The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

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Reflecting on 2020

Well…

Hello, Adventurers! Typically, I write my end of the year reflection on New Year’s Eve, but I was working with the Oklahoma City Arts Council on a big live-streaming Opening Night event. This reflection is going to be a little different, but last year was a different kind of year.

This is the part where I share numbers on how much I created, but the statistic that matters the most, I’m reminding myself, is that I made it through the year. Also, I made more videos for other people than myself. I’ve been able to help many organizations connect with their audiences through video content and live-streaming shows. I’m proud of that fact.

In the summer, I live-streamed a concert every week for the Arts Council OKC and then again in the fall, but every other week. For Oklahoma Contemporary, I made them about two videos a month. I helped take a live play Namron Players Theatre had planned and turned it into a movie for them. I worked with Therapy in Motion and the Norman YMCA to do a Healthy Living Series. I got to do a big New Year’s Eve show, which was a goal I noted in my previous reflection. Plus, I helped other businesses with some internal videos too.

To thank my clients for this year, I worked with Design Pickle and they made me this thank you card that I sent (and still sending out) to all of my major clients for the year.

The 2020 Client Thank You Card

Overall, I am grateful and proud of what I did create in the year, regardless of who it was for.

Uncovering Oklahoma in 2020

At the beginning of 2020, I raised the bar by producing videos in 4K HDR and closed captions on every episode. Pre-pandemic, I started strong with stories in Tulsa and Guthrie. I released 27 weekly episodes along with three art and event pieces.

With my growing library of content, videos I made in previous years picked up in popularity. Even though I didn’t make many new videos, the watch time in hours for the YouTube channel was 2,542.3, which was about what I got in 2019. Subscribers grew by 365, putting me over 1,000! According to my YouTube channel, these were the Top 5 watched videos in 2020.

5. Gathering Place in Tulsa
4. Magnetic Hill in Springer 
3. Black-Owned BBQ Restaurants Vol. 1
2. Press Waffle Co at The Collective
1. Great Salt Plains State Park

The title for the most-watched 2020 story goes to The Study in Oklahoma City, which was the second episode I did when the lockdowns lifted. The first story I eased myself back into filming was on the Winchester Drive-In Theatre in Oklahoma City, which was my second most popular 2020 video and most-watched via Facebook. Sergio’s Italian Bistro, Pink Elephant Coffee, Re: Earth, and The Study were the most-viewed via Facebook.

Tales Unveiled in 2020

Jeff and I got three episodes recorded before the pandemic hit. We picked up recording later in the summer and released a total of 11 episodes for our third season. Our episode on Bartlesville was our most popular. Despite the shorter season, we had quality episodes. Great stories from guests all around!

Quarter Minutes in 2020

We made one episode! Go us!

Yes! Science! and Art & Victory in 2020

Due to the audience nature of these shows, I felt it was best to postpone them until the time was right.

The 16th Phoenix Universe in 2020

What’s this? A new category? One of my personal goals was to release a new short story every week for the year. With the exception of A Killer Among the Spaceship Game Show, which was released in two parts and the first part took two weeks, I kept up with my goal. I wrote 48 short stories!

Still, no new books. They were looking good in the first half of the year, but when client work picked up, writing time got spent on short stories.

Make sure to follow the 16th Phoenix Facebook page and Reddit account for more updates.

Top Songs of 2020

According to Spotify, which is how I mostly listen to music, this was my 2020 soundtrack. As always, keep in mind I will often put a song (or playlist) on repeat when writing or for inspiration sessions. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite song?

Plans for 2021

Although it’s a new year and I’m optimistic, but I’m going to be careful with my plans as we’re still dealing with a pandemic.

For Uncovering Oklahoma, with COVID cases rising, I’m playing things safe. It’s annoying when I’m filming a restaurant and someone walks past me to go to the bathroom without a mask. On top of all that, businesses are going out left and right. I’m going to focus on retail businesses and concepts where I can control the environment to be safe. I don’t foresee me making as many episodes as I did in 2019. I hope to get back to doing collaboration episodes soon.

For Tales Unveiled, Jeff and I did leave the show open for more episodes. I would love to travel out of Oklahoma this season or next. We plan to start recording season four in the spring with a fall release. (There’s a Friday the 13th in August.)

For the studio audience shows, I honestly don’t know when I’ll start those up again. I might do them without an audience or I might do something entirely different.

For the 16th Phoenix Universe, instead of a weekly short story, they will be monthly. Writing every week has helped me build my fictional universe. I want to take some time on the stories and maybe release longer stories. I want to build upon other stories I’ve written in 2020 for 2021 and allocate writing time to other works. I plan to revisit all the 2020 stories, send them to an editor, and publish a book collection.

Also during the weekly short story creation, I’ve started two new books. One is based on A Question for the Writers and the other is from Upgrade Cave. I want to finish my other books before I get too involved in those stories.

Now, for new projects! Last year, I did start writing a feature film script although my writing time got spent on short stories. I would like to get that written out at least this year.

One of the first major projects I have in the works for the first half of the year is an interactive branching narrative that takes place in Downtown Norman. More about this later as we’re planning an April or May release.

Finally, I’m researching a project that might be a huge move I’ll make to get closer to the studio goal. Way too early for me to say anything about this publicly yet.

Thank you for following me throughout this year! You can join me on Patreon to help support these projects and get special rewards.

Here’s to happy adventures in 2021!

3×10 Relics of the 45th

Inspired by his fortune, Geoff invites Sam to visit with Michael Gonzales at the 45th Infantry Division Museum. The museum’s curator talks about his first encounter and the findings of paranormal investigators who have visited.

Subscribe to new episodes of Tales Unveiled via Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher, or anywhere you enjoy podcasts. New episodes on Fridays!


Tales Unveiled is a production of The Show Starts Now Studios and is produced by me, Dennis Spielman. The voice of Sam Saxton is Dennis Spielman. The voice of Professor Geoff DeRoot is Jeff Provine.

We would love to thank Michael Gonzales for taking the time to share his stories with us about the museum. 

If you love what we’re doing, want us to keep being artist owned and patron supported, click here. In return, you can get bonus content, including early access to all my projects.

Behind the Scenes Commentary

Ghosts seem to love the theatre and I’m starting to believe any military related too. After having to reschedule due to the ice storm, we recorded this episode on Tuesday, I edited it yesterday, and finished it up today.

After the interview, we did get a brief tour of museum as in real life, Jeff did have to leave to teach a class. Seeing some of Hitler’s personal artifices was one of the creepiest things to see, especially his mirror. I kind of what to write a story about that mirror.

I recommend going to visit the museum for yourself as the have rather impressive collection. Jeff and I are planning to do one more episode, so we can end the season on Friday the 13th.

3×09 Voices in Shawnee

Sam and Geoff visit with Tanya McCoy, author of the new Haunted Shawnee book, for stories about the town. They discuss tales about the Aldridge Hotel, the ghosts roaming Shawnee’s train tracks, Oklahoma’s mining towns, and how to keep dark spirits from following.

Subscribe to new episodes of Tales Unveiled via Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher, or anywhere you enjoy podcasts. New episodes on Fridays!

Tales Unveiled is a production of The Show Starts Now Studios and is produced by me, Dennis Spielman. The voice of Sam Saxton is Dennis Spielman. The voice of Professor Geoff DeRoot is Jeff Provine.

Thank you to Tanya McCoy for sharing stories with us so be sure to check out the book, Haunted Shawnee, for more stories.

If you love what we’re doing, want us to keep being artist owned and patron supported, click here. In return, you can get bonus content, including early access to other my other projects.

Behind the Scenes Commentary

In reality, I was the one who reached out to Tanya. Jeff, who is a co-author, told me they got some different stories compared to our Shawnee episode, specifically the Aldridge Hotel, that would be worth doing another episode. I agreed and set it up.

After we recorded, I picked Tanya’s brain about Mustang since we were there. I was surprised to learn that she has found a few around town. Most of them involve one building, but there were numerous stories there. We also talked about some other places, so I’m sure we’ll be visiting her again next season.

3×08 A Personal Ghost Tour of Fort Washita – Part 2

In this second installment of ghost stories about Fort Washita, Sam and Geoff hear tales about spirits at a bridge, the stickball post, an unsettling experience at a rendezvous event, and the cabin. 

The stickball post at Fort Washita - photo by Dennis Spielman

Tales Unveiled is a production of The Show Starts Now Studios and is produced by me, Dennis Spielman. The voice of Sam Saxton is Dennis Spielman. The voice of Professor Geoff DeRoot is Jeff Provine.

We want to thank Lori Hamilton for setting up interviews with Jim Argo, Michael Freeland, Ken Golden, and Brianna Teel.

If you love what we’re doing, want us to keep being artist owned and patron supported, click here. In return, you can get bonus content, including early access to my other works!

3×07 A Personal Ghost Tour of Fort Washita – Part 1

With Fort Washita closed and no plans for any ghost tours, Sam organizes an interview for storytellers to share their tales. In this first of two parts, hear the history of the fort and spooky tales involving the parade grounds, vanishing dogs, the west barracks, the blacksmith shop, and the spring-well head.

Subscribe to new episodes of Tales Unveiled via Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher, or anywhere you enjoy podcasts so you don’t miss part two!

Fort Washita Visitor Center - photo by Dennis Spielman

Tales Unveiled is a production of The Show Starts Now Studios and is produced by me, Dennis Spielman. The voice of Sam Saxton is Dennis Spielman. The voice of Professor Geoff DeRoot is Jeff Provine.

We want to thank Lori Hamilton for setting up interviews with Jim Argo, Michael Freeland, Ken Golden, and Brianna Teel.

Behind the Scenes Commentary

For our interview session at Fort Washita, we got some spine-tingling stories from some amazing storytellers. The trip was worth the drive. With the original episode running over an hour, I decided to split this into two parts. I hope you enjoy this first part and stay tuned for more (or you can join me on Patreon and listen to part two right now).

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