Tag Archives: timothy deal

Do Fans Always Know What’s Best?

Image courtesy of Lean Pathways.

In 2015, my friends Nick Hayden and Tim Deal produced an episode of their podcast, Derailed Trains of Thought, about who “owns” a story. This included the writer, the audience, and the publisher. That planted a kernel in my head that has recently bloomed. It has to do with whether the fans of something—particularly in the creative fields—know what’s best for what they like.

The most immediate example I can think of is taken from this video on Linkin Park (produced before the sad death of frontman Chester Bennington). The host mentions that the band, which has experimented with different sounds in all of their albums, was constantly being asked by their fans if they’d make something like their first album, “Hybrid Theory,” again. This prompted an angry response from Bennington, who more or less said that was a great album but that the band was working on new things now.

Honestly, I sympathized with Bennington. It can be annoying when you’re trying new things but your fanbase just wants you to keep making all the same stuff. If I had readers coming up to me, saying, “Why don’t you write more books like Pandora’s Box?” I’d be vexed. I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to be a writer who got pigeonholed, as many have been. It’s why, believe it or not, many authors use pseudonyms if they write something outside their usual genre. The publisher thinks that readers won’t buy the book because it isn’t the same stuff they’re used to seeing from that author. Now, some authors are such huge names they can get away with it now (like, say, Stephen King), but they’re exceptions. It is something I’ve considered doing, though. I have some ideas so divergent, seeing my name on the cover might disinterest readers.

The problem is fans can like something so much they just want to keep getting more of the same. But no matter how much an artist tries to refine it, it gets stale. Instead of branching out and taking risks, they play it safe. That might bring them money, but it won’t help them grow as artists. Changing things up, though, could scare their fans away because it isn’t the same. People like familiarity and often oppose something new. Just talk to any Whovian (Doctor Who fan) whenever a new Doctor or Companion is introduced. Many won’t like them at first, if at all.

Am I saying artists shouldn’t listen to their fans? No, not at all. There are times when an artist could stray so far off the beaten path he produces something that ceases to resemble what he created that made his fans like him in the first place. Or it’s just plain bad. Believe me, I’ve often said that I could write a better script than most people in Hollywood when lamenting the dumb decisions made in films and TV shows I like.

The other problem, though, is the creator may hear what fans want and try to give it to them, but they end up not liking it. Now, this could be because the creators misunderstood what the fans wanted (i.e. the demand that DC/Warner Bros. make a Superman movie where he “fights” a villain, which resulted in the oft-criticized Man of Steel), but more often, I think, fans realize that what they wanted wasn’t what was best.

In the end (hey, an unintentional Linkin Park reference!), it boils down to trust. Fans need to trust creators to know what they’re doing and that the creators are taking their thoughts/ideas into consideration. Creators need to trust their storytelling instincts and abilities and not be people pleasers. It’s impossible to make everyone happy. Even the best-reviewed films have detractors. Even literary classics have readers who don’t like them. That’s why my mantra has always been, “Story is king.” Whatever is the right thing to do for the story, whether that’s what the fans or creator want, is what’s best.

Do you think fans or creators know what’s best for stories? Why? What are some good and bad examples of both?

I’m Starting a Podcast!

The tentative logo for our podcast.
The tentative logo for our podcast.

Doesn’t this blog’s title say it all?

No? Okay, I’ll explain.

You may recall when I appeared on the 50th episode of Derailed Trains of Thought, the podcast hosted by my friends Nick Hayden and Timothy Deal, that I was featured in several segments. One of those was “Cinema Selections,” a segment that normally featured amateur film historian/critic Brian Scherschel. Since he discussed a Godzilla movie, however, I was invited to join in. While I mostly deferred to Brian since it was his part of the show, we did have a lively talk about the film in question (this one). Tim suggested as he closed the segment that Brian and I should start our own podcast on Godzilla, which I joked would be called “PodZilla.”

That was November 2014. I didn’t think much more about that podcast after that. That is until a few months ago when Brian contacted me and wanted to know if I was still interested in making that a reality. He’d just finished a couple of other projects and was looking to do something new. I told him I was in.

We’ve been meeting almost every week planning things out. I didn’t realize how much work was required to make a good podcast. It’s also because Brian very much wants to make this a high-quality product that people will be interested in listening to. We haven’t had any arguments (yet), but we have had to settle some differences in opinions on how to go about this project. We’ve also been investigating potential copyright/lawsuit issues since Toho, the Japanese studio that produces the Godzilla films, is hypersensitive about protecting its intellectual properties. So far everything looks like it’ll be fine.

PodZillaCast (the name had to change since our first name choices, surprisingly, were already taken) will be a limited series that analyzes and critiques the Godzilla film franchise. It’ll discuss the merits of each film while also putting them into their cultural and historical contexts. Brian and I believe these films are massively underappreciated and underrated by most westerners, and we hope to shed some light on the films that will get more people interested in watching them.

Will we stop after getting through all 30+ Godzilla films? Maybe. I’ve said that if people enjoyed what we’re doing, we’ll turn our attentions to other kaiju (giant monster) films like King Kong or Pacific Rim, but that’ll depend on how our initial project does.

When will the show launch? I’ve no idea. We’re still hammering out some details. I think it should be up and running by the end of the year, I think. So, keep an eye out for us on your podcatcher of choice!

How will this affect my videos? I don’t know that, either. As it is, I’ve been scaling back on how many videos I make, usually limiting myself to one (or two) a month. I simply don’t have the time to make as many. I keep very busy, obviously. “But I Digress…” may go on hiatus. But only maybe.

Anyway, in the mean time…

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‘But I Digress…,’ Episode 28: ‘Destroyer’ Roundtable

“But I Digress…”
Hosted by Nathan Marchand

Remember that kaju novella I self-published a few years ago? I just released a brand new special edition! So, I decided to interview my collaborators on that exciting project in the first ever round table f or my show. The panel includes Nick Hayden, Natasha Hayden, and Timothy Deal. We discuss how we went about writing each of our sections of the epic giant monster thriller. Lots of laughs and insights.

The Derailed Trains of Thought YouTube channel.

Purchase “Destroyer” on Amazon.

Please comment, subscribe, and share!

Presenting…’Destroyer (Deluxe Edition)’!

Artwork by Tyler Sowles. Designed by Nathan Marchand.
Artwork by Tyler Sowles. Designed by Nathan Marchand.

After several years in print, Destroyer, a giant monster novella I co-authored with Natasha Hayden and Timothy Deal, is now available in a new special edition!

I’ve migrated the book from Lulu to Createspace. Lulu was a good home for it a few years ago, but I’ve realized Createspace is where the money is at. This new edition is a bit bigger than the previous one and looks more professional and, for lack of a better term, legit.

But the big draw for this new edition is the inclusion of a bonus story. “House of the Living,” as you may recall, was written by my friend and fellow author Nick Hayden a few years back. It makes its first appearance in print in Destroyer (Deluxe Edition).

In the distant future, a group of scientists and soldiers create a giant cyborg dragon to end a destructive war, but the creature goes berserk and strands them behind enemy lines in Moscow. Now the survivors must destroy the creature before distrust and madness tears them apart.

I’ll be unveiling the book officially at the ACPL Authors’ Fair this weekend with Nick Hayden!

Buy Destroyer (Deluxe Edition) here on Amazon!

Big ‘Pandora’s Box’ announcement on Derailed Trains of Thought!

In celebration of their podcast’s first anniversary, my friends and co-authors Nick Hayden and Timothy Deal invited me to return to “Derailed Trains of Thought.” They review each of the previous 19 episodes in reverse order, having each of their previous guests–including myself, Natasha Hayden, Laura Fischer, and Brian Scherschel–pipe in to give updates on the topics they talked about when they were previously on the show. In my segment, I told everyone about my short story “Suicide Soldier,” a companion piece to my novel, Pandora’s Box, which is included in Novel Concept’s latest publication, The Day After. But the biggest announcement comes during the second half of my segment–I officially announce that I will write a sequel to Pandora’s Box!

Listen to the podcast here for the details, or you can download it on iTunes.

Fort Wayne Celebrates signing a rousing success

This past Saturday, I and my co-authors Timothy Deal and Nick and Natasha Hayden returned to the former campus of our alma mater, Taylor University Fort Wayne. We sold and signed copies of our books in the marketplace during the Fort Wayne Celebrates event, which serves as a replacement for the school’s homecoming.

The Eicher Student Commons, where most of Fort Wayne Celebrates took place. (Photo by Nathan Marchand)

I arrived at 11:30 AM or so, thinking it started at noon. I quickly learned it didn’t start until 1:00 PM. Timothy arrived around noon, and the Haydens arrived with their toddler son, Fyodor, at 12:30, so all of us were gathered and ready in time. Within minutes, dozens of alumni swarmed the marketplace area and perused our books, which included Pandora’s Box, Destroyer, and The Day After.

We sell and sign books at Fort Wayne Celebrates for our fellow alumni. (Top to bottom: Natasha, Timothy, myself). (Photo by Michael Mortensen)
Timothy, Natasha, and I at Fort Wayne Celebrates. (L to R: Myself, Timothy, Natasha).
A group shot of myself and the Haydens. (L to R: Natasha, myself, Nick, Fyodor).

The Haydens sold copies of Destroyer and The Day After like hotcakes, probably because we offered to sell them together for $12 when they sell for $7 each. I, on the other hand, practiced well the art of hawking and sold all but two of the seven or eight copies of Pandora’s Box I brought. My favorite customer was Parker, a 14-year-old boy whose mother from the class of 1989 bought him a copy of the novel. He read it intently for the rest of the night, as you see here:

This will be the first of many such pictures in the future. Writers do love seeing photos of their fans. (Photo by Nathan Marchand)

So, overall, it was one of the most fun signings I’ve had so far. I’ll try to post a full gallery of pictures later. (I know, I know. I’m way behind on my photo galleries here).

Next up: The North Webster Community Public Library, October 15.

Summer’s Stories signing successful

Signing copies of 'Destroyer' and 'The Day After'
The authors of 'Destroyer' and 'The Day After' sign copies of their books. L to R: Timothy Deal, myself, Natasha Hayden. (Not pictured: Nick Hayden).

If you came to the book signing my partners in crime Tim and Nick and Natasha and I held at Summer’s Stories this past Saturday, thank you for making it a rousing success. If you didn’t come…why?

While the signing was originally just for Destroyer, we received copies of The Day After right before it, so it was included. I sold nearly twice as many books there as I did the first time I had a signing at the store (of course, it helped that I was selling two titles).

Don’t forget that this Saturday I will be at Fort Wayne Celebrates on the former Taylor University Fort Wayne campus in Fort Wayne, Indiana, from 12pm-5pm!

Be there, or be square!

I’m returning to Summer’s Stories!

After graciously hosting my first ever book signing for Pandora’s Box last year, I’ll be returning to Summer’s Stories in Kendallville, Indiana, with Natasha Hayden and Timothy Deal to sign and sell copies of Destroyer. The signing will be September 17 from 1PM-3PM. It will be primarily for Destroyer, but I will also bring a few copies of my other book(s) (see my next announcement).

So don’t miss this rare opportunity to get a copy of this new novella from Novel Concept signed by all three authors!

New book signings posted

I just updated my “Appearances” page with two new book signings.

On Saturday, September 24, 2011, I will return to the former campus of my alma mater, Taylor University Fort Wayne, for the Fort Wayne Celebrates event. This (hopefully) annual event is the replacement for my campus’ homecoming. My friends/fellow authors Nick Hayden, Natasha Hayden, Timothy Deal, and perhaps a few more will be present, signing and selling books at a booth in the event’s marketplace from 12PM-5PM. We’ll be there off and on while enjoying the many events going on that day, but please come see us. I will be selling and signing copies of Pandora’s Box, Destroyer, and the forthcoming The Day After.

Then Saturday, October 15, 2011, I will be signing copies of Destroyer at the North Webster Community Public Library from 10AM-12PM. I may also bring a few copies of the other aforementioned books.

Stay tuned for other news about book signings!