Book sales are helping author Andra Watkins live life to the fullest, with no regrets — and inspiring others to do the same.

Watkins always had an artistic streak, spending much of her youth as an actress and spending years hearing people say “you should write.” But like many now-writers, she took what seemed to be the more stable path.

Then came 2009, which brought a milestone birthday and a financial crash that took out Watkins’s business. She saw it as a sign to try something new.

First came a novel in 2014; then came a New York Times-bestselling memoir, Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace.

And that’s when another passion came into the picture: speaking.

Public appearances were always part of the writing plan, to provide both another creative outlet and an income stream.

From the second she finished walking the Natchez Trace, she became a hot commodity, and you can find her anywhere from bookstores to civic groups to retirement homes.

Right now, Watkins is breaking even, but that’s not the most important part to her. The true payoff is the reaction she receives from audiences.

Her mission, in these talks, is to challenge readers to make memories with people who matter. The message has been received loud and clear.

There’s the police officer and father of several kids who never seemed to find time to take his elderly grandmother out to lunch — but now whisks her out of the nursing home on a monthly basis, thanks to Watkins’s words.

And the college student who, inspired by Watkins, asked her father to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. They actually did it; the proof was in Instagram photos of the two beaming away.

So when you buy one of Watkins’s books (now at three, with a National Book Award nomination in the mix), you’re not just propelling her forward.

You’re pushing countless people around the U.S. to make their lives more meaningful, in ways both big and small.

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