Dmitry In Space

maker of stuff & trouble

#NOLA 3.0

Photo Jan 08, 8 20 58 PM.jpg

What can I write about New Orleans that hasn't already been written a million times over? It's a city I'd visited three times now. Each time, a different experience with different people. Each time, it felt familiar. And though I'd never lived there, each time it felt almost like home.

Let's get this out of the way first. There's something to be said for the nightlife in New Orleans, of course. The French Quarter, being the number one choice, as it were. Much like Las Vegas, it is a shock to your system if you'd never experienced the spectacle that is Bourbon Street. Much like Las Vegas, it is best experienced in shorter bursts. 

Alright, so why come to #NOLA if not to drink? Well that depends on what you want to accomplish on the trip and how much time you've allowed yourself to do just that. I personally gravitate to cultural history and culinary experiences. Viewed through that lens, New Orleans is a place like no other. 

Photo Jan 06, 2 05 13 PM.jpg

Founded by the French as a bustling port in the 1700's, the city is ripe with culture, both French and American. You can't walk anywhere without stepping on some piece of history. The streets are crooked with the weight of ancient footsteps. The art scene is unrivaled. The museums are exhausting, in their knowledge and exhibits.

Photo Jan 08, 3 12 05 PM.jpg

The food is amazing, from the smallest hole in the wall, to the largest fine dinning experience. You've got your Beignets, Jambalaya and Gator Sausage. You've got your Muffulettas, Po-Boys and Gumbo. It's all there. Whatever you want. However you want it.

You can join one of the many free or paid tours in the Garden District that will snake you through gorgeous cemeteries, with their above ground crypts, and welcoming streets, with fantastic mansions, unlike any other. 

Check out Royal street, instead of Bourbon. Swing by Cafe Du Monde and buy their coffee and beignets (bring cash). The French Market will have you looking in every direction at once, while your stomach rumbles for the po-boys and the sea food on display. Get the 3 day pass and take the streetcars, instead of a Lyft.

In short, bring your fitbits and your gym shoes and leave your shot glasses and beads in the hotel. You'll be glad you did.

PRIVACY

I love back scratchers. But I probably can't write a whole blog post about it, so let's talk online privacy instead. 

You've heard the news. You must have. Online privacy is soon to be a thing of the past, thanks to some unwelcome Washington meddling. And maybe you've shrugged it off. Maybe privacy is not all that important to you. After all, if you've got nothing to hide, what should you be worried about? And if you're one of those people - to you I say, head on over here for some enlightenment.

But this is not one of those in-depth articles on how to protect yourself online. I'm by no means an expert in this nebulous field. What I will talk about is what I've been able to do personally, to protect my own privacy online, short of completely burning my social media accounts to the ground and getting myself a VPN. So without further ado... 

BROWSER EXTENSIONS

Start by doing something really simple. Chances are, you use either Firefox, Chrome or Safari to browse the internet. Outside of using their private/incognito features that secure your browsing habits locally, you can also benefit greatly from enabling "add-ons" for your browser. It's a quick and free way to avoid being tracked and spammed at every turn.

SEARCHING

Forget Google. Definitely forget Yahoo. If you don't want to be tracked, and to have a generally better, unbiased searching experience, give DuckDuckGo a try. It's a clean, ad-free system with results that are just as good, if not better than Google itself.

EMAIL

Did I mention to forget Google and Yahoo? This applies to email as well. And if email security is a top priority, that's where ProtonMail comes in. The basic service is free, with apps for just about all types of smartphones available. And there are paid tiers as well that offer more features, were you to require a bit more bang out of your emails.  

There are more solutions and better, more informed articles that you can find out there in the ether. You can encrypt your hard drive (easy to do on both windows and mac os x). You could secure your browsing on your smartphone as well (refine is one such app, for ios). And you could always get real serious with VPN (though you do risk ending up on an NSA list if you do that). 

Bottom line is that it's time to take all of this a little more seriously. As the internet begins to age, we can only hope that it does so like a fine wine, rather than aged, stinky cheese. 

THINGS YOU LEARN, WHILE FALLING APART

I started this blog to keep anyone that was interested, in the loop when it came to my writing. Somewhere along the way, it had turned into something else. Something more introspective. The writing became more personal.

And I haven't been keeping up with it to boot.

Most blog writers will tell you, that's typical. And I'm not going to make that fatal mistake of telling you that I shall do my very best, from now on, to keep this up to date. I can't and I won't. Just as I promised in the first ever post, this will continue to be sporadic. It doesn't matter. Moving on.

I keep writing. Though slower than The Cold Forever, The Nemesis Wave is taking form never the less. I'm about to break through and move from the first third of the book, into the middle. The characters had suffered losses. Tired, injured and separated, they are about to enter a world they could never have imagined. The story is about to move from a standard adventure novel into... well I'll leave it at that.

On the personal front, I had suffered some losses as well. If you'd read my previous blog posts, you know that I had some major set backs in my life. It has been a year since my wife and I had separated. It was as amicable as can be, though the hurt was no less real. No less jarring. 

No less dangerous. 

There is such a thing as moving on too quickly, I'm afraid. A lesson hard learned, by this over-confidant young lad. In retrospect, I jumped at the chance to move on, a bit too quickly. I didn't deal with the grief. Didn't let my emotions settle. I approached my next relationship, completely blind to the fact that it was an unstable star, about to go supernova. A mixture of bad timing, unprocessed sorrow and hard circumstances on both ends. 

Of course, it imploded. Of course it did. And everything suffered as the result. Work suffered. Relationships suffered. It snowballed and there was no way to stop it for quite some time. It killed me... and it killed me way too soon after my divorce. I was stuck in a loop. It was like ripping out the stitches of a fresh cut. 

And that's on me. All me. I should have known better. I should have treated this like I treat everything else. Research. Read. Study. Anticipate. Navigate. Win. 

Hind sight 20/20 of course. After all that, all I could do was continue to grow and learn from my experiences, whether they were positive or negative. Fortunately, I feel that I've reached that point where I'm kind of, sort of, normal again. I'd finally stabilized my tailspin. Pulled the crashing wreckage out of its nosedive. I don't feel like a raw nerve anymore. Nor am I simply numb. Just normal. Where I'm suppose to be.

-D

THE NEMESIS WAVE

Here are the cold, hard facts for this dreary Chicago evening.

The Nemesis Wave is the working title of the new science fiction book I’m currently 6,000 words into. It once again tackles time travel, but in a much simpler way. I’ve learned my lesson from The Cold Forever (currently free to download on amazon). You won’t need a prescription for headache medication. 

Probably.

The premise is straight forward (for a science fiction book, anyway). A team comprised of scientists and security personnel are investigating a strange signal in a dangerous and exotic location, when they are attacked by insurgents. Forced to flee and hide in newly discovered underground tunnels, the team exits on the other side, only to find out that everything has changes.

Propelled hundreds of years into the future by an unknown mechanism, the team soon discovers that humanity is no longer at the top of the food chain. Another, smarter species has taken over the planet, inadvertently driving the human race to the edge of extinction.

Artificial Intelligence runs the planet now, and they’re reprogramming Earth for unknowable purposes, destroying the chemical makeup of our biosphere. 

To save the human race from a slow death, the team will enlist the help of a young, rogue AI and take on powerful trio of AIs that is changing our world into something that cannot be explained. 

And amidst all of this, the mysterious signal that brought the team this far, is ever present. And here in the future, it is much more powerful. Something else is happening on future Earth, and even the mighty AIs are frightened by it.

ANYONE SEE THAT BUS THAT HIT ME?

Bike.jpg

Alright. Well… that was an interesting year, 2015. Wasn’t it? Did everyone else enjoy that as much as I did? And by “enjoy” I mean be completely bewildered by it on every conceivable level?

Where do I start, where do I begin? Bad news. Marriage went belly up. Big bummer, considering that we were together since 2003. Yeah so that wasn’t all that pleasant (read: fucking awful). Good news, lost some weight, got myself a bike and somehow found myself in another relationship. Basically a full on midlife crisis before actually GETTING to midlife (hopefully?). You know what I’m saying?

Just nod and smile, alright?

Yeah but, you say, I thought this blog was about writing? Well it is and it isn’t. But fine. You want some news, I’ll give you news. After 30,000 words, The Kill Stack has been benched. I ran out of things to say in that world. It has promise, though. So I may come back to it, at some point. The question now is, do I attempt another book or… what exactly?

I’ve got that sequel to a book no one actually read, plotted out and ready to go. I’ve got another, unrelated sci-fi book also plotted out. 

Eh… fuck it, let’s write something else. 

See you in a bit ;)

-D

 

THE KILL STACK: UPDATE

Long time, no update. Sorry. Life happens when you least expect it, I suppose. No matter. I'm back now, and what follows is a quick (turns out, not so quick) update and summary of my next book, The Kill Stack.

When I finished The Cold Forever I was faced with a decision of what to write next. I had come up with an outline for a sequel. It's a good one. It's actually a sequel and a prequel. It follows the structure of the previous novel, by having two timelines once again. Two seemingly separate stories that eventually converge in the last third of the book. 

The novel would reunite the main characters of The Cold Forever several years later. That's the sequel part. The prequel happens in the second timeline, and it is the story of Djaq's sisters. The story happens in parallel with the events in The Age of Frost (a time period in the distant future in The Cold Forever).

Anyway, it's all really rather complicated, I'm afraid... And that's why I ended up hitting the pause button. My book has been described as too complex. Too complicated to follow sometimes. There are three stories, dovetailing into an ending that ties them all together rather neatly. To me, that's not complicated. But I wrote the damned thing, so I'm a little biased. I didn't set out to write a book for the hardcore science fiction fan, but that's what ended up happening. It turns out, The Cold Forever is not for the average book reader. It's for someone who reads the weird shit. Complicated time travel stuff. Peter F. Hamilton books. Dan Simmons books. It's the kind of book, that if you were to put it down for a few days or weeks and pick it back up, you'd have to start all over. 

And that was heartbreaking to learn. On the one hand, the book is tailor made for the die-hard science fiction fan. On the other hand... where the hell are you guys? 

So I shoved the sequel to the side, frustrated with the book's inability to find an audience. And I wouldn't blame marketing either... I won't go into it, but I did some stuff. And some things. I got several thousand people to download the ebook version. It remains to be seen if any of them actually read it, though.

So now I was back to square one. I wanted to keep writing, but I had to shelve the sequel for another time. So what would I write next? Then an idea popped into my head. Who says that I have to stick to science fiction? Why not hit a new genre? Something just as interesting to me as science fiction. 

I settled on crime, because why not? More specifically, a violent crime story with some humor; something akin to a literary version of Pulp Fiction. Separate stories weaving around each other until they reached a violent, yet satisfying conclusion.

So what's the story about? Didn't you see the cover? It's about casino chips.

Ok, it's about more than that. The story focuses on several characters, but primarily, it is about Fredo and Kazz. Two hapless guys who find themselves in possession of a million dollar's worth of casino chips that belong to a mafia boss. Now they have to avoid bloodthirsty mafia goons, a dirty cop with a bad debt to the wrong people and a contract killer out for revenge.

I'm writing this as cinematically as possible. Heavy on neo-noir and ultra-violent influences of Michael Mann and Quentin Tarantino movies. I'm 30,000 words in what is shaping up to be a 60,000 word novel. It's considerably shorter than The Cold Forever, which weighed in at a hefty 107,000 words. But I'm hoping that it is easier to read. Easier to follow. It has lots going for it. It has the funny. It has the violence. A strong female protagonist. And a pair of dummies you can't help but love.

I really hope that this time around, the book finds its audience. I really don't care about sales. I just want people to read it. And like it. And maybe give it some reviews so that other people could read it. And hopefully like it as well...

The top image is just a draft of a cover. Much like with my previous book, this one will go through several stages. But I think now that I have given it a visual presence, the book will start to come together quicker.  I'm hoping to finish it this year, and self-publish it next year. We'll see how it goes. We'll see where it goes.

Until then though, stay frosty my friends.

-D