Over the past six and a half years, I have written more than 500 posts here and with the Romance Vagabonds. This blog got its name from my decision to continue blogging on my own after the Vagabonds broke camp. I began with a mix of fear and exhilaration. Those who know me best know that I am a classic introvert, and a shy one at that. I found sharing my thoughts about reading and writing and related issues without the security of planning and discussing them with the other Vagabonds* (Manda Collins, Lindsey Faber, and Sara Holmes) intimidating, but after years of being a closet romance reader, I was excited about going public with my enthusiasm for the genre. I loved my time as a Vagabond, but I felt that I had more to say when that time ended. In July 2009, I published my first post as Just Janga. It was about inspiration and perspiration and keeping on as an aspiring romance author. But in the five years since that post, that dream has been pushed further and further into the background as I did more and more freelance writing and wrote more and more book reviews.
I never planned for this to become a review site. In fact, I didn’t write my first formal review until April 2010 when I reviewed The Goddess of Fried Okra by Jean Brashear (a book I still love and have reread several times), Gradually, I wrote more and more reviews until the site became another romance review site. Don’t get me wrong. I have loved my role as a reviewer, and since I have reviewed only books that I have chosen to read, often by authors whose earlier books line my keeper shelves, I have been able to write not only honestly but also positively most of the time. I count myself privileged. However, writing two reviews a week—and sometimes more--meant less and less time was devoted to working on my own writing. While I still thought of myself as a writer, I identified as an academic writer and a writer about romance rather than as a romance writer.
My brother’s death this past January made me freshly aware that none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. If I wanted to realize my dream, I had to get busy today. Since my freelance writing supplies strawberry jam for my bread (and I like strawberry jam), cutting it to gain more writing time was not an option. Cutting back on reviews was. Thus, I made my decision to stop blogging at this site.
I leave with a feeling of pride in what I have accomplished and with gratitude for you who have joined me here. The three posts in which I take greatest pride are
“Nice Is a Four Letter Word” (August 5, 2011) because I took a stand against a meanness in some online communities that I found disturbing.
“My Mother’s Books: Parts 1-6” (February 8, February 9, February 23, March 9, March 23, and April 6, 2013) because this tribute to my mother and five romance authors she loved—Faith Baldwin, Grace Livingston Hill, Elizabeth Cadell, Emilie Loring, and D. E. Stevenson—made me cry and laugh and remember with a grateful heart.
“Girlfriends” (January 27, 2012) because it gave me a chance to say a public thank you to the women friends from every area of my life who have filled my life and my heart.
These are not my most popular posts. That distinction is reserved for various lists and one review. Based on blog stats, “Reading Beside the Christmas Tree” (December 23, 2010), a list of my favorite Christmas season readings from that year has proved to be my most popular post. “A New Cinderella Tale: Eloisa James’s A KISS AT MIDNIGHT” (July 8, 2010) is my most popular review. Strangely, “Periphrasis: Speaking Around” (September 30, 2011), a post I wrote quickly under deadline pressure from a freelance project, is another one that has been viewed thousands of times. I admit I’m puzzled by that one.
This last post here has me reflecting on what has been, anticipating new experiences, and feeling grateful to you who have read my posts. The comments and the numbers inspired me to continue for five years, and I value each one. I am particularly thankful for Quantum and Irish, my most faithful readers and my cherished friends. I hope you all will visit me at The Romance Dish where I will continue to review several times a month and at Heroes and Heartbreakers where I will occasionally post ruminations about romances past and current. I’ll also post reviews at GoodReads, a dozen of them within the next week or so.
Writers are notorious for pondering word choices. As I ponder my final words at Just Janga, I am reminded that the OED defines “farewell” as “an expression of good wishes at the parting of friends.” Ah, the perfect word for my purpose. Farewell, my friends, until another day, another place.