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Hello and welcome!  I’m glad you’re here.

I’m Cheryl Russell, fiction writer. My fiction writing is (loosely) similar to of Jasper Fforde (other worlds),  Erin Morgenstern (supernatural), and Sharyn McCrumb (local history, supernatural)

Below is an outtake of novel I’m working on. The backstory is: Joshua is living on the Ohio frontier, 1806 or so. He lost both of his daughters to drowning the spring/summer before. The body of one daughter was found, but the other daughter is still missing and Joshua, though he knows she’s dead, is determined to find her–what else is there left for him to do? This snippet is the beginning of a local ghost story:

Joshua’s body was found frozen on the river bank late in December. From the uprooted bushes and hole in the ice, it appeared he’d slipped down the bank, broken the ice in his fall and frozen before he could pull himself clear of the frigid water.

It took several men hours to free him, but they were determined not to let the animals who had started to gnaw on him any further meal. He had been, for all of his eccentricities, their neighbor and friend. All realized they carried the potential to be him, if the circumstances were right.

And he did what he could—chopping wood in exchange for the food left him and more than one family woke to find a deer hanging in a tree outside their home. In exchange for the meat, new clothes were left for Joshua when luck and good harvests allowed. Even though it was rare for recipients of Joshua’s generosity to see him, the food and the clothes were always gone within hours of being placed in the hollow tree by the road, just outside of Buck’s Eye.

Because of the frozen ground, his body was kept shut up tight in the reverend’s lean-to, where it was preserved all winter, for this year proved to be colder than years previous.

The following summer was when lights began to appear after dusk on the river bank. They kept appearing, all year long, only to wink out if searchers came to close. The early theory of tramps camping along the Sweet Water River didn’t last long when no evidence was found of a camp—no shelter, no fire rings, no trodden grass or footprints in the mud.

“It’s Joshua,” someone finally said one Saturday at the general store.

“Joshua?”

“Still looking for Mary,” another voice said. “Won’t rest until he finds her.”

“Wandering Joshua,” someone else replied. “Even in death he finds no peace.”

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