Not Your Average Bar Brawl

Here’s a sneak peek into chapter 1 of my newest release, The Outlaw. Coming 1-21-19! Preorder Now on Amazon!

Straightening her shoulders, feigning confidence, she crossed the street to the boardwalk that rounded the corner and made her way to the Summer Saloon.
Sarah compressed her lips and took one more big gulp of fresh air before plunging herself into the thick miasma of cigarette smoke, whiskey, astringent perfume, and manly smells that were poorly masked by it all.
Light from the two large windows on either side of the door illuminated the inside. The modest kerosene lanterns that hung from the ceiling would replace the natural light once the sun set. Round tables covered in green felt dominated the room, with a bar counter opposite the front door that stretched from one end of the hall to the other. A mirror reflected back the afternoon sun behind the bar, its edges rimmed in a dark mahogany that matched the countertop. Liquor bottles lined the space along the back, their labels proudly displayed for customers.
Fairplay was a sizable town, but this was not the only saloon worth visiting, and therefore did not have as many occupants – which she was grateful for.
Two groups of men were deep in their card games on either side of the room, muttering the occasional comment to their neighbors that was followed a grisly laugh or grunt. No music played and the only soft, pleasing sound would have come from the smiling, painted lips of the soiled doves who whispered in the player’s ears. There were four in all, each one pretty in her own right with long hair, faces as flawless as porcelain and eyes bright with the prospect of gaining a potential client.
The cowboys, miners, and farmers with cards in their hands looked as grimy and filthy as they smelled. Her father, a man who had been unafraid of dirtying his hands, at least had the sense to bathe every so often. These men, however, looked as if they had just come out of the mines or in from the fields.
Sarah was virtually ignored when she entered and kept a steady, but casual pace as she crossed the floor to the barkeep.
The proprietor with his white, rolled-up sleeves greeted her as he might any other customer. “What’ll ya have?” he asked as he slowed in his task of cleaning the polished wooden countertop. She presumed him to be the one whose name was engraved on the plaque above the sign on the façade, Leonhard Summer.
“Beer,” Sarah replied flatly, suddenly feeling her throat choked with the fear of confronting any of these men. To ask if she could pay them to help her track down a killer might as well have made her like one of the men who petitioned to the ladies of the street. If she didn’t dislike the way whiskey scorched her mouth, she might have asked for a shot of the firewater to steady her nerves.
Leonhard poured a glass from a keg underneath the counter and presented it to her. With a few coins, she paid the man and used the convenient placement of the mirror to watch the two coinciding games. With her elbows leaning against the edge and one heel hooked over the brass foot rail, she studied each of the men with no risk of discovery. They were all so engrossed with the state of their hand in the games that they didn’t pay her, or the prostitutes, any mind. While they all gave the impression that they could fire a gun with some level of accuracy, none of them struck her as potentially dangerous or vicious. Ill-mannered, yes, but not vicious.
The bartender resumed the task of cleaning and when he came back in her direction, she decided to be brave. Continue reading

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Something About Sheritta #27

41092918_2155445994468318_8517837540097523712_oQ: Do you have any “side stories” about your characters?
A: So, I never really made “side stories” and if I do, I just go ahead and make them into little novellas or short stories that can be paired with the book or series. Hence, the creation of The Legacy Series. The entire novella series is dedicated to telling the backstories for the main players in my Loup-Garou Series. Characters like John Croxen, Darren Dubose, Dustin Keith, Ben Myers, and Logan all get their own novellas talking about their background or how they came to be connected with one another. It’s a long, massive, interwoven thing. It’s beautiful and frustrating and enlightening all at the same time.

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Wild West Werewolves (yes, you read right)

My first release in months! I’m super excited to share with you the next installment of the Legacy Series! In this next novel, we’re following Ben from The Soldier as he tries to make it on his own as a lone wolf. Releasing 1-21-19!

Preorder Now!

the-outlaw-kindleThe Wild West – 1875
Ben Myers escaped to the untamed west to find a new life away from the demons of his past. Instead, he finds himself in the middle of a conflict that his conscience won’t let him abandon. As a werewolf that can’t hide his true nature, he’s avoided by most of the folks he encounters. But one girl, desperate to find her family’s murderer, beseeches him for his help. She has no idea what he really is, and only knows that his unique talents can help her find the killer. But there’s more out on the lonely prairie than cattle rustlers and bitter natives to contend with.
When it becomes clear that this gang of outlaws are no ordinary men, Ben knows he’s in over his head. Convinced that he was the only werewolf in the wild west, he never thought he’d have to deal with a pack of his own kind who have adopted a twisted superior view of where they rank in the hierarchy of life. The only way he can bring them to justice is with the help of another older werewolf sheriff by the name of Bart Croxen, who’s been jaded and has his own beliefs about the nature of their kind. Closed in on both sides, Ben must choose what’s right and fair before a deadly shootout brings it all to a bloody end.


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Something About Sheritta #26

20181007_152122Q: What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
A: Well, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know about my big Civil War trip that I took back in September. To me, that was a trip to learn and discover, but it was to also follow in the footsteps of my characters from the book, The Soldier. That’s probably the crazies thing I’ve ever done and I would do it again in a heartbeat for any of my other books. I wish I could have gone to Colorado and hiked through the mountains for the book The Outlaw, but that would have been a bit extreme too.

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Something About Sheritta #25

IMG_20150626_120500Q: Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
A: It’s happened several times when I have a short list of characters when I start the outline (just a main few) but as I get to writing the scenes, I realize I need to add some in. For instance, with The Rose and The Lion, I had to add several characters from the town of Levi that would becoming important later. But when I’m in the process of planning, I don’t really think about who exactly is going to have an impact on my characters. I just know there needs to be an interaction and I fill in the blanks later. And my main characters also develop over the course of the plot, some of which I have to just make up on the fly. Like how Belle Clearwater’s favorite book is Anne of Green Gables. It was just a random thought and it plays well into who she is as a woman suffering from anxiety and a daughter who feels alone in the world. But I didn’t start the book knowing that I would add that part in. It just came to me.

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Something About Sheritta #24

20170805_170614Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Rose?
A: So, the book duet (two-book series) that I’m writing right now is about Belle and Leo. Belle is a small town girl, raised by her single father on their farm, and is now trying to run that farm herself. She also, due to some traumatic experiences with her negative and critical mother, has developed generalized and social anxiety. She’s learned to hide it over the years because as a daughter of a former deacon at her church and a prominent member of the community, she’s expected to do the social thing. She puts on what she calls “the mask” and effectively hides her anxiety from everyone. When she comes home, she can undo that mask and be herself and unwind. However, that’s no way to live.
Leo, on the other hand, is way more troubled. He was born and raised in Scotland until his family tragically falls apart. They die and he moves to Brooklyn to live with a relative until he can graduate school. The catch is that his life in Scotland is catching up with him and so is his older brother, who caused their family to fall apart in the first place. His brother messes with dark, evil magic that draws demonic energies to him and he’s essentially “cursed” Leo. Betcha were wondering where this story gets its paranormal theme. Right here! Anyway, a demon is attached to Leo and follows him everywhere. It plagues him with depression and bad luck, which drives him to keep moving and never settle down. Until he comes to a small farming community and meets a girl named Belle… And, I’ll stop there.

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Something About Sheritta #23

20161223_184457Q: Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
A: So, I’ll list the five words and explain them.
Passionate – Whatever I’m seriously into, I go 150% into it. Growing up, I went through stages of obsessions. Veterinarian stuff, Indiana Jones, Little Mermaid, Dinosaurs, Cowboys, Anime… the list goes on and on. If I really want to know something, I go out and I do the research. I try to learn everything I can about it until it’s just pouring out of my ears. I can list off all the reason the sinking of the Titanic was as disastrous as it was. I can tell you the process of turning an animal hide into parchment paper the old fashioned way. I can tell you the early history of the Frankish empire in the 8th century. I am a wealth of useless knowledge because I like those things.
Awkward – With this wealth of useless knowledge, I have no social skills. I can read cues, like when someone’s upset, annoyed, etc. But don’t ask me to comfort them. I don’t know how and anything I say will probably sound shallow. I’m the kind of person that says “You too” after the waiter has said “Enjoy your meal”. I will purposely avoid confrontations as much as possible because it’s like a train wreck if I try to navigate them. I’m getting better and as long as I stay calm, I’m pretty okay. The staying calm part is what’s hard.
Compassionate – Yes, while I am social awkward, I do care deeply for people. I don’t like hearing that one of my coworkers is going through marital trouble or that a friend a thousand miles away may be hit by a storm. I want to reach out to these people and tell them that I hope the best for them and want them to be safe. BUT, I feel like approaching them is crossing a line somehow, so I don’t. Therefore, if you are a friend of mine or even a close acquaintance, know that I do care, even if I don’t show it.
Empathetic – I guess one reason I’m compassionate is because there’s a part of me that is deeply empathetic. You hurt, I hurt. And if I made you hurt, I’m gonna feel that much worse about it. Empathic and compassionate may be lumped together, but I do see them as separate. I don’t just want to send you a “get well soon” card. I want to heal the pain in some ways, because I know what it is to hurt. But again, this is where the awkwardness comes in and I don’t know how to verbalize my desire to help or advice.
Selfish – And under all of this, I can be inherently selfish. I want to go do things and see places and say things, but sometimes I wish I had the freedom to do so. I love my life and my family and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world, but sometimes I want things that contradict the things I love. It’s like a kid wanting a new toy when they have plenty of good ones at home. Yeah, I’m working on it. But I’m keeping it real with y’all.

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Stop #6

I’ll stat by saying that this did NOT happen to me. Yes, I stood at Thayer’s Approach on the Vicksburg battlefield the other week, but the rest is fiction and concocted in my own imagination. Enjoy!

I stood upon the edge of Union Avenue, the sun dipping low over the tree-lined to my right My eyes trailed up the winding path on the southern ridge that soldiers had cut over a hundred and fifty years ago and I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like on that day.
Mississippi in mid-May couldn’t have been as breeze and moderate as it was now in November. The heat, the mosquitoes drawn to the river to the west, the booming cannons coming from all round mingled in with the screams and whizzing of bullets.
What would it have smelled like? Would the stench of gunpowder and sweat have overpowered everything, or would soldiers have even given any thought to it? Breathing in deeply, I could smell nothing but the earth and fallen oak leaves scattered across the well-kept lawn. It reminded me of the autumns of my childhood spent in Louisiana. So close to home now, but for the soldiers who stood where I stood now, home was so far away. Soldiers from Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin must have felt so alone, so isolated from their family and loved ones. I couldn’t imagine it and I didn’t want to.
20181201_132127I read the plaque about Brigadier General John Thayer’s attempt to approach the Confederate line by trenches and tunnels, how they built fascines to protect themselves under enemy fire. That was all after Grant decided to lay siege to Vicksburg. After two days of bloody, vicious fighting convinced him that the Rebels were too well fortified to buckle under direct assaults. All over this extensive battlefield, mines were dug, explosives detonated under earthen redans and redoubts, telegraph lines were cut, railroads were intercepted, and men died fighting for something they believed in with all their hearts.
I couldn’t relate. Not really. I had been too scared all my life to go after what I wanted. Too scared of what people would think of me. I’d hear their voices in my head telling me I was insane for doing it, for trying to be something I wasn’t.
Maybe that’s why I wanted to come here. To understand why these men would put themselves through a siege for forty-seven long, hot days.
I heard footsteps coming up the pavement behind me and moved away from the plaque so the visitor could read and learn what happened here. I was tempted to turn away, afraid that the person would think I was a little “special” for staring at a barren hill for so long. If traveling to all these battlefields had taught me anything, it was that there were few others dedicated to the history as much as I was. Who else would strap on a backpack and go hiking through the parks when there were perfectly good roads to drive on?
“You best take cover,” the voice said. “Those Rebs could have sharpshooters up there.”
I turned to look who was speaking, my blood chilling in my veins. I hated it when strangers talked to me on these battlefields. I never knew what to say or how to react. I just wanted to be left alone.
The man beside me looked like he had stepped straight out of an old wet-plate photograph, the kind Mathew Brady used to capture the likeness of dead soldiers on the battlefield.
The hem of his pants were muddied and frayed, his leather shoes looked like they had seen better days. His uniform was stained by patches of dirt and clay that popped against the navy-blue fabric. Shiny brass buttons that were undone down the front of his coat caught the sunlight, as did the metal from the rifle he carried. Beneath his coat, was a cotton shirt that must have once been a nice, pristine white, but was now ruined by sweat and soil. A haversack was strapped across his chest to hang on his left side, just like mine. Only, his was a Union haversack and coated to make it weather resistant. Mine was straight canvas, like a Confederate’s.
Upon his head was the typical army-issued kepi, the wool dyed to match his coat. His face was smudged with a black substance I could only guess was gunpowder, and I could see droplets of sweat on his brow as if he had been sweating before coming up to me. And then, standing out starkly against his tanned skin and dark uniform, was the bandage around his right hand. It was speckled with the same dirt that soiled his clothes
I searched my memory, but I couldn’t recall ever seeing a flyer or hearing word about a reenactment scheduled for that day. In fact, I knew I had missed quite a few special events at the park by coming this week as opposed to the following. Maybe I had seen wrong or I had finally met someone a little crazier than me? Continue reading

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Something About Sheritta #22

IMG_20150626_120559What is your writing Kryptonite?

So, if I understand Kryptonite correctly, it’s a substance or thing that weakens my “super powers”. Put into a writing/author context, I suppose it would be burnout and reading poorly written books. I have made the mistake of reading a poorly written or very informally written book (the prose isn’t eloquent and rather casual or muddled) and it’s affected my own writing style. I often find that if I read something, that same style tends to translate into whatever I work on. That’s bad when I’ve been reading a contemporary series for too long and try to sit down and write a historical piece. The language is totally different, but my brain has been hooked in the present so much that I can’t write anything that resembled 18th or 19th century writings.
Burnout is also a problem. If the flow isn’t there, if I’ve been writing for days on end and haven’t taken a break to breathe, then every sentence and paragraph feels like I’m wading through mud. It slows my progress and can be disheartening. Therefore, I make an effort to space out my time appropriately so I don’t get too word-fatigued.

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Something About Sheritta #21

IMG_5263Advice you would give to new authors

I think I’ve said this before in previous interviews, but I’ll say it again. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t write something. If it’s what you’re passionate about, if it’s what you enjoy, then go for it. Don’t let anyone (parents, friends, spouse, coworkers) tell you that a certain genre or story won’t sell or won’t make money so it’s pointless to write. It’s not pointless because you love it. I had a lot of people tell me that I shouldn’t pursue a career as an author because it’s not a stable paycheck. In truth, it’s not, and it may not pay the bills some days, but it is fulfilling and that’s what matters to me in the end. I write because I love my stories and characters, and as I’ve said countless times before, it’s my therapy. It helps me to make sense of myself and my world, so it’s worth every bit of my time and energy.
Also, if you’re just getting started out, don’t skip on an editor. You can have the best cover in the world and the most air-tight marketing plan, but if your content is full of errors and typos, you’re SOL. The most capital you should ever spend on a book should be poured into the editing and proofreading. Take it from someone who has been there with an unedited book and regrets it immensely. Especially that first book, if you put it out with errors and the reviews come in saying as much, then it’ll taint the rest of your success as an author.

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