THE JUNGLE OUTSIDE MY DOOR

First Snow on Mt. Abram

First Snow on Mt. Abram

Living high in the Colorado mountains, I have a myriad of wild and domestic animals right outside my door, often right up on the deck.  I’ve spent the summer watching birds of all kinds along with ground squirrels, chipmunks, Pine squirrels, Rock squirrels, deer, raccoons, bears, fox and Bighorn Sheep just hangin’ out like it is home.  Our town is totally inside  a National Forest and our land adjoins the actual woods, so we are blessed to see things many people never have or will, especially on their front deck.

 

 

Hunter

Hunter

Most of the summer, a beautiful long-haired black cat with amber eyes has also been hanging around and I call him Hunter for obvious reasons – he’s here to hunt.  He kills and eats one of the small critters once or twice a day and I hate to see it when I happen to glance outside at the wrong time.  Apparently, he has no real home and we have big decks under which he can get to stay out of the weather or hot/cold temperatures.  He doesn’t panic when he sees us, but he’s also ready to run if we step outside, which he does expertly and often.  This morning I was blessed by sleeping in a little later than usual and was up after the birds and squirrels had been fed, so I asked my husband if the Grim Reaper had been here yet, meaning Hunter, of course.

Gray Fox Turning White for Winter

Gray Fox Turning White for Winter

One day, after I’d gone out with my daughter, my husband was anxious to tell me he’d talked to a starving dog that he’d stumbled upon in our driveway near the house.  As it turns out, this is a gray fox that is black except for a white tip to its beautiful, bushy tail.  Now that we have snow on the mountain tops, the fox is getting a lot of white hair since they turn white to blend with the snow in winter. In this picture, it’s licking water off the deck after a rain.  It also comes here to hunt, which is not something it seems to be very accomplished at.  I suspect this is a female because when it checked out the bird feed pan and didn’t like it, it urinated on it using the stance of a female.

Young Black Bear

Young Black Bear

The deer seem to be rapidly turning to their dark gray winter color instead of their summer reddish coat and the velvet has come off the antlers of the bucks.  All in all, it would appear we are going to have an early winter, though my daughter-in-law, born and raised here, says the early snow on the mountains indicates a beautiful, long Indian Summer.  However, I have been here 36 years and have never seen so many acorns, growing in huge clumps, as are on the scrub oak trees right now.  The birds and squirrels have been very busy cutting them down and also cutting young apples off the trees in our yard.  Some simply sit and eat them and others seem to be storing them for what’s to come as the seasons change.  Does it seem to you like summer lasted about five minutes or is it just me?

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Jackie Taylor Zortman is the author of the award winning fiction novel FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST and her non-fiction book WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW.  Click on the ABOUT button at the top of this page to see links to where both can be purchased. 

Posted in animals, Colorado, fall, Jackie Taylor Zortman, summer, Wildlife | 8 Comments

VENTURE GALLERIES

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

First thing this morning, I got a nice letter from Caleb Pirtle III , telling me that my book FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST is the Featured Book of the Moment  Club selection today on Venture Galleries.  Here’s the link:  http://venturegalleries.com/botm/footprints-in-the-frost-by-jackie-taylor-zortman/.  Check it out, if you have the chance.

While the subject of Venture Galleries is the topic, I just finished reading Caleb Pirtle III’s book SECRETS OF THE DEAD and I could not put it down.  So, if you are looking for a great fictional history book, let me recommend this one to you.

Here is my review of it:

SECRETS OF THE DEAD

The very first line of this historical fiction novel grabbed my attention and the rest of the book kept me fascinated. Caleb Pirtle III writes a magnificent story illustrating man’s atrocities to man in Germany and the political unrest it was creating in America just prior to WW II. Ambrose Lincoln’s adventures and his elusive, but often deadly behavior speaks of a tortured soul that no longer has control of his own life, though he functions beautifully in particular areas when necessary. There is humor, horror and heart break in this book, softened often by love. Just a few pages before the end, I was delighted and surprised to find a second, very similar sentence to the opening and captivating one of this book. I am an avid reader and this may very well be the best novel I’ve read in a really long time.

Meantime, I’d like to thank Caleb for featuring my book on his wonderful venue.

 

 

Posted in American History, Authors, books, FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST, Sharing, Uncategorized, Venture Galleries - Caleb Pirtle III | Leave a comment

THE FIRST 15 MINUTES OF MY SATURDAY TODAY

Here are some things I learned this morning. Some of it came to light the minute I opened my eyes. The rest took about 15 minutes. Here’s a list:

  1. A toilet can stop itself up in the night, even if not used and not stopped up the night before.
  2. Silverfish traps can disintegrate and move themselves to a completely different room
  3. Wet cat food that’s been in the refrigerator will explode in a microwave within 15 seconds.
  4. A dead mouse in a trap too long in hot weather can make your entire house smell like an outhouse.
  5. Songs often run through your head , over and over again, and today mine is “You Gotta Start Off Each Day With a Song, Even When Things Go Wrong.”
  6. When your Word program indents itself automatically and numbers lines, you sometimes cannot move your text back to the left margin.

IMG_1176On my recent birthday, officially making me “elderly”, my husband gave me a gorgeous rose quartz pendant that is supposed to have energy that can, among other things, make positive things happen in your life. It is now around my neck, even though it doesn’t remotely match the outfit I have on.

 

 

First thing I did when I got to the kitchen, IMG_1159before the exploding cat food, is make coffee. I have nearly consumed my first cup and desperately need another. It’s in the cup my daughter, Barb, gave me for my birthday and is right here beside my computer. It says: “ If I wasn’t so tired, I’d come over there and totally slap the crap out of you.” It did make me smile when I just took a minute to read it again and that’s the first smile of the day.

I’m off to the kitchen to refill this cup, so have a great day, my friends!  And by the way, so many people have thought I am upset, but I actually wrote this tongue-in-cheek, thinking all of it was pretty funny, even though it’s all also true.  I’m humming that song and happy.  Just wanted to share some humor with all y’all.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author of award winning fiction novel FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST and non-fiction book WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW.

 

Posted in Author, books, Colorado, elderly readers, humor, Jackie Taylor Zortman | 14 Comments

WRITERS AND SUMMER

Apparently, my muse prefers to enjoy the outdoors and other adventures during the summer months and when it comes to writing,  I am rather at a loss for words (so to speak) during these busy days.  This is the time of year most writers start to question why they continue to work so hard because, in spite of the popular opinion that anyone can write a book…and they probably can…it’s hard work that takes up a huge chunk of your life, especially after marketing is added as a constant obligation.

I happen to be a Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association, joining PSWA Member graphic[1]back in 1994 when Roger Fulton founded it as The Police Writers Club.  This is a wonderful group of writers who are former or present law enforcement officers, firemen, medical first responders, dispatchers or those closely connected to those professions. Once a year, in July, they hold a conference at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas to socialize, confer on various topics and give awards for  the annual PSWA Writing Competition. Of course, not all of us can fly to Vegas and attend this wonderful event, but we can provide entries in the contest to be judged by our peers.  I have entered for the last four years and can tell you I never expect to win anything, but am always anxious to find out who did and what they won for.  So, as soon as the conference ends, we await the e-mail that reveals the winners.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman with book bag given to Charter PSWA members.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman with book bag given to Charter PSWA members.

This year, I am honored to have won two awards in the Creative Nontechnical Published category, giving me  nine (9) awards in the last four years. It’s always exhilarating to see your name on the list.  And that, my friends, is what keeps those of us who begin to drag our creative writing feet , hanging in there.  It inspires us to “keep on keepin’ on” to know that other writers and published authors think something  you created is good enough to be recognized in an honorable manner. In addition, awards are a real asset to use in your marketing. There are nine different categories in the competition and this year 27 awards were given to 23 writers. I have no clue as to how many entries were submitted.

To me, the most outstanding feature about the PSWA is, even though we compete with one another in this contest, nobody wants to see another lose and we are all happy when you win.  In addition, whenever you have a question about any subject whatsoever, you can put it on the list-serv and one or more people will give you help immediately. In today’s world, it is a rare attribute to see everyone wanting only the best for others and never, ever  diligently searching to find something, no matter how small or mundane, about which to point out a flaw. This makes me very proud to be listed among the members.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Posted in Authors, Jackie Taylor Zortman, Law enforcement, Public Safety Writers Association, Writing | 10 Comments

JULY 4TH IN OURAY

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

When we first moved here 35 years ago, I was absolutely stunned at the festivities and enormous crowds that come to this little mountain town to celebrate July 4th.  After an early morning fund raiser breakfast (7:00-9:00 AM) for the Mountain Rescue Team, things start rolling (literally) around 10:00 AM  with a long parade and streets clogged to the max with spectators from all over the country.  Chances are you’ll catch candy or beads thrown from some float or you just might get soaking wet from the fire truck hoses.

Normally, the US Air Force does a flyover during said parade.  Last year, a terrific young man I watched grow up right next door and graduate from the Air Force Academy  as a pilot and  major in the US Air Force, flew his F-16 fighter jet through this canyon  upside down over Main Street…really low. Mouth-dropping awesome!  Rumors have it he will be the pilot again this year, so we’re all anxious to see what he has in store for his beloved home town.

Right after the parade there are barbecues at the Masonic Lodge #37 and adjacent Elk’s Lodge #492 on Main Street, an ice cream social at the Ouray County Historical Museum, kids games in the park and water fights with powerful fire hoses at 2:00 PM at 6th and Main.  At dusk the Jeeps and other 4 WD vehicles have glow sticks and twinkle lights secured to their bumpers at the overlook above town and they provide what we used to call a  flare parade (now named a 4WD  Jeep Glow Parade) winding down the switchbacks into town.  As a finale, at dark the fireman put on a fantastic show of spectacular fireworks above the overlook that light up Mt. Abrams and the surrounding other mountains.  After that, the roads are totally plugged with traffic leaving town for an hour or two.

July 4th Water Fights Patrol

July 4th Water Fights Patrol

My husband was the chief of police here for 22 years and it was the most challenging day of the year for his officers and the other agencies who assist in this extravaganza.  For many years, someone dropped a full case of dynamite into the canyon above the river bridge at the ice park and it would rattle your windows and have you jumping out of bed in the wee hours of the night. This is an old tradition left over from when Ouray was a booming mining town.

So as you go about celebrating in whatever way it’s done where you are, enjoy yourself and please be safe. We lost our beloved 21-year-old grandson six years ago in a mountain ledge fall while celebrating this holiday, so being mindful of  safety is extremely important.

Chief Richard B. Zortman at start of shift.

Chief Richard B. Zortman
at start of shift.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

Posted in American History, Colorado, Jackie Taylor Zortman, July 4th Holiday | 16 Comments

A LITTLE PERSONAL PUBLICITY TODAY

Today I am the guest author on P. J. Nunn’s prestigious website Bookbrowsing.  My topic is MY BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO SELLING BOOKS.  I do hope you’ll take a moment to stop by and check it out.  The blog has a huge following and I am honored to be on it.

You can find my article at:  https://bookbrowsing.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/my-biggest-obstacle-to-selling-books-by-jackie-taylor-zortman/

If you like, you can easily leave a comment on her blog or here on my own.  Hope to hear from you either there or here…or you can find me on Facebook, as well, and comment there, if you prefer.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

IS YOUR FICTION ACTUALLY FACTUAL????

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

As writers, we are told write what you know. That’s what most  would do anyway because what else are you going to write about?  However writing what you know appears to create  suspicions  you’ve actually written your secret autobiography and the protagonist is your husband.  I find this astounding because who in their right mind would do that without simply saying it was a biography?  My own experience is writing non-fiction is the easier of the two and I have both a non-fiction and a fiction book on the market.

The protagonist in my book “Footprints in the Frost” is a homicide detective, so some who know me are certain this book is definitely about my former homicide detective husband.  I used my mother’s surname for the middle name of my deuteragonist and my maternal grandmother’s maiden name for her last name, so there’s the proof – that character is me! Furthermore, I once owned a bookstore and so does she.  The fact that neither of these characters have given names anywhere close to anyone in our families isn’t going to throw them off  track. My husband is originally from Kansas, so one person said since two states are in my book, (but are they?) it’s further proof that this absolutely is our personal story.

To top such mounting evidence off, I based the setting of my book on the area where I live and made it similar. I know other authors who do this, as well, and we are quite open about it.  However, not a single building I write about in my book actually exists.  Nor do the people or even the events.  Just like we tell the world on our book covers and ads, it’s all fictitious. The very definition of that word is “having the nature of something imagined or invented.”  I actually received an award for my book in the Fiction Book category with the key word in that sentence being FICTION.  I occasionally do base some fictional things on situations that have actually happened in my life, but I always fictionalize it and intentionally do it sparingly.

I was recently told that someone bought my book and it’s a hoot because it’s so about my life.  Good grief, I hope not! I have a WIP right now (“Snow Angel”) and because of these comments,  it’s not going to have a single thing anyone I know will recognize, except for the fact it’s a sequel to “Footprints in the Frost”, so the two main characters and the settings remain intact.

Okay, all you fiction writers out there, share how you name your characters or come up with settings, etc.  I know several of you use family names and/or the place where you live. Does this happen to you when you write fiction?  How do you answer those who insist your books are autobiographies?  I’d love to hear any similar quandaries, too.

CF with PSWA - Footprints in the Frost

Cover 300x444

Both books are available as trade paperback  and Kindle  on Amazon.com and Nook and trade paperback at BarnesandNoble.com. 

FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST  can also be purchased at All Romance eBooks at: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-footprintsinthefrost-1990300-152.html.  Also available on Apple’s iBooks at: https://itun.es/us/_-X0ab.l and at Hummingbird as an ebook at: http://oaktreebooks.papertrell.com/id003841111/Footprints-in-the-Frost.

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Posted in Authors, fiction, FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST, Jackie Taylor Zortman, WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW, Writing | 16 Comments