sequestered

As you read this post, I’m sequestered with my upcoming novel, I Am Number 13. It’s the third book in my Nowhere series. I’m excited about it for lots of reasons, but mainly because I’m writing a book that makes me happy. After the three-plus years I’ve had, I need a story that makes me believe in hope and magic again. Don’t you?

What’s I Am Number 13 About?

While the story may change on revision, I can tell you several things right now. Remember Emmaline, the nine-year-old heroine of my debut novel To Live Forever (get it HERE)? She’s front-and-center in I Am Number 13.

Emmaline

She’s eighteen. It’s 1986. A few days before she graduates from high school, her father dies in a car crash. Emmaline outgrew her belief in magic years ago, but being orphaned leaves her utterly without hope. Rather than enter college, she decides to take a gap year and volunteers overseas.

Because doesn’t helping others sometimes keep us from dwelling on our own problems?

She enlists with a group assisting refugees who flee the Nicaraguan Sandinista regime and finds herself training for service on the edge of the Honduran jungle.

Tell me: Do you think such a diversion would help you process grief? Why or why not?

Wilkinson

After being vanquished by Meriwether Lewis in To Live Forever, James Wilkinson starts his next Nowhere journey a changed man. Gone is the arrogance, the power-mongering, the duplicity. He inserts himself into the Reagan administration, determined to keep the Nicaraguan portion of the Iran Contra Affair on track to benefit the people of Nicaragua. By liberating a country from communist aggressors, he believes he’ll finally move beyond Nowhere and find peace.

Because even hopeless people can reform, right?

As part of his penance, he sets up a foundation for Emmaline’s education and financially supports her burgeoning interest in helping the less fortunate. Otherwise, he leaves her alone. She never knows about his role in her life.

His world collides with Emmaline’s in Honduras.

Tell me: Do you think Wilkinson will be able to stay true to his Nowhere mission and find redemption? Or will he threaten Emmaline once more?

I can’t wait for you to read I Am Number 13. I’m flipping the formula AGAIN. It contains lots of twists and surprises. So mark your calendars.

(If you keep your eyes on this space and social media, you’ll get to read and win something super-special early!)

April 1, 2018. I Am Number 13. Available everywhere.

soul

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.

AND HE HATED IT.

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.

Three years ago, I walked the Natchez Trace Parkway…all 444 miles of it…over one million steps……..

But sometimes it’s fun to retrace our steps.

You can read more in this blog post about that time of my walk or you can read the whole story in Not Without My Father. Available NOW. Amazon/Nook/iTunes/Kobo/Audible.

steps

A driven daughter. A gassy, nightmare father. Can they finish an epic walk of an ancient highway before they kill each other? If you like Bill Bryson, Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert, then you’ll love Andra Watkins’ New York Times bestselling memoir. 

Connect with me on social media so you can see the rest of the videos in this series! All the links are on the top right of this page.