In the summer of 1962, at a high school graduation party, Bessie Day Hardy is brutally raped. Fifty years later, the consequences of that horrific night will transition into unforeseen events that will shatter her serene and uncomplicated life.
That's my main character in Lies a River Deep - Bessie Day. I was inspired to write this book after my many experiences with upstate New York. I made up Bessie's town but it could have been Callicoon or Rhinebeck or Kinderhook. It was a joy to place my main character among the charm of old houses, thriving gardens and rivers. I could have called the novel - A River Runs Deep but that's another book. I also got to write in a cat character - Spider. I don't think I've ever had a cat character before and this one is a clever one and very introspective. I am hoping to get more exposure for this title this year because I love the book, not because I wrote it, of course but because it's about reflection, responsibility and the bonds we form. I guesss I'm at that point in my life where it's more of a trip back than a trip forward. Enjoy the journey!
What lies? Maybe a youthful tormentor is revealed. Maybe a new friend is found. Anyway, my novel, Lies a River Deep, begins in the frigid winds of Winter and ends in the swirls of a summer sunrise. A lot can happen to a soul in that time, especially if she's an old soul. Bessie deserves answers and she gets them with a little bit of coincidence and a little bit of digging deep. Discover the roads that lead to passionate resolutions in my novel, Lies a River Deep.
I loved writing this book and I hope to send it out on a tour soon, would love to get more reviews on it. I loved writing it so that I could use language, which for me, is poetic. I love the English language and what we can do with words that make us feel deeply or see an image or remember something from long ago. This reviewer from Reader's Favorite sums up my book rather well: "This was a great book. Back to the 50s with Roland’s 1959 convertible and an era where women were either “good” or “bad” girls. I enjoyed the distinct neighborhoods with the 1930s Cape and Colonial houses with well-manicured lawns. The river was real but symbolic. Cook did a fabulous job of conveying the complicated relationships between people, especially the bond between mother and daughter. “Lies a River Deep” is highly recommended.
When my character, Bessie Day, looks back on her high school years she remembers a time of first love and innocence, innocence that was shattered by one unspeakable act of violence, one horrific separation from her infant son. But life goes on and love comes again and miracles appear. One meets the challenges of life with determination and new friends help to heal the past and its miserable little memories. But the past will not be stilled, the past is so close, secrets are painfully revealed and Bessie is free to go on, or is she?
So they follow us all our lives, some of them. They are surely needed in a pinch. A lie will sometimes serve you well or it will expose you as a cad. A lie can protect either you or someone else, a lie can be kind or mean as hell. We all tell them, they become our secrets or our hidden treasures. Bessie isn't the liar in this book, it's everyone around her, it's everyone she knew. It's in the eyes of people who offer chit chat, it's in the eyes of the people who will do harm. Learning the truth is always a journey worth taking.
When girls wore poodle skirts and cool boys never wore socks with their Bass Weejuns. Cool boys had a James Dean haircut and cool girls wore their Cardigan sweaters buttoned from behind. That's the time of 'Lies a River Deep'. What fun to write about when sex was that illusive word that no one said in mixed company but sex happened in nearly every backseat of every Ford, Caddie or Buick across the USA. Smoking was to 'cool' what tight skirts were to hot. What a simple time, yet how repressed. It's fun to write a book that takes one into history. For me, it's like sticking pins into Mr. Potato head and finding pink plastic rollers in my hair, old coke bottles and 45 records by Elivs and Buddy Holly and Dodie Stevens. What a time!
When I began writing Lies a River Deep I placed it in upstate New York in a town I made up _ Chaanakya - an Indian name of course, so many towns in upstate New York have Indian names and they are beautiful, though often difficult to pronounce. There is a small town called Narrowsburg where I spent a summer in an area called The Flats, right on the Delaware River. That is where I imagined Bessie lived and she could walk into town from her river house, as I used to. I think creating place is as wonderful as creating character. Place becomes very real to an author. I go back often in my heart and my mind to say hello to Bessie.
I really like this book though I haven't done much to market it lately. New Years resolution: Market Lies a River Deep. Anyway, I think of old friends when I write. Lies a River Deep is about old friends and new faces that come into one's life like a blast of color. The book fluctuates between Bessie's youth and her present, all of it merging into what I hope is a cathartic metamorphouses and life goes on from the point of being 60 something as she remembers being a teenager. We old time folks do have futures.Bessie Day Hardy is an old friend of mine. She's had a life and the changes that life brings her just puts her on a new path. Here's to old friends and the secrets that haunt them and the circumstances that set them free..
Some of My Favorite Lines "Air that hung heavy like wet clothes caught flapping in the rain made it hard to breathe." "There was no such thing as early summer in Chaanakya. There was just winter and summer's serendipitous surprise visits, impromptu afternoons of sun, teasing heat that flirtatiously bade farewell too soon, and August slipped away too quickly, and the leaves displayed their palette of red and gold, chromatic leaves that snapped and cracked in the cold air and disappeared into backyard flames." "Why do some men die before the crow's feet form around their eyes and the boredom of daily living sets in their smile like granite spokes? Not that she wished it were otherwise. It would have been a sin to wish for a shift in god's plan, but as a young woman she'd wanted it, that shift, that turn of fate, she'd wanted it so badly that the unfathomable repercussions of her unthinkable prayer got twisted and gnarled around her heart until her very breath was a tiresome chore."
In my first few books my main characters were young and the books took place in the 60s and 70s. When I wrote this book I wanted to introduce and older character looking back on her youth and the good and bad things that happened, one in particular which was horrific but no matter how late revenge comes its still sweet. A lot of my books involve young girls who get older, and hopefully wiser, but I seem to include an older woman now in the books I write. My present unpublished novel is about a girl of fifteen and her sixty year old friend. Lies a River Deep, is about an older woman looking back. My God, I’ve become an older woman looking back. I see all these old rockers like Mick Jagger and I think, God, he looks old. I mean, how dare I? But then again, I don’t think I look old. I look interesting. Can older people look interesting? Of course, I look like an aging interesting chick, don’t I?
In the town of Hollow Creek, South Carolina two separate murders, fifteen years apart, unite fifteen-year-old Pleasant Day and sixty-year-old Clarissa Blackwell. As Pleasant struggles with her mother's distance, her father's infidelity and the death of her best friend, she draws closer to Clarissa, an older woman with an uncanny, almost psychic, ability to 'read people.'
When I was younger I had a friend who must have been in her sixties, though I never gave it much thought. Her name was Marsha and she had many young friends and a lot of sorrow in her life and a lot of joy. I never knew the whole story but I know she had one. Now that I'm older I really like young people around me and I never get the feeling they give much thought to my age, just as I never gave much thought to Marsha's. My character, Pleasant, has an interesting relationship with older people. She thinks of them as peers and equals though she knows they know more than she does, or at least she admits that to herself every now and then. I wonder how Pleasant Day will grow up in her incorrigible maturity, in her deeply vivid imagination and her love affair with words. A writer, perhaps? Yes, perhaps.
There is the argument that there is no place in literature for foul language but as we look back on literature we're going to find language that offends us. As for me, I write characters and many of my characters have been young women whose personality is defined by their descriptive use of language. There is little to none foul language in my fantasy titles and little to none in my women's fiction but my sassy southern heroines start out as teenagers and have grown up with a rather abstruse view of the world around them. So they curse to describe it, to try and understand it, to make it less complicate and define it with adjectives that suit them. Now me? I curse because in my bewilderment I can find nothing better that describes my sense of senselessness than a nice sufficient four letter word.
Here is my novel, Pleasant Day, re-published with minor revisions, revisions my first editor didn't catch. You see, not everyone can edit well or for heaven's sake, hire a proofreader. Anyway, a boy and a girl cannot be identical twins. I didn't know that so I had to change every reference to my green eyed monster and her brother as being identical to being somewhat alike, or not exactly alike, but close. The book is a fun read, I think, even though it deals with murder and Pleasant's vocabulary includes a lot of four letter words. Well, I write characters and characters do not always spew poetry from their mouths. Though don't be dismayed, there is poetry and pathos and a lot of laughs. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
After thirteen years on the run Violet McLaughlin returns to Carter’s Crossing, South Carolina, in 1962, with her young daughter, Sassy. The Crossing is right outside of Beaufort and the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement will forever leave its scars on the young and impressionable girl. As Sassy stands before the imposing white farmhouse for the first time, with no knowledge of her history but that the McLaughlin's are her kin, Sassy begins a journey that will tear her apart before it heals her. Growing up among secrets that will forever damage her relationship with her mother, she attempts to make sense of her past. But will her passion for art and her love for Thomas Tierney be enough to sustain her future? Will the puzzles she must solve to discover who she is be worth the journey?
Let's see, I believe I have five dogs in this novel. I can't stay away from them, they bring so much to the story line and the description. The book is not about the dogs but it is how the characters relate to the dogs. Now, me, I usually shy away from people who don't like dogs, I wonder what's wrong with them. I often find out they just don't have the sensitivity or sensibility that I'm drawn to. I think there are dogs in all my books. I can't imagine a world without them, real or otherwise.
A little bit about growing up in the 60s and a little bit made up. Sassy is part me and part someone I wish I'd known. Her family is as dysfunctional as mine but her loyalties had a longer reach and her life had a greater balance. She is complex because life is a challenge and she is fierce because fear is a prevailing shadow. Meet Sassy Sweetwater, I know you'll like her.
I think when something horrendous happens in ones childhood the ramifications remain and the results or reaction to the damage is what shapes us. One's innate character defines how we deal with things, there are those with a thicker skin than others but we all have a story to tell when it comes to old wounds. Sassy was left by her mother at the age of thirteen, raped by her Great-Uncle and discovers that she has a half brother by her grandfather. How do you beat those odds? Well, I think Sassy does. She has several strong role models, one true love, a wealthy family and a passion for art. She survives, but the journey is not an easy one. As I hear tell it, If life doesn't kill you it will make you stronger. The Story of Sassy Sweetwater is a drama, in case you can't tell.
I can't help but wonder how this kid, raised in New York City and educated in the great Northeast got to be so Southern. Even when I was an actress I played the hell out of all those Southern belles and now that I am a writer I write Southern fiction like it's in my blood. As a matter of fact I start craving mint juleps and crawfish and white pristine porches over looking fields of grain. I have avoided pre civil war and the civil war era altogether in my writing but I have been inspired by novels like The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything and I've got some fragments of a pre civil war story in my head. But Sassy Sweetwater is a child of the 60s and this is a love story. Her tale is a journey of courage.
I think it meant a lot to Sassy when she finally discovered that she was conceived by two people who loved each other. She was not the product of a one night stand. Her Father had a face and a love for her mother which of course could not be expressed. I will not give away the reason for that but will say that the sons carry the sins of the fathers and that daughters carry the grief. The truth came with a terrible price but Sassy grew into a powerful and loving woman. I don't think I can write a book about women who don't prevail. It's about survival and eventually coming out ahead. But of course behind every bend there is just one more painful moment to come to terms with and that's life, isn't it?
I have read the most incredible Southern Fiction lately and I'll mention the names of the novels because I love to share great books. These novels take place before the civil war but the story they paint of slavery is incredibly raw and truthful. I have not gone back as far as the civil war in my novels but I do intend to. Our history is stained in blood and cruelty beyond belief. I see we are still not altogether there but we are in a process of enormous change. My southern novels take place in the 60s during the civil rights movement because I was a teenager then and so deeply affected by the injustice. The research on this time will be painful but I hope to do it. Here are those great southern novels: Tangled Mercy, Glory over Everything, The Kitchen House, Mustard Seed and so many more.........
This is one of my favorite chapters and may have been the most fun to write. Sassy finds out what her family is all about, all the ugly revelations Dudley reveals to her. Of course, now Sassy is stuck with information she might rather have not known. But this chapter is also about being a kid, a tomboy and hating the clothes her grandmother makes her wear, sort of like my own childhood. It's also about childhood and hanging out by a swimming hole, tossing sticks and wading in. Oh, to be young again, wishing I were a grown-up and dreading the start of the school year and having all those unknown years ahead of me..
As I both read and write Southern novels it is easy to get lost in the mystery of memory. I believe I carry genetic memory for in my genes I am southern but in my immediate history I am not. My mother was southern and that southern line goes back very far. I think that the history of the south is so volatile, so cruel and so rich with both the inhumanity and the humanity of our ancestors that our shame would drown us, should drown us. I think I channel this mystery but though I write southern novels I only go as far back as the 1960s. I need courage to write a southern novel that took place in the 1800s during the time of slavery. I really need courage to face it, to pull genetic memory from my soul and write about it.
I love writing as a little southern girl in this book though Sassy does grow up. She's curious and sassy as a girl and as a woman she's chasing the secrets that reveal who she is. It is always a shame for little girls to lose their mothers too young, a shame when mothers cannot experience their daughters as grown, gifted and powerful but life is a long sorrowful journey for some, but Sassy's is also tinged with blessings, bonds and cycles of return..
Yes, this family in my book The Story of Sassy Sweetwater is beyond eccentric. I wonder where I came up with this cast of characters. I like to call it genetic memory because I somehow feel deeply ensconced in these southern roots on my mother's side. She was a great story teller and I must have internalized and fantasized about my bootlegger grandfather. I've been trying to look him up on Ancestry.com and did find out he had a pretty respectful job before the depression in Seattle. The man moved all over - Canada, Seattle, South Carolina and I think he settled in Missouri. The roots are very southern though and I like to think of southerners as having the most compelling skeletons in their closet..
You can now read The Story of Sassy Sweetwater for only .99 but just until August 30th. Here's the latest good word from an Amazon Reviewer: "I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review. How do I begin? I enjoyed this book immensely. It is filled with humor, pathos, wonder, and sadness. The story of almost the whole life of a young girl raised very unconventionally by a family with some horrendous secrets. She feels deeply and passionately about many people and many things and pays the price for that passion. I would recommend this book wholeheartedly to readers of all ages."
I wanted to write a story about a very eccentric family with lots of dark secrets. I'm not sure how the character of Dudley came to me but he's very special, not only to the story but to me, because he's such a survivor. But then again, everyone in this book is a survivor. I looked back into my own past and I created characters from the fragments of memories. I have known these people in one form or another. They have been people who fascinated me and people I admired. This excerpt takes place right after Sassy arrives at Carson's Corner and meets the family she never knew she had. For better or worse, she's home.
The character in my novel, The Story of Sassy Sweetwater, doesn't meet her father until she's thirteen but he is kept an ambiguous anomaly. She grows up in the South, during the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement. She looses her mother, she is raped, let into family secrets she'd rather not know. She is betrayed by her best friend and the man she loves evades her for years, circumstances being what they are. However, Sassy does gain her footing, and her career, and the love of her life. She even gains her mother and people she has lost and loved return to her. My life should come full circle like this.
Sometimes, the ambiguity of a man is better left ambiguous. Nick and Jenna Dowling buy a second home in Upstate New York but this dream of a lifetime turns out to be anything but relaxing when a strange and mystical experience on a dark, forgotten back road leads Nick on a frantic search for answers about the reality of his identity. Frantic to explain his mysterious amnesia, Jenna Dowling calls upon a therapist for her husband, while Nick befriends an alien abduction expert. Each desperately searches for the truth, but in the end, it is not the truth that sets them free.
So people who like my novel, Pharaoh's Star, share similar characteristics. Some believe they have had an abduction experience, some believe that the men they are with are not really who they say they are and the last bunch fall into my category - they believe that life is a mystery and answers are just beyond their reach. When I was a child I loved ghost stories. As an adult I like fiction that has that element of non-fiction, the unknown, character driven narratives about people who are not perfect. Pharaoh's Star is all of the above.
If you think about people living in prior centuries you can imagine the limitations of their vision. They knew nothing of television, movies, cell phones, moon landings and I doubt if they thought about it. If they knew that one day women would wear pants, put rings in their lips and dye their hair green and music would become harsh and prophetic, and we'd evolve with the technology that pretty much runs our lives and often saves our lives. Well then, is the story line in Pharaoh's Star so unbelievable? Aren't their hints of it now? The ruin of our planet and the salvation we'll find in space? Oh, well, just saying, maybe it isn't all a dream.
How well do we really know people I wonder. I explored that with my character Nick Dowling in Pharaoh's Star. There is going to be a sequel to this book and it is in the sequel that we might discover Nick as he truly is, not who we assume him to be when we get to the end. I am told that some people were confused by the ending, which I don't want to give away at this point, but know this, the ending of Pharaoh's Star is not the ending. I am working on a few more writing projects at the moment but will get to that sequel most likely in 2019. Remember, a man is never who he says he is. No, his reality is more like a man who thinks he is what he says he is but has a much longer, deeper narrative.
I have advertised my book this weekend as literary fiction instead of psychological thriller or science fiction or mystery and it could fall into any one of those genres. But when I think about it, Pharaoh's Star is a novel about a marriage and about trust. Sure, Nick stretches the truth and should Jenna believe him? Well that comes up between couples all the time. There are people out there that tell enormous lies, outrageous lies and maybe that's who Nick is. Or maybe not, maybe he's an average guy who has had something extraordinary happen to him. So I hope readers will accept this as plain old fiction because that's what it is - fiction. Nothing paranormal about it, right?
I love the mood in fog and the mist of early morning. There is mystery in the moon and the darkness whispers secrets to me that I strain to hear. I am a fool for melancholy, words that make me mellow, songs that make me weep and the traces of Victorian writers that give me verses that touch the soul, heartfelt emotions that reach me still. I love when nature is resplendent with a language that speaks to me in silence. Mystery is a cloud over my head that I long to know. All that can’t be heard I strain to hear and all that is not spoken I protect. To him who can’t be known I long to question. Pharaoh’s Star, the unknown, the feared and the nightmare of the truth.
Pharaoh’s Star has a skilfully written story that is dark and powerful and filled with wonderful imagery about the environment in which it’s set. At the same time it also has an emotional depth to it accentuated by the fine writing centred on Nick’s and Jenna’s relationship. It has a small cast and although the main action is limited to a couple of cast members, all of them primary and secondary characters have been presented as both real and relatable people. The location of the story’s setting lends itself beautifully to the air of mystery surrounding these pages. The tall dark trees lining the long
I have always believed we are light years away from understanding our universe, our souls and reality. I have also always believed that reality is in constant expansion and as we move through this concept of time that we have, we expose reality for what it is, a creation. The interesting thing about alien abductions is that they are all sketchy, shadowy and difficult to prove. I could say the same about God, couldn't I? I do believe that there is a God, barely containable in the three little letters we give it. This God is a constant, like us, who are souls without any opportunity to die. So I believe that in our very young manifestation as humans, we will find ourselves as aliens on some distant planet, perhaps some distant universe and we will look and see ourselves in this knowledge gap of understanding...
From the Salem Witch trials through the Nineteenth Century and beyond, Annabel Horton is pursued by the devil’s disciple, Urban Grandier, the demonic priest from the incident at Loudon. She must take the bodies of those that the devil favors to protect her family. She must uncover the motive behind the illusive Ursula/Louis Bossidan, the scandalous cross-dresser who is pursuing her beautiful granddaughter, and she must learn, being one of God’s most powerful witches, how to use her power. But will it be enough to save her husband from Urbain’s fiery inferno? Will it be enough to save her children from demons greater than themselves? Read on, you will learn more…..
I have finished the second book in the Annabel Horton series, Annabel Horton and the Black Witch of Pau. I am hoping to see it edited in May and released in June. I also set the stage for the third book in the series - Annabel Horton and the Demon of Loudun. So what can I tell you about the Black Witch? Well, she starts out with a passion for Annabel's soul, certainly her beauty and maybe even her ability to cross time. And why wouldn't she want to cross time, she lives in White Chapel in 1888. You do know what was going on then, don't you? Jack the Ripper was carving up prostitutes and Oscar Wilde was the toast of London. Both make appearances in the story. It was fun to write so please look for it in June and enjoy the wild adventure of two unpredictable witches as they journey toward the 20th century, with goodness and evil battling it out.
My novel, Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem is on tour with Rabt Reviews. The tour begins on the 15th of this month. I wanted to do the tour as a teaser to the sequel which should be published in June. The trials and tribulations of my wonderful witch has been such a joy to write, lots of colorful characters, even more so in the sequel. I am now plotting out in my head the third book. It will all come together then but before it does there will be chaos. The devil is a nasty dude but what can bring evil down? We shall see. We shall see.
I am nearly finished with Annabel Horton and the Black Witch of Pau. It has been a great deal of fun to write because the Black Witch is a very 'large' character. I find that I like stories that continue. There will be a third book after this called Annabel Horton and the Demon of Loudun. But first I must end this novel. One of the most difficult things to do. Will it have a happy ending? I have no idea at this point but I'm pretty sure the Black Witch will live on to torture Annabel in New York in the 1940s. The third and last book might end the whole story or it might not. I have added sequels to Pharaoh's Star so who knows where I will go with it. I am not a writer with a solid plan. I guess I rely on my instinct to lead me to closure.
When I was a child I loved the mysteriously dangerous. I think I’ve lived my life mysteriously and dangerously. Well, those days are over. Following these macabre and lonely railroad tacks was a walk I would have taken back then. I wouldn’t bother to take that walk now though. Now I like pretty trails that will assure me that I will wind up in a wonderful green field alive with wildflowers. Back then I would have expected to find something miraculous at the end of these tracks, something magical. But now I know that what lies down this road is a terrible disappointment, just more weeds probably, tracks that go nowhere. And the magic I sought is within, when the miracles show up, when the friends show up. God, I’m a lucky girl. The road ahead is golden, lined with Sycamore trees and smelling like roses.
Odd things happen in life. I wrote Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem a while ago and I'm happy to say that the second in the series is nearly done. The second being Annabel Horton and The Black Witch of Pau. Does it have as its underlying theme: time? Yes, it does. Time fascinates me because I believe we all fall back into it when we die. Annabel will tell you that. She'll also tell you that time is where we find both God and the devil. It's where we find ourselves. Writing is such a wonderful experience because our imaginations are working along side of our souls, those old, wise, vaporous eternities we carry.
Annabel lives in time. Time, a subject that has always fascinated me. What is time? You can't see it or feel it, unless of course you look at the aging process, the way time robs you of youth. Annabel never loses youth, she just gains experience. Annabel believes that all time is now and that we all live in the same second of creation. In the end, we return to the beginning. And time, that static mystery, is the God we all seek in the moment of death.
Yes, I am writing the sequel to Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem and all the characters are present. Annabel and her family return to White Chapel England while Jack the Ripper roams the streets and the Black Witch creates her potions for the likes of Oscar Wilde. I am having great fun writing this book. I'm about midway to end. Elizabeth is missing, the Black Witch has set her sights on Emie, Annabel's daughter and our transitive Ursula/Louie is trying to avoid the advances of a teen age girl. Poor Michelle is still blind to his power and Urban is stalking and slinking around like slime on the water's edge. You'll enjoy the sequel but do read this one first. Annabel is a witch you would not want to cross. Hear that Genevieve, Black witch of Pau?
Once upon a time I walked into an old house and I immediately felt that a child had died there, and the death had something to do with the phlegm in her lungs (or his). There was a great deal of sadness in that house. And of course I would never buy it. That sadness is carried in the very essence of the structure, the walls, the soul of the thing. Forgive me for saying this but Annabel did not spring from imagination, she came from the shadows and she spoke to me from that place where all time meets. Time, or as we say, history, is not long gone. It may be too many layers deep for you to see it but history lives on......
Can we touch the unknown? I think we probably do every day. I think there are those of us who are sensitive to the other side and those of us who are, get a glimpse of the unknown through our third eye, dismissing the experience, of course, as being just too weird. I didn't get the idea for Annabel, I opened my mind to Annabel. Did I conjure up a soul to tell me her story or in believing I walked past the veil. If you read Annabel's story you tell me.
Most people pretty much know what they believe in, how they define a soul's journey. For some it ends at death and for others it is an endless return. Annabel, being a witch of course, is aware that she is a lost soul that moves through time with many different objectives. In her melancholy description of life and death there is endless travel and unsettling experiences to overcome. She is a constant transformation with a family that follows her in her quest to silence the devil and bring God to humanity. But in Annabel's words: Priests and Rabbis and Saints know God too and no one listens to them either. Follow her, she has answers to share and secrets to reveal.......
So just like my character, Annabel Horton I have taken on a new body, a new identity. I don't wish to confuse my readers with the more sane and stable side of myself, that side that writes Southern and Women's fiction. Yes, my characters are a bit nutty but they do not leave their body and travel back in time and they are not capable of murder like my character in Pharaoh's Star. So it's time to attach a pen name to my fantasy books. I will be known as Olivia Hardy Ray. The Hardy Ray is a family name and Olivia is just Olivia, chosen because the name conjures up in my mind some female author from another time who might have lived in moody Ireland or England, waked the moors, read the Brontes and found life much more interesting in imagination. It might have been a time of feather pens, long dresses and one house school rooms. So, soon you will see my new pen name on Annabel and Pharaoh's Star and the three other books not yet published. Olivia, Olivia, get going on those, will you?
"Disconcerted to find myself so violently torn from life, I wandered in bleak darkness, confused and much too frightened to stir from my shelter of oblivion." These are the words of Annabel Horton after experiencing her soul’s first split from her body, at least the first split she consciously remembers. I like to believe we all have souls and that those souls travel in time. I also love to argue that time is not linear as we believe it to be. Annabel has told us that. I also love those philosophical arguments about God and good and evil that Annabel so passionately has with the devil, Urban. Urban actually existed in the 1500s. He was the priest that seduced the nuns in Loudun, France. I took the Salem witch trials and the Incidence at Loudun and found a connection between the timelessness of evil and the ubiquity of good. This is the perfect book for Halloween because it is about a witch, one that you might not expect. She confronts horror, she does not cause it and you are likely to call her a fantasy because she always comes out the winner. Annabel is more than fantasy; she’s a living spirit who channeled mine to tell her story. Read on, I will tell you more... Download Annabel Horton for FREE through Halloween!
Some new readers for Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem and some nice words..... .......This is an emotional and captivating read I highly recommend...... "This novel is written in such an elegant way, that I can't put it down. Such a complex plot woven around and around to put everything into place is not easy. The author has done an amazing job with that. Annabel's ancestry and the line of descendants were at first confusing, but as I got into the story, I felt like it is kind of amazing how the author thinks. Great writing! Evil is more evil here and the escape seems nowhere to be found, until Annabel gets more confident in her powers. But, the readers must be more patient to let the plot impress them."
4Excellent job! ByVickyon April 4, 2015 Format: Kindle Edition * I received the review copy from the author in exchange of honest review, * This novel is written in such an elegant way, that I can't put it down. Such a complex plot woven around and around to put everything into place is not easy. The author has done an amazing job with that. Annabel's ancestry and the line of descendants were at first confusing, but as I got into the story, I felt like it is kind of amazing how the author thinks. Great writing! Evil is more evil here and the escape seems nowhere to be found, until Annabel gets more confident in her powers. But, the readers must be more patient to let the plot impress them. Excellent job!
I like to think that my character, Annabel Horton, is a metaphor for the soul. She has been in many bodies and she has lived in various centuries. She is a free soul who can essentially go anywhere but she is also controlled by the pull of family, wealth and love. I am in the process of writing a sequel, which brings Annabel to the time of Jack the Ripper in which she must learn the true meaning of evil. I have read and do believe that we are here on earth to evolve and to learn. It has been quite an experience to create a character who is the embodiment of the soul on its search for perfection, or at least, high enlightenment. I do hope you enjoy Annabel, she's quite a girl, I've been told.
These are early reviews I was very pleased to get. The book is on tour now so there will be more to come. Both reviews are written by very talented authors. "Where do I start? This novel is amazing: beautifully written, gripping, and un-putdownable (I nearly overran my journey to work via London Underground several times)." "Vera Jane Cook has created a timeless character in Annabel Horton – literally. Destined for her soul to pass through time dimensions and to constantly face her demons, Annabel must save her extended family from the Devil’s clutches. When I say extended, I mean close relatives, extended by several hundred years!" "Excellent. Dark and deep. Fashion a rope from threads of theology, philosophy, quantum entanglement and hang from it a young woman from Salem. If ever, life and death, space and time, meet in single point, it will be as Annabel Horton foretells. This is a generous and intricate story, it takes hold and insists you read one more page, one more chapter... Gives the Mayfair Witches some serious competition. Highly recommended."
Life for Grace Place is all about sucking on “meat jerkys” and Lenny Bean, her handsome lover. However, Grace’s mother has loftier plans for her daughter. She insists that Grace save her money and move to New York City so she can find fame and fortune as an actress. Grace works as a cleaning lady for wealthy Betty Ann Houseman so she can pool her pennies for the trip north. Betty Ann has a passion for men more pronounced than her overbite, and it isn’t long before she’s parting the sheets for Lenny Bean. But just before Grace leaves Hixson,Tennessee for New York City, she uncovers an insidious plot: the Bean family is trying to steal Betty Ann’s estate. Without being able to help Betty Ann, Grace flees to New York, where she faces her darkest hours. In a world of surprises, Grace truly discovers paradise.
Dancing Backward in Paradise is the second novel I wrote. I took the first novel I wrote out of print, not because it was terrible it's just that I had the idea to do a series. All the books in the series are written but not yet published. I am planning a 2020 debut for those books called 'The Fourniers'.. Dancing Backward in Paradise stands on its own, written in part as a reflection of the 1960s. The book is eccentric and often funny and makes me think of back roads and rock and roll and being so young I never thought I'd be anything else. Life was certainly not sweet back then but that doesn't change, that lack of sweetness. We live in a world of never ending change that keeps on making us believe we're moving forward. I think we're dancing backward, picking up some tokens of goodness along the way
I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. I've survived financial disaster, job loss, house loss and overall loss in general. Now I feel the renewal, the presence of angels and life for the miracle it is. I am lucky enough to have a job that helps struggling readers read, my books are being read and I've got plans to publish three to four this year. When life is down, go high. It all changes. For me it did and for my wonderful character from Dancing Backward in Paradise, it did as well.
I have set three of my southern fiction books in the 1960s. I do that, I imagine, because I was a teenager in the 1960s and I have a lot of valuable memories from my own youth. I did not grow up in the South but I just as well may have. My mother and my aunt were Southern as they come and somewhere, deep in my bones, I am a Southerner. Anyway, the point being, that my character, Grace Place, dreams of New York City and making her dreams come true there. Maybe everyone dreams of New York City at one time in their life, I don't know. But for Grace, she does make it there and its a funny, sorrowful journey. But sometimes, life has a way of working out and Grace rises above all the nasty little plots around her,, and the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement, to soar high and land safe.
The only thing I remember about being Grace's age is the tremendous freedom in youth. Now my memories are in black and white, those modern buildings that went up in the 60s that now look small and weary next to today's architecture. Those boys with a little bit of bad in them who now look completely inconsequential next to neat hair and nice cologne. Well, we had the Supreme's in the 60s, nothing like Lady Antebellum or Pink Martini but it was a cool sound. I wish my memories had more color. Maybe that's why I wrote this book, it's about the way things were when black and white was beautiful and long sleek cars with fins took my youth to that high point, when my thoughts were held in the wind as if they'd never blow away.
In my youth was I anything at all like Grace Place? I think I was a bit of a wise ass. Yes, I'll admit to that. I'll also admit to liking boys like Lenny Bean for about two minutes. Eccentricity is seeped into my southern genes so I am also a bit like Maddie Place. It's a wonder to me though that when you sit down to write all this 'stuff' comes pouring out - stuff from genetic memory, stuff from youth, stuff you never think about in your everyday life but writing calls it forth. that's the magic of writing, I guess. It's some kind of magic. When I forget who I am all I have to do is read one of my own books.
The thing about writing is that it takes you places you thought you forgot. It also takes you to places that surprise you. Many writers talk about being able to channel their characters and I can understand that for in some of my books the whispers of creation seem real and I just write down what I hear. But in Dancing Backward in Paradise I am writing about a large part of myself, the innocent self and the romantic self. I am also giving my love to people from my past. It must be like the loving stroke of a paint brush - This was really the first book.of mine that was published and it won awards and got 5 stars from Clarion Review. So I'm proud of it, it's a little bit funny and a little bit sad. I hope you like it too.
It seems that the older I get the more my books take place in the past. Usually it's the past of my own youth. In all of my contemporary novels my characters are my actual age. So I am literally dancing backward to a time that was much richer than the present in some ways and dramatically more wounded. So Dancing Backward in Paradise takes place in the 1960s before online dating, SUVs and HBO. It's about a girl who is more naive than Chicken Little and her evolution into a woman who learns that life is far richer and more broad than she could have ever imagined back in Hinson, Tennessee.
I was an actress for about ten years and fell madly in love with the work of Tennessee Williams. I found his characters so flawed and so vulnerable. I found his dialogue so lyrical and beautiful. In my first published southern novel I hope that my readers find just a trace of that influence. That would make me very happy. This scene between Grace and her Mama is where I see that hint of Tennessee Williams and his wonderful eccentric oh, so southern characters.
How does this New York city girl come up with so many southern characters? I think its in my genes. I was raised in New York but I've got a whole family of Southerners who leave me baffled when they speak. I mean, what did they just say and why did it take them so damn long to say it? Well, if you believe in genetic memory or past lives then you will have to accept that I have been transplanted into a Northern way of thinking and talking but my soul is oh, so southern, ya'all.
Sexual confusion and dysfunction cause the unraveling of the perfect American family in small town Georgia in 1960. Rose Cassidy's fantasy life is a haunting reminder that she's living a lie. So when she has the opportunity to act on those fantasies, she dives in without any thought to consequences. Rose's husband, Ryan, has fantasies of his own, and his actions cause unimaginable pain to the very children he tries so hard to protect. When the happiness each member of the Cassidy family seeks so desperately to find is shattered by shame, guilt, and ultimately murder, they must each face the truth that lies deep within their souls.
Most of my southern novels take place in the 1960s, all except for Pleasant Day, which is contemporary. I've decided that my next novel will move from present day back in time to maybe 1820. I read a very good novel recently that moved her story from the present to the past and back again. Of course the tie that binds will be the story itself and it might be about coming to terms with who one is, who one really is. I am fascinated by the past and could spend my whole life studying it but unfortunately I still have to make a living which leaves me little time to investigate. I also have six books which are written and need to be published this year and next, and I've got two in the works but this book calls to me. I'll get there. I've already got the title. Subject to change, of course.
What is chemistry between people actually about, is it just sexual? Ryan likes women but yet he yearns for love. I don't think he cheats on Rose because of sex. I think it's because something deep inside of him is not being fulfilled. Rose doesn't know who she is so she can't satisfy her husband's emotional needs. When Rose meets Heather she makes her own discover, something deep inside herself that can either save her or destroy her. Lily explores d a deep connection early in her life but her brother is not so lucky, or unlucky, depending on one's take on it. For Dalton, the Catholic Church masked over his true self and his needs are perhaps never met. His consequences are greater than anyone else's. 'Know thyself' is the best journey one can be on if one is brave enough to follow it.
Dalton is an interesting character, even as a child he's judgmental and opinionated. He lives by his own rule and he rights all the wrongs, particularly those his sister endures. So he grows up angry, hypocritical and self-righteous. Sex has completely unhinged him and love evades him. He's complicated. If you've read Where the Wildflowers Grow I'd love to hear your take on Dalton. Is he lovable? Can we forgive him for murder, for completely ignoring the laws of the Catholic Church, for his homophobic judgement of his mother? He judges everyone but himself and I wonder if he recognizes that. I created him but I barely understand him. What do you think? You can contact me about it at email@example.com
I always wondered why we love who we love. They say our parents influence who we love and I think that's true to some extent. However, in the 1950s sex and love was a great deal more convoluted than it is now. Who we love was wrapped up in other people's judgement and easily termed 'perverted' . In my book, Where the Wildflowers Grow, love is the objective and sex is the driving force. I think my characters develop during the course of the novel and there's a sweet acceptance at the end, except for Dalton, whose cross to bear is greater than anyone else's. It ends happy though but oh, the road to that happiness is rough.
I like to look back to when I was young. It is so much more fun for me to remember the 1950s and the 1960s. Everything was hidden, especially one's sexuality but there were the cars, oh the cars with big, wide fins and cats in the back whose eyes lit up and blinked a turn. There was the music, Oh, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan and Someone Left the Cake out in the Rain. Analyzing that song was about as philosophical as we got. Lets not forget the elaborate outfits that were no where near as elegant as those of our parents. Everyone smoked and long sideburns were most appealing. I don't want to go back but the memory is wonderful. My characters are locked in that time, a product of that time. Enjoy them!
Having lesbian feelings in the 1960s was very disturbing for my main character, Rose, in my novel, Where the Wildflowers Grow. Then again, if Rose were written in today's world she'd probably still be very uptight about it. She was very proper, didn't even wear pants, but not so proper that this married with two children young woman couldn't fall into the deep waters of homosexuality. Every character in this book is wanting, needing and desiring. Give it a read!
The book has been very well received so far, reviewers have called it a soap opera, sort of a southern Peyton Place. I like that description because there is a great deal of drama in the book, bonds between the characters that deepen and explode as the story progresses. I enjoyed writing it because life is never simple and for this seemingly typical family it is anything but.
Working Title: Marybeth, Hollister & Jane
This Book Is In Development
This novel was originally published in 2013 by Musa Publishing. I feel they did a real hack job with the edit and have decided to bring it back to my original idea. Musa publishing has gone out of business and closed its doors so here goes the new and revised Marybeth, Hollister & Jane. Your feedback is welcome as I publish it in stages chapter by chapter.........
Most of the objectives of most of the players are now revealed, they all want the diamond. But who will attain it? And what of Glen and Hunter, are they out of the picture? From here the story rolls forward and all the players converge on one another. Still to come of course is Jane.
This is a pretty long chapter but I wanted to set up the introduction of Andy Longfellow and just where the diamond was, also the conflict surrounding where it was. Nothing was going to be easy. It also sets up the relationship Andy had with his grandfather and why his grandfather may have hidden the diamond. I also wanted to get everything in place for the entrance of the sisters and how they innocently got involved but also the fatalistic journey they began.
I want to introduce Andy to the reader instead of making the reader wait so long to meet him. I also want to set up his personality from the beginning, he is definitely a whacko but he's somehow involved with the mystery of the Eagle Diamond. He's Eleanor's nephew and he's close friend to Hunter LaPorte......Hmmmm.
This is a very short chapter but I think it explains what might be a complex plot, perhaps a bit difficult to follow if the stepping stones aren't laid out. I didn't like the original edit because it assumed that the book made sense without explanation and I don't think it does. I think you have to really understand the plan Delilah puts in place and exactly why she tries to control and manipulate everyone around her. She brings being devious to a whole new level.
This is the chapter that reveals Hunter's affiliation with someone else and also reveals Brenda's murder with a bow and arrow. Brock tries to figure out the metaphors, if there are any. A bow and arrow? What the f---?
I think this chapter sets up the end of the story and though it is in the original, it's kind of stuck somewhere in the middle, as a memory. I like the natural flow of action for this story. I think it's important for the flow of events and how it eventually culminates in a sad but meaningful conclusion.
I think the unfolding of Delilah and Joe's plan is an interesting part of the story. We clearly see that Brock has his doubts but what if it's true? Later on we learn more about Joe Carelli, including his real identity and his motives.
I really wanted Delilah's passion for the diamond, for Joe and for accomplishing something as 'big' as the Eagle Diamond buy. Delilah is not altogether devious, she does love Jane but she loves wealth and glory much more. I think all the pieces that lead up to everything that happens later is important and this is a pivotal chapter for that. This is the moment that Delilah discovers that Brenda has to go, no room for a partner, for any partner but Joe.
I call this telling a story, though my initial editors choose to remove it. I want to introduce Eleanor to my reading audience and establish her early relationship with Delilah. These two women are on the same quest, with the same objective but the means to achieve the goal are quite different.
This chapter was cut from the original but I think it introduces the character of Delilah and how she justifies betraying her husband, which I hope sets her up as a pretty diabolical person. Delilah is capable of anything, including murder.
This next chapter was cut from the original. I think it sets up the story in terms of how this whole quest for the Eagle got started. It also paints a picture of how the organization works and the terrible competition between Peter and his brother, Devon.
I like the history behind the actual chase for the diamond. It's where we first learn that Peter's people are taking advantage of his weakness and Brenda gets wind of another 'phoney' buy to make Peter look bad. This is the first chapter, or the second half of the first chapter that was up last time.
This book was originally published in 2013 by Musa Publishing. I thought they did a real hack job with the edit so when they went out of business I decided to take it back to the way I had originally written in, which in my opinion, is a better book. Your feedback is appreciated as I add material each week.
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