good news andra watkins

I promised more good news, Dear Reader. Because writers spend typical days like this:

  1. Wake up.
  2. Mainline industrial shots of caffeine.
  3. Jump off cliff.
  4. Hear no in response to every request. (No, you can’t have an event at our shop, because no one knows who you are, and therefore nobody will come. No, we only work with authors represented by big publishers. No, you really thought we’d even consider this request for an interview? Seriously? No, your book isn’t any more special than anyone else’s. No, we won’t even give you the opportunity to give your book away for free. No. No. No. No. NO.)
  5. Peel splatted soul from the base of the cliff.
  6. Carry broken limbs and shredded hide back to the top on vertigo-inducing trail.
  7. Sleep to prepare for the next round of no.

I don’t hear the word YES much, but I believe the path to YES lies in the superhuman ability to process the word NO.

A big YES officially confirmed last week.

On September 24, 2015,
I will be the featured author
in the main branch of the
San Diego Public Library.

They’re paying me to give my Make a Memory presentation to their patrons.

You read that right.

The main branch library of the 8th largest city in the United States booked me for a huge author event. Do they care that nobody’s heard of me? Nope. In fact, they want to help. They’re selecting Not Without My Father as a featured read, AND they’re interviewing me for their patron newsletter.

Because it always helps when my books
are recommended by outlets
readers trust.

I hope this event will open the doors of libraries across the country, because it would take me weeks to list the ones who’ve told me NO. It’s understandable. They have finite programming budgets, and they want to offer events that will draw more people through their doors.

The San Diego Public Library
took a chance on me.

And I’ll be forever grateful, wherever this crazy journey leads.


If you have friends, relations, colleagues or enemies in the San Diego area, I hope you’ll share my upcoming event and encourage them to join me. You can find it HERE.

If they haven’t read my books, pique their interest with a link to my book page HERE.

People might be surprised to learn America’s richest city in 1800 wasn’t New York, Boston or even Philadelphia. My own Charleston couldn’t claim the crown, either.

Natchez, Mississippi beat
everyone to the money.

Situated on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, Natchez is chock-full of mansions.

dunleith natchez trace


Some pristine. Some not. Its culture blends Cajun with Old South, uptown with frontier. On its restored riverfront, visitors can time travel while they nosh of fried pickles. They can gamble and imagine the boatmen, just over there. Dismantling their wooden barges. Stuffing their pockets with cash. Walking past ostentation with HOME on their brains.

Mansions couldn’t hold them.
Society failed to entice.

They craved open spaces, beyond porches and piazzas. At the rim of plantation lines. In swamps and forests, dirt and sky.

longwood natchez trace


The boatmen looked at the riches of Natchez, and they embraced the American Dream. They didn’t know what to call it. Yet. But they knew if they worked harder, walked further, made it home…… would one day be within their grasp.


There’s no better time to visit Natchez than during Pilgrimage. Spring and Fall. Mark your calendars. If you’re the spontaneous sort, Spring Pilgrimage runs from 7 March to 7 April 2015. Fall 2015 Pilgrimage dates have yet to be announced, but it usually runs from late September to early October. Click HERE to learn more about Pilgrimage.

No Make a Memory visit to the Trace
is complete without my books!

Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the NatchezTo Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether LewisGet your copies of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis and Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace by heading to my


Previously, I wrote about the Yuchi people. Their centuries-long connection to the Tennessee River Valley. And their connection to the name Tennessee.

If one knows where to turn,
she can still find pieces of the people
who lived there before we came.

A hundred yards off the Trace. Flanked by a dirt road. One gate, open until 4pm.

wichahpi commemorative stone wall

The Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall whistles with the spirits of the Yuchi. Its builder, Tom Hendrix, created it. For more than two decades, he wore out three trucks, three dogs and he-forgot-how-many wheelbarrows moving over 2.7 million tons of stone. From land to truck. Truck to wheel barrow. Wheel barrow to wall.

Tom Hendrix Made a Memory
by building one.

tom hendrix andra watkins

At eighty-six, he’s still building. His wall is catalogued by the Library of Congress as the largest unmortared wall in America. Though it isn’t a church, it’s listed among Alabama’s Top Spiritual Places. Every local minister visits Tom’s prayer circle for weekly sermons. Native tribes from around the world conduct ceremonies there. Even Tibetan monks plan pilgrimages to experience the impact of stone piled upon stone.

wichahpi commemorative stone wall

Tom Hendrix greets visitors and tells stories about his Yuchi great-great-great-grandmother. Her forced march to Oklahoma along the Trail of Tears. She arrived in the Midwest, her name erased.

She was Number 59.

But she was Te-lah-nay. Mixer of potions. Keeper of the spirit of the Singing River. Her river. The Tennessee.

wichahpi commemorative stone wall

She fled Oklahoma and walked eastward. For five years, she criss-crossed unfamiliar landscapes, hid in barns and dodged threats from both animals and people.

Would she find home again?

She stumbled into Lauderdale County. Married a white man. She remained in Alabama until she died, humming the tune of the Singing River.

tom hendrix hand

Tom Hendrix built the Wichahpi Wall in tribute to her journey. He walks visitors around its maze, and he tells her stories.

With every story, he Makes a Memory.

And she hears them. Every one.

wichahpi commemorative stone wall

Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall is located in Alabama’s Lauderdale County, north of the Tennessee River. It is open until 4pm every day. Tom Hendrix has sold more than 18,000 copies of his book “If the Legends Fade” from this spot. (I can’t even fathom selling 18,000 copies of a book….) Find out more about it HERE.


TLF mastheadNWMY masthead

Tom Hendrix owns my book.
And you should, too.

Whether you’re visiting the Natchez Trace for real, or you want to experience it vicariously, my books take you there. Get your copies of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis and Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace by heading to my