Category Archives: personal growth

1000 copies and a new manuscript.

So it’s been two years since I self published Every One Fight, Bold Curves, A Thief at the Gala and Sector Bomb. How have my books fared?

Not too badly.

Between them all, just short of 1000 copies have moved across the digital storefronts through which Smashwords distributes my works. I probably avoided looking at those numbers because it’s not a comfortable thing to do. They’re not hundreds of thousands, not even tens. I’m not disappointed.

Consider that there’s been zero dollars spent on my ad campaigns for these books, which were short lived and social media fixated, er … centric. That’s actually a lot of books, and some of you actually keep them in your library. Thank you.

Anyone who follows me here, or on Twitter, may or may not know how much work I’ve been putting into Sliver of Light. I canned the blog “Cobalted” because I needed to rework it, and because I plan to sell it. That’s right, I’m fishing for an Editor. Those sales numbers confirm my suspicion: I’m good, but unrefined.

Like a piece of coal, you know, I need to be compressed … probably a lot … to bring out the inner gem. Oh, that’s … yeah, not inner gem. Lesse … I need to be put under pressure to bring out my best work. I won’t do that to myself; other writers might but I’m not one of those. That’s okay, because I’m also not clinical enough about my own work.

Editors play an important role in the writing world, and they will as long as we write. So, my submission goes out tomorrow to the first publisher on my submissions list (which admittedly is more in my head than it is recorded anywhere). I’ve been updating my Patreon page more than this blog, so be sure to check that out and consider supporting my work if you’re interested.

The numbers say you are, and I like that they are numbers.

While I’m here, I’ll pass along the word that I’ve been game reviews for HonestGamers.com for six months now. I’ll cross post an article about ChronoTrigger as evidence … it’s a nice community and the readership is respectable. What have I covered? Well…

Front Mission Evolved (PC) – Read
Dust: An Eylsian Tale (PC) – Read
Audiosurf (PC) – Read
Audiosurf 2 (PC) – Read
Chroma Squad (PC) – Read
Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (SNES) – Read
Final Fantasy IV (PC) – Read
Rogue Legacy (PC) – Read
The Ninja Warriors (SNES) – Read
Half Life 2 (PC) – Read
Skyborn (PC) – Read
Stardew Valley (PC) – Read
Black Mesa (PC) – Read
The Swapper (PC) – Read
Half Life 2: Episode Two (PC) – Read
Guacamelee! Super Tubro Championship Edition (Wii U/PC) – Read
Half Life 2: Episode One (PC) – Read
Front Mission 4 (PC) – Read
Mighty Switch Force! Hose It Down! (PC) – Read
Transistor (PC) – Read
Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed (PC) – Read
Monster Loves You! (PC) – Read
Chocobo Racing (PSX) – Read

Sorry for the backlog! It’s all for your interest, anyway. Enjoy, and take care of yourself.

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Filed under digital publishing, freebies, gaming, marketing, novel, personal growth, promotion, publishing, review

Tracking the Past (Part 3)

Part 3: Honing and Honed

PCCFA Fair, where I was asked to turn down my music. Me? A disturber of the peace? How about thrilled to be noticed? My early techno did not impress, but it was on that day I met Admiral Skuttlebutt, who played 280-JOKE for me, a mod I’ve carefully sheltered over the last twenty some odd years. It is a nostalgic song, clumsy in execution, off beat in humour. It still holds deep meaning to me.

We would be back to the fair later, too.

It was the beginning of my education about what I mean to other people. In high school I was the six foot ghost, striding deliberately through the halls to avoid confrontation. In the computer lab Ryan and I were nobles, blessed with access to Foolproof and knowledge of Mac OS’ inner workings. Resource forks, oh, how I miss you.

HyperCard was too easy, too functional. Too good. Modules didn’t have that flaw, and we waited a long time to be able to share our music with friends on Mac LC II, LC III and LC 520 with their caddy loading CD-drives. We (mostly me at first) could impress with four channel audio when most programs managed just two. It was our music, and opened many doors. Ryan would not only compose the music for his graduation, but he also produced a “multi-media video” on the Centris 660AV (with badass AT&T 55Mhz DSP and lightning fast 68040 CPU@25/50Mhz. What a beast!).

PlayerPRO (still kicking?!) and Soundtracker entertained in different ways. The former tried too hard to be a studio with every toy in the box, always failing to play essential mod commands and loops. We’d amuse ourselves by seeing what the programmer’d figured out since the last version. Which of our mods played right? Soundtracker was slow, even on fast machines, but far more accurate.

Ryan was focused on audio fidelity, as ever, learning MIDI and the Roland MT-32 synthesizer our school lent him for the summer. I couldn’t afford to step up, but I did happen into a 20MB SCSI hard drive thanks to him, so I gave it my all, musically, and somewhere we met in the middle. Perhaps because I was blindly persistent. It’s a valuable quality worth cultivating at times.

The Mod format was still in development in those days, with new commands being added from the Amiga side of the scene. So was I, incidentally. Untrained as a musician, I found my own way to enjoyable melodies. Perhaps a paradigm would have improved my development, yet in place of it I gained something else: Confidence.

It was always a struggle, and I admit to deleting mods because of disapproval – gone forever, limited storage, remember? Bygones, naturally, as I was persistent. I didn’t know it then but experience was for me the better part of my musical education. Valour? Probably not.

‘E-Tempral Society’, ‘Power of Emotion’, ‘Faded Thrill’ and most of all ‘Sudden Swiftness’ were my formative tracks in the first four years of involvement with DT. By sheer passion I proved a capable, if unpredictable, musician. Oh yes, and ‘1995’. It was that summer we discovered the Internet, and that our group name was in use by a German industrial company of some variety.

Newly dubbed Trideja, we quickly added Derek Warren to the roster just to destroy the symbolism of the name. What’s done was done, and we laughed about it. Derek’s enthusiasm was infectious.

We had already designed a new logo with my skills in ClarisWorks Draw and Ryan’s with Photoshop and web design. We had our own website before we quite new what to do with it.

Continues next week.

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Filed under article, creative process, personal growth, trideja, unvarnished, writing

Tracking the Past (Part 2)

Part 2: Quality vs Fidelity

We played our own computers as instruments and each wrote our own whole songs. In retrospect I only see now the high demands we had placed on ourselves. At the time I had the time, energy and talent to do that, but certainly without the support of the group it would have been futile.

Ryan had The Phone Call, which had some lewd humour, until we changed that and he released it on Total Eclipse II, Dave Toews BBS. Dave was tinkering with Mega Jammer and the quality of his samples was impressive, and drove me to raise the fidelity of my own work. Incidentally, it is humbling to realize that his sole track ranks higher in downloads than the showy mix I made of his samples many years later. That speaks well of the integrity of the song, arguably simplistic, but memorable. That’s worthwhile, and there’s gratitude owed there. So thank you, Dave.

At the time I had no sense of competition, which was best. I floundered along with heavy criticism from the then-founder of our group. It was his sampler that made my first track possible, but later my acquisition of samples from favored modules that set the tone and pace for all of my continuing works.

Oh, to name a few; 1991, Piano Plinker, After the Rain, Cortouchka!, anyone remember Batmeat? I’ve always liked that track, when I could tolerate it. Mods do require some tolerance. It was Burton’s flair for the dramatic that got everyone’s attention.

Meanwhile, I forged onward through tracks like ‘The Fire of my Soul’, which exhibited some of the teachings of my Dad, who saw the possibilities, and did try to learn. I later used some sampled riffs, somewhat ill-fated and perhaps unfocused. A valuable learning experience, nonetheless with its own impact on the gaming community at large.

In 1994 there was much pressure to improve, to be the equal of those Ryan and I listened to, and usually that was fine. What was I expected to write? We weren’t a demo crew, though we wanted to be. I was a budding artist and writer, and took to embedding short stories into the last sample of many of my early tracks. Load them out and they’re quite readable.

But if you know anything about me, it’s that I’m passive aggressive. That meant I wasn’t going to be content with my progress or position for too long. For a while, though, I was pleased to grow as a musician, discovering that I had talent and local impact.

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Tracking the Past (Part 1)

Part 1: A Boy and His Mod, or the Days in Which I Learned How to Make Noise

It was a moderate summer when I obtained my Atari ST 1040, which as I recall was paid for by my Dad. Ryan Goolevitch and I had for many after school nights watched demos and listened to the latest experimentations in Protracker.

At some point I asked Ryan if it was possible to compose music on the ST as well, and he explained that it was, with limitations, naturally. No stereo sound, lower fidelity output; just a tender 22Khz without interpolation of any sort. Playing mods on an ST is a clever trick of code, anyway.

I was thrilled. More than thrilled; enrapt. At first I played some games, because a colour computer was so much superior to the Macintosh Plus machines at school. My small television, connected by RF at first; an old dongle recovered from a Atari 2600 VCS long past its prime.

Static-laden audio and video with no headphone jack, and for the first two years no hard drive. In 1991 you could get away without one. So, untrained and unskilled, how did I learn to compose Protracker Modules?

The Atari ST made it easy, at least, it did for me. Protracker used 128KB (roughly) of RAM, and this is important because it limited the size and thereby quality of the thirty two samples I could load into the 1024KB of memory I had access to. 960KB of which 880KB would fill a standard double density floppy disk, remember those? I never had to swap disks, to load program resources, not like the Macintosh OS did because TOS was on ROM.

So that was a bit of sanity saved. While it was fast, upgrading was a tinkerer’s job, and beyond my skills. I just wanted the dern thing to work, which it did. Even a hard drive was a trick, with drivers loaded from disk as they weren’t in ROM in any version of TOS I owned, but I wouldn’t get one of those until years later.

Protracker has no player/editor barriers. While the ST version I used for nearly a decade lacked support for some commands, like E9X – when implementing it I had no immediate feedback, no idea how it would sound. Usually the fact that I merely knew the commands was enough, and instinct covered my guesses, anyway.

How did I track? I put some notes into an editor, then I learned what hexidecimal was. I didn’t know the difference between a basskick and a snare, though Ryan was happy to teach me. Levels of Insanity was – you could say – the first collaboration of what would become Digitronic. With Dave Toews we formed a small music production crew.

Levels was obnoxious, repetitive and real! When we formed Digitronic exactly, I don’t quite remember. It was probably about the time I knew I had something and wanted to hang onto it.

Next week I’ll dive more into Digitronic and our efforts to produce music of any kind.

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Filed under article, history, personal growth, tracking

Don’t Stop Writing

So much can get in the way, but for every successful writer I have witnessed one constant: A trail of countless words. Be a critic, be an editor, find your specialty, but don’t stop for a moment. Get a few words in a day, or every other day, once a week. Continue reading

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Filed under challenge, creative process, gaming, good things, immediate response, impromptu, my view, news media, opinion, personal growth, writing