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:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Late Night Writer: Siblings, Old Movies, Fried Seafood, and The Next Book

The Gang of Four, Left to Right: Me, Janie, Johnny, Patty: The Original Arvidson Sibs hanging out in Massachusetts, Summer 2013

Spending the day in a creative frenzy doing nothing. Got 104 pages on the next novel written, rough draft form--nearly formless. Trolling the day for epiphanies to explain the plot structure--to straighten it out, adjust the who and where. I do understand The Why. That's the strength now: The motivations of the characters are rock solid: Red-Winged Blackbird on a Joe Pye Weed: form emerging out of formlessness.

Today, to work through my quandary, I didn't push it. Took the Prius to her appointment for oil change, pigged out on fried seafood at a restaurant on Chincoteaque, came home, took a nap, drank a bottle of wine with friend, and then went to dinner and came home and watched an old Woody Allen movie (Manhattan, his classic satire of the neurotic, affected YUPs in The City). Lots of think time. Tomorrow, early up, ready to write.

Got word that Brothers of the Fire Star has been selected as a finalist in three categories in the New Mexico-Arizona 2013 Book Awards: Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. I'd plan on flying out to Albuquerque again (was there in May for the Southwest Book Fiesta--a bust), but don't know if I could take the possible wash out. Took in in Chicago with deep, painful disappointment at not actually winning Book of the Year, although I understand that just being a finalist means we won. Hell, compared to the thousands of books that didn't make it that far.

Now sleepy and ready for bed.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Image from The Prague Revue: A great online lit zine to which I contribute a monthly piece. Love it. This is what writing is really all about: the music of words.

Speaking of words: Got word the other day from my publisher--Crossquarter Publishing Group in Santa Fe--that my novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, has been selected as a Finalist in three categories in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. The categories are exactly right: Historical Fiction, Adventure Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction.

My mother-in-law, my biggest fan, apparently, does not like to have the book categorized in the Young Adult genre. She's afraid it will limit its readership and she says, it really is a "great book" for adults, too. I hope you're right, Frances June, and apparently the judges agree.

The winners will be announced on November 15th at an gala event/dinner in Albuquerque. Maybe I'll go. But maybe not. When the book was a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year Awards I  spent more than a grand flying to Chicago and staying in an expensive hotel and eating expensive food and didn't win the actual Book of the Year award although just being a finalist out of 1300 books nationwide was pretty (very) cool.

In any event, the only problem with being a finalist in three categories plus the Book of the Year category I already won is that there is not enough room on the book's cover to fit all the beautiful gold award stickers. We'll figure that one out.

Meanwhile, as  I deal with the pesky business of book promotion, I'm reading Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things and Pynchon's brand new book, Bleeding Edge all the while getting deeper and deeper into my own new novel: 103 pages as of today.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Schools Back in Session and Brothers of the Fire Star is Back in the Classroom, Too

 One of the best ideas I ever listened to as a writer came from a curriculum specialist for a school system: "Doug, you need to develop a curriculum standards-based study guide for your novel. That will make it much easier for teachers to use it in the classroom."

It took me two months--last January and February--here in my Writer's Cave. I used a commercially available study guide for a famous YA novel as a model and got to work. Looking back on it now, it wasn't that difficult, but at the time, I thought I might have gotten in over my head. It was a lot of work. The finished product was 150 pages long and includes such teaching necessities (in this day of heavy teacher workloads and accountability) as quizzes, vocabulary, writing exercises, historical background essays, and even answer keys for chapter tests and the final exam.

After I was finished, I had an small epiphany: Why not make it available to download for FREE on my website? So, it's there at under the BOOKS page. Just open up TEACHER RESOURCES and sign up.

And it was worth it. Brothers of the Fire Star is now being used in classrooms. And better yet, students are using the new PREZI method ( of presenting reports on the book and posting them online. It's fun and looks great.

Bottom line: While curriculum standards-based instruction is controversial, if teachers want to used it, it's there.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Summer on the Eastern Shore: Boats, Seafood, and More Seafood

Boating on the Bay: After this we retire to a local restaurant to eat stuff like clams and oysters.

We've settled into an unsettled summer, it seems. So much going on with family births (traveling to Seattle to meet our new grandson), book promotion, family illness of the kind that causes major transitions, that we seek solace by going out on the water. Our little skiff, a 17' Key West with a 50 h.p. Honda outboard is ideal for this: easy to maintain, to trailer around, to put in and out of the water, and economical to run. 

Last week my brother and I ran nearly the entire length of the Pocomoke River up in Maryland. We saw thirteen bald eagles. We stopped at the club house of a golf course that is right on the river and which welcomes boaters. We had a beer and an incredible cheese burger. We ran the boat fast, we ran her slow, we stopped and pulled her up on a beach when we reached the Bay and looked around. We had fun.

Yesterday, too. Terry and I took the skiff out to Ware's Beach at the end of Onancock Creek. We anchored off, not bothering to go ashore. We drank wine and relaxed in the sun. Terry took her new paddle board (she has become a queen of the SUP) and paddled against, and then, with the wind. We lolled about. I got sunburned and half in the bag. What the hell.

And now we're selling our sailboat, Seawind. Speaking of transitions. I've never been able to shake the feeling that sailboats are living things, have emotions, can be heartbroken, feel abandoned. That's the way it is now. We took her up to Deep Creek Marina and had her hauled out. There is a For Sale sign taped to her bow. I've already gotten a call from someone interested. Look at he--she's a beauty. How the can I do this?