Next Weekend: Dragon Con! Here’s My Concert & Event Schedule

It’s almost Labor Day weekend, and that means I’ll be heading to Atlanta for another Dragon Con! I look forward to a nice, quiet, relaxing time … with about 60 or 70 thousand of my closest friends!

Actually, since Dragon Con is (so far as I know) the largest general science fiction and fantasy convention in the Southeast, I’m sure it will be its typical exciting, exhausting but ultimately rewarding time. I’m particularly grateful to my friend Alethea Kontis and the folks on the Dragon Con Filk Track who have invited me to perform at various times through the weekend.

Here’s how the convention is shaping up for me:


  • 2:30 p.m. — Meet, Greet, Filk — Baker Room, Hyatt (tentative)
  • 5:30 p.m. — Filk & Cookies — Baker Room, Hyatt (tentative)
  • 7:00 p.m. — Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow with Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber, Lisa Mantchev, Delilah S. Dawson, Zac Brewer, and David B. Coe (D.B. Jackson) — A707, Marriott
  • 11:30 p.m. — Open Filking — Baker Room, Hyatt

On Saturday, I should get to be a “fan” for part of the time — go to concerts or panels or the Art Show — and maybe even watch some football when I’m not in the Dealer’s Room (where our Baen Books authors will be signing at the Missing Volume bookstore); and if possible I’ll make an appearance at:

  • 2:30 p.m. — InstaFilk — Baker Room, Hyatt (tentative)
  • 11:30 p.m. — Open Filking — Baker Room, Hyatt

Sunday is my busiest day:

  • 1:00 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Road Show and Prize Patrol! — art, previews, and free books! — Regency Ballroom V, Hyatt
  • 4:00 p.m. — Solo Concert! — Baker Room, Hyatt
  • 5:30 p.m. — Match Game, a fannish version of the TV game show, with Van Allen Plexico, Melinda M. Snodgrass, and Teresa Patterson — Embassy Ballroom A-B, Hyatt
  • 11:30 p.m. — Open Filking — Baker Room, Hyatt

That’s right: as soon as the Baen Road Show is over, I’ll be giving a concert featuring music from my new CD, Distorted Vision, as well as favorites from Truths and Lies and Make-Believe — and more! I plan to have CDs with me wherever I go, as well as “Anti-Candidate,” “Another Romulan Ale” and “Tauntauns to Glory” bumper stickers, so flag me down if you want one!

If you’re going, I hope we’ll get a chance to chat. If you’re not going, or if we simply don’t find each other, you can always sign up for my newsletter to get the latest info on my different projects.

Have fun storming the convention!

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Release Day! DISTORTED VISION is Now Available!

Almost 2 years to the day since I released Truths and Lies and Make-Believe, here comes my second musical collection, Distorted Vision.

(Album cover photography and design by Christopher Rinehart. Click to go to the Bandcamp page, to listen to or purchase the album.)

Like its predecessor, Distorted Vision is another collection of songs mostly inspired by or referencing science fiction and fantasy, as well as songs about the marvels and misfortunes of life itself. I consider it to be a second helping of “truths and lies and make-believe.”

Where T&L&MB had ten all-original tunes, this new album has eleven songs, including two which use existing tunes. I intend to write a series of posts examining each song on its own, but here’s the running order with a few basic notes:

All the above links go to Bandcamp, which is the only place the album is available at this time. At Bandcamp you can listen to the songs, purchase a download of individual songs or the whole album, and order a physical CD for me to send to you (and, yes, I ship them myself).* I will make the album available on CD Baby soon, and from there it will be available on Amazon and other outlets — and the songs themselves will be available for streaming.

If you never listened to Truths and Lies and Make-Believe,** but you’ve heard me play guitar and are a little leery of how these songs might sound, let me assure you that just like the first album I did not actually play any of the instruments on this one. My friend Mark Minervino was once again the studio musician par excellence, and also engineered and mixed the songs, and my friend Brian Ceccarelli of Talus Music mastered the CD so the sound quality would be uniform. I couldn’t have done this album, or the last one, without them!

So if this sort of thing interests you, or if you’re just curious, or even if you just want to humor me, I hope you’ll give it a listen — and that maybe you’ll find something you like enough to buy! And if you know someone else who might appreciate it, by all means send them a link to the album or to this blog post.

Thanks, I hope you like what you hear, and let me know what you think!

*Note that physical CDs won’t ship until close to the end of the month. Sorry!
**Really? It’s been out for 2 years, and you haven’t listened to it yet?

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The new CD is almost ready! So, offered for your consideration, here’s the front cover:

(Click for larger version.)

And here’s the back cover:

(Click for larger version.)

The photography and cover design are by my son, Christopher Rinehart.

The album was recorded at Stormghost Studio, Cary, NC, and MKM Studios, Scarborough, ME; engineered and mixed by Mark Minervino at MKM Studios, Scarborough, ME; and mastered by Brian Ceccarelli at Talus Music, Apex, NC.

I’ll be releasing the electronic album later this week, and physical CDs will be available shortly thereafter.

Stay tuned!

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Are You a Science Fiction Fan? Will You be Voting?

If the title isn’t clear enough, and the logo below didn’t show up, I’m referring to voting for the Hugo Awards rather than voting for the Cary Town Council. Being on one ballot was not enough for me!

(In fact, if you want to put me on a third ballot, you can nominate any of my filk songs for a Pegasus Award. Hahaha!)

Hugo Award Logo

But, insofar as the Hugo Awards go, the deadline is fast approaching for getting our votes in, as was recently pointed out by perhaps the biggest name in fantasy literature these days, George R.R. Martin.

The deadline is in fact the 31st of July — one day past the deadline for Pegasus nominations, haha! — and if you’re a member of the World SF Convention you should have gotten your Voter Packet and instructions weeks ago. If you’re not a member but you still want to vote, there’s just a little time left for you to purchase a Supporting Membership* and participate in the process.

In the blog post linked above, Mr. Martin noted that so far more than 2300 ballots have been cast. He asks,

Who are all these new Supporting Members? Are they trufans rallying to the defense of one of our field’s oldest and most cherished institutions? Are they Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, Happy Kittens, Gamergaters? Are those dreaded SJWs and ASPs and CHORFs turning out by the hundreds and the thousands? Are these the Neo-Nazis and right-wing reactionaries we have been warned of? The truth is… no one knows. We may get a clue when the ballots are opened and counted, but even then, the numbers may well just say, “Answer cloudy, ask again.”

If you’re not familiar with all the lingo in there, count yourself lucky. And if you’re undecided about voting or what to vote for, bear in mind Heinlein’s admonition:

If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for … but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong.

So, vote! Even if you vote against me.

As for that other democratic process, we’ll have more to say in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

*A Supporting Membership costs $40, for which you get electronic copies of several of the nominated works (e.g., Best Novel) with which to make an informed decision.

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Amazon Rankings and the Power of a SINGLE Sale

Back in late February, Larry Correia included the Amazon listing for my album in the “book bomb” he orchestrated to generate interest in stories that he and Brad Torgersen recommended for Hugo Award consideration. (For more on how the latter turned out, read this.)

CD Sale
(“CD Sale,” by Jake Johnson, via Flickr under Creative Commons.)

The purpose of Larry’s frequent “book bombs” is to encourage people to buy an author’s work, and in particular to buy it on Amazon because improving a book’s ranking generally makes it more visible to additional prospective customers. Products with higher rankings show up more often in searches and the Amazon system selects them more frequently as recommendations. The idea behind the book bombs is two-fold, then: first, to help authors get paid for their work, and second, to put them in a better position to keep getting paid.

Anyway, since the only thing I had available for sale was my album, Larry included it along with other people’s books, which I appreciated very much. The results were curious to me, though.

Because of the plug I sold a grand total of one physical CD, and no electronic music, but my Amazon sales ranking improved by nearly a million-and-a-half places! Indeed, it hit unheard-of heights (for me) and now, nearly three months later, is still ranked far better than it was to begin with.

I don’t have the exact figures for the earliest rankings, because I wasn’t paying close enough attention, but here’s what I remember (I’ve rounded these to two significant digits):

Date — Sales Rank
02/23 — 1,500,000
02/25 — 30,000 — because of ONE CD being ordered
02/27 — 60,000
03/04 — 200,000
03/17 — 360,000
05/06 — 840,000

I don’t know about you, but that much movement based on one sale seems a little crazy to me. Imagine what would have happened if two people had ordered my CD! It might suddenly have become a bestseller. Of course, it could just indicate how few CDs are ordered from Amazon on any given day.

I don’t know if the book rankings bounce around so much, but it seems apparent that if you ever buy things on Amazon — even single things! — you wield a great deal of power.

While we’re on the topic of Amazon, another tidbit you might not know: Reviews affect search results, too. My little CD doesn’t have any reviews there (and precious few elsewhere), so if you’ve got an Amazon account and a few spare minutes, it would be awesome if you’d bounce over to the Amazon page and post a little review. Just a few words about your favorite song, even with only a moderate rating, would make a huge difference.

Amazon is, of course, the biggest kid on the block when it comes to online shopping. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: when people buy my album from Bandcamp, they pay less and I make more money. (You have my permission to share that little secret with anyone who might appreciate the album or the bargain.)

But, regardless of whether you tell anyone about my music; regardless of whether you leave a review on Amazon or anywhere else; regardless of whether you’ve even heard any of my songs or read any of my stories; and regardless of whether you keep up with my nonsense or just popped in here for no particular reason, you have my sincere thanks just for reading this blog post.

If you take nothing else away from this, know these two things: I appreciate you being here, and you have more influence on the success of independent writers and artists than you probably realize. But with great power comes great responsibility, so use your power wisely!

P.S. Yes, this is another post adapted from a newsletter article. That’s just the way it goes.

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Last Day for Pegasus Award ‘Brainstorming’ — Poll Closes Tonight

If you haven’t already submitted your ideas for what songs, composers, and performers should be considered for the Pegasus Awards for excellence in filking, you have until early Friday morning to do so!

Pegasus Award Logo

Unlike other awards, the Pegasus Award cycle begins with a wide-open “brainstorming” phase. (In this respect, the Hugo Awards may have something to learn from the Pegasus Awards; but, I digress.)

The Pegasus awards honor science fiction and fantasy-related music in these categories:

  • Best Filk Song
  • Best Classic Filk Song — a song at least 10 years old that has “entered filk community public consciousness”
  • Best Performer
  • Best Writer/Composer
  • 2015 Rotating Category: Best Adapted Song — “parodies, pre-existing lyrics set to new music (for example, setting a Kipling poem), or other material adapted to filk”
  • 2015 Rotating Category: Best Time-Related Song — “31st wedding anniversary gifts are timepieces. For OVFF’s 31st Anniversary we focus on anything related to time”

Anyone who has an interest in filk music — which most people think of as science fiction and/or fantasy-related music — is considered part of the “filk community” and can participate in brainstorming possible nominees, nominating, and voting. The award by-laws define “exhibiting interest” using examples such as filking at SF&F conventions, attending filk conventions or “house sings,” taking part in related on-line forums, and just “discussing filk and filk related issues with other filkers.”

Speaking of “discussing filk and filk related issues with other filkers,” last week on the Baen Free Radio Hour we released part 1 of a 2-part roundtable discussion about filk. Here’s the link to an MP3 of the podcast. We’ll release part 2 sometime in May.

All that being said, you can probably claim to have exhibited interest in filk just by reading this far in this post (for which, thank you!), and therefore would be qualified to participate in the Pegasus Award process. So if you have favorites you’d like to suggest, fill out the Brainstorming Poll Form. Note that there’s only space for five suggestions in each category, but you’re allowed to fill out as many brainstorming forms as you like. (I filled out two.) But you have to submit your suggestions soon — as in, today! The deadline is one minute after midnight tonight, Pacific Time, or around 3 a.m. tomorrow morning, Eastern Time.

The actual nomination phase to decide what goes on the ballot will start next month, when the brainstorming results are released, and then voting will take place later in the summer. Then the Pegasus Awards will be awarded at the Ohio Valley Filk Fest in October.

So … start your brainstorming! And finish it, quick!

Related Posts:
The Pegasus Award Brainstorming Poll is Open!
In Case You’re Nominating for Any Awards This Year
What Do YOU Think is the Best Adapted Filk Song?
What Do YOU Think is the Best Time-Related Filk Song?

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Evolution of An Album Cover

As we’re making progress on my new album, Distorted Vision — about which I’ll have more to say in the future — I thought some folks might be interested to see how the cover of Truths and Lies and Make-Believe came about. Just as I could not have recorded the album by myself, I could not have put the cover together without the help of some very skilled people!

First, here’s my original idea of what I wanted the cover to look like:

Truths Lies cover art mock-up

I made that image on PowerPoint, using a picture I found on the Internet and the poster idea I’d first used in flyers for the album. I wanted an old-timey feel to it, and something about the idea of putting up notices appealed to me. Eventually, instead of trying to do two rows of posters I decided to use a single row — primarily because it was less work!

With the concept in mind, I drove around town looking for different places where we might stage the scene. I found several candidate walls in wood and cement and brick, and talked to nearby vendors about whether we could put up posters on them. Ultimately I got permission from the Creative Images trophy and sign shop to use the wall and doorway on the side of their building.

I went frugal with the posters: I printed them at Staples in a couple of different sizes to see what would work, then had enough printed for the photo shoot. They were printed on white paper that I “antiqued” with tea — specifically, a mix of black tea and some raspberry tea for a little reddish tint. (The tint comes through a little on the color versions of the photos — you can see a few of them on my web site.) To hang the posters, I mixed up batches of wheatpaste from a recipe I found on the web.

My photographer for the day was Paul Cory, who had recruited several ladies to be passers-by and observers in the pictures of me putting up the posters. I had recruited my daughter Stephanie as well, and in addition to her we had a lady Jedi, a “steampunk pirate,” and the comic book character The Question. You can see them on the inside of the CD cover, like this:

The original color version of that image, without the “postcard” effect, is one of the backgrounds on my web site.

Here’s the final cover design, as put together by my son Christopher:

I think it turned out to be a great realization of my original concept. And I very much appreciate everyone who helped make it a reality!

You can see all the cover images, inside and outside, on the album’s Bandcamp page.


P.S.  I adapted this blog post from an article sent previously to my newsletter subscribers. If you’d like to receive my every-so-often newsletter, fill out the form here.

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What Do YOU Think is the Best Time-Related Filk Song?

This post is part 2 of a 2-part series related to the 2015 Pegasus Awards. You can read the first post at What Do YOU Think is the Best Adapted Filk Song?

Looking for more of your suggestions!

Pegasus Award Logo

As noted in part one, my first request for suggestions, the Pegasus Awards honor science fiction and fantasy-related music, and each year the organizers select two special categories for awards. This year the second of the special categories is the “Best Time-Related Song.”

Like the “Best Adapted Song” category, this one is wide open for nominations because the songs can “focus on anything related to time.” The Ohio Valley Filk Festival organizers picked the category because 2015 is OVFF’s 31st anniversary, and the 31st wedding anniversary is the timepiece anniversary.

The problem I’m running into is that I’m finding it hard to come up with time-related songs! So, a question for you: what do you think is the Best Time-Related Filk Song?

At present, I’m considering nominating:

  • “Beer-Powered Time Machine” by Mikey Mason
  • “Find Forever Gone” by Bella Morte
  • “One More Time” by Michael Longcor
  • “Welcome to the Age of Steam” by Jonah Knight
  • “’39” by Brian May / Queen

Can you think of other time-related songs I should consider for this category? You can actually suggest your own slate to the entire filk community by filling out the Pegasus Award Brainstorming Poll.* But at the very least, send me your suggestions!

*As always, if you’d like to hear some of my songs to consider, let me know. We’ll find a way to make it happen.

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What Do YOU Think is the Best Adapted Filk Song?

This post is part 1 of a 2-part series related to the 2015 Pegasus Awards.

I’m looking for your suggestions!

Pegasus Award Logo

The Pegasus Awards honor science fiction and fantasy-related music, and each year the organizers select two special categories for awards. This year one of the categories is the “Best Adapted Song.”

This special category is pretty wide open for nominations, since it “can include adapting or parodying a mundane song or a filk song, but can also mean adapting a poem or book.” So it might involve the best use of an existing song to make a new filk song, or it could involve a song that best captures the spirit of a favorite story or movie.

So, seriously: what do you think is the Best Adapted Filk Song?

I’ve thought of a few songs by friends of mine (or, in one case, a friend of a friend) that I’m considering nominating:

  • “Band of Brothers” by Ken Theriot
  • “Dead Hobbit” by Madison Maria Roberts
  • “Duet With a Klingon” by Carla Ulbrich
  • “Has Anybody Seen My Goyle? ” and “Call Me, Arthur” by Scott & Kirsten Vaughan (a/k/a The Blibbering Humdingers)
  • “The Ballad of Jones the Cat” by Keith Brinegar and White Plectrum
  • “When We Come Out of the Stargate” by Danny Birt

I know there are many more adapted songs out there, so if you have favorites that you think I should consider for this category, send me your suggestions!

Or, even better, you can suggest songs for the entire filk community to consider by filling out the Pegasus Award Brainstorming Poll Forms.* (When it comes time to actually nominate for the award, you can only nominate 5 songs, but during the brainstorming phase you can fill out as many forms as you like.)

Thanks in advance!

In other award news, you have until the end of January to join the World Science Fiction Convention to be eligible to nominate and vote for the Hugo Awards. For the price of a supporting membership ($40), you’ll get electronic copies of all the nominated stories and artwork — it’s really quite a bargain! And, who knows? maybe you’ll even see something you nominated on the ballot. But only if you join!

*If you’d like to suggest or nominate one of my songs, that’s okay, too. If you haven’t heard my songs and you’d like to, drop me a line. We’ll find a way to make it happen.

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In Case You’re Nominating for Any Awards This Year

Welcome to my periodic “here’s what I have eligible for awards” post.

119/365 Vote for me...
(“Vote for me…,” by Dave, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

Fiction. I have two stories eligible for award consideration, published in 2014:

Related/Dramatic Works. I did some voice acting in 2014, too:

Music. My album came out in 2013, but the Pegasus Awards aren’t strictly time-bound. “Another Romulan Ale” and “Tauntauns to Glory” were both played on the Dr. Demento show in 2014, so that’s something. But if you’re stuck for an entry for the rotating categories of the Brainstorming Poll, you might consider:

  • For Adapted Song, “A Ship With No Name,” “Thorin Oakenshield,” or maybe “The Enemy’s Gate is Down”
  • For Time-Related Song, “Ten Thousand Years Ago”

If you’re curious about any of these, whether you’re nominating for the Nebula, Hugo, or Pegasus Awards or not, let me know. I’ll be happy to send you a story, or even sing you a song!

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