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:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Writer's Journal: Memories, Regrets, Nostalgia, Living My Bliss

I just dug this photo out from way back in my emails. It makes me weak-kneed with nostalgia and regret every time I look at it. That's me on the left, looking tanned and skinny and fit. On the right is Manny Sikau, a master navigator or pwo, from the island of Puluwat. At the helm is his brother-in-law. And that's my old boat, Vatna, the Hans Christian 33 Terry and I lived aboard on Guam for ten years. We were at sea attempting to sail from Guam to Puluwat. It was summer and I was adventuring. In short, I was following my bliss and I was somewhere out there beyond happy.
As it turned out, though, after two days, we were scooped up by a strong oceanic current that swept us south and way off our course. When we tried motor sailing to hold the correct heading, the wind was on the nose and we were bashing into the seas while our speed dropped to 3 knots. We had 500 miles to go and only three weeks to get there and then back to Guam. I finally decided to turn tail and head back home, to my eternal regret. As the fates would have it, however, when we were safely back on Guam, the weather closed in with a series tropical depressions passing to the north of us and setting up a strong north wind. If we had reached Puluwat, we would have been stuck there for a month or longer. The old lesson for cruising sailor is this: Leave you time limits on the dock when you drop your lines and don't look back.

Today, as I think about this, I'm about two-thirds done with the first draft of my next novel, The Spirit of the Voyage which concerns all this sailing in the islands of the western Pacific. I'm working a scene where my youthful protagonists are on a tiny atoll struggling to survive and fighting over a turtle with a shark. Memories, nostalgia, regrets, bliss, and happiness--the stuff a writer spins into words and weaves into books.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Special Weekend with Grandson, A New Book Cover

Truth, is, I hated the cover of Book I of The Eye of the Stallion trilogy, The Face in Amber. It didn't reach out to potential readers, it didn't describe the book, it didn't excite. But, by the time I realized that, it was too late. I didn't want to complain. We live, we learn.

Now, though, as Book II is about to be released, my publisher has agreed to re-cover the first one and I've been working with a graphic artist on getting it done. To the left here, you see an early version. There will be changes, but I like this very much. It does all the things the first one didn't do--it makes you want to pick up the book. And it's fun to sit down next to a talented graphic artist at his computer and try different ideas until you say, "Yes! That's it!"

Tomorrow I have a TV interview in Salisbury, MD regarding my writing (I assume it's about my writing. I hope it's not about religion or politics). I need to be up early and get to the studio by 9:00 and ready to talk. I'll show off the new book and this version of the new cover for Book I.

So, meanwhile, I flew to Atlanta over the weekend and had a great visit with my daughter, her husband, and my perfectly wonderful grandson, Konrad. Such a kid there never was. It's true, believe me. Once my Internet is back up (I'm writing this in a cafe around the corner from my house, using their wi-fi), I'll post a couple of pix here. I'm sure you're all excited.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Closing in on Publication: Final Proofs, Fan Mail, Deep Breathing

So, after years of waiting, it happens suddenly. Yesterday I got the manuscript proofs from my publisher and went over them, made some minor changes, and sent them back. The cover (which looks a lot like this, but not exactly) was sent along, too, so I could get and idea of what was going on and to add a "nummy" blurb for the back cover (a "nummy" is a positive review someone made, hopefully someone with some gravitas in the writing area). The printer is sending a proof of the cover's final layup for my approval.

All this is done, so what now? Lots to do. Once I get the cover, I'll have my web designer make changes/updates to my website. I need to get more buzz going out there via FaceBook and Twitter. I've got a TV interview scheduled on a local channel in Salisbury, MD on February 19th. I won't have a copy of the book yet, but the publisher suggested I cut and paste the proof copy of the cover onto my other book and use it as a mock-up version. And a publishing party? We'll have to plan that. Terry is up for getting something going and I'll have to get some invitations printed up. Let's see, who to invite? The owners of the local bookstore, any one locally who has shown and interest in my writing and bought the first book in the trilogy, members of my writers group. We'll wait until spring for this.

Next, some news releases for local papers and trying to arrange some book signings, maybe another summer book tour swing through the south via Walden book stores like I did with the first book. Hit stores in Myrtle Beach and Charlston. Maybe I could get something going in Virginia Beach. That would be fun now that I know what to expect (read: don't set your expectations too high--or high at all, for that matter).

The publisher is getting things set up with Amazon so that readers can pre-order. The books will also be available on other internet outlets like Walden and Barnes & Noble. The sooner that happens the better. You can also visit my publisher's website at and order from them.

I also need to get some bookmarks printed up to include with the each copy and to place them at bookstores in the area. I'm going to D.C. for two weeks in March and--I'm thinking aloud here--maybe I can cop a signing in a bookstore up there. Hmmmm. To be honest, big book stores, or even small ones, usually treat non-famous writers pretty badly. Some book store managers won't even talk to non-famous writers. They assume we are self-published hacks (there are soooo many out there). It's the price we pay in this age of quick-print, self-publishing where suddenly anyone can become a "writer" without having spent the time to acquire any skills at all and what they have written is utter garbage. (Note to would-be writers: Pay your dues. Learn to write. And DON'T SELF-PUBLISH. Find a real publisher. If you can write well, you will find one. Self-publishing is the kiss of death for a writer. You will never be forgiven.)

I got some fan mail yesterday from a young person in Spokane, Washington. Thanks, Sabrina, it is a pleasure to connect with you. Hope you enjoy Book II as much as you said you enjoyed Book I. It's exciting for me to get your emails.

Now, where was I? It's a another day of cold and blowing snow here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. What's this all about, anyway? Friday Terry and I are flying to Atlanta where we will visit daughter/son-in-law and, yes, grandson. Then, on Tuesday I fly back here and get ready for the TV thing in Salisbury while Terry stays on in Atlanta for the rest of the week for FEA meetings. I also have another novel going, lest I forget that, and I'd better not.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How Does One Write About the Tropics in Weather Like This?

Memories of Growing Up in New England: The Writer Shovels Snow

Terry and I took a break last weekend to enjoy a rare snow storm here in Onancock, VA. Here are some pix of what was a beautiful Saturday in late January.

Is is hard to write about the tropics on a day such as this? With temps in the teens and fresh snow all about, the sweaty sunshine of the equatorial zones is hard to conjure up. But it's not unpleasant to sit here in my fat recliner thinking about it. I remember when I lived on Guam on our sailboat, there was always a bit of wonder at stepping off the boat in January or February in bare feet and dressed only in a t-shirt and shorts. Wonderful stuff for a New England farm boy.

But now, here I am, back in frost country, up in the snow lattidudes 6,000 miles from America's warm
outpost in the western Pacific. I don't regret it, though. I'm enjoying the bitter winter if only because I know it will only last for another month or so and then we'll head into spring and all the fine things that season offers us here in the South.
A sailboat in the snow, Onancock harbor