The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #209: “Empty Hands” Reading – Elemental Alignments

Episode #209: Empty Hands Reading – Elemental Alignments

https://archive.org/download/podcast209_201908/Podcast%20209.mp3

This week, I’m reading a short excerpt from the martial arts novella, Empty Hands, as a follow up to last week’s episode on the Dungeons and Dragons influences.  This section touches on the five elements in nature (more back in episode 151) and how they fit the characters:

 

Jake and Aurora both fell into a character class Wally the wizard had called the “earth type.”  As the guys had mentioned, we’d done a little presentation detailing our strengths and weaknesses early in our training (I had to do mine twice since I didn’t understand the assignment the first time and had instead talked about Aurora).  Wally used that assignment to go into something he called “The Elemental School of Personality Assessment,” which he said was an important part of not only our magical studies but our training in general.  There were five main personality types corresponding to the five divisions of elemental forces in nature – earth, water, wind, fire, and space, as well as an infinite combination of blends.

Pure earth types were grounded, practical people who, like strongly rooted trees, were good at weathering the vicissitudes of life but could be a bit stubborn at times.  Dependable, practical, and steady types like Jake and Ben fell into that category.  Pure water types were kind of the opposite – adaptable and fluid, like water conforming to whatever container it finds itself in, though they could be a bit all over the place.  Phil, an easy-going sort who tended to go with the flow, fit this category.  He was not, however, a fickle person, prompting Wally to categorize him as an earth-water blend.

“You mean like mud?” Phil had said when Wally passed him the sheet of paper containing his alignment and its characteristics.

We’d laughed, but then Wally shrugged.  “Water is flexible, but it can be hard, if the force is right.  Earth is not fluid but mixed with a little water, it moves easily from one place to the next until it dries.  Too much, though, and it just becomes dirty water.  Do you get my drift?”

“Um … no,” Phil had said after a long pause.

“You will.  For now, it basically means you have the best of both worlds.”  Then to all of us, he said, “Keep in mind these are just predictions.  It’s up to you to figure out if they’re accurate and how to apply the knowledge to your training.”   

Like Phil, Aron also ended up a blend – part water and part wind.  Pure wind types, like Allan, were open-minded and peaceful.  Like birds soaring above the clouds, the day-to-day troubles of the earth-bound held little meaning for them.  They craved freedom, which fit Aron, but could be a bit impractical and out of touch with reality (definitely Aron and sometimes Allan, who preferred to think everything through prior to acting on anything).  Pure fire types, like Lance and Blake, were no-nonsense folk who believed the best defense was a good offense.  It was pretty clear that dynamic, straight-forward weapons like the bow and sword fit guys like that.  The downside of fire, of course, was that not all problems could be solved in direct ways. 

That left the last category, which Wally had initially called “empty space.”  Aron had burst out laughing at this, muttering something about it being the one that fit me best, and the others had joined in.  Wally silenced them, then paused and said that, actually, Aron might have been right for once.  This caused me to redden in anger and disappointment as Aron went bug-eyed and laughed hard enough to fall out of his chair. 

It wasn’t like I was especially taken with any of the previous categories, but as the youngest and physically smallest of the Rangers, it would have been nice to not be different at something – anything – for once.  I didn’t really care about not being able to run, swim, climb, fight, navigate, or use magic as well as the others.  Unlike some, I couldn’t imagine myself “a career man,” so excelling at soldiering skills (assuming I lived long enough), seemed a bit irrelevant for me and my life in the long run.  Frankly, I couldn’t have cared less whether I fit earth, wind, water, fire, or some blend of the four – but “empty space?”  Come on!

As if reading my thoughts, Wally frowned and said, “Empty space is perhaps not the right term.  The magic books sometimes use the word void (which produced a burst of hoots from Aron), but that, too, has always seemed a poor choice.  It’s …” he frowned, sighed, then continued.  “At some point in the future, science will catch up to what we wizards have known for eons – that all matter is composed of tiny particles too small to see.  They are the essence, the anima, that gives substance and life to all things in the natural world.  And, as such, particles from the void can become any of the four.  Add enough of them packed together, and they become earth.  Space them out far enough, they become wind.  Push them a bit closer together, they reform as water.  Add a bolt of lightning or some other energy source, and they become fire.”      

Allan nodded, saying, “Most interesting.  So this is the essence we harness when we generate magic.”

“Exactly!  You are pulling directly from the void,” Wally said.

There was silence for a time as we mulled this over.  Finally, Jake turned around in his seat and looked at me with his steady, cool brown eyes.  “I’m sorry we laughed, Logan.  It was wrong of us.”

I reddened further and stared down at my notebook, doodling with my piece of charcoal.  “It’s okay,” I finally said, still avoiding Jake’s eyes.  When I look back on that experience, I wish I had met and held the man’s gaze to let him know I appreciated his apology.  But … there are some things I suppose that only come with age.

After a moment, Aron asked quietly, “So … do you think there’s maybe a little void somewhere in me?”

Wally rolled his eyes and said “Aron, be grateful for what you have.”  After the lesson finished, Wally handed me the piece of paper containing information on my alignment.  On the side, he had written:

Read this over, and see if you think it fits.  Find me if you have any questions.

~Wally 

P.S. The woman you told us about from your town – the one you grew up with – sounds like more of an earth type, though at least from your description, she sounds like an earth – void blend.  I can see why you would enjoy her company.  Hope that gives you some more information about yourself that will be helpful in the coming months.

To be honest, it wasn’t then, but looking back years later, it sure has been.

Here’s a little character sketch I did about a year ago (a little different from their final iteration) when I was coming up with the ideas presented above:

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This page formerly had what I affectionately dubbed a “starving artist” section on little side hustles you could do (mostly on the internet, often with a phone) to make a few bucks here and there, often in gift cards.  Well, now you can listen to this show (as well as other podcasts) and get paid to do so!  Check out https://www.podcoin.com/ to listen to the show and start earning points that you can redeem for gift cards (Amazon, Target, Starbucks, etc) or donations to a number of charities.  Use the code “Thirteen” when you sign up to get 300 extra points.  The Thirteen Hour Podcast is now on BONUS this week, so you can earn more than normal (1.5x).

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #208: “Empty Hands” Behind the Scenes Part 4 and Musical Interludes

Episode #208: Empty Hands Behind the Scenes Part 4 and Musical Interludes

https://archive.org/download/podcast208_201908/Podcast%20208.mp3

This week, we’re discussing Empty Hands behind the scenes, specifically the influence of Dungeons and Dragons and the character creation process.  Just like the D and D alignments, the eight Rangers in Empty Hands have their own specific alignment that informs which sidearm they are assigned.  (If the idea of D and D morality alignments are as mysterious to you as they were to me before my brother explained them to me, check out the graphic I found on the internet below).

Image result for superhero d and d alignment

The rest of the episode focuses on two new synth tracks.  I add a second track to finish up “A Place of our Own” (see episodes 202 – 204 and the pixelart animation below).

I also start a new track that IG musician @nikeboyocta approached me about inspired by Van Halen’s “Dreams” (video above).  Look for more on IG and in coming weeks!

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In the meantime, this page formerly had what I affectionately dubbed a “starving artist” section on little side hustles you could do (mostly on the internet, often with a phone) to make a few bucks here and there, often in gift cards.  Well, now you can listen to this show (as well as other podcasts) and get paid to do so!  Check out https://www.podcoin.com/ to listen to the show and start earning points that you can redeem for gift cards (Amazon, Target, Starbucks, etc) or donations to a number of charities.  Use the code “Thirteen” when you sign up to get 300 extra points.  The Thirteen Hour Podcast is now on BONUS this week, so you can earn more than normal (1.5x).

 

 

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Case of the Grandmotherly Ghost Finale

Not long ago, my brother and I wrapped up the last installment in our second homebrew D and D roll20 campaign that my brother created based on The Thirteenth Hour.   This one was quite different from our first – more traditional, I suppose, in that it took place in the wilderness, had monsters, and more fantasy elements, like barbarians, magic spells, faerie circles, and dragons.  Unlike our first adventure, where our adventurers remained in the confines of a city and the enemies were more of the 2 legged human variety, this adventure also had a number of traditional D and D “monsters” (for lack of a better term).  Our heroes even got to adopt one (a griffon), and it will be interesting to see what that means in the future.  There was still a human element, though perhaps Stephen King described it best in writing about all the horror in just human nature that can exist below the surface in your typical small town (in this case, Aquaria, the sleepy hamlet that the heroes of The Thirteenth Hour, Logan and Aurora, come from).

Check out this blog post Jeremy wrote about this adventure to get a more behind the scenes look at what he was aiming for when writing it.

Click on the links below to watch all the episodes on youtube or just listen to the audio podcast style (most episodes run about 1.5-3 hrs).

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Some of the creatures encountered on this mission – owlbears and griffons!

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A scene from the final battle – sea serpent vs. mechanic dragon!  (Basically like a Godzilla movie)

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The town of Aquaria gets to know their barbarian neighbors in the Wild Lands and try to settle their differences. img_6124img_6122

Stay tuned for the next adventure in the land of Neva!  There will undoubtedly be some throwbacks to the foes seen in our first adventure, which can be found here.

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The Case of the Grandmotherly Ghost 8

Catch the latest updates of the homebrew roll20 campaign my brother created based on The Thirteenth Hour. In this episodes, our heroes replenish their supplies and get some new gear while not only avoiding getting taken prisoner by a group of barbarians but then forming a kind of friendship with them.  In addition, there is the taming of wild horses found in the Wild Lands, a barbaric part of the world filled with savage humans and wilder beasts.

img_5822img_5825img_5823img_5824You can watch episode 8 by clicking on the title picture above.

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The Case of the Grandmotherly Ghost 6 and 7

Catch the latest updates of the homebrew roll20 campaign my brother created based on The Thirteenth Hour. In these two episodes, our heroes chase a group of men who kidnapped orphans and may just be selling them and have to jump into a fairy circle that transports them to the Wild Lands, a barbaric part of the world filled with savage humans and wilder beasts. Lester and Claudia both almost die in combat several times – good thing they thought to bring emergency rations!

You can watch episode 6 here:

https://youtu.be/xcS17inf1sI

Watch episode 7 here:

https://youtu.be/q8wAZqvy38U

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The Case of the Grandmotherly Ghost 5

Catch the latest update of the homebrew roll20 campaign my brother created based on The Thirteenth Hour. In this episode, Lester and his crew infiltrate the now creepy Aquarian orphanage and do battle with otherworldly shapeshifters!

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Jeremy based the shapeshifters on this passage in The Thirteenth Hour:

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You can watch the entire campaign here:

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The Case of the Grandmotherly Ghost 4

Catch the latest update of the home brew roll20 campaign my brother created based on The Thirteenth Hour. In this episode, Lester pulls an all nighter with two wizards to try to get to the bottom of the ghostly business baiting Aquaria. He ends up being able to communicate with the dead! Bet he didn’t bet on that when he took on this case.

In the course of the episode, there were choices about whether to go to sleep or stay up to investigate (involving sneaking around in and out of peoples’ rooms like a total creeper, kind of like in the game The Last Express, discussed here.

You can watch the entire campaign here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YvpOEIaBF4&feature=youtu.be

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #127: The Wayfarer’s Escape Part 3 of 3

Episode #127: The Wayfarer’s Escape Part 3 of 3 – a Dungeons and Dragons Campaign Based on the World of The Thirteenth Hour

https://archive.org/download/Podcast127_201801/Podcast%20127.mp3

This week continues the recording (part 1 and part 2) I did of my first real foray into Dungeons and Dragons with a campaign my brother created using a backstory for the next installment in The Thirteenth Hour.   The Wayfarer finds a Rocketeer style jet pack this episode that may feature in a future installment.

 

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After the campaign ends, my brother and reflect on the experience, and we talk about a few what ifs.

 

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #126: The Wayfarer’s Escape Part 2 of 3

Episode #126: The Wayfarer’s Escape Part 2 of 3 – a Dungeons and Dragons Campaign Based on the World of The Thirteenth Hour

https://archive.org/download/Podcast126_201801/Podcast%20126.mp3

This week continues the recording (part 1 here) I did of my first real foray into Dungeons and Dragons with a campaign my brother created using a backstory for the next installment in The Thirteenth Hour.   Here are some photos from this week:

Abram and Wayfarer Breaking out of the cell.

the party

The party of four about to break out of the can.

Varisse grappled

… and into the fire …

sniping from distance pied piper 286160_screenshots_20171102032438_1 all gone to shit Cpt Dingas burns

dragon lighting the camp up

Getting singed by a dragon …

Stay tuned for part 3 next week!

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #125: The Wayfarer’s Escape Part 1 of 3

Episode #124: The Wayfarer’s Escape Part 1 of 3 – a Dungeons and Dragons Campaign Based on the World of The Thirteenth Hour

https://archive.org/download/Podcast125_201712/Podcast%20125.mp3

Despite having grown during the 80s, I never got into the whole Dungeons and Dragons fad.  I think I might have liked it had I had a group of like-minded friends to play it with, like in Stranger Things, but I didn’t know anyone like that.  It was also a lot harder to find out information in those days, so if it wasn’t in the public library or the Yellow Pages, it might as well not have existed.   I did discover bits and pieces that were related, like D and D game books, but really had no conception of what an actual role playing game was until much later, and when I actually found out it was like acting in a play, I was woefully disappointed.   I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but it surely wasn’t a big game of make believe – that was for kids, wasn’t it?

So, although I had to admit, the little figures and the game books always held a certain curiosity, my interest never really went any further than that.  In addition, it all looked needlessly complicated, and in the day and age of computers, what appeal could imaginary landscapes, dice, and turn based battles have?

A lot, actually.

Like a lot of things, your perception and experience of them depends on whether you are at a point in life to be receptive to them.  At this stage of my life, while I still enjoy playing a handful of video games (generally limited to times when I run on a treadmill), I often find the idea of them more appealing than actually playing.  While video games have the capacity of awakening the senses and transporting you to a virtual world and an immersive story, more often than not, I find myself getting frustrated with how much like work they seem.  If I’m lucky enough to have a few minutes free, the last thing I want to do it spend it on some mindlessly repetitive fetch quest or filler that game developers stuck in to add bloat to their game.  And as someone with young children, I find it increasingly frustrating to combat the inevitability of all the screen time in the average child’s life these days (and that’s to say nothing for the average adult, who might spend much of the day in front of a computer screen tapping out TPS reports or something similar).  There’s something appealing about slower paced, more analog forms of entertainment.

Enter Dungeons and Dragons – as an adult.  If it weren’t for my brother, who also discovered D and D later in life, none of this would have happened.  But after he got into it, played a few campaigns, and began functioning as a dungeon master (the person who organizes and coordinates the whole campaign for the other players and serves as narrator and referee), he offered to create a 1:1 campaign to allow me to experience this little piece of the 1980s that I missed.

And that’s what the next few weeks will be – a showcase into a little, self-contained campaign that Jeremy created based on a little segment for the next Thirteenth Hour book.  I gave him only a few lines and character sketches to go by, but from those humble beginnings generated several hours of play that opened my eyes and changed my mind as to what this slower paced gameplay could be like.  And I finally understood not only how much fun an actual role playing game could me (and not just a digital representation), but how people could spend all day on a D and D campaign, forget to eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom 🙂

The main character is this little adventure, who features heavily in the next two Thirteenth Hour books, is called the Wayfarer, a half-elf freedom fighter who has been captured and locked up in a makeshift dungeon.  While the method of his escape wasn’t something that I was planing to go into in the actual book, it made for a great backstory and gave Jeremy room to add and modify it as he wished to make the campaign more interesting.

In this episode, I talk a little about the backstory to set up the gameplay.  Since I audio-recorded a few parts, there will be a part the includes the first battle, which actually went on a little longer than anticipated and made me think of “turn based combat” in a while new way.

Here are some pictures from the campaign.  We didn’t go entirely analog, though.  Jeremy used a program called Tabletop Simulator to create visuals to simulate the little figurines, maps, and gameboards that can add depth to a game a help a D and D Luddite like me understand what’s going on.

File Dec 29, 6 02 05 PMFile Dec 29, 6 02 24 PM

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I finally learned what all the funny shaped dice were for.  It was also a great exercise as a writer to create my character, the Wayfarer (since I had to do that anyway).  There’s something about the D and D character creation process, though, that helps to make more fully fleshed out, 3D fantasy characters. 

Below are a few Hero Forge digital figurines Jeremy created to represent the Wayfarer (the jetpack comes in part 3).

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This fellow (not sure where he came from) provided Jeremy the inspiration for Abram, the Wayfarer’s prison break accomplice.

So in summary, I’d have to say that as a parent, I’d much rather have my kids get together with actual, live, in-the-flesh human beings and use their imaginations and problem solving skills to go through a Dungeons and Dragons campaign than play the equivalent in digital form with virtual players.  Stay tuned for part 2 next week!

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!  Thanks for coming on the show, Brent!  It was a pleasure!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #119: Reflections on Rewatching “Fire and Ice” With Jeremy and Chad

Episode #119: Reflections on Rewatching “Fire and Ice” With Jeremy and Chad

https://archive.org/download/Podcast119_201711/podcast%20119.mp3

Today’s episode is a discussion on rewatching the animated film, Fire and Ice, directed by Ralph Bakshi and produced by him and Frank Frazetta, who provided many of the character designs.   My brother, Jeremy, and author Chad Derdowski came on the show after watching the film to give our reflections (click on the movie poster below, painted by Frank Frazetta, to get a copy of your own):

We cover quite a bit, from pulp fiction, racial and gender stereotypes, to fantasy art and the dearth of painted novel covers and movie posters (like those done by Drew Struzan in the 80s for films like Back to the Future, Adventures in Babysitting, Big Trouble in Little China, and Blade Runner), and what ages we’d let our kids watch the film.

A few factoids covered in this episode.   For example, did you know that:

James Gurney, creator of Dinotopia, worked on the backgrounds to the film.  He chronicled his experiences working on the film on his blog.

Thomas Kinkade, “The Painter of Light” also worked on the film. Reading how he and Gurney worked together and pranked folks on the set is a good read!

-Not that it needs one, but Fire and Ice may get a remake (allegedly … supposedly … possibly … you know how these things go).  Some concept art here.

-Dark Wolf later inspired a similarly clad comic hero called Jaguar God … the first issue cover was a borrowed Frazetta painting.

Image result for jaguar god

-Despite different directors and different studios/animation styles, you can buy the whole (well, kind of) animated Lord of the Rings saga:

The Lord of the Rings Deluxe Edition/The Hobbit Deluxe Edition/The Return of the King Deluxe Edition/ (3-Pack/Giftset/DVD)

And a bit on the Dark Wolf character from the film, which we touched on during previous episodes Chad featured in (hear parts 1 and 2 here) – a combo of a “sword and sorcery” Batman (as Jeremy put it) crossed with the Death Dealer character Frazetta created and painted numerous times:

Image result for death dealer

Lastly, I leave you this image of Blackstar, a similarly clad figure that went with a sword and sorcery cartoon of the same era about an astronaut that lands on an alien planet.  He has a tagline that reads “Astronaut defender of freedom with glow in the dark star sword.”  Does it get any more 80s than that?  🙂 (You can watch the series on youtube.)

Image result for blackstar figure

 

And if you like sword and sorcery, check out Chad’s books!  The following tracks were inspired by them:

I’ll end with more info on where you can find the book that inspired these tracks:

Image result for fortune favors the bold chad derdowski

Get a copy of your own by clicking here or on the cover above: https://www.createspace.com/6289426

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fortunefavors_the_bold/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/TheScissorwulf/?ref=br_rs

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32842665-fortune-favors-the-bold?from_search=true

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2wnHPfV

Thanks, Chad, and Jeremy for coming on the show.  Look for more in the future!

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #95: “Elminster at the Magefair” by Ed Greenwood Part 3 of 3

Episode #95:  Forgotten Realms “Elminster at the Magefair” by Ed Greenwood Part 3 of 3

https://archive.org/download/Podcast95_20170520/Podcast%2095.mp3

Today’s episode is #3 in a three part telling of a fantasy short story by Ed Greenwood about Elminster the mage from the TSR Forgotten Realms anthology Realms of Valor. In this episode, Elminster meets his match and is helped by a friend.  There’s also an afterword that talks about how Ed Greenwood and many others created the Forgotten Realms universe – essentially an open source multisite project spanning decades.

Found this funny picture with a quote from our man of the hour.  I guess when you have lived 5 centuries, it’s easy to be zen about such things.

Image result for elminster

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

 

 

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #94: “Elminster at the Magefair” by Ed Greenwood Part 2 of 3

Episode #94:  Forgotten Realms “Elminster at the Magefair” by Ed Greenwood Part 2 of 3

https://archive.org/download/Podcast94_201705/Podcast%2094.mp3

Today’s episode is #2 in a three part telling of a fantasy short story by Ed Greenwood about Elminster the mage from the TSR Forgotten Realms anthology Realms of Valor. In this episode, we find out why his going to the mage Con creates such havoc.  My daughter refers to him as a “trouble maker.”  But he’s sufficiently well known, trouble maker or not, to have his own wikipedia entry, where you can learn about him and his creator, Ed Grrenwood: 

File:Elminster rom.JPG

This illustration is from the cover of a companion to Realms of Valor, called Realms of Magic.

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

 

 

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #93: “Elminster at the Magefair” by Ed Greenwood Part 1 of 3

Episode #93:  Forgotten Realms “Elminster at the Magefair” by Ed Greenwood Part 1 of 3

https://archive.org/download/Podcast93_201705/Podcast%2093.mp3

Today’s episode is a three part telling of a fantasy short story by Ed Greenwood about Elminster the mage from the TSR Forgotten Realms anthology Realms of Valor.  He’s apparently a kind of Gandalf -like figure in the Forgotten Realms D and D world.  In this episode, he goes to a wizards’ convention, and trouble finds him.

This picture by Ned Dameron shows Elminster and his travelling companion and bodyguard, Storm Silverhand.

unnamed (1).jpg

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
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  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

 

 

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #92: “The Bargain” by Elaine Cunningham Part 2 of 2

Episode #92:  Forgotten Realms “The Bargain” by Elaine Cunningham Part 2 of 2

https://archive.org/download/Podcast92_201705/Podcast%2092.mp3

Today’s episode is part 2 of the fantasy short story from the TSR Forgotten Realms anthology Realms of Valor, “The Bargain” by Elaine Cunningham.  It centers around a half elf character called Arilyn Moonblade and her companion, Danilo Thann, and in the episode, we learn why the story is called as it is.  If you missed the previous episode, here it is.

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

 

 

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #91: “The Bargain” by Elaine Cunningham Part 1 of 2

Episode #91:  Forgotten Realms “The Bargain” by Elaine Cunningham Part 1 of 2

https://archive.org/download/Podcast91_201705/Podcast%2091.mp3

Today’s episode continues the theme of the last two weeks – reading aloud a fantasy short story from the TSR Forgotten Realms anthology Realms of Valor.  This one is called “The Bargain” by Elaine Cunningham and centers around a half elf character called Arilyn Moonblade and her companion, Danilo Thann.  Here a pic of the two striking heroic poses, painting by Fred Fields:

Related image

So, like the last two weeks, listen along as I continue to butcher the names left and right and try to avoid putting in running commentary when I don’t understand something. I’m getting a bit better.  I think if I had started with stories like these when I was a kid instead of books that just had cool covers, I might have made out better with fantasy in general.

To be continued next week!

The first page of the story had this title illustration by Ned Dameron.  He did a number of illustrations for the Dark Tower books if that name rings a bell.

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

 


 

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #90: “Dark Mirror” by R.A. Salvatore Part 2 of 2

Episode #90:  Forgotten Realms “Dark Mirror” by R.A. Salvatore Part 2 of 2

https://archive.org/download/Podcast90_201705/Podcast%2090.mp3

Today’s episode continues where we left off last week (in the reading of “Dark Mirror” by R.A Salvatore from the anthology Realms of Valor) as Drizzt, the dark elf, and his magic panther with the unpronounceable name continue their travails to free a band of prisoners from some bad, bad creatures.

So, like last week, listen along as I continue to butcher the names left and right and try to avoid putting in running commentary when I don’t understand something.  But, the great thing about this story is that although it starts off simple enough, like a traditional fantasy story with the bad guys (orcs) and the good guys (human farmers), it becomes less and less clear as the tale progress who the good and bad creatures actually are.  I feel like if I had read more of this breed of fantasy story when I was a kid, I might have had a better time with the genre in general.  Oh well.

Apologies for the audio quality on this episode.  I had a lot of trouble recording for some reason.  The only way to get rid of the weird buzzing in the background was to try to clean up the audio enough it softens parts a bit too much.

I finally found the artist, Todd Lockwood, who did the great picture, entitled “Orc King,” from last week’s show notes.  Click on the full picture below to go to his website:



The first page of the story had this title illustration by Ned Dameron, which makes a little more sense this week than it did last week.  He did a number of illustrations for the Dark Tower books if that name rings a bell.

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #89: “Dark Mirror” by R.A. Salvatore Part 1 of 2

Episode #89:  Forgotten Realms “Dark Mirror” by R.A. Salvatore Part 1 of 2

https://archive.org/download/Podcast89_201704/Podcast%2089.mp3

Today’s episode starts a two part reading of a short story called “Dark Mirror” by fantasy author R.A. Salvatore from the D and D Forgotten Realms world.  It comes from a compilation of short stories in the book Realms of Valor.  Listen along as I butcher the names left and right and try to avoid putting in running commentary (everything probably would make more sense if I were more familiar with the world or Dungeons and Dragons).  I enjoyed it, though – I feel that since I write in this genre, I should at least try to educate myself a little …  This story, which we’ll finish next week, has the popular dark elf character, Drizzt.  (I mangle his name, too, and holy smokes, forget about his cat’s name.  I tried.)

https://www.pinterest.com/troysheff/drizzt/?lp=true

The first page had this title illustration by Ned Dameron.

To be continued next week!

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #87: Fantasy Author Joshua Robertson Returns to the Show!

Episode #87: Dark Fantasy Author Joshua Robertson Returns

https://archive.org/download/Podcast87JoshR2/Podcast%2087%20Josh%20R2.mp3

Today, Joshua Robertson, whose work has been featured a number of times here, comes back on the show to catch up and talk about exciting new developments.  He was last on the show on Episode #32 over a year ago, so a lot has happened since then!  His fan base has grown considerably, and he’s made the leap to being a full time author.

This year, he completed this trilogy of novels:

melkorkaboxset01jpg

The last volume of the series, Maharia, just came out.  Click on the picture of the book below to read a preview!  Stay tuned in the near future as this series is becoming an audiobook trilogy.

Maharia

He will also be a regular contributor to the fantasy site Fantasy Faction with a column on writing, cover design, and many other tips for aspiring and current authors.  (By the way, he recommends the book, The Fantasy Fiction Formula, as a great guide for writing in this genre.)  As with the last time he came on the show, there are lots of great writing tips for aspiring authors, so check out the episode for a listen.  If you are and were a Dungeons and Dragons player at any point, you may also find his take on how D and D has helped his writing.

Here’s how to reach him and find more of his work:

Website

Amazon

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

Youtube videolog/podcast – The Writer’s Edge

Youtube Goblin Horde – Josh and his partner have an unbelievable 9 kids together, and they run a Youtube channel about some of the things they do with their can as well as parenting tips

Crimson Edge Facebook Page and Book Club

He just finished up a gig at this year’s Brain to Books Convention, like last year, and will also be at the Soda City Comic Con this summer and Pensacola Comic Con next winter.

Lastly, he has a novelette available for free on Amazon, which you can download to checkout his writing and get a taste of his Thrice Nine Legends fantasy series (click on the cover to go to the page).

The Name of Death by [Robertson, Joshua]

 

It was great having Josh again on the show.  Look forward to hearing about the exciting things in store for Josh in the next year.

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The ending track, called “Between Two Worlds” was inspired by some of the introspective parts (like this one) from the soundtrack The Crow by Graeme Revell.  Watch for it on bandcamp in the next few weeks.

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #75: My Brother Visits – Reflections on 80s Movies Part 2 of 2 

Episode #75: Reflections on 80s Stuff Part 2: Video Games, Miniatures, and More Movies

https://archive.org/download/Podcast75_201701/Podcast%2075.mp3

We talk more sci-fi and fantasy movies from the 80s this episode … like this one:

Image result for howard the duck

My brother, who you may remember as my first phone guest in Episode #30, recently visited for the holidays.  We did an in studio recording while trying to paint little plastic miniatures for the sequel to The Thirteenth Hour while discussing 80s movies and games we’d both enjoyed as kids.  This is part 2.  You can find part 1 here.  We continue reflecting on 80s films in this episode and touch on a few favorite video games from the 8 bit era as well.

Here are some of the movies and games we talk about:

-Ladyhawke

-Legend (see the Tom Cruise running clip here)

-Highlander

-Highlander: The Animated Series (you can watch the series on youtube)

-E.T.

-Earth to Echo (a modern homage to E.T.)

-The Iron Giant (80s in nature)

-The Back to the Future trilogy

-Howard the Duck (here are some clips set to music from the movie with vocals by Lea Thompson and appearances by Jeffrey Jones and Tim Robbins – Don’t Turn Away and the ending song where Howard pulls some Marty McFly guitar riffs onstage).

-Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (that scene where the Jennifer Grey character kicks the Jeffrey Jones principal character in the noggin a few times)

-Conan (scenes where Conan abuses the quadrapeds)

Conan the Adventurer cartoon

-Quest for Glory

-Gauntlet …

As I mentioned last week, while were having this conversation, we were trying to paint little miniatures from Hero Forge, a site that allows you to create more or less custom miniatures (I made Logan and Aurora for the sequel to The Thirteenth Hour).  We had no idea what we were doing, really, though I got a lot of good tips from Mhawkinsart and Knives_mcdougal on Instagram.  Here are some pics of the process:

2017-01-05-16-29-22

It was messy …

2017-01-05-16-28-20

My first attempt at painting Aurora …  She kind of reminds me of an amphibian here.

2017-01-05-16-29-12

Doing the faces was really hard …

2017-01-06-01-41-50

Yup … none of these guys are going to win beauty awards … not that appearances are everything …

2017-01-10-00-07-22

My second attempt at doing Logan – now he looks like a burn victim.

logan-final

The final attempt – now Logan looks like Mickey Mouse!  But I’ve lost patience to it again …

aurora-final

…but Aurora I think looks a bit better … the whole process of painting these little guys reminds me of soldering electronics (never was great at that) or trying to pipet things in a lab (bad memories from college), but it was cool to see the final effect.  There’s one more figured to go … you’ll see periodic updates on Instagram.

You can follow Jeremy on Twitter and Instagram as well to get real-time updates and his unique insights into games and how we play them.  He’s written a number of insightful articles on his Tumblr blog.  Here are some representative articles on the Lone Wolf game books and Quest for Glory (also here). 

 

Happy New Year, and thanks for listening!

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  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #74: My Brother Visits – Reflections on 80s Movies Part 1 of 2 

Episode #74: Reflections on 80s Stuff: Dungeons and Dragons, Choose Your Adventure Books, and Movies

https://archive.org/download/Podcast74_201701/Podcast%2074.mp3

We talk sci-fi and fantasy movies from the 80s this episode … 

My brother, who you may remember as my first phone guest in Episode #30, recently visited for the holidays.  We did an in studio recording while trying to paint little plastic miniatures for the sequel to The Thirteenth Hour while discussing 80s movies and games we’d both enjoyed as kids.  We took the opportunity to rewatch a few, including Willow and The Last Starfighter, and I recently rewatched E.T., so those adult reflections on beloved children’s impressions formed a core of this episode.  Here are some of the films we touch on:

-E.T.

-Willow

-The Last Starfighter

-Labyrinth

-The Dark Crystal

-War Games

-Flight of the Navigator …

Since it’s quite long, I’ve broken the talk into two segments.  The last segment, which also talks a little on video games, will come out next week.

While we are having this conversation, We were trying to paint little miniatures from Hero Forge, a site that allows you to create more or less custom miniatures (I made Logan and Aurora for the sequel to The Thirteenth Hour).  We had no idea what we were doing, really, though I got a lot of good tips from Mhawkinsart and Knives_mcdougal on Instagram.  We did our best, but since it was basically our first time doing, some parts were pretty shite, and the faces came out pretty dysmorphic.  So I’ll post those later.  But Jeremy made this picture of our initial attempt:

Happy New Year, and thanks for listening!

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  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #32: Guest Fantasy Author Joshua Robertson and New Song Preview

Episode #32: Live Interview with Fantasy Author Joshua Robertson and Preview of New Ending Song

https://archive.org/download/13thHrEps16On/13th%20hr%2032.mp3

Today, I’ve very pleased to welcome dark fantasy author Joshua Robertson to the show.  It was a fun conversation and a chance to talk about all kinds of things related to fantasy, writing, and the like.

Turns out that we had very similar journeys in writing – he created a fantasy world as a kid (1999) and then re-edited the manuscript for a long time until recently publishing the stories he’d worked on since adolescence.  In fact, his first novel released publicly, Melkorka, he re-wrote 7 times!  Holy persistence, Batman!

He also discusses some of his most recent works, including Dyndaer, which was just released.

thriceseries

If you’re curious about some of the short stories that we read and discussed on the podcast, here are titles and links:

A Midwinter Sellsword – an ongoing short story series based on a table top game world.

Grimsdalr – a retelling of the Beowulf myth

Anaerfell – the short story that introduces readers to the Thrice Nine Legends series – Josh recommends that new readers to his works start here.

Josh’s ongoing story on Wattpad, The Eadfel: Game of Houses, is available here.

The story that I’m trying to turn into a novel, the modern retelling of the sleeping beauty fairy tale, is on Wattpad here.

If you’re an author or considering becoming one, Josh discusses a lot great information I wish I’d known years ago!  To use a handy but one of those annoyingly overused catchphrases of internet marketing, he brings a lot of high value content to the conversation (as well as to the podcast)!  Pay particular attention to his discussion on the importance of listening to your critics, making personal relationships with people on social media, starting the process of building your audience early (before publication – if you recall nothing else, remember this!!), the importance of a mailing list, and what he found most helpful as a young writer.

And … if you’re an author and are interested in publishing a short story through Josh’s publishing company, Crimson Edge, check out this anthology entitled “Maidens and Magic” – still taking submissions until 6/1/16.  Check it out!

Author Bio (links to Goodreads)

Joshua currently lives in Alaska with his wife and children. In 1999, he began crafting the world for Thrice Nine Legends, including Melkorka and Anaerfell. He is also the author of the A Midwinter Sellsword and Gladiators and Thieves in the Hawkhurst Saga. His short story,Grimsdalr, is inspired by the tale of Beowulf.

Social Media Links

Amazon

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter – look for the #fantasychat

Youtube videolog/podcast – The Writer’s Edge

Crimson Edge Facebook Page and Book Club

It was great having Josh on the show.  Josh, if you’re seeing this, know you’re welcome back anytime!

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Before I go, I’ll leave you with a work in progress – as I mentioned, The Thirteenth Hour is getting an ending song.  Since it’s a book inspired by 80s films, I figured it needed an 80s style ending song replete with synthesizers and electric guitars.  It’s not done, since the vocals still need to be worked in, but I’ve finally finishing recording the instrumental parts, which you can listen to here, on The Thirteenth Hour soundtrack page on Bandcamp.  Look for updates on the soundtrack page on Instagram (@the13thhr.ost).

star glow cover 6x9 front

Amazon giveaway for the children’s book, Your Star Will Glow Forever, is open until 3/22/16!  Stop by to see if you can score a free copy.  Mailing list subscribers find out about future giveaways and days when books go free early!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #17: Books That Influenced The Thirteenth Hour

Episode #17: Books That Influenced the Writing of The Thirteenth Hour

https://archive.org/download/13thHrEps16On/13th%20hr%2017.mp3

This episode talks about literary influences to The Thirteenth Hour, partly based on a post which can be found here:

https://13thhr.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/influences-behind-the-thirteenth-hour-part-1-books/

I also refer to the TSR Endless Quest series of gamebooks, similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure books of the time.

Image courtesy of Elfsteaks and Halfling Bacon

Here is a link on Goodreads to the historical gothic romance adventure books written by Madeline Brent, pseudonym for author and comic book written Peter O’Donnell.  He was creating great independent female characters before it was as trendy to do so as it is now.

“When You don’t know what to do, just do whatever comes next and go from there.”
Madeleine Brent, Moonraker’s Bride

Although not mentioned in the podcast, another book that I remember enjoying in grade school that is somewhat similar to books like The Neverending Story (but written for a somewhat younger audience) is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

The Phantom Tollbooth

Episode 18 will talk more about comic books and illustrations.

Thanks for listening!  Feel free to leave comments below!

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thunderclap 13th hr picture_edited-1

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Influences Behind “The Thirteenth Hour” Part 2: Film

This is a continuation of my previous post that looks at media influences behind The Thirteenth Hour.  Previously, I talked about how novels, illustrated children’s books, and graphic novels played into the writing and art style of the book.  Today, we’ll be looking at how movies and television programs did the same.  I’ve tried to include links for each where you can find out more if curious; all pictures are linked to their source sites.

Movies/TV:

ET – I was obsessed with this movie when I was eight years old.  As much as I liked the idea of an alien visiting my backyard, I think I also wanted to Eliot, the main character, too.  I mean, he got to drink Coke out of a can, had Star Wars action figures, and ate Reese’s pieces.  In 1988, that seemed like the bees knees as far as I was concerned.  And, he was a misunderstood youth who was picked on and bored at school – a sympathetic main character for an eight year old trying not to zone out while the teacher went on about long division.  There was also a scene near beginning of the film where his brothers are playing a board game I thought was Dungeons and Dragons (more on this below … or maybe the game Tunnels and Trolls), with little men and a diorama-like set that (I guess) was supposed to by a dungeon (you can sort of see it below and in this clip).

That seemed awesome at the time, too.  I created the character of Alfred, the boy who falls asleep in class and dreams the events in The Thirteenth Hour, with at least a little of Eliot in mind.

The Neverending Storyanother contribution to the Alfred character was one of the main characters from this 1984 film, Bastian, the boy who finds The Neverending Story book in an old bookstore while running away from bullies and gets transported inside its covers.  I saw this movie before I read the book.  They both have different merits, but I must admit that from the start, with the swirling, dreamscape clouds (see below) and 80s synthpop theme, I was hooked.

The Last Starfighteranother 1984 film about a young man, Alex Rogan, from a trailer park who is recruited into an interstellar space war after acing The Last Starfighter arcade game implanted on Earth by an enterprising alien recruiter.  Although I don’t think I realized it at time time, there are a lot of parallels in this story to how Logan from The Thirteenth Hour is recruited by Wally, a fast talking wizard, into becoming an Imperial Ranger.  There’s even a part where Wally tries to convince Logan he should stay in the Imperial Rangers, just like how the film’s alien recruiter tries to convince Alex he’s destined to be a starfighter and not just a kid from a trailer park.  (At least, that’s how I remembered it, I haven’t seen the movie in a long time.)  And, now, as I write this, I’m just realizing that Logan and (Alex) Rogan sound … kind … of … alike.  (I can’t remember if his last name is mentioned in the film, but it’s the one listed on imdb.com.)  Hmm.  I guess the things you consume do influence you in unconscious ways.  But … that’s kind of the point of this site – to explore where all this came from as much as possible!

Labyrinth – a film featuring a young Jennifer Connelly playing a girl that faces off against David Bowie (in tights and big hair) in a labyrinth filled with fantastical creatures to rescue her infant brother, who is kidnapped by David Bowie’s goblins.  Why David Bowie has goblins and is wearing tights is anybody’s guess, but it might have something to do with it being 1986.  Jim Henson and his team created the goblins for the film, and it’s a wonderful example of puppetry prior to films dominated by CGI.  I recently rewatched the movie with my brother, and we felt to held up pretty well over the years.  But one thing I was struck by this time was a scene where David Bowie is pointing at a clock with 13 hands:

Umm … 13 hands … 13 hours … uh … was I aware of this at the time when I wrote The Thirteenth Hour?  I’d seen the movie for sure; it was one of my favorites since first seeing it at age nine or so, but I honestly can’t remember looking back 16 years.  Who knows;  like I said above, the unconscious works in weird ways.

The Flight of Dragons this early 80s animated film (which I think was done by Japanese animators since the characters have that vaguely early 80s anime look) is another story in which the protagonist is transported into a parallel world, this time into the world of a game.

 

In the game’s world, there is a (if I remember correctly) subtle romance between the main character (the guy in the bowtie) and the princess character (the piece on the right).  Now, I haven’t watched this movie since I was in elementary school, but I seem to remember this part of it was, well … nice.  Yeah, really nice.  There was a kind of warm, fuzzy, wistful feel about the way the writers portrayed the growing attraction between these two characters.  Not sure what was responsible for this – it have been could be the 80s Japanese influence or just two and a half decades of fuzzy memory at work, but that’s what I remember for whatever reason.

Flight of the Navigatoranother 80s film in which a boy meets an alien (in the form of a spaceship), though this time, he’s abducted and transported 8 years into the future.  I think the scenes of the ship and its interior served as inspiration for some of The Thirteenth Hour‘s locations, like the Palace of the winds, with it’s floating chairs and staircases.

Flight Of The Navigator(the page this picture is from has lots of other great movies on it with clips and comments)

There are also some great scenes of the ship zooming through the clouds and over water, which was sort of what I was envisioning when Logan zooms around the sky on Lightning in The Thirteenth Hour.  I wonder if this was something of an 80s movie staple – films like The Neverending Story, The Flight of the Navigator, and The Lost Boys come to mind as ones where there is aerial footage of flying through a sunset-lit clouded sky.  I tried to do something similar in the book trailer.  I guess it was my way of paying homage to these films.

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logan flip clouds black cover no infinity

Update (2/7/16): Old and new covers of Logan soaring and backflipping in the skies.

The Sword in the Stone – This animated film from the 1960s had a great portrayal of Merlin the wizard.  It was based on the first part of the book, The Once and Future King by T.H. White, but this was one of the few cases where I enjoyed the movie more than the book.

There’s one part where Merlin transports himself to Bermuda, and when young (future King) Arthur asks where that is, Archimedes, Merlin’s pet owl and requisite Disney animal sidekick, says, (roughly) “Oh, some place that hasn’t been discovered yet.”  In the picture above, you can see Merlin is sporting shades and Bermuda shorts.  And that gives you some idea of the humor they imbued in the film.  I tried to give a nod to these kinds of anachronisms with the banter Logan has with Lightning, as well as with Wally, Wander, and William (these three wizards I envisioned looking something like the Merlin in this cartoon).

Willow unlike some of the other examples above, in this 80s fantasy film, there is no alternate world in which the protagonist is transported.  You started off the movie in it, which, after all the parallel universe shifting in 80s movies, was a nice change of pace.  (You can only stretch the fantasy thing so far – when fantasy characters pop up in the modern world and end running around in New York city or something, it gets a little weird.)  Anyway, I saw this when it first came out, thought it was basically the second coming, and now am kind of afraid to rewatch it for fear it may not have aged well (that’s probably true of a lot of these films, by the way).  However, I remember liking the epic score.  And, the idea of an unlikely, somewhat naive hero going on a quest to save a world is a fantasy staple that never really gets old.  Joseph Campbell has written about the archetypal tale of the hero’s journey and why it has appealed to us throughout the ages.

Legendlike Willow, the world of Legend is self-contained.  It also has Tim Curry in tons of makeup and a young Tom Cruise running around in armor but no pants (which, if you’re a straight dude, fail).  The story in this one I remember being, how shall we say … a bit shite.  I also saw it as a teenager, so I was probably a bit more critical than I would have had I seen it earlier.  But I recall enjoying the scenes with the unicorns and liked the soundtrack, which if I remember correctly, was a more traditional score (by Jerry Goldsmith) in some versions and a synthesizer-based one by Tangerine Dream in others.  I saw the synth one, and though I think fans of the film often knock it for being out of place, I thought it fit just fine for the 80s (The Neverending Story did something similar).   And, what the hell did I know at the time – it made perfect sense for unicorns to be frolicking about with a pantless Tom Cruise doing roundoffs on a table in the fight with Tim Curry while electric guitars and synthesizers wailed in the background.  I loved every bit of it, and that’s why I made a synth theme for The Thirteenth Hour.

  logan hair

As a total aside, in my opinion, the Tom Cruise character (like Noah Hathaway’s Atreyu character in The Neverending Story) had great hair.  Maybe it was more fashionable in the 80s when big hair was a thing, but to my untrained eye, I thought the longish, somewhat unkempt look was the perfect ‘do for an unassuming hero, and gave Logan from The Thirteenth Hour something similar.  Again, this may be just me looking back 16 years later and trying to make connections out of thin air, hey, if the shoe fits …

(Movies and book illustrations obviously don’t have to contend themselves with the obvious realities of trying to make hair like this look at least somewhat presentable.  Having unfortunately dabbled in the longish hair for a time when trying to um … save some funds, I erroneously thought long hair would be less hassle than short hair since you had to cut it less and do less with it – you know, like combing it.  Right?  Nope.)

The Black Cauldronlike Willow above, this Lloyd Alexander book spun into an unlikely children’s movie, which I remember being quite dark for Disney, was another example of the hero’s journey, where a reluctant hero (an assistant pig keeper, I think) goes on an epic journey because he believes in something bigger than himself.  I haven’t seen the film in a long time, but if I remember right, there’s also a cute romance that develops between the main character and the female lead, that, like in The Flight of Dragons, portrays those awkward, tentative first steps young adults make on their way to figuring out what love is.  In the future, perhaps I’ll write more about this aspect of writing Logan and Aurora’s relationship in The Thirteenth Hour, but for now, I’ll say that it look quite a few years to get their story right, as I suppose it took a number of years of life experience to be able to reflect and write about something that is so central to human existence, yet so mysterious and complex.

-“Wildfire” (cartoon) – a hard to find Hanna Barbera cartoon from 1986 about a girl who has another identity in a parallel universe and a magic horse called Wildfire that can transport her back and forth.  I remember it most for its catchy theme song which stuck with me all these years.  I can’t say this for sure, but I’m sure there was a reason why I thought it was important to have songs as a part of The Thirteenth Hour.  Maybe this is one of them.

“Dungeons and Dragons” (cartoon) – I had no idea what Dungeons and Dragons was as a kid.  I mean, I knew it was some kind of game set in a fantasy world with the potential for quests and epic battles and creatures like dragons and elves, and I had a few choose-you-own-adventure style D&D books that made the whole things seem just … epic, like something out of a video game (but almost better, since the graphics sucked back then).  Then, when I was older, I found out what a “role playing game” really was – you, well, played a role.  Like in a play.  You had to act.  And you had little funny shaped dice that decided your fate.  I never did figure out if you got to have those little action figures like in the ET scene and what, if anything, you did with them.  I mean, I don’t know what I expected, but for some reason, I remember being incredibly disappointed.  Looking back, I think what I really wanted was what video games now are capable of offering – an immersive fantasy world.  But obviously, that didn’t really exist in 1987 (or if it did, I certainly didn’t know about it).  But … there was this little cartoon which I watched sometimes on weekend mornings.  I don’t think I really understood what was going on, either, but it had knights, wizards, and dragons, and that was good enough for a seven year old.

In the next post, I’ll continue the video game talk and how my stumbling attempts at playing them influenced the creation of The Thirteenth Hour. 

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