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Gordon DeLand

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Part 2 of “Graves Stones”

[NOTE: I’m thinking I will continue to serialize this one. So here is part two of the work in progress, with a provisional title. Comments are very welcome!]
As he climbed out of the Spring, Adam was springshivering so hard he could hardly stand up.

“Well, she’s not there now. Let’s go back to the car. I need to warm up.”

The car windows were shut tight and the temperature inside was so hot the steering wheel was untouchable. Still, Adam turned the blower on full blast and dialed up the heater. Angela rolled her window down and stuck her head out to breathe. When his shivers subsided, Adam felt his annoyance with Angela being to rise until she point at his forearms.

“What happened to your arms, honey?” Angela asks.

He held them up in front of himself, turning them back and forth to examine them. They were covered with multiple scratches, angry red and some deep enough to draw blood.

“Damn! I look like I’ve been through the briar patch!”

Angela “Did… she scratch you?”

His irritation flared.

“There was no one there to scratch me!”

“Well something got you! They need some attention.”

The car was already running. Adam put it in gear and they joggled their way slowly down the dirt road to the paved county road. At the turnoff, the caretaker for the church property was standing at the end of his driveway. He’d been mowing the small lawn between the dirt road and his porch.

Adam  pulled over to the edge of the road and the caretaker,  Billy Williams shut off the mower and walked over to greet the two.  He was the same age as Adam, but where Adam was dark and slim, Billy was a blonde, blue-eyed hunk with a scruffy beard. At least, that’s what Angela saw.

“Howdy, folks. Oh, Adam! Didn’t recognize you. It’s been a while.”

“Billy,” Adam nodded. “Back for Home Coming. This is Angela, the future Mrs. Brown.”

“Miss Angela, good to meet you. Hope you enjoyed the tour?” He smiled as he looked her over.

“I did, thank you. So nice to get out in the country.”

Billy looked down where Adam’s arm rested on the car window. “What in the world, Adam? Where’d you get them scratches?” He glanced at Angela, then back at Adam. “Look at you! On both arms! And you’re all wet!”

“He fell in the spring, trying to get something for me,” Angela interjected. “We aren’t sure where the scratches came from. We were headed back to town , for something to put on them.”

“Clay bottom on the whole spring—that’s why it holds water. And I keep it clear of branches.” He looked again to Angela, his face hardening. “I got some Mercurochrome in the house…”

“We’ll be fine,” Adam answered as he met Billy’s eye, his face just as hard. “Thanks for the offer,” and he let the brake slip enough to move the car a few inches forward. Billy jumped back.

“Wait!” Angela shouted. Billy approached the driver’s window again, and almost stuck his head in. Adam moved to avoid him.

“Are there any families with children on the grounds right now?”

“No Ma’am. You were the only two on, as far as I know.”

“No teenage girl with long blonde hair?” Angela  persisted.

Billy’s look changed to a combination of anger and… pain?

“No Ma’am. No one on the grounds like that.”

“Thanks Billy. See you tomorrow,” Adam said, and without waiting, drove off.

“What on earth was that?” Angela put a hand on Adam’s shoulder. She could feel his bicep tense.

“Billy and I never got along in school. He had the brawn and I had the brains. He got the money but I got the girls. Apparently,  he still isn’t over it.”

“Apparently, he’s not the only one.”


Billy Williams walked up on the porch.

“Pa, who was that?” A slender girl with long blonde hair and very pale skin called to Billy from behind the screen door.

“Nobody you’d want to know,” he growled. “You got your school work done for the day? Home schoolin’ ain’t no joke.”

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Work In Progress: “Grave Stones”

Just what it says… this is the story that has been keeping me thinking about “what happens next and to who.”
Yes a fragment. But I have a pretty complete outline, with an ending. Not the ending I want, but then, we writers don’t always get to choose the ending we want.


Part One: The Spring

He looked around. A lot of happy times here, he thought. The old chapel and the farm-house where they had church dinners in the winter. The Grove where Vacation Bible School was held and church picnics down by the Spring. Lots of good memories and lots of good friends.

Most of the kids, like him, had moved away after high school. The big cities offered more money and more of the opposite sex to choose from. The few that stayed seemed to … it wasn’t sure what the word was. Not rot or decay, but they seem somehow stunted. It reminded him of the bound feet of the old Chinese women or the clay jars around the necks of … was it an African tribe? Those who stayed just didn’t grow into what their lives seemed to promise. If they were music they would be a little flat, with the volume turned down to background level.

Adam Brown was still wandering around the grounds, reminiscing. Angela Williams, his Angela held his hand. For her, it was a window into his past, a lesson in his family history. She was, for him, someone to talk to, point things out to, to share past things with. As a clinical psychologist, the stories were both personally and professionally interesting. She loved this man and wanted to marry him as soon as possible. That ‘as soon as possible’ time was approaching with a promotion for him. As middle manager for an insurance company in Ashville, where they worked and lived, the promotion would cement his career and their security.

The Chapel, House, the Graveyard—each one held stories of his past that she was anxious to hear, to understand him better. He had held back for three years, not agreeing to a marriage she knew he wanted as much as she did. What was it that held him back? What secret was he keeping? This trip to “Homecoming,” as he called it. Apparently it was a kind of celebration of ‘the good old days’ that was supposed to draw in all those who had wandered away from home, from the area, from the church family. Angela knew Adam would never move back here, but he wanted to reconnect, just the same. And she wanted to find out his secret, why he hesitated to marry her.

They walked into the Grove so he could show her the outdoor altar, where Vacation Bible School was held twenty years ago (he even remembered the teacher’s name). She was getting hot and tired, she told him. The Spring! he crowed. The perfect place to rest!spring

The Spring was the prime reason the church had bought the property way back in the 1920’s. It never ran dry even in the driest of summers and its output in gallons was far more than they ever needed. Situated above the farm buildings and chapel, the cold, clean water was gravity piped into them for every use. The excess water flowed in a small stream that ran all the way to town and eventually into the Catawba River.

Years ago, Adam told her, the deacons and other church men by hand  dug a small pond just below the Spring, for baptisms and swimming. It wasn’t a very deep pond, mostly waist-deep on a grown man, except for the corner where the spring first flowed in. That was the over your head, a place boys could dive in from the bank above. Yes, he had done it, almost hit his head once.

The water was always very cold. It could make you shiver even on a hot Carolina day like today. In fact, most of the pond was kept shallow so the water would warm quickly up to a reasonable temperature. One corner was made especially shallow for the little kids to play in.

Even without a breeze, the dappled shade felt good. At the high-end of the pond, a round, rusty cast iron pipe stuck out of the hillside and sparkling clear water poured out from it. The occasional bird call seemed to sing along with the tune of the splashing water. It was total peace! Angela slipped off her sandals, and plopped her feet into the water. And immediately yanked them out.

“It’s freezing!”

Adam laughed. “Some things never change! It’s only the middle of June, so yeah, it’s freezing. It will stay like this until the middle of August. Vacation Bible School was a ways in August because of it. Spring water is always cold and this spring is colder than most.” He pointed to the left, closer to the Chapel. “Move over to that side. The water is shallower and it warms up quicker.”

They moved and she managed to keep her feet in the water long enough to cool them down without ice sickles forming on her painted toe nails. She put her sandals on again and they began strolling around the edge of the water. Adam was rambling about which tree he’d fallen out of and how he and his buddies had built a snow fort right next to the pond one winter. Angela was half listening, admiring the blue and yellow flowers that seemed to grow half way in water, the cattails that grew completely in the water, and a dragon-fly that was darting aimlessly among them.

Without warming, Angela grabbed Adam’s arm and pointed at the water about ten feet away, at the deep end.

“Oh my God! Adam! Someone’s down there! Look!”

Adam looked and saw nothing but the reflection of the clouds.

“I don’t see anything. And it’s not deep enough…”

Angela ran closer, looking straight down and pointing, screamed.

“There’s a girl down there!” she pointed. “She’s drowning!”

Adam ran over but still, he could see nothing there but the reflection of the clouds. Then he laughed.

“Oh no!” he said in mock horror. He picked Angela off the ground and in one sweeping motion, laid her on her back, almost on top of her.

“Does she need some mouth-to-mouth…”

Angela slapped his face and struggled to push him off. “I’m not joking!”

“Oh. Oh shit!”

He leaped up and without a pause Adam dove into the water, almost hitting his head on the bottom. After ten seconds, he came up, gasping from the cold water.

“I don’t see anything!” he says.

“She has to be there! I…”

He  dove under again, swimming in a widening circle. But he came up empty-handed. “There’s no one’s here!”

“She’s…she’s gone. I swear there was a young girl, long blonde hair. She was laying on the bottom of the pond, reaching up, trying to scream.”

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After the Tour

Okay, it wasn’t exactly a whole book tour. There was only one official stop on this ‘leg’. I spent much of the tour visiting friends and relatives. But the main reason for going back to Norwich, New York, was for Colorscape.

Colorscape is a juried arts and crafts show, ranked in the top 200 in the United State. The library there, Guernsey Memorial Library, invited us to represent local authors in their Literary Arts tent. For me, it was more than a craft show. It was a chance to sell some books of my own and to sit with my co-author, Abby McKissick-Cortez, and catch up. We met some very enthusiastic local fans we knew who brought books for us to sign. We met new friends and we reconnected with a few from high school days. Yes, I am a local author, back there.

This was a first for both Abby and I, sitting at a table and signing books as if we were official authors. It didn’t feel a lot different, inside us. But as we saw the reaction of those who brought books for us to sign, in their eyes, indeed we are very different than we were the day before. And for now, that’s good enough.

More later, but until then ,

Keep Writing!

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“You were born here.”

The Very First Author Tour Trip is Planned

welcome to norwich

Welcome to Norwich, NY

The excitement is building. The trip is planned. Books to sell there are in hand.  Signage is ordered. Now all that’s left are the final traveling details. And the waiting. Colorscape 2018, here we come! How did this come to be?


August Was a Down-hill Rush

The whole month of August has felt like a down-hill rush, to get Down Cellar finished, beta read, corrected and published. Good stuff, but I have had to take a few short breaks from the excitement just to keep going. Beyond that, marketing is trying to be the time-hog now, and I don’t know marketing. I am learning marketing, yes. The learning curve is steep, yes. The mistakes cost more than I like to spend. But I’m learning, and I’m doing it, even as I work on a new and different story. Just for a break from the one.

“Pants-ter” Marketing is Happening

This trip to Colorscape is one example of how this ‘pantser’ marketing of mine is getting done, so far. It began with my baby sister. The nearest city to where my sister lives is Norwich NY. It’s close to where we grew up and even closer to where she lives. Norwich puts on several festivals through the year, typical of every Central New York village. This particular one, Colorscape, features arts and books among other things. The local library there put out the word that they wanted local authors to man their table.

My sister saw the announcement in the local paper. My brother is local, she thought, and she sent me a link. I pointed out to her that I am a resident of Chicago, IL for two years, and before that, I lived in Dallas for two years.

Her response? “Yeah, and before that, you lived here a year, and besides—you were born here.”

Bottom Line

So, come the week after Labor Day, a friend and I are driving the 800 plus miles from the Windy City to the Wilds of Central New York. There, we will sell books, meet old friends and relatives. He will perform magic because that’s what he does. We will—no doubt!—book a return trip for some time in the deep of winter to do both those things again, only indoors. And plan sequels to books that tell stories of magicians in small towns, and come up with way too many more ideas for novels.

And less than a week later, we will reluctantly load up the car, minus some books, and drive back to the Windy City where we make our living NOT writing and NOT doing magic. But in our minds will be the memories and in or hearts the friendships from Central New York. And they will stay there. Because, Ladies and Gentlemen, THAT is what it’s like when you are a native of Central New York.

“You were born here.” And that never changes.


Keep Writing,

first name


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The Novel is launched. I’m exhausted.

headshot newLaunching this novel has been stressful to this introvert. I’m opening myself up to criticism, to inspection, to judgment of my work. But if I am going to publish… the ‘public’ must be invited in. I’m shy; I have been all my life. Add to that, I’ve been dealing with a whole raft of technical marketing things with which I have no prior experience. Add to that, overtime at the ‘money’ job. Oh, and stress about an upcoming trip (book-related! Woohoo! More on that later.) Yeah, I’m exhausted.

But I am very satisfied that it is done! The paperback and the digital versions are both live and selling. To say I’m done is a relative term, of course! Sort of like Part One of Parts One through Three Hundred and Sixty Five. Marketing is the next job.

I am warming up to the idea of marketing, though. Or should I say, the ideas. There are multiple ways of marketing a book. And thankfully there are many willing to help with suggestions, with ‘help-for-hire’, and even ‘do it all for you’ help. At this point, I’m hiring some help, but still doing much of it myself. Maybe next book, the income from this one will pay for hiring the bulk of the marketing done by someone who does it for a living. I see now what a great idea that is!

Enough for now. Time for a walk along the Lake Michigan shore. And a treat, either at Starbucks or here at the apartment. By the way, if you follow me on Instagram, @gordondelandauthor, you get a glimpse of my life, where I walk and drink coffee at least!

Next time I will have some details about The Trip Back East that’s coming up in three weeks.

Keep writing,

first name

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To Market, to Market…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

two books

Down Cellar is looking for reviews

The last two weeks have been rough, but productive. I’m riding that steep learningcurve of how to market a book in this “worst of times” world, when I would rather sink into the “best of times” in a self-created world and record what I observe there.

Marketing is not really all that difficult, I am finding out. It’s merely different from the worlds I normally inhabit in my creative mind. Marketing is not creative in the same way fiction writing is, first and foremost because it needs to NOT be fiction. 🙂   The good news, however, is this: Marketing is Creative! Your marketing needs to tell an interesting story to the people you are trying to reach.

Very much like the novel, however, my marketing efforts have to be plotted if I want them to reach the conclusion I want them to reach. And as a writer, I’m more of a ‘pantser’ – until that doesn’t work anymore. An-n-n-d here I am! Ready to stop pantsing, ready to plan.


You begin to see where the opening quote fits?

So, back to the drawing board. Or actually to the story board. And we’ll get this story of marketing back on track.

In the mean time, at the beginning of this marketing story, I’m looking for Advance Readers who can read and then write a short review of “Down Cellar”. If you would like to participate, send me an email at gordondeland1@gmail.com (to keep them separate from the too-many I already get otherwise!). I will respond in a day or less! Thanks in advance.

first name

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