Her first novel for Atheneum, Tears of a Tiger, was the recipient of the first Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent, and her second novel, Forged by Fire, won the Coretta Scott King Award for Literature in 1998. Darkness Before Dawn is the final book in the trilogy. She is also the author of Romiette & Julio, as well as several other books for young readers.
When asked to describe herself, Mrs. Draper replied, "I'm a dreamer, a creator, a visionary. I approach the world with the eyes of an artist, the ears of a musician, and the soul of a writer. I see rainbows where others see only rain, and possibilities when others see only problems. I love to write; words flow easily from my fingertips, and my heart beats rapidly with excitement as an idea becomes a reality on the paper in front of me. I learned to dream through reading, learned to create dreams through writing, and learned to develop dreamers through teaching. I shall always be a dreamer."