Dear Agent,

Twelve-year-old Derek Hyde isn’t tingling with undiluted joy that the spookiest old mansion in town is about to become the Hyde Funeral Home & Used Coffin Outlet. Especially since he has to live there with his mortician parents, Jack and Formalda.

Of course, being driven in the family hearse to his first day at middle school doesn’t exactly add whipped cream to his broccoli.

As if things couldn’t get more horrific, an evil classmate named Nussbaum attacks him in the cafeteria with a plate of beef stroganoff. Seems this kid used to love living in the old mansion himself, but got yanked out after accidentally blowing up his own mom and dad with his chemistry set. Now his dead parents are stuck as ghosts and Nussbaum is a foster kid stuck on revenge, vowing to get even with Derek’s family for taking over his haunted home.

Derek desperately craves a nice place to live, but a couple of minor details stand in his way—just some blood-curdling apparitions that scare the pants off him and a classmate bent on landing him in his parents’ embalming room. As a client.

DEREK HYDE KNOWS SPOOKY WHEN HE SEES IT is a 44,000-word, tongue-in-cheek ghost story (think THE ADDAMS FAMILY meets GHOSTBUSTERS) with strong series potential that will appeal to Middle Grade readers who enjoy the creepiness and humor of PARANORMAN and Lauren Magaziner’s THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES.

I’m a member of SCBWI and the South Bay Writers Club, a 2018 #SunVsSnow mentee, 2018 #WriteMentor mentee, 2018 SavvyAuthors Pitchfest selectee, graduate of University of Maryland with a BA in English Lit and author of 14 tech books published by Bantam, Simon & Schuster and other top publishers. I’m also a poet, playwright, musician, composer, inventor, entrepreneur and chief cook & bottle washer.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I would be happy to send the full manuscript upon request.

Best regards,


Chapter 1 – Home Creepy Home

Twelve-year-old Derek figured there might be far worse things in life than being raised in a funeral home. For example, you could… um…

Okay, here’s one. You could have your brains eaten alive and slurped down by cranky, overworked zombies who haven’t had their morning coffee.

Or how about this? You could be stuffed into a spin dryer at Leo’s Laundromat & Hideous Stain Removal Service and set to Extra Dry/Huge Load.

But Derek wasn’t eaten and he definitely wasn’t spin dried, either. Just driven to the sleepy town of Littleburp in the family car (actually, an old yellow school bus), and then to a really unfortunate and grossly undesirable address: 1313 Slimeytoes Lane.

As the bus splashed its way through a beautifully timed thunderstorm on the worst day of Derek’s life (so far), his mom and dad worked at keeping his spirits up by singing their favorite, most embarrassing song: Poopy Head, Poopy Head, Don’t You Be a Poopy Head.

It didn’t help.

It was bad enough his adoptive parents had dragged Derek out of his seventh grade class and away from all his friends to limp across the country in a broken-down school bus on this Journey to Nowhere. Much worse was the notion that they were about to move him into a spooky old mansion they planned to convert into a funeral home.

Because his parents were funeral directors. Morticians. Undertakers.

On this blustery autumn day, noisy brakes slowed them to a squealing stop in front of their new home. Derek watched through his rain-streaked window as a flash of lightning lit the sky behind the most frightening mansion he’d ever seen.

It had towers. With turrets.

It also had a widow’s walk on the roof. And a creaky old weathervane made in the shape of a French guillotine, but without a head-basket. (Either that, or it might have been a cheese grater with a thumb hole. Derek couldn’t tell for sure.)

Anyway, it was worse than eerie. This place was horrific.

As if that weren’t off-putting enough, someone had planted an ancient cemetery right next door, and beyond that a small, abandoned building with a peeling but elaborately rendered sign that read: Our Lady of Immaculate Kitchens.

Derek read it twice.

A damp gentleman with a clipboard in one hand and an umbrella in the other rushed down from the mansion’s front porch and scampered across the lawn to greet them. The glasses perched on his nose were fogged by the same rain that drenched his wrinkled pin-striped suit.

Standing outside the bus, he shouted, “Mr. and Mrs. …um…” He swiped his coat sleeve at his glasses and squinted at the clipboard. “Hyde, isn’t it? Welcome to your new abode.”

Derek’s skinny dad pulled a lever to open the bus door and bounded down the short rubber steps to pump the poor man’s umbrella hand. “Glad to meet you, Mr… uh…”

“Duckworthy. Horace Duckworthy, at your service. From the Unreal Real Estate Agency.”