Album Release: Taking You Out to See the Stars

The new album is live on Bandcamp at this link!

And check out the cover art put together by my son, Christopher:

As of now, it’s only available on Bandcamp, but as we get the interior artwork finished we’ll produce a few physical CDs, and over the next couple of weeks we’ll submit the album for inclusion on streaming services like Spotify.

Hope you’ll give it a listen, and that something you hear will resonate with you! (And if it does, tell your friends!)

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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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Coming Soon(ish): Taking You Out to See the Stars

After being postponed last year, we’re back at it for my third album of original music, which (like my first two) will contain some truths, some lies, and some make-believe—but it’s safe to say that Taking You Out to See the Stars will be my most personal project by far.


(As of 27 January 2022, all we have is a placeholder for the cover art.)

To mark the arrival of the James Webb Space Telescope at its designated orbit on Monday, I put up the title song (which you can listen to for free at the link). I’m not sure what the final running order will be or if we might swap out a song or two, but the current lineup of songs is:

  • “Another Space and Time”
  • “Midnight”
  • “Questions”
  • “Remembrance”
  • “My Bonnie Lies Over an Ocean of Stars”
  • “Safely Through the Storm (Legend of the Gray Man)”
  • “Alice Flagg”
  • “On the Prowl”
  • “Prayer for an Epiphany”
  • “Taking You Out to See the Stars”
  • “All That is Gold”
  • “When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted”
  • “How Fair, How Far”

Over the next few months, as we finish additional songs, we’ll upload them until the album is complete. That’ll give me something to blog about once in a while, though I may provide more insight in my newsletter. But if you’re of a mind, the album is available for preorder here!

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This Weekend: ConGregate!

How nice it is to be going to science fiction and fantasy conventions once again! This weekend’s gathering, ConGregate, has consistently been one of the best-run of all the conventions I attend. This year it’s moved from High Point to Winston-Salem, NC, and is playing host to the 59th DeepSouthCon — which should make it even better than usual!

And, I just might have a surprise in store for my concert!

Here’s what I have going on:

Friday:

  • 5:30 p.m. — Open Filking
  • 7:00 p.m. — Opening Ceremonies: E Como Mai
  • 9:00 p.m. — Panel, “What is Filking?”

Saturday:

  • 11:00 a.m. — Open Filking
  • 3:00 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Slide Show & Prize Patrol
  • 5:30 p.m. — Concert — the usual mix of silly and serious songs, possibly featuring a special guest!
  • 9:00 p.m. — Panel, “Writing Outside the Lines”

Sunday:

  • 9:00 a.m. — Prayer & Praise Service
  • 1:00 p.m. — Round Robin Filking

I wouldn’t be too surprised if we found some additional time for filking, and I hope to attend some of my friends’ concerts, but as it is the schedule looks both manageable and enjoyable.

Unfortunately, I won’t make it back to the Raleigh area in time for Sunday afternoon’s Research Triangle Writers Coffeehouse, but it will go on as scheduled under the watchful eye of another local science fiction author!

Let’s have some fannish fun, friends!

___
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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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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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!

___

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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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.

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

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GW4GP: What’s It All About?

Have you ever been in one of those moods where you’re evaluating your life and trying to make sense of things?

Early last year I was in such a mood when I found myself driving through South Carolina and reflecting on what I do. I don’t recall what book I was listening to at the time — something related to entrepreneurship — but part of it talked about developing a clear sense of mission: not at all unusual for a book like that, except that I was more in the mood to think about it than usual.


“My crystal ball is cracked, no magic images appear.” (Photo by Christopher Rinehart.)

Anyway, on that trip I came to the conclusion that my mission, my vision, my purpose in life is to write Good Words, for Good People. I like to think that’s what I actually do, but at the very least it’s what I want to do, what I intend to do.

I know that I don’t write perfect words. I don’t write anything like great words, or monumental words, or world-changing words. But I think I write good words — whether they come in the form of stories or songs or ideas, whether you encounter them here on the blog or in my newsletter or in a book or magazine or CD or speech.

“Good” in that they are adequate to the task, usually well-suited to the occasion.

Perhaps “good” in that they provide value for the investment of time and treasure.

And hopefully “good” in the sense that they make the world, or some small part of it, a little better.

I know sometimes I fail, and what I write is poor: poorly worded, poorly constructed, poorly thought. At other times, whether I succeed or fail will be … questionable. For instance, some things I write may challenge you, contradict you, even upset you, and you may assess them as being poor while others assess them differently. That’s okay, because I can’t (and don’t) expect anyone to agree with me all the time — as I’ve written about before.

But from the perspective that I am trying to produce “good” words, I’m comfortable saying that

  • My CDs aren’t perfect, or even masterful, but they’re pretty okay
  • My book on education isn’t the best thing ever written on the subject, and it won’t change anyone’s life who reads it, but it’s pretty good and (I think) is worth a reader’s while
  • My novel may not be the best thing anyone reads this year, and it won’t be to everyone’s taste — what is? — but it’s a pretty good near-future science fiction story, and some people have even found it to be moving
  • My newsletter is no paragon of excellence, but I try to keep it friendly and conversational (plus, if you subscribe I send you a free song, a free story, and a free e-book)

So, then, Good Words — that’s one thing.

But Good People — who are they?

To my way of thinking, pretty much everybody qualifies as “good people” — certainly you do! We may not agree on much, we may barely get along, we may not even like each other very much, but we’re all doing our best, the best way we know how, and the vast majority of us are trying to do things the right way, so far as we know the right. We’re not just trying to do well, but most of us are trying to do good. And I’m serious about you fitting that category, even if we’ve never met, because I sincerely believe that anyone who takes the time to read something I’ve written, or listen to something I’ve sung, or think about something I’ve said, is “good people.”

That’s GW4GP. The more I’ve thought about it, boiling down what I do and why to its very essence, what came out of the mental crucible that day was quite simple (and perhaps even a bit elegant): I write; and what I write, I hope, are Good Words, for Good Peoplelike you.

Thanks for reading!

___
P.S. If you’re of a mind, I hope you’ll visit and “Like” the “Good Words for Good People” Facebook Page. Thanks! GWR

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