Category Archives: Mussorgsky Mondays

Mussorgsky Mondays – Back In The Saddle


So, there haven’t been an awful lot of blog post of late, but I’m happy to report that I’ve been hard at work on the sequel to The Mussorgsky Riddle and I’m approaching the halfway point. Several hours between JJ’s Red Hots, Starbucks, and Brixx led to 2,758 words today, putting the total word count to just over 47,000 words. Mussorgsky was 116K, so I’m aiming for at least 100K on this one. This one is cooking along a lot like the first one did, and I think people who read the first will find a lot in common as well as a lot different in this one. First off, while I utilized the works of Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov for the first, I am channelling the work of a different “-sky” in this one, a composer whose works I was not all that familiar with, but have fallen in love with. I can’t wait for you all to read this one.

Would be a bit further along, but I took off about 2.5 weeks from the novel to knock out two short stories, one for the next Curiosity Quills Anthology and the other for a Kickstarter project that I hope to be a part of! More on both of those as they unfold.

And with that, I have written enough today. Hope to be back here a lot more often as summer hits, but for now, know that I am working as fast as I can to bring you all a worthy sequel and another exciting adventure with psychic extraordinaire, Mira Tejedor!

Lastly, today is Memorial Day, and I would be remiss if I didn’t send a big thank you skyward to all the men and women who have died defending our great country. And to the irreplaceable soldiers, both enlisted and officer, from the 101st that we lost during our time together in OIF1, know that you are not forgotten.

Tomorrow, work begins anew, but for tonight, it is time to retire…


Mussorgsky Mondays – Tomita’s Pictures at an Exhibition


I was recently made aware that in the mid 1970’s, not only did Emerson, Lake and Palmer recreate Mussorgsky’s great work, Pictures at an Exhibition, but on the other side of the globe in Japan, another artist was doing his own version. In 1975, Isao Tomita, renowned pioneer of electronic synthesizer music, took the original piano composition and created an all electronic version of the piece. It definitely has the sound of the 70’s / 80’s synthesizer, but at the time this was groundbreaking work. Definitely worth a listen, as some of his decisions for the appropriate sounds for various parts of this masterpiece are as interesting in their own way as Ravel’s choice of instrumentation when he brought Pictures from the piano to a full orchestra. Check out this link to Tomita’s full recording on YouTube. And to learn a little bit more about Isao Tomita, check out this link to his Wikipedia page.

Can’t believe I’d never heard this before tonight!


Mussorgsky Mondays – The Importance of Reviews


If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few weeks, it’s the importance of reviews.

Even a decade ago, a review was for the most part done by professionals. The New York Times reviewed books, as did your local newspaper. Siskel & Ebert reviewed movies. Restaurant reviewers let you know where it was good to eat.

Times certainly have changed. We now have websites like Urbanspoon to tell us where to eat, Rotten Tomatoes to tell us what movies to see, and Goodreads to tell us what to read. And the big difference?

The reviewers are us. The consumers. No longer is a professional food critic/movie critic/literary expert the be all end all for us. We tell each other what we think, taking word of mouth online.


To a writer, a strong Goodreads presence is essential. People go there, as well as sites like Booklikes, Shelfari, and LibraryThing to catalogue what they’ve read and leave reviews for other readers. These are places where an author needs to be out there, but also watching their P’s and Q’s – folks on these sites love their books and love their authors, but if you’re an ass on one of these sites, people are going to hear about it. Here’s a link to another blog with 11 different alternatives to Goodreads (the industry standard, as far as I can tell).

Readers also leave reviews on websites where they purchase books, such as and Books-A-Million’s website. And then there’s the 800 pound Gorilla in the room.

That’s right.


Amazon reviews can literally be the lifeblood of a book. To get access to certain services like BookBub (a book promotion site) or others, you have to have a certain number of reviews before they’ll even consider your book, and often a minimal average rating. Again, writers need to be careful here, as you can comment on reviews (don’t) and muddy the water. Here’s a link with some suggestions of what to do if you receive a negative review.

Most of us buy a book, read the book, and either put it on a shelf or give it to a friend. The best thing you can do for an author, however, is take a couple minutes if you particularly enjoyed a book and log on to Amazon to leave a review. Honestly, even if you felt there were things the author could have done better, mediocre or even bad reviews are helpful in their own way. I found this particular article quite interesting. The other one I wanted to link to I just can’t find, but an author made a compelling argument that any review, good or bad, helped his bottom line.

***And now, a quick call to action. If you have read The Mussorgsky Riddle and have a moment, please log on to the book’s link on Amazon and leave a review. Most importantly, leave an HONEST review. If you didn’t like the book, that’s fine. Let me have it. I can take it. Seriously… 😉 I’m still trying to get to that magic number of twenty, (currently at thirteen) and every review helps. Goodreads, B&N, Books-A-Million, etc. are all helpful as well, but the Amazon reviews are where it’s at.

And while you’re at it, think back to the best book you’ve read in the last year and go leave a review for that author as well. It doesn’t cost you a thing, and might be just the thing their book needs. Unless you’re one of the big big big authors, every book out there is “The Little Engine That Could” and a little push up the hill is always appreciated.

By the way, this article deals mainly with the business of reviews. For me, to be honest, I just love to read that someone enjoyed the book, that someone identified with one of the characters, that someone found one of the little Easter eggs I left. I’ll likely write an article on that sometime soon, but for now, it’s late and my bed is calling to me. Have a great week everyone. Signing off and crashing in 3… 2… ZZZZZZZ…


P.S. A great big thank you to the fellow authors, book bloggers, and friends who have already reviewed the book on your various websites. Your kind words have warmed my heart numerous times over the last month. I’ve been collecting links to the various reviews on my website and squirreling them away like nuts for winter.


Mussorgsky Coffee Cup Art!

So, this was pretty cool! Candice Carpenter over at We Geek Girls was power reading through the second half of The Mussorgsky Riddle… and somewhere around this point…

Candice Carpenter - 19 Jan 2015

 she decided to sketch the book to that point onto her cup of Earl Grey tea.

Polina, you have some competition! 😉

Ladies and gentlemen! Pictures at a Cup-Exhibition!






Mussorgsky Mondays – My Writing Goals


When you decide to become a writer, you should know what it is you hope to accomplish at various points in your career. For years now, I have established that I have had three main goals that I wished to achieve with my writing.

1) I want to walk into a Barnes & Noble and see a book I wrote sitting on the shelf.

2) I want a complete stranger to walk up to me and say, “Hey, I liked your book.”

3) I want Neil Gaiman to read my book and think, “Hey, that wasn’t that bad.”

Do I have other goals? Of course.

Would I like to be famous? Not sure. Maybe author famous, but not paparazzi famous. I’ll leave that to the fine people on Jersey Shore.

Would I like to be a best seller? Of course. But mainly because that would hopefully mean a lot of people really liked what I wrote.

Would I like to be rich? Again, of course.  However, as I’ve read a thousand times, if you’re doing this for the money, you are delusional at best… You write because you love it. And because not writing is unacceptable.

So for now, I’m sticking with the big three.

#2 has come true, so to speak. I’ve already received some very kind and heartwarming reviews through my publisher and on Goodreads, and knowing that those people enjoyed the story is enough to keep me going for a long time.

As for #1, first I’d like to again thank the fine people at Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC for hosting my Launch Party last Saturday. It was a huge success and I’m still touched and honored by all the friends, family, and others that came out to support me. You are who I write for and I hope to do you proud with this book and future projects. Here are some photos from the event (with more likely to follow):











After all was said and done, we sold 82 books that day, and again I am humbled and grateful for all the support. I left a few copies for the store before joining everyone over at Cantina 1511 and went back this week to find Scheherazade and Baba Yaga doing battle on the New Release shelf at Park Road Books!


But Goal #1 was to see the book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, right? Well, my friend Regis Murphy posted this picture yesterday from Barnes & Noble – Birkdale, just north of Charlotte.

MR at BN

Naturally, I had to see it for myself, so Erin and I drove up to Birkdale yesterday for some Sunday afternoon sushi and to peruse the shelves at B&N. Goal #1, marked off the list. Here are the photos:



The nice girl who took our picture turned around and bought the book after we walked away… 🙂IMG_2569

Now, Regis may or may not have had something to do with the fact that I made it into a Barnes & Noble, as he is currently an employee of that fine establishment, but I will take it.

And right below Neil Gaiman to boot!

So – Goals #1 and #2 are complete. As for Goal #3? Well.. Mr. Gaiman, let me know what you think! 😉


Yes Neil, I know, I know. I should be writing. But there’s still time for one last photo from a particularly awesome evening a few years back.


And with that, it’s back to Project: Recapture the Lightning.

Now, if only my new Stravinsky CD would hurry up and get here. Oh well, back to YouTube… 😉


Mussorgsky Mondays: To Celebrate Launch Day, an Excerpt

MR Cover - Wrap - 6X9Final

After 10 months of patiently (and, at times, not so patiently) waiting, the day has arrived. 12 Jan 2015, the launch day for my debut novel, The Mussorgsky Riddle. A big thank you to everyone who has made this day possible: my agent, Stacey Donaghy; Eugene, Lisa, Nikki, Clare, Andrew, and the rest of the crew at Curiosity Quills Press: my critique group; and my friends and family both near and far.

The Launch Event two days ago at Park Road Books here in Charlotte, NC was successful beyond my wildest dreams and I’m really looking forward to the Facebook Online Launch Party from 9-11 today. Come one, come all for a chance to win one of three prizes: a copy of The Mussorgsky Riddle, a copy of Chronology: The 2015 Curiosity Quills Anthology, or a $25 Barnes & Noble gift certificate!

To celebrate, a excerpt from the beginning of Chapter III –

No sooner do the words leave my lips than the barrage of light and sound stops. The sudden silence is somehow worse. Before I can take a breath, a burst of brilliance like a thousand flashbulbs firing at once blinds me. With ears still ringing from the auditory onslaught, I rub at my eyes as my vision adjusts to the muted luminescence of another place entirely.

An enormous hallway stretches out before me, the sheer opulence of the space reminding me of pictures from the Louvre. The way before me is clear, though the passage to my rear is blocked by a pair of ten-foot high doors fashioned of dark oak. A lock the size of my head hangs between them. Won’t be leaving that way.

“Dios mío,” I mutter, channeling my mother.

If even God can hear me in this place.

Its walls alabaster white with mahogany trim, the hall’s hardwood floor is laid in an intricate herringbone parquet pattern of alternating oak and rosewood. Above my head, the vaulted ceiling is decorated with a fresco reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel’s, though the style of the painter appears far more Dalí than Michelangelo. Also, where David’s sculptor found his inspiration in the many stories of the Bible, the tortured images that fill the ceiling of this place are all stolen from classical mythology, the entire surface an anthropologist’s acid dream.

Directly above me, Leda’s rape by the Zeus-swan fills my vision. Just adjacent, the three Fates continue their eternal task of spinning, measuring and cutting the thread of life, the product of their work resolving into a misshapen infant’s umbilical cord. Prometheus, chained to the rock with the eagle’s head buried in his flayed abdomen, lies in agony above the gigantic door that blocks my escape. The Titan’s gaze follows me as I venture farther down the hallway and an additional picture comes into view. Persephone rests on one knee in the darkness, her fist clutched around the crimson pomegranate that remands her to Hades for half the year.

Guess that minor in Classics isn’t looking like such a waste of time and money anymore, now is it, Mom?

If my theory about this place is right, two things are very clear.

Anthony Faircloth has an intimate knowledge of world mythology.

And he’s not too big on subtlety.

As I proceed down the hallway, the images above me grow more and more bizarre, even as the scenes they depict become less and less familiar. In one, a spider climbs into the sky with a bound python caught between its front legs. In another, a bearded man wears a black T-shirt with a white lightning bolt like the Gatorade logo and holds aloft what appears to be a glowing baseball bat. The largest portrays a half-dead Norse warrior standing atop a fractured rainbow. A multitude of slain enemies lie at his feet. The scantily clad women that graced the covers of my brother’s old Heavy Metal collection would look right at home next to Odin or Thor or whoever the hell Leif Erikson on steroids is supposed to be.

“Have you come to weave me a tale?” The whispered voice seems to come from nowhere and everywhere at once. “Of lovers and dangers and unrequited passion?”

“Anthony?” I work to keep the tremor from my voice. I fail.

“I know your secret,” the voice continues. “You hope to lull me with your honeyed words and clever plots.”

I’ve spoken with others mind-to-mind on numerous occasions in the past, a unique experience each time, to be sure. I’ve never been addressed this way before.

“Who said that?” There’s no sign of anyone else along the great hall. “Show yourself.”

“In due time, Scheherazade.” A low chuckle fills the hall. “We will meet soon enough, I fear.”

“Wait.” My pulse begins to race. “Where am I? What is this place?”

The voice doesn’t speak again, the only answer a quiet titter that echoes down from the vaulted ceiling. I hold my breath, hoping for any clue that might help me escape this place, but an oppressive silence, unnatural in its fullness, fills the air.

Neither masculine nor feminine, the whispered voice could represent an ally, but my money’s on adversary.

“Won’t figure it out standing here,” I mutter. “Time to move.”

As I continue my slow progress down the vast hallway, a name echoes across my psyche.


The voice called me Scheherazade.

Mussorgsky Mondays – One Month To Go!


Well, one month and four days, but who’s counting?

The twelfth of January is right around the corner and I couldn’t be more excited. Thought I would celebrate with my man Modest above. Not only did he have some mad composing skills, but he could rock a mullet and the lumbersexual look at the same time. One of many reasons he’s a hero of mine.

Tonight’s missive will be short, but I just wanted to say hi to everyone out there. The folks at Curiosity Quills and I are working hard to ensure that you get a quality book in your hand very soon as well as continuing to plan appearances out in the world. Keep an eye on the Events tab above for all the latest information on where to find me in 2015.

And now, I leave you with Sergiu Celibidache and the London Symphony Orchestra with one particularly kick ass rendition of Pictures at an Exhibition! Enjoy!


Mussorgsky Mondays – NaNoProMo!


As we speak, all over the nation and possibly the world, writers everywhere are doing their level best to produce 1,667 words a day for each of the thirty days of November and thus producing 50,000 words of fiction before midnight December 1st. That’s right boys and girls, NaNoWriMo is upon us. That’s National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated. 50,000 words is a pretty short novel, unless you’re writing middle grade or relatively short young adult, but it’s definitely a start. As they say, you can’t edit a blank page.

The irony for me? It’s the first time in months that I haven’t been feverishly writing or editing in a LONG time. Nothing. Nada. Well, I’m still writing patient notes every day, but that’s not quite the same clump of neurons.

For me, this is NaNoProMo – National Novel Promotion Month.

The Mussorgsky Riddle comes out 12 Jan 2015 and I have right at 2 months and 2 days to be ready. This is really quite an exciting time. I’ve never geared up for a book release before. And as with all things as a writer – plot, characterization, editing, getting an agent, finding a publisher, negotiating cover designs – I’m having to exercise new muscles that haven’t been used before. Kind of like learning to swim a new stroke or play a new instrument.

So far, I’ve been fortunate enough to have several author friends offer to blurb my book (where authors or reviewer give a quote that goes on the book cover),  found several reviewers willing to write about my book on their blogs/websites/publications, lined up a few live appearances to include conventions, signings, and even a “moveable feast”. The fine folks at Curiosity Quills couldn’t be greater. Between Clare helping line up my online marketing, Nikki working on my live appearances, and Eugene making sure the book itself is done just right, (and let’s not forget Lisa, who like the One Ring, rules them all), this whole process is really coming together.

So, during the month of November, I may not put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard as often as normal, but it’s a good thing. Funny thing, this doesn’t stop on November 30th, or even January 12th. I will write again, but for now, I’m still learning to ride this new bicycle.

Fortunately, I have a helmet.

All best,


Mussorgsky Mondays – A Call to Arms


January 12th is eleven weeks from today. The release of my debut novel, The Mussorgsky Riddle, is coming faster than I can fully comprehend and there is a lot to do. This blog may be a bit quiet for the next few weeks (big change, right?) as I work on lining up reviews, signings, launch parties, and the like. It’s a whole new world – I’ve never launched a book before.

Putting a request out there as sort of an opening volley: Is anyone out there interested in being part of the Mussorgsky Street Team?

Oh… What’s a street team? Just learned this myself in the last few months. A street team is a group of people working with the author and publisher to get the word out on the street (clever name, eh?) about a book so that it has a successful launch. These individuals help to turn up the volume on the buzz of the book. They might talk it up on Facebook and Twitter, post the cover on Pinterest, create artwork or graphics to circulate on social media, or any of a thousand other things. They are the lieutenants, and lieutenants get swag. Not sure what the swag is yet, but there will be swag…

So, feel free to contact me in the comments section, on Facebook or Twitter, or send me a telepathic message if being a member of my street team sounds right up your alley!




Quick addendum: As I was posting this blog, I think I may have had the first volunteer for my street team, as this was left on my front porch.

That’s right, a Mussorgsky Riddle Jack-O-Lantern.

Sometimes, life is good…


Mussorgsky Mondays – Cover Reveal


Two big things happened yesterday.

First, we revealed the cover for The Mussorgsky Riddle. Created by the lovely and talented Polina Sapershteyn, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I’ve been dying to get it out there for months so you all could see it, but I’ve been waiting for the right time. Apparently, that was yesterday.

Why, you ask?

Because of thing #2.

The Mussorgsky Riddle is now available for preorder on Amazon. Currently, for Kindle only, but in the next few days, my publisher thinks the book will be available for preorder in paperback as well as ebook. The novel comes out 12 Jan 2015 from Curiosity Quills Press, so we all still have just under 3 months to wait, but it’s getting close and it’s getting real. Very real and more exciting than I can relate.

I wrote no less than four pages of acknowledgements for this book as I so much to be thankful for. To all of you out there who have supported me in one way or another as I’ve poured hour after hour into this labor of love, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. (Which I suppose would be my… right ventricle?)

Would love to hear from any or all of you. Thoughts on the cover. Thoughts about the book. Thoughts in general…

Finally, here is the link in case you’d like to preorder – currently for Kindle only. Rest assured, I will put out another blog post, Facebook announcement, Tweet, and send smoke signals and carrier pigeons when the paperback is up on Amazon.

All best! Happy reading and writing to all!