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, August 25, 2009

Back to the Retirement Grind: Writing, Reading, Thinking

This is a photo of a canoe built on Guam and was designed after the famous "flying proa" that so impressed Magellan when he arrived at that island.
(Photo by Sandra Okada)

Getting back into it after a four-day cruise down the Chesapeake Bay is tough. Where did that productive routine I had going go? It's around here somewhere. Maybe under my recliner.

Ah, there it is. So let's get back to it. 162 pages into the book. Face the problem of plotting today. Writing is a lot easier if you know what's happening in the scene and what's going to happen after that. This morning I was faced with a decision: time to head into the final chapters and the denouement--bring it all together, the climax, the end. My vision is a book about 250 pages. It could be a tad shorter.

I've got three--let's see--4 characters including the Spirit of the Voyage itself. The most crucial ingredients in any novel are its characters. Conjure up characters that reach out and grab the reader and then you've got something. I hope I'm doing that.

So, I did find my routine. It was under the recliner and came out when I called it. It goes like this: up at 7:00 (If I feel like it--one of retirements perks), a cuppa while I catch up on the news (Ted Kennedy died last night), breakfast, then, finally, open this laptop and get going.

Another secret to writing, in addition to those characters, is this routine. Stick to it, and after a year or so, you will have written a book.

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