Parisianne Modert is inderigible!

OOPS!  I mean incorrigible!  Beyond restraint! Here she has the audacity to submit a prologue in our contest Once Upon a Time in which she herself selected the illustration and found the incredible video to accompany her entry.  Is the editor-in-chief (moi) to serve no purpose at all?

I will get over it.  Parisianne really sets the standard for critiques. They have depth and thought and articulation well beyond what we mortals generally have to say.  And now she is demonstrating that she can create her own work as well with this lovely piece.  A prologue…Where will it lead?  Up, up and away, in my beautiful balloon.

And thank you, Madame, for generously contributing $50 towards funding our prizes.  (Entry fee, if you are new to the site, is $15 to help defer the cost of the prizes. Once you have entered three of our contests, you are considered family, and there is no fee to enter, but a suggested donation of $15.)

Our current contest requires that you submit the prologue to a novel in progress. We are offering $500 in prizes, and the invaluable feedback you will receive from people who comment on your story submission.  Here are the details and how to enter:

Here is the prologue to

The Paradoxes and Contradictions of Romantic Flight

by Madame Parisianne Modert


Waking up two hours before sunrise, Juliette stretched her arms above her head yawning.  The silver glow upon her youthful cheeks shimmered a joy so alive that moon maidens envied Juliette’s innocent beauty.  Her recently redecorated bedroom of pink rose budded wallpaper and vanity contradicted her childhood passions of microscope slides, insect collections, aircraft models, tools, astronomy maps and science books both real and fictional of the ever inquisitive little girl.  Growing up meant adding shoes, frills on hats, hair pins, fashion pages from Paris and dresses to her love of the telescope, flying bi-planes and getting greasy in her father’s aero factory complete with airfield.   Miss Pieuvre’s clouded, sculptured ceiling’s skylights revealed the stars of the gods to which she now prayed each night for the illusive modern man her heart desired.

“If only I were an angel in flight from the power of my own wings not having to depend on my father’s airship,” Juliette imagined as her eyes sparkled towards the night’s late slumbering breath.  Peeling away the covers, kicking her nightgown tangled legs over the edge of her bed, toeing into her slippers, Juliette ballet-floated across her bedroom floor before sitting in front of her vanity mirror.  She took out her hair rollers watching her blonde ringlets fall.  The thick swirls of shoulder length hair fell into an unruly order.  Juliette finger-twirled the ringlets, bounced them with her two palms lifting upwards.

“Better,” she pouted while rolling her eyes.

“Father’s waiting!  Hurry Juliette!”

Juliette stared into her own pale blue eyes in the mirror as she curled her lashes.  She batted her lashes with a blush to the man of her dreams come to fly her away with his downy and lacy wings.

“Focus, Captain Juliette!” she huffed out then sighed in paradoxically.

Juliette finished dressing with an umber-ruffled ankle-showing dress over her petite frame.  In her mother’s opinion Juliette’s fashionable undergarments were shocking compared to what women wore when she was 19.  Juliette laced her field boots adding to her 5 foot 4 inch, 112 pound hourglass frame.

For today, on Juliette’s 19th birthday, in late August of 1917, her father would be promoting her to be captain of his redesigned dirigible, the Aurora, which he had named after Juliette.  To Jules, his daughter had an innocent, yet insistent beauty meant to command the morning sun across the sky of Lake Geneva.  His wife, Gretchen, would be, later in the afternoon, match making on Juliette’s behalf later in the day, shamelessly displaying her daughter, Juliette, as a potential wife to her male birthday party guests in the afternoon.  To Juliette her father’s gift was appreciated more than her mother’s well intended. meddling futility.  Yet, what if her mother’s plotting succeeded?

Sitting back down to apply her base, powder, rouge, lipstick and eyeliner with highlights to the lids above, Juliette felt feminine, loved by her family, but a stranger to romantic love.  How she had longed for, cried for and fantasized for her ideal man to desire her for herself and not his own fantasy of what a spouse should be.  She had particularly felt this way for the last year.   With a sigh and blowing a puff of breath up at a curl that had fallen in front of her she stood, put on her soft helmet-like hat with wings pointing upward and outward like an eagle ready to take flight.  This velveteen creation was the latest couture fashion from Paris.

Leaving her bedroom behind she felt older, confident and defiant of living the narrow rules which her mother and society had tried to instill in her.  “My man needs to respect my intellect and aviator’s spirit without denying his masculinity,” Juliette whispered to herself confidently.

“Today I am the modern woman of my own design: not a man’s,” Juliette thought, seeing her father waiting for her in the hallway by the backdoor of their home.  She had not been born in this spacious, county house, although Mademoiselle Pieuvre had shared most of her life with her parents in these wooded, streamed grounds on the outskirts of Lausanne, Switzerland.

“How pretty you look Juliette.  Happy birthday, dear,” Gretchen said with a lilt as she rose from the couch in the living room to kiss her daughter on the cheek.  “Safe flight my little angel, and bring your father home alive and on time for once.”

“I will mother, but for once won’t you please come with us?”

“No, my precious, I have too much to do to get ready for your party this afternoon.”

“Are you afraid of flying with me?”

“I’m afraid of flying with anyone.  My excuse this time is coordinating a celebration for you with gifts, family, your girl friends, handsome young men, cake and punch out back.”

Juliette kissed her mother’s cheek back, turned to allow her father to escort her to the auto that she would insist on driving to the airship tower which moored the hovering Aurora.  The tower steps were silent, still darkened from the pre-dawn sky, poised at attention for their new captain’s arrival.

Without delay father and daughter climbed the tower with the crew of four men to the entry platform, stories above the ground.  Juliette entered the Aurora first giving permission for the other five to come aboard her airship.  On the captain’s deck, with the wheel in her hand and her father at the gauge instruments, she ordered the ropes released from the tower over a loud speaker attached to the outside of the gondola.  Juliette felt every part the aviatress captain.

Climbing in altitude towards the East away from Lake Geneva, Juliette knew she must wait for the sun to peek from the horizon facing them before turning back west high in the heavens.  After an hour the sun rubbed the sleep from its eyes to greet the fair captain in her maiden voyage.  Turning westward in her modern chariot, she imagined herself as the goddess Aurora pulling the sun across the crimson-goldenrod-orchid yielding sky erasing shadows, revealing fields of chartreuse and woods of chestnut and yew .  The evening would need wait for the man who would accept her Venus being to arise without robbing her of her starry eyed, modern orbit.  This morning Juliette’s captain’s flight path was the cobalt blue watery brush stokes upon the ornate resort castles and chalets lining Lake Geneva.

Drifting peacefully, Juliette’s mind day dreamed her nightly desires.  As of late the same cold, distant stars that her father had shown her through a telescope when she was a little girl had become the venue for Juliette’s tears, streaking down like shooting meteors, covered only by her thin fingers with polished nails.

“Where shall I find my love, if not between heaven and earth?  For I soar to find a love as pure as angel wings, unfurled, so our joined souls can know no shame, disapproval or need to change the other.” Juliette begged the winds to deliver this message to her future mate.  “Should he be more like the young human Tithonus or the virile, god Mars?” she debated in her mind.

Juliette doubted that a man such as Tithonus could be tender, peaceful poet and commandingly masculine, but she had dreamt of and fantasized that such a man would find her.  The image of the god Mars seemed illogical here in neutral and peace-sworn Switzerland which was so unlike most of the remainder of Europe.  Here the skies were not endangered by the newest flying weapons.  Only loved ones living outside the Swiss boarders were in war theater dangers.

In frustration, the pretty captain regained her conscious bearings.  Yes, Juliette had emotions of a conflicting war between a modern woman’s need for freedom and an old-fashioned wife’s need for a loving husband to give herself to.  The unreal nature of both the foreign, senseless war raging and the negotiations for an egalitarian masculine but sensitive husband seemed as illusive as whispers of cloud streaks whirling about the Aurora.  Juliette hugged her freedom of spirit dismissing her wanton worries and woes, smiling into her captain’s microphone before speaking.

“I am Aurora, goddess of the dawn, in my flying chariot bringing light to this beautiful, but troubled world.  Cloud hiding gods grant my prayers for peaceful enlightenment to men and bring me my soul’s husband by Venus’s compassed true north,” Juliette, the paradox and contradiction of the modern woman and captain chimed into her airship’s speaker system.  The crew became embarrassed; Jules mourned the loss of his little girl becoming her own woman while angels passed on the prayers of the pure Mademoiselle Juliette Pieuvre.



15 thoughts on “Parisianne Modert is inderigible!

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    I wish to thank A Word with You Press for once again publishing one of my entries. The novel form is my oldest and dearest friend of which the prologue is a teaser. A teaser by way that we get a glimpse into the style of the main character, Mademoiselle Juliette Pieuvre, a French first language, German second language, precocious young woman who lives in the one spot in Europe which is not as the story begins in 1917 threatened directly by Prussian aggressions. The prologue sets the WW1 setting with a lesser tease much as it tells little about Juliette’s father, Jules and mother, Gretchen. The prologue does not reveal the nature of the comic relief to the backdrop of the great war, the romance and tragedy in youth nor how once upon a time the civilized world appeared to go mad. The prologue for me dips a dainty toe which captures the attention, seducing us into the novel to come to the vulgarity of soldiers’ trench and air battles later.

    If I am so fortunate as to be advanced among what will mostly likely be very excellent writers, I can tell you that there this is an alternative romance novel with the tragedy of the “war to end all wars” and life throughout Europe for the freedom of and influences of characters living in a historical fiction romance. This novel could not be contained to peaceful Switzerland alone, but the prologue sets the center of the map for what is to unfold. Families and life were so much more entwined in the greater European theater of 1917. Young women were redefining what it meant to be a woman illustrated in the radical change in fashion and attitude.

    I’d like to leave you with poems which would be placed between the prologue and chapter one should the fuller novel ever be published.

    Tithonus by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

    Thy sweet eyes brighten slowly close to mine,
    Ere yet they blind the stars, and the wild team
    Which love thee, yearning for thy yoke, arise,
    And shake the darkness from their loosened manes,
    And beat the twilight into flakes of fire.

    Love’s Philosophy by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

    The fountains mingle with the river
    And the rivers with the ocean,
    The winds of heaven mix for ever
    With a sweet emotion;
    Nothing in the world is single;
    All things by a law divine
    In one spirit meet and mingle.
    Why not I with thine?—

    See the mountains kiss high heaven
    And the waves clasp one another;
    No sister-flower would be forgiven
    If it disdained its brother;
    And the sunlight clasps the earth
    And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
    What is all this sweet work worth
    If thou kiss not me?

    Bright Star by John Keats (1795-1821)

    Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
    Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
    And watching, with eternal lids apart,
    Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
    The moving waters at their priestlike task
    Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
    Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
    Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
    No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
    Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
    To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
    Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
    Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
    And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

    In Memorium, A.H.H. (XXVII) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

    I envy not in any moods
    The captive void of noble rage,
    The linnet born within the cage,
    That never knew the summer woods:

    I envy not the beast that takes
    His license in the field of time,
    Unfetter’d by the sense of crime,
    To whom a conscience never wakes;

    Nor, what may count itself as blest,
    The heart that never plighted troth
    But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
    Nor any want-begotten rest.

    I hold it true, whate’er befall;
    I feel it, when I sorrow most;
    ‘Tis better to have loved and lost
    Than never to have loved at all.

    Things To Come by H.G. Wells (1866-1946)

    If we don’t end war, war will end us. – As spoken by the character John Cabal

    I look forward to reading many other prologues and wish all of you great success.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      And now for your listening pleasure ladies and gentlemen, the spiritually jazz impressions of Mr. Billy Holder. Thank you Billy.

  2. Tiffany Monique says:

    Is Juliette going to run away with the airship? Conform to her mother’s wishes and meet a worthy husband at the party, or live her own dreams and meet Billy when he steals the microphone from her (nudge nudge wink wink).

    Just some thoughts… I think presentation and voice are gentle, but smart. Still, the paragraph where Juliette and the crew are flying away from Lake Geneva is, in my opinion, the real beginning of the story. Prior to that are a lot of wonderful snippets of data and description that could easily be parsed out in and inserted within the first chapters, or throughout the novel itself.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you, but no to the suggestions. For me the dialogue can not begin in earnest until the reader is placed in the setting, teased with imagining what is to unfold next and see the world through the eyes of the main character who is Juliette in this case. The angst within the young woman of 1917 is as important as are the details of her dress, behavior and attitude in both text and subtext.

      When one writes of the middle to late 19th century as well as the early to middle 20th century which is a hint to the expanse of this novel, then one needs to write as they wrote, not the 21st century. This is not flash fiction, but a more gentle rollout of character and scene before the romance and war plaguing Europe begins.

      To develop a truer character we must know her history which is only teased at within the prologue. The prologue also has references such as the one about Mars which will not be revealed within the first chapter. Novel writing is a stacking of characters with unique voices which need to arrive in their own appointed times.

      Consider the prologue to be a playbill introduction without the fuller purpose revealed. The 21st century attitude of a special effects beginning or grand pictorial moment are unreasonable to me. I hope my prologue has allowed the reader to find a comfortable, oversized chair to curl up in before they turn the page read the poetic influences and advanced to Chapter 1. The impression I wanted to leave the reader is an admiration and sympathy towards the transition between daddy’s girl and a husband’s wife. In 1917, the age of 19 was a very reasonable time for this to being a young woman’s fancy.

      I promise going forth that the details of Juliette (how she became who she is) , her parents and assorted major characters will leave the hanger and take flight before you. Have patience, because a prologue is a mere introduction to the courting the reader which follows.

  3. Julie Mark Cohen says:

    You wrote below, “then one needs to write as they wrote, not the 21st century.” A problem occurs when your 21st century reader has other expectations.

    The following are a few of my suggestions to please kindly take or toss, as you wish.

    Also, in my humble opinion, you’re on a good path for archaic language usage. If you want to mimic this type of writing, your language needs to be tightened and polished to keep your 21st century reader on the edge of his/her seat.

    In addition, I agree with Tiffany: I would like to see the Prologue start with the flight, perhaps already in flight. Story lines even Prologues don’t have to be chronological or linear in time. They can start any where in your main story line, even at the end!

    And… I think that a shorter Prologue would be better. To me, 1440 words seems a bit long. Personally, I like the length and content of Thorn’s Prologue at approx. 400 words. After some (additional) reading on what constitutes a Prologue, I’m thinking that it should be short, maybe no more than 650 words or so. Some of my readings said that Prologues are often thought to be useless and are skipped!

    A Prologue can also be totally separate from the main story line. (I’ve done this in “Shear Folly,” but will likely not be submitting this Prologue here. I can send the log line and the Prologue
    to you privately, if you wish.)

    As I mentioned to Gary, I’m pretending to be standing in a bookstore flipping pages in books or virtually thumbing through them online to decide what to read.

    You can always provide the background for Juliette’s trip in the first few chapters, perhaps through a nonlinear story line — something triggers something else (perhaps in the past) and then something brings us back to the present.

    I’d like to see the location and date below the word “Prologue.” This is typical of writing from one century ago, at least from what I’ve read from that era.
    >> Prologue.
    >> Lausanne, Switzerland, August 19, 1917.

    Your first sentence didn’t grab me. Please give me something to entice me to keep reading.
    Weak suggestion, but hopefully this explains what I’m thinking:
    Juliette, a woman before her time, soared toward the clouds…

    >> Juliette stretched her arms above her head yawning.
    –> You may need to rephrase. Her head wasn’t yawning.

    –> Yawning, she stretched her arms above her head. (Does this move the Prologue forward? I’d delete everything that bogs down the read, especially in the Prologue.)

    >> silver glow upon her youthful cheeks
    –> This is confusing. Did she sleep with make-up or did you mean: silver glow on her youthful cheeks? Silver is close to grey. People with grey skin are ill. Can you find a better description without using the cliche of “rosy glow.”

    >> “Juliette” is used too often. After she is introduced, you can use “she” and “her” until someone else enters the scene. If the scene is long, then at the beginning of a later paragraph, “Juliette” can be used again.

    >> Who is Miss Pieuvre?
    I guessed who she is, but it would have been easier for the reader if we knew her last name from the get-go. Also, why did you use “Miss,” here? Your setting is French Swiss.

    >> Quotation marks are typically not used for internal thoughts. Consider italicizing what Juliette says to herself. Using quotation marks makes me wonder about her audience.

    >> The three sentences about her hair don’t move the Prologue forward. They can be tightened and shortened, without loss of meaning.

    >> Who said this: “Father’s waiting! Hurry Juliette!”

    Again, please take or toss the above, as best suits you.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      My, my Julie…the list of your assaulting items is long, but I’ll begin. I used Mademoiselle not Miss in the prologue, silver is a romantic color associated with moon beams in songs and poetry, the yawning is a symbol of an awakening of spirit as well as the stretching arms. That is why it is there. I also never used the expression of “rosy glow”. There are several misquotes within your critique in fact.

      Juliette’s appearance to me is critical, because I write novels in a way which forms a mental picture of them in both the reader’s mind, but useful if it were ever adapted to a movie. The hair and makeup expose her vanity and interest in attracting a mate as well as her confused mind. She knows the crew members already, so why before flying an airship. The field boots are to show there is an ounce of reason left in her.

      In novel writing I am not concise, but lyrical, psyche over action sequence. If this isn’t your style, don’t buy the book. The center of the attention is Juliette’s emotional state for me as the authoress. I prefer to keep a bit of feminine mystery and intrigue in my writing without being so pinpoint masculine precise, bottom line. Note that Tiffany’s remarks began with a question as to where the plot would be going. This is one of my aims.

      I want to assure you that you do not fully understand Juliette, because she has many aspects to bring to the reader’s attention later on as needed. Yes, there is a general sense of introduction, but my characters are much more complex with far more complex decisions and lives to lead. Wait till the interactions begin, if I am allowed to submit Chapter 1.

      Chapter 1 contains scenes where Juliette is not so much in control of what is to transpire. This prologue gives a purer look into who she is at the time the story begins. Unlike modern writers, I do not wish to jump back and forth in time nearly as much as is popular. My writing is very personal to me in the sense that I do write to sell books or be commercial.

      “Father’s waiting! Hurry Juliette!” is spoken as an admonishment to herself. After all, no one else is in her room and she hasn’t opened her bedroom door yet. These words were meant to show the practical side of her speaking to the romantic, distracted side of her. The prologue’s greatest intent is to introduce the inner conflict.

      The idea of having the date at the top seems sterile and unfeeling to me, because again the date of August of 1917 is important, but not the focus. Eastern Switzerland in 1917 was largely French in language, but not entirely with considerable Prussian influences and relationships with other countries which included the Prussian Empire. You will find out later that Juliette’s heritage is only half Swiss. When romance does show up for Juliette it will not be French at all.

      These words are important ones for me to give to you Julie. My story is my story and my story alone. I take ownership of what I write, consider ideas in writing style, but am proud of my form of art. If you wish to be commercial, current and bookstore review relevant, be my guest, but please don’t presume another’s intentions or reasoning for their style of writing. I beg you not to do the rules of writing thing to another person in this contest over and over.

      My words stand for themselves, so please let your words do the same in your own prologue. Remember that I know where my novel is going and why, but you don’t. I do appreciate your suggestion on dialogue within thought. In the past I have assumed that dialogue is out loud unless noted that the words were thought or imagined.

      One clarification which is an ongoing problem for me to explain to readers not appreciating my genre. When I use the term “alternative romance”, I am referring to a style which is other than straightforward heterosexual, present day notions of what courtship should be or is. The same applies to relationships whether they be between or among lovers, parents, the animal kingdom, inanimate objects and history. Alternative romance may not agree with actual history, may be futuristic, may be paranormal, may call upon the rearrangement of myths, religion and science.

      So in conclusion Julie, I am going to dismiss most of your comments and would never critique your work in such a manner even if I had read the complete novel cover to cover. I’m not an English Literature teacher as my mother was nor care to be. When I critique in these contests, I wish to give the reader a sense of what they might expect as well as encouragement wherever possible. While I appreciate the effort you put into analyzing my prologue, I simply did not care for the overall tone.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you very much Mike. My characters are designed to have the wants of ordinary people yet be extraordinary and unique to what the reader has experienced before. As the profile of Juliette, her society, and people from other European backgrounds emerge, she will become more and more in focus to the reader. I realize that in 2014 her later maturation and naivety seems outdated, but in 1917, Juliette would have been considered quite the radical young lady. This Prologue was meant to charm the reader into falling in love with her duality of paradoxes and contradictions. She is both part of her generation and yet she is not. Her need for a loving husband and children is traditional and yet her demands to be treated as his equal was very uncommon during the WW1 era.

      Her father is both a serious college professor of what we call today science fiction, but also a aeronautics inventor and designer. Her mother as we will learn later is not Swiss as her husband is. The “Once Upon A Time” element of this novel set against the Europe that historically existed between the 1500s into part of the 1940s is the inclusion of the gods and more. I later on take an alternative path on both inventions and one very well known character that the reader will immediately recognize. My influence never mentioned in this novel, Mike, is Philip Jose Farmer’s “River World” series, by including a famous character with an alternative existence and yet historically them self.

      What the reader at this point can not yet imagine is the amount of comic relief, sexual alternative relationships, insights via commentary about how people of particularly the early to middle 20th century lived their beliefs and a set of interactions which overlap with mythological beings. The opening few chapters are meant to be comically sweet romance with in and edged darkness of what happened dramatically outside of Switzerland in a little country that existed, but exists no longer. I hope if advanced that the readers will be drawn into the grand adventure of my “Once Upon A Time” story which takes us on both a solid grounding and romantic flight.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      In order to develop a character more fully for the reader, I try to wherever possible to include the child in them, because that part of the human psyche never goes away. At the core of adult behavior exists a child leading the way. Your prologue used this device very nicely as well Mike.

  4. Jack Horne says:

    Awesome prologue, Parisianne. Juliette is a great character. Thanks very much for your kind comments on my prologue. Have a great day, Jack : )

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you Mr. Horne for praising my character of Juliette, but know that there is much more to her that will continue to unfold. What the reader at this point doesn’t know is that the bringing of the sunlight is subtext to the bringing of love later on. The Juliette within the prologue has not discovered her higher purpose as Chapter One begins. Like many women she confuses romantic idyllic love with the day in day out practice of unconditional love. The prologue presents our main character, the center of the story, as a naive young girl who isn’t a real woman yet.

      Over the course of novels, I believe my writing must evolve the various characters presenting their challenges in maturing over their lifetimes. I beg my readers to indulge me patience in that my life and my stories are extremely complex and ever shifting in plot. “The Paradoxes and Contradictions of Romantic Flight” gives us but a handful of jigsaw puzzle pieces dropping from bi and tri-planes.

      One of my questionable and perhaps mean spirited style elements is to give the first 50 pages safe for readers from Peoria, Illinois (been there, hated it) and approximately on page 51 cause all the mild manner, simple folks to swallow their teeth. People who escaped from the small town, narrow minded plains people of southern into central Illinois will understand my reasoning. I write to both entertain and reek my revenge. Welcome aboard the dirigible for a flight which is going to shock all of you if you give it a chance.

  5. Parisianne Modert says:

    WWI drastically changed the landscape of Europe as royal and landowner influence and responsibilities in war became less afterwards. The Prussian Empire had lost lands for various causes as the country of Germany started to take on its modern day shape. The result were stranded people of Prussian heritage across primarily eastern Europe. Their claim was the mistreatment and rights for such people and a reclaiming of lands they believed belonged in the Prussian Empire. These land disputes are the real reason for the hostilities which followed. At the same time czarist Russia was under siege from the misery of the Russian people.

    The novel in waiting is an expansive alternative romance with historical intrigue as a background with subtext which the characters react to and live within.

    I am intrigued by the new format as I learn to use it better.

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