Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The History of Gemini Man ~ Part III: Gemini Outsider

Check out the Kickstarter Here!

And here we are at the grand finale of the Gemini Man and our journey through its history. As a reminder, the campaign has around two days to go, so if you have not yet backed, you are running out of time. Remember: there is a good chance this edition will never be available again! Anyway, enough of that. Let us get straight into it today and explain just where the final chapter of this series came from.

This one, however, is a lot more straightforward than the first two are. Basically, I just wanted a way to increase stakes and peril without having a larger scale. As a result, the story feels more personal to the characters and yet the threat is also the most dangerous they've encountered so far. It's lower key, but no less explosive, if that makes sense.

The strangest part of the writing process of the final book in the series, Gemini Outsider, is that it was written and edited during the pandemic. I say this because a lot of what happens in the book is pretty much the opposite of what living in the time period was actually like. I should explain what this means.

The entire story is about insiders and outsiders, trust and loyalty, and what makes a home and a community. All of the things that just about everyone everywhere was dealing with at the time in lockdown world, and many are still dealing with it even after restrictions have long since lifted. The difference is that, just like each of the other two books, I had been writing this one in a totally different mindset than each of the original two books. This helped it differentiate itself even more from the others which, as I said, had always been my goal here.

As I'd already said, Silver Empire was dealing with a lot at this point in time, and I still had an entire book finished and awaiting edits while I wrote this one. Because of the state of everything in both the world and in my writing time I had planned Gemini Outsider to be a sort of soft ending point for the story. I did this for the simple reason that I had planned on leaving the series on the backburner for a little while in order for both Silver Empire to catch up and to see the audience reaction from Book Two. There was no sense having a backlog of books just sitting there. That wouldn't help anyone. It wasn't as if there wasn't plenty else to worry about in the world at the time, either. There were other priorities to deal with.

So when I finished writing the book I kind of put Gemini Man out of my mind for while. I worked on other things, and thought up other ideas to pursue. I didn't know then that Silver Empire would never get to release the follow-ups and I would have to do the honors of getting a cover made for Book Three myself. By the time they were able to get to Book Three, edit it, and send it back, the series had already been out of my mind for awhile. I actually had to read through all three just to finish off the final editing sweep for the Kickstarter. That was a trip!

The last few years have really been bizarre, even outside of what I was doing.

The pandemic was a fairly dark time for just about anyone who lived it. I'm sure anyone reading this knows that for themselves. I can't say whether it directly affected the direction and tone of Gemini Outsider, but I can say that of the three books in the series, this is the closest to how I write as of the date this piece you are reading is being written. Our characters had been on quite a journey since they were thrown into that experiment back in 2018 and, even though the three books take place across only one summer, it felt as if their journey had come full circle after being lost in the desert for decades. Writing can be weird like that.

Now that the pandemic is finally over and the third book (as well as the second) will finally see release in the world, it will be nice to see the audience reaction to how much happens. This entire series went through an arc on its own, and that's just talking about its production. We haven't yet gone into the story itself yet.

So let us do that.

Gemini Outsider is where we wrap up the one of the main plotlines in the story of our duo. That being their strange quest to find a place in the world. This has been hinted at since the start of Book One, and it is the problem most paramount to their journey.

You've probably noticed, but I've mostly avoided talking about the nitty gritty details of the plot in any of these books, mostly out of respect for spoilers. This has made the history a bit tougher to talk about in greater detail. However, I have no reason to avoid talking about the story in broader strokes, so that is what I will do here.

The first two books were grander stories, almost by necessity. The first one was a planet hopping tale involving discovering a new world and encountering a whole race of people, and the second was a cross country road trip across America to crush a cult. For the third book, I had two options. I could either go bigger, or change focus. Instead of wrapping up the main story (because I had originally intended to do more books after these three) I decided instead to solve the more pertinent issue our characters had been suffering since the original book: a place to call home.

From what you can tell from the first two entries, traveling was a big aspect of both. That isn't so much the case with Book Three. It is more about standing your ground and refusing to buckle under tremendous pressure. And there is quite a lot of pressure here.

I should first address the elephant in the room. Why three books in the first place? How many was I even intending to originally write? Well, truth is that I more or less had the entire thing mapped out in my mind, depending on how Heroes Unleashed was going to progress forward. Because, as I said, the entire project was not just mine--I was merely a piece of it doing my own thing. How the rest of the project will unfold now beyond Gemini Man, I still have no idea.

Originally, I had planned on writing two loose trilogies, the first one ending with this book and setting up our characters for the wider Heroes Unleashed world. It would give other writers an idea of who Matthew and Jason were, as well as their workings and cast, and could use them accordingly in their works. There was to be a lot more crossover to be had.

As I said, originally Gemini Man was meant to be one piece in a larger picture, but that didn't really end up working out for all the reasons we've already outlined in previous parts. When I originally got around to it after taking a small hiatus and letting Silver Empire catch up I had planned on writing a final trilogy to wrap the whole thing up. But then I scratched that down to two books. Then, eventually one. The currently running campaign has instead allowed me to write it the way I actually want to write it. I'm no longer the same writer I was when Book One came out. The only way to properly finish it off would be to do it in a way that is natural to me as a writer today.

The reason for how I'm doing it is due to how I've changed my focus in writing over the years. I like having every story count, not just being another entry in a long slog of a saga without an end. I don't want to write books for the sake of writing them, but if I think the story needs to be told and I think I could do a good job telling it. The first three books in this series I felt needed to be told, and they tell a complete story on their own, but they don't wrap up the wider threat outlined in Book One. That couldn't be done convincingly in three books without badly truncating everything. So instead I used Book Three to be a different sort of culmination for the story.

Gemini Outsider deals with our characters coming to terms with the new world they have discovered and digging their heels into a position where they can finally go on the offense themselves. Writing more books after this would kind of blunt the impact of this one, and basically just describing a series of events that you can already guess will happen. This is why I added the Coda stretch goal into the Kickstarter for readers to see the end result they deserve to see. There is a story to be told to wrap Gemini Man up, but its just not needing of a full novel to tell it.

But I'll get to that later. For now, the final book.

Book Three concerns the duo of our main characters setting up shop in a new town after their previous adventures made them easy targets for more nefarious forces. In the town of Riverview, hidden from the world, Matthew and Jason start to build a new life, reassessing what they lost along the way and what they can possibly do to move forward, especially with the Gemini Man still at the back of their minds and their original enemies still on the move. Now, as the ultimate and most zealous agents of their enemies stumble upon Castor and Pollux, can the pair finally win their freedom? And if they do, what can they do with it?

Gemini Outsider is the longest of the three books, and probably the longest book I've written so far. Even though the scope of the story is the smallest, a lot happens in this book, and the conclusion is easily my favorite of the three. So is the villain and the final encounter. Actually, Book Three is my favorite of all three Gemini Man books overall. It really all leads up to this one.

As for the Coda that has yet to be written (it will be once the campaign has ended and I have an idea of how much I will be writing for readers), it will be called "Gemini Destroyer" and will focus on a small time jump towards the final battle where our main characters put everything on the line. You will see where Matthew and Jason's new found strength leads them. Everything not wrapped up in Gemini Outsider will be finished off here.

In regards to the second story, the one we are dangerously close to funding in the campaign right now, this one will not actually star Matthew or Jason, but another duo of characters introduced in Book Three as they deal with the fallout of that book and the remnants of Earthbound agents that have not yet given up the fight. This is the last loose end I really wanted to tie up, and the story I want to tell will give both characters, as well as that part of the main storyline, the wrap up they need. If you want this story, please help us reach the next stretch goal before the campaign is finished. This is the last piece I really want to add to the final work.

Just like I said before, I'm prepared to go all out to finish this series off right. Readers will be getting a lot of bang for the buck with this one.

After we finish with the bonus stories, we can finally put a bow on the entire project. Over 200K words and five years in production and we can finally reach the end.

What the Gemini Man series ends up doing is coming to a close at just the right moment, both for the writer and for the characters. What started as two people lost and thrown in the deep end, concludes with the paid finding their place and becoming the heroes needed in the moment. I started this at an early stage in my writing career, and now I'm finishing it as I move on into different territory. It's yet another dual progression, like the entire series itself. Two sides to everything!

And that is what brings us up to where we are today. Half a decade and over 200k words later and now the Kickstarter exists to finally help bring this complete series out into the world. It's been a long time coming, and I'm very proud to be able to say we are nearly done. I've wanted to be able to say that for ages, and now I can.

Thank you for joining me on this journey, especially as we reach the final days of the campaign. I could not have done this without you, and because of you, I can give this production all the elbow room it needs to reach its potential.

As I wrap up this short post series on the production history I can only say I'm glad to finally share this entire journey with the Gemini Man, and to finally close it off. Hard to believe it has been with me for so long now.

In regards to Heroes Unleashed, however, it's very much still around. Should one want to know what the other authors will do with their series they should ask them. If one also wishes to write in the world, asking Russell and Morgon Newquist about it will get you all the information you need. Matthew and Jason might even show up in future Heroes Unleashed stories by other authors. Who knows? The band will be playing on regardless.

But for me, the Gemini Man series you see here is the end of it. It is now time to move into new territory and onto new things. It was fun while it lasted, but I have new horizons ahead to try and conquer. That is why this campaign is for the Complete Series. There will be no more entries after this release, so jump aboard before it's too late!

Once again, thank you for all your support both over the years and for the Gemini Man campaign. I never thought I could come this far and I wouldn't be able to if it weren't for the readers. The Gemini Man series has been an experience since Day One, and I'm thankful for having gone through it as we near the end.

Now it's time to make this the best series we can make it!

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Weekend Lounge ~ Small Worlds!

Welcome to the weekend! 

It's been a pretty season for writers, especially those involved in crowdfunding. I've mentioned the Small Worlds Kickstarter by Misha Burnett and Cirsova before, but it's also nearing the end in a few days. It's also just shy of 100 backers and a fairly important one for both of them going forward. If you've yet to jump in on it, there is no better time than now.

Misha himself will also be on Geek Gab today in a couple of hour from this post, as can be seen in the video above. Please check out the live show for yourself!

As for me, Gemini Man is also nearing the end of the campaign trail in a little less than a week. We're rounding in on the next swapped stretch goal, which will be for even more story content in the final package! Please consider backing if you have not yet, because there is a good chance the physical will not be available later. Once again, you can find the Gemini Man Kickstarter here. We are very close to reaching the goal for the final package I've always imagined for this one!

That's all for today! I'll see you next week for when we finally wrap this whole campaign up. It's been one crazy time.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

The History of Gemini Man ~ Part II: Gemini Drifter

The Gemini Man campaign is Here!

Welcome back to the history behind Gemini Man! Today we will be moving on to the second book in the series. As an aside, if you have not yet seen it yet, please check out the most recent update in the campaign and leave a comment. I wish to know your opinion on a very important aspect of the production process going forward.

With that out of the way, let us continue.

When we last left off on our story, it was summer of 2019 when Gemini Warrior released after being in various stages of production throughout all of 2018. Most of the rest of the first line of Heroes Unleashed also released at the time and the PulpRev and Superversive movements were also in full swing, ending 2019 on a pretty good note for stories. Silver Empire, too, was doing quite well. As far as NewPub was going, the times were good for readers and writers. Things were looking up.

Not so much for me, though. While I was editing Gemini Warrior, my aunt died of cancer. This was the same one I dedicated the book to. There were also other personal issues from the time weighing me down, mostly things out of my control. In all honesty, this period was more or less a mirror flip to the one I actually wrote the first book in. It was through this time that I outlined the second book, Gemini Drifter, and I expected it to end up also being the complete inverse of the first. Believe it or not, the times do affect artists, writers, and creatives, and what they produce. It's a bit of an unavoidable truth.

I'm not certain it shows as much in the final story as I thought it would, though. I was a lot harsher self-editing this one then I probably was with any book before it or since. Whatever happened, I wanted the story to be what it was--not dragged down by what my brain thought it should be, if that makes sense. The final result, however, did actually end up being a very different story than the first, which is exactly what I wanted from a sequel to something as different than the original. But the mood and the tone matches as much as it should.

Book Two was also my chance to really expand the world the main characters were operating in. Most of the other Heroes Unleashed books at this time were still mainly taking place in their cities and establishing their home ground, but I wanted to stretch out further instead. As a consequence, Gemini Drifter covered a road trip across America to a new destination, and ended up having a completely different supporting cast to the first book as a consequence.

This isn't out of the usual for me, though it was one of the first times I had written a direct follow-up to another story I'd done. The last thing I wanted was to make more of the same. We have more than enough sequels like that these days that are just rehashes of the first. If I'm going to write a sequel, I want it to matter as much as the original.

By the time I actually wrote and finished Book Two, I believe Book One had just officially come out. However, since Heroes Unleashed was a multi-author line with different works needing to be swapped between, it ended up going to the back of the line to be published after everyone else's first books had been released. Remember, Silver Empire was not a major publisher, they only had limited means to operate in. The original book had also been a part of a Kickstarter campaign (weird how that comes around!) with other first entries. This meant those works had priority to be released for backers. And they all did.

So I didn't think the follow-up would be out anytime soon. I spent some time working on other projects for awhile. In fact, I released two other books in 2020, (Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures and The Pulp Mindset) and worked on other projects, fairly confident that Gemini Drifter would not release that year.

It didn't.

What I didn't account for, and what I doubt anyone else did, would be what happened in 2020 to effectively shut the world down. It affected the planet, and there was simply no ignoring it. You know what happened next, everyone does, because it happened to everyone in the world at the time.

Coronavirus ended up shutting most things down, and bringing others to a crawl. Publishers like Silver Empire were no exception, though they still managed some releases. Gemini Drifter didn't release in 2020 or 2021, even though it was done and ready, because they simply had too much on their plate in both as the publisher and in the real world. Not much to be done about it. This was simply common for the time, nothing else to say. However, by the start of 2022, Gemini Drifter actually was gearing up for release, completed cover art and all. I think it was even listed on amazon itself for a short time. It looked like readers would finally get to read the sequel to Book One after a huge delay.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. Silver Empire shut down not long after the beginning of 2022 and returned all the books back to the authors to release as they wish. The pandemic had simply hit them too hard, just as it did everyone else, and they could not continue on. I've yet to meet anyone who walked out of the pandemic unscathed in some way.

This let what was a fully completed book sit unreleased in my files while I spent the year of 2022 being published in Cirsova, Pulp Rock, and Sidearm & Sorcery Volume One, as well as putting out both The Last Fanatics and Y Signal, as well as the Gen Y book with Brian Niemeier and David V. Stewart. Last year was one of my most productive on a publishing level, and I am very proud of all of the above projects. I recommend them all.

On top of that, I had already begun planning out a whole new series, which has since landed itself on the backburner. Trust me, this one will be wild once I finally get to focus on it. I did finish my final draft of book one some time ago, but haven't had the time to get back to it. 2022 was a busy year, and I didn't really have the spare time to address three other books needing release in addition to everything else already mentioned.

Thankfully, with the Kickstarter, I can now finally release all of the books into the world. It's been a long time coming. Now you get to see how different all three of these books truly are. Even I was surprised when re-reading and re-editing them for this release.

For context, Gemini Drifter was written around the time of the stories that were put out in the now OOP Planetary Anthology series (one of which is now in the recently released Swords & Maidens anthology), a time when my stories were a tiny bit more morose than I probably intended them to be. Mood really does effect creativity, whether we want it to or not. But, again, I'm not sure that shows as much in the final edit of the book. I was very harsh as an editor on this one.

The actual writing process for this one was smoother than the first. In fact, each book in the series was much easier to write than the one before it. This one, however, was the quickest one to edit as it had the clearest vision after the outline and initial draft was done. I was just completely merciless with it, though for good reason.

When I finally sat down to write Gemini Drifter, I wanted to make sure to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, or middle book lull, that a lot of follow-ups to first entries in series suffer from. I'd seen it happen so many times that I knew the one thing that had to be done was that whatever happened needed to be more than a mere transitional story. Book Two actually had to matter, a lot, as much as the first one did or the third one would.

I decided the best way to avoid all the usual issues would be to make Gemini Drifter entirely different plot-wise from Gemini Warrior. Whereas Book One was a John Carter-like sword and sorcery story of our heroes landing on a different planet and trying to escape back home through bizarre odds, Book Two ends up being a road trip story of our heroes searching for a specific target to rescue. After the events of Book One, Matthew and Jason end up untangled in a larger, loosely related plot their enemies have crafted and have to deal with a whole new threat on top of it. In this one you'll meet like bounty hunters, even stranger powers like a man who lives in blood, a serial kidnapper cult, and the first appearance of the Gemini Man (?!) himself.

One thing I wanted to avoid was having these books feel like an "origin story" or one long tale with breaks in it, the fate of many modern series. Book One is more or less a standalone story and Book Two, while an actual sequel, also can be read by anyone who is unfamiliar with the first. For those who have read my work, you know that I have done this before. Book Two is where I tried it out for the first time, however. Gemini Drifter is a new episode for our main characters, continuing on from the first with a whole new problem, like older series used to do it before the major publishers decided to get rid of them.

New characters, new locations, new threats, new situations, but also a lot of story progression as well. In every way, I think Book Two is a step up from the first. It was also written when I was a bit more experienced of a writer so I was more prepared for a lot of the weird turns this one takes. I had a few more books and short stories under my belt. Road trip tales are far too rare these days, even rarer from an action adventure tale, never mind a weird one. I also actually got to do more with Primes (the Heroes Unleashed term for superpowered characters) in Book Two, including coming up with some fun powers applied in interesting ways.

As I've said, Gemini Man is bizarre in that it is a series that takes place in a superhero universe where the main characters are not superheroes and don't even deal with legit supervillains. That just means the characters with powers that do show up have to be more low key and off the beaten track from the hardcore ones already out there causing problems. They also have to be a match for someone with the powers of Castor and Pollux, abilities with quite a lot of potential for destruction, and I think the villains in this book definitely manage that.

There is the previously mentioned ability of a man living in blood, but what about someone who can track targets through the cracks in the road itself, or one who shifts his whole momentum through sheer will, or another who can see everything coming by staring at the approaching opponent? There is much one can find in the back roads of a world of heroes and villains, some of them even more wild than a world shaking beatdown between behemoths might be. That was the atmosphere and vibe I wanted to give off with Gemini Drifter.

There's also a bit more about the history of the relics of which the bracelets themselves are a part of, as well as the planet Tyndarus as well. Essentially, Book Two expands on everything in the first one, making it an indispensable chapter in the series while also treading new waters. What happens here also has major consequences for the events of Book Three, the final book.

But we'll get to that one next time!

The next chapter...

At the end of the day, Gemini Drifter is the only book I've done so far as a deliberate reaction to one I've written before. It had to be that way. It also helped me to grow as a writer. I really wanted this series to be unique with each entry, and I think it really shows from the transition between the two books here.

It also was a bit of a transition for me to actually write. Going back for one last edit pass recently on this one was wild, even more than the first was. I remembered a lot of the feelings and experiences going on from the outline stage to the final draft, and was glad to finally be able to put the bow on this one after far too long. Don't worry, readers of Book One, you will soon finally be able to read the sequel and see what happens to Matthew and Jason.

Going back over the entirety of Gemini Man one last time really was a trip, both as a piece of my history as a writer, and as different stages in my life over a few years. It turned out that it meant more to me than I originally thought it did, so I'm excited that you can finally get to experience the entire story for yourself as a complete package. The Kickstarter is really going to allow me to flesh it out as best as I can and put a bow on the whole project, and with extra stories on top of it! I can only thank the readers for allowing me this chance.

But there is still one book left to cover in our journey. I'll see you again next time when we go over the final part of the story and where it all ends up.

You might be surprised!

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Weekend Lounge ~ Livestream With SuperversiveSF!

Not much for this week! There's been a lot going on around here outside of the blog, but in case you missed it I was on SuperversiveSF's livestream last Sunday. We talked about a lot of things from the state of publishing, to creativity, to anime (a lot of this in the last chunk!), to the Gemini Man Kickstarter currently going on. It was a good time! I hadn't been on a stream in a long time due to carious other factors, so it was nice to do one again.

Speaking of the Kickstarter, we just hit the next stretch goal, the one I was most hoping to reach. Thanks to all the backers, I will now be writing a full-on concluding short story (probably a novelette, honestly) to conclude the wider story around Matthew and Jason, our protagonists. In other words, Gemini Man, as far as the Kickstarter release goes, will truly be a complete edition. I'm looking forward to getting started on the final story one the campaign has ended properly.

However, due to the increase in paper costs for everything, I'm not certain how I will be able to offer this to readers in the future. Amazon just announced in June that it will be putting its prices up for everything outside the more common standard sizes, which means any release like this will rocket u in cost. As a consequence, I do not know what this will mean for a physical release beyond the Kickstarter edition. I am also toying with swapping around the upcoming stretch goals if we reach them due to the potential change in production costs. This might be the only time I can get as much content in the printed edition before I have to revamp the whole project, not to mention it isn't as if backers themselves particularly benefit from new covers aside from it being a treat. More story content is probably preferable. I'll probably make a poll for backers to decide what it is they want more of. We'll see.

I am not yet sure, so don't take everything here as gospel yet, but the upcoming changes are putting a bit of a monkey wrench into the project's future beyond the Kickstarter. Given that I am big on preservation and keeping things as widely available for as long as possible, I'm still weighing my options. That said, if you want a physical release of the entire thing, the current Kickstarter is the best guarantee that you will be able to get one.

All that aside, thank you for all the support! I can't say I was expecting quite this reaction so early in the campaign's life, and we still have a little less than halfway to go. Where will we end up? Well, that is for you to decide!

NewPub is about the readers and what they want, after all!

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The History of Gemini Man ~ Part I: Gemini Warrior

Back the Campaign Here!

I realize Gemini Man has taken over the blog recently, but that is for a very good reason. Most of my writing time this year has been spent editing the trilogy to completion and trying to get it out for readers after years of production woes, and then also putting effort and time into the currently ongoing Kickstarter campaign, as well. As a consequence, I haven't really had the time to discuss or write on much else.

However, you might be wondering just what the whole story is behind this series. How did it come to be, and why is it coming out in this bizarre way? In addition to that, this is a bit out of joint for what I normally put out these days. Not only a series, but one based on superheroes? From the guy who wrote Y Signal and The Last Fanatics? Well, that is a long story, and one I want to share with you, especially as it pertains to how we got here in the first place.

Strap in, because this will take awhile.

Back in the year of 2017, I contributed a story for publisher Silver Empire's Paragons anthology. It was meant to be a collection of superhero stories featuring heroes being heroes. As someone who had just began wading into the art of writing short stories, I quickly began writing and sending them out. Somehow, I don't remember how, but I ended up having two different stories accepted for this anthology, but only one was published (both of these are now available in Someone is Aiming For You & Other Adventures today) in it. The anthology did very well, and as a result of that I was asked if I wanted to contribute to a new superhero project Silver Empire was working on. This new project was known as Heroes Unleashed. It was a weird opportunity I didn't expect to be given.

I say it was weird because 2017 was the year I went full bore into Pulp-inspired writing. I had spent 2016 publishing my first book but also learning just what type of storyteller I wanted to be. For those who have read most of my work, you can see the shift happen very blatantly.

2017 was the year I put out Grey Cat Blues, started writing short stories (the first ever short story I'd written, "Someone Is Aiming For You", is still one I get comments on to this day), and more or less figured out when I wanted to be and do as a writer. But I was still relatively new at this whole publishing game. At this point, I'd only written two vastly different books, after all. I hadn't even yet had more than one short story published.

This meant joining a "superhero" universe was a bit of a curveball for what I was doing at the time. I wrote about heroes and villains in my first set of short stories (which was later released in the above collection), but they were also part of a sort of loosely-interconnected longer story. The heroes in that were also far more in line with The Shadow or The Phantom than they were to cape comics. I don't really know if superhero fans every really clicked with that series. Even now, I'm not so sure I'm the right person for that kind of mainstream story.

But this opportunity also represented a new challenge to me. Silver Empire had produced the first book in their new universe called "Serenity City" (later retitled Heroes Fall) by Morgon Newquist which would set everything up and allow us a guidepost going forward. This book was actually what solidified my decision to attempt this project in the first place.

I assume if you're reading this and are aware of Gemini Man you've probably already read Heroes Fall, and you already know it's a really good read. It also isn't quite a typical superhero story either, though the universe it takes place in definitely is one. That base was important for other writers going forward. This then opened up possibilities as to where we could go with our own series.

And every writer definitely saw the possibilities.

Heroes Fall can be found Here!

Some of the other projects in Heroes Unleashed include Kai Wai Cheah's Song of Karma series, Jon Mollison's Phoenix Ring series, Richard Watts' Atlantean Knights series, and Paula Richey's Penance series. Each of these are vastly different than each other, never mind whatever idea of a modern superhero universe you might possess. It really showed how much mileage you could get out of a setting like this.

There were more series by other authors in production, but I do not know what became of them over the years. All of these were bound together under the in-universe character of Thomas Plutarch to bind them together easier in the same universe (and for the dead internet's algorithms), though it merely added to the fun of it all.

For my series I wanted to use the fact that I had a publisher behind me to see what I could get away with. I wanted to see what madness I could knock out with a framework around what I was able to do. Little did I know that I still ended up throwing in the kitchen sink and putting in just about everything I liked about comic books and manga growing up, and Silver Empire had little issue with any of it. I truly do thank then for the amount of freedom given in writing within their sandbox. How did my idea end up? Well, now you can see for yourself.

The story of Gemini Man is of two people: Matthew White and Jason Vermilion, two males of slightly different ages and backgrounds who look surprisingly like each other. The pair end up in the same experiment in a place known as Williams' Tech Corp in Serenity City. What should be a simple job for easy pay soon turns out to be much more sinister for the two of them. They soon find themselves with strange gold bracelets that give each of them odd powers. Even stranger than that: the bracelets seem to combine both of them into one person!

The weirdness doesn't end there, either. Their benefactor turns out being in the employ of a dark being from some other world, and the two end up being thrown into a portal through space and across the universe. Now on an alien world with unknown abilities, can they make it back home again? What's more, can they get a hole of these powers and avoid being blown to bits? There's a time limit and a whole alien force chasing after them, too. On a planet of magic and mystery, can two fledglings get a grip on their new situation before it's too late?

Naturally, this was a bit of an odd idea for a first book, to spend the majority of the story on a new planet outside of the norm of Heroes Unleashed, but that is exactly why I wanted to do it. I wanted to see exactly how far out I could go with this. Book One, Gemini Warrior, allowed me to essentially explore a side of the newer universe no one else had yet to explore. It also let me know what I could do for future entries, as well.

The thing is, Gemini Warrior is also not much in the way of a mainstream superhero story, either. There is more in Burroughs or traditional sword and sorcery than Superman or Batman here. This made some early reception a bit confused, not knowing if this was a coming of age story (not particularly) or if it was meant to be so fast-paced and furious (it was), though overall there was a warm reaction to Book One and excitement for what was to come next. You also have to remember that this came out when the current wave of pulp-inspired writing was still in its early ages of acceptance and it was still out of joint for what NewPub was doing. There wasn't much like Gemini Warrior at the time. Though I'd argue it's still not really that common now.

I had spent most of 2018 working on Gemini Warrior and Gemini Man's entire story structure that to date it was the only year since starting out that I never actually published a book. It didn't help that 2018 was also the year that I also kicked off in short story writing, too. Gemini Warrior only ended up releasing in 2019, though much of that was due to internal issues with different cover artists. I can't exactly expand on what those issues were in particular, but I can tell you that there is a reason that all three books in the series were done by different artists. This issue did not end with Book One, or even with me in particular.

I will expand on the rest of the production story for Book Two when we get there, but let me just say that putting Gemini Warrior out was a rather long and interesting experience I wasn't used to at the time. I also learned quite a lot.

For someone who mainly works in standalone works (though most everything I write is still connected somehow), creating a series was an interesting process. I had to shift my mindset when creating it so that I did the world and the story proper justice and breathing room.

One of things that made Gemini Man so fun as a whole was working with Matthew and Jason, the main characters. It was fun seeing their similarities and differences as they ended up in crazy situation after crazy situation and clashed against each other. The idea of dual protagonists is one I haven't done as often as I keep thinking I have, but I always enjoy playing with extremes and similarities with characters on the same side as each other. The idea of two contrasting heroes combining into one is always fun, and here it is a very important aspect of what they are capable of. I'm actually surprised at how powerful I was allowed to make them.

Matthew is the cynical loner who spends his life drifting by in the margins of a world where death can come swift and brutal. Despite that, he is always the leader in every situation he falls into, rising to every challenge as needed and throwing himself into the frontline. As the wielder of Castor, he becomes intangible, or so it seems. His bracelet's ability turns him to air or liquid, essentially slipping through things, and is what makes him a fierce opponent. His sixth sense and situational and spatial awareness is also sharpened tremendously. Oddly enough, Castor suits his personality just fine. Almost like it was made for him!

Jason, on the other hand, is kind of a naïve kid, always ending up in situations over his head. He is a bit of a hero freak, despite not having powers, and thinks they can solve any problem. That does not stop him from wanting to always do the right thing anyway. However, there is a bit more to his situation than he lets on. How did a teenager get accepted into this sort of an experiment anyway? Regardless, as the wielder of Pollux, his physical attributes become greatly enhanced to the point that he is almost a superhuman on his own. I can't even imagine what the power of Pollux would be like when combined with Castor . . .

Or can I?

What Gemini Warrior ends up being is a story of a mismatched pair thrown into an alien world and a desperate situation, having to work together, and finding their way back home among a race of beings unlike any they've seen before. Gemini Warrior is quite a bit different than you might think, not much of superhero story, but also setting up future adventures to come in books ahead. Where can they possibly go after fighting through that madness and making it back home?

Good question. However, that is for next time!

The cover of Gemini Warrior!

In conclusion, for being only my third book ever written, Gemini Warrior was a real fun experience for me to write, really helping expand my idea of what "genres" were and what one could engage with in a story. It came along at the right moment I needed it to.

As an aside, the dedication in the story is for my aunt, who had been one of the most supportive people in regards to my writing to that point. She was the one most excited for those project I had engaged in with Silver Empire. In fact, there was a lot of support from many others around me at the time. That was a new experience for me.

As I said, the reception for Book One was warm, and it emboldened me to continue on writing the series, though I was still doing other books at the same. The overall plan was to have one Gemini Man book release from Silver Empire, then release an independent one on my own. It obviously didn't work out that way, but at least now I have three whole books ready and waiting for readers to dive into. You will really see how much things have changed for me as a storyteller even just by going through each of these stories. So much changed over the years since they were first written, but I still enjoy all of them very much.

In regards to the next two books, they will have to wait for when we go over them in the posts to come. For now, as far as the first book goes, I wrote it when I was in a great place, in the early days of learning about publishing, and things were generally looking up. I hope it shows in the story, but it represents a confidence of a certain time and place that allowed a story like this to exist in the first place. I've certainly never written a story like this one since, though the same could be said about every book I've written. I want every experience for the reader to be fresh and exciting, and now you have a whole series to go through and experience it for yourself!

Next time, we'll go into Book Two: Gemini Drifter--the book that almost came out, but didn't. Now that will be a story to share!

Thank you, once again, for your support. These books wouldn't exist if not for readers like you in the first place.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Weekend Lounge ~ The Truth About '90s Music

I'm certain anyone over the age of 30 is well aware of how bad the 1990s were for mainstream music. It was a downhill slide into the slop that has never recovered itself. For those unaware, I would indulge in the above video. It is only around 10 minutes long, but it will inform you on just about everything you need to know.

Long story short, the mid-90s destroyed mainstream music. In addition to all the above nonsense, the major labels also began their absorbing and combining into bigger and more bloated monstrosities, and eventually so to did the music get streamlined into vapid formula that has remained unchanged for over a quarter of a century at this point.

Now, the music industry has been well known for corruption since its beginnings, but there was always usually a way to work around it or find cracks in the walls to give the audience what they wanted. The 1990s was the era all of that was sealed off, which lead to the slow death of the 2000s. For anyone who liked music at the time, you knew how tough it became for someone with any taste at all to listen to what they wanted.

By the 2010s, nothing was left but recycled sounds swapped around with whatever figurehead the industry wanted you to worship that week. Anything involving sound or talent had long since been drained away for the lamest image imaginable. I can't even remember the last time I've met anyone who even knew who any of these "stars" were.

And now no one listens to the industry at all.

Check out this documentary on the music industry made around this time period (in 2001) and see just how little has changed since, and how much they changed not so long ago.

And now musicians have to figure out how to produce outside of this busted system. Many such cases today!

In other news, Tomorrow at 6pm Central (7pm Eastern), I will be appearing on the SuperversiveSF channel to discuss the Gemini Man Kickstarter and any other subject deemed interesting enough to cover.

For those unaware, SuperversiveSF also produces a show called Pinkerton's Ghosts, which is a sort of horror anthology series, and has just produced it's 95th episode overall. You can check that out here for yourself.

Lastly, if you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out some other campaigns on the platform. NewPub is using crowdfunding quite well these days, and few have done it better than Alex at Cirsova has. He is currently running a campaign for a new project from the ever-prolific weird fiction maestro Misha Burnett. This one is called Small Worlds, and it is unlike anything else you're liable to see.

There are about 18 days left, so be sure to look over their campaign page here! There are never any shortage of new projects out there.

Thanks again for all your support. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Wild Summer Projects!

Find it Here!

Hello and welcome to another edition of our Signal Boost posts where I point out a bunch of newer books you might have missed out on coming your way! This time I wanted to freshen your palette with a bunch of interesting projects to help brighten the upcoming summer season. Believe me, there is quite a bit to go over.

The first today is one I completely overlooked before. You can see it above. I am speaking of the NewPub magazine, Tales of the Unreal! This is exactly what you might think of from the cover, a fresh dip into traditional pulp waters without having to use an old IP as a crutch. We are always looking for more of these and thankfully they are still being produced.

The description:

Contained herein are Tales of the Weird, the Horrible, and the Macabre. Inspired by the great horror and weird authors of a better time, Tales of The Unreal seeks to pick up where other such magazines left off; telling stories that leave you questioning your own reality, stories that crawl inside your mind to incubate your dreams. Buyer beware, these stories will feed the imagination, but we can't guarantee that your nightmares won't also engorge themselves.

You can find the first issue of Tales of the Unreal here!

Next up are a pair of Kickstarter campaigns that will be running until near the end of the month. Both are quite different, even from my own Gemini Man campaign, but that's what you want out of NewPub. We thrive on new blood and fresh takes on classic ideas. Definitely be sure to check out if either of these campaigns are up your alley!

First we have the mighty Cirsova's next campaign for Misha Burnett's next project, Small Worlds! If you've ever read anything from him then you know you are in for a unique treat unlike anything else out there.

Find it Here!

After the successful Atlas of Bad Roads project, the pair of Cirsova and Burnett have turned to something different. As you might be able to tell from the cover, it isn't quite what you might expect from either of them. Though that is also what makes what they release all the more interesting. Small Worlds is a collection of stories unlike any you've seen before!

The description:

Small Worlds has all of the hallmarks of Misha Burnett's fusion of SFF with classic weird, inviting the reader into the uncanny realms where the mundane has been pervaded by the strange, but also brings to the table his unique brand of white-knuckle thrilling adventure sometimes seen in the pages of Cirsova Magazine.

This collection features "Better Off Dead," an all-new novelette-length Erik Rugar fantasy-noir thriller, "This Green and Pleasant Sky," a novella about farming... on an asteroid populated by women prisoners, "My Grandfather's Grandfather Balled Goddesses," a Sword & Sorcery adventure set in the world of Cha'alt, and much much more!

  • Josef: A Fable - What happens when Society has officially decided that you're just not good enough?
  • Better Off Dead - In an all new Erik Rugar adventure, Dracoheim's premier agent investigates a potential undead uprising that coincides with the return of a legendary serial killer!
  • 284 Miles to Empty - A mysterious phone call from out of time brings two strangers together!
  • Johnny and the Nightmare Machine - Johnny discovers that farming gold in an abandoned MMO somehow pays out real cash! But where is the money coming from, and what is the catch?
  • They Delved Too Deep - Construction workers in an underground parking garage accidentally break into forgotten catacombs!
  • The Irregular - The last survivors of human kind wage guerilla war against the aliens who have occupied earth!
  • This Green and Pleasant Sky - Todd Allard is given a debtor's sentence to an asteroid penal farm, only to find that it has already been run into the ground by the women prisoners who have made it their playground! Can he turn things around before they're all liquidated?!
  • Fragile - A technician with brittle bone disease on a remote space outpost must face off against a deadly femme fatale!
  • The Fall of a Storm King - Luther lives his life overclocked so he can pilot around the rings of Saturn until an accident forces him to find new work!
  • My Grandfather's Grandfather Balled Goddesses - An unlikely duo must join forces to survive the wastelands of Cha'alt!

You can find the Small Worlds Kickstarter here!

The second Kickstarter today is from author and scientist Hans Schantz, and is a bit of a twist on a controversial topic these days. I'd explain it, but he does it much better on his campaign page. You can read it here for yourself. Suffice to say, it's not a normal project. Nonetheless, you definitely won't see this coming out of OldPub!

This infographic is included on the campaign page:

Find the campaign here!

As you can tell from the above infographic, this isn't exactly a normal sort of book. In fact, it has been running on Substack and Arktoons for nearly a year now. But this project is different, and it is currently being crowdfunded as we speak. This does make it worth keeping an eye on, especially considering the author's other works.

You can tell what the subject is about from the above infographic, but what is the Kickstarter for exactly? Well, here is the description:

Fifteen black and white line drawings by Elin Chancey add powerfully to the story, but significantly increase the production costs. That's why I'm giving you the opportunity to back The Wise of Heart and be first in line to get the ebook, backers' limited edition paperback and hardcovers, and other incentives. In add-ons, you can name a character, or even provide Elin a photo and have her add you to the jury in an illustration to appear in the book.

The advance sales from the campaign will help me cover my production costs and pay for Elin's excellent work, before a broader release.

What do you get? A meticulously researched 80k word illustrated novel steeped in the history and lore of the original Scopes Trial and informed by the latest in gender theory, transgender activism, and today's political maneuvering. Check out the episodes already posted on Substack and Arktoons, and back today!

You can check out The Wise of Heart campaign here!

For our final book today, I wanted to highlight a brand new release in a currently ongoing space opera saga. This is Eye of the Storm from Declan Finn's White Ops series! This is the fifth entry in this action packed ride.

Find it Here!

If you've not been following this hot blooded space opera series, well, now is the perfect time to jump in! for those who have read him, you definitely know what to expect here. Mr. Finn definitely knows how to have a good time, and his works never fail to get your blood pumping. The White OPs series is no different in that regard!

The description:

Those of the planet Renar have one rule regarding the local mafia: They do not exist.

When White Ops leader Sean Patrick Ryan uncovers its existence, he finds a world of political intrigue and corruption that stretches back years. The Mafia has cast a shadow that has touched every member of his team. Now, the Mafia wants to emerge from the shadows.

Their first target: Sean Ryan. Despite Sean being held back by local politics and diplomatic niceties, he's still the most dangerous man in the universe.

They underestimated him.

You can find Eye of the Storm here!

Before we go, I wanted to share one last neat thing with you. Some music!

These are a pair of new songs recently released on Bandcamp from NewPub stalwart Jacob Calta (featuring J.V.P.)! We don't see much on the rock music front these days being pushed in NewPub, but that definitely needs to change. There is a lot of interesting projects out there waiting to be discovered. This is one such release!

Find these new tracks here!

These two new songs are killer, and I'm glad to share them with you today. They manage to achieve the feat of being both heavily atmospheric as well as adrenaline pumping at the same time. Perfect for those action tales said author writes on 365 Infantry. The creators were also kind enough to share the background behind these tracks:

From the creator of heavy metal audio comic Ruthless and the creator of wolven cyberpulp 365 Infantry comes the electric new theme for our favorite pack of high-octane Wasteland soldiers. Inspired by heavy rock titans like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, this epic track salutes the hot-rodding, chopped-hog-riding hounds of the 365th.

Writing this song has been a terrific exercise in old-school metallic might and I cannot thank J.V.P. enough for collaborating. He was generous with his time, patient with me as a young buck (and a perfectionist), and wrote the core of the track, and helped come up with the opening bars of the Yamaha-laden intro. Without him, this all simply would not have happened. I thank him from the bottom of my heart and highly recommend you check out his other epic endeavors over on his YouTube channel:

Listen to Wolves of Steel and Soldiering On here!

That's all for today! I hope you got something out of this mish mash of wild new ideas coming out of NewPub, because there is really something for everyone. You could say a lot about the state of how things are now in the sider world, but that is the key takeaway here. There is always something waiting in the wilds.

No matter what comes in the future, there will always be something worth looking forward to, coming at you from an angle you will not be expecting it to come from. Isn't that what makes life so fun, after all?

Keep trucking along with us. There is plenty more coming down the turnpike.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Weekend Lounge ~ Strange Journey into Forgotten Lands!

Find the rare dub at the Internet Archive!

Welcome to the weekend! I hope your week has been as wild as mine has been. Starting a Kickstarter campaign and having it fund in 24 hours is exciting stuff. It wasn't quite what I expected to happen, but I can't say it's not a pleasant experience.

Nonetheless, it's the weekend. Time to unwind!

Today, I wanted to go over two things in particular, but before we get to the update on the Kickstarter, I wanted to share a rare find I recently stumbled across.

Years ago, back during Japan's bubble economy, the anime landscape was known for wild and weird OVAs unlike anything you had ever seen before. From weird projects like California Crisis to Megazone 23, it looked as if the sky was the limit. I want to share one of these with you today. Once such anime was known as Leda: the Fantastic Adventures of Yohko, one of the most influential OVAs of its time. This is an older portal story in the vein of A Princess of Mars or Escaflowne, meant to reach a more classic state of wonder. This OVA is not very much like a modern Isekai as we know them today, and that is much of what makes it great.

In Leda, a young woman writes a song for boy she likes, and her love transports her to a new world where an evil sorcerer wishes to use her talents for his own ends. It is her love that is the true power in this anime. Our main character must don the sword of the goddess and cross the land to put an end to this evil so she can get home and present her true feelings to the one she loves the most. It is the sort of romance one does not see too much in anime anymore, never mind one with this much wonder.

Some have complained that her crush isn't well defined or that there isn't any heavy worldbuilding on this one, but both miss the point of the OVA. It is love that transcends time and space and gives us the power to be the best we can be, no matter who we are. The particulars are not the point of this influential anime.

What you might not know about Leda is that, while it was popular and well respected in its day, is fairly unknown in the west even back when it released. However, there was a very rare, infamous dub that was once thought lost to time. That is, until it was put up on the Internet Archive. Now you can see this influential OVA and the rare dub in the same place since no one knows if it'll ever get released again. Rights issues with old OVAs are kind of dicey these days, never mind ones like this that never had much presence over here to begin with.

Nonetheless, Leda is a good watch and holds up well today, especially in a post-Pulp Revolution era where old OVAs are getting more attention in the west than they have in years. You'll have a good time with this one.

You can find the rare dub version of Leda: The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko here. Better check it out before the archive gets gutted thanks to certain OldPub authors scrounging for pennies to give to their masters. We might soon lose preservation efforts like this forever if such folks get their way. No legitimate artist should be for such things.

But that is just one of the things I wanted to mention today.

In other news, here is a new update on the Gemini Man Kickstarter! We funded within the first 24 hours and are now looking towards extras, including new stories and art to be included in the overall package. The initial campaign was to fund cover art for the big magazine-style omnibus release of the trilogy, and that will be commissioned once the campaign has ended. This is all thanks to the generous backers who jumped in so early.

The artist for the cover will be Manuel Guzman, the man who did the cover for Book 3, Gemini Outsider! He went above and beyond on that one. You can see the cover art process for Book 3 below. He did great work on this and I can't wait to see his work on the full trilogy cover! It's been a long time coming and we're so close to the end.

As for the final release, I just got my pre-release copy (without a cover or bonus content) of the paperback copy in the mail recently to look it over, and this thing is a behemoth! We're talking three novels and over 200,000 words and 300 wide pages. This thing is unwieldy, but that is how you want a full trilogy to be. It's definitely stuffed to the brim, though should we hit the stretch goals it will be even more packed.

That's a bit hard to believe from my perspective, but it's been a wild campaign so far. Let us see just how wild it will get be the end! There is plenty of time left to go!

Like I said, this is one huge project. That is why I wanted the readers to be a part of the process and help shape the final project. A full trilogy release like this is an undertaking unlike any I've done before. It's been a real strange journey.

But we have even more of the campaign to look forward to. We still have a month left and I have other surprises to share with you before we get to the end. Check out the campaign page and back today! You're going to love this one.

Wild times are just ahead!

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Gemini Man Kickstarter is Live!

The Campaign is live here!

Today is the day that my first ever Crowdfund campaign is a go! This has been a long time coming, and I'm happy too finally share it with you today!

The Kickstarter covers the entire Gemini Man series that I first started working on with Silver Empire a few years back. Only the first book was released, the second on the cusp of release when Silver Empire unfortunately shuttered operations, and the third book only ever made it through the editing process. I've had a whole year since getting these books back to finish putting out a few other works first (such as The Last Fanatics, Y Signal, and Generation Y: The New Lost Generation) but now I can proudly say that all three Gemini Man books are complete and ready for you to dive into!

Let us get into what this trilogy is all about.

The whole project began when Silver Empire approached me to write a new series for their upcoming Heroes Unleashed project. I knew I wanted to use this opportunity go all out. This wasn't going to quite be what you expect out of a superhero story. In fact, it's debatably a superhero story at all. I was still a newer writer when I began the Gemini Man, I had only published about two books when I started Book One, and wanted to throw everything including the kitchen sink into this world before me.

And that's just what I did.

The Gemini Man stars young adult Matthew White and teenager Jason Vermilion as they find themselves attached to bracelets named Castor and Pollux, both of which give them strange powers unlike anything on Earth . . . or other planets! The trilogy starts with the two escaping the experiment that gave them their powers and landing in a whole new world where magic lives and an unknown race of people roam. Can they escape their pursuers, or are they destined to be fuel for some warped alien being who wants to rule two worlds? The trilogy traces their journey from captives to free men, in more ways than one.

  • The first book, Gemini Warrior, is a portal story where our heroes land in a new world and have to find their way back out before they are blown to bits!
  • The second book, Gemini Drifter, is a road trip tale across the US as our heroes take on a quest to stop their enemies from unleashing their cult on the rest of humanity!
  • The last book, Gemini Outsider, follows our heroes as they try to set up a new life with their new reality, but old enemies won't let them rest. Can they finally defeat their foes and build a future for themselves? No more running. It is time to fight back!

Originally, this trilogy was meant to set up the characters and settings in the Heroes Unleashed universe, and as such I framed it as an origin story for Matthew and Jason, so by the end you will see them as the heroes they should appear as in any future projects Heroes Unleashed might have. Regardless of how that turns out, this is a complete series and the characters complete their arcs. 

While this is a complete series being offered today, all three can be read sequentially or independent of each other. This isn't one story chopped up randomly into three volumes. I didn't want this to be like a typical trilogy is done in OldPub.

Check out the campaign page for more information, including rewards and stretch goals. There is a lot to go over that I simply can't fit in this blog space.

Once again, thank you for everyone who has ever supported me before. It is thanks to you that I can even launch this campaign at all. Let's make this the best crowdfund we can!

The Gemini Man crowdfund is here.

Thank you again for all your support!