This is the first of what I hope is many podcast interviews with freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other small business people.
After 17 years working in the technology industry, Adam Wisnewski walked away from it just as it walked away from him. Now he shares his love of cooking through education, offering group classes, appearing on television, and writing a cookbook.
“I’ve been cooking for 40 years, with more than 15 years in the restaurant business. I’ve been helping friends and family expand their cooking skills since I was in high school, now I’m ready to help you!” – Adam
Eager to check out a game of Fate Core, I attended two days of Kingdom Con. I’m still planning my Fate Accelerated podcast, but if I dive right into a rule set, I know I’ll make assumptions that will become bad habits. So I was looking to play with an experienced GM, but this wasn’t baseline Fate Core. It was Fate Freeport, incorporating elements from D&D; stats instead of skills and a simplified version of its magic system. But it was the only game in town.
I had Thursday off too, so I figured I’d also check out a game of D&D 5th Edition, having only played a little 4th and a lot of 3rd. Both games designed to simulate fantasy literature.
D&D started out the usual way; a cluster of mercenary 1st level characters with no particular connection to each other. I grabbed a human fighter out of the pre-gens. We might have been in the Forgotten Realms, but it could have been anywhere. Fate used Spelljammer for its setting. D&D in space on flying sea-craft. The pre-gens were the command staff of the ship, and one stowaway. I was invested right away. As the ship’s captain I knew who the engineer, bosun, and stowaway were and how we related to each other. In D&D, I struggled to remember which guy was the cleric. Fate encourages players to create the PCs relationships while they’re creating the PCs, rather than the default group of murder hobos.
D&D took place in an urban setting, but it wasn’t long before we were in an underground tunnel, lined with traps, which lead to a room of monsters. The Fate adventure was a spacefaring journey. Sailing through the ether, we crossed an elvish ship, destroyed and adrift. The few surviving crew driven mad, babbling about a blue asteroid. Reluctantly, we tracked the asteroid and found a mixed fleet of ships docked inside. Each captained by a Beholder who’d enslaved the crew with their minds.
A starting Fate character is more capable. My 1st level fighter could shoot arrows. That’s about it. Oh, and he could heal himself once, which did come in handy. In Fate, my ship’s captain carried two pistols. She could unload both at the target at once, and could Create a Strategy creating a pool of bonuses for the crew. When we boarded an enemy ship, I ordered “sneak up on them.” The bonuses supported our sneak attack.
I enjoyed Fate far more than D&D. Both characters were pre-gens, but I was far more invested in the captain than the human fighter. Part of that was the dynamic of the group, but the system had a lot to do with it. In Fate, you contribute to the story and rarely have to consult the rules. This is what I want out of a game, but I know some people crunch numbers and regurgitate rules for fun. In D&D, the guy playing the bard told me every way he was going to min-max his character all the way up to 7th level. Both systems supposed to simulate fantasy fiction. Fate’s design supports that inspiration. While the books and books of rules in D&D became else.
My Picking Up the Ghost follow up story, The Ginger Jar is in the Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. (Woo hoo! Validation!) I threw in with the promotional efforts and recorded and mastered a podcast of interviews with other authors from the collection:
For the best sound quality, each episode was recorded three ways: Once in Skype, and on each local machine using Audacity. I’d bring the three tracks together, using the Skype recording to sync the other two, then I’d throw it out. Skype compresses its calls and they sometimes cut out. The local recordings are pure and good, like little cherubs. A few editing passes to cut redundant dialog, “Um”s, “Uh”s, “You Knows”, and other stall words, and the time I accidentally asked the same question twice in a row.
This also served as a test run or the techniques and technology for my own podcast; a writers role-playing thing, maybe actors and game designers too. I’ll pick a genre, assemble three creators involved with that genre, and run a short, 3 hour game after brain storming the setting, plot and characters. I can see this steaming on Twitch, the video uploaded to YouTube, and the audio stripped and saved on a podcasting service, supported by Patreon. How’s that for multiple streams of income?
I’d be using the Fate Accelerated system because it’s very rules light and flexible enough to feel like writing a first draft. I’ve never played Fate, a problem but I plan to remedy this weekend at Kingdom Con.
The Ginger Jar, my follow up story to Picking Up the Ghost is included in this collection:
On March 15, Running Wild Press will release the Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Volume 2.
This collection is one of our most eclectic, exciting and engaging. It’ll make your imagination soar.”
— Lisa Diane Kastner, Executive Editor, Running Wild Press
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA, March 12, 2018 /EINPresswire.com/ — On March 15, Running Wild Press will release the Running Wild ANTHOLOGY OF STORIES Volume 2, which includes over twenty stories that will make your heart race, make you joyful, fearful, thrilled, inspired, and horrified.
These are stories that will last with you. They span oceans, starscapes, lifetimes, and generations.
The team even threw in a fun-loving Pirate tale that ends in the fashion of Shakespeare’s time. Each one will make your imagination run wild
Featuring authors include: Gemma L. Brook, Lorna Walsh, Jasmine Wade, Laura Nelson Selinsky, Carol Dowd-Forte, Tone Milazzo, Julie Doherty, Tori Eldridge, Ken MacGregor, Nick Mazzuca, Andrew Adams, Susan Helene Gottfried, Amelia Kibbie, Lexis Parker, Rebecca House, Elan Barnehama, Gary Zenker, Suzanne Grieco Mattaboni, Joe Nasta, Cindy Cavett.
Authors from across the United States and Canada are featured in this eclectic collection.
ANTHOLOGY OF STORIES | Running Wild Press | Ingram Book Distributor | Fiction/Fantasy/General/Mystery
| $17.99 US | 168 pages | Paperback 5.5 x 8.5 | ISBN: 978-1-947041-05-9
Mouse is a young lady from Boundary, a section of the land called the Park. It borders the Jungle on one side and Newer Orleans on the other. While Earth hangs in the sky up above. Keeping their community running takes long days of work. It’s not enough, not enough food, not enough goods. Mouse asks, “Why is everyone working so hard? There’s got to be a better way.” But innovation is against the laws of the Castle the capital of the Park.
So Mouse works on her technology projects in secret. Like figuring out how the robotic Elephanthead that hangs over the town’s bar works. It’s been there as long as anyone can remember, singing songs and reciting poetry at random. Alone one night, Mouse cracks a code in Elephantheads’ ramblings. It tells here where she can find the Park’s most contraband items, books. There’s a room full of them in the Cursed Manor.
She returns from that haunted place with an armload of precious books. Unfortunately, a representative from the Castle arrives in Boundary. It’s the Duck, as unreasonable as he is unintelligible. He knows someone from Boundary has stolen from the Cursed Manor. He’s here to findthe transgressor. While the Duck tears up Boundary searching, Mouse finds a slot in the back of Elephanthead. It’s big enough for a damaged copy of Don Quixote. When she slides it into the slot, Elephanthead becomes fully functional. Or at least as much as head can be, a head who’s a bit insane.
Mouse covers for the awakened Elephanthead. But all Hell breaks loose when the Duck discovers what she’s done, pirates from another community raid Boundary, and a giant headless robot body with four arms stumbles into town. Mouse dodges pirates and the Duck. Elephanthead’s body pulls his head from the wall of the bar and places it on his shoulders. For the first time, Elephanthead is complete.
Whole, Elephanthead makes short work of the raiding pirates while the Duck escapes. It seems that Duck arranged the pirate raid, but why? Elephanthead declares Duck a villain and sets off on a quest to bring him to justice. Mouse sees an opportunity to find out why the Park is the way it is. With Elephanthead she’ll be safe anywhere.
The Duck fled across the desert and Elephanthead and Mouse followed. Over Lighting Mountain. Through the aging city of Newer Orleans, rotting and decadent. Across the river, its single island home to an orphan boy of terrible disposition. Down Main Street, pristine and empty, at least by humans. And into the high tech Land of Tomorrow, with rockets built that have never launched.
That’s where Mouse meets a real engineer. Someone who maintains the robots of the Park. Robots like the Duck. For centuries, these robots have maintained the status quo at all costs. Mouse finally has the answers to her question, “Why is everyone working so hard when there’s a better way?” The robots have been keeping people too busy to improve their lives or change anything in any way.
Outraged, Mouse vows to bring the whole system down. So people can control of their own destinies. With loyal and strong Elephanthead by her side, she follows the Duck’s trail into the Land of the Fantastic. A journey to the Castle itself, to take down whoever sits on the throne. Instead of a who, they find a what. The personality of the Park’s inventor, projected as a hologram. It explains that the Park is a space station that used to be an amusement park. When the Earth’s environment collapsed, people fled to the Park for safety. To keep them safe is to keep them from leaving, which means keeping them too busy surviving to do anything else.
Mouse isn’t having it. With the knowledge she’s learned in the Land of Tomorrow, she wipes the computer version of the Park’s founder. The orbital amusement park’s systems begin to fail. Leaving people in chaos, but free. And Mouse heads back to the Land of Tomorrow to get those rockets working.
All his life, Mark did everything right, everything he was supposed to. He studied hard and got good grades. When he graduated he worked hard and was loyal to his company. It didn’t matter. Nobody cared. After all that effort, he was just another disposable cog in the machine of business. Thrown away every time an accountant somewhere figured they could save a few bucks without him. And every time he got laid off, he’d have to start his career over again. He ended up at an Internet sweatshop cranking out websites for little pay and no respect.
It was the same with women. He was polite, patient. Picked up every check without batting an eye. He’d sometimes get a second date, but never a third. He tried to keep his hopes down, but they’d rise every time, only to get crushed and crushed again.
Still he soldiered on. Looking for the one thing missing that’ll help him get his life on track, turn it around. Maybe he needed a pet. So he adopted a dog from the shelter, a tiny little mutt, named Butch. A sympathetic act toward a helpless animal, sure to ingratiate him with his coworkers. And a cute little dog could to get him attention from the ladies. A month later, the dog tore up his apartment, defecated everywhere, and was driving Mark insane. Enraged, the threatened to kill the animal. Unimpressed, Butch told Mark, “You haven’t got the balls.”
Like Marley & Me meets The Exorcist, the little dog drives Mark further from reality and deeper into depravity. Mark thought his life was worthless before, but when Butch is done with him there’s nothing left, just a man sleeping in his car. That’s when Butch makes Mark a deal. He’ll give Mark everything he ever wanted, in exchange for his soul.
Desperate, Mark agrees to this Faustian bargain.
Butch sends Mark on a series of infernal missions, each more depraved than the last. And each time, Mark’s life gets better; a new job with coworkers that respect him, a new home with neighbors that like him, and a loving girlfriend. But some of them are starting to suspect that there’s something not quite right about his little dog.
My agent asked that I start writing another novel. One that’s unrelated to The Faith Machine. I’m writing up three, one-page outlines for her. Here’s the first. What do you think?
1930s New Mexico, when the headstrong young Beth isn’t helping run the family inn she’s butting heads with her mother, or pining for her beloved father. The man left almost two years ago, seeking his fortune. The inn’s done a good if grim business taking care of farmers escaping the Dust Bowl to California. Until a preacher shows up one day looking for her father. The preacher took a room to wait, but something about the man of God drove away the other customers. Beth hears a vile rumor her father’s in a jail two counties over. She takes the shotgun down off the wall and goes to clear his name. A week on foot, she reaches the jail and finds his no-good twin bother and con man in the cell instead. Her uncle knows where her father has gone and makes Beth an offer. He can’t get there, but if she springs him from jail he’ll take her to someone who can, the wild woman of the plains, Dorothy Gale.
Dorothy’s been wandering Western Kansas through the black blizzards of dust. She’s been trying to catch the wind. She returned to Kansas looking for love, but never found it. And she’s been searching for a way back to the land she left ever since. The land where she’s a princess. With a book from Beth’s father’s library, the three figure out how to cross through the winds and into the magical land called Oz.
But it’s a land torn apart by war, having fought off an invasion from below by the Gnome King’s forces and above by the Wicked Witch of the Night. A magical child again, Dorothy abandons Beth and her uncle to reclaim her place in the Emerald City. The remaining Americans travel alone across this strange and worn torn land. Past the Patchwork Girl and her nation of constructs. Through a shootout with a group of deserters of the Gnome King’s army. Across a narcotic poppy field and its gardeners. Trapped by the giants of Tartary, and more.
Beth and her uncle follow her father’s trail across the ruined land of Oz. Following her uncle’s lead reluctantly, they con help from locals. People who’ve crossed her father’s path, for good or for ill. They discovers her father in the adulterous company of the Wicked Witch of the Night. And he’s happy right where he is. Beth realizes her father’s as sinful as her mother told her, even more than her uncle. But family comes first. Beth makes a hard choice, tricks her uncle into taking her father’s place, and dragging her father back across Oz.
But the shortcuts and betrayals she and her uncle committed traveling here become new obstacles on her way back. And Dorothy’s return to the Emerald throne ignite her enemies who blame Beth for Dorothy’s return. Meanwhile, the Witch of the Night discovers her consorts betrayal and reignites her war on Oz.
Only when she stops taking the advice of her father and uncle and starts living by her own standards of honor and honesty can Beth stop the Witch of the Night’s war on Oz. Which allows them to journey home. When they return through the Dust Bowl to their inn in New Mexico there’s still the preacher. Dealing with him will force Beth to work with her two worst enemies, her parents.
Tim Powers was signing his new book months ago at Mysterious Galaxy. I have most of his short stories in one form or another. But he’s one of my favorite authors and always a pleasure to hear him speak. During Q&A, he told a story from when his first book was published.
At a Los Angeles book fair, he spotted Kurt Vonnegut waiting alone between engagements. Tim rallied his courage, walked up to him, and said, “Excuse me, Mr Vonnegut? I just wanted to say your work has been a huge inspiration to me. I’m an author too. My first novel’s just been published, and it would be a great honor if I could give you this signed copy.” Vonnegut accepted the copy with a grunt and a nod.
Later that afternoon, Tim found that copy of his book stuffed in a planter. Tim made himself a promise: If he ever did throw out a fan’s book, he’d use a trash can with a lid.
Years ago, Tim Powers and I were on a Comic Fest panel. Afterward I told him, “Mr Powers. I just wanted to say your work has been a huge inspiration to me-”
If he did throw it out, at least I now know he used a trash can with a lid.