Detroit Lakes children’s book author calls for self-publishing success – Detroit Lakes Tribune

Detroit Lakes – Children’s book author Don Mary Duncan has never been particularly fond of things that slip.

“I’ve always been afraid of snakes,” she admitted during a recent interview.

How did the Emerald Tree Snake become the subject of her first published book, Serafina the Ballerina?

Children’s book author Dawn Duncan introduces Storytime attendees to a stuffed version of Seraphina — an emerald snake tree — while reading her book “Seraphina the Ballerina” at the Detroit Lakes Public Library on Saturday, September 17, 2022.

Vicki Gerdis/Detroit Lakes Tribune

“Seraphina came to me in a dream, on Christmas Eve (the night) of 2019,” Duncan says, adding that writing the book helped her “make peace with and better understand snakes.”

Of course, she added, the cheerful, bright illustrations by local artist Anna Lasound also helped make the subject matter of her book seem cute and lovable rather than scary.

“She’s done an excellent job,” said Duncan of Lasound, who discovered her after moving to Detroit Lakes from Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2020.

“Anna did the illustrations with full creative license – which means she has the manuscript and has to choose the parts she wants to illustrate,” Duncan continued. “I couldn’t be happier with the result.”

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Children’s book author Don Duncan brings a stuffed version of her book’s heroine, an emerald tree snake named Seraphina, to a special story-time reading from “Seraphina the Ballerina” at the Detroit Lakes Public Library on Saturday, September 17, 2022.

Vicki Gerdis/Detroit Lakes Tribune

Although Duncan is a native of Fertile, Minnesota, and has lived in Colorado for 26 years, she’s no stranger to Detroit Lakes — it was the site of her first job after graduating from the University of North Dakota with a degree in English literature.

“I was a groomer of newborn twins for my sister, Diana, and brother-in-law Jim Sinclair (born in Detroit Lakes) in the summer,” she said, adding that she moved to Fort Collins shortly after leaving Detroit Lakes.

So when she and her husband, engineer/carpenter Michael Duncan, returned to their native Minnesota two years ago, they decided to buy a home in this community, where they have lived ever since. Michael currently works in the purchasing department of Dynamic Homes in Detroit Lakes.

On Saturday, September 17, Duncan showed up at the Detroit Lakes Public Library for a special Storytime event, where she read her book to the children in attendance (as well as the supervising adults). Before and after the session, she signed copies of the book, then joined the kids in a craft activity where they could write and draw their own little book to take home.

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Ella Lauinger got to play a little with “Seraphina the Ballerina” during author Dawn Duncan’s Storytime Special at the Detroit Lakes Public Library on Saturday, September 17, 2022. Ella wore a special tutu to match Serafina at the event.

Vicki Gerdis/Detroit Lakes Tribune

Although Duncan has no children, Duncan says she has always had a special connection with them; Much of the volunteer work she has done over the years has been teaching the arts – reading, writing, dance, and other artistic expressions – to young people of all ages.

“I’ve always loved writing, and I’ve always loved children,” she said. “I grew up in a family that really loved reading – the three of us learned to read at the age of three, because our mother always read us books and gave us lots of opportunities to read, whether it was books at home, or in the library.”

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Maddie and Ella Lawinger were among the first arrivals Saturday morning with children’s book author Don Duncan at the Detroit Lakes Public Library, so they had a chance to cuddle up to Seraphina the Ballerina before Duncan began reading her book to the group.

Vicki Gerdis/Detroit Lakes Tribune

In addition to reading and writing, Duncan said, “I’ve always been a dancer.” So the subject of her first published book was a natural choice. She added that “ballerina Serafina” means more than just dancing.

“I’ve always been a dreamer,” she said. “I was shy as a kid, but I’ve always had supportive friends and family, and I’ve always had very big dreams and aspirations. All of these converge into a series of positive messages for kids: to dream big, to embrace the arts, to encourage each other and work hard to achieve their goals” .

Serafina was also Duncan’s first foray into self-publishing: she set up a publishing division at her creative writing and consulting firm, Yellowbright, called Yellowbright Press.

“I teach people how to post themselves, so I decided to take my advice and do it myself,” she said. Eventually, you hope to add more titles to the catalog.

“If all goes as planned, Seraphina has nine more titles in the series,” Duncan said. “I have some other works of adult literature and realism in the works as well.”

However, she is also open to working with another publisher to bring her books to the public. “There are big advantages to self-publishing, but…it depends on what you’re doing. I have certain projects in the works where I’d like to have a publisher and agent.”

However, she added, “This particular project has done so well, being published and self-published.”

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Children’s book author Don Duncan signs copies of her first published book, “Seraphina the Ballerina,” during a special “Storytime” event at the Detroit Lakes Public Library on Saturday, September 17, 2022.

Vicki Gerdis/Detroit Lakes Tribune

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Dawn Duncan’s enjoyment of her Saturday morning Storytime program at the Detroit Lakes Public Library was evident as she interacted with the children who came to read her children’s book, “Seraphina the Ballerina,” on September 17, 2022.

Vicki Gerdis/Detroit Lakes Tribune

Softcover copies of “Seraphina the Ballerina” can be purchased from Bluebird Books, Mainstream Boutique, Beautiful Junque, and Red Willow (Southern Store) in Detroit Lakes as well as Willow Bookstore in Berham.

Detroit Lakes Public Library has some available to check out, and a limited number of hard copies are also available for purchase, by contacting the author directly at 970-980-6399. Duncan said it will provide free delivery to local residents, and will ship the books nationwide. She added that although the book is not yet available via online sellers such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble, it will be released soon.

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