Meet Denise Ditto Satterfield, 2016 Grand Prize Winner of the
Chanticleer Little Peeps Awards
I first met Denise at CAC17 and was impressed by her passion for writing and her ability to encourage those around her in their craft. Much like her Children’s books, she seemed to be spreading her charm and charisma (#fairy_dust) everywhere she went!
Recently, we had a chance to chat and here’s what she said about her writing life and life in general. I hope you enjoy getting to know Denise Ditto Satterfield a little more through this interview.
Chanticleer: Tell us your story, Denise, how did you start writing?
Denise Ditto Satterfield: At the ripe old age of 44, I decided to go to college. My friends teased me, jokingly asking, “Why didn’t you go to college when you were supposed to?” You see, I started life the old-fashioned way … the way my dad said it had to be done. Graduate high school, get married and have kids. No college in the picture … especially not for girls. So, that is what I did. You ask, “How did that work out for you?” Not very well. Fast forward – I got divorced, my kids grew up, I got remarried and then I went to college. In my first English class, my love for writing was reignited. At the encouragement of one of my teachers, I submitted a story to the school’s literary magazine. I won first place in the competition and the rest is history. From that day forward I knew that one day I would quit my job and write full-time.
Chanticleer: What a journey! It takes a lot of strength to break out of the mold and do something else. Follow your heart. Good for you! Let’s talk a little about your chosen genre.
Ditto Satterfield: My genre, for the moment, is children’s chapter books. I am also working on a Tooth Collector Fairy handbook which will be a companion book to the chapter books. When I take a break from fairies, I’m working on a middle-grade book. I love writing for children because I think like a child. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s the truth.
Chanticleer: That’s perfect. I find your work marvelously relateable. Maybe I think like a child as well… Do you find yourself following the rules or do you like to make up your own rules?
Ditto Satterfield: Well, it’s funny you ask this question. The handbook I’m working on consists of the rules and guidelines that the tooth fairies must follow. The main character, Batina, is a hardcore rule follower. As for me … I would say that I am a rule follower when it comes to most things. My husband says more specifically that I don’t follow the rules because they are rules. I follow the rules because they make sense. If I find that the rules don’t make sense, I will tweak … or bend … or ignore rules – whichever makes the most sense.
Chanticleer: I agree – things have to make sense. Easier to remember that way! What do you do when you’re not writing? Tells us a little about your hobbies.
Ditto Satterfield: Up until May 2017, my hobby was motorcycling. I rode a Harley for 27 years. My road name was Wonder Woman which was later shortened to WW. I got this name when my husband and I rode to Raleigh, NC for a Marine Corp reunion about 18 years ago. I was meeting a group of old Marines whom I had never met before. When the word got around that Skipper (my husband, Frank) had arrived at the hotel where the event was being held, all the guys filed outside to greet him. When they saw me they couldn’t believe I, a girl, rode all the way from Texas with him on my own bike. What made it even better is that, at the time, I rode a Softail painted like the American flag. That was the day I got my name.
When I quit my job to write full time, I became a joiner. I joined writing clubs, attended conferences, workshops, etc. I thought maybe I should learn how to blog so I went to a Leisure Learning class called, “Blogging for Dollars.” At that workshop, I heard something very interesting. The teacher said it was important for writers to build a platform. She suggested that for those in the class that didn’t have a website or blog should start one. She went on to say, “All you have to do is write about something you know.” I decided to take her advice – I started writing a motorcycle blog focusing on women riders. I gave tips in the form of videos. Honestly, they are a hoot. If you want a good laugh, visit www.motorcyclemommablog.com. Here are a few of my favorite videos – Blue Jean Shirts – Oct 2013; Bad Coffee – Apr 2013; Listening to music on the Motorcycle – March 2014.
Chanticleer: You are hysterical! Great blogs – I hope this is something you can continue. Maybe add a Children’s Book Blog to your impressive platform? So now, how do you come up with your ideas for a story?
Ditto Satterfield: When I was working everyone knew that I was going to quit my job one day and write full-time. When people know that they all have an idea of what you need to write about. I had one girl come to work one day and tell me that her daughter lost her tooth. The daughter wanted to know if all tooth fairies were girls. She told her no. Her request was that I write a story about tooth fairies that included boy tooth fairies. I thought that sounded like a pretty good idea. I wrote Batina’s Best First Day but didn’t have any tooth collector fairies that were boys, so in book two, Home from Decay Valley, I incorporated a boy tooth collector fairy. (He’s real cute … and very inquisitive … and I love him. He makes me laugh.)
Chanticleer: I love it when your characters are so deeply developed you can’t help but fall in love with them! How structured are you in your writing work?
Ditto Satterfield: I am not structured at all with my writing. I go in spurts and sometimes I work best under pressure. For example, when I was working on, Home from Decay Valley, I set a date for completion. The rough draft spilled out pretty fast. It was the revision stage that bogged me down. I would talk about how I had to finish the manuscript and then find something else to work on. I think this is what some might call procrastination. But I’m the farthest thing from being a procrastinator. I’m the one that has to have all my ducks in a row and the sooner the better. When it comes to creativity, it’s just hard to turn it off and on.
Chanticleer: It is hard! And it’s also important to let others know that the process isn’t easy. Thank you for sharing that. It’s important to work on your craft. What do you do to grow your author chops?
Ditto Satterfield: I find that the best way to grow my author chops is to attend workshops and social events with other writers and conferences. I always get fired up after a great conference. I also conduct a critique group at my house twice a month.
Chanticleer: Good answers. What do you do in your community to improve/promote literacy?
Ditto Satterfield: I have presented my book at schools and libraries. In addition, I visit the Ronald MacDonald House in House annually and read to the kids and sign and give away books.
Chanticleer: You are truly amazing! Okay, before I start to cry because you’re too awesome, please give us your best marketing tips, what’s worked to sell more books, gain notoriety, and expand your literary footprint.
Ditto Satterfield: I love the marketing part of being an author. I believe an author must find his/her target audience first. Once the audience is identified, hit the road running. In my case, my target audience is 1. Children in the tooth losing age and their parents/grandparents, and, 2. People in the dental field i.e. dentist and dental hygienists. What I’ve done to sell my books is a little bit different than most. Besides the usual avenues (libraries, schools, bookstores) I sell my books at different types of festivals. People love to shop at all the different vendor tables because they can get unique gifts not usually found in stores.
I gained a tiny, wee bit of notoriety when a children’s theatre group picked up my story and made it into a musical. This is how I did that. I pitched the idea to a children’s theatre group. They liked the idea and made it into a musical. This performance gave me a lot of mileage on sales prior to the Premier Performance date. I was able to hit events all over town promoting the musical and selling my book. Since the first performance, I have packaged the musical and am now taking it on the road. It was performed again this month, May 2018, in Conroe, TX by the C.KIDZ Theatre School. Lucky for me I was able to get the C.KIDZ Theatre School into the Children’s Museum of Houston to perform the musical again on May 27th. I will also be launching my second book at the museum on May 27th directly after the musical so that should increase sells.
Chanticleer: You are blowing me off the page right now! What are you working on now? What can we look forward to seeing next from you?
Ditto Satterfield: Right now I’m working on the Tooth Collector Handbook. It will outline the rules and guidelines for the Tooth Collector fairies.
Chanticleer: That makes perfect sense – and smart, too. I can imagine kids will love this. Who’s the perfect reader for your book?
Ditto Satterfield: Children between the ages of 5-10 and their parents and grandparents.
Chanticleer: What is the most important thing a reader can do for an author?
Ditto Satterfield: I know that reviews are very important to most authors. I think that should be number as the most important thing a reader can do but … for me, the most important, rewarding thing a reader can do for me is tell me what they think about the story. I had a school visit a couple of months ago and there was a little girl in the class that had my book. She jumped up and told the class all about it. It was crazy fun. She was so excited to meet me and she told me she love, love, loved the book. That made my day.
Chanticleer: I’ll bet it did! Denise, thank you for taking the time to share a little bit about yourself and your writing life with our community. You are a treasure!
For those of you in the Houston, TX area, Denise will be launching Home from Decay Valley that will include an onstage performance of Batina’s First Day on May 27, 2018, at the Children’s Museum of Houston. A not-to-miss event! Denise will donate $1 for every book sold on May 27 to the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation.
I would love to invite our readers to visit Denise’s website for her children’s books. It’s an education in marketing. https://toothcollectorfairies.com/
For her books, you can purchase them from her website, or your favorite retailer.
We’ve asked 10 questions, now it’s your turn! What question would you like to ask Denise Ditto Satterfield?
Denise won Grand Prize in the Little Peeps Awards for Children’s Books by entering the contest. Do you have a Children’s Book? The deadline for entering Little Peeps is September 30, 2018. Enter here today!
You can read The Tooth Collector Fairies: Batina’s Best First Day Chanticleer Review here.