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, May 10, 2009

A Green Flash, Writing in Solitude, Reading Herman Wouk

It took this from the balcony of the penthouse at the Dolphin Research Center where I'm staying this week as substitute (voluntary) night-time "caretaker." It is a picture of the illusive, legendary green flash--and I will admit, it doesn't look green. It was green when I took it, it looks green when I enlarge it (I tried to blow it up for this blog, but I couldn't manage to transfer the blown-up image)--but for some reason it isn't green here. I've seen many green flashes during my years sailing in the tropics (I've heard you can see them on a prairie, too), and got a real good greenie on a video once. Ah, well, so be it.

I can attest to the flash being green and I can attest to the ambiguous joys of living alone and writing in solitude (except for the barking of Kilo, the sea lion, who often loudly expresses his affection for the lady sea lions next door). The days go by quickly enough--there is almost no boredom. I can do whatever I want to do.

I'm up by 7:00, shower, and boil my water for tea (green tea, decaffeinated--would I prefer strong, black coffee? You betcha', but the body no longer tolerates high test Colombian). I eat a decent breakfast and then--and here's the hardest part of the day--fight the urge to get on the Internet and check my mail, do a Twitter entry, post a blog, or write an article for the on-line rag, It takes discipline to delay those gratifications until the real work of the day is done, especially when there is no one around to keep an eye on me.

Yesterday I gave in to those urges and didn't start working on the book until the afternoon. This never feels good. I feel guilty about it and by the time I get down to writing serious prose, I'm already tired, my body from sitting so long, my brain from concentrating too hard.

Today, though, is different. I got to it quickly, while I was eating breakfast. I went straight to the book's icon on the desktop and clicked it open. I re-read what I'd written yesterday, did some editing, and then started to break new ground. Once I get going, I love it, though the blank computer screen can be as intimidating as the blank piece of paper was when I used to write on a typewriter (did we really used to do that? How quaint).

So, today I wrote from about 8:00 AM until Noon with a short break for a telephone call from my wife (it's Mother's Day--it's all right. Later I'll call my mother, too). Now it's 1:00 PM and I've had my lunch and I'm writing this (and listening to Kilo barking). I had my lunch on the balcony overlooking the Dolphin Research Center and on out across the Gulf of Mexico. The water is flat and calm today and meets a flat, clear, sharp-edged horizon that is a slightly different shade of blue.

I think I'll read now. I'm finally getting around to Herman Wouk's Don't Stop the Carnival. It was published in 1965, the year I graduated from high school. It's interesting how dated some of it is. An geek is a "square," (remember that term?), taxi fare in New York City is just a buck, the hotels in the tropics are not air conditioned, and you can put a down payment on a major resort in the Caribbean for $5000. The only thing that is constant is the human behavior Wouk describes--shameful, pitiful, and silly, as usual. And they wrote books on typewriters, in those days, too. And old portable Smith-Corona used to be just the thing. I wonder what I did with mine.

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