The Real Haunted House


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The house was haunted. At least that’s what the Crandall High School students were saying. That was enough to believe it. And that was enough to send two fifth graders to investigate, but in broad daylight, of course.

The “Love House”, named such by the last family who lived in the two-storied white frame house, was only a mile out of town. But Larry and I didn’t want to be seen walking south out of town on Farm-to-Market Road 148. Most of the citizens of Crandall, TX knew Larry Dickerson and the preacher’s son would be up to no good.

We knew if we went down the gravel road known to locals as Number 5, we could quickly come to Buffalo Creek, the same creek that ran alongside the old Love’s place. It was a lot further, but amid the tall and thick cottonwoods, elms and oaks that ran along creek, it would be a lot more private.

The journey was further than we imagined and we were bushed when we arrived. But the excitement of exploring a haunted house supplied enough adrenaline to keep us going.

First, we investigated the house. Nothing spooky. Just an abandoned, dusty house that displayed signs of other curious visitors. Beer cans, cigarette butts and graffiti. Bored, we decided to look around the outside of the house. We found the water well in the back of the yard. Our imaginations told our eyes before they adjusted to the darkened expanse there was a body floating 20 feet below in the water. But our eyes adjusted and the excitement faded with the growing reality that the house wasn’t as spooky as reported. At least not in daylight.

Discouraged, I suggested we return to the house and at least break out some windows before we left. As we were walking beside the house we saw it. It was scarier than ghosts, more dreadful than monsters, more shocking than dead bodies floating in an old well.

We both froze, hoping that we had not been seen. But the Sheriff’s car continued up the long, gravel drive towards the house.

“Run, Larry, run!” I shouted as I turned and ran towards the barbed-wire fence along the back of the property. I didn’t know if I could outrun a deputy, by my goal was to outrun Larry. I could always outrun Larry.

The fence was coming up quickly. There was no decision for me. I dove onto the weeded ground and rolled my small frame under the bottom strand of wire.

You think you know things at times like this. I thought I knew Larry, with his awkward, tall, skinny frame was a step or two behind me. Without looking, I could imagine his running, knees and elbows flying in every unproductive direction. I knew he would see my stunt-move roll under the fence and copy it. And I hoped I knew that no Kaufman County deputy would chase beyond the fence.

After rolling clear of the fence, I looked up and saw Larry running ahead of me. I followed him into the creek bottom and we found a good nest to look back for the deputy and catch our winds. My guess is the officer never got out of the car. He had accomplished his objective by just driving up to the house.

“Larry, did you jump that fence?” I asked after sucking in enough air to speak.

“What fence?”


Paint your own characters!



Have you ever been reading a novel and the author begins describing a character to your disapproval? I do sometimes. Let me tell you why.

Sometimes as I read a good book, reading about the roll and personality of a character, it reminds me of someone; maybe an actor or one of the many characters I have met in my life. Some writers are so detailed about each person, they box me in and I feel smothered with the details they create.

That’s the reason I try to leave a little wiggle room for the reader to fill in the blanks. I try to leave enough dots in the description that the reader’s mental image of a character is roughly the same as mine. But they fill in the details and therefore become co-writers with the storyteller as they read along.

My assumption was that everyone enjoyed that type of reading. What about you? Leave a comment about how you like your characters described.

Rookie Writer Blues




I have been guilty of rookie mistakes. Yes, old rookies make the same mistakes as young ones. What happened to the wisdom gained by years? Good question. I’m still looking for the answer.

Mistake #1: Publish the book to quickly. The temptation is to rush a new book to market because there is nothing like seeing the first book in a new series for sale. The biggest sign of rushing a book to market is having to do too many edits in a published book. If books have sold and in the customers’ hands, somebody is holding and reading a hand full of mistakes. Guilty as charged.

Anyone who purchased my book and wants the latest version, please let me know. I will take care of my readers.

Mistake #2: Unfamiliar with the publishing process. Amazon has revolutionized the publishing business. However, if you aren’t familiar with the process and details, it can be confusing, especially in the print version. You are given options for size, paper used, finish of the cover and a few more details that sound minor.

But they are not minor. For instance, in my first release, I picked 6″x9″, white paper and matte finish. The book had to be sold for $35. For my second book, I picked 5″x8″, canary, and matte finish. The book could be sold for $8.99. I try to go back and change the first one, but once you get an ISBN number, according to Amazon, the format of the book is in concrete. Paper in concrete? Who does that?

Amazon’s amazing customer service representative explained my options like this: “You can leave it the same, or you can do something so drastic, it’s unreasonable. You would have to unpublish your book and do it under another title.”

Unreasonable? It seems unreasonable to me for people to read my second book, or third, and desire to seek out my first one, expecting them to pay $35. So, I unpublished. I had to change name from “Water” to “Death Water” (a better title anyway), and I changed cover photo (I think a better one too). But it’s the reader a writer works for, not the publisher.

So the moral to this story is, young writers, don’t seek out an old writer for advise. Seek out an experienced one.