Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Spinal Needle in the Heart: Chapter 7 of #TheIntern

 Cheers all. I haven't posted a chapter of #theintern in a while, but good things have been happening on that front and I wanted to catch you all up. First, check out the new cover, which an inspired reader created for me. The more I see it, the more I like it--hope you like it as well. Secondly, the editorial board at #Wattpad selected #theintern for the Featured titles list. Now, I realize that this honor and 5.95$ will get me a grande latte at Starbucks, but it was nice all the same. I posted the first few pages of Chapter 7 below, and here's the link to the whole thing. Thanks again for your support: A Spinal Needle in the Heart


April died a cold and dreary death, and May bloomed warm and sunny, filling the streets of Manhattan with life. Maggie dodged a gaggle of German tourists (Who else who would be wearing Birkenstocks with powder blue socks?) and mounted the steps to the library. Howard was on time--he was always on time--sitting on the top step reading his IPad. She hoped for his sake he was streaming a movie or flipping through a magazine, but she would have bet her modest paycheck he was reading the newly released edition of The New England Journal of Medicine.

She sat down next to him, confirming her suspicions, and kicked him with one of her sandals. He looked up and smiled, and stowed the tablet into the satchel which never strayed far from his side.
"Good morning Howard."

Howard nodded his greeting, and looked her over like a chest x-ray, examining every square inch for a clue to the diagnosis.

"Hello Maggie."

"How are you?"
Howard considered this like he considered everything, slowly and with ample deliberation. "Not so good."

"Not so good? You're one rotation and four weeks of vacation away from starting your plastics residency, something you have trained your whole life for. I would have thought you would be ecstatic."

"Ecstatic? Really? When you don't return my calls? When you act like a perfect stranger when we sit next to each other at a lecture? Ecstatic?"

Molly said nothing.

"Every time you ignore me it's like a spinal needle in the heart, Maggie."

"Don't be so dramatic, Howard. And don't forget you're moving in a month."

"To Boston, Maggie, not LA. It's a two-hour train ride."

"We barely see each other now, Howard. It wouldn't work."

"It would work if you want it to work."

"You do remember me telling you not to get too attached?"

Howard didn't say, but Maggie knew he had an eidetic memory and never forgot anything.
"Let's take a walk."

Howard nodded morosely and followed her around the steps and down to the green space on the other side. The pleasant weather had brought out a battalion of vendors, and Maggie strolled about, surveying the wares. She picked up a pair of earrings made from green sea glass.

"What do you think of these?"

"Since when do you ask me my opinion on jewelry?"

"I'll take that as a no."

She out them back and stopped in front of a kiosk selling hand-knit sweaters, and held a white one in front of Howard. "This would look nice on you."

"I don't need a sweater, Maggie."

She shrugged and continued her way down the row, examining sculptures made from refuse, ceramic dog bowls and vintage neck ties. Howard followed at a distance.

At the end of the line Maggie bought a pair of Carmel apples and sat down on a bench in the sunshine. Howard joined her but refused the snack, citing dental concerns.

"Maggie, we need to talk."

She didn't feel the least bit like talking but Howard didn't want to go quietly--it wasn't in his DNA.
"Ok, what do you want to talk about?"

"Us."

Maggie had always hated the us talk, and she avoided it whenever possible. Two people moving in sync never needed to talk about us, because they intuitively understood what was happening. But two people moving at loggerheads... This was a different thing altogether. She wanted to blurt out 'There is no us' and just be done with it, but she nodded instead.

"What's going on with us?"

"We're friends, Howard."

"No, we're not."


Hooked, aren't you? Fortunately, here's the link again so you don't have to scroll up. A Spinal Needle in the Heart

And some Good News to end: Absolution, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series, is just about to be shopped to editors and publishers. With luck, I should have a publication date for you before the snow melts (for those of you who don't live in Vermont, that's usually sometime in March.)


Peter Hogenkamp is a physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and The Intern, a serialized novel based loosely on Peter's internship, published bi-weekly on #Wattpad. 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 Prose&Cons; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and a Beta-reader at StoryShelter. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. He can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.


cheers

Monday, January 12, 2015

A January of Discontent: Charlie Hebdo and the Assault on Free Speech





For a week I was speechless, until I realized that was the goal.

I have to admit that I had never heard of Charlie Hebdo, not prior to the events of 7 January 2015, nor can I say that I don't find their brand of satire vulgar and in poor taste. Nothing, however, is more important than their right to be vulgar and tasteless. That's free speech, the critical element of a free society, and it's being threatened by the Jihadists.

There is so much I don't understand about the war against free speech, most importantly this: Are the beliefs which inspire the bloodshed so fragile? Can they withstand no dissent? It would appear that way.

It makes no difference, though, what motivates the extremists: Does anyone really think we can change their minds?

Free speech will live or die in the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France, in the next few days. I look forward to the next edition of the magazine, to more vulgarity, to more poor taste, to more free speech.

Je suis Charlie.




Peter Hogenkamp is a physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and The Intern, a serialized novel based loosely on Peter's internship, published bi-weekly on #Wattpad. 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 Prose&Cons; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and a Beta-reader at StoryShelter. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. He can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.




Saturday, January 3, 2015

Lost in Revsion.

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/d55ac0cd10b24b2d50def8c8a/images/Under_a_Cold_January_Sun.jpg

Happy New Year peeps; I haven't been around in a while but I swear there is a good reason. (One of the members in my mother's Canasta group came down with podagra and I was forced to sub in--cuz the Canasta must go on.) Besides that, I am--as the title of this post indicates--lost in the last revision of ABSOLUTION, the first book of the Jesuit Thriller series. Seeing as that this is the ultimate revision before Liz (ueberagent Liz Kracht) shops it sometime this winter, I am giving it my all, sparing nothing--including attention to personal hygiene. 

So, to keep you folks from getting restless, I am re-posting a blog I wrote last year. If you already read it, why not give Canasta a try--my mother is still looking for a few good players. If you somehow missed it, clear your schedule for the next ten minutes and settle in to your armchair. Happy New Year!

It was about ten years ago and we were in the middle of arctic front that lasted about eight days. From what I can remember, there were three days when the temperature never got above -10 degrees. Now, you smart people out there will realize this would be a good time to hunker down by the wood stove and settle in to a good book. But I was young (still less than 40) and foolish (those of you who know me well will have no trouble believing that.) And so I snowshoed up the second highest mountain in Vermont that day, Killington Peak, when the temperature at the base was -12 degrees Fahrenheit, and the summit was -20 and whipped by a COLD wind. 

In the following years I have thought much about that day, and when the quintessential Vermont artist Peter Huntoon asked me to write a short story for his website, that day under the cold January sun came right to mind. I have always loved paradoxes, and the idea that the sun (which is 27 million degrees F at its core--although only a cool 10 million F at the surface) could be cold appealed to me greatly. But I can assure you it was a very cold sun staring at me on that day 10 years ago. 

So, here's the story on which Peter based his painting. I have fictionalized it slightly--I don't own a truck and my snowshoes were made of plastic and aircraft-grade aluminum--but, for the most part, it's entirely accurate. Hope you enjoy it. 



Under the Cold January Sun

         The sun lifted over Killington Peak to the east, marking the start of another cold January day. The man loaded up the wood stove with the last of the apple wood he had stashed on the porch, and waded through the snow in the backyard to fetch the wheelbarrow. It was a quiet morning in the valley; all he could hear was the crunch of his boots underneath him and the rattle of the beech leaves in the hedgerow behind his house. Apple smoke wafted in the gathering breeze, mixing with the sweet odor of rotting hay from the farm next door.
         When the porch was filled again—this time with the maple he had removed from his neighbor’s roof—he passed back inside to the intoxicating warmth of his kitchen and readied his backpack, as Gracie looked on from her usual spot on the throw rug halfway between the stove and the slider that overlooked her territory. He tucked the last of the supplies into the sack, tightened the cord and headed for the door with his yellow Lab at his heels.
         His old truck complained bitterly about the cold, but turned over in the end, and forced its way through the snow that had fallen before the arrival of the arctic front. He turned onto the highway and headed up the pass, the lone vehicle foolish enough to brave the cold. The Wheelerville Road loomed ahead on his right, a single lane running next to the brook that gave it its name, and he turned on to it and stopped to lock the hubs into four-wheel before resuming his way. At the sharp turn marking the beginning of the Notch road he swung into the parking lot for the Bucklin trailhead.
         It took him two minutes to lace on his shoes—a pair of Tubbs fashioned from ash and catgut—but his fingers were frozen stiff by the end and he was happy to shove them into the welcoming warmth of his mittens. He collected Gracie and his rucksack from the cab and started off, shoeing steadily up the flat section of the trail that skirted the North Branch of the Cold River, which gurgled noisily under the ice. A mile up the trail he crossed the river on a thick floe of ice that resembled the Champlain Bridge and started up the steep shoulder that led to the mountain.
         Halfway up the ascent he stopped to pull off his wool sweater and swap his mittens for a light pair of gloves. Gracie sat in the snow as he changed, calmly surveying the nearby pines for something to chase. But the squirrels were all tucked away, the grouse were huddled together out of sight, and even the hares weren’t foolish enough to venture out on such a day.
         He reached the top of the shoulder around mid-day, arriving at Cooper’s Cabin as the cold sun arrived at its zenith in the sky. Gracie padded inside, and he followed her in and deposited his rucksack on the old picnic table. Lunch was simple—a PBJ for him and two pieces of dried venison for Gracie—and quick; not even five minutes had elapsed before they went back out, leaving his shoes and pack in the cabin to be retrieved later. But it was all he could afford; already the cold—his thermometer registered a chilly fifteen below, without the wind chill—had penetrated beneath his clothing and hooked the flesh beneath with its icy claws.
         The last half-mile of the climb was all that remained, a steep chimney of rock hewn out of the back side of Killington Peak. He had climbed it a hundred times before, and knew every stony step. It amazed him that a dog as big as Gracie could negotiate the narrow pitch, but she made easy work of it, stopping often to gaze back at him with her watchful eyes. Half-way up the birches petered out, giving way to the scrub pines that lined the trail. The problem was that he was six-feet and then some, well above the protection the shrubs provided from the bitter wind, which increased with every foot he ascended.
         He reached the top and celebrated in his normal fashion, with a piece of dark chocolate and a biscuit for Gracie. It was his wont to linger up top and appreciate the view, but the thermometer registered 20 degrees below zero, and the wind whipped the exposed peak with a hatred centuries in the making. He could feel the heat draining from his body, and knew he had to get off the peak in short order.
         A bit of panic set in and he started off too fast, loosing his footing on an ice-covered root. He slid ten feet or so, and came to an abrupt stop, bruised but not broken, inside a dense thicket of pine branches. Gracie came back right away, looking him over with her chocolate eyes to make sure he was okay.
         It was a full hour before he returned to the cabin, and he was chilled to the bone. The cost of a safe passage had been time and exposure, and the price had been as steep as the rocky chute itself. He collected his gear, donned everything he had stowed in the pack—wool sweater, Caribou-hide hat, and Gore-Tex mittens—and tied on his shoes.
         It was an easy descent down the long shoulder and that was the problem—it was too easy. He hadn’t realized he had built up a sweat on the way up, but he realized it now as the thin layer of water froze on his skin, chilling him further and stiffening his gait. Worse still, the wind had changed to the west, whistling up the slope with a ferocity that discharged the snow from the trees and warmth from his body.
         There was only one thing to do; he needed to go back up. And up he went, slowly at first, and then a little faster as the burning calories defrosted his skin and made movement a bit easier. After several hundred yards he could feel the stinging in his fingertips and his toes burned like an oil-soaked log. In another few minutes the pain resolved with the return of his circulation, and he turned around again to face the wind.
         It was dark when he arrived back at the trail head, a consequence of his pop-goes-the-weasel descent. The truck turned over first time, and he sat in the cab and warmed up before braving the road. He parked in the rickety old barn behind the house and grabbed a few sticks of firewood as he went in, dumping them onto the dying embers lining the floor of the wood stove.
         The smell of venison stew permeated the kitchen, bubbling up from the Crockpot next to the old sink. He divided it into two equal parts, put Gracie’s on the pine board floor, and sank into armchair next to the stove. His brother had given him a bottle of porter for Christmas, and he drank this in accompaniment to the stew, the warm comfort of the kitchen, and the crackling of the fire.
         Gracie finished her meal and plopped down on her rug, and they drifted off to sleep, putting a fitting end to a good day under the cold January sun.


I hope you enjoyed the story and I am sure you enjoyed the painting. For those visiting my blog, please check out My Website and sign up for my blog. I can also be found on #wattpad, where I am writing a serialized novel about the life of a medical intern (called, imaginatively, The Intern). Please click on the link and check it out. (My mother has given it a good review!) The Intern

Thanks again to Peter Huntoon. I appreciate the opportunity and I love the painting. If you want the chance to bid on the painting, or check out some of Peter's other original artwork, here is his WEBSITE.

Thanks for your support, peter



Peter Hogenkamp is a physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and The Intern, a serialized novel based loosely on Peter's internship, published bi-weekly on #Wattpad. 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 Prose&Cons; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and a Beta-reader at StoryShelter. Peter also created and judges a #bestfirstparagraph contest for #NaNoWriMo; entries may be submitted 12/1/14 - 12/31/14 on the Fiction Writers Anonymous feed. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. He can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.