Jesse Hayworth Dishes on E-Dating

Bestselling author and RITA nominee Jesse Hayworth returns to the Lair today to give us the scoop on online dating.  We’re going to do things a little differently this time, starting with an excerpt and then moving to Jesse’s comments.  Welcome, Jesse!

WAMR_cover_draftFrom Winter at Mustang Ridge

“Morning, Ruth,” Nick said as he hip-checked the door open and let himself into the clinic’s waiting area, carrying coffee for two. “How was your weekend? Did you and BillyBobScott hit it off?”

From her seat behind the reception desk, his assistant—aka Queen of All Things Important at the Three Rivers Veterinary Clinic—made a face. “Not really. The pictures he posted had to be a good ten years old, and if he’s six feet tall, then I’m a Labrador. All of which might’ve been okay if he hadn’t also been boring and a bad tipper. Oh, and his real name was Doug.”

Ruth had purple hair, thick tortoise shell reading glasses, a sweater set for every day of the week, and a clause in her contract that said she got to leave at four thirty on Wednesdays for Bingo. Nick had thought he had her pegged when he took over the office a few months earlier . . . but, boy, had he been wrong. It hadn’t taken him long to discover that Wednesday night Bingo was the local seniors’ equivalent of a pickup joint.

He handed over her coffee and took a healthy swig of his own. “Then why did he have BillyBobScott as his user name on the dating site?”

 “Redneck schizophrenia?”

 Chuckling, he picked up the list she had printed out of his morning rounds. “And that’s a turnoff?” Ruth might be pushing AARP eligibility, but her views on men were pretty liberal.

“Not necessarily. Could make for some interesting role-playing. No, it was the boring thing. And his breath. Day-old egg salad just isn’t something a girl can get past, not even with wasabi on the table.”

Trying not to think about Ruth and role-playing in the same sentence, Nick focused on the call sheet. It looked like he’d be doing a follow-up on that gelding surgery over at Mustang Ridge Ranch, shooting another set of x-rays on Missy Simms’s pony, and checking out a half-dozen sheep at the Plunkett place. And, of course, whatever emergency calls the day might bring, along with small-animal office hours this afternoon. “Maybe he was just nervous,” he suggested. “Trying to impress you.”

“That might account for the fifteen-minute monologue on his new shoelaces, but not the egg breath.”

“Which could just be a onetime thing, too.” Nick folded the call sheet and stuck it in his pocket. Ruth would’ve sent the info to his phone, but the local cell service was spotty and there were places where even his GPS got confused, so he had learned the value of keeping a hard copy on hand. “Maybe you should give him another chance.”

“Hello, pot? This is the kettle. If anyone in this room is too picky, it’s you.”

Translation: He had ducked all of her efforts to set him up. “Well, anyway. I’m sorry BillyBobScottDoug was a dud.”

She shrugged. “I’ll keep looking. Mr. Right is out there somewhere.”

 “Not Mr. Right Now?”

That got a sly grin. “I’ve found plenty of them, thanks.” But then her smile got crooked. “My Charlie is going to be a hard act to follow, but I know that one of these times it’s going to click.”

“I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. Meanwhile, do me a favor and manage things while I’m out.”

 “Don’t I always?” 

Yes, she did. Ruth ran his office, triaged the calls, made sure he got where he was going more or less on time, soothed ruffled feathers when he couldn’t, and gave him the lowdown on his clients, which was crucial in an area like Three Ridges, Wyoming. But more than that, she had a huge heart and a wicked sense of humor, and when she was in the mood she made blissfully sweet poppy-seed muffins the size of his head. And she had loved her Charlie dearly.

Knowing it would make her laugh, he leaned over her desk and wiggled his eyebrows. “Forget about trying to hook me up with other women. You know I’m just waiting for you to give me a chance.” 

She put her hand to her heart and sighed with the drama of a soap opera diva. “Alas, our love is doomed before it even gets started. I don’t have many rules when it comes to men, but not dating the boss is one of them.”

“I could fire you.”

“You won’t. But I keep telling you, Doc”—Ruth wagged a finger at him—“you should give the ladies around here a chance.”


Headshot_3_sept_12124Hey there, Banditas! Jesse Hayworth here, and I’m psyched to be hanging out here today in the Lair, celebrating my new release, Winter at Mustang Ridge, with Lars, a fruity drink, and that funny yellow rooster that keeps doing a drive-by and pecking at my ankles. Yes, yes, I know. I’ve got the pasty winter white thing going on!

But I digress. Because today we’re talking about online dating! And, yes, one can really only use exclamation points when talking about online dating if they are no longer swimming in that particular pool. Otherwise, it’s more said with a groan. (At least that was how I said it.) Because guess what: online dating is hard work. It got a whole lot easier when I figured something out though … Sorting through online dating profiles is a lot like picking out a new book. 

See, you go through all of the same steps. Let me demonstrate. 

Take a good look at the cover. Granted, lots of dating profile pics are … well, let’s just say optimistic. Like the time I arrived for my date with Curly Haired Guy to discover that he had a lot less curly hair and a bunch more years than advertised. But a girl’s got to start someplace, right? Just like I’m a sucker for a great clinch cover, or a ranch house with mountains in the background and a dog on the porch, dark hair, tattoos and great eyes all got a second look from me.

Check out the blurb. The “tell us about yourself” paragraph is where you find all the good stuff, like pirates, rakes, cowboys, sunsets and long walks on the beach. You can find some deal breakers there, too—I’m not big on amnesia, sheikhs, or guys who do their entire profile in text speak.

Ask around. Trekkie Guy had cute pictures and gave great email, but none of his info checked out in my online searches. Combine that with a disposable cell and an invitation to meet him at a motel, and I figured he must have a wife at home. Or a freezer full of them. So it never hurts to do a little search and see what pops up, whether you’re looking at a new book or a new guy.

 Excerpts rock. A quick phone call is how I discovered that Advertising Guy liked being the smartest, funniest person in the room, and got cranky when I was funny, too. Close, but no exploding cigar, which I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t read his excerpt (so to speak). 

But all that being said, now and then a girl just needs to:

Take a chance. Sometimes lightning strikes, the stars align, celestial beings sing, and a new book by an unfamiliar author turns out to be a keeper. In the end, that’s what happened to me when an amazing guy who lived three-plus hours and a ferry ride away tagged me with an email that started “What do you say we skip the twenty questions and write a story together?” Which, for the record, is an awesome way to get the attention of someone with “WriterChick” in her user name.

 Yep. He turned out to be my keeper, and it’s thanks to him that I’m writing the Mustang Ridge books. And it’s thanks to an injured golden retriever that Nick crosses paths with Jenny in Winter at Mustang Ridge. She’s the black sheep of the Skye family, having left their Wyoming dude ranch to become a professional photographer. Maybe she didn’t plan on winding up in reality TV, but that certainly doesn’t mean she’s ready to come home and be a farm girl. When she ends up running Mustang Ridge for six weeks to help out her sister, she’s counting the days until she can escape. That is, until she meets the new veterinarian over an injured dog, and sparks fly …

And now, to bring our discussion of online dating to a close, here’s what I found on!


(Gives happy wiggle.)

 When we met, my username was UFWriterChick. The ‘UF’ stood for ‘Urban Fantasy’ because that was what I was writing at the time, it was a good icebreaker for an email exchange, and it avoided having a username with ‘Fantasy’ in it, which I figured would not get me the kind of responses I was looking for!

So here’s my question for you … what would YOUR dating name be? Either make up your own, or go here [link to], click the button to generate some titles, and pick your favorite. Then come back and tell me your dating name! All commenters are entered to win a prize pack: Signed copies of Summer at Mustang Ridge and Winter at Mustang Ridge, plus a box of yummy chocolates. Good luck!



  • Amy Conley says:

    Is he coming back? Better wear his ice skates.

  • Amy Conley says:

    Easy, moon princess111
    It says it all about me; I’m a night owl, high maintenance ( not really, but I want to be treated as though I am) and I have 3 kids, all of them my favorite.

  • Jane says:

    Welcome Jesse,
    I got some good titles like Worlds of Enigma and The Jewel and the Flower. My cousin is an online dating user, but I never bothered to ask him his username.

  • Patty L. says:

    Congrats on meeting your love on line. I have been married for almost 16 years and am fasinated with online dating. It was not around before i met my husband. I would like to think that I would give it a try if I ever needed to find another prince charming. As for my online name I would try to be clever but would probably end up with somehthing like FirsttimeVhavemercy. LOL Your book sounds great.

    • Patty, I’ve been married 26 years and so also missed the online dating phenomenon. I’m guessing you were jittery about first dates? I was.

    • LOL on FirstTimeHaveMercy. In the manuscript I just turned in, the heroine signs up to a dating site just to download a bunch of personality quizzes (OkCupid has some awesome ones, if anyone is interested.). She uses ThisIsJustResearchDon’tContactMe, and gets all sorts of responses, ranging from ‘didn’t get the hint’ to ‘ewwww’ …. Which is about par for the course online!

  • flchen1 says:

    Ooh, huge congrats on your own HEA, Jesse!

    As for titles, of the ones generated, I liked Shattered Gift (so… angsty!) and The Soul and the Embrace 🙂

    Love the sounds of your Mustang Ridge series–must add to the TBR!

  • Mary Preston says:

    I love happy endings. My sister met her husband through online dating.

    The name that came up that I liked was ANGEL IN THE ILLUSION.

    • Mary, congrats to your sister and her hubby on successfully navigating the online waters! Commercials notwithstanding, my friends who’ve tried that have had hit-and-miss experiences, with more misses, as Jesse discussed.

    • Ooh, Mary, I like Angel in the Illusion.

      Is it bad that some of these names are making me think ‘hm…. I could totally write a book about that’? LOL.

      *Knuckle tap* to your sister, a fellow winner of the online dating game. It’s exhausting, but does widen the pool of applicants significantly, especially if (like me) you live in a rural-ish area that’s a little thin in thirty- or forty-something single guys with a geeky streak. (My criteria-snicker.)

  • Welcome back, Jesse! New book sounds fab.

    Have to say I giggled my way through your very witty take on online dating. So many people I know are doing that these days – I should get them to check out your blog. And yeah, Trekkie guy sounds really scary! Laughed at your take on advertising guy. I’ve had a few dates like that. I was meant to laugh at HIS jokes but woe betide should I make a wry remark or two. So things soon went a-wry!

    That title generator is fun, isn’t it? I got Dark Wench but I think that might attract some strange types on online dating so I might pass it, much as I like it. The other one I liked was The Diamond of the Growing Solitude. Although it might make me sound a bit desperate, LOL!

    • Anna, Dark Wench? That could fit some of your heroines, too.

      Yeah, Trekkie Guy sounds like a scuzz. And he gives Trek fandom a bad name.

      Winter at Mustang Ridge is great! I’ve read it. Lots of humor in it, as you might guess from the excerpt.

    • Ha ha on Dark Wench, Anna. Yeah, might tend to attract the gamers and Goths. (Which isn’t a bad thing, just might not be where your tastes lie!)

      Yeah, Trekkie Guy was fun to practice flirting on, and I did learn from him that I liked a guy with a bit of an edge to him … but I was far better off finding it elsewhere! Fortunately, I had a very good wingwoman (ex military, kept good tabs on me and was ready to pull the rescue trigger as needed) when I went off to meet these guys!

  • Helen says:

    Hi Jesse

    What a great HEA I have never tried an online dating service they were not around back in my days LOL the books sounds so good congrats on the release and my name was The Time and the Star 🙂

    Have Fun

    • Helen, I also was settled before online dating appeared. It’s an interesting change in the way people connect.

      The Time and the Star? Books by that title could fit in multiple subgenres. Westerns, time travel, time travel westerns, SF romance…

    • When country music star Clint Travers meets a time-traveling saloon girl, worlds collide!

      Or something like that 🙂

      Helen, my prior (limited) dating experience had been pre-online dating, too, so this was a whole new world of freaky for me. Fun at times, weird at times, and ultimately very satisfying!

  • Shannon says:

    The one that caught my attention was “Enthralled Return.” I’ve been happily divorced for a while and have only a passing interest in dating so far. But if it could be a grand return and enthralling, I could be up for that!

    Good luck with the book.

    • Shannon, I’m married but would be with up for a new experience in the non-dating realm if I knew it would be entralling. That name generator is producing interesting results.

    • LOL Shannon. If you’re going to return to the dating thing, it really should be an Enthralling Return! (And I feel you on the not-interested, happily single thing … I was all ‘I’m just dabbling’ and then accidentally got lucky. Er, so to speak.)

      Too bad that, as much as the creepy child on the eHarmony ads would like us to believe otherwise, there isn’t any guarantee of an enthralling anything in online dating!

  • Diana Huffer says:

    There were so many titles to choose from but Flower in the Mists struck a cord… 🙂

    Winter at Mustang Ridge sounds great! Can’t wait to read it! Congrats!

  • Mozette says:

    I have a few onsite names for dating sites… yeah have been there a few times; and now refuse to get onto them again.

    Mozette(and whatever number they’re up to)

    There you go… yep, I’m a W.A. Mozart fan, and am proud of it… and no guys ever get it. They think it’s a oh la la French name which means I’m a slut and they can get into my pants – or they’re so darned boring they know I’m a W.A. Mozart fan and all they talk about is Mozart and wouldn’t know AC/DC if Doc Neason sat across from them in a bar…

    Yeah, I’m done with dating sites, blind dates, singles parties and friends lining me up… if I meet a guy – well, I meet one. If I don’t, I don’t. Same goes with a woman… I’ve told Mum and Dad that I don’t care if it’s a man or woman, so long they make me happy. 🙂

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    2old2care comes to mind! Lol! When you get to be my age, your requirements are a little different. Especially if you were married and had kids. Can’t see myself as a cougar. I’d just try to mother him. Already did that the first time around and boy does it get old. Hmmm. . . You have given me something to think about.

    • Debbie, LOL! That’s great. I’m also married and a mom, but if I were single, I’d have no interest in cougardom, either. Companionship is a lot more important.

    • LOLOL on 2old2care!

      See, I’d be a bad cougar because I tend to find older guys more attractive. Arizona is a few years younger than me, but ten or fifteen years? Probably not my style!

      My grandfather, who is a truly awesome guy, lost my grandmother four years ago. Now, at 94, he has a girlfriend, and they are sooo cute together. They fuss over each other, give each other grief, have sleepovers … This has definitely changed my view on too late for love. (Though, admittedly, I do think it also relates to whether a person enjoys being alone or not.)

  • Jesse, what a fun post! If I had to come up with a username, it would probably be something like GeekGirl or FanChick, except they aren’t narrow enough. SFReader is too narrow. BksComicsRomSFFHistReader is more accurate but probably way too long.

    Thanks for the copy of Winter at Mustang Ridge! I loved it.

    • Thanks for the invite, Nancy, and for hanging out with me today! There’s definitely a fine line between too general.

      I spent some time as Romance73, then decided it screamed ‘I want a big wedding, yesterday, and you’d better show up with flowers!’ But AdmiralAkbar’sBride didn’t quite have the right ring to it … 😉

  • pjpuppymom says:

    Hi Jesse! Welcome back! I love, love, love the Mustang Ridge books! You’ve really captured my imagination and my heart with this family and I can’t wait to see what you bring us next.

    I’ve never tried online dating but I have friends who have successfully navigated their waters. Two of them are now happily married to people they met through an online dating site. I’m going with the first random title that popped up for me: Twinkling Voyager. I love to travel and usually have an upbeat attitude. It fits. 🙂

  • ellie says:

    i enjoyed this post and think that online dating is a new and unique method. The Ring and the Sonata is the name which I think is ideal.

  • Diane says:

    The Devotion of the Serenade sounds lovely. The post is timely and meaningful for this day and age.

  • Anna Sugden says:

    Jesse!!! Squee!!! Great to see you here!! Big hug and one to Arizona too!) And thrilled to have another of your wonderful books to read (though, am I allowed to miss your Nightkeepers just a teensy bit?)

    I entertained myself for a few minutes with those titles – OMG they cracked me up. The closest I got wasn’t too bad – The Shoe and the Snow! Though it should, perhaps, have been The Shoe and the Ice :).

    • pjpuppymom says:

      The Shoe and the Ice

      Anna, I’m guessing that ice is in a glass? Pair it with a pair of fabulous shoes and it’s totally you! 🙂

    • Anna, I knew shoes would be in there somewhere! How perfect. 🙂

      I also would not be sorry to see the Nightkeepers pop up from time to time.

    • Anna! *squees and hugs from afar* So great to see you here!

      Lol on The Shoe and the Snow. Snowy Shoe? Icy Shoe? Ice and High Heels?

      You’re definitely allowed to miss the Nightkeepers–I know I do. Stay tuned (ha-typo’d that as ‘stay tude’) for more under the Andersen name in 2015. (Must. Get. Writing!)

  • pearl says:

    Way back in the olden days we met at friend’s homes, dances and through introductions. Online is new to me and many do well. Congratulations and best wishes. My name would be travel bee.

    • Pearl, I’m guessing you like to travel? It’s amazing how the online world has broadened our horizons, isn’t it? The changes aren’t all to the good, but it’s easier to stay in touch with distant friends than I once dreamed it could be.

    • Hi Pearl! I would totally click on the profile of someone named Travel Bee, just to see what they said about themselves, and where they had been 🙂

  • Laurie G says:

    My 2 S-I-Ls are trying online dating. My F-I-L was successful He has been with his lady friend for 6 years. He’s 83!

    My name would be NeverTooLate.

  • catslady says:

    The Haunted Butterfly – I really liked that one for some reason. I know someone who thinks her son has come back as butterflies to make her feel better. As to online dating – this same lady has two grown grandchildren that used online dating. One bad and one good. The first one was a girl and it was a quick amount of time from dating to getting engaged and almost married when it was found out he was a pediphile!!! Even after that event her brother tried it and seems to have lucked out and has been dating the same girl for a couple of years with later plans of getting married.

    • Catslady, thank goodness your family discovered what this guy was in time!

      The Haunted Butterfly is a very evocative name. Would be a great movie title.

    • I love the name Haunted Butterfly, especially with the connotation. Butterflies are so ethereal, yet they always make me smile.

      Ditto Nancy on the OMG, glad she got out of *that* engagement! Unfortunately, not every guy out there is hero material.

  • How this describes me to a T and it was the first one up 🙂

    Secluded Diamond LOL

    It’s always fun when you’re in the lair, Jesse. So glad you found success on I’ve attended the wedding of many people who have.

  • Debbie says:

    Well, I’ve been married 26 years and I think singles and computers were just starting to get going. The Desert and the Future caught my eye (maybe dessert would be better, lol) but if I was going with honesty old and cranky would be closer, LOL.

  • bn100 says:

    Distant Temptation

  • Kat Sheridan says:

    Mine came up with Seeker of Tales, which is just about perfect (although PRINCESS Seeker of Tales is closer. LOL!)

  • annie says:

    when I think of dating I am amazed at the changes that have occurred over the years. I don’t know if it has advanced or not. Name that I enjoy is sun dreams.

    • Sun Dreams is nice, Annie. Makes me think of napping in a hammock. And I agree with you–technology helps by widening the dating pool, but at the same time we might miss out on someone who is great in person, but doesn’t translate online.

    • Annie, that’s a great name! Yes, dating has changed a great deal. I remember my aunt being offended because a college friend (just a friend, not a date) did not walk me to the door after I’d had dinner with him. He waited until I got inside but didn’t get out of the car. I was fine with that. She was appalled.

  • Becke Turner says:

    The story had me with the vet. I love animals and medicine. Add the snappy dialogue with a senior and I was sold!

    e-dating? My niece found her guy that way too. It hasn’t worked out so well with two of my good friends. Glad yours was HEA.

    Selecting a handle is tough. How do you walk the line between buy someone for a nickel and get change and compelling?



    • Thank you Becke! I love Ruth, and … well, no spoilers, but I think you’ll like her part of the story. Ha ha on ‘buy someone for a nickel and get change’. That’s priceless! (Well, actually, we know the price. But I digress.) Love CautionGal as a handle-she’s going to make him work for it, but be worth the work!

    • Becke, the vet is great, and there are horses, too.

      CautionGal. I like it. 🙂