Writing in Public, Too: Day 24 – Skylarking!

\"writinginpublic\"Up at 6am. Out the door by 6:30. Out of work at about 5pm, after an entire shift where I literally wasn\’t able to so much as sit down until the last fifteen minutes. I don\’t do well with no food for ten hours… Really need to find a way to grab a granola bar or something on the fly. It\’s sad when you put in two hours of overtime, and still leave an hour of work undone behind you. Frustrating, too.
OK, back to Waltham by about 5:20 – made good time. And made it to the dentist late, but they took me anyway. Had to get a temporary cap on a tooth replaced (old one cracked). It didn\’t take them very long. Feels a little odd, but hey, it only has to last a couple of weeks. Then they do the permanent crown. (SO not really looking forward to that!)

Got home in time for Susan to leave. She was out to visit with a friend this evening, and left shortly after I arrived. A very \”ships in the night\” sort of day. I continued reading the book on writing; also browsed some Amazon genre pages, doing a little research on what is selling, and how. I still track percentage data sometimes, although not as carefully as I once did. Anyway, thinking about the genres, I had a new idea for a story. Actually, I had several new ideas for stories, but this one, I decided to work on a little bit.

So after dinner, I skimmed the first couple chapters of \”Skylark of Space\”.

For anyone who\’s never read the book, this is a bit of classic SF from E.E. Smith, one of the most famous science fiction writers of the pulp era. Awesome story, if you can handle the dated storytelling style. I love it, but I admit if can be an acquired taste. Anyway, I was thinking about Skylark, and looking at my bookshelf, where there is a book titled \”How to Build Your Own Spaceship\”. So I stole the title, and the seed of the technology from Skylark, and started writing something for my kids.

My girls are seven, and one of them is voraciously reading anything in her path. She\’s not – QUITE – to where she can handle full length adult fiction. But she\’s close. And I was thinking I could maybe write something she would like, that older people would enjoy as well. So I wrote about 750 words of a story, then sat her on my lap and read the story to her (actually, she was supposed to be in bed by then, but was complaining of a nightmare, so I let her read it to me as a bedtime story to take her mind off bad dreams).

She liked it, and wants to

This will be a fun side project to spend some time on while working on the other stories.


For your entertainment, the very first pages of How to Build Your Own Spaceship (first draft work)

Dana\’s face froze.

Playing chemist in the basement was one thing. Accidentally dissolving your mom\’s platinum ring was another, she figured. And if Mom would ground her for the chemistry (well, she might or might not – Mom was pretty cool), she\’d feed Dana to piranhas if she found out about the ring.

Lucky her, it wasn\’t a piece of jewelry Mom wore all that often. It was an old family ring, and Dana had figured it was a prime candidate for her experimentation in electroplating. She had the acid bath. She had the copper bar in her hand. And she had the electric current from a car battery, which up until a few moments ago had been hooked up to the platinum ring.

She wasn\’t expecting the platinum to dissolve! She clenched her teeth, trying not to howl in frustration. Mom used the aqua regia to etch platinum for her artwork. It wasn\’t supposed to make platinum just go poof like that.

Absently, she reached forward to stir the solution with the copper rod. Maybe the electroplating would still work?


Her ears hurt. Her fingers, the ones that had been loosely holding the copper rod, stung. The steel wire she\’d looped around the bar to run back to the battery was dangling loose. What had made that loud noise? And where was the copper rod? She looked into the little pot filled with solution. Had the copper dissolved too?

No… She thought it would have left some sort of telltale residue. The platinum had.

She looked around the room, wondering what had happened, and her eyes were drawn to a small hole in the wall, right near the ceiling of the basement. It was small; she only noticed it because she could see sunlight through it. She\’d never seen the hole before, though – and she spent a lot of time down here, working on one science project or another. If it wasn\’t chemistry, it was robotics or engineering or rocketry. So she knew that wall as well as she knew her bedroom.

And funny, that hole was about the same width as the missing copper bar.


A short while later, she had four holes in the wall instead of one, but she\’d figured out what the heck was going on. She winced, looking at the holes, and pulled out the chunk of gray modeling clay she\’d swiped from the art supplies in her homeschool room. Carefully, she took four chunks of the clay and pressed them into the four holes. The color matched the wall pretty well. She didn\’t think anyone would notice.

But she\’d figured it out. Somehow, the platinum solution, plus a current, in contact with the copper, made the copper move. And not just move, but move fast. Almost faster than her eyes could see, even at the lowest level of power. Plus, the holes got bigger if she added more electricity into the mix. And when she hooked a bunch of paperclips onto the copper bar, they went along for the ride.

“Holy shit,” she said softly. She figured even Mom would agree this was one of those times it was OK to use bad words.

She\’s been lucky she wasn\’t holding that first chunk of copper too tight, or it might have taken her along. Through the wall. Who knew how far. She shivered a little.

Take away the current, though, and nothing happened. And when she tried a smaller battery, the copper sped away noticeably slower. So however the reaction was being created, she could control it by controlling the amount of electricity present.

Dana wondered how far those copper bars had gone before the reaction stopped. Maybe they\’d even gone into space! She\’d launched model rockets before, but it would really be something if she could launch her own little copper rockets into orbit.

Mom would be home soon, though. And she felt like she wanted to keep this from her mother for a little while yet…like maybe forever, if she could. It was a really cool reaction, like nothing she\’d ever read about. But she didn\’t think it would be cool enough to save her if Mom found out about the ring. And she didn\’t like the idea of being grounded. Like, forever. Or at least for however long it took to get from thirteen to being away at college. Which might as well be forever.



Totals for Day 23

Daily Fiction Wordcount: 750 words    Month to date fiction: 33650 words

Daily Blog Post Wordcount: 529 words    Month to date blog posts: 14239 words

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top