My Muses Running Amuck

For those wondering, yes I’m still writing. Is my release schedule wonky? Yes, that is true too.

The muses have not been particularly kind when it comes to progressing through the Legacy Series, and I believe that’s partly due to the nature of the project along with unreasonable self-goals. As you know, I aimed to release a new novella every month. On paper, and given my track record, this was doable. Totally doable. But I didn’t account for the human factor in that equation, and it’s turning into an “every two months” sort of schedule, which would have given me some breathing room between novellas… if November hadn’t happened.


For those of you who are involved in the writing community, or have friends who are writers, you might have heard of this thing called National Novel Writing Month. It’s both a painful and an exciting time for writers and authors everywhere. It’s the one time of the year we encourage one another and push ourselves to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s when we can pull out book ideas from the dusty attics of our minds, brush them off, and breathe some life into the characters we’ve wanted to meet for some time. It’s also a chance to revisit old projects and finally knock them out of the park – as I will explain in a moment. The idea is that 50k words is a little over half a novel (or a little longer novella), so if we keep on track to write about 1.5k words every day, we can have an entire novel written before the closing of the year. I think there’s an additional challenge for editing the novel in January, but I’m not 100% on that.

In 2015 and 2016, I “won” NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with my novels Passions and Silver Screen (respectively) which I have since published. Silver Screen has been made into an audiobook, and Passions has gone on to be backed by Kingston Publishing, which will also have an audiobook format available within the coming months (super stoked about that). I took 2017 off because I was working hard in my Legacy Series and didn’t think I could devote the time and effort to writing a novel alongside that.

However, 2018 is a new year and I decided to jump on the bandwagon, now that I have a huge NaNo community to participate with on social media. I made a lot of author/writer friends in the last two years. With the completion of The Outlaw, book #11 in the Legacy Series, I thought I’d return to another series I had started, but never finished. You might have seen little snippets from my Bewitching Brews Series posted here in the blog. The first novel, Bewitching Fire, is finished and just needs some editing before publication, but I had been sitting on it for about a year in hopes that a traditional publisher would take it. They didn’t, and with Halloween on my mind, I decided that I’ll be self-publishing the series next October. Be on the lookout for it! So, for NaNo, I was going to go ahead and get the second book written to get that ball rolling… The muses had another plan.

The Rose was the first book I had ever written and finished, topping at about 250k words (I had no social life as a sophomore in high school). I was so freaking proud of that book… And then I pulled it out from the files to read it 8 years later… Nope. It needed work. So, about a year and a half ago, I decided that I’d take on the monumental task of re-writing it, as I had done for Clouds and Escape (other books written in high school that have been published). The project became a little too much and I abandoned it in favor of other things… And like I said, November happened with NaNo and the muses… It was just a confusing time.

I picked The Rose back up and heavily modified the previously re-worked plot outline. I edited through the re-written 9 chapters from the other year and hit the ground running, sprinting for the 50k goal starting November 2nd… 11-13Well, I made that goal yesterday. In that time, The Rose has now been split into a duet (two book series), and the new storyline looks nothing like the original. But, this is a good thing. It’s better plotted, better written, the characters and their motivations finally make sense, and it’s been an incredibly satisfying process.

But, I’m going to rewind for a second and reiterate what I just said. I wrote 50,000 words in less than two weeks. 12 days to be exact… Let that settle for a second. It took me over two months to write The Outlaw, a 67k word historical paranormal western, but it only took me 12 days to write a contemporary romance. Now, I’m going to keep going and see how far this burst of inspiration will take me, but DANG! How did that happen? Who spiked my coffee? Why is The Rose so different from The Outlaw? Both books have characters I adore and have known for years (Ben Myers is the star werewolf in The Outlaw, and Belle Clearwater might as well be my twin).
Herkulaneischer_Meister_002-901x891Maybe it has more to do with the content. In a contemporary romance, I don’t have to watch my language so much. What I mean by that is I can use as much modern slang to get my point across. Whereas in a historical series like The Legacies, I have to be careful about words. I can’t say “his body felt electrified” before the discovery of electricity. Stuff like that.

Either way, The Rose’s partner in the duet, The Lion, is well on its way to being completed. Once it is, edits will be conducted, a release plan put into motion, and you might get to read it by this summer!
What does this mean for The Legacy Series? Not a lot. As soon as I’m done with The Lion, I’ll be heading on to #12 in the series, The Deviants and I’ll finally get to write about my homeboy, Logan. Release date for The Outlaw is pending due to delays with the editing that are not within my control, but it’ll be out before Christmas for sure.

What’s on the horizon? Long term, like I said, Bewitching Brews will be coming next year around October or September. The three books in that series will be conducted in a rapid release, so hold onto your broomsticks when it hits! The Legacy Series, along with audio releases will still be coming as quickly as I can get through them.
The-Future-of-MarketingBeyond that, there are other series and projects like The Vigilante Series (featuring John Croxen’s four sons in New York), The Wolf Sanctuary Series (which takes place in a completely different werewolf mechanics universe than I’ve done up to this point), and several independent books like Ghosts of the Moon (sort of linked with Silver Screen) and many more.

HOWEVER, things change. Plans fall through. That human factor keeps rearing its ugly head. SO, let everything I say be written in pencil with an eraser hovering over each word. Unless you see that preorder pop up on Amazon, take everything I say with a grain of skepticism.

For now, I’m just going to enjoy my birthday month, keep punching out these words, and look forward to a trip to another Civil War battlefield to close out NaNo.

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Something About Sheritta #18

20180603_094423Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

It’s a little of both. I have friends who say that their characters really take over the story and dictate “no, I want to do this” or “I’m not gonna say that to this person”. I suppose I feel a little of that prodding but in a different way. When I’m about to write a piece of dialogue or plan out the plot, I start to feel more led by the character to stay true to their motives, intentions, and attitudes. I can’t have an independent and stubborn woman give into someone else, even if it would make the plot easier for me to control.

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Something About Sheritta #17

20180923_002828What do you do to unwind and relax?

Relax? What’s that??? Oh, that thing I do between books. Well, even if I’m not between books, I do like to take some time to chill. I usually get some of my favorite takeout food and watch a movie or show off of Netflix or Amazon Prime. I’m not a girly-girl, so manicures or spa days aren’t really my thing. And before you think it, reading actually isn’t always relaxing for me. I’ll try to read or listen to an audiobook, but find myself constantly comparing the style or quality to my own work and it can sometimes be more stressful than relaxing.

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Civil War Expedition: Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain

Here’s another short video blog of my visit to Chickamauga Battlefield and Lookout Mountain. I have to say that the Chickamauga park was pretty impressive, and the fact that they offer guided tours is so helpful in understanding what happened there. Lookout Mountain, I wasn’t so much impressed with, but only due to its size.

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Something About Sheritta #16

20180602_095917Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

I used to be able to write with classical music or ambient noise in the background, but lately I’ve been finding that more difficult to do without stalling in my train of thought. So, now I prefer silence or the occasional white noise (rain, laptop fan, dog snoring, etc). The music used to help me really get deep into the scene, and my focus hasn’t shifted, but I guess something in my brain has and music is more distracting than helpful.

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Civil War Expedition: Shiloh and Corinth

Here’s my video blog for one of my most recent Civil War Expeditions. October 6th, I was in Shiloh and Corinth to get a full grasp of what this series of victories meant for the fate of the Confederacy and how they influenced the victory for the Union.

Included in the video is a few snippets from the infantry demo at the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, taken during their special event to mark the 155th battle anniversary.

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Something About Sheritta #15

20170602_093814How did you come up with the title of your first novel?

Now, if we look at the first book I finished (which hasn’t been published yet), we’re talking about “The Rose”. I chose that name because the main female character’s full name is “Annabelle Rose”, but she goes by “Belle”. This kind of echoes for Beauty and the Beast, but also in the story, the male protagonist picks her a fresh rose every day for her table. I also love the concept of the rose when comparing it to the depth of a character. Like an onion, roses have many layers and even when it fully blooms, you can’t always see its innermost core. Belle, in this story, is the flower and she hasn’t bloomed yet. She (like me) suffers from social anxiety at times and doesn’t open up to others easily. But as the story progresses, she does bloom and her petals are unfurled to show her true, beautiful self.

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Something About Sheritta #14

20170325_113625Where were you born/grew up?

So, I actually hate trying to answer this question. I was born in Louisiana, but the first five years of my life there are pretty blurry. I remember bits and pieces like saying goodbye to my dad during one of his visits to the house we lived in, packing up my stuff with my cousins when they came to help me and mom move to Florida, visits to my step-mom’s house about an hour away, and little things like that. Where I “grew up” was Florida. I’ve spent the majority of my life in Florida and that’s where most of my childhood memories lay – except the trips I took to Louisiana to visit my dad during the holidays. I’d like to say that I’m Cajun because of my dad’s side of the family, but it almost doesn’t seem fair to claim that when I really wasn’t brought up under that culture full-time. My husband likes to say that I’m a Cajun Floridian, which I suppose would be partly true. I’m fascinated by the Cajun/Creole culture, but I also can’t handle a lot of spicy foods either. The duality that is “me” has no end.

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Something About Sheritta #13

20161226_163415What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

I don’t know if I can reach ten, but here it goes. For authors, I will faithfully read anything by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Margarette Mitchell, Susan Krinard, Paige Tyler, Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Jane Hathaway, and Louisa May Alcott. I have the occasional strangling interest in a few books or authors, but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
My interests do tend to lean toward the classics or any book that features a woman who breaks the mold. I don’t like my heroines flighty or wimpy, but I do want them to have a flaw or two that contradicts her actions or her goals. Writing style also has a huge impact on whether I will like a book or author. If the prose is jarring, doesn’t flow, or there’s a lot of repeated phrases or adjectives that disrupt my experience, then they won’t make me exclusive list.

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Forever stuck…

trappedMy thumb grazed over the edge of my coffee mug, stare distant and unfocused. To him, I was watching traffic through the window. But I wasn’t sitting beside him anymore. I was miles upon miles away, walking down dusty roads. I couldn’t smell the stagnant, seasoned air of the café, but the fresh, piney air of Maryland and Virginia.
My heart squeezed once more as a speeding car passed across my line of sight and threatened to shatter the peaceful illusion I could have stayed moored in for hours. We were waiting for our food, but I was waiting for an escape.
That excursion away from home did so much more for my soul than I would ever let on. All my life, I had known nothing but the deep south, of the balmy sea breezes and touristy towns that lined the coast. I hadn’t known mountains and creeks, deep valleys and thick woods that were filled with mysteries. I had been scared of the unknown, terrified of what lay beyond my comfort zone. I spent my days between four walls and along one crowded road, trapped in a cage I had designed only in my own head. I thought if I ventured too far without him, I’d be lost.
But I discovered something so crucial and earth-shaking. I didn’t become lost.
I had been found.
“So how was work yesterday?” he asked.
I pulled myself unwillingly from the light of my revelation and turned my eyes back to his. “Fine. Nothing new.”
“Did you get everything straightened out from while you were gone?”
I only nodded and cast my gaze down to the half-empty mug. I hated the way I had become so aloof, so disconnected from him ever since I came back. He missed me more than he would ever admit. I knew that in the way he held me so tight, as if I’d run away again. I saw it in how he showered me with affection and caresses as if he were trying to make up for a lifetime of being apart, when it had only been a week.
I still loved him, and I missed him on those long nights spent alone in the hotel rooms when I had nothing to occupy my mind, no one to hold. He was still my rock, my safe harbor. But I hesitated to tie myself to his docks. It wasn’t until the night before that I had realized why.
“You know all that stuff we share to each other about our signs?” I asked, seemingly out of the blue.
I could feel his stare narrow upon me in confusion. “Yeah?”
“You know how mine always says that a Sagittarius can be adventurous and love to travel?”
He chuckled. “Yeah, and you always balk at the idea of getting an RV like I want.”
“I still don’t, but…” I paused, trying to think of a way to say it without hurting his feelings. “I still want to travel, I guess. I didn’t before, but now I do.”
I looked up and saw his blank face, so void of expression that I wondered if he would change the subject again. He did that whenever I’d try to delve further into our psyches, whenever I tried to have a serious conversation that didn’t have to do with tabletop games or work or the dogs. Light subjects or whatever he was interested in. Nothing about me. And I kept it that way on purpose, because I knew he didn’t really want to hear me complain. I invited him to enough pity-parties that he knew when to steer the topic away from how I truly felt.
So I had bottled it all up, until now.
“Traveling always stressed me out, but I wonder if… if it was just the idea of traveling somewhere I didn’t want to go that bothered me. Like, when we took those trips to see your family. I didn’t want to go and I hated going, so I couldn’t enjoy it. I… I always had to look to everyone else for what we were going to do next or where we would go, but I was never fully into it. But this big trip… I don’t know, I guess it’s because I was doing what I wanted and went where I pleased on my own time without having to worry about dragging you out of bed or whether you were enjoying yourself or not, so I could relax a little.”
I waited for a response, but he only looked away and took a long draft from his own iced coffee.
“I… I didn’t want to come home. I wanted to keep going to all those places, and you know how I didn’t get to hit those last two parks on the last day. Would you want to go with me next weekend? It’d be a long drive, but I really want to go see them.”
He shrugged. “Maybe.”
Maybe… Always maybe. Or probably. Never a definitive yes or no. Always on the fence, always playing by ear until something came up to ruin it. That’s what today was. I had felt so guilty about spending all that time away that I was willing to give in and go on this weekly date instead of traveling north again to see those last few landmarks. I stayed because he wanted me to. Because he needed me to.
I didn’t want to be dramatic, but I felt like a bird who had just learned to fly and had her wings clipped after the first successful takeoff. I wasn’t afraid to go alone anymore, not afraid to make those plans and see them through. I wasn’t afraid to hop in the car and drive hours and hours just to see what the sunrise looked like in another state.
I was afraid of losing him or making up upset. I didn’t want him to think that I was discontent with our marriage. I wasn’t. I was just discontent with where we were living and our lifestyle. I wanted more freedom, more enrichment. Wasn’t that what zookeepers did for their caged animals? They sprinkled different scents and toys across their enclosure as enrichment so they wouldn’t become bored in captivity.
Well, this beast was bored. And she was ready to break free and demand the right to live as she pleased.
I held her in check, keeping the leash short and taut. But my grip was loosening, my resolve weakening. I was ready to burst into screams or sobs if I couldn’t have some assurance.
“Let’s move,” I declared.
He eyed me. “Where?”
“I don’t know. Tennessee? Virginia?”
A flash of anger made me freeze. “Does this have to do with – “
“No!” I gasped. I knew what he would say and I couldn’t let him think it. “Nothing like that.”
“We can’t move,” he said. “We’re stuck taking care of this house, remember?”
How could I forget? It had been convenient before. It was enough room for us and the dogs. We had a big yard and a pool that he loved to swim in. I only used it twice since we moved in three years ago. I wasn’t one for swimming or beaches, which only fueled my lack of appreciation for Florida. It was too commercialized, too crowded, too hot. I belonged in the mountains where it snowed, but he hated the cold.
I fell silent for a few moments, feeling my spirit crushed under the harsh reality.
For the first time in over five years, I wish I wasn’t married. I wished I wasn’t bound to this place by a job or family or what I thought I wanted. I had mentioned my sign to him before, and I wasn’t exaggerating. It was as if I was finally growing into my sign, coming alive to who I really was and why I had been feeling so aimless and anxious for years. For the first time, I wished that I could break free and run away. Go back north and see the mountains, take my time and do as I wanted without having to worry about a job or anyone waiting for me back home. I wanted to see things, feel them, meet new people for once in my life, and put some experience under my belt. I felt so innocent and naïve, listening to everyone talk about how they had gone to such-and-such and seen things that I only dreamed of.
How long before this discontent would wear off? Would it ever? Could I ever leave again? By the way he had been so miserable without me, by the way my work couldn’t survive one week with an empty office, and by the unfortunate decisions that had been made before this awakening, it seemed unlikely.
I was stuck. Forever rooted in the sands when all I wanted to do was dig my fingers into the rich soil of the mountains. My heart was sick and the only cure was to leave. But I couldn’t. I could never leave.

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