12 Real Life Love Stories in 60 Seconds

FireworksLove stories abound this month, but I know you’re busy. So on a practical, and succinct, note I’ve curated the best stories. Quoted and paraphrased for brevity. Here we go, 60 seconds of IRL love:

Costco. Bought one tire at a time until I worked up the courage to ask him out.” (17 + years together )

“She was my student. Adult ESL.” (9 years)

“It was after the war. My best friend’s boyfriend’s buddy needed a dance partner.” (50+ years)

“1965 anti-war protest. I was studying to become a priest.” (40+ years)

“Scattering the ashes of deceased husband.” (3 years)

“Knew him from square dancing. We were doing dishes when he threw the dishtowel over his shoulder, got down on one knee and proposed.” (20+ years)

“On the job. Funeral home.” (25 years)

“On the bus, commuting to work. Saw each other every day.” (30+ years)

“Conference. Slept together before our first date.” (15+ years)

“Too broke to take a vacation, I played tourist with my best friend and an acquaintance set up a sailboat trip for us. Met the love of my life.” (50+ years)

“Overseas. Volunteer relief work. I was drawn to his compassion.” (20+ years)

“She put her paw in my hand. Everything went still in that moment.” (6.5 years)Frankie1








‘Tis February — the month of Valentine’s Day! So I thought I’d share a few things I love. Because, er, the world needs more love, yeah?

First, even though I’m a little behind on newfangled music, I stumbled over this song from a country-western singer (!) that I loved. It has an odd sci-fi quality to it I thought. Plus…love. Apparently the heroine in the video is also the singer’s wife. How delightful is that?

Second of the things I love… I finished a book! The first of 2017. 🙂 Man, I LOVE the feeling of finishing a book. It’s a new title from one of my pen names, Jenna Dales, who has been sadly languishing on a far back burner while I cavort with my other pen name, Elsa Jade. I’m tempted to pit them against each other in a Thunderdome-style write-off. But that wouldn’t be very loving, would it? So in the interests of fairness, sisterhood, and romance, Jenna Dales’ story is off to New York and while we wait to hear back, Elsa Jade is going to write the next story. Wish me lucky in love, and we shall see whom readers love more!

And thirdly, for a touch of real-life romance… Here are my two best beloveds, both of them smiling.


Happy almost Valentine’s Day!

Saluting Emma Watson: Linda Mercury


Hi there!

I’m not Emma Watson, but I’m hiding books just like she does! Ms. Watson has been sneaking books onto public transportation for a while now and I wanted to join in.

I’m Linda Mercury and this is one of my very favorite books. Please take good care of it. When you are done, leave it again for someone else to find.

If you have thoughts, come join me at See Jane Publish  (seejanepublish.wordpress.com) or my blog (www.lindamercury.com).  Let’s get all Portland out there and have free range books.

Spread the words,


With the above note, I snuck two copies of both The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and Women’s History for Beginner’s by Bonnie J. Morris into various locations around the Portland Greater Metropolitan Area.

I’m a fervent feminist. Lately, though, I had fallen into despair over current events. I had lost hope. When Jessie from See Jane Publish first approached me with the idea to salute Emma Watson’s brilliant campaign to increase literacy, I leaped at the opportunity. But what books would I choose?

Women’s History is a subject near and dear to my heart. As a young woman studying history in college, I fought against professors that stated, “There are no good women historians,” and “A class on the history of Sub-Saharan Africa is like a class on the history of Lichtenstein.”

So, yeah. That was a thing. Obviously, Women’s History for Beginners was the perfect book for this project. What an incredible book to fight these still-present attitudes!

I chose Beauvoir’s breakthrough book since it began the Second Wave of feminism. Published in France in 1949, it forced the world to think of women’s equality in ways beyond getting the vote. Beauvoir’s assertion that one’s sex/gender is created and influenced by society broke open the essentialist thoughts that women are inherently chaotic, animalist, and lesser than men.

I hope the people who read these books write in the margins, laugh, cry, and discuss their thoughts with other people. This was my first time doing free-range books, but it won’t be my last.

Thanks Jessie!



When Linda Mercury was four years old, she started reading. She realized that words are powerful and couldn’t stop reading and telling stories. And the rest…is history.

As a writer, she’s deeply passionate about the ability of words to give us courage.

One reader calls her work as “fast paced and full of action” while another declared her writing was, “hot, hot, hot.”

Her books have been featured in Romantic Times Magazine, Night Owl Reviews, and on the Kensington Publishing Website, one of the leading publishers of romance novels.

When she’s not writing, you can find her dancing and napping.

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 www.carmencooknovels.com or find her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carmenacook and Twitter & Instagram @CarmenCook_.

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