Love, Loss, and Literacy

Winter and Wharton and Trump. While many settle into the chilly months with the promise of Superbowl, the Oscars, and, this year, a Presidential Inauguration to pass the time, I’m thinking of Edith. My winter tradition? Rereading Bunner Sisters. Published  100 years ago, this short novella of despair has captured my imagination for years.


What does this have to do with politics?

Well, actually, it’s about Emma-Watson style activism. It’s about Maya Angelou’s Mom and Me and Mom. It’s about a nation — OURS- facing massive divides, as any common ground and unity we once had seems to be shrinking in the rear view mirror of the past.

So this is a blog about finding possibilities in the pages of our favorite books. Even if the tale of the Bunner Sisters is, at least on the surface, depressing as hell.

In a nutshell, two sisters Ann Eliza and Evelina eek out a living in a dingy basement. It’s a hardscrabble existence, but they have each other, until a man, Ramy, enters their world. He brings ideas and possibilities and the sheer audacity of hoping for something more — something other than the steady predictability of their day-to-day lives.

I don’t want to give away the story, but Ramy’s promises give the sisters the courage to take a leap into the unknown. To leave the security they’ve always known — however bleak– for the possibility of something else.

The younger sister leaps into the unknown. In an selfless act of love, her older sister allows her to leap.

Mom & Me & Mom by [Angelou, Maya]Like Maya Angelou’s autobiographical book, there’s a timeless theme of love, loss and reunion in The Bunner Sisters. A theme we might want to reflect on in 2017. Who we voted for in the 2016 election makes no difference at this point. No matter what the future brings, or whatever uncertainties visit our thoughts late at night, we are part of this historic  time in the United States. Whatever losses we might feel, we still need to move forward to create possibilities.

To unite. To reunite. To come together as a nation.

Though I haven’t hidden any books around Portland, Oregon, I am leaving you with this link to be swept into the past with Bunner Sisters (free read), so that you might consider the future.








Saluting Hermione Granger: Carmen Cook

When Jessie sent me the message with her idea to distribute books in the spirit of the lovely Emma Watson’s activism, I was immediately intrigued and excited by the thought. Of COURSE I want to participate. There was no hesitation in my desire to join this fabulous cause. But, I didn’t say yes right away because Jessie’s message said something about distributing “the book of our hearts” and for all of the wonderful books I’ve read through the years, I had no idea which book to pick.

A few days after the invitation I was at a Christmas party, speaking to a woman I’d only met a few minutes before and mentioned this idea. We started talking about all the possible books and it came to me in a flash. I had to pick Little Women. I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me right away, but it was perfect. It was the first book I read where I was completely invested in the characters. I ached for them when they cried, was angry when them when they were betrayed and cheered for each accomplishment. Jo March was everything I could ever hope to be. Fearless, genuine and true to her heart.


I happily dragged my children with me while we distributed the books and sincerely hope they bring a smile to the face of whomever finds them.



Carmen Cook loves a good book, some high heels and a good cup of coffee (or glass of wine, depending on the time of day). Reading became a passion when her parents told her she could stay up thirty minutes after bedtime if she was reading, and from then on, she always had at least one book going. She never dreamed of writing until her husband, listening to the stories she’d make up with their sons, encouraged her to give it a shot and gifted her with a membership to RWA for her birthday. Her debut novel will come out in 2017. Carmen loves connecting with romance writers and readers. For more information please visit or find her on Facebook and Twitter & Instagram @CarmenCook_.

I’m Saluting Hermione Granger. Want to join me?

Encouraging literacy is my passion. My childhood memories are full of reading exciting adventures that filled my imagination. I want to pass along those joyful feelings to the next generation. Thus, I was thrilled to be organizing my local writing chapter’s charitable collection drive of new children’s books.

Armed with generous donations from my writing buddies, I went shopping at a local book sale. What I found was puzzling. The books geared towards boys were all about saving the world (Thank you Star Wars) and the book covers for young ladies gave the impression that their tiaras were so shining and what fun things one could fit into a purse. When I finally came across a book called Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream I bought every single copy.

With an overwhelming feeling of wanting to do more, I remembered an inspiring youtube video of Emma Watson anonymously donating copies of Maya Angelou’s book Mom & Me & Mom. Realizing that I too could spread literacy and I could invite my writing community to join me gave me the idea to start this blog series. During the month of Jan, people will donate copies of a book of their heart to their location of choice and share their experiences here.

For me, I selected the Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. Obviously it’s an entertaining story with an amazing heroine but I really selected this book because what would this world be like if girls aspired to be more like Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen? With that hope in mind, I distributed copies to bus stops in the Portland Metropolitan area.


Every guest blogger has their own personal reason for wanting to spread literacy to their community. Some want to replicate Emma Watson’s activism with their own children. Some want to do it as expression of how they are feeling about the world right now. Some just want to share books. Whatever your reason, you are welcome here.

  • Watch the youtube video.
  • Think about the world and how you can make it a better place.
  • Decide if you want to join me in Saluting Hermione Granger.

Placing this call to adventure to find your inner Hermione Granger feels like I’m tossing a leaf into the wind. I’m not sure how many people will join me but I have never been more grateful for the ones that have already said that they are getting books and are ready to go.

Happy Holidays from Past, Present, and Future Janes

Being a “Jane” at See Jane Publish means that someone wanted to share their experiences about being a creative human being during a specific moment in their lives and careers. The torch was passed to me by four amazing women and I have stayed here as we rose to eight and returned to four. I thank every Jane for enriching See Jane Publish with their insights.

2017 is just around the corner. We have great plans and there are stories left to tell at See Jane Publish. Until then, all the Janes want to wish you Happy Holidays!

Photo Caption: Upper Left: Jessie with Riley, Jessa with Monster Girl, Jamie with her beast :-). Bottom Left: Thank you for the return visit by former Janes, Darla Luke and C Morgan Kennedy.


Spooky & sale from E.J. Russell!

[Note from Jessa: Not only is E.J. Russell a geeky girl goddess (she helped design my daily word count spreadsheet that keeps me On Task!) she writes wonderful and wonderfully diverse stories with a paranormal bent. So of course we had to have her here at See Jane Publish for the month of Halloween!]

Thank you, Jessa, for inviting me back to See Jane Publish to celebrate the release of my latest M/M paranormal romance, Wolf’s Clothing. This book is the second in my Legend Tripping series with Riptide Publishing—and BTW, Riptide is having their annual Anniversary Sale the entire month of October, and you can snag the ebook of Stumptown Spirits (Legend Tripping #1) for only $0.99 on their website!
About Wolf’s Clothing:

What do you do when you finally prove the existence of the otherworld, but the ghosts kick your ass?

wolfsclothing_400x600For Trent Pielmeyer, the answer is run like hell—away from his hostile family, away from the disbelieving cops, and far, far, far away from anything that smacks of the supernatural. After seven years’ captivity in a whacked-out alternate dimension, he is so over legend tripping.

When Christophe Clavret spots Trent in a Portland bar, he detects a kindred spirit—another man attempting to outrun the darkness of his own soul. But despite their sizzling chemistry, Trent’s hatred of the uncanny makes Christophe hesitant to confide the truth: he’s a werewolf, one of a dwindling line, the victim of a genetic curse extending back to feudal Europe.

But dark forces are at work, threatening more than their growing love. If Christophe can’t win Trent’s trust, and if Trent can’t overcome his fear of the paranormal, the cost could be Trent’s freedom and Christophe’s humanity. Or it might be both their lives.

Find Wolf’s Clothing here:

Riptide Publishing


All Romance Ebooks


Barnes & Noble


About E.J.:

E.J. Russell — certified geek, mother of three, recovering actor — lives in rural Oregon with her husband. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Find E.J. at her website,, on Twitter at, and Facebook at

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