“I fight every day, and I won’t tap out”

It’s been one of those days. One of those weeks. One of those months. Maybe a whole year.
I’m in the ring with my own self, slugging it out until one of us throws in the towel.
I may fall. I may hit the matt so hard everything goes black for a second.
But I will not be carried out on a stretcher.
I get back up. I keep fighting. Even if I’m just standing there. I’ll take the hits. I’ll feel the blows.
And I’ll punch back.

Round 1
“You’re wasting your time! No one cares about anything you’re doing!”
I care. That’s why I do it.
“You’re looking for validation. That’s the only reason you do it. And no one’s paying attention.”
I might care what people think of me, but this makes me feel better. They don’t matter in the end.
“They all think you’re a fraud. You’re trying to be someone you’re not.”
I’ve never tried to be anyone but me. If they can’t see that, it’s their problem. Not mine.
“You’ll never be famous. What’s the point?”
Being famous isn’t the point. Being happy with what I’ve done at the end of the day is.
“You’re not even that good.”
I’m improving. Always improving. I never stop learning.
“You’re throwing your resources into a black hole. It’ll never come back.”
It trickles in. That’s how it works when you get started.
“You’re letting everything fall to pieces, giving your life to something so meaningless.”
It has meaning for me. Dishes and laundry can wait a day if it means I’m taking care of myself.
“All your relationships are failing because of this. Quit before it’s too late!”
If they can’t support me, they don’t need to be in my life.
“Your family and friends think you can’t reach your dreams, so why bother trying?”
They’re proud of me. And if they’re not, it doesn’t matter. I’ll reach my dreams without them.

The bell rings and I’m hurting. My guts are twisted. My mind is reeling. But I’m still breathing. Still standing.

Round 2
“You try too hard to be someone’s friend. They don’t even like you.”
I reciprocate what I receive. If they don’t like me and keep pretending that they do, at least I’m being genuine.
“You’re not interesting. You’re just plain weird and out of touch with the world.”
If I’m weird, then I’ll attract weird and that’s who needs to be in my circle.
“You’re awkward and say the wrong things all the time.”
I say what I mean. My filter might not work sometimes, but then they see the real me. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as I’m not hurting someone.
“You’ve never been able to socialize. You’re inept. You can’t do small talk. They all know you’re just a scared little child who wants to run home.”
No, I can’t do small talk. I never have. And yes, I want to go home, but I stay and work to improve myself.
“They only invite you out because they feel sorry for you. They feel obligated to include you.”
But at least they thought of me.
“You never know when to leave. They wanted you to go hours ago.”
I’m working on my social cues.
“Don’t bother anyone. Don’t reach out. They don’t care about anything you have to say. You’re just annoying and clingy. No one wants to hear you mope and complain.”
If I want to talk to them, I will. If I need to reach out for help, I will. If I see something that made me think of them, I’ll share it. They should know that they matter to someone, even if it’s something that doesn’t matter to them.

This round is over. My nose is broken. I can taste the dribbling blood on my lips. My head is aching and I need to vomit. But this fight isn’t over.

Round 3
“He doesn’t love you.”
He married me. He loves me. He shows it every day.
“You loved him first and that’s the only reason he even considered you.”
He said he liked me long before I confessed anything.
“It’s all a big joke. He doesn’t really want you.”
If it’s a joke, it’s lasted 11 years and that’s far too long to wait for the punchline.
“When you do things without him, you’re becoming too independent. He’ll think you don’t love him.”
Independence can be a turn-on. He knows I need my alone time just as much as he does.
“You have nothing in common.”
If we had too much in common, this would be boring.
“He thinks you’re crazy and emotional. He feels sorry for you.”
He’s just as crazy as I am and he’s patient with me, more than anyone else ever was.
“He works late. He must be off with someone else.”
He doesn’t come home smelling like perfume and he works hard to support me.
“He goes to the game shop to get away from you.”
I don’t blame him if that’s the reason. I want to get away from myself too.
“He only wants you for sex and you even stink at that.”
At least he wants me, even though I’m bad at it.
“He regrets marrying you every day.”
If he did, then he’d ask for a divorce and he hasn’t.

I can barely hear the bell over the constant ringing in my ears. I’m on the matt. My chest is like a vice. Tears stream down my face. I hear the referee screaming the countdown next to me and I know I have to get up. Just a little longer. I can do this. I won’t check out. I push myself to my feet. The world is spinning. The audience watching this show in silence see nothing. Not the tears, the blood, or the bruises. They only see me, as if I weren’t trying at all. But I am. I’m trying so hard not to let these blows get to me.

Round 4
“You’re stuck. You’re never going to leave this small town.”
One day. I will.
“There’s nothing here for you. Nothing to make it worth staying.”
I have the security of a home, a good job, and family. That’s enough.
“You don’t really like your job. It doesn’t fulfill you.”
That’s a lie! I love it! And I’m good at it. That’s what matters.
“You hate the house you’re in. Break free now before you’re trapped there forever.”
It serves its purpose and we’ll make it into our home one way or another. There’s no reason to leave it.
“If you don’t leave now, you never will.”
One day… Maybe not in the next few years, but one day, we will.
(I’m on the matt again. Darkness closing in.)
“You’re just going to end up in a situation that makes you miserable. If you didn’t have a husband… If you didn’t care about what people think of you… If you were braver… You could do what you wanted and not be so afraid.”
(Rage boils in me. I forget the pain. I push aside the temptation to let it all crush me. I stand up, a broken and bleeding mess of a human being.)
I. AM. BRAVE. I live with a battlefield inside my head and choose every day to get up, get dressed, and press on anyway. I do my best. I don’t give in. I do what I can, when I can, to make my life a little brighter. Fuck everyone who thinks I’m a waste of space, that I’m awkward or annoying or stupid. They don’t matter. They never have and they never will. I will burn bridges and turn my back on the flames. I make mistakes and I adjust. I know my flaws and I don’t pretend to be perfect. But no one can ever say that I’m a coward. I fight every damn day and I haven’t tapped out. I never will.

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Redemption Duet on Sale!

For a limited time, get The Rose for FREE on Amazon!
A heartwarming inspirational romance about a farmgirl battling social anxiety, and a roving stranger looking for freedom from a dark past. Together, they discover courage they never thought they possessed, and love that can bridge across faiths and brokenness.
🌹 The Rose – Book 1 of the Redemption Duet
🦁The Lion – Book 2 of the Redemption Duet

Rose Lion Promo July

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A Shameless Plug…

As y’all know, I’ve become just a hair (maybe a whole wig) obsessed with the American Civil War. Ever since I wrote The Soldier about a year ago, I’ve gotten sucked into this whole other world. I’ve been to over a dozen battlefields and now have an entire bookcase dedicated to Civil War books. Don’t ask me how many I’ve read. It’s my hope that I’ll learn a lot and becoming confident enough to write an entire series revolving around the Civil War. It’d be a historical romance series, of course, but I’ll leave the werewolves and vampires out this time.

56616311_2469417486404499_4392417874858213376_nAnyway, part of this new fascination with the 19th century, I’d started another blog! This one is to talk about my many travels and share some knowledge about the Civil War from the prospective of yours truly. I’ve been writing one blog a week since January and covered three battles so far. I’m treating each battle as a series, writing a blog about the battle itself, something interesting about it, about a commander or two, about a regular soldier, and about a woman associated with the battle. My blog set around the battle of Olustee included my trips to other Florida Civil War landmarks as well. My goal is to write about each battlefield I visit and focus on that state as well. Virginia’s gonna be a doozy. You’ll also get to check out some of the pictures I’ve taken at the battlefields. They’ll be the ones with my haversack!

Interested in checking it out? Here’s the link!

www.belleonthebattlefield.wordpress.com

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One Day At A Time…

Another little installment to that book idea that still doesn’t have a name. If you have a suggestion, I’d love to hear it!


“It’s so weird,” Kyleigh said as her thumb rubbed over the rim of her mug. “I can actually feel myself getting worse again. It sort of just… crept up on me. I thought I was fine. I was on the mend, you know? I held my chin up, I could talk straight to people, I knew what I was doing. I didn’t get those flutterings in my stomach as often as before, and I could actually focus.”
A wry smile crossed her lips. “But now, it’s like I’m just a mess and I don’t know how to clean myself up. I have no motivation. I just want to stay in bed until it all goes away and life starts to magically feel right again. All I seem to be able to do is scroll through Facebook or binge watch Downton Abbey or Vampire Diaries. Anything to numb my mind. But the minute I stop, it all comes pouring back in. All the things I didn’t do, all the things I shouldn’t have done. I think about the conversations, the laughs, the good times that should have all been burned up in the wreckage. I remember what a freakin’ idiot I am and how absolutely narcotic I’ve become nowadays.”
Kyleigh turned toward the window framed in gauzy white curtains. The sun slanted through the clear panes to fall across the table. Outside, the trees danced in a strong summer wind, the shades of green waving at her, calling for her to get a breath of fresh air. Maybe it would make her feel better.
“Just to think that about two weeks ago, everything seemed to have this… routine. I’d get up, go to work, come home and do what needed to be done. All without really worrying about anything. Sure, I’d have my moments here and there, but that was manageable.” She bit her lips together and shook her head. “But then I finally realized that something had to change. I did. I stopped giving a crap about the one thing that was tormenting my existence. I forced myself not to care, not to give in. I started hating him again. The way I did when I left. It felt right. It was comfortable. It was easier to cope that way.”
Feeling the weight of it all settle on her shoulders, Kyleigh let her head fall into her hand. “And then I had to get that email. That damned email. I should have never checked. I knew digging up the past was just going to hurt me again, but I thought I was fine. I swore I was fine! But that one email hit me so hard for no good reason. It wasn’t about anything. It changed nothing. He’s still an ass, but my heart wanted it to be something more.”
Continue reading

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Books and Bewitching Things

For those who wonder what I’m up to these days, I’ll answer simply with, “It may not look like I’m busy, but I’m busy.”

Image result for busyAfter punching out The Rose, The Lion, The Deviants, and The Unsinkable (heck of a lot of “the”s in there), in the span of four months, I was approaching burn-out. Not to mention some craziness in personal matters, such as hitting a deer and numerous little Civil War expeditions across Florida (one to Georgia and one to Mississippi). Yes, I am physically fine and my lovely Honda is back in commission. Yes, I learned a lot about some really cool Civil War history. No, I have no idea what happened to Bambi.

Image result for busyI consecrated April as a “get-my-crap-together” month. Stuff that I’ve been putting off for months (and sometimes years) was finally taken care of. Family photos have been sorted, new paintings were hung, my Civil War traveling scrapbook has been compiled (so far), and our yard is in the midst of a massive makeover that has me resenting the fact that I live so far south in the summertime.

But in other news, I’m back to writing! Just not what I’ve been working on for the last two years. The Legacy Series is getting set on the back burner as a new series has commandeered my computer and creative endeavors. Y’all may have read snippets from a book I haven’t published yet called Bewitching Fire. It’s the first in a series, completed, and in the final stages of editing. There are five books to follow, all centering around the witches in Goldcrest Cove who own a coffeeshop. The idea originally was going to be pitched to traditional publishers and agents, but none took the bait, so self-publishing it is! Continue reading

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The Art of Disappearing

Here’s a little creative piece I’ve been thinking of writing for a while. It goes with a story that I’ve been toying around with, but I worked out the prologue.


 

Kyleigh should have done this a long time ago. This leaving. She should have packed her bags like she did the night before and thrown them all in the back of her Toyota the minute she knew she was in too deep. The moment her heart fluttered when he said that he loved thunderstorms. The moment heat crept up her neck at every email, text, and private message. The moment she saw those tiny eyes look up at her with such innocence. That little girl didn’t understand who her daddy had brought home. But Kyleigh did. And that’s when she should have left.

Quietly, so no one would know what she was up to, she sold her furniture and consolidated everything she could into the few suitcases in the back. She’d take her savings and get everything new wherever she was going. She turned in her two-week notice at her job just so she wouldn’t leave on bad terms, and paid up the rest of her lease at the apartment complex. Everything was thought of, everything done seamlessly and without questions. She had no answer. None that anyone would want to hear.

It wasn’t much, what she had left. Kyleigh burned all the clothes she had worn when he touched her. That got rid of quite a lot of her wardrobe. She brought only her most favorite books. The ones that they never talked about or read together. She kept only the sentimental things she knew she could never throw away. Like the necklace her mother bought her for her eighteenth birthday, and the old crumbled picture of her father in his military dress uniform. The rest had to be tossed. It must have been in a landfill by now. And as it deteriorated, so would the memories of him.

That’s what she needed. A cleansing. A good, thorough purge of everything that reminded her of that man.

Continue reading

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Redemption Is Within Reach

The Lion is Live! It’s been a long time coming, but the finale is finally here! I’m so excited to share this with you! Read how Belle and Leo finally master their demons and live the life they were meant to.

The Rose on Amazon

The Lion on Amazon

The_LionBelle Clearwater’s prayers had been answered, but there was still so much left to discover. Now determined to reject her mental illness, she’s decided to be brave and not let her anxiety disorder take her away from what matters. With the help of her friends and her faith, she’s sure that she can finally have her life back. Something greater is stirring in her heart and the man that had served as her solid ground might just send her world off kilter again. All it takes is one moment of honesty.

Against every bit of common sense, Leo Thompsons has chosen to stay in Levi. The Darkness and his murderous brother are closing in, but he believed that as long as he has Belle, he can find a way to break the curse upon his soul. With the power of love and prayer, he’s finally fighting for his life and the chance to share that life with the beautiful farm girl. Fate brought them together, but is he strong enough to rebel against the forces of evil that have hounded him for so long? Can he, once and for all, defeat his demons?

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All That We Are…

I’m gas receipts crumbled in the cup holders
You’re a Gatorade rolling on the floorboards

I’m the fierce tapping of an overworked keyboard
You’re the clatter of dice upon the dining table

I’m dry humor you chuckle to
You’re the pun master I groan at

I’m the motivation at 8:30am
You’re the snooze button slammed a dozen times

I’m a week-long road trip
You’re a stay-cation in bed

I’m a majestic wolf howling to the sky
You’re a stealthy panther creeping through the forest

I’m the hour it takes to get ready
You’re the cowlick left untamed throughout the day

I’m earth tones and cotton
You’re Hawaiian shirts and cargo pants

I’m the connoisseur of history
You’re the walking calculator

I’m the air-conditioned office
You’re the hot, dusty jobsite

I’m the insomnia until the work is done
You’re the nap at two in the afternoon

I’m the medium-rare steak and potatoes
You’re the dollar menu drive-thru

I’m the folded clothes within a day or two after laundry
You’re the basket of clothes that have been clean for three months

I’m one cup of coffee stretched throughout the day
You’re two Monsters in one night

I’m the pajamas you change into after a long day
You’re the quiet I want to come home to

I’m “we have to plan this”
You’re “let’s just wing it”

I’m the moonlight over a field of snow
You’re the warm sun sparkling on white beaches

We’re long talks in the bathroom at midnight

We’re the receptors of vibes and energies

We’re the “five more minutes” under the warm covers

We’re the rock song blaring down the highway at sunset

We’re the dreamers and creators of the impossible

We’re the stack of books on the nightstands that might never get read

We’re the fiery temper when communication isn’t working

We’re the “I love you” and “I miss you” several times a day

We’re the stable ground, the home base, the safe place

We’re the puzzle pieces you think won’t fit, but we connect perfectly

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Doing What Leo Does Best…

Here’s a sneak peek into The Lion’s first chapter. Releasing April 25th!

Preorder on Amazon!


The heaviness continued to drop onto his chest as Leo drove further and further away from Levi. Further away from Belle. It always happened every time he distanced himself from her or the farm. The only way he could reason it was that it must have had something to do with all that praying she did.
Ever since that night when she first dispelled the darkness with one small, impromptu prayer, Leo began to see the pattern. On those days she prayed, the darkness stayed away. His nights weren’t tormented by dreams of fire and death. His soul didn’t feel as weighted and burdened. So, each morning, he asked if she prayed and if she said she hadn’t yet, he would slyly drop a hint that she should. Of course, she didn’t complain. Why should she? It was nothing to her. Just a string of words sent up to God to protect them and the farm from evil.
But to Leo, it was everything.
It meant the difference between walking around with an easy smile, because he had finally settled where he wanted to stay, or looking over his shoulder and starting at every loud noise, thinking it might be the demon coming to collect his payment.
It took a great deal of courage to mount his motorcycle and head south toward Little Rock, far away from Belle’s protection and deeper into the world he had tried to leave behind. It was all for her, though. If he didn’t do this, it’d take that much longer for Belle to achieve her dreams.
One call to an old acquaintance – the only one he had left that would still speak to him – sealed his plans for the evening and with a little money in his pocket and a change of clothes in his duffle bag, he left in the late afternoon.
The two-and-a-half-hour drive did little to settle his nerves or clear his head. He used to love riding on the highway. Of all the vehicles he had ever driven, the maneuverability of a motorcycle appealed to him the most. He could weave in and out of traffic, zoom on and off exits and effectively lose whoever might happen to be chasing him. On those drives when he could relax, let the wind pound his face and feel the grind of the wheels on the blacktop, Leo could zone out and not think so much. He didn’t have to think about his past or his future. Just this moment with only him, the road, and the deafening rumble of the engine beneath him.
He could do anything but relax now, because he knew exactly where he was going and what he’d be doing that night. Something he thought he’d never have to do again after he arrived in Levi.
It didn’t take long to find the place. Mack gave detailed directions that a toddler could follow. Even over the roar of his bike, he could hear the multitude of voices and music booming out of the warehouse just outside of town. The parking lot was packed, but he managed to find a cramped spot on the side closest to the river.
Leo didn’t make eye contact with the people he passed as he made his way toward the entrance. Smokers, groups of men with beer bottles in hand, couples displaying their affection in obscene ways, bookies, dealers, and thugs. It wasn’t so long ago that he knew this scene by heart. Being in Levi had cleansed him somehow and as he approached the bouncers at the door, he began to question himself again. The darkness practically lived here, and in places like it where sin went unchecked. He could feel its pull, like a black hole that Leo had once dangerously skirted the edges of not so long ago. And here he was again. Continue reading

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God Himself Could Not Sink These Beasts

The Unsinkable Live on Amazon!

UnsinkableFinalFX_1500x1000April, 1912

After nine long years of training as a freshly turned werewolf, and five more years of searching Europe, Logan Elster has finally come face-to-face with the man from whom he inherited his supernatural gifts. But, he is just as surprised as his mentor, Darren Dubose to find a very altered version of Dustin Keith. After learning of some unfinished business the Irish werewolf had left behind in America, both Logan and Darren know they have to take the werewolf beta back across the ocean with them. The safety of a future pack mate depends on it.
Express tickets are booked for each of them aboard the newest steamer, the queen of the Atlantic, the Titanic. The marvel of the age, the biggest moving vessel crafted by the hands of man, it is everything they expect it to be and more. Even when they hold third class tickets, the accommodations are incredible. But more trouble awaits on the spacious decks and each werewolf is confronted with harsh truths about themselves, their relations to one another, and their future together. It doesn’t help that three ladies have set their eyes on the newly formed pack. They believe these complications couldn’t get much worse until the night of April 14th, when they’ll have to worry about more than just keeping their preternatural identities a secret from the other passengers.

Story Behind the Story

I’ve wanted to write a Titanic story for years, ever since I first became fascinated by the disaster. I remember the first clips I watched by accident that made me hesitant to even touch the subject. I was five years old and my mom had bought the newly released movie by James Cameron. I remember the duo-VHS case clear as day. I’m sure she still has it. I came into the living room for something and watched the sinking scene. The screaming people, the dramatic music, all of it terrified me. When I was thirteen and going to take a cruise with my mom to the Bahamas, I remembered those scenes and didn’t want to leave shore. I wanted nothing to do with big ships like that.
Then, when I was fifteen, I watched the movie again. This time, from start to finish. I was entranced. From there, I bought books and studied the deck plans. I used some allowance money to buy the anniversary edition of the Titanic movie on DVD, complete with all the bonus features I could ever want.
Over the years, I watched documentaries when I came across them, but I never dived headlong into studying the disaster until now.
My writing can never do justice to the ship. Nor could it impart the true magnitude of the disaster. I wish I could, but Titanic is more majestic than words could ever describe. Her luxurious accommodations, the size and grandeur of her structure, and the pure terror that gripped the passengers who were left onboard after the last of the lifeboats were gone.
I’m confident that I could walk the whole ship in my sleep, but what’s more disturbing than this was the extent that I could place myself in the passengers’ shoes during the sinking. Each time I read a testimony that told how they didn’t think the ship would sink and gave some evidence to that belief, I found myself transported. I began to think the same. I thought to myself, “No, she can’t sink. Look at all these modern advances! They even said she stopped sinking for a bit. Maybe she’ll make it. She was designed to be her own lifeboat. Maybe she will be. Maybe that ship will come to their rescue. Maybe the damage wasn’t that bad.” All along, I knew how the story would end, but I actually perceived this false hope that so many clung to in those final moments. It was a strange illusion to fall under. Even more heartbreaking when the illusion was finally broken.
I encourage you, if you have any inclination into learning more, seek out books and documentaries about the famous ship. Read the survivor testimonies, learn the names of the victims. Visit one of the museums in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee or Branson, Missouri. There’s plenty of artifact exhibits that travel the country, and countless more places abroad that pay tribute to the ocean liner. It’s so much more than a ship, an iceberg, and lack of lifeboats. The disaster represents a focal point in history. Class distinction, immigration, and innovation. There are plenty of myths around the disaster, and I hope you learn to distinguish what is true from what is Hollywood hype.

 

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