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, September 21, 2010

The Autumn Equinox: The Wiccas and Pagans Know What It's All About

We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters.--One of the 13 Principals of Wiccan Belief

"I love the fall. I love it because of the smells that you speak of; and also because things are dying, things that you don't have to take care of anymore, and the grass stops growing."- Mark Van Doren

"O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe;
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruit and flowers.- William Blake, To Autumn, 1783

The name "equinox" comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, the night and day are approximately equally long as the sun crosses the Equator. And we have two of them, autumn and spring and the poets, being irrepressable, wax lovely and eloquent about both. And the Wiccas and Pagans? They get a bad rap. Equinoxes are pretty big part of their agenda and they are probably more in touch with nature than any of the other "religions." The few that I know are fine people. Gentle, loving, and earthy-crunchy to a fault.

In any event, I love the last quote above--"With the blood of grape..." is pretty cool and the "Sing now the lusty song of fruit and flowers" ending is wonderful. I also like Mark Van Doren's idea's about not having to mow the lawn anymore. Of course, he forgot to mention the leaf-raking-and-bagging labor that lies ahead of us now. And the big yellow pines around my house drop many pounds of needles on my brick walkway while managing to stay green. Wonder how they do that?

We here on the Eastern Shore of VA, right on the edge of the Messr's Mason and Dixon's line, are feeling the slow departure of the sun, but, after the heat of summer it's nice. It's why I left the tropics. This morning the outside air was 56 degrees and it was too cool to stand outside in my pajamas and drink my coffee and discuss the day with Simon, the Ancient Cat, as is our habit (Ah, there he is now, at the glass door, looking in. Where are you, old man? he wants to know).

So, for me, it was an early dose of politics on the wide-screen in HD, and then here at my computer checking my Amazon books sales (yes, we all do that, though some writers pretend to scoff at such things) and wondering how I forgot that yesterday was the 20th and my grandson's 2nd B'day. I'm flying down there tomorrow to celebrate and lost track of the date. Chalk it up to retirement.

I'm waiting for my publisher to bring out the 3rd printing/edition of Book I of the Eye of the Stallion series, The Face in Amber. Then I'll get going on some book promotion stuff on Google and Facebook. Meanwhile, I finished painting the front of the garage and now I'm going to enjoy the autumn, the cooling air, the rising, drifting perfumes, the daylight's new luminosity. Such wonderful stuff.

And, because it's autumn and I've been stretching my brain and perceptions by reading about quantum mechanics and the reasons why the universe(s) exists and why there is something instead of nothing, I'll end this blog with a quote from the greatest mind of the late century:

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Writer Leans Toward Autumn: Cool Temps Mean Consuming Brain Candy in the Back Yard

I guess there can never be enough books. -- John Steinbeck

I have all sorts of books to read. Piles of them that I accumulated over the past year as I browsed through book stores. But, with all the writing I've been doing, I never seemed to find the time to tuck into them. Then, as the universe turned slowly toward to the autumn soltice, it carried with it two events that left me with little choice but to stick my nose in those books and keep it there.

First, I finished both the first and second draft of The Brothers of the Fire Star, the novel I've been writing for the past two years. Then I had a health issue that made it necessary for me to lay low for a week (doctor's orders) and, wouldn't you know it, but at that very moment, the weather took a sudden and welcomed dip toward the coming cool of winter. It was now tolerable (no, not tolerable--wonderful) to lie out on a chaise lounge in the back yard and read. The grass is green, the flowers unspeakably lovely, the birds are singing their relief that egg-bearing and chick-raising days of summer are over, and our big old cat is glad to have someone to share the backyard with.

The books in question are pictured above. I've always been an admirer of Joseph Campbell but it was an admiration based on sound bites rather than hard reading. This book, Myths to Live By, is an exploration of the universal myths that inspired religions, great and small, since humans achieved self-consciousness. Cambell was a lapsed Catholic and nonthiest and an extremely bright and accomplished man. His writing is fresh and accessable and makes my heart jump with his revelations.

Next is the next work of the famous physicist, Stephen Hawking. While he is writing for the non-scientist, it's a pretty difficult task to illuminate the great new theories of quantum mechanics for the layman. The notion that we--us, you, me, your mother-in-law--are products of "quantum fluctuations in the very early universe and that our universe is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing...." is counter intuitive and tough to grasp--even for the physicists. But, as he points out, the fundamentals of quantum physics are the most tested theories in science and have passed every one of them.

That third book lying there, of couse, is my lastest published novel that came out this summer. You can read it as an adventure story, or move up to the next level and read it as kind of a fantasy world application of both Joseph Campbell and Stephen Hawking, in that it involves both ancient myths and the effects of quantum time warps.

As a final thought, the image below is a rose of sharon (hybiscus syriacus) that came visiting through the fence from the neighbor's yard and never went back home. Its blossom is a lovely, mysterious, unexpected thing, kind of like a good book. It is eye candy to match the brain candy I've been consuming.