Writing books has become the new American pastime. Print-on-demand publishers and online marketing have made it possible for everyone to tell their tale. But with so many good authors in the writing game, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard.
That’s why this summer I’m offering the Writers-World Series, the inside track on authors of interest. The series starts today with Denise M. Baran-Unland, a journalist from Joliet, Il., who has written a vampire series set in a fictional Michigan town.
Programs! Programs! Get your program here!
Name: Denise M. Baran-Unland
Home team: Joliet, Il. (for Denise) Munsonville, MI ( fictional setting for the BryonySeries)
Position: Features writer and editor, The Herald-News, Joliet
Batting average: The BryonySeries vampire trilogy (“Bryony,” “Visage,” and “Staked!“), The Adventures of Cornell Dyer chapter book series (“Cornell Dyer and the Missing Tombstone” and the soon-to-be released “Cornell Dyer and the Necklace of Forgetfulness“) Bertrand the Mouse children’s series (“Bertrand and the Lucky Clover,” “Bertrand’s Christmas Surprise,” “Bertrand’s First Book of Numbers,” and “Bertrand Gives Back” ) Also, “Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from ‘Bryony,’” a collections of recipes from the Victorian era and 1970s. All proceeds are donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties.Website: www.bryonyseries.com.
Opening pitch: A ’70s teen trades her blood with a Victorian vampire for a trip back into time as his wife . Consequences follow.
Note: The Adventures of Cornell Dyer spinoff series involves one character from the second book in the BryonySeries vampire trilogy and the Bertrand the Mouse series features red herring from the third book.
Considering the positions on a baseball team — such as catcher, shortstop, left field, etc. — which best describes the way you write and why? I’m sitting in the stands trying to figure out how the game is played. Couldn’t participate in sports as a child due to severe asthma, so I spent most of my time reading, writing, and observing others from the sidelines. As a result, I love reading (and writing) character-driven novels.
Tell us about your grand slam: I have a few loyal friends who found my books by chance and have remained loyal since the release date of the first book in 2011. Those are my home runs, for sure. But without a doubt, the “grand slam” is my one super fan, “Rose,” who took a chance on the first book (“Bryony“) in 2013 after seeing my blog posted online. She later told me she didn’t expect much and wound up leaving a glowing review on Amazon. She promptly ordered the second book (“Visage“) and left a glowing (and the book’s only) review on Amazon and then waited impatiently for the third book (“Staked!“), ultimately leaving a glowing (and only) review on Amazon.
Rose also sent a copy of “Bryony” to a bestselling author with whom she has a decade-long correspondence. He has not read the book yet, but it’s on his reading list, and he wrote me a letter this past summer letting me know it. He also sent me one of his books, which I’m currently reading.
Rose is my biggest cheerleader and biggest motivator. She constantly urges me to continue and increase marketing and promotion. She sends long messages about what she likes about the books and creates little memes based on the characters. She’s called the series “a masterpiece,” and said she won’t stop pushing me until the series is a bestseller.
I’m not a natural marketer . It took two years of Rose’s unwavering exhortations before I considered doing anything of substance. So while I don’t have the lofty goals for my series as Rose does, I set my hand to the marketing plow for this reason: to find the other Roses, whether they are five readers or five billion. Rose has said the BryonySeries is one of the few series she has ever read multiple times and that it ranks as one of her favorites. So I work hard at positioning the books in the universe so readers like Rose can find them.
|At a book event in Joliet are author Ralph Carey, store owner Jan Staley, and authors Allie Rios, Denise M. Baran-Unland and Sue Merrell.
No one wins a game alone. Who’s on your team? It’s a big team full of talented artists who cross market each other. Here’s the roster by seasons:
“Bryony:” Kathleen Rose Van Pelt (cover art and illustrator), Stephen Tuplin and Josh Seigers (book trailer, music video, and other video promotional pieces), CAL Graphics (book cover, graphics), Serena Diosa (formatting), and Karen Bonarek, Tommy Connelly, and Dulcinea Hawksworth (marketing), Sandy Costa (introduction)
“Visage:” Matt Coundiff (cover art and illustrator), Vicki Thompson (editor and introduction), Colleen Robbins (editor), Dragon Alexander and Sean Czaja (book trailer), CAL Graphics and Sarah Stegall (book cover, graphics, formatting)
“Staked!” Christopher Gleason (cover art and illustrator), Vicki Thompson and Colleen Robbins (editors), CAL Graphics (book cover, graphics), Sarah Stegall (formatting and copy editor), Tom Hernandez (introduction)
“Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from ‘Bryony:'” Sarah Stegall (project lead, copy editor), Kathleen Rose Van Pelt (cover art), Matt Coundiff (interior illustrations), Serena Diosa (formatting), Rebekah Baran (copy editing). Plus many recipe contributors.
“Snowbell:” Christopher Gleason (cover art), Sarah Stegall (cover design, formatting)
Adventures of Cornell Dyer series: Sue Midlock (cover art and illustrations), Rebekah Baran (cover design and formatting)
Bertrand the Mouse series: Sarah Stegall (concept design), Rebekah Baran (cover designs and formatting)
Miscellaneous: James Onohan (pianist and composer for the official BryonySeries theme song and CD “The Best-Loved Compositions of John Simons,” Valerie Burkholder (creator of the BryonySeries homemade soy candle line in five scents), Michelle Roberson (creator of the BryonySeries K-cup holders), and Sarah Stegall and Rebekah Baran (web design and maintenance)
So what’s your game plan? This year, it’s to schedule one event a month. So far, I’ve hit home runs (except April, but I had four events in March. And I took a couple days off work in early April to focus on writing).
For upcoming events and more about the series, visit the Fetes and Feasts page at www.bryonyseries.com.