Pages

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pump Up Your Book Presents: Not Without My Father Blog Tour






 
Can an epic adventure succeed without a hero?
Andra Watkins needed a wingman to help her become the first living person 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.


For More Information

  • Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.





Title: Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace
Author: Andra Watkins
Publisher: Word Hermit Press
Pages: 240
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON
Can an epic adventure succeed without a hero?
Andra Watkins needed a wingman to help her become the first living person 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.


About The Author








Andra Watkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina. A non-practicing CPA, she has a degree in accounting from Francis Marion University. She’s still mad at her mother for refusing to let her major in musical theater, because her mom was convinced she’d end up starring in porn films. In addition to her writing talent, Andra is an accomplished public speaker. Her acclaimed debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis was published by Word Hermit Press in 2014.
Her latest book is the memoir, Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace.
For More Information




Book Excerpt


KING OF THE ROAD
Roger Miller
I wandered along the sloping veranda to the front house. Miss Ethel’s house. Crickets chirped a symphony in the garden. Through a portal of wavy glass, I spied on my father. His balloon stomach strained the integrity of a wooden side chair in Miss Ethel’s den. If I shifted to the left, I glimpsed her helmet of light brown hair bobbing over the back of the sofa. I could identify his stories by the hand gestures he used.
Acres of Biscuits bled into Hot Shot to become the ridiculous Butter- bean Song.
“Dad!” I pushed through the door, chords of laughter still lingering in the chilly air. “I got your machine working, and—”
“Andra!” Miss Ethel’s Mississippi drawl stretched my name to three syl- lables. “I’m sorry I got your name wrong. Roy here was just telling me you were named after Andra Willis. Is that right?”
Dad cackled. “Yeah. Andra Willis. That singer on the Lawrence Welk Show.”
Miss Ethel slapped one knee. “Why in the world would you name your daughter after a woman on the Lawrence Welk Show,
Roy?”
“Linda liked the name Leslie Lynn, but I didn’t know no Leslie Lynns. I sure did like that Andra Willis, though. Every time she sang, I made sure to watch. She was real pretty. I never got tired of looking at her, and—”
“Dad! Ew! I don’t want to stand here and listen to you tell Miss Ethel about how you named me after some woman you thought was hot.”
“I still see her sometimes. On them re-runs.”
While Dad nursed his lust, Miss Ethel turned to me. “Anyway, do you really mean to walk all the way to Nashville, Andra?”
Her question pushed me into a chair along the far wall. How many months had I thought about walking the Trace? Five? Ten?
Four days a week for three months, I trained near my Charleston, South Carolina home. I trudged across the concrete bridge that spanned Charleston’s harbor and pounded my feet into the pavement of the West Ashley Greenway. During a winter storm, I zipped myself into rain gear and let the wind blow me around Charleston’s Battery.
I spent weeks planning my route, measuring the distance between lo- cations in my novel, deciding how to make them interesting to potential readers, and coordinating the publicity that would make my story a com- mercial success.
Innumerable times, I wanted to quit, but my husband Michael told me I could do it. He often rode alongside me on his bicycle, cheering me onward. When people asked why he was letting me walk, he replied, “You obviously don’t know my wife.”
I prepared myself physically. I studied every detail of the terrain. I had the most supportive husband alive.
I was ready.
When morning dawned, my book would have its official birthday, and my father would celebrate with me.
Because he challenged me to make something of myself, nagging me into epic arguments. I wasn’t sure how I felt about having him along to witness my one valiant attempt, because I failed at every-
thing else. Certified public accountant? It left no room for creativity. Managing a multi-million dollar company? I decamped with the beginnings of an ulcer. At forty- four, I was a decade into my third career as a management consultant. The 2008 crash shriveled my earnings from six figures to under $10,000 in less than twelve months. I woke up at mid-life, the peak of my income potential, with no clients and no prospects. No one was hiring, especially when the applicant was a middle-aged Southern woman.
If I excelled at anything, it was failure.
I launched my walk online to thousands of readers as a public dare to myself, to prove I could do something audacious.
Life-long doubt assailed me. What if I couldn’t finish? Or nobody read the book? If Dad and I couldn’t stop fighting, what would I do?
I couldn’t answer Miss Ethel through the obstruction in my throat. Instead, I fingered wooden arms and studied carpet patterns. In another room, a clock marked Time.
Time!
“Dad, you’ve got to let Miss Ethel go to bed. It’s late.”
Dad ignored me and revved the engine of memory. “Did I ever tell you—”
“I fixed your sleep apnea machine, and—”
Miss Ethel’s laugh bisected our routine. “Has Roy ever told you he was a mistake?”
“I’m beginning to think this whole trip was a mistake,” I mumbled but still turned to my father. Baited. “What mistake, Dad?”
“Well. After my mother had your Aunt Lillian, the doctor told her she wouldn’t be able to have no more children. She was too tore up and all. You know, inside.” The chair groaned when he shifted his weight. “That’s why there’s so much age difference. Seven years between me and my older sister. Good thing my parents still liked each other after all that time, I guess.” Loose skin jangled when he laughed. “My mother always called me her miracle baby. ‘Course, I was her only boy.”
I rested my elbows on my knees to halt the spin of the room. A new Roy story. One I hadn’t heard five bil- lion times.
The clock chimed ten. As the music faded, I clucked, “I always knew you were a mistake, Dad.”
“Yep. Wasn’t ever supposed to be ole Roy.”
Which meant I was even more miraculous. How many people made nothing of the miracle of Life?
Life had to smile on me, because I was trying to make something of the miracle.
“Let me tell you about that time—” “Dad, Miss Ethel needs to—”
“—I was working with my father in the back field, and—”
“Dad!” I hurried over and stood between him and Miss Ethel. He talked through me while I pried him from the chair. I forced him to say goodnight and herded him along the starlit walkway to our shared suite. A breeze rippled the bed canopy as I listened to him use the toilet with the door open and swab a brush across browned teeth. The bed protested when he climbed between the covers, and a wet chorus of breathing sounds started less than a minute later. On the last night of February 2014, I lay in the dark and tried to obliterate the noise of my sleeping father.
“Your dad’s going to be okay, Andra.” Alice’s voice penetrated the murky room.
I rolled on my side. “You don’t have to whisper. He can’t hear you.” The weight of his every breath pressed into my chest. “I mean…..I’m sorry. Bad habit, joking when you’re trying to be serious. I didn’t realize how much he can’t do anymore.”
“But he’s excited about this adventure. I can tell from watching him.
That’ll pull him through. That and how much he loves you.”
“Oh,  I  don’t  know  about  that,  the  whole  Dad-loving-me  part.  I mean, I know he loves me, but he doesn’t say it much. Never has, really. I thought………..” I let my words dwindle into the crisp Mississippi night. Maybe I could finally figure out who my father was. Being together all the time might force us to talk, instead of cracking jokes and
telling stories and yelling at each other.
I rearranged the bedspread to gather my courage, to clear tears clogging my throat. “Well. All I can say is I hope he makes it through tomorrow without falling down stairs or peeing his pants.”
“He doesn’t want me to leave you to walk alone.”
I sat up and threw my legs over the side of the bed. My feet dangled above the floor like I lounged at the end of a pier. “But we’ve talked about this. There’s no need for you to follow me for fifteen miles in the car when you could be out seeing pretty places around Natchez.”
“I tried to tell him that.” “And?”
The bed squeaked, and Alice was framed in a square of window light. I strained to see her face. “He’s really worried about you, Andra. He’s afraid something will happen. Fifteen miles along a lonely Southern highway. A woman. Alone. Unarmed. It’s like an engraved invitation for crazies.”
“You know I have mace…..oh, wait. Don’t tell Dad that.” “Why not?”
“He thinks I have a gun, and I don’t want him to know what I have, because he’ll tell people. He can’t keep a secret.”
“All I can say is I don’t know whether he’ll let me leave you in the morning. He’s pretty damn determined.”
I thought about Miss Ethel’s breakfast ritual. The morning meal at Hope Farm always happened at 8:30am sharp. While we sipped coffee and nibbled bacon, Miss Ethel wove yarns that bested any storyteller in the room. Even my father. She entertained everyone all through breakfast, fol- lowed by a mandatory tour of the house. Miss Ethel’s rules.
I jolted off the bed. “The tour!” “What about it? ”
“The tour will be how we’ll get Dad to stay here in the morning. We can beg off because of my schedule. You know, slip out right after breakfast, and you can take me to start my walk.”
“Do you think Miss Ethel will mind?”
“I’ll talk to her first thing. Roy Lee Watkins will not miss a tour that promises priceless antique relics. Espe- cially if he thinks he might know more about them than she does.”
I leaped onto the towering bed as Dad’s sleep machine crackled. Alice settled into her pillows and sighed. “I hope you’re right, Andra. I hope you’re right.”


1 comment:

  1. Pertaining to the article, we provide all your business cards, brochures, and postcards printing with a super fast turnaround time in order to meet all your printing needs. Of course, we serve every customer with budget in mind; we specialize in reducing your printing costs.

    www.printleaf.com

    ReplyDelete