I owe you a post about contests. And winners. And winning.

But, you people are such prolific sharers of all things #ToLiveForeverbook, that we are still in the throes of compiling the results. Please stay tuned. We want to be thorough. And fair. The big announcement is coming any day now.

Thank you for making Rowe, MTM and me work so hard. Really, we were up until almost 2am Wednesday morning, before we finally decided to go to bed. I’m honored that you deemed this whole thing worthy of that many shares. And retweets. And blog posts. You are among the best people on earth.

And the best people on earth find ways to communicate, even when it’s challenging.

Take Tuesday night.

My friend Nico Romo’s dad and step-mom were in town from France. We’ve become friends with them throughout their various visits, even though they don’t speak English. And we don’t speak French. MTM and Manuel, Nico’s dad, can cobble together a conversation in Spanish.

Sort of.

And Nico’s wife Harmony acts as translator. Her French is way more proficient than mine. I only understood what people said to her baby Elsa. Ouvert while she held a pacifier. Manger when he waved a bottle. Pppppppppppppt, the universal French expression for everything.

Elsa’s French already exceeds mine. She’s nine months old.

Yeah, I feel stupid.

But we’ve grown to love these people, even though we can’t exactly communicate. We hand-gesture and sound-out and garble our way to a rousting evening, fueled of course, with wine. Everything’s perfect. Absolutely fine. Even though we’re different.

And, that’s my definition of #winning.

Get the novel that’s encouraging me to read about venereal disease and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis is available in paperback and e-book formats at these outlets: Click to Purchase To Live Forever.


Today’s the day. I will arrive at mile post 222 on the Natchez Trace sometime today.

I’m halfway to Nashville on St Patrick’s Day.

To celebrate, I’m giving YOU something, Dear Readers. I’m going to sign a copy of my novel at the mile post 222, and one of you will win it.

To qualify, look for a very special post on Facebook and Twitter this Tuesday, March 18.

SHARE THE POST. (Just click SHARE on Facebook (NOT Like), RETWEET on Twitter. If you add a personal endorsement, you get a double entry.)

The more times you share it on Tuesday, March 18, the greater your chances to win. (And, if you use #toliveforeverbook in your hashtag, you’ll gain additional entries in the Trip to Charleston contest.)

I can’t believe I’m almost halfway there.

Oprah Winfrey is made of the dust of the Natchez Trace. The Devil’s Backbone. Maybe that’s why she’s so tough.

image from forbes.com

She was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi. A town of just over 7,000 people, it sits west of the Trace in the central part of the state. Right where the Mississippi Hill Country starts.

As I approached the 200-mile mark on my 444-mile hike of the Natchez Trace, I walked through swamps for several days to reach the hills. The federal road is raised, but I imagined the boatmen who walked the Trace in hoards. Sloshing through mud and muck, their leather shoes paltry cover compared to my high-tech athletic wear.

Maybe those indefatigable spirits imbued a few Trace people will iron wills.

I wandered around Kosciusko’s center. A town with no stop lights. The courthouse its central feature. I tried to imagine Oprah playing outside a boarded up laundromat. Going to the tiny library. Wondering about the Revolutionary War general for whom her hometown is named. Dreaming of where an ancient roadway might take her.

If she followed it.

She’s not the only woman who took the Natchez Trace to follow her dreams.

If you are new to this 444-mile trek of mine, the Natchez Trace is a 10,000-year-old road that runs from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. Throughout history, animals used its natural ridge line as a migratory route from the Ohio River Valley to the salt licks in Mississippi; Native Americans settled along the Trace to follow their migrating food supply; and when the Kaintucks  had to sell their goods at ports in New Orleans or Natchez before steam power, they had to walk home, making the Trace one of the busiest roads in early America.

To launch my recently-published novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, I will be the first person of either sex to walk the 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did. March 1, 2014 to April 3, 2014. Fifteen miles a day. Six days a week. One rest day per week. I will spend 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.

I am taking readers into the world of the book. You’ll see the places that inspired scenes and hear the backstories of different characters, with running commentary by my father, who’s tagging along with me, just as Merry and Em do in the book.

Click here to see the best photos from my Sunday rest day: Andra Watkins Tumblr

You know you like FREE. Tweet, Facebook, type and review your way to Charleston, South Carolina in the To Live Forever Journey to Charleston Contest. The more you enter, the better your chance to WIN. Click here to find out more: Support My Aching Feet.

Finish my novel before I’m done walking. To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis is available in paperback and e-book formats at these outlets: Click to Purchase To Live Forever.

Here’s today’s Reader Question: