The Church: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Adirondack Fall by Randy Cockrell

It was a September, my first Sunday in my new house. I’d cleared enough boxes from the dining room table for me to sit at one end. The sun was just up, and I gazed out of the window, mug of tea in front of me. Maples that bordered the edge of the yard between my neighbor and me were still in shadow but the tree tops catty-corner across the street were in sunlight. The church behind those trees, I didn’t know the denomination, had its steeple bathed in light as well. The church had been built in the early 1900’s and wasn’t large but had that village church look that was postcard pretty.

The belfry was just a square mounted atop the church building. Slats covered the openings. At seven-thirty in the morning, I really didn’t expect to see anything or anyone over there. Too early, even on a Sunday. But just as I was looking away to pick up my tea, I saw something up at the belfry. When I looked back, it was gone. I rubbed my sleepy eyes and looked again. A squirrel jumped from one maple branch to another. The branches dipped and swayed with the squirrel’s weight.

I shook my head. Just a squirrel.

The next morning I was clearing the rest of the boxes from the dining room. It was ten and I was hot, sweaty and dirty and ready for a glass of iced tea. It was a relief to sit down in what I’d established as my spot at the dining room table. The leaves on the maples were starting to brown, I noticed as I sipped my tea. There were already many fallen leaves in the hosta border between my neighbors and me.

I was watching the sunlight dancing on the tree leaves when a movement at the church caught my eye. Again, something up at the belfry. It seemed too big to be a squirrel, but it was hard to tell with all the trees in the way.

The leaves changed, turned orange, red and yellow and fell from the trees. Every day I saw something over at the church. I’d have asked my neighbor, but she only came up from the city once a month for a weekend to check on her house. The neighbors bordering the church parking lot had fir trees on their lot border, so couldn’t really see the church itself. As I got to know the neighbors, I asked about the church.

“Haunted,” Karen Carmichael told me as we chatted in her front yard. She lived four doors down from me on the same side of the street. “The histories say that spot where the church was built was a burial ground. When the colonists pushed the Indians out, they just built over it.” She nodded sagely but I privately wondered.

“Wow. And this is common knowledge?” I wasn’t sure if she was just pulling my leg or not.

“No. It’s in the town histories. If you go to the town historian, it’s all there.”

“Thank you.” I gave her a wave and continued my walk. I’d have to check that out.

A few days later at the historian’s office, I read through the old records. Karen was right, there had been a burial ground there, but the colonists had dug up the graves and transferred the bones to the Indians before they built the church. I thanked the historian and left.

It was mid-November and the whole town was decorated for Thanksgiving. The church was having a harvest festival the week before the actual holiday and had invited everyone on the street to attend. It was a potluck and I came with a casserole.

At the door I was greeted by the pastor’s wife. “Welcome,” she beamed at me. “Thank you for coming. I’m Allison.”

“Hi. I’m Corrine. I live in the white house, two doors down.” I raised the casserole dish. “I brought a ham and scalloped potato dish.”

“Bless your heart,” she said enthusiastically. “Everyone brings pasta and it gets a little old.” She turned to a passing woman. “Elaine, would you show Corrine where to take her dish?”

The woman agreed and we proceeded to a table in the community hall that was packed with food. I mingled, meeting familiar neighbors and others I didn’t know. People lined up and got their food then sat at long rows of tables to eat. The meal was about complete, and I was telling the people around me about how I was seeing something over here nearly every day.

There was a lot of speculation. Ghosts, were, of course, the main topic but many of the men were convinced it was just squirrels running around the roof. The pastor stood up to give a little speech thanking everyone for coming when we heard some sort of noise coming from the ceiling. The pastor drifted to a stop as everyone’s eyes rose to the noise. There were two screams and everyone gasped. A few even stood up. That’s when the ceiling collapsed, and two huge raccoons fell onto the table in front of me. Men were shouting. Women and children were screaming as they jumped up and tried to escape. The raccoons ran in different directions creating even more havoc as more tables of people began to run, screaming, for the exits.

The next day, workers were at the church. I went over to see what was going on. The pastor was in a denim shirt, sleeves rolled up. “A whole nest of raccoons. Several generations worth,” he said as he wiped his forehead with a bandana. We had no idea.”

“I should have said something. I’ve been seeing something up around the belfry and roof since I moved in but never could get a good look.”

He nodded. “Well, thank you anyway.”

As I left, I got a card from the exterminators. I wanted my house and attic checked as soon as possible.

Author Interviews: Sherry Knowlton

Author Sherry Knowlton

I’m so happy, today, to present author Sherry Knowlton. Sherry is the author of the successful Alexa Williams series of suspense novels: Dead of Autumn, Dead of Summer and Dead of Spring.  When not writing the next Alexa Williams thriller, Knowlton works on her health care consulting business or travels around the world. She and her husband live in the mountains of South Central Pennsylvania.

Thank you so much for chatting with us today, Sherry.

1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?

Reading, of course. I’ve been a bookworm for as long as I can remember. My other interests include travel, photography, yoga and Pilates.  My husband and I do a lot of traveling.  In the past six years or so, we’ve been trying to visit remote and exotic places, recognizing that we aren’t getting any younger.  We’ve been to a number of countries in Africa, India, Indonesia, most of the Southeast Asian countries, Chile and Peru – with a few more sedate visits to Europe thrown into the mix.  We both also enjoy travel photography and exhibit many of our photos locally in Southcentral Pennsylvania where we live.  When I’m home, I attend yoga and Pilates classes at local studios.

2. If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?

I miss my mother so much that she’s the obvious answer.  But, if I’m choosing someone among the living, I’d like to spend an afternoon with Bill Gates. Obviously, his major accomplishments are co-founding Microsoft  and growing the company to a huge, profitable corporation. But, I would like to talk to him about his post-Microsoft efforts.  I really admire the way that he and his wife, Melinda, have spent so much of their fortune in philanthropy, especially in projects to eradicate malaria, bolster family planning, and address other health issues prevalent in African nations and elsewhere.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Tea first thing in the morning.  Cherry Coke Zero during the day.  I’d really like to kick my Coke habit.  Everything I read says drinking soda is bad for me.  But, so far, haven’t been able to do it.

4. What are you working on right now?

My third novel, Dead of Spring, was just released on April 22. Now, I’m in the early stages of working on my next novel in the Alexa Williams, which will be titled Dead of Winter.  Although I’ve written a draft of the first few chapters, I’m about to begin my research which should take a month or so.  Also, as always, I’ll write a fairly detailed chapter by chapter outline of the book before I plunge into the serious writing.  My outlines are never hard and fast; they often evolve as I write.  But, I like to have a roadmap to follow during the first draft phase.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

I write suspense with an element of mystery and a little romance.  Each of my novels also includes a historical subplot that intersects with the main, contemporary story.  My protagonist, Alexa Williams, is a strong character who has a propensity for stumbling into danger. All the books deal with hot-button social issues that you read about in the headlines and are important to me, personally.

I’m probably not my most insightful critic, so I’m not sure that I can describe my actual writing style.  I can say that I emphasize description, sense of place, and have been told that some of my romance scenes can be a little steamy,  The suspense is action-packed because my goal is to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

6. Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

Go for it.  I hope you enjoy writing as much as I do.  But, go into it with a willingness to learn.  I’ve done a huge amount of professional writing in my job – and before that high school and college journalism.  But, writing fiction required me to learn a whole different structure and style.  Don’t be afraid to take writing courses or seminars and benefit from expert advice.  A writing critique group and beta readers can also be helpful to obtain honest feedback on your work in process. And, above all, don’t become discouraged.  Writing requires inspiration, skill, and a huge amount of willpower.

7. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?

A little of both.  I’m in my sixties, so I’ve had quite a bit of life experience that I draw upon in my books. For example, I’ve used my travels, my work in government, and my participation in the Woodstock Festival of 1969 as fodder for my novels to date.  But, I also expand my knowledge with research, talking to experts and more.  My most recent book, Dead of Spring, deals with fracking, so I talked to a number of experts and did a tour of actual fracking sites in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

A lot of my ideas for imagery and plot points come from my everyday life. Things that I observe or experience can easily become the inspiration for something you’ll find in one of my novels.  An experience my husband and I had with Somali refugees in Kenya provided me with the springboard to an important scene in my second novel, Dead of Summer.  My frequent visits to the Pennsylvania State Capitol inspired me to set key events in my latest, Dead of Spring, in that historic building.

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

And you can buy my books at:

Sherry I really appreciate you taking the time to come and talk with us today. Looking forward to the next book!

Gentle readers, don’t be afraid to check out Sherry’s sites. You’ll be glad you did.

Author Interviews: Jason Meadors


Today we’re talking to author Jason Meadors. An eclectic author of suspense and mystery, Jason has three books out and three more on the way. Here’s a little bit about Jason.

Married for nearly 42 years

Three kids, five grandchildren

One old dog

Court reporter, mostly in Colorado, some in Wyoming, occasionally coast to coast, in Alaska, and in South Korea.

Former Marine

Former soccer player

Decent cook

Appreciator of single-malt scotch and fine tequila

Motorcycle enthusiast, except currently without a motorcycle


Multiple articles in state and national trade journals


Titles for sale on the Internet:

Chance Encounter, a novella of suspense

Up and Down, a collection of short stories

Out of Time, a novella of mystery

Pending completed works:

Tomas, a novel of suspense

Hidden View, a literary dramatic novel

Pending, nearly complete

One for All (working title), a story of apocalypse


That’s certainly a full life, Jason! So, let’s get started, shall we?

1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?

It actually, really, is writing. Then photography, if you don’t want to count writing. But I also like to cook, travel, and work out. Social media is a bit of a curse as a hobby. (See, I’m starting out by not answering your question correctly.)

2. If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?

Living or anyone ever?

Currently, Barack Obama. Not because I’m a fan or not a fan, but he’s had unparalleled experience and views in current world affairs and goings-on, and I’d like to hear about them. Plus, he likes craft beer, so we could drink beer and chat.

Anyone ever, Theodore Roosevelt, just barely ahead of T.E. Lawrence. Roosevelt was just so well-traveled, had a marvelous array of experiences, and it would not only be interesting but provide a wealth of stories, I’m sure.


3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Coffee, although I wouldn’t turn down the tea.


4. What are you working on right now?

Expanding my novel Tomas out to a size that an agent wants before she looks at it. (I recently blogged about my frustration with that.)


5. How would you describe your writing style?

Cooked straight up with mild seasonings, and calculated to finish off with a final surprising taste.



6. Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

Read, hobnob with writers and others in the profession, and keep writing. Just keep writing.

I can’t offer marketing advice. I’m still trying to find my own way there.


7. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?

Ideas come to me out of experiences I’ve never had, mostly, and I pepper them with things I know from my own life to give the stories a dash of authenticity.


8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?


Facebook: and

I have LinkedIn and Twitter, but don’t use them much.


Thank you so much, Jason, for taking the time to chat with us all. I certainly appreciate it.

So readers, look for Jason’s books on Amazon, stop by his website (lots of good stuff there including recipes), or visit him on Facebook!