Monday, February 15, 2010

2010 OWOH Giveaway Winner! ~ A HAB Story ~ Part IV

And the winner of my 2010 One World One Heart Giveaway is...

Heidi from ON, Canada

An original hardcover copy of my short novel will be on its way to Heidi from My Hiding Place in Cyberspace (picked by random number generator #20). Thank you to all who left comments and some excellent reading suggestions. To Heidi, I look forward to reading Suzanne's Diary. Other than Jane Austen, my favorite romance novel writer is Catherine Cookson. If you get a chance, pick up one of her books; especially The Wingless Bird, The Black Velvet Gown and The Gilyvors.

A big THANK YOU to Lisa at the Whimsical Bohemian for hosting an even bigger One World One Heart event.

And without further delay, here is the fourth and final part of my short story, Susan's Flight.

At exactly a quarter past midnight that night, Susan tiptoed through the front doors of the barn. She was so anxious all day that she didn’t even think to change her outfit from earlier that day.

“De Rozier?... De Rozier?” But there was no reply. She looked around the barn which was only lit by the moonlight coming through the cracks of the wood. There was no sign of De Rozier – or the balloon. Disappointed and somewhat afraid of being alone, Susan started to make her way out of the barn.

“Psst!...Susan!” She heard De Rozier call her. He was standing in the back doorway of the barn as he was motioning for her to come to him. She ran over to him delighted that she was not abandoned. As she exited the door she gasped at what she saw before her. The Aerostat Reveillon!

There it was right before her eyes! It was slowly rising as it was being inflated by several men. Before she knew it the balloon was quietly floating above her, fully expanded! There were six men each holding ropes down preventing it from lifting it off.

“Hurry, there’s not much time!” exclaimed De Rozier “Get in the basket!”.

“Pardon me?!!” cried Susan. “What was it that you said Mr. De Rozier?!”

“My dear Susan, please, call me Pilatre. My love; I give you the gift of being the first woman in flight. It’s okay; I have tested it out myself. It is quite safe, trust me. Such a beautiful and wonderful creature as you is deserving of no less honor. Please, my dear, join me in the basket whilst we explore the skies if for just a few moments. Alone. Together.”

Susan couldn’t move. She was in shock. Not only by the thought of going into the sky in the contraption but also by De Rozier’s expression of love. She felt as if she were to faint. She quickly took her smelling salts out of her green purse to prevent such from happening.

She looked at the balloon, then at De Rozier, then back at the balloon.

De Rozier gently held Susan’s face in both hands and said, “My love, will you join me?”

Susan began to melt at his gaze and said, “My love, Pilatre, I couldn’t think of anything more wonderful in the world.”

Pilatre helped Susan into the basket and then climbed in himself. Four of the six men let go of their ropes and they gently lifted off. To make sure they stayed over the general expanse of her father’s acreage, the two remaining men strongly held onto their ropes.

Susan and Pilatre floated up to about 100 feet in the air. It wasn’t as high as the balloon was capable of going but it was more than high enough for Susan. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Everything below her kept getting smaller and smaller. It seemed to get colder the higher they went and she was glad she had her shawl with her. Pilatre also noticed the drop in temperature and draped his jacket around Susan’s shoulders.

“My love, Susan. I opened my own physics museum several years ago and I provide demonstrations to nobles. I am successful in my field and the Montgolfier’s have asked for my further participation with their invention. They have even given me the Aerostat Reveillon for further studies! Perhaps I will improve on their design and invent my own flying envelope one day! What I’m trying to say, my dear, is that I can promise that you will live in comfort and want for absolutely nothing the day you become my wife.”

Susan couldn’t breath. Was it a combination of being so high in the air and of shock? Susan almost collapsed. Pilatre held Susan tight in his arms as they retreated to the floor of the basket where they sat and stretched out their legs in each other’s embrace. Before they knew it, the flight was over and they felt the basket lightly hit ground.

“It is time to go my love.” With the help of his men, Pilatre climbed out of the basket.

Once safely out, Pilatre held out his hands to help Susan and then quickly took his hands back. “Wait,” Pilatre said teasingly. “You never gave me an answer. Will you marry me?”

“Yes.” Susan laughed. “With all my heart.” “Yes”.

Susan and Pilatre walked away hand in hand with the balloon behind them glowing in the midnight sky.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2010 OWOH Giveaway ~ A HAB Story ~ Part III

More pictures and details about Susan, the main character in my short story and my giveaway, "Susan's Flight"....

This 6 inch figure, named Susan for my story, was made by Miss Clara. I sent Miss Clara historical artwork depicting the clothing style of the 1700's for her to base Susan's outfit on and she interpreted it head on. She made her exactly as I wanted.
Miss Clara is an extremely talented artist who makes small delicate figures out of paper and reworks their photos into stunning dreamy scenes. Her work is one of my favorites and I truly admire her talent. Please visit her blog at
Here are photos of the two small figures (Susan and De Rozier) I made out of modeling clay to fit inside the balloon's basket. They measure about an inch and a half tall.

Here is Chapter III of "Susan's Flight"

Panorama of Versailles 1715

There was a huge crowd at the great courtyard of the Chateau de Versailles the following morning. The demonstration was to take place before the public and before King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. De Rozier and Susan met at the fountain as planned but only for a brief moment as De Rozier had to assist with the preparations. Before De Rozier departed, he whispered in Susan’s ear, “If all goes well with the flight, meet me at the barn of your father at a quarter past midnight tonight. I have something to give you!” And off he went.

The balloon was set up on a huge wooden dais covered with canvas made especially for the occasion. The process of inflating the envelope began at about one in the afternoon. To inflate it, they burned a combination of straw, chopped wool and dried horse manure underneath the balloon. As the straw burned it released heat that helped the balloon float. The wool and manure made lots of smoke and helped keep the burning flame low, which lessened the risk of the balloon catching fire. Once the balloon took shape the lines holding it were cut and it immediately rose, lifting skyward the three animals. Susan was astounded and the crowd roared. The flight lasted approximately eight minutes, covered two miles, and obtained an altitude of about 1,500 feet. The craft landed safely in the woods after flying. The flight was a success!

Since all went well with the flight, Susan anticipated meeting with De Rozier that night. The balloon was scheduled to be returned to her father’s barn for storage before sunset. Was De Rozier going to help her get a glimpse of it up close?! She was thrilled at the thought!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2010 OWOH Giveaway ~ A HAB Story ~ Part II


The Hot Air Balloon I created for my short story, "Susan's Flight" was made based on several drawings of the first flight in 1783. I wanted it to be similar in design and color to stay as close as possible to the original.

The balloon was made using paper pulp, paper mache, paper clay, mulberry paper, cardboard, acrylic paints, vintage tassels, sealing wax and gel medium. It hangs from a heavy duty clear line and measures about 10" tall and 8" wide.

Next week I will post Chapter III of the short story along with more information and pictures of the paper figure I had commissioned just for this story.

Here is Chapter II of "Susan's Flight"

The pre-celebration ball was full of beautiful gowns, delicious foods and punch. Everyone from several towns over came early to celebrate the Montgolfier’s unveiling of the Aerostat Reveillon the next day. After all, this was the most important invention of the century! Dignitaries, lords and noblemen had come to witness history in the making. Susan was proud to be on the guest list through the affiliation with her father but she had to occasionally remind herself to stay humble; as only a proper lady should. She was just thinking of such when she noticed a man grinning and staring at her from across the room. How daring! And now the bold creature was making his way toward her! She gasped at the thought of his approach and turned away to escape to the boudoir. As it was so crowded in the dancing hall she didn’t get far before she felt a touch to her arm.

Flinching, she turned around to see the bold man smiling the same grin. Up close she could see that he was pleasantly handsome and fairly young; perhaps in his middle twenties.

“Good evening, my lady”, the bold man said as he bowed and took her hand.
“My name is Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier. I believe you are the daughter of the American investor, Mr. Dyer?”

“Miss Susan Dyer…I am pleased to meet you” said Susan shyly while curtsying. Susan suddenly remembered a conversation she overheard father having with the Montgolfier brothers about the man, de Rozier. She remembered most of the conversation because the men seemed so proud to admit their acquaintance with such a fellow.

Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier was born in Metz, an important town on the border of France. His interests in the chemistry of drugs had been awakened in the military hospital of Metz. He made his way to Paris at the age of 18, then taught physics and chemistry at the Academy in Reims, which brought him to the attention of Monsieur, the comte d’Artois, brother of King Louis XVI. De Rozier returned to Paris, where he was put in charge of Monsieur’s cabinet of natural history and made a valet de chambre to Monsieur’s wife, Madame, which brought him his ennobled name, Pilâtre de Rozier. He opened his own museum in the Marais quarter of Paris on 11 December 1781, where he undertook experiments in physics, and provided demonstrations to nobles. He researched the new field of gases and invented a respirator.

Coming back quickly from her recollections, Susan returned to her conversation with de Rozier. “Yes”, my father was holding the Montgolfier balloon until it was transported to the storage houses at the royal palace here in Versailles.”

“Indeed, and incidently, I believe you almost got to see the balloon last night in your father’s barn…?”

Susan gasped and turned bright red from blushing. So it wasn’t the horse that startled her! It was this man who must have been spying on her just as she was spying on the secret balloon.

“Don’t worry; your secret is safe with me,” De Rozier said and he eased her nerves with a wink and a smile. Changing the subject, De Rozier proceeded to explain his involvement with the balloon and what he knew about tomorrow’s flight.

It so happens that De Rozier was present at the first public demonstration of a balloon by the Montgolfier brothers at Annonay and he was now assisting the brothers in the Versailles flight. The king was concerned about the effects of flight into the upper atmosphere on living creatures. It was De Rozier who suggested that the first living beings be a sheep, a duck and a rooster. The sheep was believed to have a reasonable approximation of human physiology. The duck was expected to be unharmed by being lifted aloft. It was included as a control for effects created by the aircraft rather than altitude. The rooster was included as a further control as it was a bird that did not fly at high altitudes.

Susan became comfortable listening to De Rozier as he continued to explain the scientific factors in creating such a balloon. His voice was calming and he reminded her of her father.

Remembering her curiosity concerning the makeup of the balloon, Susan asked De Rozier what the balloon looked like and what it was made of.

“The balloon is constructed of taffeta coated with a varnish of alum (which has fireproofing properties). It is sky blue and has golden flourishes and other decorations.
It is designed in collaboration with the wallpaper manufacturer, Reveillon. It measures 37,500 cubic feet. It’s actually quite taller than this building we’re standing in.”

“Oh I can’t wait to see it! It sounds absolutely stunning!”, cried Susan.

“Yes, indeed it is, but not as stunning as you, my lady”, said De Rozier. Susan blushed for the second time that evening.

Susan and De Rozier enjoyed the rest of the night in each other’s company. Susan learned about his family, his childhood and his dreams of becoming successful in his field. Susan told De Rozier about her own life and about growing up in the Americas before she came to France. They got to know eachother very well and Susan already began to miss him as the night came to an end. They talked, laughed and danced until it was time to go home. They bid each other goodnight and promised to meet by the large fountain at tomorrows unveiling.