It was a cold night when suddenly Jack heard something. So he went downstairs. “It was coming from the kitchen,” he said as he walked in. Then he screamed and ran out of the kitchen. “Ahhh!”
But it was actually his big brother Sam dressing as a ghost. “I just wanted to scare you so hard that your screaming sounded like fifteen people cheering.”
The next day they got dressed, ate breakfast, did their homework, then they watched TV for an hour. Then they did their chores for half an hour. Then they ate dinner and went to bed.
That night both heard something. They went downstairs.
“It’s coming from the kitchen,” Sam said
But it was just their dad so they went back to bed.
. . .
A story about a story…
As you know, I’m off social media this year and have been writing letters. It’s great to do the pen pal thing again because it’s intimate like a conversation and yet you’re making cultural artifacts as you go. That’s where this story comes into play.
My best friend Mark’s eight-year-old son sent me a short story, so I drafted up a formal acceptance letter as his editor, offered to pay him a professional rate of 7¢ a word (which is what I myself would get paid for selling a horror story to the Magazine of SciFi and Fantasy) and mailed him a $7 check made out to him and his dad.
It’s an idea I got from an old CEO who would write checks out to his employees for a job well done. Also from Stephen King who sold his first for stories to his mom for a quarter apiece and remarked, “That’s the first buck I made in this business.” Truth is, he’s right: it doesn’t take much, just someone who believes.
I wrote the check because $7 is a fortune for an eight year old. That’s nearly two months pay. It’s equal to $8,000 in my world, a handsome sum for any short story. Had someone paid me $7 for a story at his age, I certainly would have started MUCH sooner.
So let’s make this a thing:
SMALL STORIES FOR KIDS
If you have a child under ten years old who wants to be a writer and wants to start out like Harry writing small stories for kids, shoot me an email at lanceschaubert [at] gmail [dot] com and I’ll pay them a professional rate for their story. Just like any magazine, I’ll only acquire first serial rights unless stated otherwise — for instance if we start some sort of Axe Cop—esque collaboration.
Make sure to share this around so other kids get a chance to write small stories for kids. Thanks folks.
cover image by Moyan Brenn