The Musical Extravaganza That Was Dragon_Con

Dragon_Con 2014 was terrific! I’m sorry that it took me so long to put together this post about it. I’m also sorry that I’m not a better photographer with my phone … so I apologize that the pictures below are in general blurry and badly exposed.

This year’s Dragon_Con had a number of highlights — including the fact that a few people I didn’t know came to my solo concert! Overall, the convention turned out to be a musical tour de force. Mainstage groups like The Cruxshadows and Bella Morte get most of the attention, but thanks to the Dragon_Con Filk Track lesser-known groups like The Gekkos, The Ken Spivey Band, and Foot-Pound Force also got the chance to perform throughout the weekend.

Mikey Mason, the “comedy rock star” and “white trash geek,” had a number of shows:

(Mikey Mason, performing on the Hyatt Concourse.)

The Blibbering Humdingers also had several shows, in addition to putting on a standing-room-only medieval music workshop:

(The Blibbering Humdingers, and friends.)

One fantastic musical discovery of the convention was Pandora Celtica, who had been absent from Dragon_Con for a couple of years. I remembered catching snippets of their music before, but this time I was able to hear their marvelous harmonies several times.

(Pandora Celtica.)

In addition to their “Dragon_Con reunion,” the Brobdingnagian Bards — Andrew McKee and Marc Gunn — put on several solo concerts and workshops. Marc’s “Firefly Drinking Songs” concert overflowed the room, with dozens of people standing in the hallway to listen!

(The Brobdingnagian Bards. L-R, Andrew McKee and Marc Gunn.)

And Mikey Mason was paired with Tom Smith, “the world’s fastest filker,” for a comedy music duel:

(Mikey Mason and Tom Smith.)

Last but not least, Tally Deushane played some of her delightful songs in the filk room (and also came to my concert!) — I didn’t get the chance to ask her if she’s been working on a new album.

So, while Dragon_Con is a crazy, loud, confusing, hectic event, from a musical standpoint it was terrific! My thanks go out to Robby Hilliard, Amber Hansford, and Pat Var for their enthusiasm and diligence in running the Filk Track, and especially for inviting me to participate at a higher level. I hope to make it back next year!


P.S. If you want more information on any of my musical friends, check out their websites:
Andrew McKee
Brobdingnagian Bards
Foot-Pound Force
Marc Gunn
Mikey Mason
Pandora Celtica
Tally Deushane
The Blibbering Humdingers
The Gekkos
The Ken Spivey Band
Tom Smith

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Going to Dragon_Con

With a shout-out to my classmates who will be gathering for a multi-year reunion this weekend,* here’s my schedule for Dragon_Con 2014 — the largest science fiction and fantasy convention in the Southeast! — being held this weekend in Atlanta, Georgia.

While I will be attending as many of my writing and musical friends’ sessions as I can fit into the schedule, I’m taking an active part in these events:

  • Thursday, 7 p.m. (Dragon_Con Eve) — “Spaceships & Zombies,” a Baen Books launch party for ISLANDS OF RAGE & HOPE by John Ringo and A CALL TO DUTY by David Weber & Timothy Zahn — Peachtree Ballroom, Atlanta Westin
  • Friday, 8:30 p.m. — “Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow,” hosted by Alethea Kontis (whose book of essays, Beauty and Dynamite, was recently re-released) — Room A707, Marriott Marquis
  • Saturday, 1:00 p.m. — SOLO CONCERT! — including songs from Truths and Lies and Make-Believe and the hopefully-soon-to-be-recorded new album … including the DEBUT of a new song based on Howard Tayler’s “Schlock Mercenary” webcomic — Baker Room, Atlanta Hyatt
  • Saturday, 2:30 p.m. — “Baen Books Slide Show and Prize Patrol!” with Baen Publisher Toni Weisskopf and the rest of the Baen crew — Regency V Ballroom, Atlanta Hyatt

Meanwhile, here’s an interview with yours truly on Andrew McKee’s “Everything is Filk” Podcast. Hope you like it!

If you’re coming to the convention, I look forward to seeing you! But whatever you do this Labor Day weekend, I hope you have a terrific time!

*I started a rumor that they picked Labor Day weekend because I was already booked.

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On Reaching the Fifteen Percent Mark

As a bit of insight into the economics of independent music publishing, this weekend I broke the 15% mark in terms of CD sales.

(Image by Paul Cory Photography.)

To be precise, I reached the 17.15% point, which means that so far I’ve made back a little over 17% of the cost of recording, engineering, manufacturing, distributing, etc., the CD.

In other words, I’m still over 80% in the hole, almost a year after releasing the album.*

Maybe you didn’t even realize I had a CD out. In that case, at this link you can listen to all 10 songs of Truths and Lies and Make-Believe, which I call “a compendium of musical selections, inspired or influenced by science fiction, fantasy, life, and faith … a multitude of things.” If you decide to buy it, it’s $7 for a download or $10 — only $1 a song! — for a physical CD. (Though you can pay more, if you want to.)

So as I told folks at my concert this past weekend at ConGregate, if you’ve ever bought a copy of my CD, THANK YOU!

And if you like any of my songs, even a little bit, I’d be much obliged if you told a friend or wrote a review or otherwise helped spread the word.

And maybe next month I’ll crack the 20% mark!

*And yet I’m crazy enough to be thinking of starting to record a second one!

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Next Weekend I’ll Be at ConGregate, a New Convention in Winston-Salem!

A week from today I’ll be at the inaugural — yes, the first-ever! — ConGregate science fiction and fantasy convention.

(Greg-8, the ConGregate mascot.)

ConGregate has been put together by a wonderful team of experienced and talented convention organizers, so I anticipate it will start out as one of the best conventions going. I’ll actually be there all weekend and will be busy with a number of events, including a solo concert on Sunday morning where I will debut at least one new song:


  • 8:00 p.m. — “Beyond the First Draft” workshop
  • 9:00 p.m. — Filk Collective


  • 2:00 p.m. — “Ask the Military” panel
  • 3:00 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Road Show
  • 8:00 p.m. — “Beyond the Evil Goddess/God” panel


  • 9:00 a.m. — Non-Denominational Prayer Service
  • 10:00 a.m. — CONCERT
  • 1:00 p.m. — “Managing Your Finances as a Writer” panel

As usual, I will have copies of Truths and Lies and Make-Believe as well as “Another Romulan Ale” bumper stickers. Should be a lot of fun — if you’re there, be sure to find me and say hello!

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My ConCarolinas Schedule

This weekend I’ll be one of the guests at the ConCarolinas science fiction and fantasy convention.

(2013 Badge Artwork by Rich Molinelli.)

The Author Guest of Honor is the inimitable George R.R. Martin, so it’s no surprise the convention is sold out! I anticipate that it will be a madhouse.

I will be busy with a number of events …


  • 2:30 p.m. — Welcome to Filk
  • 3:30 p.m. — Opening Ceremonies
  • 10:00 p.m. — Filking the Night Away


  • 10:00 a.m. — Baen Books Traveling Road Show
  • 11:30 a.m. — Filk and Cookies
  • 2:30 p.m. — Recording and Selling Your Filk
  • 6:30 p.m. — Warfare and the Military
  • 10:00 p.m. — Filking the Night Away


  • TBD a.m. — Fans for Christ morning worship service
  • 12:00 p.m. — Getting Your Groove Back
  • 2:30 p.m. — Editors and Agents

I may be doing other things as well — perhaps a reading, I’m not sure — and of course there will be the usual hanging out with my various nerdy and geeky friends. And, if you’re there, I will have copies of a certain science-fiction-and-fantasy-related album as well as “Another Romulan Ale” bumper stickers!

If you’re there, I hope to see you!

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Look What Came in the Mail

While I was in Richmond for RavenCon, a package came to the house …

Another Romulan Ale Bumper Stickers

Of course, the intent had been to have the bumper stickers in time to take to the convention. Timing is everything!

Nevertheless, RavenCon went well — but I’ve always enjoyed that convention, whether I’ve attended as a fan or as a guest.

So, who wants a bumper sticker?

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In Richmond Next Weekend? Come Out to RavenCon

The RavenCon science fiction and fantasy convention is next weekend — 25-7 April — in Richmond, Virginia.

If you’re in Richmond, stop on by the DoubleTree by Hilton, Richmond-Midlothian, and check out what’s happening. The Guest of Honor will be Elizabeth Bear, recipient of two Hugo Awards, the John W. Cambell Award for Best New Writer (2005), a Sturgeon Award, a Locus Award, an Asimov’s Reader’s Choice award, a Spectrum Award, and an honorable mention for the Philip K. Dick Award.

I’ll be on several panels throughout the weekend, plus one intensive workshop. Here’s the rundown of what I’ll be doing, starting on Friday the 26th:

  • 5 pm: Signing
  • 8 pm: Panel on 3D-printing (I’m moderating)

On Saturday:

  • 9 am: Panel on Real-life Star Trek inventions
  • 10 am: Panel on “Exomusicology,” about music in alien cultures (I’m moderating this one, too)
  • 4-6 pm: Baen Books Traveling Road Show
  • 10 p.m. until midnight: Workshop, After the First Draft: The Next Step for the Aspiring Writer

And then on Sunday:

  • 9 am: Praise & Worship Hour
  • 10 am: Reading

For more information, take a look at the RavenCon web site. Come on out and we’ll have some fun!

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Want Some Insight Into Our Publishing Process?

Then we have a podcast for you!

Two weeks ago at Mysticon, Baen Books editors Tony Daniel and Laura Haywood-Cory joined Baen author Tom Kratman and me — the slimy contractor “Slushmaster General” — for an episode of the Baen Free Radio Hour entitled “A Roundtable on Making the Book.” We talked a little about the creative process, a little about the submissions-and-selection process, and a little about how a novel goes from submitted manuscript to finished book.

Here’s a direct link to the podcast episode, which also includes part 2 of the serialization of “Murder on the Hoch-flieger Ost,” by Forever Engine author Frank Chadwick.

Hope you enjoy it! And let me know if you have any questions.

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A Quick (Late) Report-Out on MystiCon

Wow, it’s already been more than a week since MystiCon! I can’t keep track of the days these days.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I trekked northwest to Roanoke, Virginia, for MystiCon, which in just a few years has become one of the hottest small convention tickets in the Southeast. The 2013 convention sold out during the event, and the 2014 convention sold out before it even started!

All of my panels went well. Author Guest of Honor Todd McCaffrey led a half-dozen of us through a humorous “Delphic Oracle” exercise in which we had to formulate answers to the audience’s questions but each of us could only say one word at a time. The “Science of Star Trek” panel I moderated covered a vast array of real and imaginary technology, though I was disappointed that Media Guest of Honor John De Lancie had not been scheduled to join us.

My reading was enjoyable for me, and presumably for my audience since they did not run screaming into the hallways. I mixed a few songs with the opening of my story “Lightweaver in Shadow,” which will appear in a Baen Books anthology this November. The Baen Traveling Road Show went as expected, though I wished it would have had a look at the cover art for that anthology.

The Baen Barflies organized a little soiree in the ConSuite on Saturday night, and Speaker-to-Lab-Animals invited me to bring my guitar — so I debuted my new song, “The Books We Call Baen” (sung to the tune of “The Hero of Canton”). It went over pretty well, and I followed up with a couple other filk songs including “The Monster Hunter Ballad.”

I had time to take in a couple of panels, including a songwriting panel with Bella Morte, and enjoyed several conversations with friends old and new. Finally, I found Sunday’s self-promotion panel to be interesting and a bit liberating, since I still cringe from time to time whenever I veer too close to crass commercialization.

Speaking of crass commercialization … I also sold a few copies of my CD. So, all in all, a good trip and another resounding success for the convention staff. Great work, everyone!

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My MystiCon Schedule

Next week I’ll head to Roanoke, Virginia for the MystiCon science fiction and fantasy convention.

On Friday, 21 February, I’ll be on a panel called “The Delphic Oracle” with author Guest of Honor Todd McCaffrey and some other good folks.

The Delphic Oracle is an improv-based panel wherein the panelists, one word at a time, one person at a time, answer the audience’s questions about the future (or summer camp) in an irreverent homage to the ancient Oracle of Delphi. Hilarity invariably ensues.

Saturday the 22nd will be a busy day. First up is “The Science of Star Trek” panel, with Baen Books author and editor Tony Daniel, et al, which I will moderate.

Star Trek props and gadgets are now a part of our real lives. You can see the influence of Star Trek communicators, daily logs and tricorders in the modern cell phone and tablet designs. Even the ability to replicate objects is becoming a reality through 3-D printing. Why has Star Trek influenced technological advances and what’s the next to become reality?

After that I’ll have a “Koffee Klatch” — reading a story, singing a song, talking with anyone who comes by — then in the afternoon we’ll have the “Baen Traveling Road Show & Podcast” featuring author Tom Kratman.

On Sunday I’ll be on a panel with Gail Z. Martin and other authors called “Tooting Your Own Horn.”

Done properly, self-promotion is an important part of building a career. Poorly executed, self-promotion can do more harm than good. Our panelists will discuss what works and doesn’t work along with these common questions: Do book signings really help a small author? Are bookmarks and/or postcards effective at garnering attention? Does a blog help or hurt an author? Does an author have to have a website?

Hopefully amidst all that we’ll have some folks interested in filking, and as always I’ll have a few copies of my CD for anyone who wants to buy one (or more than one!). And, since it looks as if we’re due for a warm-up over the next few days, my travel back-and-forth should be fairly easy.

If you’re going to be at the con, look me up!

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