Interview with Dennis Sloan AKA Mr. D

When did you first start writing?
I've been writing for about 20 years. I use music as an Art Therapy and have about 50 songs that probably will never see the light of day. As far as Children's educational stories about 14 years. I've written tons of stories for my educational puppet shows. Many of those will become children's titles and songs I plan to make music videos out of.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Maybe in 2005 I saw one of my neighbors, a cute, very smart 6 or 7 year old girl twerking and rapping every word to an inappropriate 'Gangsta' rap song. A few days later I started quizzing her on her reading skills. She had poor Alphabet Recognition skills and hardly no Phonics skills and no Blending skills. I've always had a gift for talking with children in a serious yet fun, non-threatening way so I discovered that she did not like school because kids teased her and she hated reading because it was boring. She liked rap (she rapped a few songs and it was real crazy stuff) because she thought it was fun and she wanted to be rich.

During this time I was giving free educational puppet shows in my backyard. The few she did attend (her parents did not see the need to bring her down to the shows) she enjoyed. One character she really enjoyed was The Amazing Puppet Magician. Her favorite part of one show she attended was when he made the past the present (by replacing the ed on the end of words with ing). She, and almost every other child, who attended those shows, remembered the Magic Phrase that he used to make magic. This was the premise of the story. I wrote a few notes and put it down for a few years. In 2011, I found the notes and began writing it.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I love writing. I love children. And I love to empower them by motivating them to learn and love to read. Everything I have so far has that common thread running through them. And, I do my homework. When researching publishing children's books, self publishing came up. ePublishing is the best way to reach a global audience and my stories are made for a global audience, children at risk of suffering illiteracy. This is not a Detroit problem or a US problem. It;s a global problem. ePublishing gives me the opportunity to offer my target audience my stories for little or no cost. This is exciting to me.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I am new and have not published on you yet but I can say you guys have made me very, very excited.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I hear and see the end result of my writing- laughter and children acting out the story with me. When they are saying The Magic Phrase (in the story The Magic Magic Word does not work) after only hearing it a few times in the story. I have been doing storytelling sessions of The Magic Word for children in very hostile environments, households that are drug infested or just not supportive of education. I work with children most at risk of illiteracy Parents are usually annoyed when I want to read my story to there children. They usually tell me that the child will not be interested. And that is usually the case at first. After I begin to act out the story and animate it, the children begin to laugh and act it out with me. At this point, most parents are amazed and usually get into the story too. When it's time, they are saying the Magic Phrase with the child. This is what brings me the most joy
What do your fans mean to you?
In 2004, I committed myself to a life of severe poverty. I found it hard to work and write. My creative process is very funny. I have not worked since I quit my job as a for profit University Enrollment Counselor making a pretty good income. I need to make a difference in life. That's what my audience (I have no fans, yet) mean to me.
What are you working on next?
The Magic Phrase. This will be a Hip Hop Music Video. The next title will be Wha't My Name? The story of a puppet who has been brought to life by the power of reading.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
A few years ago it was anticipating the day when I could make a difference in my community by motivating at risk children to want to read and get an education through my stories. Now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, its putting all of the pieces into place to do it. I know it's only one story but I think its a good story and one that children will enjoy and be affected n a positive way by. I wake up excited now, I guess a lot like the puppet magician was the day his new Magic Word was going to be delivered.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Listening to Bee Bop, reading, playing with my puppy.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
To be honest, never read an eBook YET. I still visit my local public library.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Alphabet Soup, about the poorest family in the world who learn to read via digestion (I wrote this before Martha Speaks, the popular PBS children's show) and how the power of reading changed their lives.
What is your writing process?
Observing the goings on in my community, engaging the children, taking lots of notes, brainstorming and letting it marinate. I'll usually wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for a concept that I have to write down. Some go into a envelope for later development but some I can't stop thinking about and I will begin outlining a story. I have a few very creative friends I will run an idea by and they help develop the plot. I have an idea for a Sci Fi story about Detroit, MI in later in this Century and I've been trying to reach one friend in particular and have not been successful (where are you Mitchel?) so it's still marinating. I've been jotting down a few notes but have not put anything together yet!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No but I think I remember the first book read to me, Green Eggs & Ham. I must have been 6 or 7. I've been hooked on reading ever since. Thanks Dr. Suess.
How do you approach cover design?
That's currently a work in progress. I'll update you later.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Green Eggs & Ham because that was my introduction to loving to read. I also loved the characters and wild illustrations.

The Peter Principle because this was the 1st book as an adult (post college) I read to learn. I was amazed at how profound I would sound in professional settings discussing management theories.

Simple Speaks His Mind by Langston Hughes. It is a series of short fiction stories that had a substantive meaning or moral about using ones common sense.

Do Not Give Up: The Barack Obama Story and Activity Book. My first attempt at writing children's books. It showed the similarities between President Obama and many of the children in my community. Children got it.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. The first novel I read not as a high school class assignment but because my brother was reading it and I idolized both of my big brothers.
What do you read for pleasure?
I have an eclectic taste for music and literature. I'll pick up a children's chapter book and kill two birds with one stone. I will stretch my imagination and jump into the book as well as learn more about books for an older audience. I like the classics both American and African American. I enjoy Walter Mosley and obscure titles (especially sci fi I'll buy at a flea market.)
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a middle class Detroit neighborhood. It was the kind of community that you knew all of your neighbors and as kids we showed our elders respect. My mother really is the one who influenced my writing by motivating me to read, at the end of a belt sometimes. I was a typical kid.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I don't have one YET?
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
The summer of 2014 when The Magic Word was in a stage where it was marketable yet still had some rough edges I would take copies up to the Motown Museum and sell them to the tourist who would visit Detroit.
Describe your desk
Tornado!
Who are your favorite authors?
Dr. Suess, Chinua Achebe, Langston Hughes, JD Sallinger, etc
Published 2015-01-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Magic Word
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 1,340. Language: English. Published: April 30, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Readers / Beginner
This is an entertaining story that stresses the magical powers of reading. Excellent for beginning readers and those who struggle with basic reading skills.. It is also a great story book for bedtime and other occasions. 80% of this story is available for sampling. I hope that you and your children enjoy my story!