Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Sunday, December 31, 2006

From the Tropics to the Cold: Another New Year's Eve in New England

We're celebrating tonight, celebrating my older sister's birthday, celebrating the New Year, celebrating being together as a family one more time even though the circumstances are not something normally celebrated. Mom is getting weaker physically, her mind less clear. We are gathered here in rural western Massachusetts, the Bershires, our family's home for so many years, to care for her.

The transition from the jungle to the winter Bershires was pleasant enough, considering the twenty-three hours of traveling and the vast difference in temperature. I'm staying at my younger sister's house, back up a dirt road in the forest, on the edge of a clear, cold, ice-covered pond. No neighbors in sight. I was sung to sleep by the music of a passing freight train which reminded me of the words of a Paul Simon song, "Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance, everyone believes it's true." This morning, I was up alone at 6:00, put on coffee, and built a fire in the fireplace, made a quick trip out to the woodpile for more firewood, and had my breakfast. Then, off to Greenfield to be with our parents for the day. Was a nice irony, scraping the frost/ice off the truck's windshield with my Guam driver's liscence.

All told, the cold feels good, being with family feels great, I miss Terry, who is back in Guam on the boat, and I've got three weeks left before I fly back to her. The woodsmoke, the ice, the dim winter sky, and driving an old truck filled with tools and sawdust makes me feel at home, makes me feel like a New Englander again.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Flying Home at Christmas

My wife, Terry, and I have been overseas teaching and traveling since 1983--twenty three years. And in that time there were the inevitable changes: family members grow up and grow old. Just got word that my mother is ill and so I'll be traveling half-way around the world to help care for her. Here's a great old photo of her with my sister, Patty, and I. It's my first birthday, so she would have been twenty-four. She has been the classic family matriarch--a powerful, determined personality and a quick mind. A registered nurse since 1941, she once ran two wards in a mental hospital and then, in her 50's, convinced my father to go in the Peace Corps. They spent nearly two years in Nicaragua doing good things. And always, family came first. Above all else, it was family and now we are happy to give back.

So, I'll leave Christmas Day and set off on the twenty-three hour journey from Guam to Massachusetts. It will be nice, of course, to be home during the Christmas season and to help out, and to be in the New England cold where I grew up.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Yesterday we went sailing for the first time since the Spring school vacation last April. Took us all day Saturday to get the boat ready and I had to go up the mast with Terry's help (we use a boatsun's chair), and finish the work on the lights. Lots of fun dangling over the deck 45 feet up, the wind whistling around you, the boat rocking.

Had things ready by Sunday morning, loaded up food and drink and four friends and set off. The wind was 15 knots from the ESE--strangely enough for this time of year--and this allowed for a great heading of NE under a full genoa and main. I experimented with the self-steering vane and found the boat was unbalanced with the sails set the way they were. Finally, we furled up two thirds of the jib and put up the staysail. This balanced things nicely and the Cape Horn vane work great with just a little Tiller Pilot to keep us pointed in desired direction. Afterwards we had Terry's great lasagna and red wine on the seawall and celebrated a great day on the water.

Interesting, though, how paranoid we writers get about saving our stuff. I'm halfway through writing the last book in the Eye of the Stallion trilolgy (working title: The Time Drifters), and everything was on board the boat--the computer and the pen drives I save the back up copies of the book to. So, before we left the dock, I was careful to put one of the pen drives in my truck for safe keeping. Can't be too safe, you know. The worst horror of horrors for a writer is to lose anything he's written to some foolish oversight or accident.