Saturday, June 30, 2012

Book Launch Day -- Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home

It's Saturday afternoon in the summer and I should be outside doing any number of things. Instead I'm hunched obsessively like some mad virtual pirate at the computer screen, because today is not just any day. It's BOOK LAUNCH DAY! Yes, the long awaited move from dry dock down the slip and out onto the water of the Indie ship Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home. You've read the excerpts, you've tasted some of the moments in the writing. You might have read some of the reviews. But now the moment of truth is at hand and the rubber meets the road. No let's back up and stick to the nautical, pirates of the Caribbean metaphor. Now the moment at hand is when SHE WILL SINK OR SHE WILL SWIM! 

So just this morning she's moved from 700,000 to 100,000 on the Amazon book rankings, which means she is still at the long tail of books on sale, but not right at the very tip. Someone somewhere has bought a copy. The faintest stirrings can be heard in the rigging and an imperceptible movement has begun away from shore. She is afloat. YAY!!! The rowdy band of pirates, toothless, haggard, breaks into exuberant cheering. Where she will end up is anyone's guess, but the key takeaway is this: THE VOYAGE HAS BEGUN!

You can jump on board and claim your rightful place on the SS Latitudes. Be a daring soul, be a supporter of Indie writing, get free from the strictures and greedy falseness of the gatekeepers. Yes, that's right. You! Jump ship now. Get on board with the guys and girls who are taking over anyways, with you or without you. Here's where you can grab a cutlass and ship out, matey:



There's treasure in there somewhere...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mia Darien - New England Writer

My guest blogger today is Mia Darien, writing on the influence of place in her work. She is the author of a paranormal suspense series and also historical romance. Her blog is titled From Mia's desk, where she is graciously hosting an interview with me today, and her latest release is Deeper than Skin, available at Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble

I live at the end of a long dirt road, which stops being an actual road just after my house and turns into a path suitable for hiking, horseback riding and dirt bikes.

Once upon a time, back in the 1700s, it was the main thruway for my town to the town next to us. In the way certain trees appear in swamps, when they aren't normally supposed to, and from the remnants of old stone walls, I know that it used to be pasture land a couple of hundred years ago.

From my back porch, forest stretches out in two directions and my neighbor's horse pasture in another. It's quiet, muddy in the spring, and crystalline in the snow.

I love living in New England.

The first line of my author biography says it best of all: I was born in New England, in the land of snow and fast-talkers, and I've learned that I'm a house plant. I've grown roots very deep here and even if I ever did move, New England will always live in me as much as I live in it now.

It's not perfect, and it's not for everyone. It takes a very particular kind of person to live here, but I was born here and I love it. Well, I hate snow -- I know, right? -- but I love New England.

History is alive everywhere. This is an old place, present day towns reaching back into the 1600s. My own town was founded in 1700 and celebrated its tercentennial just ten years ago. Other cultures stretch back even further. Many a story and myth comes from here, including some of my favorites about tricking the devil with the sole of one's shoe.

Salem is only two hours from me, and few places can so quickly conjure the rich (and tragic) historical images as quickly as that one.

I chose to set my city of Adelheid in Connecticut because I live here, but also because it just seems made for the paranormal. My corner of the state is rural, with forests that packs of werewolves could run through, and history so old that any vampire would feel at home.

You can drive to the coast and see the beach, or inland for rich hills and farmland, without ever having to drive too far. (CT is a small state.) But it offers diversity and beauty and stories. Why wouldn't a storyteller want to live here and be inspired by this place?

Besides, what else are you going to do when you're snowed in but write?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rising Sea Levels, Raising Awareness

Oh great, the sea levels are rising faster on the East Coast than anywhere else on the planet...just as we're going camping on the Cape. Better get there quick, though, by 2100 there may not be a Nickerson State Park. The anti-science wing nuts will claim that it's all a part of natural cycles, but come on... Who are we gonna blame when New Yorkers and Bostonians need to relocate to Pittsburgh and Manchester? You know it, the goddamn Democrats and their liberal ways. Didn't happen on our watch, no, sir.
We seem powerless to change as the rest of the world undergoes radical transformations. Stuck in our escapist, caving dystopia. America 2012, the land of the Washington standoff where the Supreme Court giveth and Exxon Mobil taketh away.
The ironies thrown up by the disconnect between our scientific and technological wizardry and our social immaturity are alway immense. Take today in the news, where whales, dolphins and dogs surpass humans in certain aspects of intelligence such as cooperation and observational powers. The richness and diversity of life on this planet has yet to be tapped. Imagine what there is to be learned from the millions of species facing extinction as a result of climate change. Imagine the social benefits of the research into life forms we will never discover because they will disappear as forests die off and ocean currents change under the influence of a warming planet. Human beings will adapt, especially in the richer countries, but we will be the poorer for the losses to natural diversity, not to even mention the trillions of dollars we will have to invest to keep dry.
So what's the connection to the book launch? Yes, the book launch in a week of Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home. Well, it's a book about the coming-of-age of a young boy. The lesson every young person needs to learn to survive is to think for themselves. As a species we seem unable to lift ourselves above the fog of misinformation put out by our supposed betters. Therefore it is easy to conclude that we have not come of age. I think the purpose of art is to contribute to the coming of age of humans as a species on our planet Earth. I can only hope that the revolution underway in our book culture portends a general transformation of the society at large.
Okay that was a stretch. I'm going camping. See ya. Glug, glug, glug...

Anthony Caplan is a writer, blogger, teacher and homesteader in New Hampshire. He is the author of the novels Birdman, French Pond Road, and the forthcoming Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home, due out at the end of June from Hope Mountain Press. Find out more about him and his work at 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Loyalty Test

Photo courtesy of  Robert Knapp, Portland, OR
Eleven days before the launch of Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home, I am putting up the last of the excerpts here on the blog. This is the setup to a test that Will eventually fails.

It was a clear cold night, down in the single digits. He shoved his hands deep in his coat pocket and wished he'd never befriended a kid named Hercules. As they walked up to the main building, they kept off the path, walking the long way by the golf course. Suddenly, they heard a long scream, a sound of pain and horror coming from Buhler Hall.
"What the fuck," Will whispered. Hercules paid no attention. He was single-minded. They continued as if they'd heard nothing and then slipped behind the back of the main building. Hercules pointed. There was a dim light on in one window, visible through what must have been a crack in the Venetian blinds.
"See. He always leaves his desk light on."
"That doesn't mean the tests are there."
"Will, man. I need your help."
"This is the only way you can think of to pass the freaking test?"
"You know I can't pass it."
"I think you can."
Hercules turned away in disgust.
"I don't even care if I go to college or not. That's bullshit. It's overhyped. I'll do this on my own. You just keep quiet. Pretend you never knew me. Fucking pussy."
"Hey. I'm not a pussy. You know that."
"Yes, you are. You've got too much to lose. Too much riding on that Yale application."
"I don't give a crap about that."
He spun suddenly. Even in the night Will could see he was angry, angrier than he’d ever seen him.
"Go on. Get the fuck back home. Don't want to mess with your college resume."
"Don't be a shit head."
"Yale’s calling, Will."
"Forget that."
"Bow wow wow. God damn pussy bulldogs."
“Pussy bulldogs?”
Will tried to tackle him but Hercules was too big. He spread his legs and spun him. Will managed to get a headlock to bring him down with him. They were up on the hill, and Will sensed he was falling a long way. Hercules stood up on the hill above him as he got to his knees.
"I'm going to help you, you shit-head."
Hercules laughed and walked away.
The next day Will learned someone in Buhler, a junior, had been taken away sometime in the night. Rumors flew that the kid had been tripping on acid. He finished typing up his Shakespeare essay in the morning during a free period and looked out the window at the snow falling. There was a major snow storm coming, they said. He had the radio on listening to a Top 40 station out of Stockbridge playing Eric Carmen's All by Myself. He hated that song.
He thought about what Hercules had said. It was true that he was applying to Yale and Harvard, for that matter. But he had convinced himself that he didn't care where he ended up in college. He figured he would beat all the status-conscious kids who would shun you if you sat at the wrong table in the cafeteria, kids so caught up with themselves that he didn't even rate a shunning, at the only game in town that seemed to count. That's what he told himself. But somewhere inside there was a niggling doubt about this self-imposed honor code. There was a flaw in the logic somewhere, like the screams of the boy in Buhler Hall reprimanding him for hypocrisy, for not living up to his own standards.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day 2012

This is for the good fathers, the one's who don't make the papers, the one's struggling to survive in a dead-end job, to cover the nut, who come home every day, who fight to get home from wherever they are.
This is for the fathers who are unemployed, who know that manhood is more than a paycheck, the fathers who fight back the inner demons of self-doubt and self-loathing.
This is for the fathers who don't give in to temptation, to anger, to self-destruction, who love their children and their wives, even when it's hard.
This is for the fathers who know that their country needs them, their families need them, even when it seems that they don't.
Like the song says. Man, I've been there.

Anthony Caplan is a writer, blogger, teacher and homesteader in New Hampshire. He is the author of the novels Birdman, French Pond Road, and the forthcoming Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home, due out at the end of June from Hope Mountain Press. Find out more about him and his work at 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nothing is Easy

Sometimes all your hard work comes to nothing. And sometimes it doesn't.

I'm looking out at my neighbor's field this morning. They've spent the last several weeks ploughing and harrowing and planting the fifty or so acres of grass and brambles and ferns. For the second summer in a row they are trying to get a crop of pumpkins out of what was once cow pasture. She grew up on a farm in Vermont and had dreams of starting a farm of her own when they bought the property. Husband Numero Uno worked for the big national waste collection company. They built the McMansion above the old field by the road. The winter after they moved into the new house the old barn that had stood for a hundred years collapsed under a weight of snow. She cried as she walked down the road, getting over the shock of losing her dream. Now she spends all her time driving the mower in the front yard. Overweight and sunburnt and glowering at her neighbor whom she feuded with when she first moved in. They've forgotten the reason for the original disagreement but they still glower at each other. You know people like that, too?

Well, the pumpkins are being overtaken by the weeds once again. We've had so much rain, and those sod roots run deep...

I'm watching my cat out the window crouched in the grass by the stone wall, his muscles quivering under the tension of trying to keep still while he observes and waits to pounce on the unsuspecting chipmunk. Nine times out of ten he fails. And when he wins he leaves the evidence of his hoary triumph by the front door. See? he seems to want to say. Don't you ever doubt me again.

I spent all day, and I mean from sunup to sundown yesterday under the crawl space of the cottage trying to fix burst water pipes. Note to self: don't ever leave water standing in a house over the winter when the tenants move out unannounced in the middle of February again.  I emerged about five-thirty from the underbelly covered in mud and bobcat shit, (yes a bobcat has been defecating there in a pile under where the water main rises to the kitchen tap), and boom the terminal to the washing machine in the bathroom spit out a gusher as the water came on. Okay, one more trip to the hardware store before closing. I knew I had it under control. I love that moment when life's spanners in the works begin to fade into irrelevance as a solution comes into light. My point is persistence pays off. It took me three years to build a house in the west of Ireland. Two winters in a row the roof blew off in storm force gales before I could close it in.

Sometimes my wife asks me if a household project will be hard or easy, and my standard answer is nothing is easy. Nothing is easy. Put it on my headstone. The USA beat Anguila 3-1 in World Cup qualifying last week. Clint Dempsey said pretty much the same thing after the game. Anguila or Spain, nothing comes easy.

What I'm doing at the moment is marketing a book. It's my third attempt at novel-writing and this time I'm trying to use some of the virtual marketing tools that have sprung up in the last few years in order to build a reading audience. It's all an experiment. Nobody has a formula for success and nobody knows if the whole enterprise of independent books will stand or fall like a house of cards. Yet we push forward, knowing that this is a pioneering, brave enterprise, rewarding in the values and knowledge it teaches in and of itself, irregardless of sales figures at the end of the six month period. But believe me when I say I will feel like the cat if I do well.

How about you? Do you have a dream that failed and then succeeded?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Indie Authors' Manifesto (For Ray Bradbury)

Indie authors taking over the literature of America:
Never give up on your dreams
Devote yourselves to spreading the Word
Intend the creations you imagine, and
Evolve the consciousness of our civilization.

Anthony Caplan is a writer, blogger, teacher and homesteader in New Hampshire. He is the author of the novels Birdman, French Pond Road, and the forthcoming Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home, due out at the end of June from Hope Mountain Press. Find out more about him and his work at 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Their Drinking Betrayed Them

Here's another excerpt from the new book, Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home. Less than a month before launch. If you are a reviewer and would like a review copy, get in touch.

Albert showed up with a bottle of rum. They poured some of it into two cans of Coke. Will wandered back inside where the Furrer twins were holding court in their living room. In the quiet conversation, there was a mood of affection he'd never heard before among kids at the school. It astounded him, and he was at a loss as to how to respond. It was a sort of communal leave-taking.
On the drive home with Albert’s father, Will was silent, not wanting to betray his drinking with slurred words or inappropriate language. He got out at the top of the drive.
"Hey," said Albert’s father out the driver’s window.
"Goodnight." Will said, chewing furiously on a stick of gum.
"We’re going to the beach next weekend. You coming?"
"I can't. I'm going to Florida."
“Well, good luck next year. We’re counting on you for great things.”
Will walked down the drive, let himself in the unlocked front door. Father called his name. Downstairs, he lay on the living room sofa with the lights turned off. Will sat down in the armchair.
"How was the party?"
"You enjoy it?"
"Oh, yeah."
Will could tell that Father had been drinking, and thought it was somehow fitting that their mutual drunkenness made it possible for them to have a conversation in the dark. It was impossible, drunk or sober, for them to talk in the daylight.
"I don't know. It was nice to see people. It was a special moment. I don't know."
"Time flies, son."
"I know."
"But you don't worry. Not you. Do you?"
"Worry? About what?"
"Exactly. Even-keeled. That's what I like about you."
It was news to Will that he was admired by Father for any aspect of his personality, and he didn't see himself as even-keeled. He was really a wrack of contradictions and uncertain impulses, needy yet wary of being hurt, self-conscious and immersed always in self-pity, but knowing that there were certain moments such as this night that came like breaks in the cloud, as if God were offering glimpses of the possibility of hopefulness.

Anthony Caplan is a writer, blogger, teacher and homesteader in New Hampshire. He is the author of the novels Birdman, French Pond Road, and the forthcoming Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home, due out at the end of June from Hope Mountain Press. Find out more about him and his work at