Cora J. Ramos is a writer of short stories of mystery and suspense that have won awards and been published in the anthology, Valley Fever, Where Murder is Contagious.
Her first novel, Dance the Dream Awake, was published in June 2015, a paranormal romantic suspense set in present day, but with a past life of a Mayan life lived in the Yucatan, around 900 A.D.
Her second novel is a romance set in the Heian, Japan of 980 A.D., when the pillow books (like Tales of Genji) were written by the first women authors. It was published May-2016.
Cora is a trained artist and loves to paint for her own pleasure and helps design her own book covers. She keeps journals of her dreams, poems and inspiration for paintings and stories.
She is past president, past editor of San Joaquin Sisters in Crime
Currently she is member of:
International Sisters-in-Crime (and the San Joaquin and Central Coast Chapters)
Romance Writers of America (and Yosemite Writers chapter)
What makes you proud to be a writer from California? I’m proud to be a writer from Fresno, California because the surroundings were the inspiration for my first short stories which ended up in the anthology: Valley Fever, Where Murder is Contagious.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? I had always wanted to write but the incident that got me to put pen to paper to create my first novel was a déjà vu experience. On a trip to the Yucatan, Mexico, as I approached one of the pyramids, I was sure I’d been there before. I was certain there was an opening around the side (if you know Mexico’s pyramids, they don’t have openings in the side that I’m aware of) and that there would be a room in there. I steeled myself to enter the pitch black opening, not knowing what was in the dark, but convinced I would find that room. I followed a corridor that twisted and turned until I arrived at a room that opened to the sky. I heard in my head, “This is the room where they dumped the bodies, after they cut out their hearts in sacrifice, and burned them.” Well, that’s not something I could easily forget so when I had the opportunity a short time after the trip, I wrote from that impression and thus began my novel, DANCE THE DREAM AWAKE.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? I was an only child that spent a lot of time alone with only my imagination. Before I began to read, I was taken to the library every week to listen to stories read aloud while observing the colorful murals of fairy tales illustrated on the walls. When I began to read, I ended up voraciously consuming every fairy tale I could get my hands on. Later, when my younger cousins would ask me to tell them a story, I would make them up on the fly. I eventually wanted to write them down but never did—until after that Mexico incident.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? Our Sisters-in-Crime chapter (mystery writers) would hold a tongue in cheek contest every year, called the Coveted Dead Bird Contest. It was limited to a ten page story of murder or suspense. We would all compete with each other for the upside down faux dead bird statue. That first story did not win, but got published in a German anthology. I was hooked. The contest produced many stories over the years. Two other writer friends from that group and myself found a publisher and put our stories into an anthology using the themes we wrote to through the years. (Valley Fever, Where Murder is Contagious)
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? It is the flow of creativity that happens when you open up and get in the flow. Especially when you write something and later look at it and say, “Huh, wow, I hadn’t seen that coming.”
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Each publication is a new high. That first short story that sold to a German anthology gave me the confidence to know I was a writer. I could do this writing thing! My first novel was my ‘learning to write’ journey with a teacher, but I was hesitant in letting it go right away. When I finally sent it to a publisher years later, I was confident, and it was accepted without question. I was thrilled. Two years later I re-published it with my present publisher Black Opal Books with a new cover.
How many published books do you have? Two novels and a shared short story anthology.
Please list the titles of all your books:
Dance The Dream Awake
Valley Fever, Where Murder Is Contagious (anthology of mystery/suspense short stories)
Do you come up with your title(s) before or after you write the manuscript? I came up with the first title, Dance the Dream Awake from the subject matter of a past life dream coming awake in the jungles of Mexico—a romantic suspense. It was the working title from the start and I never found one more appropriate. After it was published, I started on the next story, Dance the Edge (in process at the moment) and wanted to maintain ‘dance’ in the title. I knew I had more to write about one of the main characters, Jack who has an edgy past. As I was writing it with the theme once again of a past life, it became that character’s samurai life. The problem was that the past life became so powerful a story, I had to pull it out and write it as its own romance novel—thus Haiku Dance was born. That name evolved out of the haiku poems shared throughout the love story.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? I began writing without thought about genre. With my mystery/suspense background and my love of the gothic romance novels of England, I fit into the Romantic Suspense genre but didn’t really think about that while writing it. And, with fairy tales and magic as an early influence, the paranormal/fantasy elements creeped in. So I don’t fit neatly into the major genres. I write stories of mystery and suspense that include love and sex. Shamans, past lives and magical elements work their way in to add spice.
Which book title would you like featured in this interview? Haiku Dance
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book (one book) that you are seeking promotion for? As I mentioned above, this book was begun as the sequel to DANCE THE DREAM AWAKE, the past life of Jack Hart, character from my first novel. When I began to do research on samurai for a time before they joined into warrior clans, I found this charming time in Japanese history, called the Heian era. The first women writers wrote books and diaries of the life of the emperor’s court at that time. They were called pillow books, because the ladies of the court would keep these ‘diaries’ under their pillows. I was intrigued and fascinated by the customs, clothing and people of that era. It fit what I wanted to do with my samurai—perfect for Jack’s past life. Only the story became much bigger as I wrote it and had to be pulled out and written as a stand-alone.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Write from your heart; what has meaning to you. Learn craft and take criticism humbly to improve all the time, but not from people who know less than you do. Writing is a process where growth never ends. I think of it as a yoga; a daily practice of stretching yourself to greater flexibility and strength. You have to keep improving. On the other hand you can’t get the perfectionist mindset that stops you from publishing until it’s perfect. There is no end point as a writer. When you’re confident you’ve done the best you know how to do, jump.
Who is your favorite author and why? I don’t have a favorite. There are many authors I love for different reasons—some for prose, some for plot, and some for engaging the reader so well—a good story whether or not it is perfectly written. A few authors that that come to mind: Pat Conroy, Michael Connelly, Charlotte & Emily Bronte, Barbara Kingsolver, Pamela Clare, Robert Crais, Michael Crichton, Edgar Allen Poe, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I could go on but I’ll stop there.
Dance Series Book Two
Thirteen year old, Shino, rebellious and undisciplined, is sent away to the Tendai monks to be trained as a samurai warrior. When leaving his childhood friend Miyoshi behind, he carelessly crushes her young heart.
Years later, weary of senseless battles fought for selfish lords, Shino is thrust into the world of Heian Kyo where he finds Miyoshi once again. Now blossomed into the beautiful and charming Lady Lotus, she is courtier to the emperor’s court and soon to be betrothed to another. Finally accepting that he has always loved her, he risks everything to keep her from the fate to which she is destined but does not want, and the dangers that threaten her life. Does he dare hope for more?
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Romance Historical/Contemporary
Even though I am open to all books, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a story about a samurai warrior. I was wrong, so let me explain why.
It is 968 AD and early spring on Mount Takao, Japan.
Torn away from his grandfather and the tea farming, final acceptance of his direction in life sets in as Shino puts away his childish memories of Miyoshi. Strict samurai training of body and mind becomes his existence while Miyoshi learns the disciplines of her intended role.
Boyhood is replaced by manhood; through the skills perfected in battle, by dreaming the future, and the assignment that brings him back into Miyoshi’s life in an unexpected way. I quote:
“Tonight, after years of denying and repressing the urging of my heart, I now admit I love her. It has always been so. But my heart is weary of fighting for lost causes. I am not of her class and can never hope to have her. She’s a lady of the court of the emperor, and I, a samurai warrior. There is no meeting place for us except here, where I watch over her tent while she sleeps, guarding her as instructed by my daimyo lord.”
Miyoshi, too, has a destiny to fulfill. Can the worlds of the samurai warrior and the court aristocracy ever intertwine?
With Intense knowledge of the time period and culture, Author Cora J. Ramos weaves mystery steeped in ancient Japanese culture that is very educational. Well-developed characters with innocent childhood memories will touch your soul. Suspense is woven around elegant beautiful haiku poetry, love letters, and famous quotes from Confucius, Buddha and Lao Tzu. Carefully worded dialog draws the reader into this historic yet contemporary love story.
‘Dance The Dream Awake’ was Cora J Ramos first book in what she now calls her “dance series”. This book was inspired by a paranormal incident that occurred while she was vacationing on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Although the author considers this a series, each book stands alone with its own story line and ending. Once a teacher, the author now enjoys writing full-time in California with her husband and two feisty Chihuahuas.
Readers now wait for ‘Dance The Edge’ due to be released in late 2016.
Cold Coffee Press endorses Haiku Dance by Cora J. Ramos. I reviewed this book from Kindle/PDF format. The review was completed on July 10, 2016. For more information please visit Cold Coffee Press http://www.coldcoffeepress.com
Dance Series Book One
Do past lives intrude into a present one to set wrongs right and fulfill desires yet unsatisfied?
Tessa Harper’s relentless nightmares are driving her to fall apart in her present day life as co-owner of an art gallery in San Francisco. She is experiencing a Mayan sacrifice night after night that defies a modern solution. Desperate to escape her nightly horrors, she travels to Mexico, seeking relief in a house by the ocean on the Yucatan Peninsula. On the way she meets three men. Which one can she trust? Will she have to lose the one she’s fallen in love with to find her answers?
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Romance
A Great Place to Live—and die!
If you’ve read your Saroyan, you might think that the San Joaquin Valley is a gentle, peaceful place, where almost everyone is a good-hearted Armenian, and everyone is happy.
If you’ve ever lived there, you know that California’s Central Valley has a dark side, too, and it gets hot…and very deadly.
Valley Fever is a collection of stories by three women who write about the underbelly of Fresno, the “All-American City,” and its surrounding areas. These award-winning authors combine their talents and their tales to present a collection of mayhem, murder, malice, and hot-blooded passion. Some of the stories are funny, some frightening, but all are wicked.
Genre: Short Story Collection