March 2020 Highlights and Writing Competition News

Courtesy of DaPuglet

With all the news surrounding COVID-19, I want to say first and foremost, stay safe. If you are sheltering in place, make sure you have plenty of food and water on hand. And try to stay positive. We’ll get through this. Speaking of which, I had planned to set up book signing events—which included attending this year’s Los Angeles Times Book Festival. Well, the festival has been postponed. And that made me reconsider doing other events. So, I’ll most likely look to start setting up these signings again in the summer.

Writing

Previously, I announced that The Girl in the Mirror had won a 2019 Best Indie Book Award (BIBA) in the Paranormal Fiction category. Well, it seems I’m at it again. The first book in the Sarah Greene Mysteries series is a finalist in the 32nd annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards Horror Category. These awards are regarded as one of the highest national honors in independent publishing. I’ll keep you posted on the final results. You can see a complete list of the finalists here.

Recommended Reading

The Curse She Wore Cover

What do you get when you combine a homeless girl from New Orleans looking to avenge her best friend’s murder, a time-traveling psychic grieving the loss of his family, and Jack the Ripper? To find out, grab a copy of The Curse She Wore by Jordan Dane. You can read my review here.

Okay, that wraps it up. See you next month, when I’ll be painting Coronavirus-free Easter eggs. Peace and love.

February 2020 Highlights and “I Must Be Nuts” Book Pricing

Essence of Love
Courtesy of Kumar’s Edit

Hard to believe it’s the middle of February already. Before I get any further, Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s what’s happening.

Writing

Book 2 in my new supernatural suspense series, House of the Shrieking Woman, is available in electronic format, and the paperback edition will be out soon. For more information, check out my Sarah Greene Mysteries page. I’ve already begun writing Book 3, so stay tuned. As if things in Dos Santos weren’t bad, they are about to get worse.

Announcing “I Must Be Nuts” Book Pricing

That’s right. I’ve finally lost my grip on reality. I reduced the prices of all my ebooks, and you know what? I’m not sure I’m ever going back. You can check out my Amazon page—and also this page—for details.

Recommended Reading

Unspeakable Things Cover

If you enjoy stories of mystery, suspense, and dark souls, then Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey is for you. You can read my review here.

Recommended Viewing

For those of you with Netflix accounts, check out The Stranger, a new series based on the novel by Harlan Coben. If you like police procedurals with lots of interesting twists, then check it out.

Okay, that wraps it up. See you next month, when I’ll be selling my house to raise cash for March Madness. Peace and love.

Check Out the House of the Shrieking Woman Book Trailer!

 

House of the Shrieking Woman, Book 2 in the Sarah Greene Mysteries series, comes out on Saturday. It’s still on sale as a preorder for 99 cents, though. So, if you were planning to get it anyway, now’s the time. Click here.

House of the Shrieking Woman Cover (3D M)

“Pitting her nascent investigative skills against a sinister power that thrives in places of pain and suffering, the main character makes this quick thriller hard to put down. Ramirez is a master of building tension when the story most calls for it, making House of the Shrieking Woman a thrillingly dark slice of suspense.” —Self-Publishing Review

Evil is as evil does.

Despite the trauma she suffered after uncovering the deadly secret behind a house’s dark, violent past, Sarah Greene agrees to investigate a series of disturbing incidents at a women’s shelter. These events began with the arrival of a young Guatemalan woman—a troubled victim of domestic abuse. The frightening episodes point to a demonic force. And Sarah suspects the entity is connected to a powerful evil infesting Dos Santos—an insidious presence known as The Darkness.

January 2020 Highlights and Preorder News

2020-01 Newsletter
Courtesy of Wendy

Okay, so most of California doesn’t really look like this. But, come on, it’s winter. So much is going on—let’s get started.

Writing

The Girl in the Mirror, Book 1 in the Sarah Greene Mysteries series, has won a 2019 Best Indie Book Award (BIBA) in the Paranormal Fiction category! BIBA is an international literary award recognizing outstanding indie authors, and I am overwhelmed with emotion at having won.

Book 2, House of the Shrieking Woman, is finished and will be published February 1st. Keep reading to see how you can preorder your copy for 99 cents.

Preorder Now and Save!

House of the Shrieking Woman Cover (3D M)

House of the Shrieking Woman, Book 2 in the Sarah Greene Mysteries series, is scheduled for publication on February 1st, 2020. The ebook price is $5.99. But you can preorder your copy now and save $5.00!

Book Description

Evil is as evil does.

Despite the trauma she suffered after uncovering the deadly secret behind a house’s dark, violent past, Sarah Greene agrees to investigate a series of disturbing incidents at a women’s shelter. These events began with the arrival of a young Guatemalan woman—a troubled victim of domestic abuse. The frightening episodes point to a demonic force. And Sarah suspects the entity is connected to a powerful evil infesting Dos Santos—an insidious presence known as The Darkness.

Recommended Reading

Between Life and Death Cover

If you enjoy zombie fiction, check out Between Life and Death by Ann Christy. It’s an interesting take on the genre, focusing more on a girl’s loneliness and isolation in a post-apocalyptic world. You can read my review here.

Well, that’s about it. See you in February, when I’ll be wearing my heart on my sleeve. Peace and love.

The Girl in the Mirror Wins a BIBA Award!

The Girl in the Mirror Cover (BIBA S 3D)
Wow, I can’t think of a better way to end the year than to announce that The Girl in the Mirror, Book 1 in the Sarah Greene Mysteries series, has won a 2019 Best Indie Book Award (BIBA) in the Paranormal Fiction category!
 
 
BIBA is an international literary award recognizing outstanding indie authors, and I am overwhelmed with emotion at having won.
 
You can check out a sample of The Girl in the Mirror here. Just be sure to log in to your Amazon account. And one more thing—Book 2, House of the Shrieking Woman, is coming out soon. You can check out the cover and read the first chapter here.
 
Happy New Year, everyone! Peace and love.

Cover Reveal and Free Chapter—House of the Shrieking Woman

House of the Shrieking Woman Cover

I realize we are in holidays, but please take a moment to check out the cover of my newest novel, House of the Shrieking Woman. This is the second book in the Sarah Greene Mysteries series, scheduled for publication in early 2020. And to make December even sweeter, I’m also including a free chapter. Just scroll down to read it.

Enjoy this little taste of House of the Shrieking Woman. Peace and love.

Book Description

Despite the trauma she suffered after uncovering the deadly secret behind a house’s dark, violent past, Sarah Greene agrees to investigate a series of disturbing incidents at a women’s shelter. These events began with the arrival of a young Guatemalan woman—a troubled victim of domestic abuse. The frightening episodes point to a demonic force. And Sarah suspects the entity is connected to a powerful evil infesting Dos Santos—an insidious presence known as The Darkness.

Chapter One

January, 2011. It’s an off-day. Laurel Diamanté looked out the window of her four-hundred-dollar-a-week hotel room just off Pioneer Square. Normally at this time of year, the pelting rain would drive the homeless deeper into the dark recesses and under-explored burrows of Seattle, occasionally creating a comical juxtaposition of awkwardness during one of the city’s famed underground tours. But today was different. The sky was dense, an unrelenting gray blanket that covered the city to keep in the cold. It was a good day, Laurel decided as she gathered up her things and left her dingy rooms for the last time.

The elevator was out of service again. The hotness at the back of her neck made her curse as she headed for the emergency exit. Down, down she went, struggling to keep her purse strap from sliding off the smooth shoulder of her waterproof raincoat as she carried the neatly wrapped present in both hands. Fortunately, it was only two flights.

When she emerged, she found the usual malingerers infesting the lobby. Unbathed old men mostly, single and immune from the foul weather that seeped in whenever anyone entered the building. Could they be of some use? No. Too weak. Or drunk. There were plenty of other good candidates. Taking a last look at the forlorn, toothless denizens, she turned sharply and headed for the front desk to pay her bill.

“Sorry to see you go,” the man with the lopsided haircut said. “That’ll be four hundred even. Did you take anything out of the honor bar?”

“No.” She counted out four crisp one-hundred-dollar bills. “I don’t drink, and I don’t eat snacks.”

“Okay.” He handed her a receipt, along with a card with a website address on it. “If you wouldn’t mind, could you fill out a survey online? Even better, could you post a Yelp review?”

“Sure thing.”

She checked her watch. She still needed to get gas before heading to the office. The man at the front desk said goodbye, but she ignored him and walked briskly toward the door that led to the parking structure. She spotted an ashtray stand next to the doorway and deposited the card on top of a pile of yellowed, soggy butts.

One of Laurel’s tires was low. As she unlocked her car door, she hoped it wasn’t punctured. She would check it at the gas station. The heat radiating in her neck had transformed into a familiar dull throbbing at her temples as she placed the present on the passenger seat next to her purse and climbed in. Her bags were already in the trunk, along with everything else she needed. Nothing left to do now but get on the road.

It wasn’t long before she’d gassed up her car and checked the tire pressure. Nothing was wrong with the car. A woman dressed in active wear had just gotten into her vehicle as Laurel started to pull out. She shot in front of Laurel, causing her to slam on her brakes. The other woman stopped, too. Infuriated, Laurel got out and marched up to the driver’s side window.

“I’m sorry,” the woman said.

She tried to smile. But when she saw the strange, threatening look on Laurel’s face, she averted her eyes and reached for the switch to raise her window.

“You could get killed driving like that,” Laurel said in a voice that was not her own. Though she wore a smile, her expression was merciless.

“I… I didn’t mean to…”

“Don’t worry. I’m not going to harm you. You should be more careful.”

“Yes,” the other woman said in a meek voice.

“Have a nice day.”

As Laurel stepped back, the flustered woman put her car in gear and shot out of the gas station, barely missing a homeless man with a gimpy leg.

“We should all have a nice day,” Laurel said.

 

* * *

 

The day had gone surprisingly quickly, and Laurel looked forward to getting things underway. Her friend of six months was leaving the Catholic social services agency, Mary’s Gift, and they were going out to celebrate. Laurel had given her the present at lunch, a porcelain figure of a cocker spaniel. Her friend loved dogs but was allergic. If nothing else, the figurine had made her smile.

The plan was for Laurel to follow her friend to her house in Beacon Hill and drive the two of them to dinner. When they left a little after five, the sky was already black, and it was raining hard. Though it seemed to rain constantly in Seattle, people had never learned how to drive safely. There was always some idiot who thought he could speed down Pike Street toward the fish market. The unexpected steepness of the grade would get the best of him, and there would be the inevitable accident. Laurel planned to be extra careful.

“I’m starving,” her friend said as they got onto the I-90 toward Bellevue.

“Me, too.”

“I really appreciate you driving, Laurel. But did we really have to go so far for dinner?”

“It’s not that far. And I think you’re going to love the restaurant. So, what are your plans once you get to Phoenix?”

“I think I might take a few months off before looking for work.”

“I really will miss you, you know. But I understand. It’s this stupid weather.”

As if to underscore the remark, the sky lit up with tentacles of white crackling lightning. The inevitable thunder followed.

“Maybe I should go to Arizona, too,” Laurel said.

Her friend smiled. “That would be lovely. I was just getting to know you.”

Surprisingly, it took only fifteen minutes to get across the floating bridge. Laurel had already checked the directions and made her way easily to downtown Bellevue. On Bellevue Way NE, she spotted the restaurant and, luckily, found parking on the street.

“This place is beautiful,” her friend said as they entered.

“I knew you’d like it.”

Soon, they were seated. By the time her friend had returned from the restroom, their drinks were standing untouched on the table. Laurel raised her iced tea and toasted her friend, who had decided to treat herself to a martini since she wasn’t driving.

“I wish you all the happiness in the world,” Laurel said.

By the time the salads arrived, Laurel’s friend felt unwell. She thought she should go back to the restroom and splash cold water on her face. But when she tried standing, she became dizzy.

“Oh, dear,” Laurel said. “Was the martini too strong?”

“I feel so strange.”

A concerned restaurant manager came over. “Is there anything I can do?”

“My friend isn’t feeling well. Can you help me get her to our car?”

He and Laurel pulled the other woman to her feet.

“Oh, the bill,” Laurel said.

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Thank you.”

Outside, the rain was coming down in sheets. Laurel and the manager helped the other woman into the car as a busboy held an impossibly large umbrella over the three of them. Laurel thanked them and drove off, peering through the windshield to find her way to the I-90 south. Blindly, she grabbed a fresh water bottle and handed it to her friend.

“Here, drink this. You’re probably dehydrated.”

“You’re such a good friend,” the woman said.

 

* * *

 

Within hours, Laurel had maneuvered her car down a treacherous dark road and found the small parking lot in Mt. Ranier National Park. The rain had abated; a good sign. She parked and looked over at her friend, who was unconscious. Turning around, she reached for her purse on the backseat and removed the martini glass she’d stolen from the restaurant. In all the confusion, no one had missed it.

She got out and stood facing the public restrooms. It was quiet except for the howl of a sharp wind through the trees, and bitterly cold. She would have to work quickly. She dropped the glass and crushed it with her foot, destroying all evidence of the Ambien she’d used to incapacitate the victim.

She opened the trunk. On top of her suitcases lay a folded plastic tarp and a coil of yellow nylon rope. Next to those were a neatly folded bundle of heavy clothing and a pair of waterproof hiking boots. She took out the tarp and the rope and laid them on the ground next to the car’s passenger side. Grabbing the clothes, she went into the restroom to change.

Taking her time, Laurel opened the passenger door and turned the unconscious woman until her back faced the door and hooked her arms under the other’s so she could drag her out. As she did so, the woman groaned. Laurel laid her on the tarp and tied it up at the feet. To make things easier for the short trip to the grave, she fashioned a noose and place it around the victim’s neck.

Now came the hard part. She would have to haul the body down the trail about a mile. She’d estimated it would take her less than an hour. Taking a quick look around her, she locked up the vehicle, draped the nylon rope over her shoulder and, like a logger, dragged the woman by the neck.

As she made her way slowly, she found that the tarp left a noticeable trail, as if some giant snake were slithering through the forest. She stopped and looked up at the sky. Clouds were moving in again. Soon it would rain, washing away all the evidence.

“Why, Laurel?” she thought she heard the woman say.

As she struggled over rocks, and mud that in places was inches thick, she decided to answer the imagined question. Why indeed. Because it was all part of the plan. His plan. And she’d been promised a great reward. To know the unknowable. To lord it over the vermin that were doing nothing more than occupying space.

To be like a god.

Laurel was sweating, despite the cold. Ignoring the vice-like pain in her head, she continued on. Soon.

Eventually, she saw it up ahead—a tree trunk, its top bent completely over and back into the earth, forming a huge upside-down U. Opposite that, she knew, was a hollow.

Stopping to catch her breath, she looked around her as if someone might be spying. She dragged the woman’s body up to the partially obscured entrance. Pausing to look at the sky, she climbed through, turned around, and pulled the body in the rest of the way.

She’d already dug the grave the previous night. The shovel lay where she’d left it. The hole was partially filled with rainwater. No matter. Only one thing left to do before disposing of the evidence. She picked up the shovel. Standing over the woman’s body, she unrolled the tarp, exposing the head. Livid rope burns circumscribed the aged neck. The victim’s eyes were bulging from a lack of oxygen. By all rights, she should be dead.

But she wasn’t.

Her eyes searched Laurel’s face for a shred of mercy. But there was none to be found.

“This is for the best,” Laurel said.

Straightening, she raised the shovel over her head and, grunting, brought it down hard on the woman’s head. Through a wet, crunching noise, she thought she heard the woman mewling like an injured animal. Reveling in the victim’s suffering, she repeated the action two more times. When she was sure her friend was dead, she went about burying the body.

As she emerged from the hollow, flushed with exertion and sweating under her heavy clothing, a wolf bayed somewhere far off. Everything was happening according to plan. Easy peasy.

Her work here was done.

December Highlights

Photo courtesy of Corry.

Happy Holidays!

Let the celebration begin! I hope you’re planning on spending time with family and friends this holiday season. Though my girls are grown, they never tire of eating great food and opening presents. Come to think of it, neither do I.

Writing

HSW Sneak Peek

I am getting close to publishing House of the Shrieking Woman, Book Two in the Sarah Greene Mysteries series. Currently, I am awaiting a draft from my copyeditor. Once that’s approved and proofed, it’s time for some reviews. In the meantime, I’ll be making the book available for preorder in early January. As with The Girl in the Mirror, I’ll be setting the preorder ebook price at 99 cents. Upon publication, the price goes up to $5.99. The cover reveal is coming soon, so stay tuned.

The Zombie Christmas Mug Is Back!

If you’re looking for something unique to give that zombie lover in your life, then check out this high-quality holiday mug. The tag line on the other side is “Feliz Navidead.” Catchy, right?

Recommended Reading

Ring Cover

I’m sure you’re familiar with ‘Ringu,’ that iconic Japanese horror film remade in English as ‘The Ring.’ But did you know the movie is based on Ring, a novel by the horror master Koji Suzuki? If you love the paranormal with some good old-fashioned revenge thrown in, then check out this book. You can read my review here.

Until next time. Peace and love.

November Highlights

Gather by Duchess Flux
Photo courtesy of Duchess Flux

Well, we’re in holidays. Are you looking forward to eating some fabulous holiday food as much as me? I’ve already lost ten pounds so I can gain it all back—and more. Yeah, the holidays.

Writing

Currently, I am doing rewrites on Book Two in the Sarah Greene Mysteries series per notes from my editor. I hope to send the manuscript to the copyeditor by Thanksgiving. I had planned on having the book out by Christmas, but I think January is more likely.

In the meantime, here is a sneak peek of the cover for House of the Shrieking Woman. Let me know what you think.

HSW Sneak Peek

Events

The book signing in Burbank went pretty well. I am in the middle of trying to schedule future ones, and I am now expanding to Vroman’s Bookstore. Be sure to check out my Facebook page for news on future events.

Recommended Reading and Viewing

The Little Stranger Cover

If you’re looking for something creepy that isn’t exactly a ghost story, be sure to check out The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. It’s a wonderfully written novel about a stately home infested with an evil you cannot quite put a name to. You can read my review here.

Ringu Cover

And if, like me, you are a fan of J-horror, check out the Ringu collection on Blu-ray, available now at Amazon. I’ve been waiting for these movies to be available again, and now they are. Each is presented in Japanese with English subtitles. Prepare to be terrified.

Until next time…

October Highlights

Waiting - London Session 2010 by Davide Gabino
Photo courtesy of Davide Gabino.

Well, Halloween is almost here. Whew! Hard to believe the year is almost over. I genuinely hope you’ve had a happy and productive year so far. Here’s what happening with me…

Writing

I published The Girl in the Mirror on June 1st, and it has been selected as a quarter finalist in the Booklife Prize competition. This is the first book in a new supernatural suspense series called Sarah Greene Mysteries. If you’re a horror fan who likes ghost stories, you might want to check it out. You can read a free sample here.

Speaking of which, I just turned in my draft for Book Two in the series, House of the Shrieking Woman. It should be out in the next few months—I’ll keep you posted.

Events

I’m doing another book signing at Barnes & Noble in Burbank CA on Sunday, October 20th from 2—4 pm. The address is 731 N San Fernando Blvd, Burbank, CA 91502. So, if you happen to be in the area, please stop by and pick up a free zombie button. And yes, there will be candy. Sign up on Facebook here.

Recommended Reading and Viewing

Forgotten Bones Cover

I love reading, and I also love recommending books, movies, and TV shows. If you enjoy police procedurals with ghosts, pick up a copy of Forgotten Bones by Vivian Barz. It’s a story you won’t soon forget. You can read my review here.

Marianne Poster

And if you like horror with witches, check out ‘Marianne’ on Netflix. It is seriously scary and perfect for Halloween. Not suitable for kids, though.

Happy Halloween!

Mark MacNicol and the Dreaded Light Project

Mark MacNicol
Courtesy of The Fountain

I hope it will be different from anything you have seen. In particular the use of light.

I ran across an interesting film project and wanted to share it with you. Mark MacNicol is a novelist and playwright. Currently, he is raising money for a film with paranormal themes called Dreaded Light. Take a look at this interview excerpt, and be sure to watch the video. Good luck, Mark!

With two novels under his belt and several stage plays, Mark MacNicol is lending his talents to film, producing, writing and directing avant-garde feature, Dreaded Light, which he is funding through ‘crowdinvestment.’

Mark spoke with The Fountain about the project, extending this experience to young offenders and how crowdinvesting is different to crowdfunding.

TF: A new film project, Dreaded Light, how exciting, what can we expect?

I hope it will be different from anything you have seen. In particular the use of light (one of the characters has a phobia of daylight). I also hope you will struggle to put it in a particular box/genre.
As the Producer Writer and Director it means I can take chances that I wouldn’t be able to or allowed to under normal circumstances. Also authenticity of subject matter (we’ve done a massive amount of research into Spiritualism).

TF: And you are providing young people with social exclusions an opportunity to work on this feature, how noble?

One of my stage plays, Kamikaze, toured high schools and young offenders units. That was a humbling experience and I got to meet a lot of very special staff and young people. While that play was touring I knew at some point in the future (if I was able to) I would reach out to them and get them involved somehow.

To see the rest of this interview, please visit The Fountain.