Jesse Hayworth
Jesse Hayworth


Jesse Hayworth


Look at this poor guy. If he were a chalk outline, he’d be the opening scene for an episode of Criminal Minds. As it is, he’s currently lying on my living room floor.

Four-plus years ago, when I joined the Jaunty Quills, he looked like this.


(Original: cowboy78401.jpg)

Okay, not exactly, but it was close. Having picked him (the doll, I mean) up at the local thrift shop, I made him the star of a series of funny toy “photoshoots” I put together—with captions—to promote the first of my Mustang Ridge books. (Of course I can’t find the darned things now. Too many computers in the past, I guess…)

Look at him, all sassy and shirtless (no, Autocorrect, I don’t mean mummified, thankyouverymuch) and smoldering. Yep, that was my Shirtless Cowboy back in the day, when I had deadlines and voices talking to me in my head, and I started every morning with a cup of tea, my computer, and the last thing I had written the night before.

We had some good times, the cowboy and I, promoting Summer at Mustang Ridge, then Winter at Mustang Ridge. After that, though, I moved on to other promos, and the Shirtless Cowboy moved into a Rubbermaid container that was full of toys I had kept from childhood or acquired along the way. It was labeled, as are so many stories (and perhaps Rubbermaid containers, too): What If??

There he stayed for some time, while I wrote more books, more blogs, each word coming harder than the last because my life was changing—I was changing—and the industry, too.

Then, not too long ago, the shirtless cowboy made his return, in a very Toy Story fashion, when I opened up that What If box, and the kiddo who had come into being in the interim grabbed him and announced, “Cowboy ride bulldozer!”


And so my Goodwill refugee turned romance novel model has returned to his roots and become once more the focus of a child’s imagination. As for me, I’m slowing down and narrowing my focus, too. Just as the Jaunty Quills are winding down, I’m stepping back from writing and turning my attention to other things.

I am proud of the books I have written and so very grateful for the friends I have made in the world of romance novels. I will always be a writer in my heart, but I don’t expect to have any books to promote for a while. And when I do return, I doubt I’ll be writing the same books as before, because I’m far from the same person I was.

I’ll look for you, though, my JauntyFriends, my ReaderFriends, and my WriterFriends, and hope that we’ll see each other then. Or, better yet, that we’ll cross paths in the worlds of other wonderful authors, and the books we all love.

Until then, you’ll be in my heart. I wish you all the best in life, love and books. As the shirtless cowboy would say: Ride on!


Photo by Barry Watrous

22 thoughts on “Farewell from Jesse and the Shirtless Cowboy

  1. Dawn A says:

    I wish you good luck and hope to see you back in writing soon.

    1. Thank you very much, Dawn, both for the kind wishes and for your comments over the years 🙂

  2. Gayle Cochrane says:

    I have always enjoyed your blogs. I can’t believe how quickly your kiddo has grown . Best of luck to you and the family.

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Gayle! And, yes, it’s like I can just sit here and see him growing. Human beings are incredible creatures!

  3. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

    Motherhood does make one step back and reassess. I look forward to whatever you do in the future.

    1. Thank you, Shana, for this and for the mom insights you’ve shared with me along the way!

  4. says:

    Best wishes in all your endeavors!

    1. ‘Thank you catslady, and the same to you!

  5. Amy says:

    I have loved your posts and totally understand the change in focus motherhood provides. And, how did your baby become a not-a-baby anymore?? I swear I just blinked and that happened. I wish you good things in all that you do.

    1. Thank you for this, Amy, and for sharing my journey along the blogs. And trust me, I ask myself the same thing daily about the MonsterBaby, lol! Be well, wishing you the best 🙂

  6. Annette Naish says:

    I hope the future holds joy for you and your family. And maybe someday you will want to jump back into writing. Take care and may God Bless you and yours.

    1. Thank you so very much Annette. Wishing you and yours all the best!

  7. Lexi Eddings Lexi Eddings says:

    Jesse, you’re incredibly smart, incredibly talented, and I’m sure whatever you turn your hand to will be a blessing to you and everyone around you. Hugs!

    1. *Blushes* Aw, shucks. We go back a ways, don’t we, Lexi? I look forward to more of your stories, and wish you and your family all the best!

  8. Kate Sparks says:

    Cowboys ride forever!!! While JQ is disbanding, I’m still checking you out on social media!!! Enjoy the present times!!

  9. Rena says:

    All of that wonderful writer energy and imagination has refocused on mothering energy and imagination…Wallaby is one lucky kiddo!

  10. I knew this was coming, both your news and that the JQs are disbanding, but still… 🙁

    While I hate knowing there won’t be another Jesse Hayworth/Jessica Andersen book to read, I’m so happy for you and where you’ve got to in life and what comes next for you. Writing or not, you’ll always be one of my favorite authors and one of my favorite people (but, I think you know that by now!).

    I’d like to give a shout of thanks to all of the members of JQ for hosting me several times and all the great and fun posts. It’s been a privilege and pleasure hanging out with all of you over the years.

    Hugs to you all.

  11. Christy Erpelding says:


    I’ve followed your career for years and loved hearing about the adventures of “Doc Jess and The WARDen”. I found your Jessica Andersen books early on and gobbled them up as quickly as possible. When you and Arizona got together I couldn’t have been happier for you! You’d finally met your match and your writing showed that. You made me fall in love with your Jesse Hayworth stories of Mustang Ridge.

    However, the very best part occurred when you got pregnant and the Wallaby arrived! I was ecstatic! After trying for so many years unsuccessfully to become a Mom, being a part of your journey has meant the world to me. You are an amazing woman and a great Mom! Keep it up, Ladybug, We love you!

  12. LSUReader says:

    All the best, Jesse.

  13. Danielle says:

    You will be missed. I have laughed and cried over many of your books and blogs but I know that life isn’t static and we all either grow and change or we stand still and wither. I know that you and your family will enjoy your time. And WOW!!! Wallaby has turned in to a toddler really quickly. I wish you all the best in whichever direction life takes you.

  14. Jamie Beck says:

    Miss seeing you, but you look so happy, how can I be sad? Hope to catch up again in person one of these days. Until then, enjoy your husband and son, and whatever new voices pop into your head when you pull out your laptop in the future. Happy holidays, Jess.

  15. Happy trails to you, darling pal.

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