During the Lull Between Publishers

Back in December I took my rights back from Oak Tree Press and now have contracts for both my books (one non-fiction and one novel)  plus my novel coming out shortly called SNOW ANGEL. My new publisher is Aakenbaaken & Kent.

I just checked on Amazon.com and see that FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST is still available from vendors for $14.29. WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW is a different story because the vendors want $34.76 for it. All of the reviews are still intact, so you can read them on Amazon at each book’s site. But the good news is you can still get either or both of them directly from me for $12.95 plus $3.99 shipping/handling. To purchase, send a check or money order to me at PO Box 173; Ouray, CO 81427.

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Diary shared by Colleen Bixler

My friend of 30+ years, Colleen Bixler,  just released a Kindle book on Amazon.com  called “Marie’s Story”. The subtitle is “My Mother’s Diary of her Journey With My Dad Through Alzheimer’s Disease.” It clearly illustrates the strength of her mother, Marie, as she adjusted to the devastating changes and behavior of her husband, Chet Gately, after he was stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease in 1986. Marie kept a diary of that long and shattering experience. By sharing that diary, it is Colleen’s hope that someone, even just one person, gains something from what was an excruciatingly painful chapter in her family’s life. Most of all, if someone is dealing with a similar situation, she’d like them to realize they are not alone.

I read the book in one evening and found it to be extremely sad  and also astonishing to understand what her mother willingly endured from the love of her life as he slowly, but surely faded away. When Chet left this earth in 1991, he and Marie had been married for fifty-eight years.

Hope you’ll check her e-book out on Amazon.com and read it for yourself. I know you’ll find it amazing.

It makes me happy to see Colleen’s long-time dream come true. Please leave any comments you’d like to share on this blog, my Facebook page or Colleen’s Facebook page.


Author Colleen Bixler

Colleen Bixler lives in a small mountain town in Colorado in the summer and in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in the winter. She teaches meditation, reads a lot and travels as much as possible. (After reading Colleen’s book, I am convinced her travel propensity is inherited.)

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Colleen Bixler, death, family, Writing | 6 Comments


In 1994, I wrote a poem called “The Newest Angel” published in an anthology called “Echoes From the Silence”. A cousin happened to run across it among her late mother’s things yesterday and asked what inspired me to write it.

Mother and Jackie

When my mother was on her death bed, I spent two days with her in the hospital. I wouldn’t exchange that time together for anything. We talked about absolutely everything. She even spoke of the premature baby she’d birthed when I was  three years old and how she looked like a little doll. She never got over losing my little sister. We talked about her family history, since I was a genealogy nut at the time. I learned so many things about a lot of topics.

I combed her hair, fed her, and did my best to keep her comfortable. At one point, she said she kept wondering where my late older brother was. I said, “You do know where he is, don’t you, Mother?” She did. This led me to believe he was soon going to be greeting her.

Mother of Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

She’d been a gifted seamstress in her younger days before retirement. She loved nothing more than feeding and caring for the birds. The care home she’d been in allowed her to pick out a huge, bronze bird bath for the front lawn and it was her job to keep the bird feeders filled. She was mentally sharp to the very end, but couldn’t live in the altitude where we are and where she had been living, due to an earlier single lungectomy. Never a smoker, she developed a cyst in her left lung. A complication during surgery caused it to have to be removed.  She moved from Ohio to Colorado to be near me after the death of my stepfather, her husband of 41 years. Her house is visible from my front window at just two tenths of a mile away. She was not ill until four years later.

When she developed a rare form of pneumonia, the same kind that killed Jim Hensen of Muppet fame, she was hospitalized. On the second day, the hospital decided to put her in a private room because she was to have no visitors, except family. When they did this, she said something odd, “Oh, I can get well in here.” Later that day, she told me she wished I would let her get well. I knew what she was trying to ask, so I told her it was okay and she could do that. She relaxed then.

There were a lot of episodes when we thought the end had arrived, but she’d rally and be fine again. After one such incident, with two Baptist ministers praying on each side, she suddenly sat up, asked for her lunch and ate it all. The nurse told me, “Whatever religion she is, I want to be that!”  Mother’s comment was she was glad the clock on the wall had stopped acting up.

When I first began writing, poems would suddenly come to me, fully intact. A therapist friend of mine  inspired me to keep writing them because he saw a potential.  In a short time, the poetry simply left. I wrote short stories. Those evolved into writing a non-fiction book and then fiction novels. So, that’s how the poem came about and how I became a published author.

The last words I exchanged with my mother were when she simply said, “Goodnight.” I replied, “I’ll see you later.” That was twenty-three years ago and I still miss her every single day. I have worn her gold band wedding ring on my index finger since the day she died. In lieu of flowers, an aviary was built in her name at Valley Manor with memorial donations.

Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio


The angels pulled the clouds apart and lowered golden stairs.

My Mother looked toward the sun and saw my brother there.

Her weary face she turned once more to look into my eyes.

“If you would let me go,” she said, “I’d start toward the sky.” 

Into my own, I took her hand and gently touched her hair.

I told her that she could get well, that I would never care.

With silent tears, I watched her go. She turned to smile once more.

She blew a kiss and climbed the stairs to walk through golden doors. 

A peacefulness she sent to earth to tell me she’d got there.

And happiness is hers once more…no longer has she cares.

The angels are excited cause a new one’s come to sew

white gossamer into soft gowns with piping made of gold. 

God lets her water all the plants and feed the snow white doves

and send to earth soft, gentle winds to touch me with her love.

My Guardian Angel has a name and is a special lady.

She’s looking down from up above, still watching o’er her baby. 

(© September 1994 Jackie Taylor Zortman)


Posted in aging health, Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, death, family, grief, Mothers | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments


By the grace of God or some special angel who is watching over me, I recently was diverted from fraud that found me via Instagram. I’m new on Instagram. I joined it to see videos and pictures of my first great-grandchild who is almost five months old and watch her grow.

Then one fine day, a musician approached me  on Instagram with his “official” site. I ignored his comment for an entire month and then, for whatever reason, I answered his first greeting while wondering why he’d personally write to anyone. We discussed music,  tours, tickets and the things you would expect to be proper topics. He asked if I am married and I said I am. I said he was, as well, which he confirmed. I added the fact that I am old enough to be his mother or possibly his grandmother. He’s in his early thirties. After asking me what my favorite song of his was, I had to look his songs up on iTunes, which I told him. I love country music, but wasn’t familiar with him. I was surprised to discover he is a huge country super-star. I had no idea.

When I had to end the first day’s conversation, he noted he has a foundation he wanted to talk to me about. It turned out to be an orphanage in India for homeless little ones. I sort of cringed at that remark, but gave him the benefit of doubt.

I started having messages from him waiting from the time I turned my phone on in the morning until I had to cook dinner. I knew he was supposed to be on tour in New York at one point, so asked him if he wasn’t supposed to be on a stage somewhere. The concert was to begin at 7:00 p.m. ET and it was 5:00 MST. He replied it had been earlier in the day and he was finished. This is a super-star country musician with crowds in the thousands, so that seemed really strange.

I told him I knew he wasn’t the real person and he hit the fan. Obscene language, the whole nine yards. Odd for a devout Christian as this star is.  I asked how I knew he was really who he claimed to be and he sent me one of those disappearing photos of himself that you can only open one time and view for a couple of seconds.  Folks, I bought it and thought it really was him.

He began to pressure me to make a donation to this orphanage, but not directly to them, only through him via Western Union or MoneyGram. The recipient was to be his female “agent” in Michigan. It became almost all he would talk about, so I agreed to contribute. I’m ashamed to admit that, but it’s important to my story.

Long story short, MoneyGram refused to send it and told me it was due to other complaints from people who’d been victimized this way. Immediately, he asked me to send a check directly to his female “agent” in Michigan. I didn’t. The part that struck me strange is  all his agents list as being in Nashville, so why would he have one in Michigan? He lives in the south, not too far from Nashville.

Earlier he’d asked me to come to one of his shows and the only one near us is Country Jam in June. That’s a four-day huge event in Grand Junction and advertises as the biggest country blow-out in Colorado.  He asked to remain friends till then.

When my husband (42-year law enforcement officer) heard the deal about donating, he  said the only way I was going to do that was to put it into his guitar strumming hands at Country Jam and no other way. I relayed that to him and he had a real outburst with lots of the F-word being flung about and raging. He demanded I donate and do it now and exactly the way he told me. That’s when the alarm bells finally rang loudly in my head.

I told him I am an adult professional woman and the only person who decides what I will do with my money is ME. I added there will be no donation. That just did it for him. You talk about a fit! I told him I knew all about his female “agent” and her background, which I did by this time. The last word he got to say to me was, “Lies!”

This ended with me blocking him and deep diving into investigating the name of the woman who he said was his Michigan agent. She is apparently a complete loon and scamming innocent people via a fake account as this musician. She really is in Michigan. I found her on Twitter and she had my Twitter author’s profile right up there on the top of her page, along with other country stars. Her attraction to me was the author factor. People think all authors are filthy rich, which is laughable in reality.

The person she was using to scam me with doesn’t appear on her page at all, except in one group shot with four other famous country stars and she had re-tweeted it.  She appears to be some sort of deranged groupie. I found the picture she sent to prove she was him on his real page. You know, the one with the check mark beside his name on Twitter. Instagram should do that, too.  She simply copied the picture and sent it to me with just a quick glimpse possible. Devious doesn’t begin to describe her behavior. Anger doesn’t begin to describe how I feel

To be honest, I never expected to have a woman do something like this to me. I’m very careful to not allow men to friend or follow me, unless they are other authors, someone I know, we have mutual friends or they have some sort of credible credentials to present. That’s really difficult when you are putting yourself out there to the public as an author.

In hindsight, before I blocked her all over the place, I wish I had gotten on Twitter and sent her a private message (or public), simply saying, “Can you spell fraud?”

So, as my numerous LEO friends say and I used to say to my husband as he went on duty, BE CAREFUL OUT THERE AND WATCH YOUR BACK!

(Hope you’ll leave a comment for me, if you stop by, especially those of you who are LEOs.)


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As writers/authors, one of the most difficult lessons we have to learn is to not allow anyone else to change our “voice”. Once you’ve been published and people like your book(s), you pretty much know you can write. Now you have a style and it’s important to keep it and not be lured into changing it for someone else.

For example, some manuscripts don’t get past the editor you hire before they start telling you to change this or change that. My own policy on this particular situation is to change things, if they sound valid to me…thus, reflect my own voice.  Should they not ring true to me, I refuse to change it. We have to remember that it’s our book, our style, our choice.

Then there’s the situation where your beta readers have caught mistakes and typos and even made a few suggestions. These are people you trust. Listen to them. Your hired editor has done their thing. You’ve rewritten. Corrected. Adjusted. Polished.  You are satisfied it’s the book you want to present to the readers. Off it goes to one or several publishers to see if it’s a good fit for them. You wait.

Here’s where you can hit a big snag. Some chief editors will suggest that you change this to that and that to this. Pretty soon, your voice is gone and theirs is in its place. Whoa, whose book is this anyhow? This is where you need to stand your ground and refuse to be intimidated. Let them go and keep searching for the publisher who likes your work the way you wrote it.

Note on my computer monitor. Been there for years.

When I took back the rights to my first two books, I intended to re-write the very first one. After all, I was six years down the road as a published author and knew a lot more than I did when I sat down and wrote that first book. I could make it way better. To my surprise, when I mentioned this to a good author friend of mine, she begged me not to change a word. She said my voice in that book is just like I am talking to the reader and that’s what everyone likes about it. I listened.

Later, this same author friend had the chance to make a lot of drastic changes to her book in exchange for a publishing contract. She considered it. I talked to her. An important voice in her life echoed a phrase he’d once told her. She listened. She refused to do it. Guess what? In a very short time, a much bigger and better publisher came along and accepted both her books and she now has contracts with a house that doesn’t want things changed at all.

So, believe in what you write and don’t compromise and sell out your work…ever. I have a piece of paper taped over the camera on my monitor and it says LET IT BE. Need I say more?

(Hope you  leave a comment so I’ll know you were here or catch me on Facebook.)

Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Authors, books, Writing | Tagged , | 6 Comments


Mammy’s Lamp

On December 11, 2017, I wrote a blog called Mammy’s Lamp. It’s about a kerosene lamp I have that once belonged to my paternal great grandmother, Nancy Elizabeth Cochran Hale.  As the owner of the only general store, she was well known and loved in the area where she lived and was affectionately referred to as Aunt Nanny. But to my brother and I, and most of our cousins, she was Mammy. She birthed eleven children, with nine surviving, and they all called her Mammy.

Linda’s Lamp
Photo by Linda Reidelbach

Two of my cousins, who are sisters, responded to my blog with memories of their own  about Mammy’s lamps and trips to visit her. In addition, both gave me permission to share their thoughts with you. Mammy was their grandmother. Even though their mother was my father’s aunt, they were the same age and grew up together.

Donna says she has two of the lamps from Mammy’s, but the chimneys aren’t the original. She keeps them on the mantel and, like me, uses them when the electric goes off and treasures them the rest of the time. Their family went to Mammy’s every summer on vacation when we were kids. Of course, I was also down there, but at my own grandmother’s home, Mammy’s daughter, Nettie.

The women all had waist long hair back then and kept it up in a tidy bun during the day, being held securely with really big tortoise hair pins. Mammy would sometimes let her hair down at night and allow Donna to brush it. Like me, she recalls Mammy didn’t talk very much.

Her daughter who never married, our Aunt Fannie,  lived with Mammy until her death and Donna recalls all the laughter and fun we shared with her. Aunt Fan had the world’s best sense of humor and a tremendous affection for animals. She is the one who lovingly gave many of us the lamps.

Donna remembers, “We also had great biscuits and gravy in the morning that were baked in the wood stove. When we finished breakfast, we started dinner by fixing the green beans. There was always plenty of good food. After dinner, we would just put a table cloth over the left overs and eat that at supper. I didn’t like seeing the chicken killed. They would put it on the tree stump in the yard and chop its head off. Then it would flop around in the yard. We loved going to Aunt Net’s house (my grandmother). It was always warm and homey. There are many more memories and I think of them often. Mammy’s house doesn’t look the same anymore. It is sad that kids today can’t experience what we did as kids.”

Linda is seven years younger than Donna and ten years younger than me, so she didn’t get to participate in some of the things the rest of us did to amuse ourselves, but she also remembers hanging around with Aunt Fan and Aunt Pearl instead. She also has several kerosene lamps, both Mammy’s and others given to her by others. Two of the photos were provided to me by Linda and are of her lamps.

Linda’s lamps
Photo by Linda Reidelbach

I remember hot summer Sunday afternoons with Mammy’s yard filled with friends and relatives from all over. Pappy and several of his grandsons were talented musicians on fiddle and guitar. There was often a gathering of various other musically gifted men and they’d  play beautiful Bluegrass music together. Pappy died when I was five years old, but that tradition lived on.  There was always lots of laughter and plenty of food with non-alcoholic drinks. It was a dry county, though I suspect a few moonshine stills were secreted in some of the heavily wooded areas.

In hindsight, it was sort of like taking a step back in time, being visitors from the city. There were only gravel roads then, cook-stoves fueled by wood, water from the spring or an outside pump, kerosene lamps, frequent horse-drawn wagons and…out houses. But as Donna and Linda agree, we have wonderful childhood memories that are no longer attainable.

I spent many a happy time sitting on a big feed sack inside the Hale Store eating a Moon Pie while drinking a cold Royal Crown cola out of a big red Coke cooler that held huge chunks of ice. On other hot days, we kids would play together in Brush Creek, which ran behind the store that was just across the road from Mammy’s house.

Yes, it is sad that these things can no longer be experienced as wide-eyed kids who got to see a different way of life, down home on the farms. We feel blessed with our memories. There was a lot of love and care about family, friends, neighbors and even strangers. Hatred was never visible, though I’m sure it was lurking to some degree here and there.

(Thank you, Donna Yarnell & Linda Reidelbach for contributing.)





Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, family, Family heirlooms, memories, summer, summers on the farm | 2 Comments


In December 2017, having taken my book rights back from Oak Tree Press, I signed contracts for all three of my books with Aakenbaaken & Kent. The books are “We Are Different Now”, “Footprints in the Frost” and the soon-to-be sequel, “Snow Angel”. Therefore, at the present time, it’s difficult to buy either of the two already published books from Amazon, except for exorbitant prices from various vendors.

However, I do have a few copies of both the books, should anyone be interested in buying them directly from me until my new publisher gets them back up on Amazon. Barnes & Noble presently lists them as “temporarily out of stock”. You can contact me at PO Box 173; Ouray, CO 81427 or find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jackie.t.zortman or https://www.facebook.com/jtzortman.author.2013/

A & K’s business is located in Georgia and Hurricane Irma did a bit of damage in that area, so it has thrown the chief editor behind and he’s working with a frenzy to catch up. Of course, I’m not his only author, so the queue is long. Once he does, all will be great again…better than ever, actually.

Hope you will  hang in there with me just a little big longer until things are back to normal.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Posted in Aakenbaaken & Kent Publishing, Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Crime, fiction, grief, mysteries, non-fiction | Leave a comment


Mammy’s Lamp

It’s time again to get Mammy’s lamp down to clean and shine. Then I put the big red bow on  to make it more festive for Christmas. Oh, what wonderful memories that old kerosene lamp brings back to me.

Down in Kentucky, where I was born, my paternal great-grandparents owned and operated the only general store within miles of the nearest town, for many years.  Therefore, my great-grandmother was known far and wide as Aunt Nanny.  Her name was Nancy Elizabeth Cochran Hale, but to my Grandma Taylor, my brother and I, she was simply Mammy.  Sadly, she died in April 1963 and my Aunt Fan (her daughter) gave me one of Mammy’s lamps. It is a treasure I will hand down to my kids, grandkids and great-grandchild one day, God willing it remains intact.

As I was cleaning it, I wondered how long the original used-up fixture that had been on top had been on Mammy’s lamp. I have owned it for fifty-three years and had never changed it until two years ago. I don’t know how long Mammy had it or if anything on it had ever been changed by her.  She had electricity for many years before her death, so it had become a mere decoration  she paid little attention to. We use it whenever the electric goes off at night for any length of time.

Thinking back to when I was a kid and the lamp was actually lit and burning regularly at night, it rekindled a lot of wonderful memories with people in my family who are all now gone. My late big brother and I spent all of our childhood summers with our paternal grandparents, who lived close to Mammy.  The three of us would walk the two miles down the hill and over the creek to Mammy’s house almost every day and hike back up before dinner.  Mammy was a quiet woman with a heart of gold and a large, happy family.  Nobody entered her house without being seated at the enormous dining  table piled high with food. It didn’t matter which meal of the day was being served, nobody left hungry.

The little toy lamp to the right is the last present given to my mother by her mother (Sarah Elilzabeth Murphy Lee) before her death in 1928. Each child received one for Christmas and this is the only one left. It is eighty-nine years old and I’ve had it twenty-three years.

The little owl is a Cybus and was given to me by my late ex-husband on the twentieth anniversary of the day we met. That was sixty years ago when I was collecting owls. Now that he is also gone, it has a special place in my heart.

Perhaps there is a message being sent to me by those lost ones right now at Christmas time. The message might be to treasure those you love and let them know that you do because one day they will no longer be around.  Some insignificant item they once owned will be the thing you remember them by when you take the time to actually look at it…and truly see it…and remember all the good times.

Merry Christmas! May Your Memories All Be Happy!

Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, family, Family heirlooms, love, memories | 12 Comments


Does the time fly because my husband and I are growing older or is it simply the fast pace of today’s crazy world? Summer absolutely zinged past and if we had a fall season, I must have blinked because here we sit, staring Thanksgiving right in the face.

On New Year’s Eve, I believed with my heart that 2017 was going to be an outstandingly wonderful year. However, we had one disaster after another every single month, right up until now. But that’s not to say there weren’t many blessings, as well. Sometimes I  have to remind myself to stop and count those, too. I was surprised how it balances out nicely.

One of the greatest blessings was having our middle grandson and his sweet wife present us with our very first great-grandchild. She unexpectedly arrived an entire month early,  absolutely picture perfect. As Shakespeare said, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”  That quote also fits our granddaughter who graduated from college with her hard-earned Bachelor Degree. Her parents had a combined celebration of graduation and Mother’s Day that was the word extravaganza personified.

Unfortunately, that event was the last time I was ever to see my ex-husband and the father of my children. He passed away five weeks later. We were married for twenty-five years, but he was in my life for sixty years. It was then I learned, when such things happen, we only remember the good times. He will forever be missed.

Five days later, my husband of 31 years had serious shoulder surgery for a fall he’d taken two months earlier. He finally came through the numerous excruciatingly difficult weeks after, during which I felt like we’d both walked through the fires of hell. Four and a half hours of anesthetic and that miserable, bulky sling became trials for us both. It took time and tears, but we made it and he’s doing well. A week ago, he asked our family doctor if he could  carry our snow blower up to our front deck. My son was in Mexico and we’d had five and a half inches of snow. Doc’s answer was NO.  He then said, after his office hours, he’d drive to our house and carry it up to the front deck himself, just to save my husband’s surgical repair. And he did. It was 7:30 and dark before he had the time to do it. Bless him.

That is an example of the many wonderful perks of living in a small, Colorado mountain town. It’s not always easy to live here. It takes hard work and true grit. But it’s worth the trade-off. As I’ve said before, good people with caring hearts gather here…and they stay.



Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, blogs, Colorado, Thanksgiving | 9 Comments


What a nice surprise to discover my book FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST lists among the five most intriguing mysteries Caleb Pirtle III has read this year. He has 70 books on the market and a long and impressive career as a writer. You can check it out at https://calebandlindapirtle.com/85048-2/.
As a note, I recently took my rights back from Oak Tree Press and am now publishing with Aakenbaaken & Kent. They are in Georgia and were in Hurricane Irma, so as my publisher, Mike, words it, “…the queue is long, so expect delays.” I’m not sure how many copies Amazon still has of my books, but A & K will soon have them up there again. 
Meantime, if you want to buy a copy, you can get it from me. Just drop me an e-mail, find me on Facebook, Twitter or here.  I have a few copies I ordered to have on hand before I left OTP.
Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, BLOG: Here Comes A Mystery-Caleb & Linda Pirtle, blogs, books, FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST, mysteries, Venture Galleries - Caleb Pirtle III | 2 Comments