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Lynne Marshall | A Hot Air Balloon Experience


One of the challenging parts of writing a book is the research you unwittingly thrust upon yourself.  When I began writing COURTING HIS FAVORITE NURSE for Harlequin Special Edition, I saw a pivotal scene play out in a hot air balloon.  For someone who has a fear of heights and who once gave her husband a hot air balloon ride as a birthday present, but who stayed behind, feet firmly planted on the ground, I needed to do research!

Thank goodness a lady can sit in her office chair and through her browser, research hot air balloon rides and how those big, colorful balloons with baskets work.  Without dumping too much research into the scene – I wrote it something like this:


Suspended in the sky beneath a blimp-sized rainbow-colored balloon, Anne gripped the thick wicker and concentrated on looking out, not down. Lush farmland divided into neat squares, patches of orchards and rows of newly developed vineyards passed in the distance. Once again, she'd forgotten the humble beauty of her hometown. Oregon was so much greener, but the yellow and brown hills of Whispering Oaks held their own special charm, and the farmland, well, it was the salt of the earth.
Jack skillfully fired up the propane burners whenever needed, and by ascending or descending into the air flow, he controlled their direction. His summer of apprenticeship had paid off as he piloted their balloon as if second nature.
"This is so fantastic," Anne said.
"It's relaxing, isn't it? Just what you need."
"Our nighttime skate was great, but this..."
"Yeah, nothing quite like it."
"It's the same feeling I get when I float in water." She opened her arms, taking in the entire valley vista. "Except the view is much better from here."
They smiled at each other, there gazes met and held. A spark in Jack's eyes communicated he was happy to be here with her. Heck, he'd gone out of his way to make this happen and she was flattered. She'd been aware of a small adrenaline pop in her chest when he'd picked her up earlier, and ever since something hummed nonstop through her veins. He'd brought fresh pastry and more coffee, and she'd loved the warm raspberry jam in the Danish on the drive over to Marshfield. He'd thought of everything.
Like the hot air balloon, Anne decided to go with the flow for the next hour as they drifted like a behemoth birthday ball across the Whispering Oaks horizon.

Later when Jack kisses Anne, and they're definitely distracted by their first kiss since high school, they come dangerously close to the lovely strawberry fields below.  I had fun writing this scene, and having the hot air balloon depicted on the book cover made me grin for an entire day.

Have you ever been on a hot air balloon ride?  If not, would you like to go for one, or are you a foot-on-the-ground kind of girl like me?

Since this is my debut Harlequin Special Edition, I'd like to give one commenter a print copy of the book.




59 comments posted.

Re: Lynne Marshall | A Hot Air Balloon Experience

Riding in an hot air balloon is still on my "TO DO" list, and I am 83.
I am always proud of the authors for their factual accuracy.
(Marjorie Carmony 6:39am February 21, 2012)

I have always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon but I am also very much afraid of heights, so I may never actually never do it. I don't even like tall buildings if I can see out of them. I am hoping to overcome my fear because I can't imagine seeing anything more beautiful than open view like that but if I wouldn't be able to open my eyes than I wouldn't see anything anyway. Someday.....
(Wendy Hulbert 9:52am February 21, 2012)

Oh heavens no...There is no way I would do that. I am so afraid of excerpt was great..Thanks for sharing!
(Dawn Staniszeski 10:04am February 21, 2012)

No way. I'm more of the feet on the ground person.
(Pam Howell 10:13am February 21, 2012)

Hi Marjorie! - Good for you! Former President Bush (the first) went sky diving for his 80th birthday, so I think a hot air balloon ride at 83 is a fine idea. Thank you for reading and commenting.
(Lynne Marshall 10:14am February 21, 2012)

Wendy, Dawn, and Pam - you all know exactly how I feel! :) I'm glad to know I'm not alone. However there is a fantastic ride at Disneyland/California Adventure (I believe that's what it's called) that simulates floating above gorgeous vistas, while being safely strapped into one of their seats. I went on it 5 times because it was so great. I think it's called flight across California or something. It was very fun.
(Lynne Marshall 10:18am February 21, 2012)

Lynne - I have never ridden in a hot air balloon...I'm too chicken and don't like heights or scaring myself. My daughter received a balloon ride as a wedding gift along with a lovely picnic afterward. I worried the entire time, but they had always wanted to do this and were glad they did. It was a different experience than I'd had in my head, and great precautions were taken. Now, my daughter and her hubby have memories of doing something adventurous that not too many people can say they have done.

Great descriptions on your blog!

(Charlene Sands 10:34am February 21, 2012)

I would love a hot air balloon ride, right now I
am saving for my first skydive. I am excited
about it. Just two years ago I was afraid of
planes and refused to get on one, now I am
trying to jump out of one. I found the thrill and
the beauty of flying, feeling a part of the
vastness below.
(Carla Carlson 10:49am February 21, 2012)

Hi Charlene! I love your books!
What a romantic gift for your daughter and SIL. My husband loved it. I thought it was a fun and romantic gift for him, but too bad I couldn't get myself to go along with him. LOL.
Thanks for reading and commenting at this great blog.
(Lynne Marshall 10:58am February 21, 2012)

Hi Carla! Do you have any idea what helped you change your fear into adventure? I am very impressed! Good for you, and enjoy. My husband also enjoys parasailing, but I think he'd draw the line at sky diving.
Not to sound like a complete wuss - I have ziplined! :) Loved it. I looked out not down, and that helped. Maybe there's hope for me yet.
Thanks for commenting!
(Lynne Marshall 11:00am February 21, 2012)

Hi Lynne! I really want to go on a hot air balloon ride one day! (Skydive too!) I'm actually finding the older I get, the more I want to try things. Fear? Forget about it. lol
(Robin Bielman 11:05am February 21, 2012)

I would love to go. When we drive to Maine we occasionally see groups of
ballooners flying high. In spite of the fact that some of those same balloons
have come to grief across the rode from my son's old house I still would go.
What a fun thing to add to a good book.
(Sandra Spilecki 11:07am February 21, 2012)

You chose a perfect topic for this blog! Did you know Fresh
Fiction is located in Plano, TX, site of one of the largest
hot-air balloon festivals in the U.S.? I'd love to go up in
one, but I'm too much of a chicken. I'll have to admire them
from the ground, thank you very much. They are quite lovely
from this vantage point!
(Roz Lee 11:13am February 21, 2012)

I've always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride. In my home town in Australia's Hunter Valley they have rides that go out over the vineyards. The only problem is I'd have to get up at 5am to get there on time. It's a champagne breakfast ride. No way am I getting up at 5am. And, it's incredibly expensive. Maybe next time. : )
(Robena Grant 11:29am February 21, 2012)

Robin! You go, girl! And when you get back, you can tell me all about it. LOL.
Thanks for reading and commenting today.
(Lynne Marshall 11:40am February 21, 2012)

Hi Sandra. Isn't it beautiful to see a group of colorful hot air balloons floating across the sky? Unfortunately, there have been accidents, but I suspect it isn't any more dangerous than most fun things we humans think up to entertain ourselves. :)

I added this scene to the book because I thought it had a high romance factor to it - a guy must really want to get a girl alone if he's willing to take her on a hot air balloon ride, right? And a girl must really trust a guy to go up with him!
Thanks for commenting.
(Lynne Marshall 11:43am February 21, 2012)

Roz! I did not know that. Thanks for the info, and I'm glad you approve of my topic! I'll stand beside you, feet firmly planted on the ground, and amire those balloons right along with you.

Robena! you won't get up at 5 a.m. not even for champagne? Can you imagine how beautiful floating over vineyards at sunrise must be?

Thank you for commenting ladies!
(Lynne Marshall 11:46am February 21, 2012)

I would love to go on a hot air balloon ride. It is one of the things on my bucket list. I am terrified of heights but that hasn't stopped me yet. I would love to read this it looks great.
(Patti Paonessa 12:13pm February 21, 2012)

Hi Patti! I hope you get your chance to ride a hot air balloon soon, and good for you for being willing to overcome your fears to do it.

I have a long bucket list - but I'm afraid hot air balloon ride isn't on it! LOL.

Thanks for commenting.
(Lynne Marshall 12:22pm February 21, 2012)

I have seen pictures of hot air balloons flying over New Mexico and often thought how fantastic the scenery must be. I would like to try it.
(Robin McKay 12:33pm February 21, 2012)

Hi Robin! Good for you. I love those pictures of hot air balloons floating over New Mexico. Also, it must look gorgeous floating over parts of Europe, too.

I hope one day you get your chance to try it.
(Lynne Marshall 12:41pm February 21, 2012)

I love second chance stories and can't wait to read yours. I have a short bucket list and did go to England and Scotland in 2001 for 14 days with my sister and cousin. We tried to see so much but I would like to go back again. Thanks for the opportunity to enter giveaway.
(Brenda Hill 12:53pm February 21, 2012)

Hi Brenda! I am with you about second chance stories, love to read them and love to write them. Anne and Jack had to wait a long time to get it right. So glad you want to read this book.
Thanks for commenting.
(Lynne Marshall 12:59pm February 21, 2012)

I haven't, but have an idea it would be a terrific experience. The view must be breathtaking.
(Anna Speed 1:12pm February 21, 2012)

I have never ridden in a hot air balloon. I have researched giving this as a gift to my son and his wife. It sounds really great and I would go myself if I had the chance.
(Kathleen Yohanna 1:26pm February 21, 2012)

I've never been in a hot air balloon, but every summer there's a hot air balloon festival in my town. It's so neat to seem them light up at night!
(Rebecca Whitehead-Schwarz 1:32pm February 21, 2012)

Congratulations on your book. it sounds really interesting since I have ridden in
a hot air balloon over the Arizona desert. It was an awesome experience.
(Jackie Wisherd 1:50pm February 21, 2012)

Hi Anna! - I agree, the view must be breathtaking, but I'll have to settle for pictures of it. :)
Thanks for commenting.
(Lynne Marshall 2:24pm February 21, 2012)

Kathleen - I think that's a super gift to give to your son and d-i-l - I bet they'd love it. Hey- maybe they'll return the favor, too?

Thanks for commenting.
(Lynne Marshall 2:26pm February 21, 2012)

I'd rather stay on the ground!
(Cheryl McEwen 2:26pm February 21, 2012)

Every August there is a Hot Air Balloon Rally nearby and sometimes they end up going over or by my house and I just love it. It is always a treat to wake up to the sound of the balloons overhead.
(Jane Cavanaugh 2:26pm February 21, 2012)

Oh Rebecca - I bet that is a glorious sight! How need, and summer just seems like the perfect time to enjoy a hot air balloon trip.
Can you imagine going around the world in one of those things? NOOOOOO. :)
(Lynne Marshall 2:27pm February 21, 2012)

Hi Jackie! Nice to see you here. Lucky you to have gotten up close and personal above the Arizon desert. I bet it was an awesome experience.
Thanks for commenting.
(Lynne Marshall 2:29pm February 21, 2012)

Cheryl McEwen - I'm with you!
(Lynne Marshall 2:29pm February 21, 2012)

Oh Jane, how neet! Do you take pictures from the ground looking up? I'd love to see those if you have. Now, see, doing research does not give the author the benefit of "hearing" the sound of balloons overhead. Interesting.

Thanks for commenting.
(Lynne Marshall 2:30pm February 21, 2012)

Hmm, not sure if I want to ride in a hot air balloon or not. I think my first exposure to them in The Twenty-one Balloons might have sort of put me off the things. On the other hand, I still dream about finding an island where the huge diamonds lay upon the beach sands for anyone to find.

Can't wait to read about this balloon ride though.
(Maria Powers 2:44pm February 21, 2012)

Hi Maria! Thanks for commenting. A lot happens up there in that basket! LOL
(Lynne Marshall 3:10pm February 21, 2012)

Slow and high up...not my cup of tea.... I do not even like ferris wheels... has to be fast like a rollercoaster for me to go up high!
(Colleen Conklin 3:41pm February 21, 2012)

Hi Colleen! I'm with you about not liking ferris wheels. I hate getting caught on top while they add new riders, and the wheel jiggles and rocks the chair. Absolutely hate it! At least on a rollercoaster you don't have a chance to think about how high you are because you're moving so fast.

Thanks for commenting.
(Lynne Marshall 3:44pm February 21, 2012)

Hi Lynne! When I was a kid I enjoyed heights...climbing up and onto everything (trees, buildings, etc.) and jumping to the ground. Never got hurt, just got lucky. I'd challenge myself to anything and rode every carnival ride there was, hiked and climbed hills and bluffs, dangerous adventures. Now that I'm older and wiser, I am scared of heights, and do not think I'd enjoy a hot-air balloon ride. Two days ago, I viewed a hot air balloon in the sky while driving. I was mesmorized watching it. I think they are beautiful to look at, and I know there is danger involved. Anyone wanting to ride in one should go with a highly qualified, experienced person. I often see one in my neighborhood that navigates his pretty low and I've watched and taken photos; it. Pretty scarey because he comes down pretty close to the treetops. Ironically, his balloon colors resemble your book cover. So, I'll probably keep my feet planted on the ground and remain a viewer and a dreamer of what it could be like to view everything from high above.
(Linda Luinstra 5:48pm February 21, 2012)

Hi Linda L. What an interesting story, and so true. When we're young we're fearless, then we grow up and start realizing what could happen, and it scares us. I'm with you, only qualified people should handle hot air balloons, and I'm pretty sure my husband had to about sign his life away with consent to take that birthday ride.
Thanks for reading and making such interesting comments.
(Lynne Marshall 6:10pm February 21, 2012)

I get vertigo and have a fear of heights. I doubt I will ever have the nerve to go up in a balloon. The highest I've ever been was on the London Eye ferris wheel.
(Stacie Deramo 6:36pm February 21, 2012)

Oh, Stacie - you are a braver soul than me! I went to the London Eye Ferris wheel, took one look and decided to take a land and water vehicle tour of London instead. LOL.

Thanks for commenting.
(Lynne Marshall 6:41pm February 21, 2012)

I'd be too scared to go up in a hot-air balloon, but I like to look at them, especially when they have them in so many different designs and colors at balloon festivals. I like the one on your book cover.
(Michelle Fidler 6:53pm February 21, 2012)

Hi Michelle! Isn't that balloon gorgeous on my cover? I couldn't be happier with the cover art. I love the sight of multiple hot air balloons floating across the sky. It's quite a memorable site.

As you well know, I'm totally with you on the balloon ride fear. :)
(Lynne Marshall 7:47pm February 21, 2012)

At one time I would have gone for a hot air balloon ride, but in the area where I live, there have been a few accidents with the balloons lately, and I think I would rather go and watch them fly and admire them from the ground, than to take my chances going up in the air. I'm not quite as brave as I used to be on certain things. I'm sure that it's a lot of fun, though, and the view has to be breathtaking!! The cover of your book is lovely, by the way, and after reading the passage of your book, I would love to read the whole book.
(Peggy Roberson 9:19pm February 21, 2012)

Hi Peggy!
It would give me pause to know that a few accidents had occured when considering a balloon ride. I'm with you about rather watch than ride.

I'm so glad you like my book cover, and I hope you will read the book. I'm very happy to know that the excerpt enticed you. :)

Thanks for commenting.
(Lynne Marshall 9:35pm February 21, 2012)

Every year we have a really big balloon festival. One year, I got up to find one had landed in my front yard. It narrowly missed the power lines on one side, and my house on the other. Every year, I take my family to go see them. I would love to have a ride in one, it looks like so much fun.
(Debbie Penny 5:18am February 22, 2012)

People die in hot air balloons. I think I'll stay on the ground thank you.
(Mary Preston 7:05am February 22, 2012)

I gave a balloon ride to my hubby for his 40th birthday -- took 2 years to schedule but it was worth it.. I went along even though I'm not crazy about heights.. but the basket was about 8 foot square and 4 ft high.. biggest trick was getting in & out of it.. and the burner noise is pretty loud, but not continuous.... It was a business for them not a hobby... I'd be leery of just jumping into a small aircraft piloted by someone I'm not aware of their experience.. but then my family has had several private pilots and one professional... so I'm more attuned..
(Cate Sparks 7:19am February 22, 2012)

I'm definitely a foot on the ground person---I won't even stand on a chair to change a light bulb!
(Sue Farrell 11:09am February 22, 2012)

Oh , Debbie! I can only imagine what it would be like to find a hot air balloon on your front yard. That's scary funny. Whew. Close call for a twist on the wicked witch of the west - Neighborhood lady found beneath balloon basket.
Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I hope you get up there one day.
(Lynne Marshall 1:41pm February 22, 2012)

LOL, Mary! I'm with you. Unfortunately, to take our theory and apply it to being on the ground - people die there, too.

Help! There's no way out. :)

Thank you for commenting.
(Lynne Marshall 1:42pm February 22, 2012)

Cate - great minds think alike - I gave a HABR to my hubby for his 40th birthday too. I did make the point of the hero having spent a summer working the balloons with his buddy, who owned the business, but I know what you mean about not just anyone hopping over that basket and taking charge.
Thanks for reading and commenting!.
(Lynne Marshall 1:44pm February 22, 2012)

Hi Sue F. Well, it's great to know someone with my affliction, though I will stand on a chair.

Thanks for reading and commenting!
(Lynne Marshall 1:46pm February 22, 2012)

I went up in a balloon several years ago in New Mexico during the Festival. It was a great experience. It was so quiet except for the burner heating the air. I hope to go again sometime.
(Barbara Hope 3:32pm February 22, 2012)

When I was young I used to go to the festivals and see all the unique balloons and watch them go up and I always wanted to go up with them. Around my 6th anniversary my husband took me on a hot air balloon ride. Oh, I have to say it was Wonderful! The burners were loud but that didn't take anything away from the peace I felt floating through the sky and the view was amazing, I think more so because there wasn't anything completely enclosing us. This is one of those time where you can say there's nothing like it. Since then I have been up one more time but it was a very short ride but I loved it just the same. I'm adventurous and love to be on the go trying new things, thankfully I'm not afraid of heights. Your book sounds great and the cover looks how we felt after our ride.
(Margie Gagarin 6:18pm February 22, 2012)

I've not been on a hot air balloon ride, but have seen them at festivals and in the air they are quite colorful. I know they have a truck chasing them to a pre-arranged landing spot if their guesstimates are good enough. It's up in the air the exact location and depends on weather conditions in the winds aloft, the skill of the navigator and GPS for locating and pinpointing.
(Alyson Widen 6:56pm February 22, 2012)

Barbara and Margie - I hope you can both have another chance at going up in a hot air balloon. I believe there musn't be anything like it.
So glad to know my cover depicts how you felt after going for the ride. Yay cover artist!!! Fantastic job.

Hi Alyson - thanks for your comments. I'd hate to be riding in a hot air balloon with a poor navigator! :)

Thanks everyone for a great batch of comments her at Fresh Fiction! I've had a ball.
(Lynne Marshall 7:29pm February 22, 2012)

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