Writing the end should be a peak among peaks for a writer but the problem with mountains is they rise out of valleys. The highs and lows for a writer.

I was with Rylie when the world tried to gobble up a naïve Pollyanna. I lived with her through her horrible college experience and crushing demoralization. I’ve written her end twice.

When she discovered a broken and abused kindred spirit in Eskador, I stood at her side, guiding her through the gut wrenching pain of a nearly destroyed creature. Together, we brought him back to life through hours in the round pen, questioning the methods, learning to trust, and listening. The steps of healing left us with the question “is anyone ever totally healed and whole?” And if they couldn’t be, might they have a good life anyway? Strength grew out of necessity.

I was there when a cowboy forced her out of the round pen, ripping kindred spirits apart, threatening everything Rylie had built, convincing her that all men were the same. Stirring up horrors she’d tried to bury.

Later she chose healing, made decisions, and could accept imperfection because I stood with her unwavering.

Rylie’s happily ever after promises not only love and safety, but more growth, as her world expands beyond her imagination. I wanted to be there for her future.

Jason was in high school discovering how charisma and wealth influenced his world when we first met. By college the jock grew into a magnificent party boy, crude and wasted, treating the world as if it was lucky to be part of his life. Shame and shock burned deep when the Captain jerked him away from his debauchery. We went to Afghanistan together and learned hard lessons of humanity and reality, coming face to face with evil, shedding our childhood like stripping off clothing.

Back in the States Jason had peace in working with what he’d been given, content with himself. His life was good again. Shame faded into the past but kept a hook in Jason.

Rylie up-ended his world and Jason’s new education began when he almost destroyed them before they got started. Trying to win his heart’s desire required everything he had, and it still wasn’t enough. He had to break and find strength no matter what it cost.

In the end Jason and Rylie found their HEA.

Then they left. After everything we’d gone through, they’d finally reached the sweet times and bonded. And forgot me. Without saying goodby they stepped into happily ever after and were gone, gifting me the thrill of completion. Leaving me—alone.

It’s empty nest syndrome all over again.


Lifetime horsewoman, Barbara weaves her extensive background with horses and their people into exciting stories about happily ever after for men, women, and horses. Barbara also enjoys helping others with horses and writing.

  • Wow, Barbara… way to jerk my emotions! Great post. I may only have been acquaintances with Jason and Rylie, but I feel your pain.

  • Gosh, I’m laughing but on the verge of tears. You really nail it as a writer, describing the bond with imaginary characters as they grow and change, and then leave you with an empty nest!

    • Hi Beth,
      Thank you. I loved getting to know Rylie and Jason. Watching them grow has been amazing. Empty nest is a painfully rewarding experience. Writing is definitely a blessing.

    • Tisha
      You’re right. I spent so much time with Rylie and Jason that I’m pretty sure they became my best friends for awhile. And they were in two volumes so we had a lot of adventure. I never expected to feel so connected.

  • That was beautiful! Your characters are part of you. They’ve come from the depths of your heart, you’ve endowed them with your emotions, your hopes and dreams. We watched Rylie and Jason struggle through their weaknesses and come out victorious. Then you had to set them free and watch them float away. Bittersweet.

    Can’t wait for your next book!

    • Linda
      Thank you so much. It’s amazing how much of “us” we put into the characters. Thank you for all of your help. Your kind comments have been a huge help.

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