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.
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