Friday, September 8, 2017

Guest Post with Tawni Waters

Photo Content from Tawni Waters
Tawni was born to a couple of uber-smart-hippies-turned-preachers who took her to a deserted New Mexico mountain when she was four. She had no television and very little access to modern media, but she and her big brother would often wander to the library of a nearby abandoned hippie commune and “borrow” books. The kids ran around naked a lot. Tawni has yet to break the habit.

The family raised all their own food, so Tawni could tell you a thing or two about tomato-worm-induced trauma. Tawni’s momma sewed most of the family’s clothing. She also allowed the children to dress themselves however they pleased, with no commentary from the parental peanut gallery. This meant that when Tawni was bussed to the nearest school, she often went wearing a white silk slip on her head. She thought it the height of fashion. In other news, she memorized poems and recited them for fun. She didn’t know who Michael Jackson was, but she knew Madonna had something to do with the Virgin Mary. She couldn’t figure out why nobody wanted to play with her.

Every night, her daddy read to her and her brother for hours. Of course she became a writer when she grew up. What else was she going to do?

Tawni tried normal life for a while, but it didn’t stick. The best thing that happened to her during her foray into normalcy was the birth of her two amazing children, Desi and Tim. Desi is now a graphic novelist. Tim is getting a degree in graphic design. They are almost as weird as their mom.

While Tawni was trying to be normal, she married a pilot. She fell in love with travel during their marriage. She also fell in love with the lead singer of a rock band and followed them all over the U.S., Mexico, and the U.K. for almost two decades. While she was traveling, she started writing, selling, and winning awards for her travel stories. She periodically took time off from traveling to act in plays. She starred in about 20 of them.

Somewhere along the way, she got an MFA from the University of New Orleans, graduating with distinction. She defended her thesis on the porch of a historic hotel in New Orleans. Inconceivably, Wallace Shawn was sitting there having a beverage about five feet away. Talk about pressure.

When Tawni hit 40, she fulfilled her lifelong dream of selling a book to a major publisher. Her debut novel, Beauty of the Broken,published by Simon & Schuster, won multiple awards, including the prestigious International Literacy Association Award for Young Adult Literature. Her first poetry book, Siren Song, a collection of goddess and love poems scribbled on airplanes, at rest stops, and occasionally, in porta potties while she was following aforementioned rock band, was published by Burlesque Press the same year. Her second novel, The Long Ride Home, will be released by Sourcebooks Fire in Fall 2017. She publishes in journals, anthologies, and magazines regularly.

Tawni never shook the travel bug. She wanders the world speaking, reading, performing and teaching at universities, conferences, retreats, and schools. Sometimes, when she is in foreign countries, she buys weird hats. She thinks it’s a throwback to the whole “wearing a slip on her head” phase she went through in elementary school. She found out who Michael Jackson was. She thinks Madonna is bad ass and that if fingerless lace gloves come back in tomorrow, it won’t be too soon. She still memorizes poems and performs them for fun.

Now people listen.

One thing? Oh, man. It’s so hard to boil this down to one thing. I like to think I’m surprising on many levels. Kidding. I’m a weird woman, but I don’t know if that surprises people after they’ve read my work for a while. I’m pretty sure people who know my work would be surprised if I told them I do normal things, like wear aprons and make lasagna. (I don’t.)

Honestly, I think something that is surprising is that I spent almost 20 years following a rock band. I don’t mean I followed them on Twitter. I mean I followed them around in a car. I was married to a pilot, and my kids had visitation with their dad, so when the pilot and the kids were gone, I would hop on a plane (yay free flights!), rent a car, and follow this band all over the country. I saw the band over 1,000 times. They were my muse. They set my soul free in many ways. I wrote my first novel and poetry book while following them, on planes and at rest stops and in coffee shops.

One of the things I loved more than anything was sleeping in my car after shows, especially during storms. (I wouldn’t recommend doing this. It was rather foolhardy. But at the time, I loved it. There was a freedom inherent in that act that I have never experienced any other time.) I don’t follow the rock band anymore because I got treated pretty horribly in that scene, and I realized I loved myself more than I loved my music fix. (Tip: Never give your heart or time to anyone or anything that doesn’t treat you with the respect, dignity, protection, and love you deserve.) But I’m still grateful for the experience. I think it made me who I am.

I’ve continued to travel even though my travel is no longer rock band centered. In fact, I haven’t had a permanent residence for almost three years. After Beauty of the Broken came out, my youngest child had just moved out, and I was touring so much, I was home for three days in six months. I realized it was silly to keep paying rent, so I let my house go and committed myself to a life of wandering. I thought I’d do it for a year, but I love it so much, I can’t stop. During my years of traveling, I’ve seen every state in the U.S., most of them multiple times, and about 20 countries (give or take). I was an award-winning travel writer before I ever sold a word of fiction. So when I write about road tripping in The Long Ride Home, I’m writing from experience. If there is one thing I know, it’s the open road.

1. I would own being a smart girl. I was embarrassed about how smart I was, so I deliberately got a B in chemistry, hoping it would make me cool. It didn’t, and it set me up for lots of years of pretending to be something I wasn’t, doing stupid stuff trying to make people like me. I finally realized all of the things I was hiding were the best things about me. Now, I am who I am, and people can love me or leave me. The important thing is I love myself, uber-nerd that I am.

2. I would never chase a love interest. I would put myself out there and be honest about my feelings, but if someone didn’t reciprocate, I’d let that person go and wait for someone who loved me too.

3. I would have spent more time with my daddy. I took him for granted, and he died right after I graduated. None of those friends I thought were so important meant a tenth of what he meant to me, in the long run. I’d give anything to have one more day with him.

4. I would never have let anyone who didn’t respect me touch my body. I realize now that I am precious, and only people who love, cherish, respect, and protect me deserve a piece of me. I also realize that it takes a while to find out who those people really are (anyone can be nice for a few weeks), so I’d take physical relationships very, very slowly.

5. That night with the five shots of tequila? Yeah, I think I’d narrow it down to maybe one. I was pretty sure I was going to die.

6. I would trust my gut. When you get that sick feeling that tells you something is wrong, something is wrong. Trust yourself, and get the hell out.

7. I would dance instead of hanging around the edges of the dance floor. Who cares what people think???

8. I would speak my mind instead of saying silent.

9. I would not have missed the day in typing class when we learned the number keys. (I’m not sure when people learn to type now, but when I was a kid, we learned in high school.) I now type 60 words a minute, unless numbers are involved. All these years later, I still hunt and peck when it comes to numbers. Sigh.

10. I would realize how beautiful I was. I thought I was ugly and fat. Looking back, I was stunning. So are you.

A road trip to scatter her mother’s ashes turns into a journey of self-discovery as Harley navigates a romance with unexpected consequences.

After the loss of her mother, Harley can barely handle her grief. But the start of summer marks new beginnings, and Harley leaves for a cross-country road trip to scatter her mother's ashes with Dean, her friend (with benefits). The two ride by motorcycle, reconnecting with people who knew her mother along the way.

But it's not long before Harley realizes she's pregnant…with Dean's child. And as Harley learns that her mother faced similar choices during her own pregnancy, Harley must come to terms with her mother's past to make a difficult decision about her own future.


"Harley's voice is earthy, colloquial, and wise . . . readers will resonate with this gritty, expletive-laced, fast-paced narrative about a strong young woman trying to come to terms with great loss." Kirkus

"This realistic fictional tale about the meaning of home will have readers rooting for the down-on-her-luck protagonist and her geeky, irresistible suitor." School Library Journal

"This novel explores life's most difficult issues: the meaning of sex, coping with death, the metaphysics of the soul, and belief in god. [Harley's] dry wit and sarcastic deflections lighten these searing explorations. "VOYA Magazine

You can purchase The Long Ride Home at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you TAWNI WATERS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Long Ride Home by Tawni Waters.


  1. My most memorable road trip was a drive from Seattle to Chicago.

    1. My most memorable road trip was to London by bus. It was fun!

    2. Seattle and Chicago are two of my favorite places! And London? London is like the holy grail of cities! LOVE IT!

  2. My friend and I went to Kansas city to go to the Renaissance festival. It always sticks out in my mind.

    1. I have always had weird luck in Kansas City (as in, I always almost end up dead there), but I love Ren Fests!

  3. Road tripped with my grandparents to a ton of various places in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. It was almost a 2 week trip.

    1. Yay! Those places are my stomping grounds. I was born in NM and lived in AZ for years. I bet that was an amazing trip!