CRESSON — Laura Drake, an award-winning author, has only lived in Cresson for a short while, but she has definitely claimed the small town as her new home.
Drake lived in Michigan and California for most of her life, but it wasn't until her first trip to Texas that she discovered her passion for writing — and cowboys.
While she was living in California, she met her now-husband, Gary, who is a “die-hard, bleed maroon, Texas Aggie.”
“I didn’t know about A&M. I had no idea,” Laura said. “And I thought, ‘Oh, this guy. Will he just stop talking about this? It's a college. Get over it.’ But I figured it out when I went there.”
One year, Laura took a trip to Texas to meet Gary’s parents for Christmas, and that’s when he also took her to see her first rodeo.
And the rest, as they say, was history.
That one rodeo sparked this Yankee’s desire to start writing at the age of 40 — and it intensified once they moved to Texas.
The Drakes moved to Midland to take care of Gary’s ailing mother for six years before they moved to Cresson last November. Surrounded by trees and residing close to two lakes and a river, Laura can finally stay in tune with her true Texan heart.
“I love it here,” she said. “I’m in heaven. I bought a bass boat and deer come right in our backyard.”
Laura said at first, she thought she wasn’t smart enough to be an author because “authors are brilliant.”
“But one day, I looked down and realized I had a delete key. I could write the whole thing, and then delete it before anybody knew I was dumb,” she said, laughing.
In one year, she had finished her first book called, “Her Road Home,” which tells the story of a girl who crashes her motorcycle and meets a handsome stranger. The book eventually grew to a small-town series of four books.
Now, Laura has published 13 books in total, which have all sold to three publishing companies: Harlequin, Grand Central and Story Plant. The novels were published in categories of women’s fiction, small-town romance and western romance.
She incorporated her newfound love of professional bull riders into a three-book series, “Sweet on a Cowboy.”
“I fell in love with bull riding at the rodeo,” she said. “There is something about it, these guys that think they can't die. And they get on these, you know, 2,000-pound bulls that just want to kill them. But when it's a good ride and everything goes right, it's like ballet. It is really beautiful.”
Laura received the 2014 Romance Writers of America RITA award for Best First Book for “The Sweet Spot,” the first book in her "Sweet on a Cowboy” series.
Many authors come up with a plot before they start writing, but for Laura, she comes up with a character first.
“I know the character and their backstory and what kind of problems they have, and then I just have to kind of find things for them to do,” she said. “That's a cool thing about not plotting, I'll be typing away and all of a sudden, something will happen that just fits in perfectly. It's like the theme of the book, and I didn't even know it. And I'll be typing going, ‘Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. She didn't. Oh, yes, she did.’”
She encourages other aspiring authors to prioritize writing and to never give up. Of course, enjoying writing is the most important attribute a potential author needs to have.
“The fun of it has to come first. You have to love to write. I know a lot of people want to write a book, but they don’t like to write. I also had 417 rejections before I sold — not that I counted or anything,” Laura said, chuckling. “And the thing is, everyone goes, ‘Oh my God, how could you do that?’ I like to write. I'd be writing anyway, so what difference does it make how long it took me? I was learning. I was getting better all that time.”
Laura doesn’t plan to stop writing anytime soon. In fact, she has a writing goal she wants to accomplish before that time comes.
“I want one time in my life to come up with a perfect sentence. Something that when a reader reads it, they go, ‘Wow. I’ve never heard it put that way, but that’s exactly what it’s like.’ Just a line that makes you stop and think,” she said. “If I can do that, man, I will be a success.”
Laura also spends time mentoring and teaching writing classes. She recently finished teaching a class on flash fiction and will be teaching advanced craft next.
On Monday, Aug. 23, she will be speaking at the Granbury Writer’s Bloc from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Langdon Center, speaking on the topic: Balancing Backstory.
“I really enjoy (mentoring) because I feel like the lessons I've learned are so hard won, that if I'm the only one who benefits from them, it’s kind of a waste,” she said. “So, I try and help people along the way.”
She currently has two more women’s fiction books under contract, with the first book having a set publication date of March 2022.
When she’s not writing, Laura spends time fishing and riding her motorcycle. She is a wife, mother and grandmother.
For more information, visit her website at: LauraDrakeBooks.com.