Author's Name: Christi Lynn
Genre: Magical Realism
Stage of Completion: Work in Progress
Preferred Critique Style: Straight to the Point or A Spoonful of Sugar
Cat Person or Dog Person: Cat person. I have 3.
Tea or Coffee: Coffee. So much coffee. Did someone say coffee?
When mysterious envelopes containing tiny black seeds start appearing at her farm stand, Leigh Aster realizes that the family secret she's sworn to protect has roots deeper than she ever suspected. Struggling to balance a new relationship and rekindled family ties with her responsibilities as caretaker to a centuries old enchanted garden, Leigh unearths the truth about her great-great grandmother’s madness and discovers a missing link that may bring her the tranquility she never knew was missing.
“If you could look straight down into the sand,” Leigh continued, “you’d see that the roots extend at least a foot and a half below the surface.” She gestured to the transparent display case set up along the edge of the dunes. Inside several clumps of American Beachgrass pressed their culms up against the Plexiglas surface, rhizomes meandering and intersecting like trails in an ant farm. “The roots act like the fingers of a fist, closing in around loose grains of sand holding them in place against wind and water.”
Leigh could see that she was losing their attention. Three of the young scouts had materialized a cell phone and were snapping selfies with an unfortunate horseshoe crab who had found himself on the wrong side of the tide while several of their less technologically equipped peers pieced together a battle arena for ill-fated hermit crabs. Two eager girls at the front of the group waved their hands frantically in the air while a third drew spiral patterns in the damp sand.
“Questions?” Leigh asked, shooting a dirty look at the scout leaders who stood texting on opposite sides of the troop. “Yes?”
“Does beach grass burn?”
Leigh studied the smiling fourth grader carefully, wondering just what the child had in mind. “It can,” she replied slowly, plucking several strands of long black hair off of her damp forehead “though it’s rare for dunes to catch on fire. Irresponsible land use is the most common culprit. Smoking and campfires, for example.” The selfie girls giggled suddenly, glancing up at their disengaged leaders.
“What did the Native Americans use it for?”
“Great,” Leigh smiled, pointing in the direction of the makeshift nature center. “We have some baskets and mats and other replicas in the tent…” She led the girls to the opening in the large brown shelter, eager to hand them off to the next volunteer and be done for the day. “Watch the one with the braids,” she winked to the young woman who met her at the door. “I think she likes to set fires.”