Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Andra Watkins. She is a NY Times Best Selling Author and public speaker. Andra writes Suspense and Memoir novels.
NOTE: Amazon is featuring Not Without My Father as a recommended read for Women’s History Month (March.). Andra made history by walking the Natchez Trace, and she’d love to inspire other women to reach for their dreams through reading Not Without My Father. Please give it a read during Women’s History Month, and let her know how you were inspired to Make a Memory!
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New York Times Best Selling Author Andra Watkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina.
Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace, her memoir chronicling her walk and dysfunctional family adventure, was nominated for the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction. She is one of the only living persons to walk the 10,000-year-old road.
Her acclaimed debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis was published by Word Hermit Press in 2014 and planted her desire to walk the ancient Trace.
Natchez Trace: Tracks in Time is a book of photography, shot during her 15-mile daily hikes on the Natchez Trace.
In addition to her books, Andra's writing has been published on recognized sites including Scary Mommy and Minerva Rising, and she has been featured on news outlets including The Huffington Post, The Tennessean, and ABC News.
Follow her writing adventures at andrawatkins.com.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
First things first. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Hard to Die, the sequel to my debut novel To Live Forever, will debut September 15, 2016. Hudson Valley. January 1950. A woman searching for her past meets a West Point cadet running from his future. Can they band together to vanquish their enemies when they can’t even trust each other?
You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?
Social media relationships are HUGE. Social media helped me meet my initial fans, and it gives readers an easy way to connect. I meet as many followers as I can, give periodic thank you gifts, and acknowledge people who interact. Building my following took time, consistency, and patience, but it definitely carries over to writing success.
You do a lot of book signings, interviews, public speaking and personal appearances. When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
I’ll be in Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina at the beginning of March. I’m keynoting a writing conference in Cuenca, Ecuador mid-March (details HERE). And I’ll be in Seattle, Portland, Colorado Springs, and Nashville in April. Readers can find all my appearances at
http://andrawatkins.com/events/. If you attend an event, please tell me you found me here.
My e-newsletter is the BEST way to avoid missing a thing. Subscribers get periodic thank-you gifts, are first to know about new books, and receive subscriber discounts for purchase of my titles. Subscribe at
andrawatkins.com/newsletter. Current subscriber FREEBIE: Get a set of four limited edition Natchez Trace postcards FREE for signing up for my e-newsletter.
I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads, but again, my newsletter is where everybody gets the best scoop. Subscribe
You have converted Not Without My Father into an audio book. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience for you?
Yes, I read my own memoir for audio and almost LOST MY MIND. It isn’t for the faint-hearted. But I’ve reached readers who prefer audiobooks. People read at the gym, in the car, on the subway……..it’s an excellent way to convince people to give my books a try. I plan to offer my novels in audio format as well.
Besides the Write on Edge community, what other writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
I’m a member of several secret Facebook groups for authors, as well as the Goodreads author support group. I also joined Facebook groups targeted to my genres. Though self-promotion is prohibited, the moderators regularly share information about discounts, awards, and major press with the group. Writer support groups can help a book find new readers, but I value them to know I’m not alone. When I need a place to celebrate, vent, or even cry, other writers understand better than anyone.
I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of a collection called Precipice. What was the main objective of bundling your works with other authors? How did you put something like that together? What was the impact on your other sales?
My first published works were in anthologies. I’m proud to have my words bundled with the authors in the Precipice collections and was honored when they asked me to participate. Anthologies help writers cross-promote their work, but my main objective was publication. The Write on Edge folks put the book together and managed distribution. All I had to do was submit my work. At the time, I didn’t have a full-length book available, but people still find my work by reading one of the Write on Edge anthologies first.
Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do you sort of play it by ear?
Like most writers, I can find lots of ways to procrastinate. I tend to write in spurts and market in spurts, definitely with a schedule. If I can hermit someplace, I can make about 25,000 words in a week!
Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?
My e-newsletter list is one of the most important things in my life. I do multiple freebies and thank you gifts a year. I encourage every reader to sign up at the back of each book, and I promote my newsletter on social media. I’ve also partnered with other authors for targeted promotions to grow my list, and I ask for signups at every event.
You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other people. What is your primary goal?
My blog is still the only online place I own and control. I can say whatever I want, and nobody can limit its reach or take it down. As the social media landscape becomes total pay-to-be-seen, blog readership is going to be vital for authors. Let’s not kid ourselves: Social media is fast becoming a platform where one must adapt to ever-changing rules. Paying brands are going to get the play. I still nurture my blog, because it’s the only place a reader can be sure to find me.
Do you plan on converting Natchez Trace to an ebook? And then to an audio book?
Natchez Trace Tracks in Time is a photography collection. It works best as a print book. At the moment, the publisher has no plans to convert it to either e-book or audiobook format.
Author's Book List
- Tracks in Time
From March 1 to April 3, 2014, Andra Watkins walked the Natchez Trace, all 444-miles. How does a person fill the time when walking alongside a highway fifteen miles a day for thirty-four days? To stave off boredom and deflect pain, she took pictures. Of highway and sky. Of garbage. Of spring flowers. Of migrating birds. Of trees and fields and signs. Wheels grease the path for the traveller, blurring the details of a landscape. Honoring when Life moved at the speed of footsteps, she documented the minutiae of forgotten traces of Time. Whether one drives or cycles the Trace today, these images will ease a traveller into a deliberate pace. This photographic collection is a gift from the Natchez Trace.
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Not Without My Father
- One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace
Can an epic adventure succeed without a hero? Andra Watkins needed a wingman to help her become one of the only living persons to walk the historic 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did. She planned to walk fifteen miles a day. For thirty-four days. After striking-out with everyone in her life, she was left with her disinterested eighty-year-old father. And his gas. The sleep apnea machine and self-scratching. Sharing a bathroom with a man whose gut obliterated his aim. As Watkins trudged America's forgotten highway, she lost herself in despair and pain. Nothing happened according to plan, and her tenuous connection to her father started to unravel. Through arguments and laughter, tears and fried chicken, they fought to rebuild their relationship before it was too late. In Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace, Watkins invites readers to join her dysfunctional family adventure in a humorous and heartbreaking memoir that asks if one can really turn 'I wish I had' into 'I'm glad I did.'
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To Live Forever
- An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis
Explorer Meriwether Lewis has been stuck in Nowhere since his mysterious death nearly two centuries ago. His last hope for redemption is helping nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney flee her madame mother in New Orleans and find her father in Nashville. To get there, Merry must cross his own grave along the Natchez Trace, where he duels the corrupt Judge, an old foe who has his own despicable plans for Em.
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