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, September 26, 2012

The Writer Visits a Middle School: All Things Bitter and Wonderful

Middle schoolers haven't changed a bit: But the old man? Yes, indeed.

The other day I did my yearly stint as a visiting author at a middle school in Georgia. In response to questions from the students, I talked about what it is like to be a writer: How long it takes to write a book? Do I like being a writer? And of course, "Where to you get your ideas?"

But the real question of the day, a question that went unasked was, "What is it like to be a middle schooler?" My memories of that time in my life are not completely pleasant. I went to a pretty good, small, country school. I had an intact family and I was clean and well fed. But still, being eleven or twelve or thirteen years old is a peculiar misery. I had zits, I was hopelessly insecure, girls were from another planet, I hated math, I wasn't a great athlete or a great student; the usual middle school complaints.

So, the other day, when I was standing up there in front of thirty or forty kids, looking out on their presumably innocent young faces, I could sense their pain. There was girl with a bad complexion, there was a boy who parents were, I had been told, always battling; there was kid who lived in a trailer with a mixed "family" of live-in drunks and lovers and who claimed he shot deer out in his back yard every day: "I just like to kill things," he told me.

So, what do I teach them about writing--which is really all about life? Right now, as they come into their full awareness of who and what they are, they are learning all those things bitter and wonderful about what it means to be alive.  These things will follow them the rest of their lives and maybe one or two of them will become writers and remember these years and mine the memories for great literature. I suspect, though, that most of them will simply grow up and somehow learn to deal with it all as they, too, muddle through.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Of Pumpkins and Potted Plants, Boats and Books, Old Friends and New Family: What We Did on Our Summer Vacation

I don't really have much of a green thumb. Out of a great tangled jungle of stems leaves and stalks came this single pumpkin: 30.4 lbs. and just look at the beautiful color.


I got pre-publication copies of my new novel, due to be officially released on October 4. Forgive me, but I am apologetically excited about how great it looks.

Here is my most immediate family, gathered together in my perfect little American town on the 4th of July. The little guy in the front, that's my newest grandson, Kiernan a.k.a. "Babyface Scarborough"

And here I am with a since-childhood friend and his wife. Rick and I started playing together when we were, oh, I guess maybe three or four years old. We've kept in touch, but only seen each other two or three times in the long, intervening years and it was very nice to get together.

My son, Eli-the-Yacht-Captain and his girl/mate steamed into town on a yacht delivery and asked if I wanted to help them take the boat up the Bay to Annapolis. (See previous blog entry.)

So, I see the pumpkin as bookends to the great, long, hot-hot summer. I planted the seed in May and harvested it in September. I love the pumpkin like I love the summer, full of rare surprises.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

In Which We Navigate a Brand-New, 70-Ft, $3.8 Million-Dollar Yacht Up the Chesapeake Bay

This is a Horizon 69. My son, Eli, a commercial captain, and his long-time companion, Bailey, were hired to bring her up the coast from Ft. Lauderdale to Annapolis, stopping along the way to let brokers try to sell her. Here she is tied up at Cape Charles, VA, just across the Bay from VA Beach and down the penninsula from Onancock.

Captain Eli and His Mate, Bailey

The Galley/Salon

The Master Suite

The night before we leave Onancock for the final run to Annapolis, we host a cocktail party on the upper deck.

The morning of departure, Eli logs in and fires up the engines--two 380 H.P diesels.

Leaving Onancock, we steered from the upper bridge.

Onancock Creek at sunrise: We had perfect weather.

Onancock Harbor

The lower-bridge controls

In air conditioned comfort, we stand watch. It was a bit of a learning curve for me. In fact, I was overwhelmed.

Eli and Bailey have been running boats together for eleven years--she is, variously, mate/chef/chief steward. They just finished taking a 112-ft. yacht from Ft. Lauderdale, around the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, and up to Mexico and San Diego.

As we approached Annapolis, we passed this very nice staysail schooner.

In Annapolis,we are dwarfed by the 130-ft Winning Drive, owned by the owner of the Baltimore Ravens.

The next morning, in Annapolis Harbor, I sit at the bridge, drink coffee, and watch the local traffic. The old joke is that Annapolis is a "drinking town with a boating problem." Nice.