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:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

World Series Watching On the Other Side of the World: A New Englander in Paradise

Finally, a break in the incessant rain, and just in time for a great Saturday sail with friends. Friday afternoon, we started getting the boat ready for a day out on the water, and this means taking off storm lines and scrubbing rainy-season moldy decks. Saturday morning, we finished up the preparations (the TV gets packed away, off comes the air conditioner and the rest of the lines, up went the sails) and off we went with very light winds but plenty of sunshine. In the photo above, Terry sits on the foredeck. I've got the big genoa, which is not designed to go to windward, furled up to about a third of its full size so that is doesn't smother the staysail and with this configuration we did just fine tacking back up the harbor.
Good timing, weather-wise, because the Red Sox are playing today, Sunday, and so we get the best of all possible worlds--a great day on the water, and a great day watching baseball (sixth inning, Lugo just snagged a line drive and ended the Rockies attempt at a rally).
Later, I'll cook a leg of lamb and we'll drink a bottle of pretty good red wine and enjoy another perfect day in the tropics while, back in New England, the rumors of winter being just around the corner persist (it's now the bottom of the seventh and the Rockies have managed to rally after all--yikes, this series might get interesting).
What about the writing? I'm still slowly working my way through the final edit of A Drop of Wizard's Blood, Book III of the Eye of the Stallion trilogy. No rush. Book II, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, will be out sometime in November (Red Sox just won--hot damn).

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Stitch in Time Saves a Blow Out at Sea

A torn sail is a good excuse to sit down and do something I rather enjoy: stitching things up. I guess it goes back to my childhood when my mother showed me how to thread a needle and sew on a button. I've never minded taking care of my own sewing needs as long as they were simple.

Repairing a small rip in our old main sail last weekend was done with a piece of sail repair tape and a few big (too big, my wife said) stitches with a sailmaker's needle and thread. Pleasant enough work when your in the harbor or at sea on a nice day running down wind. Here we are tied up on our seawall and were spending the day getting ready for our first sail in a long time--too long. But, VATNA is in good shape, her decks scrubbed, and now her sails are on. We should be able to get out this Saturday between World Series games (Red Sox are in and that make this New England farm boy happy).

As far as writing goes, here I am on the boat doing my usual evening thing: writing/editing. I'm about half way through the process of reviewing the edit my editor did on the A Drop of Wizard's Blood, the last book in the Eye of the Stallion trilogy. This is the third time I've used my editor, Linda Morehouse of As usual, she very thorough and I'd recommend putting out the money for a professional reader/editor when you're preparing a manuscript for submission to publishers or agents. In any event, I'm now going though the manuscript line by line, comment by comment (I love the Microsoft Word editing feature), and mostly accepting her recommendations and learning, too, as I go along. It's slow going to be sure, but instructive to see the kind of grammatical mistakes I habitually make or words I over use and it takes an editor--another set of eyes--to find them.

In any event, I hope I'm a better writer than sail stitcher and I hope Josh Beckett, Big Poppy, and the rest of the boys get the job done this week.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Research for the Next Book: A Sacred Island Ceremony

I'm getting going now, rather tentatively, on the next book, The Spirit of the Voyage. On any voyage, casting off the lines is the most difficult thing to do--actually committing yourself to such a grand adventure. An entire manuscript has to dangle from, or grow from, an initial insight, sort of like how the crystals in a snow flake have to find a tiny particle of something in the atmosphere to grow around. No particle, no snow flake, no germ of an idea, no book.

Of course, the atmosphere is full of particles for snow flakes to grow around, just like life is full of ideas. Whether you live in suburban New Jersey or on an island in the Pacific Ocean, there are an infinite number of possibilities around which a work of art can coelesce. The old man in the picture above is me with my friend Manny Sikau. He's master navigator from the island of Puluwat in the Caroline Islands. We are standing in front of a canoe that his father built and Manny sailed from Puluwat to Guam, a distance of about 500 miles of open ocean. He navigated using only the stars and the waves, the wind and sea life--no compass, no sextant.

In these pictures, Manny, his uncle, and other people from Puluwat are performing a ceremony prior to launching a small sailing canoe that Manny and others carved by hand from a breadfruit log (an interesting note about this picture is that Manny's uncle lost the bottom part of his arm to a shark one night while spear fishing). The ceremony involved chanting over the canoe and offerings of food.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Decisons, Decisons, Decisions: Consequences Roll Down Hill

The first of October finds us at a crossroads--within the next seven months we are going to have to make a couple of major life choices. Terry is going to run for a big teachers' union position and if she wins, we would move back to the Mainland U.S., back to our house in Onancock, Virginia.

This forces our hand on a second major decision: what happens to the boat, to our sweet VATNA, our home for the past nine years? I would love to sail her back, but Terry would not be able to go with me, at least for most of it, and it might take a year as we must sail with the seasons if we do a west-about (Guam, Malaysia, Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Med, Atlantic to the Caribbean, and up to the Chesapeake). I can't fathom being away from my wife for that long. And I would need to find a crew, at least one other capable sailor and preferably, two. The other option is to sell her and just move back and buy another boat more suitable to the Chesapeake with its light winds and thin water. This would be easier, smarter, and infinitely easier on the marriage. But I've dreamed of doing a long voyage like this all my adult life.

Still, men (and women) have done worse--or better--as regards leaving a spouse at home while they go off adventuring. My reflective mind, though, asks itself when does going off on an adventure and leaving loved ones behind to worry become a selfish stunt? Just how you look at it, I suppose. So, we'll talk about it. Terry will not say no. She doesn't work that way.

Meanwhile, we've been sailing with our friends (in this photo, I'm not on Vatna, but a very fine Tayana 43 named Carpe Diem that lives just a few yards down the seawall from us. She's owned by some very close friends and we have had some wonderful day sails on her, catching fish, sipping wine, and laughing a great deal at our good fortune, living well being the best revenge.

The writing? It's on hold for a bit as I get my brain organized to start the next project. Pretty busy and preoccupied by the aforementioned.