Thank goodness Halloween is over. Although it's my favorite holiday, it scares the candy out of my grandchildren. I tried to take them to one of those Halloween stores that creep up around July and disappear like ghosts after the holiday, but they wouldn't even go inside.

Me, I love those stores. Where else can you find a bloody handprint to stick on your window or a grotesque Chucky doll for a Christmas gift? But my grandkids think all those scary ghosts and eerie ghouls are real, just like the monsters under their beds.

Apparently they're not the only ones creeped out by the creep show that is Halloween. I have adult friends who don't like the holiday either. I keep telling them "ghosts aren't real," but with all those scary TV shows like "Ghost Hunters," "Paranormal Activity," "Pet Psychics," and "Jerry Springer," it's hard to convince them otherwise. No such thing as ghosts? Tell that to Edgar Cayce. Haunted houses can be explained? I doubt the Amityville family would believe that.

To get the facts, I went to a ghost-hunting expert for the answer to the question: "Are ghosts real?" No, not that kid who wrote, "Heaven is real." I used a more reliable source: Nancy Drew. This is what I gleaned from reading "The Haunted Bungalow" this past Halloween. So if you feel a chill running down your spine and suspect you're the victim of a "haunting," follow these simple steps.

Step 1: Locate the site of the disturbance. When investigating an abandoned bungalow, haunted mansion, or creepy castle to locate a "ghost," look behind secret panels, under trap doors, inside dark basements and, of course, in the dusty old attic.

Step 2: Determine what kind of "ghost" it is. The field of parapsychology recognizes three kinds of "ghosts:"

  • Those that haunt places where special "events" have occurred. These ghosts are usually benign, so feel free to chat with them and enjoy their company.

  • Those that are made by a "poltergeist." These ghosts are characterized by moving objects, caused subconsciously by a person under a lot of stress. If you're the one responsible for the poltergeist, have a glass of wine and "chillax."

  • Those that are apparitions of "dead people." These sighting are extremely rare, but if you see dead people, it's probably just Bruce Willis.

    Step 3: Research the site for clues. You may find the site was once an Indian burial ground, the scene of a heinous murder, or a toxic waste dump where atomic bombs were once tested. If so, it's time to move.

    Step 4: Protect yourself. When investigating, bring along a silver bullet, some garlic, a cross and holy water, a stake, a Dematerializer and your cell phone (to take Instagram snapshots for your Facebook page.)

    Step 5: Don't panic. Remember, ghosts cannot hurt you, despite the movies you've seen. Even in cases of poltergeist activity, most objects thrown through the air can be easily dodged if you keep your head about you.

    According to Nancy Drew, there's always a logical explanation for the disturbance -- a practical joking friend, a landlord who wants to evict you, a rabid raccoon living under the house.

    Stay calm and eat some leftover Halloween candy.

    Reach Penny Warner at www. pennywarner.com.