August 21, 2014

GUEST POST: Welcome Author Andra Watkins



GUEST POST BY AUTHOR ANDRA WATKINS:

What would someone like Princess Diana have accomplished if she had been given more time?

I always wondered that about explorer Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis & Clark fame. He accomplished more than many people manage in a full lifetime, all to be cut down by two gunshots on the Natchez Trace at the age of 35.

Historians are divided about whether Lewiss death was suicide or murder. The United States government classifies it as mysterious.

Still.

A famous explorer dies alone in the early hours of October 11, 1809, wounded in the head and the abdomen. He is buried in a shallow, unmarked grave for almost 50 years. Although he is a federal employee on government business, no federal investigation of his death is conducted.

He is forgotten until 1848, when the state of Tennessee moved his body and erected a marker to honor him.

My novel is partially an attempt to give Lewis more time, to craft a different ending for a life that was extinguished too soon. That hes a ghost grappling with the modern conveniences of 1977 adds a twist to his experience.

In the book, Lewis is charged with delivering nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney from a life of prostitution in New Orleans and finding her father in Nashville. Emmaline is fictitious, but part of her story is inspired by events in my own family.

When my cousin was in third grade, she was taught about the etymology of money. As a school assignment, she wrote her name on a dollar bill and was instructed to spend it. The teacher thought perhaps a student would get one back in change someday.

Shed been separated from her father (and my uncle) by a bitter divorce. She was very attached to her dad, and he to her. But family law being what it was in the 1970s, the mother almost always got custody. When she made it difficult for him to see his daughter, he moved to another state.

Eight months after she wrote her name on that dollar bill, her father called her. Hed gone out for something - a pack of gum, maybe. When he collected his change, a dollar bill with his little girls name on it fluttered on top.

It was his daughters dollar bill from her class assignment.

Her childish script on paper money renewed his resolve to fight for her. They were close until he died.


As to how I tied Lewis and Emmaline together………well, they insisted. Sometimes, fiction happens that way, with loud characters and a really excellent bad guy.


Publication Date: March 1, 2014
Publisher: World Hermit Press
Genre: General Fiction/Paranormal

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.

Buy the Book



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:
hiking
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
candlelight
I don’t like:
getting up in the morning
cilantro (It is the devil weed.)
surprises (For me or for anyone else.)
house cleaning
cooking

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.

trace-map

To launch To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, I am the first living person to walk the 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did since the rise of steam power in the 1820′s. From March 1, 2014 to April 3, 2014, I walked fifteen miles a day. Six days a week. One rest day per week. I spent 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.

To Live Forever Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 21
Review at Unshelfish
Tuesday, July 22
Excerpt at Making My Mark
Thursday, July 24
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Friday, July 25
Review at Mel’s Shelves
Monday, July 28
Review at Ryann Donnelly
Excerpt & Giveaway at Paranormal Book Club
Wednesday, July 30
Review at The Worm Hole
Guest Post at Sallie’s Book Reviews and More
Monday, August 4
Spotlight & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Wednesday, August 6
Spotlight & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf
Thursday, August 7
Review at Mythical Books
Tuesday, August 12
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, August 13
Review at The Readers Hollow
Monday, August 18
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing
Wednesday, August 20
Interview at To Read or Not to Read
Wednesday, August 21
Interview at Tower of Babel
Thursday, August 21
Guest Post at Lost in Books
Monday, August 25
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, August 26
Review & Giveaway at My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews
Monday, September 1
Spotlight at Bibliophilia, Please
Tuesday, September 3
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Wednesday, September 4
Review at Brooke Blogs

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