What’s Your Writing Style?

Here I sit in the midst of writing my third book, SNOW ANGEL, my second fiction novel and sequel to FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST.  Trust me, with all the rest of life that takes so much time, this has been a challenge. 

Writers are taught not to edit as you write and that is a difficult habit for me to break.  I try to write from 1000 to 2000 words every day.  I print out what I’ve written. I read it. I edit it.  I go back and make corrections.

Yesterday, a seasoned writer friend of mine told me to just write the book and then go back and highlight and polish it later. His point being this saves a lot of time, which it does.  He just spent what he calls a grueling week doing that on his next book which will be somewhere around #71. Obviously, he has a lot of good advice to share. I still wonder how he knew what I was doing.

I do not write from an actual outline, but have it in my head.  However, when writing a sequel, a little spiral notebook is essential because you have to remember what/where/how/when that’s in the first book.  Another thing that absolutely needs to be noted are dates. Otherwise, things can grow rather mucky quickly.  It has taken me six years to learn these things in a manner that makes me believe them.  

One recent day, my computer suddenly announced:  “An error has occurred and Windows is trying to recover your work.  This may take a few minutes.”  As I watched the contantly revolving circle on an otherwise blank monitor, I paced the floor like an expectant father whose wife is in the delivery room and he isn’t.  Windows recovered it.  It did take a few minutes.  I save my manuscript every single time I exit it and I probably over do it.  I save it to Word.  I save it to desk top.  I save it to my external hard drive.  But I have 40,000 words and 37 chapters written and don’t want to start over.

Computers are wonderful when they are working like a well-oiled machine, but when they falter in the middle of some block of large work, it’s terrifying.

So, if you have any additional tips for me, I am very anxious to hear them and you can leave them in the comments below, e-mail them to me or leave them on Facebook.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

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

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY 2017

Handsome guest on our front deck.

Handsome guest on our front deck.

Who is your favorite team for the 51st Super Bowl later today?  Personally, I don’t have a dog in this fight since my Denver Broncos are not involved, but I do have a favorite, though I’m not going to express it here.  As an author, I think it’s a wise idea to never get publicly involved by taking sides in politics, religion or sports. Sometimes that takes a lot of teeth gritting, but I can do this and it works for me.
With all of the civil unrest and political infighting in our normally peaceful country right now, I think watching a football game for three hours or more will be a wonderful distraction.  Have you noticed any additional stress in your own life since all you see and hear on social media or the television is who doesn’t like what and how they intend to make it known?  Perhaps they will simply peacefully march and protest or they may decide to block a highway, set buildings and cars on fire, throw rocks at the police or totally disrupt and destroy someone’s event, no matter what it is.
What all of that has done for me is simply make me spend very little time on social media sights and to watch either a funny sitcom or a good movie on television now and then.
I am reading a lot of good books instead of doing any of those other things and making great strides writing my next book called SNOW ANGEL, a sequel to FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST.  I’m also creating a few entries for the 2017 Public Safety Writers Associations Writing Competition in Las Vegas in July. The deadline for entries is May 1st, so it’s looming large.
Odd as this sounds, what is being accomplished is some of us are beginning to start living more productive lives once more and ignoring that which brings unpleasantness into our private world.  So, in my opinion, we are slowly, but surely turning something negative into something positive and that’s how it should be. There’s an old saying, “It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow some good.”  That’s not verbatim, but it’s close.
Where I live, we have an added contender with a winter storm warning for one to two feet of snow, starting tonight and ending sometime on Wednesday.  We’ve just enjoyed a couple of weeks of sunny, warm, snow-melting days, so looks like it’s back to winter, as usual, this time of year.
I hope your team wins today and that you enjoy  the game, the legendary Super Bowl ads and the half time show.  You can leave a comment and let me know you stopped by and, if you like, tell me what you are doing these days.
If you need a couple of good books to read, click on the “ABOUT” button at the top of this page and check mine out.
Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Posted in 2017 Super Bowl, Colorado, Jackie Taylor Zortman, professional football, Public Safety Writers Association, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

THE LAST BREATH?

On Friday night, January 6, 2017 at 6:15 PM, one of our carbon monoxide alarms suddenly went live.  It wouldn’t stop, even when I took it outside.  When the second one alarmed, I called 911 and the police and fire department arrived, with us outside as directed, even though it was only 7 degrees.  They found carbon monoxide in our master bedroom and master bathroom  on what is the third level of our house, the ground level being the foyer, my husband’s shop in what is actually a garage, though it’s never been used for one. We also have two other rooms and a bath on the ground level.  However, they could not locate any source of the deadly gas. So, we had to pack ourselves and the cat up and move to a motel a few blocks away and at which my daughter-in-law had obtained a large suite for us to use for the night.
Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon Monoxide Detector

The following day, as directed by the fire department, I called the heating/plumbing company  to check the three natural gas appliances in our home – furnace/water heater/drier and found zero CO.  The fire chief had volunteered to come back and check  with him and he also found zero CO. However, we were told to have carbon monoxide detectors (we already had three) in all bedrooms and on each floor of our house, which we now have for a total of six.
On Monday, another technician from the heating company appeared at our door to do a courtesy check, to make certain all is well. And yesterday, the heating company came and changed our vinyl exhaust pipe to the gas drier to sheet metal.  Apparently, that is a new federal housing code rule.  The old vinyl style is considered to be a fire hazard, plus there’s always a chance a hole might appear in such a vent pipe.
I can now tell you how scary it is to lie down in your bed at night with the knowledge you just may never wake up again due to carbon monoxide.  The fire department moved one of the detectors inside our bedroom and I keep another just outside of it. At this point, that is what I depend on to warn us, should we be in danger. Two years ago, we purchased our detectors after a couple was found dead from carbon monoxide in a motel room in a distant town.
Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon Monoxide Detector

This is something each and every one of you should do for your safety because it is odorless and deadly.  With nothing showing CO in our case, the only possible explanation is that earlier, my husband had our Jeep running just outside the open garage door in the basement while he used an acetylene torch to thaw the hydraulic lift on the snow plow.  He also had our pickup truck running with the exhaust pointing in the exact opposite direction from the Jeep, but also right outside and parallel to the open garage door.  Speculation is that the furnace, just inside the door, sucked the exhaust into the house and spread it through the ducts and upstairs.  Our house is an open chalet style, but the bedroom and bathrooms do have walls and doors, though the doors were open.
A weather inversion can also cause carbon monoxide when it doesn’t allow your appliances outside vents to work properly.  It was unusually cold the night of our own experience.
Also, in spite of the hatred for law enforcement and  firemen today, always support and be grateful  for your police and fire departments because they may be the ones who save your life sometime.
I’m writing this as a public service announcement to make sure you have adequate carbon monoxide detectors wherever you are.  They also might save your life some day or night. Having them saved ours.
Author Jackie Taylor Zortman and husband, Richard.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman and husband, Richard.

Jackie is a Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association

PSWA Member graphic[1]

Posted in Carbon Monoxide, Colorado, Fire Departments, Home safety, Jackie Taylor Zortman, Public Safety Writers Association | 10 Comments

LOOKING BACK

Sitting here in my Colorado mountain tourist town home on New Year’s Eve, I discovered that it is sad as we approach the ending of each year because, in spite of the rampant remarks about the bad things that happened in 2016, there were also many good things.  But as I was pondering this subject, I wandered many years back to some things that used to be, but are no more. Two recent losses sent me there.

Back in the early 80s, my ex-husband and I bought a lot downtown and erected a commercial building on it.  It housed a rental apartment on the top floor, my bookstore just above ground level and a rental store below that.  My ex had an office in the back of the bookstore  for his CPA practice and the bookstore shared it for its office,  as well . 

One day I was working  in the bookstore alone when in walked none other than Debbie Reynolds, whose parents lived here at the time.  Her mother was a rather wonderfully extroverted character, but in a good, down-to-earth way.  Everybody local knew and loved her.  I only saw Debbie’s father one time and he appeared to be a rather quiet gentleman. But our meeting was brief, so I don’t really know.

Debbie’s father loved books and especially Louis L’Amour’s, so she was always shopping for those and other westerns for him.  Imagine my surprise when, while browsing the shelves, she suddenly started singing “Tammy’s In Love” as I answered my ringing store telephone that day.   

Another time, she and Carrie Fisher came in to shop and Carrie volunteered to send an autograph home to my then teenage son, which she signed Princess Leia.  She was at the height of her fame for that role at the time.

The last time I saw Debbie was when she rode beside another local resident, Dennis Weaver, in the July 4th parade a few years ago.  And now, sadly, they are all gone.  Even though I heard it said on a recent show about them that Debbie and Carrie were “big deal and high maintenance broads,” neither of them acted that way when they were here and I am proud to have had the privilege of meeting both of them.  Dennis Weaver was the same – unpretentious and always out and about and approachable, though we tend to let the movie stars alone around here because I think they come here to escape that sort of thing.

To pull myself out of this roaming back into the past, which was provoked by the two deaths,  I told myself that, even though this night was to be an ending, it is also a wonderful, new beginning.  I don’t make resolutions anymore, but I do have high hopes that 2017 is going to be an outstandingly wonderful year for us all.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Posted in books, Carrie Fisher, Celebrities, Debbie Reynolds, Jackie Taylor Zortman, New Year's Eve | 13 Comments

GOD BLESS US, EVERY ONE!

dscn9181The month of December has been an interesting one around our house this year.  We have an infestation of those aggravating little black gnats and I finally figured out they secretly sneaked into the house via a bag of planting soil that was open in the basement.  For whatever reason, they love hanging out around my computer monitor, which I consider to be odd, not to mention extremely irritating.

Ermine 2016

Ermine 2016

We have a cute little ermine that’s hanging around in his white winter coat that turns brown in the summer.  They’ve been around our house for years, for whatever reason, and are cute to watch.  They turn white in winter to match the snow and have a little black tip on the end of their tail. This photo only shows half his long slim body.

My husband had an 80-mile round trip to the ER the other night due to double vision that lasted about half way there.  After a zillion tests, blood draw and CT scans of his brain/neck/blood vessels, nothing was found to be wrong.  The family doc and I think he had an ocular migraine. That’s so much better than a stroke or TIA.

Five weeks ago, our cat kichai-2went into congestive heart failure on a trip to the vet in the same town where the hospital is and had an overnight stay.  Yesterday, he had to go back for a checkup and his lungs are clear, he’s greatly improved and she’s cutting his meds down now.  He’s a Siamese and we bought and flew him here in 2004 as an  18th anniversary present to each other, which makes him super special, as does his loving personality.  He’s the baby we didn’t have together.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

I had a lovely surprise when a local newspaper reporter called and did an interview with me as one of many local authors.  She wrote a very nice article that appeared this week.  And two days ago, I nervously forced myself to step out of my comfort zone and take a leap into an offer from a public relations firm for 2017.  What do I have to lose with professional publicity? The bonus is I gain more time to write.

I just noticed Christmas and the beginning of Hanukkah are both on December 25th this year, which seems unusual.  So, I want to take this time to wish each and every one of you a wonderful and Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah and let’s all pray that 2017 brings us all peace and prosperity. May the unrest and hatred over the election finally disappear and we can, once again, love one another. I think my cousin in San Antonio, Texas summed it up beautifully when he told me, “Blessings abound  during Christmas time.  Let it be so!”

 MERRY CHRISTMAS!

dscn9180

 

 

Posted in Christmas, family, Hanukkah, Jackie Taylor Zortman | Leave a comment

GOT YOUR SHOPPING DONE FOR CHRISTMAS OR HANUKKAH?

Are you like me and wonder where in the world the time has gone this year?  Seems like the days/weeks/months keep flying past and I’m having a hard time keeping up with the speed of it all.  Today we are just 23 days away from Christmas.  My brother was born on Christmas Eve and my first cousin was 4 years old when he arrived.  She was so excited and telling everyone, “Aunt Rene got a real doll for Christmas this year!”  Couldn’t ask for a better gift than that, could you?

Today I am going to remind you that if you are still groping for the perfect gift, I have some books I think would make wonderful gifts, so I will tell you about them.

Cover 300x444My first published book is WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW and it tells of my journey with grief after my grandson, Pete, fell 100 feet to his death one night off the ledge of a Colorado mountain. He was 21 years old and was very dear to me.  This book sells as needed and I still get many letters telling me a person bought it after losing someone or as a gift to someone they know who has recently experienced loss.  I feel Pete lives on inside its pages and helps others understand how unexpected and untimely deaths affect us. It’s availabe at http://www.amazon.com as a Kindle or trade paperback and at http://www.bn.com as a Nook or trade paperback.

CF with PSWA - Footprints in the FrostMy second book is a first place award winning fiction novel and introduces handsome and rugged detective Max Richards and lets you peek inside his life both on and off the job, as well as his love life.  You can romp with him and his love, Sami, in the Colorado snow when they escape the strife of city life and destress at his remote, beautiful Colorado mountain cabin.  Tag along as they rub shoulders with the beautiful people in a nearby famous ski resort or just visit with friends near and dear. Buy: Trade paperback  and Kindle available on Amazon.com and Nook and trade paperback at Barnes & Noble. It is also It can also be purchased at All Romance eBooks at:https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-footprintsinthefrost-1990300-152.html; on Apple’s iBooks at: https://itun.es/us/_-X0ab.l or  walmart.com at http://www.walmart.com/search/?query=Footprints%20in%20the%20Frost%20by%20jackie%20taylor%20zortman&cat_id=3920.

otp-cookbook-ebook-coverThis year, 26 Oak Tree Press authors, myself included, decided to do a cookbook, featuring recipes that appear in our books.  This one is available in a special edition that is all color or in an edition that has the same beautiful color cover, but is black and white inside.  This would be a great gift for those who love to cook or would simply enjoy a beautiful cookbook.  It’s available in both versions at http://www.amazon.com as trade paperbacks.  I must tell you the full-color special edition is really worth the price because it’s beautifully done.  None of us who contributed to this book will receive anything for doing so, as all the proceeds from it will go to charity.  So, you get a great book for a good cause.

In addition to my own books, I must tell you that I am a featured character in one of F. M. Meredith’s books called A CRUSHING DEATH.  I also have the honor of writing the back cover blurb for John M. Will’s newest novel called THE STORM.  I’ve read them both and can tell you they are both great books you will enjoy reading. While I’m at it, don’t forget the Public Safety Writers Association’s book (I have two chapters) called FELONS, FLAMES & AMBULANCE RIDES.  They’re all available on http://www.amazon.com and http://www.bn.com.

storm-2a-crushing-death-right-3Felons, Flames and Ambulance Rides

 

 

Posted in Authors, books, Christmas, cookbooks, Crime, F.M. Meredith a.k.a. Marilyn Meredith, fiction, Hanukkah, Jackie Taylor Zortman, John M. Wills, non-fiction | Leave a comment

MEET AUTHOR JOHN M. WILLS AND HIS LATEST BOOK “STORM”

Today I am honored to host my friend and prolific author, John M. Wills, to introduce his latest fiction novel STORM.  I’ve read the book and found it to be outstanding.  I especially love his cover –  perfect fit for this story.  So, without further ado, here’s John.

JOHN M. WILLS, AUTHOR

Author John M. Wills

Author John M. Wills

Hi, Jackie. I’m pleased you’re hosting me so that I can let your readers know about my latest novel, The Storm. Here’s a brief synopsis: Anna’s life in the small town of Heavenly Harbor, Michigan, seems idyllic. Married ten years to her childhood sweetheart, Mark, she wants for nothing, except a baby. Unfortunately, her husband doesn’t share her enthusiasm. Anna has been secretly keeping a journal. She’s recorded her suspicions about Mark’s reluctance to share her dream and his possible infidelity. As she is about to confront him, lightning strikes, literally, causing her to lose her memory. The Storm will not only damage Anna physically, but possibly destroy her marriage as well—and Mark’s secret life is about to implode.

Why write such a story? Well, I was inspired to write this book simply because I’ve had people in my life who’ve suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease. I’ve witnessed the steady progression, sometimes developing slowly, other time coming on quickly. Either way, the destruction the malady causes is beyond description. After a while, the victim hardly realizes what is happening. Sadly, however, those close to the patients suffer immeasurably. Their once vibrant loved one disappears before their eyes. In the final stages, it’s not unusual for the victim to be unable to recognize family and friends.

storm-2So while I was pondering a story involving memory loss, I thought it would be interesting if it centered around a young person. And rather than Alzheimer’s, I thought an injury-induced case of amnesia would make for a compelling story. Thus, the making of Anna’s story began.

The tale required research with respect to injuries resulting from lightning strikes—how they affect the physical and mental well-being. In addition, I wanted the protagonist to be likeable, believable, and strong. Anna is that person, and her tenacity after her injury makes her character even more powerful. The injury transforms Anna’s character, once a one-dimensional teacher and wife, into a strong determined, complex woman who knows what she wants and how to get it.

Of course, what would a story be without at least one antagonist that readers dislike right from the very beginning? We have such a character in Vicky, a personal trainer at the local health club. Her chicanery and outright lack of morals wreaks havoc upon Anna’s marriage. Add to the mix a shady private investigator, a couple of fantastic cops, and the recipe for a great novel is complete and ready to serve.

Early reviews have been outstanding and I look for more to be posted. Now excuse me as I need to start the wheels turning and come up with an idea for my next book.

Thanks, Jackie, for allowing me to introduce my newest novel—The Storm.

BIO OF JOHN M. WILLS: John M. Wills has been writing professionally since 2004. His credits include more than 150 published articles regarding police officer training and safety; 10 books, both fiction and non-fiction; various poems and short stories; and one technical manual. John also writes video scripts for The William McLain Foundation in Atlanta, honoring first responders killed in the line of duty. An avid reader, John writes book reviews for the New York Journal of Books and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

 

Posted in Authors, Book, Jackie Taylor Zortman, John M. Wills, THE STORM - a fiction novel | 8 Comments