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.


:)  









Monday, July 4, 2016

Emerging Writers: Joe Clifford, author of DECEMBER BOYS


There's a reason Stephen King, Nora Roberts, James Patterson and Danielle Steele are best-selling authors; they write well-crafted, entertaining books. But to go to a book rack in an airport or a grocery store, you would come to the conclusion that they are the only authors who write well-crafted, entertaining books. Nothing could be further from the truth; there are thousands of authors who write great books--they are just not getting the exposure they deserve. We could debate the reasons behind this for hours (suffice it to say that the Big 5 are trying to focus on the household names they know are going to be profitable) but I would rather write about some of the emerging authors who--if given the requisite attention--may become the household names of tomorrow.

Joe Clifford is just such an emerging author. When I say emerging author, I mean just that--emerging as a name in the publishing industry. An emerging author has usually written at least three books (Clifford's fifth book comes soon, joining December Boys, Lamentation, Junkie Love and Wake the Undertaker) but it takes more than that to be emerging. The way I see it, there are three requirements for an author to be considered.



1) Body of Work, which has to include more than just a debut novel, no matter how good that debut is. (We can all name a dozen one-hit wonders.) To be emerging, three is the minimum and a half-dozen the maximum. Because really, if you haven't emerged after six novels, chances are the window has closed. And there is a progression to the work of an emerging writer; simply said, they get better with each successive work. (That is, until they get a big enough name--and lose enough sense--to be able to shake off an editor. See below.)



2)Popular Appeal and Critical Acclaim. It's difficult to win both, but an emerging writer needs to do so. It's this combination that portends a writer's emergence more than anything else. As a writer myself, I can appreciate the difficulty of doing both. In the construction of a novel, a writer has to choose scenes, narrators, tenses, points of view, language, etc., with the full knowledge that some choices will appeal to the masses and some to the critics. It is the emerging writer that chooses in such a way that the finished product appeals to both. Take Dan's Brown The Da Vinci Code. One of the most criticized books ever written--the writing is just plain sub-par--it is the 9th most read book of all-time. (See the part in #1 above about refusing to be edited.) Fortunately for Dan Brown, he had already emerged with Angels and Demons, and once you have emerged, people buy your books.

3) Bringing Something New to the Table. To emerge, a writer can't just be an also writing in the genre type author. JK Rowling, who emerged with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, completely redefined the SF/F genre, by which I mean that she expanded the Fantasy readership to include people of all ages and readers of all genres. Now, you don't have to do all that to emerge, but you do gave to add something to the genre.



So let's get back to Joe Clifford. He's got the body of work, and he's got the progression. Read Wake the Under-Taker and then read December Boys and you will see what I mean. The man has always been able to tell a story, but the prose has evolved. Like the man himself, Clifford's prose is honest and straightforward, and the pacing is electric without being rushed. Above all, however, is the genuineness of the book, it's holy shit this is so real vibe, it's everyman charm that wins December Boys its commercial appeal. It is also what Clifford adds to the genre. So many mysteries can be clever and full of intrigue, but are otherwise flat and lifeless. Clifford writes with great but not obvious passion--the reader feels the blood and sweat and tears more than sees them in the prose Clifford uses. (Not easy to do, trust me on this one.) And the characters are not embellished, not at all. Authentically flawed and truly imperfect, Jay Porter is a man you can root for, and you are going to need to, because he has a hard time doing that for himself.

As far as commercial acclaim in concerned, keep in mind that it's easy to pad stats in this digital age. What people can't do, however, is fake the sincerity of written reviews. Here's a trio of quotes from Amazon reviews. "Above all, Joe Clifford is highly readable. He writes books that are meant to be consumed like cinema, in a single sitting if you have the time (patience won't be a problem), paced accordingly." "But that's what makes the stories so true to life; they're about people in bad situations (sometimes their own doing, sometimes not) and trying to contend with them. Oddly enough, when things seem to go well for Jay, that's an ominous sign." "What stands out most is that in the pantheon of fiction featuring amateur PIs, Jay Porter is so human, and so grounded, that the emotional moments hit ten times harder." 

So, the next time you're in a bookstore or shopping on-line, give Joe Clifford a try. And don't forget about Oceanview Publishing, Joe's Publisher, an Up and Coming name in the mystery and thriller genre. I'll end with the link to December Boys on B&N (the amazon link is above) and the link to Joe's website. Enjoy.

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.


:)