Meet my guideson Cooper.

You last saw him in my NYT best selling memoir Not Without My Father. My novel Hard to Die is dedicated to him, a fitting tidbit for this little story.

A story of my soul

For years, Cooper has been obsessed with dinosaurs. He is a walking encyclopedia of dinosaur trivia. Wherever he went, he spouted scientific names, specific diets, and times lived. No toy was as magical as one with a dino-theme. What better gift could two guide parents give a child than taking him to the cradle of dinosaurdom, Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park? We redeemed every travel point we had to ship four humans to this spot for under $500, an epic memory-making experience for Cooper.


Look at that face on our fossil safari. HE WAS MISERABLE. He never stopped reminding us how awful it was. We kept trying different ploys to coax him toward enjoyment, but he always pointed out what was wrong. He wanted dragons, not dinosaurs. A love of dragons is a recent development.

He came around eventually, BTW. I *think* we made some exquisite memories.

When I look at this face, I see the products of my soul. What are the products of my soul, you ask?

My books are living chunks of my soul, carved from my very essence.

This experience reminded me how I feel every time I hack off another piece of my soul in book form and launch it into the world. I want everyone to receive it with joy and unfettered glee, because it’s my soul, after all.

What you hold in your hands is more me than I am. It’s the purest me you’ll ever find.

And so much of the time, creators find themselves staring at a facsimile of Cooper’s bloody expression and wondering why they try. What’s the point of untethering finite lumps of one’s soul and flinging them into the world when so few people care? I mean, there’s only so much soul to distribute before it’s all used up. Gone. A dusty husk. A barren well.

If I am resilient or inspiring or strong, I am because I keep creating in spite of this collective face. Creators are compelled to drain their souls and watch what happens when you hold them in your hands. The two parts – making and releasing – are the essence of being a Creator.

Be gentle with souls. You never know when you’ll need someone to be gentle with yours.

featured by chicago tribune

My upcoming appearance at Elgin Literary Festival was featured by Chicago Tribune! Read all about it above.

Are you in the greater Chicago area? Do you know someone who is? Please share this post and invite them to Elgin Literary Festival. January 29 and 30, 2016. Hemmens Cultural Center. Elgin, Illinois.

I was invited to be a featured author and moderator at the Elgin Literary Festival in Elgin, Illinois. In its second year, the Elgin Literary Festival is a celebration of the arts, with venues all over downtown. The Chicago Tribune heralded the 2015 event. To follow the event in real time, head over the the festival’s Facebook page and give it a Like. You can find it HERE.

To help raise funds to support the festival, I donated two signed copies of of To Live Forever and Not Without My Father for purchase during the holiday season. My appearance is at 10am Saturday, January 30, on the Hemmens Cultural Center’s Exhibition Hall stage. I’ll sign and sell books from 11am – 1pm Saturday, January 30.

(From Side Street Studio Arts Website)

The Elgin Literary Festival is a celebration of the written word taking place in Downtown Elgin, a blooming center of the arts.  The Festival aims to highlight bookish culture and provide writers and readers a place to create and appreciate the art of writing, all within the charming architecture and welcoming businesses that are the soul of the City of Elgin.

Area Author Karly Kirkpatrick is teaming up with Side Street Studio Arts and the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission to bring together Elgin business and organizations to host and be featured within the inaugural Elgin Literary Festival. The Festival will feature readings, book signings, discussion panels, activities for children, and much more at various Downtown Elgin locations.

You can see the complete ELF schedule in this downloadable pdf.

To find a map and directions to Elgin Literary Festival, go to my website event page HERE.


So many things about writing are unlucky, even frustrating. While I try to focus on the positive things (and I have many), the negative things are sometimes mind-blowing enough for my wounded psyche to take days to recover. Other writers will probably recognize a few of these gems.

  1. Indie bookstore owner – “I won’t read your book, because I’m sure it’s terrible. People are just telling you it’s good to be nice.”
  2. Vendor I (used to) frequent – “Yeah. I know I told your husband I wanted a signed copy of your book, but now that you dragged it all the way out here, I don’t have time to read.”
  3. Numerous people of the nameless, faceless variety – “I only read non-fiction. Fiction is a waste of time.”
  4. More nameless, faceless people – “I don’t buy books, because I can get so many for free………and they all mostly suck……..why can’t writers pen good free books for me to read???”
  5. Dad: “You a reader?” Random people: “No. I don’t read, and I don’t understand why anybody does.” Or: “I only read motorcycle magazines.” (Is that code for p0rn??)
  6. Infamous South Carolina Congressman – “I’ll come back and buy one.” (He never did. Maybe he didn’t want to read a book set on a famous trail, given his association with famous trails???)

Given how much of this my publisher, my publicist and I hear every day, I savor each success. I can run my Happy Tank for weeks from one positive review or successful event.

And book clubs are starting to honor me with multiple hits to my Happy Tank. In September, I’m traveling to Auburn, Massachusetts for a book club appearance, thanks to the awesome Lisa Kramer. The ladies of the Moncks Corner-Pinopolis Book Club have booked me for February 2015. And I have back-to-back book club appearances in Denmark/Bamberg, South Carolina next May, thanks to Emily Guess.

Book club appearances always lead to stories. How clubs were founded. Fun traditions they follow. What they like to eat and drink.

If you’re a member of a book club, I’m starting a periodic series that will feature YOU. I’d love to chronicle the story of how your book club came to be. If you have a favorite book club recipe, I’d love to share it here. Any other off-the-wall traditions? Send those along, too.

Submit your book club story to mystories(at)andrawatkins(dot)com.

Not in a book club? No worries. You know plenty of people who are. Share this post with your book club friends, and encourage them to participate.

Tomorrow, our first story is from the Beaufort (SC) Book Bashers, the first book club to ever honor me with an invitation. I’m sharing their awesome recipe for Kennedy Punch. (I cannot imagine Jackie Kennedy drinking it, but I love the story of how it came to be.)

Actual fan mail. I read and save every bit of it!!

Actual fan mail. I read and save every bit of it!!

Haven’t heard of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether LewisThat’s okay. Most people haven’t. Become part of an elite group – People Who Read TLF Before Everybody Else. Download your digital copy for $4.99 at your favorite online outlet below.