Today our blog puts the Spotlight on debut Author Annette Drake. She is a romance writer and blogger just starting the long journey.
Romance, Young Adult
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Annette Drake is an aspiring writer whose work is character-driven and celebrates the law of unintended consequences. Her debut novel, Celebration House, will be published this summer in e-book format for readers everywhere by Tirgearr Publishing.
She left high school after two years to obtain her GED and attend Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, where she earned a degree in journalism. Annette worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers in Missouri and Kansas from 1987 to 1993. After earning a bachelor of science in nursing in 1994, she worked in hospitals in 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. A member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Annette loves libraries, basset hounds and bakeries. She does not camp.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
First things first. Congratulations on the completion of Celebration House. Rumor has it that you have completed Bone Girl and are revising a steamy contemporary romance called, A Year with Geno. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
I haven’t found a home yet for Bone girl, my middle-grade novel, so I don’t know a release date. I hope the book will see daylight in 2014.
A Year with Geno is still being written. My goal is to finish this book by the end of this year and find a home for it in 2014. I’m a newbie author, but my experience has been that adult novels are easier to place than childrens books. I may be wrong; that’s just been my journey. I hope A Year with Geno will be published the fall of 2014. The novel starts during the Thanksgiving holiday, so that’s why I hope for a premier date in the fall.
A member of my writing critique group brought an article by Stephen King about “hookers” – you know, the first sentence of a book. I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor from 1988 thru 1993. In that industry, we call the first line of a story the “lead.” It’s a vital part of the story because the reporter wants to grab the reader’s attention and draw them end. To that end, I would like to offer up the “hooker” or “lead” to both of these novels.
Bone Girl: “Angry voices woke Josey.”
A Year with Geno: “The eviction notice, printed on crisp linen paper, arrived the day before Thanksgiving.”
I see you have done book signing and personal appearances? When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
The library in my city is talking about hosting a local authors night this fall. I hope to participate in that. The county library in my community has offered to host me, solo, in January where I’ll talk about Celebration House and e-readers. The thought is that folks will receive e-readers as Christmas presents and be looking for information on how to use them. That’s when I’ll strike!
You can get her social media contact above.
Celebration House has a great cover. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach?
I envisioned the cover of Celebration House as soon as Tirgearr Publishing offered me a contract. The first cover art I received was not what I wanted. Not at all. The second was much closer. It’s not perfect. I wanted Hugh Jackman to be the cover model, but there’s that pesky issue of money! But the second cover was close to what I hoped it would be.
I’ve been told that authors are given little if no input as to what the cover should look like. That’s disappointing. Who knows the book better than its creator? I think in the future, I’d welcome the same opportunity to share my vision for the cover as Tirgearr Publishing allowed me.
I know there’s a lot of controversy about self-published books, but in that respect, the authors are completely responsible for the cover. That’s a task I welcome.
What writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
I belong to SCBWI and the Inland Northwest Writers Guild. Most important to me is my writing critique group. We meet every Wednesday night to share our work. We’re a diverse group. We write poetry, horror, cop fiction and cross-cultural romance, but I think our diversity gives us unique perspectives.
I’ve just started a critique group for authors of picture-books. This is a distinctive kind of storytelling, very different from novel writing, and so I thought it deserved its own group. The response has been good.
What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? Did you run into any obstacles?
I don’t have any experience giving away my writing for free. I placed my book, Bone Girl, on the Authonomy website, but I’ve since removed it. I’ve set a limit of 60 rejections for that manuscript, and if I reach that number, I may elect to self-publish it. I don’t know. It takes deep pockets to self-publish the right way, and I won’t consider handling that book anyway but the right way. Once Bone Girl is published, I think I can relax. This novel says most what I want my readers, especially kids, to hear: Within you, buried down deeply, you have the answers to your problems.
Have you ever done a book tour? If so, did it contribute to the sales of your book?
My family and I drove from our home in eastern Washington to the library in the community where Celebration House takes place - Lexington, Missouri. We left at 6 on a Thursday morning and arrived about 45 minutes before the speech was to start. The two residents who attended were such a pleasure to meet, and I believe that through them, word of Celebration House will spread. My publisher did mention that the book enjoyed a surge in sales after the trip.
How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?
I write a timeline for the book, and I’m constantly adding and taking away, rearranging plot points. But generally speaking, I have an idea of the timeline before I start. It’s one of the things the characters whisper to me. For example, Bone Girl takes place over a school year, August to May. A Year with Geno takes place, you guessed it, over the course of a year, from Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving. I don’t use software. That would be too easy. An ex-husband once told me I always do things the hard way. He was probably right.
You have an interesting blog. I got caught reading the blog rather than organizing questions for this article. What is your primary goal?
To get off my psych meds. I’m so kidding. I don’t take psych meds. I should, but I don’t. My goal for the blog is to entertain. I’m told that writers start a blog to build a following, a “platform.” I don’t know what that means. I hope people who read it get a chuckle or two and find me approachable.
What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews or no you rely on your reading audience to supply them?
My amazing editor, Maudeen Wachsmith, takes sole credit for the quote on the cover by Deb Stover. Thank you, Maudeen. Other reviews are ones that I, with the help of my husband and daughter, have solicited. I read an article by an experienced author who advised newbies, like myself, to never, ever read the reviews. I try to take his advice.
I would love to hear from readers. I have an email address for just that purpose: Write2me@AnnetteDrake.com.
When will your basset hound, Eeyore be featured in one of your books?
This is such a great question! Thank you for asking.
A Year with Geno has a basset hound in it, although his name is Bear, not Eeyore. He’s a lot like the pigeon-toed slobbery hound who shares my life.
However, Eeyore is the mascot for my publishing company, Baskethound Books. Would you like to hear our slogan? Baskethound Books: Titles to Drool Over. I have a business license for the company. I own the domain and started a Facebook page. The purpose is to someday publish the best of the picture-book manuscripts that languish on my computer hard drive. Someday…
Author's Book List
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, bullies 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 Major 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, Colonel 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 only has 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.
“You can see me, ma’am?” he asked, buttoning his shirt before stuffing it into his pants.
“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.”
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