So let's learn a little about Annette. I love the little comment she added at the end of her bio about camping. LOL
Annette Drake’s work is character-driven and celebrates the law of unintended consequences. Her debut novel, Celebration House, debuted on August 1st in e-book format for readers everywhere from Tirgearr Publishing.
Annette left high school after two years to obtain her GED and attend Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. There she earned a degree in journalism before working as a reporter and editor for newspapers in Missouri and Kansas. She earned a bachelor of science in nursing in 1994 from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, and worked as a registered nurse in hospitals throughout Missouri, Alaska and Washington for 18 years before returning her focus to writing
Annette recently completed her middle-grade novel, Bone Girl, and is hard at work revising her steamy contemporary romance, A Year with Geno.
She is the mother of four children. The oldest just graduated from the University of Washington; the youngest just graduated from kindergarten. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. She loves libraries, basset hounds and bakeries. She does not camp.
You can follow her writing at www.Annettedrake.com She welcomes correspondence at: Write2me@annettedrake.com.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
For me, wanting to write is just another way to indulge my love of stories. I worked as a journalist from 1988 to 1993, then went back to school and became a registered nurse. Along the way, I’d sneak away from my family and write my stories. Earlier this year, I found myself unemployed. Surprise! I focused solely on my fiction writing. I finished and revised Celebration House, then was lucky enough to find a home for it. Thank you, Tirgearr Publishing.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Like all authors, I dream of quitting my day job and writing full-time. I’m not there yet, so I’ve set a goal for myself to write two books per year. It’s the stopping and starting that does my writing in. I started building Celebration House in 2007, finished writing it this year and was signed a contract in April. I started writing Bone Girl in September, 2011, and I finished it this year. The book I’m working on now – A Year with Geno – I started writing in 2006. My goal is to finish it by the end of this year.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I sneak away to my office – the spare bedroom – and shut the door behind me. I open my pages and listen to the voices of my characters. The goal is 1,000 words per day. I also like to stop with an idea of where I will pick up the next day. Something akin to a preview.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I play the fiddle badly. I have a horse whom I like to visit and tell all of my secrets. I have a tiny garden in our backyard where I like to spend time, taming unruly tomato plants. Simple pleasures, really.
What’s your favorite movie?
The move I can watch over and over again is Steve Martin’s Bowfinger. I just think it’s hilarious. When I have a bad day, I watch that movie. It never fails to lift my spirits.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written two novels, one chapter book and too many picture-book manuscripts to count.
What do you think makes a good story?
It’s all about the characters for me. Lately, I’ve been reading the books of Kristan Higgins. She’s an amazing writer, but one of her books didn’t resonate with me. I realized it’s because I didn’t like the main character. That was an eye opener for me. No matter how great the writing, how delightful the secondary characters, if I don’t love the protagonist, then I don’t love the book.
What is the best part of writing for you?
It’s that moment when an idea sweeps over me. I stop what I’m doing and either put fingers to keyboard, or pen to paper, and write down every single aspect of the idea. It’s like I’m flying through the emotions of the characters that inhabit my mind. I love those moments. Such a rush. For example, my editor suggested that Celebration House become a trilogy, with the second book focusing on Beth and the third book telling Melanie’s story. One day while driving to my day job, the idea for how the third book ends came to me. I got to work and ran to my desk and jotted down every single aspect of that dark moment that I could remember. I only hope when it comes time to write that scene, I’ll be able to read my own handwriting.
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?
Celebration House featured subjects close to my own life – cardiac nursing, restoring a house, and the Civil War. I would guess that for many new authors, the first book may be more autobiographical than their later work. I found this very thing to be limiting while writing my current work, A Year with Geno. The answer was to turn my back on my own history and give my characters free rein. I told myself, this isn’t your story. It’s Caroline’s story. I’m hoping that will help me.
Tell us about your latest book.
Celebration House is the story of a woman who leaves the bustle of Seattle and returns to a small town in central Missouri to restore an abandoned antebellum mansion. Her dream is to open the home to the public for weddings, class reunions and corporate events. Because of her health struggles, she has the ability to see and communicate with the dead. This is a useful gift because the original occupants still live there, including a handsome Civil War soldier.
The book is a paranormal with romantic undertones. Like all of my books, the focus of the story is my main character, who is determined to realize her dream. In this sense, it’s not a “romance” by definition, though I hope readers will enjoy the relationship between the two main characters.
Carrie Hansen spent her life caring for cardiac patients. Little did she know she would become a patient herself. After recovering from her own heart surgery, she realizes she has a special gift: the ability to see and talk with the dead.
Now, with her new heart failing, she leaves the bustle of Seattle behind and returns to Lexington, Missouri, the small town where she spent her childhood. Here, she sets out to restore an abandoned antebellum mansion and open it as a venue for celebrations.
Carrie’s work is cut out for her. The 150-year-old Greek revival house is in need of serious repair. Her sister, Melanie, tries to bully Carrie into returning to Seattle, predicting “her little project” is doomed to fail. Finally, Carrie’s health gives out on her, requiring emergency surgery.
But she will not give up. Carrie’s unique gift allows her to build relationships with the mansion’s original occupants, especially Maj. Tom Stewart, the handsome Civil War soldier who died a hundred years before Carrie was born. He encourages and comforts her, though not in the physical way they both desire.
Then there’s the builder of the house, Col. Bartholomew Stratton. If there’s one thing this 19th century horse trader cannot abide, it’s the living trespassing on his estate. He delights in scaring these intruders away, even if they are paying guests.
Will Carrie finish restoring Celebration House or will it finish her? And how can she plan a future with a man who has only a past?
Driving up to the house, Carrie smiled. She loved the long driveway, the poplar trees on both sides. Behind the trees, the fences had fallen into disrepair. Just one more thing she’d have to fix. She parked her car alongside the house and stacked her groceries and camping gear on the front porch. Seeing a small barn behind the main building, she decided to explore and see if there was room to park her car inside.
Carrie opened the door and stepped inside. Sunlight streamed in through the dirty windows. Even though the barn had been vacant for years, she smelled hay and horses.
Looking to her left, she saw a man shaving. He was bare from the waist up, his chest finely proportioned, lean, and muscular. His arms were powerfully built, and his right hand remained steady as he scraped the white soap from his angular jaw. His dark blue uniform pants were tucked into black leather knee-high riding boots. He stood at least six foot tall, and though Carrie hadn’t made her living in the carnival, she guessed he was probably younger than her, likely in his mid 20s. He peered intently at a small mirror tacked up on one of the barn walls. She waited to speak until after he’d finished the last swipe with the ivory-handled straight blade and had dipped it into the basin of soapy water.
He turned towards her suddenly, his expression an equal mix of surprise and annoyance. He dropped the razor and grabbed his shirt off a nearby nail. He turned his back to Carrie and pulled it on.
“Yes. Do you see me?”
“Yes, but I believe I have the advantage. I am dead. You are not.”
“I’m sorry to intrude on you. I’m Carrie Hansen,” she said, stepping toward him and extending her hand.
Without even thinking, he reached to shake her hand but his passed through hers. They both jerked back.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude,” she said.
“You surprised me. That’s all. We don’t get many visitors out here, especially living ones who can see us,” he said, putting his blue uniform coat over his shirt and buttoning the long row of brass buttons. “I’m Maj. Thomas Stewart, at your service,” he said, bowing formally at the waist.
“I am sorry I startled you. I sometimes forget that ghosts aren’t accustomed to being seen.”
“How may I be of service to you, Miss Hansen?”
“Where can I find Col. Stratton? I need to speak with him.”
His dark blue eyes showed his puzzlement. “The living do not go looking for Col. Stratton. What business do you have with him?”
“I bought this house, and I intend to live here.”
Last question, where can readers find you?