Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mall Demons Part 5: This Is No Dream; Free E-book

Here is Part 5 of the Mall Demons Story as released through This is part of the soon-to-be-released "The Chosen Must Fall," Book One of the Mall Demons Urban Fantasy Series. Some of the details have changed for the final edition. Much of the action has been expanded.

You can see some of the new material in my first Kindle e-book edition on sale for only 99 cents. You can participate in a limited time giveaway of the first e-book, too. Just check out my previous blog entry. OK... for now, here's Part 5. I must admit, Evangeline has decided to go her own way, as some powerful characters often do.

Evangeline knew she had to disturb him. Time had caught up with them. The enemy was at the gates.
"He looks so peaceful," she said looking through the apartment window.
"We must wake him," Watcher said.
"Unless… we appeal to him in his dreams."
"A dream sequence?" Evangeline inched closer to the window. A steady stream of rain hit it. Tink. Tink. Tink. Tink. Tink… "No. That's so 1st Century, Watcher. This generation has no patience for getting the story in a dream."
“Technology,” Watcher grumbled. “Times were much simpler back then. Maybe we can tweet him the news.”
Evangeline grinned. “No sense prolonging this.” She closed her eyes, and her body went transparent. Then she flew through the window and into Daniel's bedroom.
"Ready?" she asked. Watcher remained on the outside eyeing Evangeline.
"Oops. Sorry." She forgot Watcher could not move through solid objects. She concentrated. Watcher went transparent.
"Thank you," Watcher said once he was inside the bedroom with Evangeline. He was visibly put out by the reminder that his powers had diminished.
Evangeline knew it was best to pretend like she had not noticed Watcher’s reaction. She knew his millenniums-old frustration. Being an outcast had had severe consequences. Then again, she knew it was better to be an outcast on earth than to be a resident of Hell. And, she was glad Watcher wasn’t there.
"How do you think he will respond?" she said.
"One way to find out."
They moved closer to Daniel who was still asleep. Outside the thunder and lightning had quieted, but the rain continued falling.
"How should we wake him?" Evangeline asked.
"A slap always works," Watcher answered and grinned.
Evangeline gave him a disapproving look.
“I’m just saying,” Watcher stood at the foot of the bed. "It’s a thought."
Evangeline moved to the side of the bed drawing nearer to Daniel. Quite suddenly, without moving his head or any other part of his body, Daniel opened his eyes. He studied the room. His eyes darted: window, door, dresser, nightstand, then back to the window.
“Did you plant a thought into his mind?” Watcher asked.
Daniel’s eyes jumped to the foot of the bed. Like someone trying to bring the camera image into focus before snapping a picture, Daniel zoomed in on the nothingness at the foot of the bed.
Evangeline noticed. “No. Not yet,” she answered.
Still without as much as a twitch from any other part of his body, Daniel’s eyes jumped to the spot Evangeline was standing at. All he could see, however, was empty space. There was a growing sensation inside him – unnerving him. It had roused him from sleep. He saw nothing, but felt something.
“I believe that he can sense us,” Watcher said.
Evangeline moved around Watcher to the opposite side of the bed. Daniel’s eyes were searching again, then came to rest where Evangeline had stopped.
“I think you’re right,” she said.
Gently, Evangeline entered Daniel’s mind.
He heard a voice in his head. It was a woman’s voice. Pleasant, he thought. Soothing. Was it his imagination?
‘You’re not imagining things, Daniel,’ Evangeline said.
‘OK,” Daniel said in his mind. ‘I’m dreaming this is real.’
‘This is no dream.’
Daniel wanted to move. He was looking out into an empty room that didn’t feel empty. He was apparently having a conversation in his head with a woman who wasn't there. She had a nice voice. At least she wasn’t scary, he thought. But still, it was freaky. He didn’t know what to do next.
‘Relax,’ she said. ‘I’m a friend.’
Daniel really wanted to sit up. Maybe this was a dream. He was dreaming that he wasn’t dreaming and that a lovely, soothing voice was in his head telling him he wasn’t dreaming. It didn’t make sense, and his mind was racing. Why couldn’t he move? He concentrated on telling his arm to move. It didn’t budge.
‘I don’t like this!’ Daniel thought.
Move, hand! Move, arm! Get up! Get up, now!
Evangeline tried calming him. Daniel’s eyes were darting to and fro faster now. She could see his facial muscles quivering.
‘Please, relax,’ she said. ‘You’re OK.’
‘Yeah, right! Whoever you are. I’m so not OK!’
‘I’ll show you,’ she said. “See, here I am.”
Daniel turned his gaze to the nearest side of the bed. He actually heard with his ears the voice. It was close. She was close. That’s when he saw.
“What the?....”
It was as if dozens of tiny camera flashes were going off. It reminded Daniel of the scene with thousands of fans in the stands during the halftime show of the Super Bowl. The flashes here in his bedroom were orange, and with each flash, the picture became clearer.
Evangeline appeared her long orange hair resting on her cape which concealed her arms. Daniel noticed the shiny armor of her breastplate and the golden hilt of a sword. He asked his body to move again. This time it obeyed, and Daniel commenced freaking out.
“It could have been worse,” Watcher said, standing over Daniel who was now face down on the floor twisted in sheets next to his bed.
“Worse?” Evangeline said, kneeling next to Daniel.
“Well, he’s not bleeding or anything.”
Evangeline tried reviving him.
He moved his head and moaned. His legs were tangled in the sheets. He used his arms to roll onto his back. When he saw Evangeline next to him, he pushed himself away until his back was against the wall.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” she said. “Relax.”
“Why would you say that?” Daniel asked. “That’s what bad guys say when they’re about to tie you up and torture you or…”
Watcher sighed. “This was so much easier before movies and television.”
“You’re not helping the situation, Watcher,” Evangeline said.
“Who are you talking to, lady?” Daniel asked. “What situation? Who’s Watcher?”
Evangeline closed her eyes. She focused her thoughts on Daniel. Her breathing slowed as she willed Daniel to calm down.
“Feel better? Calm?” she asked.
“Yes,” he responded. Daniel’s gaze was straight ahead and vacant like those volunteers hypnotists bring up to the stage and make do weird things like hop on one leg or bark like a dog.
Watcher stepped closer to Evangeline and Daniel. “You have him under your control?”
“I didn’t want to,” she answered, “but this will go faster if he’s calm.”
“I agree,” Watcher said.
“Daniel, my name is Evangeline. I’m here to help you,” she said. “Do you understand?”
“Evangeline. Here to help,” Daniel repeated.
“Yes. That’s my name. I’m a warrior angel in Heaven’s Army. I’m here with a message. You must listen. Your life depends on it. The fate of humanity depends on it.”
Daniel’s gaze was still fixed straight ahead. Evangeline reached out for Watcher who helped her rise to her feet. With all the angelic authority she could muster, she spoke the words that bound Daniel to his task.
“You have been chosen. It’s your duty to prove humanity should be spared… again,” she said. “Whatever we bind on earth will be bound in Heaven; whatever we loose on earth, will be loosed in Heaven.”
Hovering outside the bedroom window, a small demon watched. An orange light pulsed from Evangeline as she spoke the last words. The light enveloped her and Daniel. The demon shrieked then vanished.
Watcher turned, looked out the window into the black landscape. He searched the shadows, but saw nothing. He turned back to Evangeline and Daniel.
"They know," he said.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Free Mall Demons E-Book

So here's the deal: On January 7, I'm giving away 2 free Mall Demons e-books. If you want them, then simply post a comment to this blog entry to enter the contest. It's that simple! 

Some of you may have read the flash fiction story that started the whole Mall Demons Urban Fantasy Series. If so, then you will be familiar with the content of the e-book, which expands on the first story. In the end, I wanted to create a story that dealt with Good vs Evil. 

The Mall Demons Urban Fantasy Series is the result. The twist here is that the battle between good and evil is happening at a shopping mall. Have you been to a mall lately? Well, if so, then you may have encountered a demon. Yes, you probably have. Everyone is vulnerable. They want you to die!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Survived The Holidays: Time To Write That Urban Fantasy Novel

Christmas is over for another year. The kids are still home for the holidays, which means the homestead is quite chaotic. I've taken a break from blogging and tweeting the last few days. It felt great to unplug. I have been reading and spending time with the kids, but I am feeling the pull to get back to business.

Last night I proofed one of my works in progress. I also learned a few tricks using Microsoft Word that helped me with my manuscript. I'll talk more about that later. Still waiting for a response from the Amazon folk regarding my request to designate my e-book, "Death Speaks Loudest To Those Who Flee," as a Kindle Single. Supposed to take up to two weeks to get a response. Figure the holidays will lengthen the process a bit.

If you have a Kindle or have the Kindle App for your computer, smartphone, etc., please check out "Death Speaks.." It's only 99 cents.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

One Thing You Can Do in 2012 To Be A Better Writer

As I wrote in my last blog, I'm thinking of New Year's resolutions for writers. A Top Ten List for me, at least, if not for other writers. But a list for me will more than likely speak to other writers since we all share some of the same bad habits.

With that in mind, one of my proposed resolutions for writers is this: Read more books.

I still remember my creative writing professor in college offering up that bit of advice. Recently, I challenged the students in my creative writing group to do the same. Still, I believe for some of us reading is a challenge. We don't read enough. In the last two weeks I've read two books, started a third and halfway through it couldn't force myself to finish it, and now am on to a fourth book. 

In a Writer's Digest article from July, THE 7 DEADLY SINS OF WRITINGnot reading books was listed as number six. In the article M.J. Rose, author of The Hypnotist is credited with offering this bit of advice:
Reading is essential for writers. Rose cited a study that said that 23 percent of people in the United States want to be writers. If all of them read 10 books a year, Rose said, “We’d all be doing a lot better.”
So, how much do you read? Would reading more books be a good New Year's resolution for you?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

10 Best New Year's Resolutions For Writers

Less than two weeks until the end of the year. Goodbye 2011. Hola and que tal to 2012. It got me to thinking about what resolutions I might make as a writer. It's always a good thing to push yourself. So, what are the best resolutions for writers? For some it could be to start a daily writing routine. It could be to actually submit your work instead of writing solely for yourself.

The possibilities could be endless. I haven't decided what all my resolutions should be, but I'm thinking about it now and hope to write out a list of 10, my Top Ten, if you will. Two brains are better than one, and a thousand are better than two, so I'm asking what resolutions you can think of, as well, to help the aspiring writer.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Successfully Self-Published! Death Speaks Loudest Kindle Version Is Out

Cover design by
I feel relieved and excited. I spent Saturday editing and formatting my submission through Kindle Direct Publishing. And my first e-book is published and available to the world. Death Speaks Loudest To Those Who Flee, the Kindle edition, is available for 99 cents.

Still some details to iron out as I wade through these self-publishing waters for the first time. 

  • First of all, I have to figure out why my cover image isn't showing up next to the product description.
  • Second, it seems there's a separate process to getting your e-book listed as a Kindle Single. From what I can tell, it can take up to two weeks. The upside is that authors can choose the 70 % royalty option once they get the Kindle Single designation even if the price is 99 cents. So, needless to say, I'll be shooting Amazon an e-mail to get that process started.
  • And third, I will need to make a decision about KDP Select which Amazon lists as "a new option to make money and promote your book." Authors must decide, however, to make the book exclusive to Kindle for at least 90 days. That means during that time you can't sell it anywhere else. Now as a Kindle Select, your book is included in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library and, Amazon says, authors will earn a share of a monthly fund when readers borrow your books from the library.
So... decisions, decisions. Overall, this has been a good experience. I at least now know what it take to get a manuscript from beginning idea to the marketplace. Now, I just need to edit and format 'The Chosen Must Fall: Book One of the Mall Demons Series' for publication in January. At the moment, it stands at about 200 pages. However pages are not really relevant for e-books since manuscripts get resized on individual e-readers depending on reader settings.

Are you new to self-publishing? Thinking of taking the plunge? Send me a question. I'm happy to share what I'm learning now that I have dived into the deep end of the indie author pool!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mall Demons! The Storm Rolls In

I am about to put the book-length version of the Mall Demons series to bed. The Kindle version will be out soon. Until then, here's another part from the stories I've posted on Wattpad. Enjoy!

Part 4 of the Mall Demons Urban Fantasy Series

Daniel wiped down the last of his tables, looking over his shoulder to scan the restaurant patio. Two men sat at a table having drinks. Daniel had that annoying feeling that someone's eyes were on him, but it wasn't these guys.
"An-da-le! Daniel!" Jose, one of the other busboys, walked by, urging Daniel to move faster.
 Carrying a tub full of dirty dishes, Daniel followed Jose into the kitchen. He looked over his shoulder towards the patio. That nagging feeling wouldn't go away. Daniel didn't know it yet, but he would be nagged by that being watched feeling consistently over the next few days.
"That was my last table," Daniel said, placing the tub on a long rectangular stainless-steel table next to the sink.
"Very good, very good," Jose said with a strong Spanish accent.
About 15 minutes later, Daniel moped out of the Chevy's restaurant onto the sidewalk in front of the mall. Jose emerged behind him, leaned against the fence lining the patio and lit a cigarette.
"Lo siento, Daniel," Jose said. "Sorry, amigo. I’ll pray for your father."
Daniel smiled back at Jose.
"Smoking's bad for you."
"What are you, eh?" Jose replied. "My priest?"
"No, no," Daniel said. "I'm just saying..."
Daniel waved to Jose as he walked away. He looked down the long empty sidewalk. He wore a look of disappointment. Daniel needed extra cash. He had hoped to pick up some extra shifts. Jose had been talking the previous week about taking night classes. Now Jose was having second thoughts. The economy being what it was and the cost of those classes being a few grand more than he'd expected, Jose decided he couldn't afford it.
After Daniel turned his back on Jose, he had that feeling again much stronger this time. He looked into the shadows of an alley to his left. Two eyes emerged when Daniel turned his head to scan the darkness.
"Spare change?" A homeless man held out his hand.
Daniel reached into his pocket and gave the man his last dollar coin.
"God bless you.”
The way the man said it gave Daniel an uneasy feeling. It seemed too rehearsed. Or maybe too businesslike, but Daniel nodded anyway. He took a few steps and was about to turn the corner when he felt a sharp gust of wind behind him. For a second that feeling from the restaurant intensified. Then just as quickly, it lessened.
He looked back to the alley entrance which was now empty darkness. The homeless man was gone.
"Weird," Daniel said to nobody.
Halfway down the block Jose was using his last five minutes of break to smoke a cigarette. He saw Daniel disappear around the corner. He exhaled a long stream of smoke which rose up through the patio's slat roof and into Sargas Vak's squinting, red eyes.
"Stupid humans and their infernal habits," Sargas said.
Sargas waved the smoke from his eyes.
"He might as well get used to smoking," said a second demon who settled on the roof next to Sargas Vak.
Sargas cleared his throat, then leaned over and spit a stream of hellish, black phlegm onto Jose's head. It covered his forehead, poured down his face and into his mouth. Jose took a long drag from his cigarette sucking the smoke and demonic phlegm deep into his lungs.
"That will speed things up," Sargas said.
Meego Bose laughed. More smoke reached them on the roof.
"Reminds you of home doesn't it?" Meego Bose said.
"I have not been back in centuries."
"I know," Meego said.
"Do you, now." Sargas faced his new apprentice. "I doubt you know much."
Sargas ascended like a sinister raptor stretching his wings. Each thrust sent him higher into the sky until the mall seemed the size of a shoe box. Meego climbed after him.
Sargas was searching for something. He knew the time had come again. He looked at the mall. This was the battleground. At one corner of the roof, Sargas thought he saw it. But just at that moment, Meego whipped past him his tail striking Sargas across the face.
Sargas growled. Meego hovered defiantly next to his new master.
"Insolence!" Sargas said.
The demons circled each other
"I know one thing," Meego said. "You will not dispatch me as easily as your last apprentice."
Meego whipped his tail at Sargas again. This time Sargas caught it in his hand. Meego howled. Before Sargas could react, Meego clawed at his own tail ripping it from his body. Nearly instantaneously, another tail grew in its place.
Sargas tried to hide it, but the surprise was etched on his face. He tossed away the dying tail.
"You have mastered regeneration," Sargas said matter of factly. "Maybe you do know more than your predecessor."
The sky lit up in the distance as a storm rolled in. The sound of thunder followed. Sargas stole a glance towards the roof corner, but not for long. Meego was ready to pounce. This demon had no desire to remain an apprentice for long.
"I know what you want Meego, but now is not the time."
"The best time to dispatch your master is at the beginning," Meego said.
"It is also the best time to consume your apprentice." Sargas countered.
More flashes of light interrupted the dark sky. This time it came from below them, from the roof. There on the spot Sargas had been observing stood two brilliant figures.
"I guess we will both be forced to wait," Meego said.
Meego bowed his head in a show of reluctant submission. Sargas met the bow, then descended.
"I speak for our side," Sargas said without turning back to face Meego.
The two angels watched the demons clash.
"If we can keep them fighting each other, this will be over quickly," the warrior angel said.
The second angel wore the armor and red cloak of a general. He remained still observing the demons above.
 "A house divided will not stand," General Batalla said.
 Sargas and Meego landed in front of the angels. At once, Sargas roared and flapped his leathery wings summoning several dark mists which turned into imps and surrounded the four combatants. General Batalla calmly pulled out his sword. The sight of the heavenly sword caused the imps to step back into the shadows so that only their red eyes were visible.
 "One of these days I will catch you without that sword," Sargas said. He stepped forward. As he drew nearer to General Batalla, Sargas' skin sizzled like frying bacon. "One of these days."
 "Not this day, Sargas." General Batalla sheathed his sword. "This day is for the presentation of terms."
 "Very well," Sargas said. His tone changed. The proceedings had begun. "We have roamed through this shopping center and have found it suitable to our needs..."
 At Sargas' words, the imps drew nearer again so that their evil faces appeared to be hovering in the darkness. Sargas continued.
 "We have gone back and forth," he said. Sargas grinned. "Its inhabitants willingly belong to us."
 "You crossed the line," General Batalla said.
 "And I dealt with my apprentice!"
 General Batalla motioned to his lieutenant who stepped forward with a scroll. The warrior angel unrolled it and read:
 "One has been chosen to prove he is blameless and upright. The chosen fears God and shuns evil. The fate of this ground shall be decided through him. The hedge around him shall be loosened."
 The warrior angel paused and glanced from side to side noticing the imps inching closer - each wearing widening grins. They knew their work was about to begin. Meego looked like a lion ready to pounce. Thunder and lightning rumbled overhead as rain showered down on them.
 "Is that all," Sargas asked.
 "There is more." General Batalla motioned for the reading to continue. With more authority, the warrior angel read the final words on the scroll.
 "Everything the chosen has while on this ground is in your hands, but you may not lay a finger on the man himself off the battlefield. The chosen's name is Daniel."
 At the mentioning of Daniel's name, the imps danced and let out demonic laughter. One by one they vanished. Their mission was now clear. This army of the night had its target.
 "You may not touch him!" General Batalla reached for his sword.
 "We understand the rules, general," Sargas said. "My imps are merely leaving to make preparations. When Daniel returns, we will attack him so brutally that he will surely curse you and your kind to your face!"
 With those final words, Sargas took flight into the night followed by Meego.
 "Go inform the others that it has begun," General Batalla said.
 The warrior angel nodded and disappeared in a bright flash. A few seconds later, Evangeline and Watcher appeared in an orange flash.
 "I thought I felt your presence nearby Evangeline," General Batalla said.
 Evangeline bowed. Watcher remained erect.
 "You may rise," General Batalla said. He scowled at Watcher. "You may want to teach your companion about respect."
 Watcher met the general's stare.
 "There are some advantages to being an outcast," Watcher said. "I bow down only to those I respect."
 "Now, now...let's not divide this house," Evangeline said. "There's work to do."
 General Batalla gave Watcher one last scathing look, then turned to Evangeline. He moved to the roof's edge with her.
 "You must go to him. Prepare him for what's coming," he said. "It is your duty to protect Daniel. Is that clear?"
 "Yes, general."
 "Do not fail us." In a flash of light, General Batalla vanished, leaving Evangeline and Watcher alone on the roof.
 Watcher walked over to her. They looked down at the sleeping city below. There was a peaceful calm that unnerved them.
 "Ready to reveal ourselves?" Evangeline asked.
 "Let's rock!"
 They flew off the roof in a flash of orange, and in a bright arrow of light streaked through the rain towards a dark high-rise apartment building in the distance.
 Daniel was reclining in bed. He read the Metro Hospital bill in his hands:
 He placed the bill in the opened Bible on the bed. The sound of rain hitting his bedroom window caught his attention. It looked like this storm was dumping a lot of water, Daniel thought. Maybe enough to flood. But he would worry about that later. Daniel closed his Bible and placed it on the nightstand. He prayed for a peaceful night's sleep so he could face the next day and whatever troubles that came with it.
 Daniel did not know yet that his prayer could not be answered.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Flash Fiction: Into The Fire

I'm feeling a little different today. It's the last day of work before the long Christmas vacation... So, I'm pretty stoked. Just waiting for students to turn in their final papers... Not stoked about that!

But the holidays are often times we reflect on family, and sometimes, loved ones we have lost. That's why I'm posting the short fictional work below called "Into The Fire." It's a piece I wrote in the summer as an exercise. The challenge was to use the concept of "30" in the story and limit the work to 300 words. So, this is what I wrote. 

Now, it's a departure from the fantasy fiction I have been writing for the Mall Demons books. If you're used to that, this will be a surprise. This is more about the relationship between fathers and sons. Let me know what you think:

By Pedro Ramirez III
This was it. Love Street, where I almost died 30 years ago.
The tears welled. I placed the truck in park.
"Dad, why we stopping?" My son craned over the dashboard. "I don't see the hospital."
I was about his age when it happened. Can't help thinking my son wouldn't be sitting here if they'd left me on the kitchen floor. They wouldn't let him inside the house. He pushed, pulled, powered through them to get to me. I thought he could do anything.
"We're almost there, mijo." Fewer words to control the tears.
"Where are we?" my son asked.
"Daddy used to live here," I told him.
"Where?" He scanned the street.
The neighborhood had changed. The corner store was boarded up. An auto repair shop was occupying another corner lot. A third corner lost was vacant with sun-scorched, yellow grass. It had been vacant back then, too.
"I don't see a house."
"It used to be there." I pointed across him out the passenger window to two squatty, city lots lined by curb cuts and three tired trees.
"There's nothing there," my son said.
"Grandpa's and grandma's house used to be there," I explained, "before it burned down."
"It caught fire?! Were you inside?"
"Yes, mijo. I was." The tears were welling again. "Grandpa carried me out."
"Were you scared?" he asked.
"Yes…Yes, I am."
A tear fell. I wiped before my son saw.
"C'mon, let's go get grandpa," I said.
I took the truck out of park, inching it three long blocks to the hospital. It felt like 30 blocks, 30 years away.
"Grandpa is gonna live with us?"
"Yes, mijo."
The rest of them want to leave him. Too heavy a burden. But, I'll be damned if they'll keep me from taking him out.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fiction: Mall Demons - In The Den Of Lions

Here is the third part of the Mall Demons story. Over the past several months, I have posted these versions on Wattpad. The novelized versions will be released soon. Until then, here they are in case you missed them.

Part Three of the Mall Demon Series
By Pedro Ramirez III
"To the ancients the air itself was a spiritual substance - a medium that could be felt, but not seen."
A little girl with dark, braided hair stood crying in front of the shopping mall entrance. Men and women brushed past her briskly making their way in and out of the mall.
A man in a suit ran out the door, knocking her down without looking back. He stepped onto a Metro bus. The girl sat where she fell. With her face in her hands, she continued crying.
"Sweetie...Are you OK?" A concerned woman approached the girl, set down her bags. With both hands on her walking cane, the woman knelt next to the girl.
The girl kept crying, her face hidden behind her hands.
"Where's your mommy?"
The girl's crying intensified. The woman shifted closer and tried soothing her.
"It's OK. Is your mommy inside?"
The crying quieted. The girl shook her head and spoke, but her voice was muffled behind her hands. The woman inched closer, strained to hear.
"It's OK. I'll help you find your parents."
The woman reached out to move the girl's hands from her face.
"Don't be scared. I'm here to help..."
The girl's sobs returned suddenly, louder as if several children were crying. The girl's outburst startled the woman. She searched the crowd hoping to find a parent. All she knew to do was to keep repeating the same words.
"Don't be scared. Don't be scared."
The sobs changed in tone and character. They sounded more like a laugh. The woman looked closely at the girl's face still hidden behind cupped hands. With preternatural speed, the girl removed her hands from her face.
The woman gasped. She fell back, dropping her cane.
"I'm not scared," the girl said. "Are you?"
The woman scrambled backwards like a crab. The girl launched forward. The woman screamed. She instinctively shielded her face. The girl's grotesquely large head was inches from the woman's. The girl's red eyes bulged, her wide, sharp-toothed smile stretched like a caricature from ear to ear. She laughed.
The woman was nearly lying prostrate on the sidewalk. The girl was straddled above her, chanting in a voice that sounded like a legion of girls speaking at once.
"Don't be scared…Don't be scared."
The woman was frozen with fear. The girl's hair in a braided tail rose into the air. The chanting continued. Her braided hair writhed higher. The end rose to its fullest length. As it did, the braid transformed into a hideous snake with slanted red eyes inside a pulsating black head. Its fangs dripped black venom.
"Don't be scared."
The woman screamed. She reached out for the legs of passersby. Nobody would stop.
"Please! Help!" The woman stopped. Everyone around her possessed the same grotesque red-eyes and sharptoothed grin.
They all were chanting now. And then, the snake struck. Its fangs punctured deeply into the woman's neck. Her head fell with a dull thud onto the sidewalk. The host of demons laughed. The little girl fed on her kill as if she had not fed in days.
"Enough!" The Watcher waved a hand in the viscous air as if he was running his fingers through water. The air rippled at his touch. A brightness radiated from the spot.
The Watcher pressed the spot with his palm as if pushing a button. A blinding light flashed. The demons turned to face him. The brightness reached them, and they froze. Their forms lost their shadows, turned two dimensional. The next second rain fell, and an orange streak of light sliced down from Heaven.
"Evangeline!" The Watcher called out.
The orange streak slammed down at the spot where the demons had killed the woman. The streak appeared as a sword, cutting off the snake's head. Reality split like a canvas curtain shred in half. The curtain halves fell, dissolving in the steady rain.
Evangeline took human form. Covered in a hooded, orange cloak, she was kneeling on the sidewalk in front of the Watcher. She lifted her head and removed her hood as he approached.
"That was completely unnecessary, Evangeline!"
His angry shadow covered her form. The rain had washed away all vestiges of the demon host. The mall was once again alive with men, women and children going about their daily activities blissfully unaware of the spiritual presence.
"Unnecessary, but absolutely satisfying," Evangeline said. She rose to her feet slowly - her head reaching his broad shoulders.
"Too much hubris," he said.
Evangeline walked past him.
"Ironic isn't it?" she said. "A Watcher talking of too much hubris?"
He turned to follow Evangeline. Her back was to him. She turned with a flourish causing her cloak to flare like a skirt.
"Isn't it?" she repeated.
The Watcher stepped forward and knelt before her.
"I forgot my place," he said. "Forgive me…I am at your service."
She looked down her nose at him like a school teacher scolding a pupil. Her mouth betrayed a sly smile. She playfully slapped him upside the head.
"Oh, please, Watcher!" she said sitting down on one of the newspaper boxes lining the curb in front of the shopping mall. "Can't you tell by now when I'm teasing?"
He looked up at her, but remained kneeling.
"For Heaven's sake get up, Watcher!"
He rose slowly. She motioned for him to sit next to her. She was now focused on the mall.
"Sit here. Watch with me," she said. "Like old times."
"Yes…old times," he said.
People were moving in and out of the mall. Some sat at the outdoor tables of the eateries that lined the sidewalk. A man wearing earphones approached the box Evangeline was sitting on. His hand went through her cloak and her thigh as he opened the door to pull out a newspaper.
"No matter how many millennia go by, that's always weird," she said.
Watcher nodded. The man with the newspaper walked toward one of the outdoor tables. He placed his backpack down. Evangeline noticed the name scrawled on the backpack.
"Lighten up. We're fighting this one together," she said. "Now, tell me. Is that him?"
"Yes," Watcher said. "Daniel is his name."
Daniel looked up from the newspaper. He looked past them. Not finding anything to focus on, he went back to reading.
"Interesting," Evangeline said. "As if he heard you say his name."
"We have seen behind the curtain to what will happen if he fails," the Watcher said, ignoring her comment. "The end will begin here."
"If I know you, you won't let that happen."
"I will fight the host of them alone if I must," he said.
"We are facing Sargas Vak," she said. "He destroyed his apprentice before I could exact retribution."
Watcher stood at the sound of Sargas Vak's name.
"He is here?!" Watcher scanned the mall roof and the tops of the lightposts.
"The one and only, she said. "Our generals will want to meet with him next."
"Sargas has walked with Death," Watcher said still scanning the area.
Evangeline hopped off the newspaper box. She glided as much as walked towards Daniel who was still reading.
"Back in the den of lions, Daniel," she said - not much louder than a whisper.
Evangeline felt a sudden chill behind her and didn't notice Daniel glance up from his paper.
The blow hit her in the chest. She collapsed. The master demon had appeared suddenly.
"Did you call on me, angel?" Sargas Vak, his dark, leathery wings outstretched, stood menacingly above Evangeline. "I hope you do not expect me to kneel."
Evangeline sat up, steadying herself with one arm firmly planted on the sidewalk. Watcher rushed to her. He squared his shoulders. Like two giant wrestlers, Watcher and Sargas Vak circled each other looking for a weakness to exploit.
"Try that on me Sargas!" Watcher shouted.
Sargas Vak roared and lunged.
The angelic cry shattered the air with the full force of heavenly power. Sargas and Watcher crumpled to the sidewalk where they stood. Both of them tried in vain to shield their eyes and ears from the blinding, deafening pulse of light pouring from Evangeline's mouth.
"Insolent demon!" Evangeline drew a glowing sword from under her cloak. "I should destroy you here and now!"
The spiritual commotion went unseen by the people moving about in front of the mall. But Daniel looked up. Evangeline thought she saw him look towards her as if he was conscious of the spiritual realm. Then, she noticed Sargas rising.
"You will kneel before the power of the Almighty!"
Evangeline's words forced Sargas down again. Sargas strained to rise, the muscles in his arms and legs quivered.
"Look at me, demon!"
Her words forced Sargas to lift his head. Evangeline pointed her sword at him.
"Tell your master the battlefield is set," she said. "When it begins, you will feel my blade."
With a wave of her sword, Evangeline slashed the air. The cut opened, sucked Sargas in and closed once he was gone.
Evangeline helped Watcher to his feet.
"Come, my friend," she said.
"I see your love for theatrics has not diminished," Watcher said.
He noticed the large dent in Evangeline's breast plate as he rose. The tunic underneath was wet with blood. His tone changed.
"You're hurt."
Evangeline leaned on him. The sword slipped. Watcher grabbed it, wincing as smoke rose from his hand. With a grimace, he placed the sword in its scabbard. Daniel, only a few feet away, shook off the weird feeling he had just had and went back to his newspaper. Evangeline noticed.
"I must heal," she said, "but we must not be gone long. He will need our help."

This section has some significant changes from the version that made it into Book One: The Chosen Must Fall. I decided to post these so that readers can see how the story progressed from one edit to the next.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Five Household Chores You Can Do While Writing Your Novel

It's Saturday and in my house that means chore time. I am also trying to finish preparing my manuscript so I can publish it on My wife will have a honey-do list ready to go for me if I don't take the initiative to "volunteer" for several chores. That's why I sat down and brainstormed this list of chores I can get done while also working on my manuscript and other writing. So, here's my list of five writer-friendly chores. Hopefully, they will inspire you in your writing endeavors.

Five Household Chores You Can Do While Writing

1. Fold that overflowing basket of clothes - I'm stretching this one out because it so happens that my clothes are at the bottom of the basket. The kids' clothes are piled on top. Plan: Sit on the couch with my netbook typing away while "supervising" the kids as they fold their clothes. This will take them at least 45 minutes to an hour. It will take them half the day if my wife and I leave them unsupervised. See the beauty of my plan. It gives me time to type before I can even get to my clothes.

2. Volunteer to shampoo the carpet - It really needs it. Disgusting! My wife is excited about me volunteering for this one. She's so excited that she's going to the store to rent the shampoo machine herself. My wife also has more Christmas shopping to do, so she's going to do it all in one trip. That's at least a 2-3 hour trip. As soon as she gets back with the supplies, I'll be psyched to get the shampooing done. Until she returns, I might as well write.

3. Prepare the recycling for pick up - My wife hates going through junk mail, newspapers, etc. Absolutely hates it. Super hubby to the rescue. It's another task I can perform largely while sitting on the couch with netbook within arm's reach. Throw in the occasional 10-15 minute writing break, and well, you get the picture.

4. Wash the dishes - I understand. You're thinking this one is like gross. But, I can fly through dishes. Just one of those chores I can do in half the time anyone else can in my house. That's about 15 minutes of mindless repetitive handiwork. Mindless is good because I often "write" in my mind before I sit to write on the computer. So, I wash dishes and map out my next scene for my novel...and I get softer hands to boot!

5. Cooking dinner - Don't cook? Well, you're missing out on some wonderful creativity time. I can do wonders with a pound of ground turkey, four boxes of mac n cheese and three cans of green beans. It's a kid favorite! I get a guaranteed 45 minutes (or an hour if I stretch it) in the kitchen. My netbook is small enough to fit on the counter next to the microwave. Stir the noodles. Type. Stir the noodles. Type. Stir the noodles again. Type, type, type. LOL!

That should keep me busy this Saturday. By the way, I wrote this blog entry while supervising my kids folding clothes. See, it works! Good luck with your day!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fiction: Swift To Sin, Swift To Shed Blood

If you have missed the Mall Demons stories on Wattpad up until now, here you go. They will be a part of this blog for all to see. Yesterday I posted the story that started it all. Here is the second one. Enjoy.

Story Two in the Mall Demon Series
By Pedro Ramirez III
The young girl scanned the crowd, but could not find her older sister. She sighed.
"I've been waiting 20 minutes for her, mom!" the girl said into the cell phone.
As if prompted by her mother, Angel placed her shopping bags on the table in front of her.
"OK… Yes, the food to Subway."
She sat - a look of concern and frustration on her 15-year-old face. A small bird flitted above catching her eye. The girl tracked its flight, looking through two demons perched on the scaffolding above the food court.
The master demon watched the bird fly towards the ceiling lights where he lost sight of it.
"Hmmmm. Be warned. Control your appetite," the master demon said, sniffing at the air. "Do not allow yourself to get drunk with desire."
The smaller demon was perched next to his master. The apprentice watched with his narrow, red eyes three teen girls moving down the escalator. The master noticed and growled.
"Be warned!"
The outburst startled the apprentice who jerked his gaze away from the girls.
"You are spending too much time with Lust!" the master demon said. "You have been warned... That path will lead to destruction."
Below the demons, another girl was approaching the sandwich shop. She saw her younger sister, Angel, sitting at a table.
"Where have you been?" Lily asked. "I've been looking for you."
Angel looked up at her older sister.
"No you haven't. I've been waiting right here for 20 minutes."
"What? No way!"
The demons drawn by the smell of deceit watched the sisters.
"Opportunity," the master demon said.
"We said we'd meet here. I was here," Angel said. "You're lying."
Lily sat across from Angel showing no signs of being affected by her sister's accusation.
"What did you buy?" Lily asked, changing the subject. She had the bag in hand examining the contents before Angel could react.
"Give it back!"
The blouse was from Hollister. Lily instantly fell in love with it.
"Cute!" Lily said. "Can I wear it tomorrow?"
The master demon smiled.
"A perfect opportunity," he said.
"I'm ready, master," the apprentice said.
"We shall see."
The apprentice took his cue and swooped down. He landed next to Lily and Angel.
With his master watching overhead, the apprentice went to work on Lily. He was so close to her now. His nose inches from her cheek. She was intoxicating.
"The party is tomorrow," Lily asked again. "Can I wear it?"
Lily liked nice things. She deserved nice things. The apprentice demon formed the thought in her mind.
"No, I'm wearing it," Angel said. "Besides, it's mine."
The demon deepened Lily's desire. Lily was determined to stare down her sister.
"You're not even going to the party," Lily said. 
"So, I'm still wearing it."
The demon caressed Lily's cheek. With a hungry grin, he seeded more thoughts.
"What a waste, you're just gonna wear it at home," Lily said.
For a second, Angel hesitated. A quivering frown formed. This universe, her universe, was one where Lily always got what she wanted. It was a fact Angel had resigned herself to time and time again.
Angel noticed the small bird perched high above. She looked at Lily who was staring intently at her. Angel usually averted her eyes when Lily stared, but she suddenly felt bolstered. This time, Angel held her gaze.
"C'mon, Angel. You can wear it the day after tomorrow."
"No, give it back." Angel stood up, extending her arm. "Give it back, please."
Lily realized Angel was not budging. The demon prodded her again. Lily replaced the blouse in the bag, but gave a quick tug as she did, popping a seam.
"Fine," Lily said. "Actually, I think I'd rather wear a dress."
She tossed the bag onto the table, then stood.
"I'm going to the restroom," Lily said.
Angel sat, placing the bag on her lap. She watched Lily vanish into the hall leading to the restrooms. She could not see the apprentice demon gliding behind her older sister.
Lily was in front of the restroom mirror fidgeting with her hair and mumbling.
"Don't know what the big deal is...Why she won't let me borrow the blouse."
A thought entered her mind.
"I hate her," she said into the mirror.
A sudden chill filled the air. Lily shivered. A shadow in the mirror's reflection caught her attention. She turned to the stall behind her.
"Hello?" Lily called out.
She heard a low growl that made her hold her breath. It was coming from the stall in front of her. She knew she should run, but she couldn't move.
She wanted to call out to her sister. "Angel!" She wanted to call out to anyone. But her voice was dead.
"So nice," the apprentice demon said.
Lily could hear him. He was calling to her: "So, nice. Come. Come here. You deserve nice things."
She couldn't stop her hand from reaching out. She couldn't stop it from opening the stall door. A look of horror overcame her face. The growl. The voice in her head. It was a monster.
"Hello, darling," the demon said through a sinister smile. "I am the worst of monsters."
Lily looked down to the restroom floor in front of her. She dropped her purse. She saw her feet stepping into the stall.
"No! Stop!" The words formed in her mind, but no sound came from her mouth.
"Come, my little darling."
"No! Help! Angel! Mom!"
She saw her hand close the stall door behind her. The monster was laughing a terrifying laugh. Before her world went black, Lily saw the monster lunge at her and then felt a heavy weight crush her body.
He had devoured all of her except her head when he heard the roar. The apprentice demon quickly swallowed it whole, sucking in strands of hair like they were spaghetti. The demon heard a large winged creature land in front of the restroom stall. A large black hand ripped the stall door from its hinges.
"Fool!" the master demon said.
"Forgive me master," the apprentice pleaded. "I couldn't help myself."
"Forgiveness is not for our kind," the master said. "I warned you."
Before the apprentice could utter another word, the master was upon him.
Moments later, the master demon was back on his perch on the scaffolding. Below him Angel and her mother were sitting at the table waiting for Lily. The little bird landed in front of the demon.
"Tell your master that I have executed the punishment," the master demon said.
A blinding light pulsed from the bird as it spoke.
"You know the rules, demon. They are not to be physically harmed, especially the children!"
The words caused the master demon to cringe with pain, angering him. The foes were locked in a stare down for several seconds until the demon could no longer endure the light.
"I know the rules!" the demon said. "My apprentice has paid the price for his foolish lust."
"There will not be a next time demon." With those final words, the bird flew away. The pain subsided. The demon straightened his back and stretched his leathery wings.
"Oh, you can be sure angel. There will indeed be a next time."

Self-Publishing Success Story Defies Conventional Thinking

I spent an hour this morning going through edits to my soon-to-be released commercial version of Death Speaks Loudest... It will serve as a prelude to my soon-to-be-released Urban Fantasy book, The Chosen Must Fall.

My wife who has some experience with book manuscript preparation was helping me. She is ruthless! This afternoon she showed me a news story on Yahoo! Finance about another writer finding "unconventional" success through self-publishing. "How I Became a Best-Selling Author" has all the usual plot points: writer in her spare time creates a novel; traditional publishers take a pass; the manuscript languishes inside a dusty desk drawer until the writer takes a chance on e-publishing; against the odds, the said-book becomes a bestseller online.

If you are an aspiring writer stuck in the conventional wisdom that says you need an agent or a traditional publisher to make your dreams of success a reality, then read the article. It confirms everything I have discovered in my research over the past four months: you can succeed as a self-published writer.

Now I'm not saying everyone who goes down the self-publishing road will succeed, or that the self-pub road is a downhill stroll on a lovely summer's day. It's more like an uphill hike during a blinding blizzard. I have yet to reach the summit of my hike, but I'm still on the road.

And that's all I'm encouraging. Don't settle for conventional wisdom. In fact, you'd be surprised how many great writers and poets began their "greatness" as self-published wannabes.

I don't know how my hike will end, but I'm still trudging forward one step at a time until I find out.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mall Demons: Death Speaks Loudest To Those Who Flee

Created by
If you have missed my Mall Demons stories, here is the first part. This version is the original and is the basis of the upcoming prelude to Book One of the Mall Demons Fantasy Series, The Chosen Must Fall. Let me know what you think.

A man in a button-down shirt, khakis and scuffed leather penny loafers weaved through the mall shoppers and joined thirsty office workers lining up at the food court Starbucks. He took his place behind a woman who clearly looked 20 years younger than him. 

"What about him?" The voice of the apprentice demon thundered - unheard by those flocking in the food court.
The khaki-clad man had his nose in a sci-fi book. From behind the book, he noticed the woman shift her weight from one red heel to the other. She was perspiring slightly through her thin red blouse. Her skin glistened. His eyes began moving towards her black skirt. With a jolt, he shifted his gaze back to his book.

"With the books?" A second demonic voice deeper than the first pierced the air.

"That one, indeed."

The master demon and his apprentice considered the scene at the coffee shop.

"He's tempted," the apprentice said.

The master snorted. He shifted his hungry eyes onto the heeled woman whose perfumed sweat reached the demons perched on the upper level railings above the food court.

"No?" The apprentice pressed. "He's weakening."

A second later the khaki-clad man jumped out of danger. He ran out of the food court looking at his shoes every step of the way.

"Not today." The master turned his back on the coffee shop. His red eyes penetrated into his apprentice. He let out a sigh. "Lesson number one: target the willing. You are not yet ready for the other kind. Death speaks loudest to those who flee to us."

The apprentice demon faced his master. With a sneer, the master demon raised his left hand and swirled at the air with his index finger and pinky extended. The air reacted like rippling water. The demons were pulled into the swirling air. They whirled away, and then, quite suddenly appeared above an open-air market.  The master then recounted the following story:

Many of their years ago I was apprenticed to Death himself. It was in the year 1187. We were visiting one of the many villages that Richard the Lionheart's crusaders were traveling through on their way to the so-called Holy Lands. We had been watching these vile creatures as we were now - looking for subjects. I should clarify. Death had an appointment later that evening. We were killing time, as they say, so he was testing my ability to identify subjects. Then, I was nearly as awful at choosing subjects as you are now.

The apprentice demon weakly supressed a growl.

"If you plan to challenge me, please, don't let me stop you." He bared his fangs. "It will be my fleeting pleasure to rip the essence from your body and swallow it whole."

The apprentice turned his gaze away. The master sneered, then continued with his story:

As I was saying, we were in an open market, this market, watching His pathetic children trading and buying goods. I noticed a servant hovering near a fruit stand. Apples, I believe. Figs, too. I pointed him out. Death smiled when I suggested the servant.

Death instructed me to watch. He descended to the market, transforming into a woman. Death brushed against the servant who then turned to look. I was allowed to see through Death's eyes.

The servant found the woman's form pleasant to gaze upon. The servant's attention caressed her. As you know, you can not look into Death's eyes for long. But the servant did. The blood drained from his face. A tremble shook his soul, and the servant ran away. Death lingered, looking at the ripened fruit.

Before Death returned to me, a wealthy man approached. With the forcefulness afforded only to the nobles of the time, the man grabbed the woman by the shoulder, turning her forcefully towards him.

"Why have you made threatening gestures at my servant?" he asked Death.

"I did nothing of the sort." Death's voice was deep like a man's. "If you know who I am, it would be wise to remove your hand."

The wealthy man obeyed.

I could hear Death's thoughts. She was searching the man's soul, reading his mind. Laughing.

"Your servant mistook my surprise for a threat," Death said, betraying a smile. "You see, I was astonished to see him here in the market."


I could hear Death laughing louder and louder inside my head. Death was laughing at them.

"I take it your servant has fled? You lent him your horse didn't you?"

The wealthy man took a step back. His eyes widened. His mouth parted slightly as if to say something to deny the claim.

"No need to speak, man. I know," Death said. "Your servant saw me, then fled to you, asking if you would help him hide in the next village."

The wealthy man did not need to confirm the truth of Death's assertions. The man's wide-eyed stare betrayed him.

"Fools… Death speaks loudest to those who flee."

Death moved in close to the wealthy man, their noses nearly touched.

 "Your servant rode away from here to avoid his fate… But the boy doesn't realize he is running to me." 

Death kissed the wealthy man on the lips.

"The look your servant saw was of astonishment," Death said. "I was astonished to see him in the market now since my appointment with him is not until later tonight in the next village." 

The master demon swirled at the air again. The demons whirled, and the mall coffee shop re-appeared. The master demon settled on his perch. 

"Shall we try this again?"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Making Readers See: Lessons From My Life As A Journalist

As I recline here on my living room couch surrounded by pillows and covered with my daughter's Winnie the Poo blanket, I can't help but reflect on my years as a newspaper journalist.

Maybe it's the NyQuil that I'm taking (again) because of this cold that just won't go away. Maybe it's because I'm craving eggs and bacon with toast this morning, but we're out of eggs and bread and I don't feel like running to the grocery store at 6 a.m. Maybe it's because I'm listening to the morning news and hearing more about all those protests with disgruntled people occupying parks all over the United States. (In my days as a journalist, I'd be one of those guys interviewing the protesters, asking why they were out there, etc, etc.)

An interesting side note (at least to me), my morning routine as a journalist always started with turning on the radio and tuning into the local morning news station as I got ready for work. Today, I simply use my Blackberry to tune into the news. Funny how times change.

Maybe it's all this stuff I mentioned and the fact that I'm editing a story which I'm preparing to publish as a Kindle Single that has me thinking about my former life as a newspaper journalist. Maybe it's more complicated, but my head is too fuzzy because of the NyQuil, so I can't see the other details at the moment.

But, whatever it is, I woke up this morning with my Kindle on my chest with a question on my mind: What did I learn about writing during my years as a newspaper journalist? The short answer is I learned a lot.

But if I had to start with one idea - and it's always good to start with a focus of one and then move on from there - I'd have to say the number one lesson about writing is this:

Make Your Readers See.

Moving on from there... well, I'll do that after I return from trudging to the store for eggs and bread, then cooking, eating and taking a NyQuil nap.

Questions? Comments? Just leave them here. When I return from my psychedelic dreams, I'll do my best to answer them.

Pedro Is Still Writing

It's late at night... I am watching the news... I'm drinking a beer. I'm about to make a huge transition in life. In about t...