Vera Jane Cook

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Author Profile

Vera Jane Cook

Vera Jane Cook, is the author of Dancing Backward in Paradise, 2007 winner of the Indie Excellence Award for notable new fiction and an Eric Hoffer Award for publishing excellence, also in 2007. Dancing Backward in Paradise received a 5 Star Review from ForeWord Clarion. The Story of Sassy Sweetwater, was a finalist for the ForeWord Clarion Book of the Year Award and the recipient of a five star review from ForeWord Clarion. Where the Wildflowers Grow was her third southern fiction novel and is receiving 5 star reviews from She is also the author of Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem, Lies a River Deep and Marybeth, Hollister & Jane.


The Story of Sassy Sweetwater

Literature & Fiction

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?

Book Bubbles from The Story of Sassy Sweetwater

Sassy's Journey

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.

Got Southern in My Soul

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.

Love Baby

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?

The Sins of History

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.........

Tell Me Where I Come From

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..

Old Souls

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.

Little Southern Girls

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..

Beyond Eccentric

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 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..

New Cover! New Price

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."

Who Exactly am I kin to?

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.

And You Think You Have Problems

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.

Pharaoh's Star

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

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.

Book Bubbles from Pharaoh's Star

Just a Man

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.

Your Everyday People

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?

Mystery, Mood and Melancholy

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.

Some Quotes on a Nice Review by Kevin Peter

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

You Believe in Aliens?

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...

Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem

Science Fiction & Fantasy

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…..

Book Bubbles from Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem

Black Witch of Pau

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?

Life is Stranger than Fiction

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......

Touching the Unknown

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.

A Soul's Journey

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.......

I too, am New

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?

Souls Through Time

"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!

New Reviews

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."

Some Nice Reviews for Annabel

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!

Body Beyond Time

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.

Sharing some Reviews of Annabel Horton, Lost Witch

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."

Lies a River Deep

Literature & Fiction

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.

Book Bubbles from Lies a River Deep

Words, Words, Words

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.

Is Was better than Is?

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?

No Stranger to a Lie

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.

The Land of 'When'

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!

Place is Where the Heart Is

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.

Old Friends

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..

Book Direct likes these lines from Lies a River De

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."

Seeing the World as an Older Woman

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?

Dancing Backward in Paradise

Literature & Fiction

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.

Book Bubbles from Dancing Backward in Paradise

Back Then

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.

Oh, That Grace

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.

Somewhere There Lurks

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.

Backward in Time

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.

Dancing Backward? I Can Relate

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.

Yes, Tennessee Williams Influenced Me

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.

Oh, So Southern

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.

Where the Wildflowers Grow

Literature & Fiction

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.

Book Bubbles from Where the Wildflowers Grow

Love is Not a Simple Thing

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

A Fire in Our Soul

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.

A little murder, A little love

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!

More Than a Crush, I think!!

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!

Southern Soap Opera

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.

Vera Jane Cook

Working Title: Marybeth, Hollister & Jane

This Book Is In Development

Marybeth, Hollister & Jane

Literature & Fiction

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.........

Rough-Cut Book Bubbles from Marybeth, Hollister & Jane

Who's Running this Show?

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.

The Long Chapter

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.

Meet Andy Longfellow

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.

Chater Nine Clearing it Up

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.

So What the Hell is going on?

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---?

Chapter 7

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.

Filling out the Story

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.

When Murder is Necessary

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.

Chapter Four

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.

Next Cut

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.

The Rest of Chapter One

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.

A Revision

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.

Pleasant Day

Literature & Fiction

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 Day 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 the secrets to heal her. But Clarissa has struggles of her own as she faces betrayal and seeks to come to terms with old wounds. With her unpredictable psychic ability to 'read people' Clarissa uncovers the answers to a deadly crime and to Pleasant's true identity. In the end, both Pleasant and Clarissa's worlds are transformed by the truths they're forced to accept, and both find solace and strength in the histories that have shaped them.

Book Bubbles from Pleasant Day

A Jersey Girl Review

"Pleasant Day is an intriguing tale that has enough drama, mystery, and suspense that easily drew me in and kept me turning the pages. Author Vera Jane Cook weaves a complex story told by a sassy southern teenage girl with a potty mouth, she's an old soul whose point of view was so unique that I found myself liking this straight talking and take no crap kind of teen, even though I wanted to wash her mouth out with soap! There is a great mixture of humor and raw gritty drama within this multi-layered storyline, it has enough gripping twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing what will happen next. As a fan of southern fiction, the author does a great job of transporting the reader to the small town of Hollow Creek with a rich description of the setting, southern charm, and quirky memorable townspeople. From the complex relationships between the characters, the deeply buried town secrets, to the clever intertwining of the past and present murder mysteries that unexpectedly brings Pleasant and Clarissa together, Pleasant Day is a thoroughly riveting story that will keep you captivated until the surprising conclusion!

Sharing a Sweet Review

From Suko's Notebook: .....This book held my unwavering attention. It is charming, funny, and altogether fabulous...... Read the full review here..... pleasant-day.html

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Who Am I?

I am scrambled inside every character I've created. Not that I noticed that right away, it took years for the recognition to tap me on the shoulder and say, 'you are everywhere you've written, you are in every character who speaks. Sometimes my characters are much more outspoken than I have ever been, at least when I was younger. Age has given me confidence to say what comes to mind, as long as its not going to hurt anyone. I think you'd like the character of Pleasant Day, a young fifteen year old girl who shares my passion for literature and speaks her mind - a girl who idolizes her father and yearns for her mother and is fiercely passionate about friendship. I am also my character of Clarissa, over sixty, a lover of country walks, old houses and old things. Someone who aches for friends now gone and still tries to make it right, to grow and nurture what matters. Interesting to find yourself in characters who try to hide but peek out and say, "this is me."

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