A Hazard of Haphazard Songwriting

I debuted a song last night in the first RavenCon “open filking” session that illustrates that my slapdash approach to songwriting is often more slap than dash. (I don’t know if that makes sense, but I didn’t get much sleep so it’s all I’ve got.)

Anyway, with this particular song I’ve been having trouble with the transition from the chorus back to the verse — thinking it was a key issue, because keys are a thing that songs have but I don’t know much about (being pretty much theory-less when it comes to music). But then I played through it a couple of times by myself — here’s the chorus, if you’re interested —

Tommy’s up for fighting, Tommy’s up for risks
Never shies away from danger, or putting up his fists
So pick up your shillelaghs, boys, and bring ’em to the fight
‘Cause Tommy’s going to make a lot of noise in the spaceport pub tonight

— and I finally tried to count out the beat … and discovered that while the chorus is in 4/4 time the verses are actually in 6/8.

Did I do that? Apparently I did, and now I have to finagle my way out of (or around) it.


(Photo by Christopher Rinehart.)

I imagine other songwriters — those who have some amount of musical knowledge — think rather deliberately about things like keys and time signatures when they begin writing a song. Or, if not, then I imagine they figure that sort of thing out fairly early in the process. But not me! Me? I just do this for fun!

And it usually is fun. That chorus is fun (do you like it?). And the process itself can be fun, until I write myself into a proverbial corner and have to figure out how to cut my way through the wall. Not that demolition isn’t fun, because it can be … it’s just usually pretty messy.

Anyway, that’s one of the hazards of haphazard songwriting: having to figure out weird transitions and things. But, at least it’s fun!

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Reminder for anyone who missed the announcement, but I’m still running a series of giveaways for Audible downloads of the Walking on the Sea of Clouds audiobook. The next drawing is Monday, so sign up at this link!

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I Thought I Was Signing Up for Elon Musk’s Mars Venture

Alas, it turns out I signed up for an entirely different thing! This weekend, I’ll be at the MarsCon science fiction and fantasy convention in Williamsburg, VA.

All kidding aside, I went to MarsCon once before, many years ago — in fact, at a science panel at that MarsCon I was inspired to write my first “official” filk song! It’s a fine convention, with a nice mix of tracks and entertainment, and I’m pleased that they’re letting me take part in it.

And they’re keeping me busy, as you can tell:

Friday:

  • 5 p.m. — Panel, “Future Laws”
  • 6 p.m. — Opening Ceremonies
  • 9 p.m. — Panel, “Adventures and Disasters in Space”

Saturday:

  • 1 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Slide Show & Prize Patrol
  • 5 p.m. — Panel, “Was the Planet Killer a Keynesian Stimulus?”
  • 7 p.m. — Panel, “Tech in the Classrooms”
  • 8 p.m. — Panel, “The Delphic Oracle”
  • 10 p.m. — Open Filking

Sunday:

  • 9 a.m. — Worship Concert — songs at the intersection of faith and fandom
  • 11 a.m. — Panel, “Parody Song Writing Techniques”
  • 2 p.m. — Panel, “The Words, They Are a-Changing”


The MarsCon theme this year is “The Land of Faerie.”

I look forward to having a good time with a bunch of great people!

___

P.S. In case you’re wondering … I might just have with me a copy or two of Distorted Vision, Truths and Lies and Make-Believe, and even Walking on the Sea of Clouds….

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It’s Only Logical that I’ll Be at illogiCon

It’s time again for illogiCon, our local Research Triangle, North Carolina, science fiction and fantasy convention, happening this weekend at the RDU Embassy Suites (with some events in the nearby Hampton Inn).


(Professor Schrodington, the illogiCon mascot.)

Here’s what I’ve got going on:

Friday:

  • 7:00 p.m. — Opening Ceremonies — wherein I will play my “Convention Oddity” cover song
  • 8:00 p.m. — Panel, “That’s Just Wrong”
  • 10:00 p.m. — Panel, “I Spy with My Little Eyes”

Saturday:

  • 11:00 a.m. — Panel, “Ground Control to Major Tom” — oddly appropriate
  • 1:00 p.m. — Panel, “Networking for Introverts”
  • 2:00 p.m. — Filk Music Hour
  • 3:00 p.m. — Panel, “What Should We be Reading?”
  • 4:00 p.m. — Panel, “Star Trek: Worst. Episode. Ever.”
  • 8:00 p.m. and after — More Filking

Sunday:

  • 10:00 a.m. — Reading (Time Changed from 2 p.m.)

There’s no “Baen Books Traveling Road Show” this year, because I didn’t realize until too late that I was the only Baen representative and didn’t ask for a time slot.

On Sunday, I’ll be skating out after lunch to head to north Raleigh to host the monthly Writers Coffeehouse at Quail Ridge Books from 2-4 p.m. All writers are welcome!

Let’s have some fun!

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Related Items:
– Speaking of filk, listen free to both of my albums: Distorted Vision and Truths and Lies and Make-Believe
– Speaking of reading aloud, watch my Public Speaking Tip: The Value of Inflection
– Speaking of nothing in particular, visit my Online Store

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Coming this Weekend: the ‘All Types of Media Arts Convention’

Otherwise known as ATOMACON!

If you’re looking for something to do in the Charleston, South Carolina, area this weekend, why not swing by the AtomaCon science fiction and fantasy convention in North Charleston? It runs Friday through Sunday at the Hilton Garden Inn near the airport. You’ll find a friendly atmosphere, activities and panels to please fans of many different fandoms and genres, and a Musical Guest of Honor who could use some encouragement and support. (By which I mean, me!)

In addition to just hanging out with interesting people, I’ll be performing a couple of solo concerts (plus another concert with friends), showing off the newest and upcoming releases from Baen Books, and I’ll also be the auctioneer at the charity auction! They’re raising money for the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Care Center, which is pretty cool.

Let me know if you can come by, or if you want to donate to help the sea turtles!

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I’d Like to Take You Out to See the Stars

A few weeks ago I recorded a demo version of a new song about stargazing, and put it on Bandcamp for anyone who’s interested. Part of the song was inspired by a conversation I had with my children many years ago, but it’s mostly about something I wish I’d done with them when they were at specific ages: specifically, taken them out on special nights to see special stars.

If you have young children, or know someone who does, you could do it now; for instance, when they’re eight years old

… we’ll mark the time by the “dog star” Sirius
And we can celebrate your “sweet sixteen” with old Altair from afar
And I hope you’ll come to marvel at this wondrous universe
Because so much of what we are was made in the hearts of former stars

You can listen to the whole thing for free by clicking the player below, or visiting my Bandcamp page if the player isn’t available. (You can also download the song for a buck, if that’s your thing.*)

I told my newsletter readers about the song when I first recorded it, and they gave me some good feedback and encouragement. (If you’re not subscribed to my newsletter you can do so in the sidebar to the right or at this link.)

As a demo, it’s nothing grandiose — just me and my guitar — but I hope to put a fuller version of the song with other instruments and backing vocals and such on my next CD, whenever I get to the point of recording it. (I have more than enough songs for a new CD, but I don’t have the funds to cover production costs — maybe next year!)

Anyway, I hope you’ll give it a listen, and I hope something in the song speaks to you.

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*Or for more than a buck, if you feel so inclined!

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Another Atlanta Labor Day Weekend

Once again I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, where I will spend the weekend with thousands of my closest friends — at least 80 thousand, I believe — at Dragon Con, one of the largest science fiction and fantasy conventions in the world. This year I get to kick off the Filk Music Track’s concert series; I’m playing music twice for Art Show patrons; and I’m part of several other shows as well!

Here’s my schedule, at least as it exists right now:

Friday

  • 10:00 am: What is Filk? / Meet, Greet, Filk (Hyatt Hanover F/G)
  • 11:30 am: Gray Rinehart in Concert (Hyatt Hanover F/G) — mixing a few favorites from Distorted Vision and Truths and Lies and Make-Believe with some Dragon Con debuts!
  • 2:30 pm: Art Show music (Hyatt Grand Hall East)
  • 7:00 pm: Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow, with Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber, Mari Mancusi, Diana Peterfreund, and Mikey Mason (Marriott A707)

Saturday

  • 10:00 am: Art Show music (Hyatt Grand Hall East)
  • 2:30 pm: Baen BooksTraveling Slide Show & Prize Patrol, with Toni Weisskopf, James Minz, Christopher Ruocchio, and many more (Hyatt Regency V)
  • 5:30 pm: Panel, “Tooting Your Own Horn: Marketing Yourself,” with John Hartness, Cecilia Dominic, Courtland D Lewis, Quincy J Allen, and Matthew Kressel (Hyatt Embassy A/B)
  • 7:00 pm: Peter S. Beagle & Authors Perform (Hyatt International North) … I’ll open this show, then head over to
  • 7:00 pm: World of Harry Potter Tribute Show, with Brobdingnagian Bards, Hawthorn & Holly, Nick Edelstein, Toucan Dubh, Foot Pound Force, Mikey Mason, and Misbehavin’ Maidens (Hyatt Hanover C/D/E)

On Sunday, my only official event is at 5:30 pm, when I’ll be giving a reading and special guest Nick Edelstein will play some music. If I can arrange it, I may have some other guests, too! That will be in the Hyatt’s Marietta Room.

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 little bit of sleep!

If you’re in the area, I hope I get to say hello — but whatever you’ve got going on this weekend, I hope it goes well!

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We Will Congregate with the Congregation at ConGregate

This weekend I’ll be in the bustling metropolis of High Point, North Carolina, for the ConGregate science fiction and fantasy convention — which is also hosting DeepSouthCon this year!

Here’s where you’ll find me:

Friday:

  • 4:30 p.m. — Concert — playing a mix of songs from both of my albums, plus new music … and some extras!
  • 6:00 p.m. — Panel, “On Writing Short Stories,” with Steven S. Long, Arylias Nova, Edmund R. Schubert, and Stephen J. Simmons

Saturday:

  • 10:00 a.m. — “Allen Wold’s Regionally Famous Writers Workshop,” with Allen Wold, Edmund R. Schubert, and Darcy Wold
  • 2:00 p.m. — Concert — presenting an overview of “filk,” the music of SF&F fandom
  • 5:00 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Road Show, with Toni Weisskopf and Alan Pollack
  • 7:00 p.m. — “Java & Pros,” with Nicole Givens Kurtz — where I will in all likelihood read from my novel, Walking On The Sea of Clouds … which is coming out in less than two weeks!

Sunday:

  • 9:00 a.m. — Non-Denominational Prayer Service
  • 10:00 a.m. — “Allen Wold’s Regionally Famous Writers Workshop” (conclusion)
  • 12:00 p.m. — Signing, with Chris Kennedy — stop by and sign up for my mailing list to register for a drawing to celebrate my novelGrand Prize over $50!

Of course there are plenty of other things going on as well: ConGregate is a great little con, and since it’s hosting DeepSouthCon 55 this year I expect it to be better than ever. At least, I intend to do my best to help!

So, let’s have some fun!

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New Music Video: The Books We Call Baen

Most science fiction and fantasy fans know the name Baen Books — or at least know the names of some of our authors! Here’s a tribute song to Baen Books* and its founder, Jim Baen, from my album, Distorted Vision.

Hope you like it!

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*Full Disclosure: I’m a Contributing Editor for Baen. But I figure that’s all the more reason to do a tribute song!

___
Other music videos:
Tauntauns to Glory
Help My Unbelief

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Science Fiction and FREEDOM! — LibertyCon

I don’t have any updates on my novel, so today I thought I’d share my schedule for LibertyCon, which takes place this weekend in Chattanooga. We’ll be celebrating science fiction and fantasy, and the freedom we have to enjoy them!

My convention schedule is heavily weighted toward Friday events, which will leave me time later in the con to relax:

Friday:

  • 1 p.m. — Reading
  • 2 p.m. — Panel: How to Approach Publishers
  • 5 p.m. — Opening Ceremonies
  • 7 p.m. — Author’s Alley
  • 8 p.m. — Concert

Saturday:

  • 11 a.m. — Panel: Space Debris and the Issues of Satellite Survivability
  • 12 a.m. — Luncheon
  • 2 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Road Show

Sunday:

  • 10 a.m. — Kaffeeklatsch
  • 11 a.m. — Autograph Session

It should be fun — hope to see you there!

___
Related Items of Interest:
– If you can’t make it to my concert on Friday, you can at least enjoy the “Tauntauns to Glory” music video
– You can also listen free to both of my albums, Distorted Vision and Truths and Lies and Make-Believe

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ConCarolinas — Science Fiction, Carolina Style!

This weekend we’ll be celebrating science fiction and fantasy in Charlotte — at the Hilton Charlotte University Place, specifically — for ConCarolinas. ConCarolinas is always a fun convention, and the Guests of Honor this year are pretty amazing:

  • Music and Artist GOH, Aurelio Voltaire
  • Writer GOH, bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Science GOH, Stephanie Osborn
  • Gaming GOHs, Clint and Jodi Black

In addition, Baen Books’ Publisher Toni Weisskopf is the Literary Special Guest, and the Music Special Guests include my friends The Blibbering Humdingers, Mikey Mason, and Valentine Wolfe.

I don’t have any solo events — no concert, no reading, no signing — but I have a few panels and other fun things that will get me into trouble:

Friday:

  • 4 p.m. — The Dreaded Synopsis (panel)
  • 7 p.m. — Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow (variety show)
  • 11 p.m. — Campfire Songs (music)

Saturday:

  • 3 p.m. — Let’s Write a Filk Song (music panel)
  • 5 p.m. — Write What You Don’t Know (panel)
  • 6 p.m. — Author and Politics (panel)
  • 10 p.m. — Filking the Night Away (music)

Sunday:


(Love this badge logo from the 2010 ConCarolinas, by Bob Snare.)

It should be fun — hope to see you there!

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Related Items of Interest:
– Because it’s science fictional and filkish and fun, the “Tauntauns to Glory” music video
– Also speaking of filk, listen free to both of my albums, Distorted Vision and Truths and Lies and Make-Believe

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