April 11, 2014

Andra Watkins' To Live Forever - Guest post and {Giveaway}

Andra Watkins’ Thoughts on Writing

On Writing…

I started writing creatively during the economic crash of 2008. I’d always written, but the crash, coupled with turning 40, left me unmoored, both professionally and personally. Over two decades, I had numerous technical articles published on business topics, but the shift back to creative writing was like going back to kindergarten. I had to learn how to write all over again.

On Being Published…

I still look at my novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis and can’t believe it’s mine. I wrote a real book. About a real person who lived like a champion and died too young.

It’s hard to talk about a book. I love that I can just show it to people now. That’s the greatest thing about being published. My work is no longer this abstract thing. It’s real. People can read it.

On Publishing Industry…

The traditional publishing industry would do well to seek out entrepreneurial writers. Focusing on writers who can string together orgasmic sentences or writers who’ve won literary awards or those who’ve been included in literary journals won’t cut it in the 21st century publishing environment. To be successful, a writer has got to be an entrepreneur. He or she must innovate.

I went with Word Hermit Press, a small publisher, because I could stay nimble. I could take risks and try innovative, unusual things to promote my book.

Mistakes Along the Way...

I threw too much money away trying to win the Traditional Publishing Beauty Pageant. I wish I had invested more of that money in myself, in getting my book to readers faster.

On Marketing…

My book is a genre-bending mix of historical fiction, paranormal fiction, action/adventure fiction and magical realism. When anyone asked me where my book would go on a shelf, my answer was always, “Ummmmmm……”

I decided to write a book for readers, and that’s how I’m marketing the book. On March 1, I started walking the 444-mile Natchez Trace, a 10,000 year old road that runs from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN. The book is set along the Trace, and I’m taking readers into the world of the novel. Fifteen miles a day. Six days a week. I am the first living person to walk the Natchez Trace as the pioneers did. I’ll finish in 34 days.

My walk gives me the ability to talk about my book all the time, without saying, “Why don’t you buy my book?”

On Goals and Dreams…

I want to make a living as a novelist, because I have more stories to write. I don’t care about being rich. I want the freedom and control to weave unusual stories that surprise readers, that turn pages and that delight me.

To aspiring writers, I say believe in yourself. Believe in your story. Invest in yourself and your story. Take risks on yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself and your story, why should anyone else believe in you?

About the book
​Publication Date: March 1, 2014
World Hermit Press
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

Is remembrance immortality? Nobody wants to be forgotten, least of all the famous.
Meriwether Lewis lived a memorable life. He and William Clark were the first white men to reach the Pacific in their failed attempt to discover a Northwest Passage. Much celebrated upon their return, Lewis was appointed governor of the vast Upper Louisiana Territory and began preparing his eagerly-anticipated journals for publication. But his re-entry into society proved as challenging as his journey. Battling financial and psychological demons and faced with mounting pressure from Washington, Lewis set out on a pivotal trip to the nation’s capital in September 1809. His mission: to publish his journals and salvage his political career. He never made it. He died in a roadside inn on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee from one gunshot to the head and another to the abdomen.

Was it suicide or murder? His mysterious death tainted his legacy and his fame quickly faded. Merry’s own memory of his death is fuzzy at best. All he knows is he’s fallen into Nowhere, where his only shot at redemption lies in the fate of rescuing another. An ill-suited “guardian angel,” Merry comes to in the same New Orleans bar after twelve straight failures. Now, with one drink and a two-dollar bill he is sent on his last assignment, his final shot at escape from the purgatory in which he’s been dwelling for almost 200 years. Merry still believes he can reverse his forgotten fortunes.

Nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney is the daughter of French Quarter madam and a Dixieland bass player. When her mother wins custody in a bitter divorce, Emmaline carves out her childhood among the ladies of Bourbon Street. Bounced between innocence and immorality, she struggles to find her safe haven, even while her mother makes her open her dress and serve tea to grown men.

It isn’t until Emmaline finds the strange cards hidden in her mother’s desk that she realizes why these men are visiting: her mother has offered to sell her to the highest bidder. To escape a life of prostitution, she slips away during a police raid on her mother’s bordello, desperate to find her father in Nashville.

Merry’s fateful two-dollar bill leads him to Emmaline as she is being chased by the winner of her mother’s sick card game: The Judge. A dangerous Nowhere Man convinced that Emmaline is the reincarnation of his long dead wife, Judge Wilkinson is determined to possess her, to tease out his wife’s spirit and marry her when she is ready. That Emmaline is now guarded by Meriwether Lewis, his bitter rival in life, further stokes his obsessive rage.

To elude the Judge, Em and Merry navigate the Mississippi River to Natchez. They set off on an adventure along the storied Natchez Trace, where they meet Cajun bird watchers, Elvis-crooning Siamese twins, War of 1812 re-enactors, Spanish wild boar hunters and ancient mound dwellers. Are these people their allies? Or pawns of the perverted, powerful Judge?

After a bloody confrontation with the Judge at Lewis’s grave, Merry and Em limp into Nashville and discover her father at the Parthenon. Just as Merry wrestles with the specter of success in his mission to deliver Em, The Judge intercedes with renewed determination to win Emmaline, waging a final battle for her soul. Merry vanquishes the Judge and earns his redemption. As his spirit fuses with the body of Em’s living father, Merry discovers that immortality lives within the salvation of another, not the remembrance of the multitude.

Read an Excerpt HERE.

Buy the Book

Amazon (Kindle Ebook)

About the Author
Hey. I’m Andra Watkins. I’m a native of Tennessee, but I’m lucky to call Charleston, South Carolina, home for 23 years. I’m the author of ‘To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis’, coming March 1, 2014. It’s a mishmash of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809.

I like:
eating (A lot; Italian food is my favorite.)
traveling (I never met a destination I didn’t like.)
reading (My favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo.)
coffee (the caffeinated version) and COFFEE (sex)
performing (theater, singing, public speaking, playing piano)
time with my friends
Sirius XM Chill
yoga (No, I can’t stand on my head.)
writing in bed
I don’t like:
getting up in the morning
cilantro (It is the devil weed.)
surprises (For me or for anyone else.)
house cleaning

Author Links

Natchez Trace Walk

The Natchez Trace is a 10,000-year-old road that runs from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. Thousands of years ago, animals used its natural ridge line as a migratory route from points in the Ohio River Valley to the salt licks in Mississippi. It was logical for the first Native Americans to settle along the Trace to follow part of their migrating food supply. When the Kaintucks settled west of the Appalachians, they had to sell their goods at ports in New Orleans or Natchez, but before steam power, they had to walk home. The Trace became one of the busiest roads in North America.

To launch To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, I will be the first person of either sex to walk the 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did since the rise of steam power in the 1820′s. March 1, 2014 to April 3, 2014. Fifteen miles a day. Six days a week. One rest day per week. I will spend each night in the modern-day equivalent of stands, places much like Grinder’s Stand, where Meriwether Lewis died from two gunshot wounds on October 11, 1809.

I will take readers into the world of the book. You’ll see the places that inspired scenes and hear the backstories of different characters, with running commentary by my father, who’s tagging along with me.

I’ll also have a daily YouTube segment where I answer reader questions about the book, my walk, my arguments—I mean—interactions with my dad, and whatever readers want to know. Ask me anything at mystories(at)andrawatkins(dot)com.
You might see yourself on this site during my tour.

Visit the other tours for more guest posts, reviews and giveaways - HFVBT TOUR SCHEDULE
Follow the tour on Twitter - #ToLiveForeverTour

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance at (1) one copy of To Live Forever - print or eBook - winner's choice. Print open to US only, eBook open internationally.

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  1. I have never traveled the Natchez Trace, But I would like to.

  2. That's not a part of the country that I've ever spent any time in so, no I've never traveled the Natchez Trace. It is the sort of thing I enjoy though so if I was there I'd definitely do that. Thanks

  3. I've yet to visit that region of our country but I would love to check it out. However, I'm not in the physical shape required to walk 400+ miles. I'll happily drive from my home to Los Angeles (approximately the same distance) in a single day, but admittedly the route is sorely lacking in sites of great historical significance.

  4. I have never traveled The Natchez Trace. This sounds fascinating. Many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. I have never made such a journey nor am like to do so; I am a city mouse ;)


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