Wednesday, January 24, 2018

5 Natural Ways to Treat Anxiety and Depression: The Vermont Family Doctor Says, Issue # 1


It's January, and for those of us in the northern hemisphere, that means short days and grey skiesespecially if you live in Vermont, which I (thankfully) do. Short days and grey skies, in turn, have a deleterious effect on mood--and that means for everybody, not just the approximately 1/3 of people at northern latitudes who meet the criteria for Seasonal Affective Disorder. It seems timely, then, to write a post about the best ways to boost mood without medication.



1) Get your ass moving: I could write an entire thesis on the mood effects of Exercise (fortunately for your mood I won't) but it would take too long and I want to go hiking later this morning. Suffice it to say that exercise causes your body to release endorphins, a chemical that has the effect of reducing stress, boosting mood, and decreasing the perception of pain. The best part about endorphins is that, unlike morphine to which endorphins are related, they don't engender addiction or habituation. Hot Damn!! Talk about the perfect drug! And it's naturally produced and free--all you need is a pair of hiking boots (or running sneakers or swim trunks or a rowing machine, etc.) If that's not enough to get you headed to the gym, exercise is also a proven way to boost self-esteem, and the sense of the well-being that comes from regular exercise is an independent promoter of good mood. 

Here's a great article from the Mayo Clinic on the subject: Exercise and Depression
 2)Into the arms of MorpheusIt wasn't until I became a resident physician that I came to understand the importance of Sleep. Well, I wasn't getting any (minimum 80 hour work weeks and TWO kids, both born during my residency) and Man, Oh Man was it an effort to keep my spirits up. Every once in a while, Morpheus would toss two or three nights of good sleep my way and the effect on my mood and spirits (not to mention my irritability index) was dramatic. I don't want to put you to sleep <grimaces from bad pun> with the medical literature on the subject, but suffice it to say that studies documenting the link between sleep and mood are rife and irrefutable. Take home message: Turn your damn computer off (after you finish this article and share it with your friends) and shut off the lights. zzzzzzzzzzz

The Link between Sleep Deprivation and Depression 



3)Hit the Lights: As I referenced above, light has a lot to do with mood. I think most people would agree with this, but the issue is: What the heck can I do about itother than move to Southern California? (And who can afford to do that?) Well, in the mode of killing three birds with one stone, why don't you skip lunch (we'll talk about the role of food and mood next) and go for a walk: Exercise, daylight, and fresh air all at once. Talk about being in a good mood. If you simply can not get outside for the natural stuff, buy a bright light, and use it every day for at least 1/2 hour. 

 How to treat depression with Light


4) You are what you eat: To all of you people who rely on M&Ms (yes, me...) to get you through the day, this one is for you. While there is no doubt that Skittles gives you a boost when you chomp a handful (Just ask Marshawn Lynch) you have to realize that the boost is very short term. The big spike in blood Sugar you just got from eating that whole bag of circus peanuts (substitute Gummi Bears, Candy Corn, Jelly Beans, etc,) leads to a big spike in insulin, which then drastically lowers your sugar levels, making you feel like a nap is the best idea in the world. Even worse, fluctuating blood sugar plays havoc with the levels of serotonin in your brain, adversely affecting your mood. Plan: Stay away from simple carbs, such as sweets, juices, sodas, sugars, etc.

If you want to read more about it, here's the link to A WebMD article on Food and Mood


 5)Get Unplugged: The data is undeniable. Too much Screen Time causes depression, increased anxiety, irritability and loss of focus. Although the studies have been done mostly on children and teens (brains in formation) there is good evidence to suggest screen time has similar effects on adults as well. I can't imagine this surprises you, and it begs the question: How much is too much? This is still being worked out, and is probably the area where the distinction between forming brains and formed brains is most important. Keep something in mind: the frontal lobe (the area of the brain where decision making and judgment happen) doesn't stop forming until at least 25 years of ageSo turn off the TV, take a walk instead; put away the X-Box, play ScrabbleShut down the laptop, read a book instead (I can find the opportunity for shameless self-promotion anywhere).

Interested in moreScreen Time and Mental Health
The New American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations on screen time limits.



Cheers, peter
:)


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dear Evan Hansen: A play review, on the Thursday Afternoon #MINI


The best way to judge any piece or art is by the story it tells, and by the way it tells it. To be truly great, a piece has to have both, a great story told brillaintly. I have never really thought about muscial theatre in the same way I thought about poetry, painting, music compostion or literature, but Dear Evan Hansen changed that for me, two minutes after the curtain went up.

From the opening number (Anybody Have a Map?) Tony-Award winning Rachel Ray Jones left little doubt that the story was going to be told well, but I still had some nagging suspicion about the story itself. Just another teen drama? 

I had heard a lot of buzz about Ben Platt prior to the show as my wife and I waited in the long line to get in, but I got it as soon as Waving through a Window stuck a knife straight into my gut. The Tony Award winner delivered a powerful yet controlled and emotional yet not overly indulgent performance that made me want to hit play again as soon as it was over (something I do with the soundtrack all the time.)




At it's best, a work of art is something that moves the spectator, connects them viscerally to what is going on in the artist's mind. In effect, the spectator transcends his or her spectatorship to become intimately involved in what's happening in the medium. When you hear the anguish in Ben Platt's voice, you experience the tumult of a socially awkward teenager who has spent his whole life looking through the glass, wanting but not being able to go inside and join the fray. 

Credit the incedible job that Benj Pasek and Justin Paul did telling the story in a dozen well-written songs. Ben Platt's For Forever is a perfect example of the marriage of good story-telling combined with a great song that defines Broadway at it's best.



As far as the story is concerned, playwrights Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Steven Levenson were able to transcend the genre of Young Adult drama and create a playscript that is tragic and at the same time hopeful, heart-wrenching and at the same time uplifting. It is a beautiful story, and I look forward to seeing how author Steven Levenson manages to tell it on paper without ben Platt's rich vocals and spot-on acting. 

I could go on, but this is the #MINI and the rules are clear. Keep it short, Mister. 



Cheers, peter


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Why I Write: The Thursday Afternoon #MINI


The person sitting next to me was just the person you didn't want to be sitting next to on a five-hour flight; overly curious, just old enough not to care about what anyone thought about her, and slightly redolent of cat urine. She pointed an alabaster finger at my computer as the captain announced we had reached cruising altitude, meaning we only had four-and-a-half hours flying time left.

"Whatya doing?"

In truth, I was trying to finish up the edits on my latest manuscript, but I just shrugged, hoping she would go back to staring out the window, below which the green majesty of the Northern Forest crawled past.

"Looks like you're writing a book?"

I nodded.

"You some kind of author?"

Indeed I was, the unpublished kind, the kind of author I was going to remain if I didn't get these edits into my literary agent.

"Trying to be."

She pushed her pince-nez glasses back against her sharp, thin face and leaned against me to get a better view of my screen.

"This isn't erotica, is it?"

I assured her it wasn't.

"My friend Mabel reads erotica, but I don't touch it."

She reached over my lap and twisted the laptop toward her, squinting as if she had just sucked on a lemon. After a few minutes she straightened back up in her seat.

"It's not half bad, although I don't think Mabel would like it, not steamy enough for her."

I went back to my editing, conscious of her gazing over my shoulder at the computer. 

"Have I read anything of yours?"

I explained to her that I was still unpublished, after a solid decade of writing, editing and querying. Her thin purple lips curled into a snarl; or maybe she was smiling. It was hard to tell.

"Can I ask you something?"

A hundred responses tumbled through my head; I didn't utter any of them, nodding instead.

"Why are you bothering?"

It was the same question I used to get all the time, before people stopped asking me anything at all about my writing. My wife has asked me this question--many, many times--my friends have asked me, and my patients have grumbled it, sour-faced, usually after having had to see one of the other providers in my office. 

"You say you've been doing this for more than ten years, and you're still not published?"

I nodded; the angle of her lips steepened, giving her a look of sheer incredulity.

"Why don't you just give up and do something else?"

I'll give her one thing; she wasn't afraid to say what was on her mind. I had a strong suspicion she was going to recommend I take up Canasta, but she lapsed into silence instead, and fell asleep a moment later, her breath coming in soft snorts and chortles.

Letting out a sigh of relief, I opened my laptop and got back after it--or tried to get back after it, that is, as her words reverberated in my skull. Why don't you just give up and do something else?

In truth, I've tried to give up a handful of times, usually after a flurry of rejections or--even worse--no responses from the agents and/or publishers to whom I had sent material. One rejection is bad enough, but five in a few day's time? That's soul-sucking.

But I don't stay away too long. The truth is, I like to write. That's pretty much all there is to it. If you are wondering why I woke up at 4:30 am for an entire year to write my first manuscript, it's because I enjoyed doing it. I thought things had changed after I signed with a top-notch literary agent back in 2013, but they hadn't, I was just hoping they had. (I hoped that) Writing had become a profession for me, something I was doing because I had to or because I had been somehow ordained to. But this was merely a fanciful notion, one that was dispelled for me by the score or so editors who passed on my manuscript. 

One of the editors (who worked for a major, Big 5 publishing house) was enthusiastic enough about the book to pass it up the chain, but in the end it was still a no. There were other positive signs as well: the first being that the concept and pitch had garnered as much interest as it did, having been requested by more than two dozen mid and major houses; the second was the significant amount of optimistic feedback the manuscript had garnered along with the rejections--an unusual thing and a very good omen according to Liz, my agent. 

But in the end it was still a no, and I remained a guy who enjoys writing, not a published author. It was a distinction of which I was acutely aware for several months, and one that kept me from lifting the lid of my MacBook for a good long while.

When I finally got back on the horse to start working on an idea that had been flitting around in my head, it wasn't that I had thought of a story that just needed to be written, or created a character so real and so original it just had to be fleshed out on paper. Rather, I realized I missed the process of developing a story and creating characters by writing words down on paper. And so I got back on the horse and started writing what has now become my third novel, which I have tentatively named The Intern.

Soon, Liz will be shopping The Intern to editors and publishing houses, some of them being the same ones that rejected me four years ago. To be honest, I'm nervous about it. There's nothing quite like the feeling of having someone say they are not interested in something you have spent four years writing. 

Why do I continue? You know the answer. I enjoy the process of writing. The only piece of advice I have for people who are considering taking up writing is just that: By all means do write, but write because you enjoy the process of writing (and editing and re-writing etc.). Don't write because you think you need to, or because you have to tell a certain story, or because your style is so original or unique, or any other reason than you enjoy the process. 
Think of it this way: If you really, truly enjoy the process, you can never be unhappy with the outcome. Was I over-joyed that my last manuscript didn't clear the last hurdle prior to being published? No, I wasn't; but was I glad I spent countless hours creating it? You bet, and I would do it again. (In point of fact, I am doing it again.)

"Did you finish?"

My friend has awoken; she's staring at me with the same look, the one I can't tell if it's a smile or a sneer.

"Yup."

"Good, I'm getting tired of the same old authors."

Cheers, peter


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.






Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Top 38 Twitter Hashtags for Readers and Authors (And how to use them.)


Twitter is a great medium for readers and authors... as long as you know how to use it. As you know, hashtags are a useful tool to direct your tweets to like-minded people, or to find information about a topic in which you are interested. If you are a reader looking for suggestions for your next book, there are a variety of #s to look for, and the same is true for authors looking to market their books to readers. Here are the most commonly used 38 such #s:

#book
#books
#bookriot
#BookWorm
#BookLover
#booksaremagic
#booknerd
#bookporn
#booktrailer
#bookblogger
#bookclub
#bookshelf
#bookstagram
#bookblog
#bookaholic
#bookaddict
#bookboost
#bookclubreviews
#bookhoarding
#read
#amreading
#reader
#readingrocks
#readers4life
#readmore
#mustread
#novel
#bibliophile
#reviews
#KindleUnlimited
#kindlescout
#BYNR
#TBR
#ebooks
#storytime
#thriller
#romance
#freereads


Now comes the hard part: How to use them. Here are the five things you need to know:

1) Never use more than 2 #s per Tweet. Nothing screams shameless promotion like 8 #s on a single tweet. Research has shown (and yes, they do research these things) that people skip over these tweets.

2) Include some content. There is nothing worse than a tweet that is all hashtags! (What, exactly, is the purpose?)

3) No one reads plain promotional propaganda. If you are trying to get your book out there, be creative about it. Write a blog about your main character's past; attach a third-party review; tell a story. Do anything but shamelessly hawk your book. If people like the way you write, they will find your book (include a link and attach a short bio underneath with a link.)

4) Everyone hates a Spammer!!!! Be judicious about your tweeting. You can really turn people off.

5) Write (and post) book reviews. If you liked a book, tell people about it. This remains the best way to get the word out.

Cheers, peter


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.


:)  





Tuesday, April 11, 2017

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, A Book Review


It isn't easy to follow up on a debut novel which won many of the biggest awards in literature (including the Pulitzer Prize), but Junot Diaz manages just fine thank you with This Is How You Lose Her, a collection of stories that reads like a collage of post-traumatic flashbacks. Fans of Diaz will be reassured that the master of electric prose hasn't lost a step; readers unfamiliar with him will be blown-outta-the-water by the turbocharged language that drips like poetry from the pages. True to form, Diaz doesn't hold back on any front; This Is How You Lose Her is honest well past the point of bluntness, real to the edge of surreal, and novel to the I've-never-seen-anything-like-this-before extreme. In short, This Is How You Lose Her is Diaz at his best, vulgar yet noble, streetwise and book-wise both at once:

"You, Yunior, have a girlfriend named Alma, who has a long tender horse neck and a big Dominican ass that seems to exist in a fourth dimension beyond jeans. An ass that could drag the moon out of orbit."

It is easy to get lost in Diaz' writing; he strings words together in such a way they seem to pop right off the page. But don't get the impression This Is How You Lose Her is all style and no substance. True to the title, This Is How You Lose Her is about longing and the weaknesses and vagaries of the human heart, but it's also clearly autobiographical, especially as far as the stories relating to Yunior--Diaz's doppleganger--are concerned. As with all Junot Diaz fiction, the immigrant experience is the matrix in which the story is constructed. No reader could finish this book without gaining insight into how it feels to be the outsider, the immigrant, the one who doesn't belong:

"White people pull up at traffic lights and scream at you with a hideous rage, like you nearly ran over their mothers. It's fucking scary. Before you can figure out what the fuck is going on they flip you the bird and peel out. It happens again and again. Security follows you in stores and every time you step on Harvard property you're asked for ID. Three times, drunk whitedudes try to pick fights with you in different parts of the city."

I will say that reading this collection made me long for the much-awaited next Diaz novel, in that there is no better way to showcase Diaz's immense talent than a full-length work of fiction. Diaz doesn't need the extra room to create characters that sizzle (he can do that in a paragraph) but a cohesive story in the setting of his prose and his memorable characters is really something to read--again and again.


Cheers, peter


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.


:)  









Sunday, October 2, 2016

This Vermont Life: A Hike up Pico Peak


I can't honestly tell you how many times I have hiked Pico Peak. A lot, let's leave it that. The number isn't important, and neither is the number of steps, stories and calories taken, ascended and burned along the way, but I kept track of them anyway. What is important, after a long, hot summer, is the crispness of the air that feels great on my skin and the soft crunch of the dessicated leaves underfoot.

My constant companion Hermione, a feisty Cairn Terrier, sprints after a chipmunk and disappears into a covey of ferns. Further up the trail, Herm resurfaces from the forest and stops on the trail to lift a tiny leg in the direction of a stand of birches. A minute later a brace of grouse explodes into the air and disappears into a spruce thicket.

Two-thirds of the way up we break out of the green tunnel and merge with a ski trail (see pic above.) Herm and I sit on a rock and sort through the various sundries I have stored in my backpack. There's an apple I forgot to eat the last time, a package of neon gummy worms and the stump of pepperoni left over from the last month's poker game. I wasn't that hungry anyway.

Herm gets a dog treat.

The trail goes straight up the pitch of the mountain from here, and Pico is a true peak, which means that it's damn steep and that it's time to put my head down and just get to the top. The view from the summit is spectacular. Mount Washington--the highest mountain in the Northeast--is discernible off to the east; Killington Peak dominates the skyline to the south. But to be honest, most times I don't even look around, stop to snap a picture or take a swig from my water bottle.

Why not? Usually because I didn't take the time to fill the bottle in the first place, but it's more than that. Sometimes I think we're so focused on getting to the top we forget to enjoy the ascent, and also that we're so busy recording the process to "share' with others that we miss something--that we miss alot of things actually--like the obese porcupine gnawing on a pine branch or the murder of crows floating on a thermal above my head.

The trip down is my favorite part, and only partly because I have gravity on my side. There's a rhythm to the descent, a pattern that repeats itself again and again. I have hiked this trail so often I know where to put my feet without paying any attention at all, and my mind wanders all over the place. I think about the plot twists I need to create in the book I am editing, the main character that will make everyone forget about Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train or Razor Girl. (I make a note to write my next book about a girl of some kind.) I think about the beef short ribs simmering away in the crockpot, and what to do with the basket of plums a friend gave me (plum torte? or something a little more exotic like Plums Alexander?) and if I my daughter's soccer game is at the polo grounds by my house or the field by the school.

The trail runs out and the hike is over. I get into the car not having made a decision about the plums, but I have decided to saute some of my neighbor's Swiss Chard to go with the ribs. And I took 12,467 steps, ascended 157 floor and burned 826 calories, so it look like I will go with the Plum Torte...

Cheers, peter


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.


:)  






Sunday, July 17, 2016

This Caribbean Life: A Walk on Tortola, British Virgin Islands

 The Saturday Evening Blog Post. This Caribbean Life: A Walk on Tortola

The wind stops blowing about halfway up the ridge, and even the palm fronds have the good sense to stop moving. But not me; I am going to get to the top of that hill no matter what, because that's what I do--I walk. (How are you supposed to see anything if you just sit?)

I clear the crest of the hill and Soper's Hole reveals itself, a dazzle of blue in the bright sun. My water is gone by now, so I just pant and sweat and start down the other side of the hill, making sure to avoid the loose gravel slicking the dirt track someone had the audacity to call a road. A dozen driveways break off from the road on the way down, a dozen dirt tracks cutting across the pitch to homes obscured by the lush vegetation. A dilapidated truck comes by, kicking up dust that hangs like a cloud in the air, and I wait in the shade of a massive bread fruit tree until the light breeze disperses it. The driver stops and asks me if I want a ride, but I let him know I'm out for a walk. He acknowledges this with a crinkle of his dark brow and a moment's hesitation. "You're sure?"

I nod.

He squints at me and starts off, staring at me in the rear view mirror to make sure I don't drop on the spot. He negotiates a switchback and is lost to view, but I can hear the throaty purr of his motor complaining about the steepness of the pitch.
At the bottom the winds kicks up, blowing in from the Caribbean Sea. A smattering of catamarans are anchored in the bay, bobbing up and down in the gentle swell. Pelicans circle overhead, riding the currents of warm air swirling up to the heavens. A rooster crows, and another responds, voicing his displeasure at the others arrogance and propinquity to his turf. I turn off the main road onto the spur that runs over the isthmus of land between Tortola and Frenchman's Cay, disturbing a covey of Common Ground Doves, which explodes into the air with squeaking wings.
Soper's Hole is nestled on the only the crack of flat land on Frenchman's Cay, overlooking a shallow bay of turquoise water, upon which floats an armada of small boats in various stages of disrepair. In contrast is the marina another couple of hundred meters down the road, filled with yachts, fishing boats, and sailing vessels of every size and shape imaginable, all glistening white in the bright sunshine. The fetid odor of low tide floats on the wind, and salt coats my lips. Good thing D' Best Cup is only another couple of hundred yards away.
My shirt, hat and shorts are all dark with sweat as I walk through the pink French Doors to the cafe. There's a line, so I find a small table under a banana tree outside in the veranda, and wait for it to clear. A pair of hens passes the time with me, pecking at the dirt. When the counter has emptied I shuffle over and order the same thing I order every time, a large latte, a glass of water, and two bananas.

"A hot latte?"

I nod.

"You're sure?"

I nod again, and return to my table. A pack of Australians just off a sailing charter has claimed the table next to me, and I eavesdrop on their misadventures as I wait for my beverages. It seems that they ran out of beer somewhere between Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda, and had to make an emergency stop to refuel. (#AustralianProblems) My latte arrives amid a chorus of 'No worries' and 'Come on Mate.' It's ten o'clock in the morning and I haven't had a cup of coffee since yesterday, so nothing gets in the way of me enjoying the hell out of that latte--not the temperature, not the humidity, not even the sound of Donald Trump's voice blaring over the television set in the lobby.

In nothing flat I've finished it, drained the glass of water, and consumed the bananas. I don my hat, slip my pack over my shoulders, and head out the door, ready for the trip back and another day of... This Caribbean Life.


Cheers, peter


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.


:)