Recently jilted, Chloe Brown is back home in Johns Falls, Minnesota, working for her aunt selling furniture and other garden paraphernalia until she can recover emotionally, after which she’ll leave.
When she discovers a family of Mallard ducks in one of the huge vases in the outdoor portion of the store, her aunt agrees to let them stay because protecting the ducks is taking her niece out of her severe depression.
Soon Chloe meets Ryan, short-term, interim manager of the Johns Falls newspaper. The two agree to support each other during this temporary, small-town stage of their lives, after which they will happily leave Johns Falls and each other. They find themselves sharing confidences, but Chloe has sworn to protect the duck family and keep them safe, so she keeps their existence a secret lest Ryan write about them in the paper, because a story could bring unwanted publicity, too many visitors, and possibly danger.
But secrets have a way of being uncovered, especially by experienced reporters.
And love isn’t temporary.
Elle Olmstead isn’t your normal, every-day botanist. She’s different. As a descendant of Ceres, goddess of the harvest and fertility, she, like others of her family, has a magic touch with plants. Real, honest-to-goodness magic. Which is why she unwillingly stows away on the Destiny, a space ship filled with ten thousand colonists heading for a distant planet. Because she knows that her abilities are essential to keep the plants alive that keep the colonists alive and that will be the basis for their survival when they reach their destination.
She’s caught and thrown in prison, where her powers are useless. Soon the plants begin to shrivel and die. Starvation is imminent, not to mention that the plants provide essential oxygen. But no one believes her when she tells them who she is and what she can do, especially not Cullen Vail, the one person she has come to like, maybe even love. Because Cullen is head of Security, an inscrutable, military type who has no time for stowaways and doesn’t believe in foolish legends.
She lied before, why should he believe her now? But somehow she must persuade him of the truth or ten thousand people will die.
A vivid world created on board The Destiny
May, 26 2015
Earth Legend tells the story of Elle, a descendent of the goddess of harvest Ceres, who lives in a time of drastic upheaval as her own world is about to be traded in for a new colony on a distant planet.
With any story that uses a subject matter as dense and scientific as space travel, straddling the line between authenticity and imagination is difficult. I was a little concerned that the launch wasn’t more heavily protected and that that there wasn’t more of a screening process in place. But the initial conflict, of Elle and her cousins driving to the launch of Destiny, and trying to stow away as colonists, a group of genetic elite chosen to travel on the space ship Destiny and begin a new civilization on a far away planet, is surprisingly clearly and undramatically introduced to us. The author’s style is authoritative and reliable. From this point on, the reader is able to suspend her disbelief so even though we can’t verify the plausibility of the ship’s mission, it doesn’t matter.
But from then on the world building is simple and evocative. We get a clear picture of the atmosphere on board the Destiny, its expansive artificial settings, the darkness as “a good imitation of night” rather than night itself for example, and the vitality of the flora and fauna that Elle comes to care for so deeply. The outside world, and Elle’s outside connections, are less clear, but I don’t think this is a fault of the writing but a choice; it serves to make the world on board the ship seem more immersive and bubble-like. A romance plot as well as the high-stakes survival narrative pull us along expertly and with equal force.
The only aspect of the book that slightly jarred with me was the insertion of the mythological characters, but the author did a good job of convincing me in the dialogue between Elle and the Captain later on, in which the difference between myth and history is brought up, and we are able to see the characters grapple with this problem themselves.
Some sections of this romantic prose are gorgeously elongated and illustrated, the part where Elle looks deeply into Cullen’s eyes for the first time for example and notices worlds of colours and details in them – “his eyes weren’t solid black and that was close indeed because I saw clearly the pure night and lightning and thunder in them.” And the moment that Elle stops seeing the Destiny as a constrained temporary world and it becomes a full rich world, where she, at least on some level, belongs, is also really well done. “The Destiny was no longer a ship. It was a country and Center City was the capital, complete with streets and parks and it was beautiful,” she admits, as she becomes more and more invested in how she alone can determine the outcome of the Destiny’s mission.
Overall, this is a transporting read, with characters and a world that feel real and are well controlled by their author. I can imagine this as a pretty cool movie, too!
Jane, who dislikes wolves because they kill her livestock takes Buck Portman, wolf researcher and wildlife professor at a nearby college she attends, to an island to seek out the huge wolves of legend … the dire wolves of prehistoric times … fishermen say they’ve seen there. She’s skeptical until a huge wolf runs through their camp and mentally connects with Jane and invites her to visit so they can sort out this strange mental phenomenon neither of them expected. Jane follows the wolf and Buck follows her into another world, another dimension, one populated by larger-than-life dangerous animals, including the wolves of the legend. Her mental connection to the alpha wolf is all that keeps them alive in this dangerous world and when they return, at the request of the alpha female, they take with them an injured wolf pup to be healed. The pup heals nicely… but as it grows, will it remain a pet or will it become a dangerous predator in a world where it doesn’t belong? As the attraction between Jane and the professor grows, so do the problems inherent in having a huge, prehistoric wolf in today’s world.
Legend says a spirit lives in the lake in the center of a tract of wilderness purchased by Macallister Outdoors. While Charlie, first female forester for Macallister Outdoors, and Ian Macallister, owner of the company, are checking out the new property a horrific storm destroys the forest and the beaver dam that created the lake and strands them. Then they see a spirit and hear it sing. It’s real, it’s beautiful, and it will die when the lake drains dry. They resolve to patch the dam and save the lake and the spirit. As they work, they learn about the spirit and about each other, while deliberately ignoring the growing attraction between them because a romance between a boss and employee is always a bad thing. But some spirits can do more than just sing and look lovely. And romance has a way of developing even when it shouldn’t.
“When Dreams Do Come True” is a quick read about a woman who has a dream while wide awake in which she… and she alone… can save a lost child. But dreams aren’t real, right? Or are they? The child is crying and asking her for help. She can’t ignore her. But if she goes with her gut, ignores common sense, and steps into the dream in order to save the child, what will happen? Will she be able to return to the real world once the child is safe? Or will she cease to exist? And what about the child’s good-looking father who is searching frantically for his daughter? What will happen if they meet?
A short story about a member of the Olmstead family, descendants of Ceres, goddess of the harvest and fertility. What happens when love goes wrong? Will the seasons survive?
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A one-page short story written in the style of Native American ‘creation’ stories, this tale tells how birds first flew.
Tips and techniques to improve your fiction. Short and concise advice to help writers at every stage of the writing game.
Short, dark fantasy about a girl who falls in love with the prince of a river.
A short fantasy about a boy who disappears while sailing across a goldfish pond on a ship made of an old barn door and the detective who searches for him.
A dystopian short story originally published in The Talking Stick by the Jackpine Writers’ Bloc about a group of condemned prisoners on their way to be executed, not for anything they did wrong but because they are carriers of a virus.
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The Eye of the Universe” is a short story that explores what happens when the world will end unless two lovers agree to part forever…. and one of them decides not to abide by those terms.