Look for an announcement in the fall, my friend. Though I’m sorry to make you wait.
On the topic of short stories — I have a piece in a new anthology, Scream And Scream Again, edited by my dear friend R.L. Stine. It’s a collection of spooky stories for middle-grade kids (age 8 – 12).
My story is called “Bricks and Bones” and it’s about a kid who goes skating in an old, abandoned bottle factory late at night and discovers an old mystery from the days of bootlegging, guarded by a GHOST…
Meanwhile, Berserker keeps on keepin’ on.
We got a lovely review from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: “[Laybourne’s] willingness to experiment outside her established (and popular) genre goes a long way, and the end result is one of the most interesting and compelling new fantasy worlds for any age group.”
Have you bought your copy yet? (Somehow, the hardcover’s only $10 on Amazon right now. Get two!)
That’s is for this month. Next month I’ll hope to have a story or two that are ready to be shared.
Are you taking any creative risks with your work this summer? I’d love to hear from you. Let me know!