And in other news ...
Despite the lingering disappointment about the WoD, today was not a complete wash. I was hired to write another module for Goodman Games. The trick is that it needs to be done in time for a February convention --- it’s a crunch, but I think it can be done.

So far two of my adventures have been published. That leaves another seven somewhere in production, either being edited or on their way to the printer. My career is sort of the iceberg of d20 publishing.

Heh. Anyhow, Happy Halloween, Choosey Deathers! Thanks for being such great friends to a skull in need.

WoD News

"We were going to announce the five winners of Round Two of the World of Darkness Fiction Contest on Halloween, but the competition is so fierce and the winners so difficult to determine that this announcement has been postponed until November 15th.

(Ok, actually it's just taking the judge a long time to read through the 100 sample chapters from winners of Round One, but those winners don't want the judge to rush, do they?!)

Mark your calendars, because on November 15th we'll begin to share some of the sample chapters we received. See if you agree with the judge's selections."

The original post can be found here.


Have a wonderful Halloween!

~Your friend Grimmy

I know it isn’t about the money ...
...but it's still nice to get that check in the mail. :)

And if any of my other publishers happen to be reading this, I wholeheartedly encourage you to jump on the bandwagon and send Harley his money. Rent is due soon and it is hard to meet deadlines when I can't pay the electricity bill. ;)


Sensei Sez ...

"Dragons hoard everything they can get... Young Dragons even more so."

Laugh. Ain't that the truth.

Thanks for the thoughts, guys.

In my life, I'm trying to find that balance between clawing and screaming my way towards a novel, and a full-hearted gratitude towards you, my publishers, any readers, and the world in general. J.L. got it right when he wrote that one doesn't interfere with the other.

Perhaps equally important, I don’t want anyone to EVER suppose that Harley is better than unpublished writer X, because that simply isn’t true. If there is any discrepancy, it rests solely on the fact that I’ve been clawing at this door since I was twelve. Give me 15 years of your life, and I will make you a published author.

So where am I left? With control of one variable: time. If I miss these 3 chances, I can hang around another 15 years and try again.

But here’s a little secret just between you, me, and the internet. I want ‘em. Bad. Real bad. And if I get just one of these books, I’m buying you all drinks ….

… even if it’s just to kill off a few thousand of your brain cells to lessen the competition in the future. ;)


Not to put too fine a point on it ...
Quick post. Sorry for the brevity.

In five days and some odd hours I should be getting an answer from WW, either a rejection or a go ahead asking for an entire book. There are also the trailing streamers of a Wizards closed call (“We’ll keep you informed.”), and another d20 publisher who asked for a novel proposal. Three shots at a first novel, likely resolved in the next three months.


You might say I’m a little excited and anxious. My wife is sick of seeing me raise my fists to the sky in silent protest. I've left my blood on the skate park, trying to work off steam. I check my email 20 times a day, then forget my password in my anxiety.

Enough, Stroh. If I die walking home today, the tally would read in my favor. I have been fortunate enough to do and write more than I deserve. If I don’t publish another word for as long as I live, I would still need to give thanks for all the words I have published.

I am a fortunate, fortunate man.

So what I really have here is an opportunity to behave like an upright human being. It doesn’t do any good if I preach after getting a book. I have to say it, and live up to it, now. So here is my chance. Let’s see if Harley is enough of a human to meet the task at hand, step up to the edge of the battlements and not crumble before the coming darkness.

I want these books --- badly. I should want to be a good person even more.

From the Desk of Ed Gentry:

Did you know that WW has released the WoD CS, the entire CS in PDF for free?


Wow! Great find.

To clarify, this isn't the campaign setting, but the rules book. WoD has several interwoven settings (Vampire, Werewolf, Mage) for which a single rule system applies. But to actually roll up a Vampire character you will need to buy the Vampire book.

This doesn't make the rules book any less of a find. (I just downloaded it myself.) When I decided to enter the WW fiction contest, money was tight. After much painful deliberation, I bought the Vampire books and passed up the rules book. (For a novel I needed the fluff more than the rules system.) But now, thanks to Ed and Drive Thru RPG, I have both. :)

Making it to round two was worth $50, pretty much what I spent on the books, so at this point I've broken even with White Wolf. That's pretty much all a gambler – or writer – can hope for. :)


Not that you need any more distractions ….
Steve Jackson Games has an online store they call "Warehouse 23." You can buy my work there, along with a ton of other great gaming material.

But the warehouse is really just a cover. The warehouse has a basement.

This is a facility built to house forces and artifacts humankind was never meant to understand. Unholy artifacts. Alien technology. Weird tomes of lost lore. You get the idea.

The best part is, readers can add to the list.

Now, as writers, you and I are in the business of sellling the nightmares in our own mental basements. So entering them, sans copyright, into an online database is akin to giving pennies away to SJ Games. But there is an allure to this as well, contributing to something that will never come back to "Harley A. Stroh." Essentially, ideas for the sake of ideas.

That, and it’s fun.

So ... What is in the basement?

Countdown to Jeff and Marisa's Anniversary!
...aka Halloween!

...and the White Wolf announcement. ;)

Even if I get the big bounce, I'm excited to see what comes of the novel open call. The World of Darkness is an exciting one these days.


Or “No Time for Love, Doctor Jones!”

Yep. It's that time of year again. If you haven't heard of the organization/event, the folks at NaNo bill themselves as such:

"National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30."

The point is to drop any inhibitions and simply write. Good, bad, or ugly, you too can be a novelist by the end of next month. Check out http://www.nanowrimo.org/ for support and information.

I've known about these guys ever since Marce turned me on to the event, but I've yet to participate. Something in my gut has always regarded any personal involvement as counterproductive; for better or worse, rich or for poor, I’m here for the long haul. Harley’s Personal Writing needs MORE self-editing, not less.

However, if you’re among the thousands of writers that just need a little kick start, this might be the event for you. For my part, NaNo is certainly something I'd like to do before I die, simply for the experience.

One last note. NaNo is a great organization, but you don't need them to help you write a novel in a month. Any month can be your own personal "XXXXX words or bust!" event. Just a friendly reminder --- it starts and ends with you.


Death From Above!
Or... That Ninja is About to Lose His Pants!

It's a Ninja Pic. That's why you can't see it.

A rousing, Deathy Shout Out to Alex Anderegg, professional game designer/author! His first professional d20 work should be out by GenCon 2006 --- which means the line for his signature starts behind me. ;)

As long as I've known him, Alex has been a better writer, gamer, and human being than I could ever hope to be. He's rescued me from coffee shop dates gone horribly awry, fought me off during violent sleepwalking episodes, indulged my narcissistic skate videos, led the construction of a trebuchet, hung from my climbing belt while I clung to a wall dressed as a ninja --- you get the idea.

Alex and I did some design work for fun a few years ago, never expecting that either of us could get paid for playing games. Seeing a friend be published is as good, if not better, then getting published yourself. Congrats, Alex! It’s been a long time coming and I can’t wait to do the playtesting.

And if you're reading this, Alex, I haven't given up:

Crash helmet. Ring of fire. Shopping cart.


Email Down
It sounds like Comcast took a serious hit in Denver; I'm offline until that changes.



Goals for the Weekend
Maybe Thursday, noon, is too early to be thinking about the weekend, or maybe it reflects the tone of this work week. Regardless:

1. Finalize two module proposals for the Project. That's 44k due by January-ish, but earlier would be better.

2. Give thanks for the fact that I'm living the life that Harley, the child, never would have imagined. I'm getting paid to write modules?!

3. Re-sketch the maps for Mike’s campaign setting.

4. Attend a ska/punk show down in town.

5. Forget that I'm still waiting to hear back about the book. (See EC's Guide to Success in Publishing, rule #2012.)

6. Forget that the White Wolf novel announcement is just around the corner.

7. Fall down on concrete with friends until I accomplish #s 5 & 6.

8. Rethink the purpose of Choose Death. Nobody needs to hear about Harley's weekend plans --- write about something that matters, damnit!

If I don’t have time to post, have a wonderful weekend! Be safe, know that you are loved, and take a fall for me. If you should see an old man sitting on the street corner with some graph paper and a skateboard, you know who he is!


Barbeque on the Half Pipe!
This weekend I had the chance to help out with a local skate jam. I showed up early to sweep the park, then hung out to skate with the kids. We old men gave lessons, parents barbequed veggie burgers and hotdogs, and a good time was had by all. I’ve got a bit of a limp from trying to land a gap between two half pipes, but that’s what you get for showing off for photographers.

It is always good to be reminded of how much I take walking for granted. Seriously.

Harley: Danger Mouse

A couple of years ago, my friends and I found a recipe for Hollywood stunt glass. You can find the recipe in issue #4 of TIN, a zine I used to help out with.

But I digress ... stunt glass.

Being boys, we needed to put this knowledge to use. We destroyed a countertop in the process but after an afternoon of cooking we had a small, 2 foot by 2 foot pane.

We had the glass. All we needed was a reason to break it.

Unable to craft a stunt glass windshield, we quickly realized that skateboarding through the glass was the obvious next best option.

The glass project became the impetus behind an amateur skate video. Emphasis on amateur. This isn’t going to get anyone sponsored, and that was never the intent. The video was made for fun, between friends, and by that standard it was successful several times over.

Plus, it has Harley falling through a pane of glass.

Here is a brief excerpt of our movie: Old Men Falling Down. (Give her a minute or two to load. You might even want to save it to your hard drive so you can enlarge the picture)

Be warned: there is profanity in the last 5 seconds, and there is a lot of Harley falling down without a helmet. My skating has improved dramatically since we shot this footage, but the most dramatic change is that now I always wear a helmet.


If I’m going to try to make a living as a writer, my brain is my biggest asset.

(Funny how my biggest asset has such a knack of getting me into trouble.)

Regardless: Don’t be dumb like Harley. Protect that noggin’ kids!

This movie is in QuickTime format. Click here if you need the QuickTime plugin.

Special Thanks to: Spackle, Phlegm and Noise for patiently filming the movie, and for their help in the digital conversion. Couldn't have done it without them!