This cemetery is about all that remains of the once-promising town of Magnolia Florida, south of Tallahassee. Planned as a port town, it was bypassed by the railroad and faded away into the pine forest and became officially extinct. The grandmother in "Sweetbay Magnolia" used to live in his town long after most of it was gone.

Moonlight and Ghosts

Map Maker

Sweetbay Magnolia

High Country Painter

The Opera House Ghosts

Cora’s Crossing

The Lady of the Blue Hour

Patience, I Presume

Haints in the Woods


Glacier National Park
St. Marks Florida

 In the spotlight

'Widely scattered ghosts'

"The Opera House Ghosts" was inspired by this beautifully restored old opera house in Monticello, Florida. The building is on the National Register of historic places, yet some people claim the long-gone former owner appears as a ghost from time to time. It's nice to see theater productions occurring in this building again. - Wikipedia photo.

Bellamy Bridge Marianna Florida

Conjure Woman's Cat

"Cora's Crossing" is set at Bellamy Bridge near Marianna, Florida. Part of a historic heritage trail, this purportedly haunted bridge is now disconnected from any roads. However, when I was in high school, I drove my car over this bridge many times. Unfortunately, I never saw images of the ghost which scared many people over the years. - Jackson County Tourist Development Council photo.

abandoned hospital photo

"Sweetbay Magnolia" is partly set in St. Marks, Florida, on the Gulf coast. The town sits on the edge of this wildlife refuge. - Wikipedia Photo (See photo below.)

A readers’ advisory for this collection of nine stories forecasts widely scattered ghosts with a chance of rain. Caution is urged at the following uncertain places: an abandoned mental hospital, the woods behind a pleasant subdivision, a small fishing village, a mountain lake, a long-closed theater undergoing restoration, a feared bridge over a swampy river, a historic district street at dusk, the bedroom of a girl who waited until the last minute to write her book report from an allegedly dead author, and the woods near a conjure woman’s house.

In effect from the words “light of the harvest moon was brilliant” until the last phrase “forever rest in peace,” this advisory includes—but may not be limited to—the Florida Panhandle, northwest Montana, central Illinois, and eastern Missouri. 

All of these stories occur in real settings, innocent places (for the most part) that I know well. I like looking at normal places and asking, "What could possibly go wrong here?" The result, of course, is fiction. Here are some of the settings:

Monticello Florida Opera House

"High Country Painter" is set at Iceberg Lake at Montana's Glacier National Park. Yes, there are bears there. - Wikipedia Photo

When I was growing up, I visited people at this hospital when it was a state-of-the-art treatment facility for those suffering from TB. It was later used as a mental health facility, and then when that closed, the building sat abandoned for years. Finally, it was torn down and the land was sold to a developer.

The town's ghost hunters claimed that the building was haunted. I think they might have been right. It inspired my story "Moonlight and Ghosts."

The Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) is known for its strongly scented large flowers.

Widely Scattered Ghosts book cover