Tag Archives: Mussorgsky Mondays

Mussorgsky Mondays – My Writing Goals

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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):

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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!

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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.

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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:

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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! 😉

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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.

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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… 😉

Darin


Mussorgsky Mondays: To Celebrate Launch Day, an Excerpt

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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.

Scheherazade.

The voice called me Scheherazade.


Mussorgsky Mondays – One Month To Go!

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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!

Darin


Mussorgsky Mondays – NaNoProMo!

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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,

Darin


Mussorgsky Mondays – A Call to Arms

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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!

Thanks!

Darin

 

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…

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Pictures at an Exhibition at The Brevard Music Center Summer Music Festival

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Nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina, the Brevard Music Center is an out of the way gem. Located down a residential road with houses on either side with signs filled with musical jokes and puns placed in their yards and with parking that was less then optimal, this quasi-outdoor venue is quaint in all the right ways, and definitely made our trip yesterday worthwhile. And it was only by strangest of coincidences I even knew the Brevard Symphony was playing my song…

A good friend of mine was taking his girlfriend to the Asheville area for the weekend and was checking for things to do in the area. Not only was the Brevard Music Center completing their Summer Music Festival, but they were closing it out with — shock of shocks on this particular blog — Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. I had already seen a performance in Raleigh earlier in the year, but when you get the chance to hear this particular piece of music live, you go.

My mother and father had never had the opportunity to hear this particular piece of music, at least not live, though my dad was the one who originally turned me on to Scheherazade. I wanted to share with them the inspiration for this book I had written. I called my mom who was, not surprisingly, out mending fences (literally) and invited them to come. My mother retired from teaching this year, so this little road trip was my gift to her for her “School’s Out Forever” party which followed a couple weeks later. It was a great time, not only with them, but with Mark and Lara as well as the de la Torres who just happen to live in Brevard and were gracious enough to have us all over for dinner that evening after the show.

The performance of Pictures was beautiful, as were the two pieces from the first half. An outdoor arena on a particularly hot and muggy made some particular challenges. The guest pianist, a phenomenal musician, left the stage before intermission with his red silk shirt literally stuck to his torso from the sweat. All in all, an excellent day with friends, family, and Mussorgsky. I look forward to visiting the Brevard Music Center again in the future.


Mussorgsky Mondays – Hear ye, Hear ye

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So, it’s been another three weeks. Still catching up and enjoying the summer, but wanted to keep everyone up to speed on all the goings on in my little world.

#1 – We have a date! Well, sort of. Curiosity Quills has named 12 Jan 2015 as a “proposed” release date for The Mussorgsky Riddle. This is a Monday, which seems quite appropriate, don’t you think? All the edits and proof reading are in and the big thing we are waiting on (that I am waiting on, especially, with bated breath, even) is the cover.  This is currently in the very capable hands of Polina Sapershteyn, a graphic designer in New York City who went so far as to read the manuscript to ensure she captured the right flavor of the book. Her design is intriguing and I can’t wait to see a more finished version of her idea. Till we have a cover, however, all dates will remain in the “proposed” category.

#2 – My story, “Midnight Screening,” was officially accepted into Emby Press’s anthology, Reconstructing the Monster tonight. I will have four stories in Emby Anthologies hopefully by the end of the year, if they are all out before January 1st. Pretty exciting time to be a monster hunter.

#3 – I also have a short story coming out in CQ’s annual anthology. “Flight of the Pegasus” is my first foray into steampunk, but hopefully won’t be my last.

#4 – Work continues on my new project, code named “Operation: Ghost Story.” All but the last chapter is done and I am going through the critiques of my alpha readers/critique group finally after being busy with edits on MR for several months. This story is shaping up quite nicely. I had promised it to my agent by my birthday, but that ship has sailed, so now I’m aiming to have it in before Labor Day. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers… 😉

#5 – Lastly, trying to get something together for Dark Hall Press’s Techno Horror Anthology. Just started tonight. It’s got a little bit of a 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe. We’ll see how it turns out…

And now, a little something from my man Modest. Here is Mussorgsky’s, A Tear, for your listening pleasure.

All best, Darin

 

 


Mussorgsky Mondays – Another year…

MI0001141288Today is my 43rd birthday. It’s funny. I neither get terribly excited about birthdays anymore, nor do I bemoan them. I simply recognize them for what they are. A signpost. You have travelled this far, and still have (hopefully) far to go. The last year has been filled with many triumphs and joys, some defeats and tears, but overall the year of “Life, the Universe, and Everything” has treated me well.

To celebrate my birthday, which happened to come on a Mussorgsky Monday this year, I decided to put a little something special on today’s blog. The link below will take you to a one hour presentation on Pictures, both the original piano per Mussorgsky and the orchestral arrangement per Ravel, all told through the lens of the Chicago Symphony and their conductor at the time, Sir Georg Solti. What makes this a real treat, however, is that Solti interrupts on the video with vignettes about each of the movements, effectively breaking down this masterwork into its various components and explaining what makes it work and why we are still listening to it over a hundred years after it was written. His insights into the music are quite enlightening and make this video a great companion piece to my upcoming book, The Mussorgsky Riddle.

Please enjoy Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony as they play Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

All best, Darin

Sir Georg Solti plays, conducts, and explains Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition


Mussorgsky Mondays – Update on The Mussorgsky Riddle, and a bit on editing…

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Hope everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day today. It is a time of reflection, so reflect on the many men and women in uniform who have sacrificed so that we can live in such a great country, but don’t let the naysayers get you down about enjoying time with your family and friends. Americans work far too hard to start with, so enjoy the day. Me, I’m about to go hike Crowder’s Mountain – only 20% chance of rain, so we’ll see what happens… On to the update. On February 28th, 2014, Curiosity Quills Press, a small (but growing!) publishing house out of Leesburg, VA, expressed interest in publishing The Mussorgsky Riddle and by mid March, my agent and I had negotiated the various aspects of the contract and it was all official. Many of you may be wondering what I’ve been doing since. First, Lisa Gus, the acquisitions editor and co-owner of CQ Press, had about ten plot points that she wanted me to massage out in the story. Some of these were easy and some were a bit more work. All in all, however, even the two changes that seemed the hardest and that seemed to threaten destroying the nice bow I had tied on the end of the story, actually improved the story ending. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that when someone points out a problem in your writing, they may not be technically “right” by your estimation of what the story needs, but just the fact that something in the story “tripped” them means that someone else is going to “trip” too. Therefore, that’s the section of story carpet that needs to be tacked down more carefully. Don’t want our readers to fall and hurt themselves, now do we? All of Lisa’s suggestions at the very least clarified the story, and the two big changes at the end actually revealed to me that there was one more layer to the onion I hadn’t considered. My lesson? Even when the suggested change seems like it’s painful, a lot of work, or even wrong, look for a way to use the suggestion to improve your story. I did, and it paid off. Once Lisa had okayed the story, I was transitioned to my actual editor for the project, Sharon Pickrel, who did a fantastic job. She did a story pass in record time and I got those changes back to her. Then she did a grammar pass, again in record time and again I incorporated those changes as well. Then she did a third pass, sort of a pre-proofreading, and I got all those changes back to her last night. Hopefully this is the “final” edit, though it does go before proofreaders now to look for typos. After that I will get one more look at the content to ensure I’m happy with everything. What I learned during this step is that the better self-edited your book is before it goes to the editor, the better off you are. Sharon told me multiple times how “clean” a manuscript I’d sent, and still there were many, many things she found that needed to be fixed. So, to all you writers out there: go find those adverbs and slay them, go make sure your commas have a degree from Oxford (if appropriate), and work on getting rid of filtering, etc. (look it up) Read widely from blogs and websites that teach how to self-edit and GET IT DONE. In the end, this is your project, but your editor’s fresh set of eyes is a resource of which you should take full advantage. What’s next? The manuscript has been sent back to CQ and after the above-mentioned pass by the proofreaders, CQ will start on cover design, interior layout, pricing, and other aspects necessary to bring this book to life. There is no release date as yet (the piece of information I’m the most interested in)  but I’m hoping that we have this one out before Christmas. I’d love for MR to be available for gifts, stocking stuffers, and the like, but mostly, as a great Christmas gift to me. It’s been my dream for a LONG time to hold a book I wrote in my hands, and it looks like that dream is about to come true. More updates as we get closer, but for now I will leave you to your barbecues, your swimming pools, and your remembrances of our fallen heroes. Happy Memorial Day, everyone. Darin


Mussorgsky Mondays – The Art of Natasha Turovsky, Part 2

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Here’s Part 2 of the awesome art and music show from artist Natasha Turovsky. Enjoy!

Darin

Art of Natasha Turovsky – Pictures at an Exhibition, Part 2