The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #105: Author/Illustrator Missy Sheldrake Returns Part 2 of 2

Episode #105: Author and Illustrator Missy Sheldrake Interview #2 Part 2 of 2

Today, fantasy author Missy Sheldrake returns in part 2 of her interview as we catch up on all the things she’s been up to this past year (find her first interview here).

We spend the first part of this episode talking about podcasting, which Missy was thinking about doing.  Indie author Angela Chrysler (who came on the show back on episode #35) has been doing a youtube storytime reading series.  Putting shows on youtube would probably be one of the easiest way to put out a podcast.  If you are interested in learning more, here is also a quick start guide on producing a podcast quickly and without spending a lot of money that I put together here.

We also talked about making the transition to doing live events and a recent cover commission Missy did for one of her fellow authors, Christina McMullen.  There is a time lapse video of how she created the picture here.

A Space Girl From Earth Kindle Cover.jpg

We talk about our fantasy art influences and bemoan the loss of old-school hand painted covers in favor of the emphasis on hyper realistic, photorealistic digital photo covers that all end up looking the same.

Case in point/aside – take this movie poster/cover for the 80s scifi movie Solarbabies and a more generic photo cover to the right:

Image result for solarbabies Image result for solarbabies

Anyway … follow Missy on Instagram gallery for more pictures and updates on her illustrations.  I’m sure we’ll see more as she works on her fifth book in her Keeper of the Wellspring series.

There’s also a fun little easter egg for those who stick around until the end of this episode!


Click on the banner below to learn more about the series on Amazon.  If you haven’t read them yet, Missy let me know that this week, on 8/16/17, the first book, Call of Kythshire, is free, so take the chance to grab a copy!

Thanks again, Missy, for coming on the show, and good luck writing book #5!









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 and movie soundtracks from that era.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!


The Thirteenth Hour Podast #65: Morgan and Yew – a Serendipity Book Read Aloud

Episode #65: Reading of Morgan and Yew

Back in the 70s and 80s, there were a ton of these little softcover books published by author and artist team Stephen Cosgrove and Robin James.  They were short illustrated books intended to be read to children featuring animals in a fantasy setting and a little moral at the end.  They were, in a sense, short fairy tales.

One of the nice things, I always thought, were the beautiful illustrations accompanying each page done by Robin James.  I’m sure they provided inspiration to many a young artist.

Interestingly enough, these books were an early successful foray in self publishing.  Apparently, the author, Stephen Cosgrave, initially couldn’t get anyone to publish his books so he decided to take the process on himself.  I can imagine that must have quite an undertaking at the time, since even today, it is expensive to get books printed in color while keeping the price point at something reasonable a parent will be willing to spend.  Good for him for sticking with it long enough for it to take off.

In any event, this is a particularly cute one I read with my daughter about the unlikely friendship between a unicorn and a sheep.


Here are some pictures from the book:


As always, thanks for listening!


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  • Free online streaming of the growing Thirteenth Hour soundtrack:  Stay tuned to a full 45+ min album coming 11/13/16.  Join the mailing list for a free copy.
  • Website:
  • Book trailer:
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #60: A Storytime Reading of Sleeping Beauty

Episode #60: Sleeping Beauty Reading

This week, my daughter and I are reading The Sleeping Beauty, written/retold and beautifully illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, who also illustrated St. George and the Dragon, which we read on episode #52.  Below are some pictures:

Image result for trina schart hyman sleeping beauty

Image result for trina schart hyman sleeping beauty

As an aside, my brother recently told me that Stan Bush, the man behind “The Touch” created a new 80s-style anthem for the game Shadow Warrior 2 – something that is incredibly awesome on so many levels I don’t know where to start.  You can listen to the EP on Souncloud! (click on the link above to listen).

Speaking of which, the soundtrack to The Thirteenth Hour, Long Ago Not So Far Away is done and will be coming out on 11/13/16.  It will be available digitally and on CD.  If I can find a few cassette tapes, I may even try to make a few cassettes that will be available on the eBay store for the truly old school.  (Remember making mix tapes?  This assumes I actually remember how to do that 🙂  If you want an advance preview in the next few weeks, sign up for the mailing list for a free advance digital copy!


As always, thanks for listening!


  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast and a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your daily weekday dose of ninjas, martial arts bits, archery, flips, breakdancing action figures, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and occasional pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Free online streaming of the growing Thirteenth Hour soundtrack:  Stay tuned to a full 45+ min album coming in the next few weeks!
  • Website:
  • Book trailer:
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #55: Storytime Fairytales X 2

Episode #55: The Well at World’s End and Cap ‘O Rushes Fairytale Readings

In this week’s podcast, my daughter and I read two traditional fairy tales.  Illustrations from the book we read them from, Tales From The Enchanted World, are below.  We’d previously read from this book in the reading of the tale, Childe Roland.


The Well at World’s End


Cap ‘O Rushes

I’m currrently in the process of transitioning old podcast episodes to a new server, but hopefully, there should be no interruptions and no real change for listeners.  You should still be able to access the podcasts here and on iTunes, as before.

As always, thanks for listening!



The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #52: Storytime Reading of St. George and the Dragon 

Episode #52: Storytime Reading of St. George and the Dragon

This week, we’re reading an illustrated adaptation of the first part of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queen – the tale of St. George and the Dragon.  The one we’re reading from was illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (check out a tribute and bio on this blog) and penned by Margaret Hodges.  You can find a copy online at retailers like Amazon or you local library.  There are a few pictures and excerpts includes below.  I’d recommend any of the books written and illustrated by this duo if you enjoy fairy tales and/or fantasy art.

The tale is an abridged version for children of the original, which was a lengthy poem.  You can find a summary of the original Faerie Queen tale and a commentary here.  It’s more adult oriented than this version and has more overt allegorical/religious/moral overtones as opposed to this one, which reads more like a traditional fairy tale and mirrors the end of the original poem, a summary of which you can find here.

Personally, I have always wondered why everyone had it in for the dragon, who also fought a good fight, and I kind of felt bad for him.  Here he was minding his own business and … well, I guess that kind of flips the story on its head, doesn’t it.  Maybe someone one day can rewrite the tale from the dragon’s point of view.

But that’s neither here nor there.  Anyhow, I posted a few pictures from the book on Instagram before from the book, which you can find here:

Here are some others:

It’s also in these pages that we learn that the name George means “Plow the Earth” and “Fight the Good Fight.”  Georges of the world, take note and take heart.  You have a fine lineage.

As always, thanks for listening!


The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #50: Reading of Robert Browning’s Poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”

Episode #50: Storytime Reading of Robert Browning’s Poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”

Last week, we read the Old English fairy tale, “Childe Roland.”  This week, I’m reading aloud the Robert Browning poem, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” which was the inspiration for Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.  It’s quite different from the fairy tale and from King’s books, though it shares the dark psychological bent he gave his long magnus opus.  I found it a difficult poem to read.  Couldn’t quite get into a good rhythm, so there are parts that seem more staccato than I would have liked.  It seemed more like one of those works that tries to evoke a series of feelings and images rather than telling a narrative tale.  It reminded me of the Coleridge poem, “Kubla Khan” (In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree …).  

You can find an interpretation of Browning’s poem on Sparknotes.  One of the takeaways of the poem is there is always sacrifice in the single minded devotion to a goal and sometimes that leads to some culture shock when others can’t quite understand what the goal was all for.  Logan from The Thirteenth Hour figures that at the end of his own long quest, as mentioned here.

Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, by Thomas Moran (clicking on the picture takes you to the Wikipedia entry to this poem).

If you don’t know the story of Roland a la Stephen King, I highly recommend reading them or listening to the audio books (which are excellent).  The first novel, The Gunslinger, has a great opening line.  Below are some pictures from the novels in the series.

2016-06-24 14.14.42

The beginning of The Gunslinger

2016-06-24 14.25.30

Susannah Dean takes aim with Roland’s revolver, by Ned Dameron.

2016-06-24 14.30.21

Jake Chambers and Oy on the attack, by Michael Whelan.

2016-06-24 14.31.38

Jake and Roland at the clearing at the end of the path, by Michael Whelan.

As always, thanks for listening!


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  • Website:
  • Book trailer:
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #49: Fairytale Storytime – Childe Roland

Episode #49: Fairytale Storytime Reading of “Childe Roland”

This week, we are reading a narrative form of the old English fairytale, “Childe Roland” as he quests after the Elf King in the Dark Tower from this illustrated book:


Click on the picture above to be taken to an Amazon link (book now out of print, unfortunately).

Illustrations by Moira Kemp that accompany the text:


Childe Roland encounters Merlin.


Childe Roland getting schooled by Merlin.


Childe Roland on his quest.


Childe Roland tempted by food as his sister, Burd Ellen, is unable to keep from giving it to him.


The King of Elfland.


Next week, we’ll read the poem by Robert Browning, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.”

This story provided inspiration for Stephen Kin’s epic fantasy, the Dark Tower series.  More on this in the future.  Here are some illustrations by Michael Whelan of Stephen King’s version of Childe Roland, Roland of Gilead, the Gunslinger:

2016-06-24 14.13.28

Roland and a young Jake Chambers, the real “childe” version of the adult Roland.

2016-06-24 14.13.20

Roland looking into a pond, probably contemplating all the sacrifices he’s gone through on his quest for the Dark Tower.

As always, thanks for listening!


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  • Website:
  • Book trailer:
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at for more details!

Author Spotlight – Missy Sheldrake and Her Newest Release

On this past week’s podcast, fantasy author Missy Sheldrake came on, and we had a great conversation.  You can check it out here if you haven’t listened to it yet.

Today, I’m pleased to announce that her newest book is now live!


Here are links to the purchase the book on Amazon and learn more about it on Goodreads.

Like an excerpt?  Read one here!

Below, you’ll find a number of wonderful digitally painted illustrations from this new volume.  More can be found on her website’s illustration section.




Author Bio:

Missy Sheldrake is an author/illustrator who has been conjuring images of fairies in one form or another since she was very young. The wind in the trees and the rich scent of forest earth are her most treasured sources of inspiration, and on most mornings you will find her wandering the wooded paths, dreaming of the next adventure she hopes to put to the page.

Missy was born in Connecticut and attended Western Connecticut State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Art with a concentration in painting and illustration. Even then, in her free time, she was writing. She moved to Northern Virginia several years ago and lives there now, on the outskirts of Washington D.C., with her true love and their son. She published her first novel, Call of Kythshire, in March of 2015 and intends to keep writing as long as the fairies allow it.

Links to the Previous Volumes in the Series:

Call of Kythshire (Book One):

Call of Sunteri (Book Two):

Snowberry Blossom (Perma-free holiday short story):


Author Social Media Links:








Good luck, Missy, with the launch!  May the fairies bring good luck.


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  • Website:
  • Book trailer:
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #30: Homebrew Video Games with My Bro

Episode #30: My Brother Joins the Show and Talks About Homebrew Video Game Creation

Today, I have my first live guest!  My brother, Jeremy, who writes about video games on his blog, Pixel Grotto, joins me for a conversation about the video games we made (and tried to make) when we were kids.  It all started when Jeremy got interested in a graphical video game making software program called Klik ‘N Play (this was in the late 1990s), and started making homebrew games.  The nice thing was that because it was graphical, the learning curve to making games was considerably lower.


Eventually, I became interested, too, and decided to make fan games of my own, starting with one called Tomb Raider: The Unicorn Quest, where a young Lara Croft goes on a search for a unicorn with her mentor, who is ambushed and killed not long after they locate the mythical animal, leaving Lara stranded on a quest to save the unicorn and avenge the death of her mentor.  It sounds better than it really was!  But I’ve recently relocated the game files – those and more about the game can be found in the separate post here).

I wrote in a previous post about plans to make a sequel that I think I was going to call Tomb Raider: Shadow of the Wolf, with better animations … but that ended up in development hell, as they say.  You can read more of here).

Links to download the other games we talked about (games about chimp fighting, breakdancing, etc) are here.

Links to the gamemaking software we talked about:

Klik ‘N PLay

The Games Factory

Multimedia fusion

Clickteam Fusion – the modern, free version of the above programs


You can follow Jeremy on Twitter as well to get real-time updates and his unique insights into games and how we play them.

Here are a few links to his articles on his Tumblr site: – on the Lone Wolf game books and how they were visual novelized – on the Batman: Arhkam Knight

As always, thanks for listening!


Launch Day is Here!

It’s finally here!  The 3rd edition of The Thirteenth Hour is finally official.  I created a new trailer, which you can see below:

detail of moon and stars copy.jpg

There are currently three book giveaways going on now, two on Amazon and one on Goodreads.  Check them out for the chance to win some free books!

Amazon Giveaway for the print edition of The Thirteenth Hour

Amazon Giveaway for the print edition of A Shadow in the Moonlight – ending 1/18/16

Goodreads Giveaway for the print edition of The Thirteenth Hour open on 1/16/16

Other ways to get a sample of the book and see if the writing style is to your taste:

->download a sample on amazon

->download a free copy of the prequel, A Shadow in the Moonlight, on Smashwords or Amazon

->download a free copy of the standalone short story, “Falling Leaves Don’t Weep” (may contain vague, obtuse spoilers) on Smashwords

->email me for a sample chapter @

->email me @ if you’d like to review the book – you get a gift copy for free.

->download the first 15 episodes of this podcast on itunes (granted, an earlier draft of the book, but it’s all there, start to finish), where you can also check out the weekly podcast, now on episode 22!

Interested in purchasing a copy?  Go here.

Stat tuned for more info over the next week!


thunderclap 13th hr picture_edited-1


The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #16: The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Returns!

Episode #16: How It Began

After about a year, I’ve decided to resume the podcast that I originally set up to read an earlier draft of The Thirteenth Hour.  In regular 15-20 minute episodes, I’m going to be talking about the creation of the book as well as some topics that are also featured on this blog that relate, in some way, to the book (archery, martial arts, backflips, etc).  Sometimes the episodes will refer back to previous posts, as they do in this first one.  I’ll include relevant links in these posts when that happens.  Here are the posts referred to in this episode – technically episode #16, though really the first one of this format.

How the book began

How I envisioned it as a futuristic book with flexible screens

How the main characters were created

I think it will be a nice venue for other things as well, like playing ot performing music and songs written for the book and its cousins.

I have changed the podcast cover image to reflect the book’s new look:

new cover square 1400x1400 dropcard podcast

FYI, you can download episodes 1-15 on itunes (they’re essentially a reading of the book, though the text differs slightly from the one ultimately published).  If all goes well, you should be able to get the rest of these episodes on itunes as well, though there will always be separate posts about each episode here.


thunderclap 13th hr picture_edited-1



The Thirteenth Hour Kindle Edition 60% Off Sale – This Week!

Get The Thirteenth Hour for the Kindle this week for $1.99, as opposed to its usual $4.99 price!

That’s a discount of 60%!

Want to try before you buy?  Check out the links below for excerpts and other free stuff.

Here’s the link to

logan and aurora castle grounds moonWM


One sentence summary: a nontraditional faerie tale for adults about a young man and his childhood friend who journey to the ends of the Earth to find the secret of eternal life for a narcissistic King, learning a little about living, loving, dying, and dreaming in the process.

You might like this book if you enjoy … 

  • 1980s fantasy and scifi films
  • books like The Neverending Story by Michael Ende or Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • adventures with unassuming, introspective protagonists
  • coming of age stories
  • irreverent (probably politically incorrect) humor
  • fantasy art
  • martial arts
  • gymnastics/acrobatics
  • archery
  • throwing cards
  • skipping stones
  • contemplating the nature of human existence
  • backflipping chimpanzees (yes, there is one)


Additional Art Gallery Now Open on WIPNation

In addition to deviantart, some illustrations from The Thirteenth Hour and future works are now on this online gallery as well:

You can critique, get critiqued, and comment on a wide variety of fantasy art images there.

For example, check out some of these awesome images by great artists (they link back to the original site):

“Castle” by alextooth

“Quest” by cptcrandall


Influences Behind “The Thirteenth Hour” Part 3: Video Games

In the last few entries, I talked about literature and film influences that went into the making of The Thirteenth Hour.   I could say that I was similarly influenced by video games … but, with a few notable exceptions, I’d actually be lying.

See, I had a rather conflicted relationship with video games when I was a kid.  I always wanted to like them, and there were a few that I did enjoy, but my experiences with them were sort of like my experiences trying to read fantasy books, as detailed in my previous book post.  In other words, frustrating.   There were a couple of reasons that make more sense now as an adult.

First, my parents felt I shouldn’t spend too much time in front of a TV or computer (and now that I’m a parent myself, I have to agree with them), so my success with these electronic bits of interactive story telling was limited just by the nature of less overall time with them.  (The 286 computer we had took forever to boot up, and sometimes it didn’t boot at all, so when that happened, that was the end of that.)  Foreshortened time did create a sort of pressure to maximize the amount that I could do, but really, that was a small issue.

The real problem was that I was pretty lousy at most of the games I had, and to be honest, looking back, most of them weren’t very good to begin with.  And some were insanely hard.  (It seems that some super hard games are seen more favorably these days out of nostalgia for their retro pixelation and/or their so-called “challenging gameplay” … but try telling that to a ten year old who can’t get past the first level).  People like the Angry Video Game Nerd have created whole careers out of ripping these old games new assholes, but they’re mostly right – a lot of these games just plain blew goats!

Let’s backtrack for a second.  This was the 1980s.  There was no internet (at least none that I was aware of), and aside from word of mouth, I think people basically just hoped for the best when they bought a game.  It was basically a hail Mary whether your (or, probably more likely if you were a kid, you parents’) hard earned 40-50 bucks would end up yielding a winner or a stinking turd polished with good box art.  Though I had no experience with them, there were rental places for the console games, so you could try before you bought a game.  I think nothing like that existed for computer games, though.  And regardless of the platform, if you got stuck, you were pretty much on your own unless you had friends who knew what to do or you managed to find a magazine or book that had tips.

Later, I found out about cheat and level codes for NES games, which helped somewhat, but in the beginning, without the ability to save a game, I basically ended up having to play from the beginning each time.  So, I got great at the first few levels, but seldom got much practice at the later ones simply because it was such a process to get there.  I can distinctly recall my hands sweaty and trembling in anticipation around the controller the further and further I progressed, knowing that not only was I on my last life, but if I messed up, I’d have to go all the way back to the beginning (which happened a lot).  So, I think out of the small collection of Nintendo and PC games that I owned, I finished a grand total of … wait for it … zero games.  Yup, zero!

Now, my brother had quite a different experience with all this.  He was born a number of years later, so when he got interested in video games, it was already the age of the internet, strategy guides, and emulators with save states.  He was (and still is) a better natural video game player and had the patience for things like reading manuals and learning the actual gameplay mechanics.  He still plays and writes about video games in the blog pixelgrotto.  If you enjoy reading well written reflections on a wide variety of games and related topics, I’d highly recommend checking out his blog.  Unlike me, he actually was successful at finishing games when he was a kid, so, at least in my book, that should count for something.

However, this wasn’t meant to be a diatribe against video games.  Quite the contrary.  Aside from the above, their overall experience was frustrating mainly because the potential for greatness was so high.  Here was an interactive world with moving pictures and sound and a story you controlled – all in one nifty package!  What more could you ask for?  Well, a lot, actually, but there were a few games that stood out, even to me, at the time.  And these are two that influenced the world of The Thirteenth Hour.

Wizards and Warriors II: Ironswordthis was a Nintendo game that I’d seen in an issue of that great advertisement for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo Power.  It was, in fact, probably the only game I owned where I had the benefit of tips from that magazine.  Probably for that reason, I progressed the farthest in it of all the games I owned, right until the next to last level, which I never did beat.

But on to the story.  It had this little bug eyed hero, Kuros, depicted by Fabio on the box:


Ironsword Kuros


Umm, I never did see the resemblance, but … whatever!  It’s your job to guide Kuros on a quest to find the lost pieces of the Ironsword, and to do so he must travel to the ends of the Earth (wind, earth, water, and fire).  The four element idea is very prevalent in myth and legend, which probably explains its use here, but this may have been an influence for Logan traveling to the wind, water, fire, and earth palaces during his journey in The Thirteenth Hour.

Ultima V – the cover pretty much says it all.  I mean, check this shiznit out:


That is some pretty good box art right there.  You really feel for the guy in red.  His buddy in on the ground with a dayglo arrow in him, and all he has to defend himself against the three cloaked giants is that measly sword.  Talk about intense .. and some epic fantasy stuff there.  What the game itself came with was epic as well – a cloth map, a little metal coin thing (never figured out what that was for, but it looked cool), a book of background on the land the game takes place in … they sure knew how to package games in those days:


My great aunt bought me this game, I think for my birthday.  When it came in the mail, I took one look at the box, and it was like the scene from A Christmas Story when Ralphie finally gets his red Ryder bb gun.  I immediately read everything it came with, unfolded and studied the map, and treated the little metal coin thing like it was the Hope diamond or something.  For hours.

And after all that … I proceeded to have absolutely zero clue what the hell I was supposed to do in the game.  To be fair, I was like eight, so I was probably too young to really understand or devote the necessary focus to get into a complicated game like this.  Though I got nowhere in it (don’t think I ever figured out how to make it to any of the other disks – as you can see in the picture, it came with a bunch), I had fun playing it anyway.

But it was the box art that provided one of my first introductions to fantasy art (this was also about the time I was making equally poor progress trying to get into fantasy novels and proceeded to find the covers more satisfying than the books), which I still appreciate to this day and influenced me to include illustrations in The Thirteenth Hour. 

So, that’s a wrap for video games.  Next, we’ll look at music, and then finally, a miscellaneous collection of works that didn’t directly influence the writing of the book (but could have).




-Book Trailer:

-Free itunes podcast of the book:

Read free excerpts at and the book’s amazon site.

The Thirteenth Hour Is Out! Available for Kindle and in Print!


At long last, the wait is over, and The Thirteenth Hour is out!

This is a story for everyone who has been told to get their head out of the clouds and stop daydreaming.

When a young boy falls asleep during school one day, he is transported to another world, where he witnesses the tale of Logan, a young man, and Aurora, his childhood friend, as they journey to the four corners of the Earth and encounter many exotic creatures, situations, and perils in a quest to find the secret to eternal life for a self-centered ruler.

Part adventure story, part travelogue, and part introspective narrative detailing the struggles we all face when becoming adults, The Thirteenth Hour contains over 35 illustrations, music written specifically for the story, and a rich world both on and off-line that was sixteen years in the making.

Open it today, and let the story of The Thirteenth Hour become your story!




Book Trailer

Free itunes podcast of the book read by the author


Purchase The Thirteenth Hour for Kindle on Amazon

Just available!  Now you can purchase The Thirteenth Hour in print via Createspace (available even before it comes online on Amazon!)


Read free excerpts at and the book’s amazon site.

Influences Behind the Thirteenth Hour Part 1: Books

There are no new ideas, really.  But we do take things in our experience and make them our own by changing or tweaking a little here or there.

In the process of editing The Thirteenth Hour, I tried to reverse engineer where the various ideas making up the book came from (or contributed in some way, served as inspiration, or broadened my horizons).  This first in a series of several posts will look at what I came up with so far.  I’ve included links to goodreads and other sites where appropriate:


I read a lot as a kid, and while I always wanted to like fantasy books became they had cool covers, I always had trouble getting into them – the obscure name with a zillion consonants, the fact they they often just plopped you in the middle with little to no explanation of the backstory, the fact that it was usually impossible to find the first book in the series, leading you to have to to figure it out on your own, etc).  Some of those gripes are a thing of the past given you can find pretty much anything on the internet, but at the time, it was frustrating.  So I found myself gravitating to the ones that weren’t necessarily pure fantasy, were a little more user-friendly, and ideally, didn’t necessarily take themselves too seriously.  I’ve also listed some picture books, non-fantasy novels, and comics that I grew up reading that influenced the art and writing style in The Thirteenth Hour.

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende – probably the first fantasy style novel that I was able to successfully read.  The hardcover edition I read was printed in red and green text depending on which character’s story it was, which influenced me to do something similar with the text of The Thirteenth Hour.  I was about nine when I read it, and remember feeling very proud after finishing it – not only was it over 400 pages long, it was housed in the adult part of the library.  But it was also a book for grown ups that had pictures (the beginning of each chapter was adorned with a montage-style picture of the chapter’s contents), which blew my mind at the time, and has forever biased me to novels that also have illustrations.  It was also one of the many stories of the time that used the guise of a young protagonist getting sucked into the world of a story to advance the plot).

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – my mother started reading this story to my brother and I when I was about twelve or so.  I ended up finishing the rest of the series on my own and always enjoyed the irreverent, dry humor of the book, which probably influenced the narrative of The Thirteenth Hour in some underlying ways).

Lost in Place by Mark Salzman – a memoir, actually, of author Mark Salzman’s childhood.  Probably one of my favorite books of all time because of the irreverent, honest writing style.  I read it as a teenager and particularly delighted at his descriptions of his martial arts training and his youthful obsessions to be an astronaut and kung fu monk, all of which I could relate to.  The writing style probably influenced me giving Logan from The Thirteenth Hour a similar voice).

The Teddy Bear Habit by James Lincoln Collier – I think I had to read this book in the sixth? grade.  I remember it being hilarious, and although it’s a product of the times (written in the 60s with lots of period slang throughout), that didn’t really seem to matter.  It’s a funny story, and the part I recall most fondly is the narrator, who’s a twelve year old but has the perspective of an adult.  Like the proceeding books on this list, the style influenced the first-person narrated sections of The Thirteenth Hour.

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien – I think this was another one we had to read for school, but like The Teddy Bear Habit, it was a good choice.  This book also used the premise of a parallel world operating right under our noses (in this case, one of animals), which was (apparently) a common theme of a lot of stuff I liked then.  Like all those works, that idea probably influenced the creation of the world of dreams in The Thirteenth Hour.

Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman – a wonderfully illustrated and written version of the St. George tale.  We had a bunch of books illustrated by Ms. Hyman (see below for another example) when I was growing up, and the artwork probably influenced how I drew some of the scenes in The Thirteenth Hour.

Swan Lake by Margot Fonteyn/Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman – see above.

Bone comics by Jeff Smith – my brother had a few magazines when he was a kid (I think they were called Disney Adventures) that had a serialized version of the first few parts of this comic.  I later checked out a few volumes from the local library but never actually got around to finishing the rest of the story (it’s on my to do list).  But I really enjoyed the inked black and white art, probably one of the influencing factors behind the stylized, semi-cartoony look I gave the characters in The Thirteenth Hour.  Plus, this was the probably first time I’d seem a fantasy comic done in a graphic novel form.  I flirted with the idea of making The Thirteenth Hour into a comic, and even had some comic-esque scenes that I drew, but in the end shelved those for another day.  I think the only one that made it into the book was a frame where Logan is telling Aurora to run (and you can see the word bubble).

Logan with beardWM

Archie comics – my brother also had a ton of Archie comics which I’d occasionally read.  I don’t recall the stories being terribly engaging (except for one where Archie meets the Punisher – see the link!), but I did like the stylized way the characters were drawn.  I even tried tracing, then copying, a few to get the hang of drawing cartoons.  (I remember having a lot of trouble with eyes and noses and found it easier to make them look acceptable the way they were drawn in these comics rather than in a more photo-realistic way).  So, like Bone above, it influenced the art in The Thirteenth Hour.

Logan pushupsWM

Speaking of art, it took years, but I finally figured out that although fantasy novels were always a kind of plus minus experience for me, with a few key exceptions, what I really liked were the covers.  In other words – fantasy art.  There, it was all spelled out, so to speak – the entire story in one picture.  If you, too, enjoy pictures of surreal landscapes, dragons, and the like, check out the great fantasy art on deviantart.  The Thirteenth Hour has its own page there.

In the next post, I’ll transition entirely to visual media with movies and television programs that influenced The Thirteenth Hour.





-Book Trailer:

-Free itunes podcast of the book:

-Read free excerpts at and the book’s amazon site.

Artwork Now on DeviantArt

I’ve uploaded a number of images from The Thirteenth Hour onto a profile page on Deviant Art, an online gallery.  You can find high resolution images there.  If you just want to see a slidehow of all the pics, click here.

If you’ve never been to Deviant Art before, it’s a great place to find fantasy (and other )art by aspiring artists!  Check out some of these great images below – click the links to find more works by these artists.  “The ruined dragon” by SandraMJ  “Wild Horses” by Mirri  “To space” by Mirri (the character on the right has a hoverboard just like Logan from The Thirteenth Hour!)  “Archer” by brianvade II





-Book Trailer:

-Free itunes podcast of the book:

-Read free excerpts at and the book’s amazon site.