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:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sunsets and Other Cliches

The rainy season brings sunsets worthy of any postcard. Here's a picture of one I took from the top of the companionway steps--the same place from where I took the rainy photo in a previous entry. This sunset had a lingering complexity that made this romantic cynic reach for his camera. I am to be forgiven. I was in a comfort zone that night--sipping wine and talking to my wife while we cooked supper.

This shot has a romantic nautical impact: the quarter circle of the wheel, the block with the sheet for the mainsail, the bimini that covers the cockpit. I don't remember what night it was, but I would prefer to think it was a Friday night, the weekend lying ahead of us, the curdling mess of the work week behind us. Cliches are comforting because you can enjoy them without thinking: sunsets, bumper stickers, odd, pithy phrases that once caught us by surprise but now are spouted by everyone.

For writers, cliches are death and death by cliche is easy for a writer to come by, like hanging out in a crowded market in Bagdad with an American flag wrapped around you. One slip of the keyboard, and there you have it, a "sunset" word or phrase that tattoos you forever as a hack. When we write, we don't hack. We write without sunsets, without tattoos, without bumper stickers. Still, with enough irony, even cliches work and that includes sunsets. This night, without blushing or any regrets at all, I enjoyed the sunset, kissed my wife, and we polished off the bottle.