Detroit Lakes children’s book author calls foray into self-publishing a success – Detroit Lakes Tribune



DETROIT LAKES — Children’s author Dawn Marie Duncan has never particularly liked things that slip.

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

So how did an emerald boa become the subject of her first published book, “Seraphina the Ballerina”?

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

Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

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

Of course, she added, local artist Anna Lassonde’s bright and cheerful illustrations also helped make the subject of her book more cute and cuddly than scary.

“She did a great job,” said Duncan of Lassonde, who she discovered after moving to Detroit Lakes from Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2020.

“Anna did the illustrations with full creative license — meaning she received the manuscript and got to choose which parts to illustrate,” Duncan continued. “I couldn’t be happier with the result.”

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Children’s book author Dawn Duncan brought a stuffed version of her book heroine, an emerald boa named Seraphina, to a special reading of “Seraphina the Ballerina” at the Detroit Lakes Public Library on Saturday, September 17, 2022 .

Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

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

“I was nannying my sister, Deanna, and brother-in-law Jim Sinclair’s (a Detroit Lakes native) newborn twins for the summer,” she said, adding that she had moved to Fort Collins shortly after leaving the Detroit Lakes.

So when she and her husband, engineer/carpenter Michael Duncan, moved back to her native Minnesota a few years ago, they decided to buy a house in that community, where they’ve been living ever since. Michael currently works in the purchasing department at Dynamic Homes in Detroit Lakes.

On Saturday, September 17, Duncan appeared at the Detroit Lakes Public Library for a special morning event, where she read her book to the children in attendance (as well as the adults watching over them). Before and after the session, she signed copies of the book, then joined the children for a craft activity where they could write and illustrate their own mini-book to take home.

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

Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Although she has no children of her own, Duncan says she has always had a special affinity for them. much of the volunteer work she has done over the years has been in the area of ​​teaching the arts — reading, writing, dancing and other forms of artistic expression — to young people of various ages.

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

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Maddie and Ella Lauinger were among the first to arrive at Saturday morning storytime with children’s book author Dawn Duncan at the Detroit Lakes Public Library, so they got a chance to cuddle ‘Seraphina the Ballerina’ before Duncan starts reading his book to the group.

Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Along with reading and writing, Duncan said, “I’ve always been a dancer.” The subject of his first published book was therefore a natural choice. But “Seraphina the Ballerina” isn’t just about dancing, she added.

“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. It all converged in a series of messages positives for children: dreaming big, embracing the arts, encouraging each other and working very hard to achieve their goals.”

“Seraphina” was also Duncan’s first foray into self-publishing: she established a publishing division of her creative writing and consulting firm,

Bright yellow


Bright yellow press


“I teach people how to self-publish, so I decided to take my own advice and do it myself,” she said. Eventually, she hopes to add other titles to the catalog.

“If all goes to plan, ‘Seraphina’ has nine more titles on the show,” Duncan said. “I also have a few more adult fiction and non-fiction works in the works.”

However, she is also open to working with another publisher to bring her books to the public. “Self-publishing has great benefits, but…it depends on what you do. I have some projects in the works that I would like to have a publisher and an agent for.”

Still, she added, “This particular project has done very well, being self-published and promoted.”

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Children’s book author Dawn Duncan signed 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 Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

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Dawn Duncan’s enjoyment of her Saturday morning storytime at the Detroit Lakes Public Library was evident as she interacted with the children who came for the in-person reading of her children’s book, ‘Seraphina the Ballerina’. , September 17, 2022.

Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Softcover copies of “Seraphina the Ballerina” can be purchased at

blue bird books


Consumer store


Beautiful Junk


Red Willow (South Store)

in the Detroit lakes as well as

The Willow Bookstore

in Perham.


Detroit Lakes Public Library

has a few available at checkout, and a limited number of hardcover copies are also available for purchase, by contacting the author directly at 970-980-6399. Duncan said she will provide free delivery to local residents and ship books nationwide. Although the book is not yet available through online sellers like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, it will be soon, she added.

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