Thursday is the New Friday at Dragon Con

Okay, technically Thursday has been the new Friday for a few years now when it’s Labor Day weekend in Atlanta! At least, it has at Dragon Con, one of the world’s biggest and best science fiction and fantasy conventions.

I missed Dragon Con last year, because I was in the midst of moving — I spent the weekend filling a shipping container with some of my worldly goods — so I’m going to make the best of being back! Here’s my schedule, unless something changes:

Thursday

  • 7:00 pm: Geeky Sea Shanties (Hyatt Hanover C/D/E)

Friday

  • 11:30 am: Panel, “What is Filk?” (Hyatt Hanover F/G)
  • 1:00 pm: Panel, “Filk & Cookies — Meet, Greet, Filk!” (Hyatt Hanover F/G)
  • 2:30 pm: Panel, “Music of the Spheres: Using Music in SF” (Hyatt Embassy A/B)

Saturday

  • 12:00 pm: Baen Books Info & Author Signing Booth (Americas Mart) (until 2:00 pm)
  • 2:30 pm: Baen Books Traveling Roadshow & Prize Patrol, with Toni Weisskopf et al (Hyatt International North)
  • 5:30 pm: Group Sing: Dungeons & Dragons! (Hyatt Hanover C/D/E)

Sunday

Monday

  • 9:00 am: Baen Books Info & Author Signing Booth (Americas Mart) (until 11:00 am)

As usual, when I’m not performing or working I’ll probably be attending concerts by my musical friends, or hanging out with my writerly friends or Baen Barflies. Or trying to catch a few winks of sleep!

If you’re at the con, I hope we get a chance to connect — but whatever you’re doing this weekend, I hope it goes well!

___
Related Items of Interest:
Taking You Out to See the Stars is still my newest album, and still available on Bandcamp and streaming services like Spotify
– Here are The Gray Man’s Recommendations for Near-Future, Near-Space SF Novels
– Watch the music video of “Tauntauns to Glory

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LibertyCon! and, DeepSouthCon!

I’m so glad to get to go to LibertyCon again! My lady Lisa and I will be driving to Chattanooga — a shorter trip than it used to be, since the move — for the 35th iteration of the best fannish family reunion, which this year is also the host site of DeepSouthCon 61! The convention officially starts Friday, though I hope to get in a game of Terraforming Mars Thursday evening.


LibertyCon!

Here’s my official schedule:

Friday:

  • 5 p.m. — Opening Ceremonies — at which I will sing my newest LibertyCon song
  • 6 p.m. — Give Me LibertyCon! and Onward LibertyCon! Roundtable and Mass Autograph Session
  • 11 p.m. — Open Filk — come join in!

Saturday:

  • 10 a.m. — Brunch Banquet — always a fun time listening to the Guests of Honor!
  • 2 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Road Show & Prize Patrol
  • 5 p.m. — Authors/Artists Alley — come by and chat!
  • 11 p.m. — Open Filk — more nerdy music fun!

Sunday:

  • 9 a.m. — Nondenominational Prayer Service
  • 10 a.m. — Kaffeeklatsch — which for me involves tea or the like
  • 11 a.m. — Panel, “Tales from Mission Control / Space Operations” — in which I try to remember what I used to do in the Air Force …
  • 2 p.m. — Reading — with my friend Karl Gallagher!

In between I’ll be attending other events, hanging out here or there, maybe even wandering a bit around town. I know it’ll be a grand time, though — it always is! — so let’s have some fun!

___
Related Items of Interest:
– Watch the music video of Tauntauns to Glory
– Listen to Taking You Out to See the Stars, Distorted Vision, or Truths and Lies and Make-Believe

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I’m Just a Poe Boy, Going to RavenCon

That’s right, this weekend I’ll be at the RavenCon science fiction and fantasy convention in Richmond, Virginia, which pays homage in its name to the legacy of Edgar Allan Poe. I’ve enjoyed attending and serving as a guest at RavenCon for many years. It’s a great convention!

Once again, I’m not doing any concerts 😕, but I have a few different panels to keep me busy. Here’s my schedule, if you’re going to be around:

Friday:

  • 4 pm — Open Filking
  • 5 pm — Guests Meet and Greet
  • 7 pm — Opening Ceremony
  • Midnight — Open Filking

Saturday:

  • 10 am — Panel: “Conversation with the Editors” (Moderator)
  • 1:30 pm — Baen Books Traveling Road Show & Prize Patrol
  • 3 pm — Panel: “How to Handle Rejection”
  • 4 pm — Reading
  • Midnight — Open Filking

Sunday:

  • 9 am — Non-Denominational Worship Service
  • 10 am — Panel: “Does Science Fiction Still Affect How We Think About the Future?”
  • 11 am — Panel: “Writing Believable Aliens” (Moderator)

What should I read at my reading this year? The opening of the novel I’m struggling to write, or the opening of the story that Analog Science Fiction and Fact bought but hasn’t published yet? Maybe I’ll let the audience decide, if there is one.

Let’s have some geeky fun!

___
Related Items of Interest:
– Listen to any of my albums for free at Bandcamp — Taking You Out to See the Stars, Distorted Vision, and Truths and Lies and Make-Believeyou can also buy them there
– Watch the music video of Tauntauns to Glory

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There Be Dragons at FantaSci this Weekend!

Convention season is ramping up, and this weekend I’ll be at the FantaSci science fiction and fantasy convention in Durham, North Carolina. My friends The Blibbering Humdingers are the musical Guests of Honor!

FantaSci 2023 'Here be Dragons' logo
(FantaSci 2023 logo.)

Here’s my programming schedule for the weekend:

Friday:

  • 2:00 p.m. — Panel, “How to Fake Being an Extrovert”

Saturday:

  • 10 a.m. — Moderating the Panel, “Science and Magic”
  • 1 p.m. — Panel, “Religion as a Tool in Fiction
  • 2:00 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Slide Show & Prize Patrol

Should be fun! And, whatever you find yourself doing this weekend, I hope you have fun, too!

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It’s Almost Time for RavenCon!

This weekend I’ll be at the RavenCon science fiction and fantasy convention, which is returning to Richmond, Virginia. RavenCon is a great convention, run by wonderful people, and I’ve enjoyed attending and serving as a guest at it for many years.

I wasn’t asked to play any concerts this year – 😔 – so it’s primarily panels for me. Here’s my schedule, if you’re trying to track me down:

Friday:

  • 5 pm — Guests’ Meet and Greet
  • 7 pm — Opening Ceremony
  • 11:30 pm — Open Filking

Saturday:

  • 9 am — Panel: “Influences In Our Writing”
  • 11 am — Panel, “Writing the Alien”
  • 12:25 pm — Reading
  • 4:00 pm — Baen Books Traveling Slide Show & Prize Patrol
  • 7 pm — Panel, “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble: Combat in SFF” (Moderator)
  • Midnight! 🥱 — Open Filking

Sunday:

  • 10 am — Panel: “Energy Sources in Speculative Fiction” (Moderator)

For my reading slot, I’m trying to decide whether to read from a story that’s coming out in an anthology later this year, or from a story that’s slated for an upcoming issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. I’ll probably let the audience decide (if anyone shows up!). And I guess I should give a little thought to the panels I’m moderating…. And pack — I should definitely pack.

Looking forward to it!

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My First Convention of 2021: the ‘All Types of Media Arts Convention’

That’s right: AtomaCon is back!

A few brave souls who will not be cowed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus or its variants will gather this weekend in North Charleston, South Carolina, at the AtomaCon science fiction and fantasy convention. Those intrepid adventurers will, if the past is prologue, find a family-friendly atmosphere and a variety of activities and panels to please fans of all ages — as well as fans of a wide range of fandoms and genres.

I’ll don’t have any solo concerts at this convention, but I will be running the Baen Books “road show” and playing Dungeons and Dragons in front of an audience. Here’s my full schedule:

Friday:

  • 8 p.m. — Panel, “Why Do Alien Races Resemble Things We Know?”
  • 9 p.m. — Open Filk

Saturday:

  • 11:30 a.m. — Baen Books Traveling Slide Show & Prize Patrol
  • 4 p.m. — Charity Auction (I’m the auctioneer)
  • 8 p.m. — Authors Playing D&D
  • 10 p.m. — Open Filk

Sunday:

  • 1 p.m. — Filk Open Mic

It sure will be nice to see some of my fannish friends again! I can hardly wait!
___
Related Items of Interest:
– Watch the music video of Tauntauns to Glory
– Listen to Distorted Vision and Truths and Lies and Make-Believe
– Visit Gray’s Online Store

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What I Learned at ConGregate

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being a guest at ConGregate, one of the nicest small science fiction and fantasy conventions I’ve ever attended. I had a great time, as usual — testament to the great folks who put it all together!


I should be singing, not just sitting around in the cantina! (Photo by Donna Smith Parker.)

And, just like at LibertyCon earlier, I learned a few things at ConGregate:

  • It feels great to hear people report that they enjoy Stephanie Minervino’s performance narrating the Walking on the Sea of Clouds audiobook — and even better when I can watch their eyes light up as I tell them that she’s my daughter, performing under her married name!
  • It feels pretty good to find out people are saying good things about your work even when you’re not around to hear them. (In this case, a friend was recommending the aforementioned lunar colony novel on the strength of its portrayal of a wheelchair-bound character.)
  • I may be on to something with respect to the novel I’m writing now. I read the first chapter of it, to generally complimentary reactions (though I don’t recall anyone at a reading ever being critical), but when I explained the general idea behind the story about half the room gasped and said, “Ooohhh.” I’ll take that as a good sign.
  • Recent research shows that centripetally induced gravity as low as 0.3g may be high enough to overcome some of the difficulties that people encounter in space (e.g., calcium loss, inner ear problems). Some earlier research took 0.8g as the minimum required, but when it comes to building any future rotating habitats 0.3g would be more attainable in the short term. (Hey, it shouldn’t be any surprise that I’m interested in learning about space stuff!)
  • I really need to learn to play Jonah Knight’s song, “King of Nebraska.” Someone asked if I could play it during my set in the “ConGregate Cantina,” and I had to disappoint them. So, that’s one thing added to the “to do” list.
  • Loaning my guitar out to friends is one thing. Getting it back from them the next day is sometimes harder than anticipated.
  • Finally, just as at LibertyCon: Even though I criticize my own music and writing quite a bit, and generally find them lacking compared to my friends, folks genuinely seem to appreciate what I do. That feels pretty good.

The convention was not without its hiccups, but the ConGregate staff handled everything with good humor and general excellence! I’m very pleased that they let me participate, and I hope they’ll let me come back again!

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Some Things I Learned at LibertyCon

Over the last weekend in June, I was honored to be part of another LibertyCon — a most excellent science fiction and fantasy convention. I had a marvelous time with a fantastic group of people!


After another epic round of Terraforming Mars. I didn’t win, but I had a great time! (L-R: Rich Groller, Karl Gallagher, yours truly, Steve Jackson, Norman Johnson. Photo by C.S. Ferguson.)

And this year I learned a few things, too:

  • Terraforming Mars is my new favorite game. I was invited to play as part of the convention programming, as seen above — how cool is that? — and ended up playing three complete games. Even though I didn’t win any of them, the game is structured in such a way that I was so interested and focused on what I was trying to accomplish that I had tremendous fun with no regard to the outcome. (And, yes, since then I’ve bought my own copy of Terraforming Mars and look forward to introducing it to my family, with hopes of putting it into our regular game rotation!)
  • My children know me very well: They were correct when they predicted that I would not enjoy playing Cards Against Humanity. I don’t have the right sense of humor for that game. C’est la vie.
  • Marie Curie (a/k/a Madam Curie) is credited with saving a million lives during the First World War. She brought x-ray equipment to the field that enabled surgeons to find and remove shrapnel, and also used a radium-based method to sterilize wounds. (This historical tidbit courtesy of Jim Beall.)
  • If I could write quickly to a specific market niche, I would make a lot more money at this writing thing. But, I just write the stories I want to write — and would like to read — and I haven’t mustered the will or mastered the ability to crank out chapter after chapter in workmanlike fashion. (This observation probably applies to music as well.) So much the worse for me.
  • I would very much like to produce a new CD. At the past few conventions, folks have asked when I might come out with new music and have seemed to like my newest songs. However, since I’ve only made back a fraction of the money I spent on the first two CDs, and don’t have a ready supply of cash to pay the production expenses, I think a new CD will have to remain TBD — as in, “to be done.”
  • The entry requirement for participation in Sigma, the science fiction think tank, does not specifically include a doctoral degree. All this time, I thought only PhDs were invited to be part of the group. I don’t reckon I’d have very much to contribute, as my technical credentials and publishing history are both sketchy, but it would be pretty nifty! They get involved in some interesting projects.
  • As much as I criticize my own music and writing and find them lacking, other people seem genuinely to appreciate what I have to offer. That feels pretty good.

Once again as in years past, the whole LibertyCon staff did an amazing job (especially considering the series of difficulties they overcame!) and put on a wonderful convention. Next year’s event is already sold out (and did so in record time), so here’s looking forward to LibertyCon 33!

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We Will Congregate at ConGregate

Here we go, NC folks! The ConGregate science fiction and fantasy convention runs Friday through Sunday in High Point, with all the usual festivities! It’s a small but extremely well-run convention, full of fun and friendly people — plus me! 😂

Here’s what I have going on:

Friday:

  • 1:00 p.m. — “Science Fiction Writer’s Showcase”
  • 3:00 p.m. — Open Filk
  • 4:00 p.m. — Solo Concert!
  • 8:00 p.m. — Reading

Saturday:

  • 11:00 a.m. — Open Filk
  • 1:30 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Slide Show & Prize Patrol
  • 4:00 p.m. — More Music (in the “Cantina”)
  • 6:00 p.m. — Open Filk
  • 9:00 p.m. — Panel, “How Much Science Should a Science Fiction Writer Know?”

Sunday:

  • 9:00 a.m. — Prayer & Praise Service
  • Noon — Open Filk
  • 1:00 p.m. — Round Robin Music Fest

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it to the Research Triangle Writers Coffeehouse on Sunday, but a friend volunteered to moderate that session so it will go on as scheduled!

Here’s looking forward to a lot of fun with my fannish friends!

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Ground Control to LibertyCon …

Ground Control to LibertyCon …
Take your bourbon shots
And put your Jayne hats on …

It’s that time of year again! The fannish family reunion known as LibertyCon starts today!

LibertyCon Illustration by Todd Lockwood
(Illustration by Todd Lockwood, from the year I was the LibertyCon MC.)

I’ll be busy right out of the gate, and tonight is packed:

Friday:

  • 1 p.m. — Author’s & Artist’s Alley — come by and chat!
  • 4 p.m. — Autograph Session — again, come by and chat!
  • 5 p.m. — Opening Ceremonies — at which I will sing, so beware
  • 6 p.m. — CONCERT (or, “LibertyConcert”) — at which I will sing more, almost certainly including “LibertyCon Oddity” (quoted above)
  • 8 p.m. (until 10:30) — Terraforming Mars — playing the game in front of an audience
  • 11 p.m. — Open Filk — at which I will sing even more, and hopefully other folks will, too!

Saturday:

  • Noon — Banquet — always a fun time!
  • 2 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Road Show
  • 4 p.m. — Panel, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Writing Advice” — and remember what free advice is worth …
  • 11 p.m. — Nerd Music Free-for-all — like Open Filking, but nerdier? (is that even possible?)

Sunday:

  • 10 a.m. — Kaffeeklatsch — which for me involves something other than coffee
  • 1 p.m. — Reading — with my friend David B. Coe!

I played my first game of Terraforming Mars last night, and had a lot of fun, so the convention’s already started well for me! If the rest of the weekend goes as well, it’ll be a fine time. Let’s make it so!

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