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, October 17, 2010

Writing the Bright October: The Siren Song of Surrender is Carried on the Chilling Breeze

The wake of our skiff leaves a glimmering trail on the October Chesapeake Bay.

All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.Thomas Wolfe

Who can say they don't love a bright October, the great month of our rueful, cyclical surrender to the Winter's furies?,

This Sunday morning, with Terry just gone off for two weeks and me home alone, the autumnal season became more poignant than usual. Nothing to do about it but roll up my latest New Yorker and walk around the corner to Janet's Cafe, a pleasant, clean, well-lighted place if there ever was one, and have a large, heart-threatening, seasonal-affective-disorder-fighting breakfast.

Once there, I sat, toasty-warm, in a chair by a sun-blasted window and drank coffee and read The Talk of the Town, this installment by Adam Gopnik, one of my favorite New Yorker writers. It was all about the Nobel Prize, which I rambled on about in my last blog entry, and why writers write and why the world is impulsed to give them prizes. Mr.Gopnik reminded us that, "From birds to bards, the urge to outdo the other singer is what makes us sing. Since the first strum on the oldest lyre, literature has been about competition and the possibility of recognition."

Cynical stuff, Mr. Gopnik. Perhaps you projecteth a bit too much? He also points out that Dr. Samuel Johnson famously said, "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." But then he gets into the idea that "poetic passion" might be a real reason for compulsive scribbling. Yep. There's passion in them there writerly motivations and seeing how precious few writers make much money at the trade, unbridled passion may be the only real reason to keep at it.

The schedule for my own poetic passion looks something like this: October: Do nothing. Let the passion simmer whilst I go to New England and take care of family stuff (the cellar in my parent's house is full of black mold that must be gotten rid of. Ah! I smell a metaphor!) and then I'm driving with friends up to D.C. to be a part of the great March for the Return to Sanity/March to Keep Fear Alive. That leaves November: Put the finishing touches on my latest novel--Brothers of the Fire Star--and send it out to expert readers on Guam for review/suggestions. With the remaining November time, I fancy I'll  indulge my passion for writing short stories and keep making notes/sketches for the next novel which I hope to embrace passionately in January.

Speaking of transitions--and getting away from the tedium of profound thinking in the process--Beaver's iconic television mother died today. Barbara Billingsly was 94, a good run for sure, and all done up in heels and a party dress while she baked her cookies for us on a 17 inch, black-and-white screen. Good for you, June Cleaver, October was a good choice for leaving us.

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