Bio: Anita Mae Draper's stories are written under the western skies where she lives on the prairie of southeast
with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. When she's
not writing, Anita enjoys photography, research, travel, and is especially
happy when she can combine the three in one trip. Anita's current release is Romantic Refinements, a novella in Austen
in Austin Volume 1, WhiteFire Publishing, January 2016. Anita is
represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can
find Anita Mae at www.anitamaedraper.com
Welcome, Anita. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
My characters don’t reflect who I am, as much as who I strive to be.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
This brings to mind a silly incident when I was a young corporal working as a teletype operator in a military message center. Everyone had gone for coffee and I was all alone—or so I thought. With nothing to do but babysit the equipment, I sat on my favorite swivel chair and spun myself around, legs off the ground, as if I were on a children’s park merry-go-round. When I opened my eyes, I saw my sergeant leaning against his open office door giving me with a quizzical look. Whoops. I said the first thing I thought of… “Would you believe I’m lowering my chair?” He disappeared back into his office while shaking his head and muttering. Let’s just say that from then on I kept my chair spinning antics to my midnight shifts.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I wrote my first poem when I was six, but it wasn’t until I was fourteen that I felt compelled to write a story which seemed novel-length, but in hindsight was only short story length.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love reading westerns in any time period, and historicals are a favorite, but I also read contemporary. Sometimes it’s not so much the genre, but the author, or a cover, that draws me to a book. Whatever I read, it has to have a happily ever after.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
That’s easy … I don’t. Seriously, though, every once in a while I’ll get overwhelmed by all the demands and so I’ll go off social media and hide out in my writing cave. After a few days of solitude, I’m ready to face the world.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Usually, a name will come to me as I think of a storyline. Then, I’ll check it on a baby name app which shows what names were popular in the time period of my story. And if I haven’t found one by then, I’ll look at old census records of the period and choose one that way. I also have a baby name origin book for when my character comes from a specific country and I want to add flavor to the story.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished thus far in my writing career, but the one that made me giddy was when Guideposts Books chose my Christmas short story, “Here We Come A-Wassailing,” to be featured in a marketing campaign where thousands of subscribers were able to read the first eight pages of my story, one of eight short stories in A Cup of Christmas Cheer Volume 4. It was a definite honor to be blessed in that way.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Call me a party-pooper, but I really don’t want to be an animal. The way I see it, they all have their limitations when it comes to predators and the food chain. At least as a human I feel love, I can think, and I have faith in a God who loves me.
Good answer. What is your favorite food?
Kraft Dinner with wieners or smokies as a meal. Chocolate at any other time.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
The lack of confidence has always been my biggest roadblock. When I need reassurance, I first pray about it, then I email my Inkwell Inspirations blog mates. And if I still need a pick me up, I’ll email my agent, Mary Keeley. I’m truly blessed with a wonderful support team.
Tell us about the featured book.
Austen in Austin Volume 1 is a 4 novella collection set in the late 1900’s in
, using Jane Austen’s characters. For
example, my novella’s heroine, Marion, in Romantic
Refinements, is loosely based on the younger sister, Marianne, in Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. The novellas can
be purchased and read as a stand-alone, but since the stories are all interwoven,
characters from any story in Volume 1 and 2 (available later this year) may
appear in any other novella(s)—some as a foreshadow and some as an epilogue.
It’s a richer experience if they’re read in order. Austin, Texas
Please give us the first page of the book.
“Marianne's abilities were, in many respects, quite equal to Elinor's. She was sensible and clever; but eager in everything: her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she was everything but prudent.”
― Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
September 1882, Texas Hill Country
Even the jerking and jostling of wooden wagon wheels travelling on uneven ground didn’t drop Marion McDermott’s gaze from the herd of rangy cowhands watching the action in the corral. Why, the thought that her future husband might be in the batch of hardened, heavy-working, hat-wearing men set her heart a-thumping—something the dandies back in Austin hadn’t been able to achieve. Poppa’s smile would surely shine when he heard how seriously she’d taken his warning about marrying a man for his good looks, alone.
Yet as Aunt Mattie steered their outfit toward the white pickets which surrounded the familiar verandah-decked house,
Marion nervously smoothed the lap of her
periwinkle day dress. With its layers of ruffles and lace it hadn’t been the
most practical choice for the hour trip from Austin, but as headmistress Mrs.
Collins had repeatedly said, Marion should continue to work on virtues such as
practicality even now that she’d graduated from the Jeanette C. Austen Academy
for Young Ladies.
Over by the corral the cowhands gazed in
Marion’s direction even though the object of
their recent attention still bucked with abandon in the corral behind them.
Spotting a familiar handsome face sent a hundred butterflies flittering in her stomach. Mr. Jeffrey Whelp could very well be the man to leave this ranch with a proprietary hand on her back.
As he left the rail and sauntered her way with the rest of the men,
faced the front, her gloved hands closing the silk parasol that matched her
fancy travelling dress.
Aunt Mattie reined in the team beside the fence where
Marion’s favorite yellow
roses rambled along the white pickets.
Aunt Mattie tied off the lines. “Not much changes on a ranch, except for the men. You’ll recognize most of them, especially the ones your poppa sent over. My brother is as stubborn as they come, but he believes in family and I value the support he has shown over the years since your Uncle Raith died. All his blustering at the beginning was only because that is what he thought a big brother was supposed to do. But he came around.”
She nodded toward the outbuildings. “I don’t think you’ve met my foreman, yet.”
A tall cowboy in a black hat stood on the stoop of the foreman’s quarters. His off-white shirt and denims were much like the clothes of the other cowhands, but when he stepped down and headed her way, he lacked the rolling saunter of someone who spent hours in the saddle. Instead, his limping stride appeared jerky and torturous. Beneath a wide brim, his sun-creased face lacked signs of youth and
Marion guessed him to be about thirty or so.
With his strong, clean-shaven jawline and wide shoulders his overall appearance
was that of a striking man any woman would have a hard time forgetting.
Their gazes locked, his directness questioning hers.
She looked away, annoyed that she’d been caught staring.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thanks for asking! You can find me at these online places:
Pinterest (includes story boards)
Thank you, Anita, for sharing this new book with us. I know lots of my readers are Austen fans and will love the Texas twist to the stories.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.Austen in Austin, Volume 1 - Paperback
Austen in Austin, Volume 1: Four Texas-Set Novellas Based on Jane Austen's Novels - Kindle
Romantic Refinements (Austen in Austin) - Kindle
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