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, February 19, 2013

 The View from Finally There Farm: A Fine Piece of Elevated Paradise

It's is such a good thing to get away sometimes. Away from our own low-country paradise and up, up, up into a mountain version of another sort of small heaven. So we chucked our responsibilities for a long weekend with friends who have a farm--I could say a ranch--high up in the Blue Ridge of Virginia, a farm that rises above a sweeping valley and is etched into the side of a mountain deep in a broad swath of pristine forest. Lovely stuff, this place of elevated paradise. 

I didn't bring a computer and cell phone reception is very sketchy way up there. We drank wine, we ate oysters Terry and I brought up with us from the Eastern Shore. We laughed and took naps, read books and watched basketball games, golf tournaments, and blue grass music on the big television. And it was good to reconnect with great friends was have known for over three decades. 

The weather was a times snowy, at times clear and sunny, but always way too cold to try to take long walks. That explains the naps, the television, the case of wine. We did take a trip into Lynchburg, the small city where Terry and I met thirty-three years ago. We drove by the schools where we taught, wondered about the fates of the people with whom we worked, and had lunch at a restaurant on the historic James River.

Now we're back here at our home on the Chesapeake and getting ready for the next phase of things. In two weeks, I leave for Honolulu and Guam where I will be the keynote speaker at a meeting of the International Reading Association, teach writing in the Guam schools for a week, and then set off a 1,300-mile sail to the Philippines. When I get back home, it's off to Albuquerque for the Southwest Book Fiesta where I'll sign books and do a presentation on the oneness the ancient Pacific navigators felt with sea and sky--the Universe. It is a oneness lost to us, now, in our hermetic digital world.

In any event, thanks much Fran and Joe, for a wonderful respite from our busy, busy, busy selves.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Writer's Life: Getting a Grip on the Snakes of My Expectations

Medusa: Athena's Revenge or Just a Writer Trying to Hold It Together?

 What do writers want, after all? To be read, merely? Or to be famously read and admired for our cognitive extravagance and emotional turmoil? Recently I've found myself up to my prefrontal cortex in swirling initiatives, mostly self imposed which leave me feeling like my hair has become reptilian and the reptiles tails are attached to said prefrontal lobe.

When one thinks of writers one pictures them tucked away somewhere alternately pecking away at a keyboard and staring off into the fog of profound thoughts. And then, after a dismally rewarding morning, donning a fedora and suit jacket and strolling down to the local pub for a solitary drink and then another. When another writer comes in, preferably a male with a dripping ego to match your own, you settle into conversation that covers Proust, Hemingway, Cervantes, Kierkegaard, and Woody Allen's musical repertoire. You then end up drunk and arm wrestling the bartender who is a small women with tattoos on her large upper breasts, a brutal ex-husband, and two young kids who she had to leave home alone so she could come and serve us beer.

But, never mind the romantic stuff: Here's what happened, right after I left the bar:

 I received an order for 100 books in preparation for my keynote address to a meeting of the International Reading Association on the island of Guam in March. Getting my publisher to respond to this took some doing but now it is done and shipments of books are on the way. Then, while my nose was rubbing hard up against the grindstone of producing a professional, curriculum standards-based study guide for the book, came this from the editor-in-chief of The Prague Revue, my favorite, cutting-edge literary 'zine which had published two of my short stories in the past six months:


   I just wanted to reach out to you and tell you how much we all enjoyed your story. It really was a fantastic read. Couldn't be happier with it. That's why I wanted to personally thank you for your partnership. It's a partnership I hope we can continue in the TPR Stream section of our site.

   The Stream aims to build a trusted team of writers who can contribute essays about topics they care about once a month. We want to give writers the freedom to explore the issues that interest them and they feel will interest readers. This can be anything from a personal anecdote to how to tie the perfect sailor's knot or really anything. The point here is freedom. If you're interested, I'd like to extend you an invitation to become a part of this team. Interested to hear your thoughts...

 So now I'm wallowing in a writer's success that does not include being famously read but maybe admired for my cognitive extravagance. Ah, an ode to writhing snakes.