Many of you know that after my husband’s tragic fall on May 16th, he sustained two brain bleeds and spent the final weeks of his life recuperating in Denver, which is about six hours from where we live. I saw him on Wednesday and he looked and felt good, was walking, talking, eating and doing well. I was planning on him coming home soon. But that was not to be. Two days later he suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in a Denver hospital.

When I came home from the local hospital while he was being transported by air to Swedish Medical Center in Denver, I turned his cell phone off. It was on his dresser because he’d gone to bed before his tragic fall. I slipped it into the leather belt case and dropped it into his top dresser drawer.

Last night, something was making a faint pinging noise over and over again. I searched for the source until I realized it was coming from inside his dresser. I discovered it was his cell phone. Keep in mind that phone had been turned off and in said drawer for eight weeks. Shouldn’t the battery have been dead? I pulled it open and it lit up. All it said was “message”. As suspected, the battery was dead and it wouldn’t let me do anything more. I don’t know what you believe, but I believe those we love can give us signs after they have left this earth.

But wait. There is more. This morning I decided to finally look at my husband’s certified death certificates. I have had them for a few days, but hadn’t yet read them and this is where the story gets interesti

When the ER doctor told me that my husband was gone, it was 11:00 p.m. His death certificate tells me he died at 22:42 p.m. If you are not familiar with military time, 22:42 translates to 10:42. In law enforcement, 10-42 is the code for End of Watch.

UPDATE: I just remembered that I had his phone disconnected long ago because he couldn’t use a phone without help. Went and checked it just now and it does not work. How does that work?

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On the night of May 16th, my 42-year-veteran law enforcement officer fell several times in the night after repeatedly getting out of bed for reasons unknown to us. The final time he fell, we discovered him bleeding and unconscious on the floor from hitting his head. We called 911 and he was transported to the local hospital, forty miles from home. They discovered two brain bleeds. Seven hours later, he was flown to Denver’s Swedish Medical Center, noted to be the best place in Colorado for treating his situation.

Two weeks and two days after his fall, they moved him into a nearby Denver rehabilitation center. He remains there, working with various therapists throughout the day, seven days a week, and is doing well. At this point, we do not know if he’ll return to his mental or physical baseline prior to the injury, show improvement or be different. We pray he’ll be better. They think the constant falling on that fateful night was caused by an urinary tract infection.

The facility he is in is fantastic. They consult with me before doing any small thing concerning him and they rehab him several times a day. Our hopes and prayers are presently pinned on the care he is receiving there. The staff is affable and welcoming and truly care about each individual patient.

We recently celebrated our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, never being apart for any length of time. Tears have refused to allow me to shed them, but I’m sure they are not far beneath the surface. I can feel them there. We will be going to see him again soon. The trip is long and our stay is short, but I need to be where I can hug him and see him smile. All of his nurses have mentioned how his beautiful smile makes their day.


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In honor of Law Enforcement Memorial Day, author and former Suffolk County New York Police officer, Keith Bettinger, has written two poems that I share with you below:

Judiciary Square By Keith Bettinger

Author Keith Bettinger

The wall is gray,

Made of granite, tough and strong.

It stands in an old converted parking lot,

That’s now a very special spot.

It lists the names of thousands of America’s best,

People who pinned badges upon their chests.

They came from the four corners of our great country,

but now they’re part of a sad fraternity.

It doesn’t matter where or when they met their fate,

The ones they left behind come to visit and contemplate.

To touch that name, and shed a tear,

Remembering who they lost and held so dear.

The flags ripple in the breezes above.

Flowers are placed with respect and love.

Uniformed hands render salutes,

Friends are gone, but duty calls, survivors remain resolute.




Our old toys, they sat in the garage.

Mommy and Daddy, always bought us new,

New toys became old, and sat alone waiting to be used.

We enjoyed our toys, but new was always better.

We played with what we liked, until we received another.

Daddy was our hero, he bought us what we wanted.

He worked real hard and many strange hours.

He was always in danger and wanted to protect us

From things that kids should never see,

Things that some kids just accept as reality.

One day Daddy went to work, but he didn’t come home.

His boss met Mom at the door, and held her as she cried.

He told us he was sorry, but Daddy had died. 

We didn’t play much after all was said and done.

When your Daddy’s gone, it’s hard to have fun.

We read about a wall that was being built.

It would have the names of peace officers who were killed.

They needed money, to make this wall come true.

We went into the garage, and found those old toys

They were just like new.

We had a sale one Saturday morn.

By afternoon the toys were all gone.

We wrote a letter and sent a check.

We asked if this was enough

To list Daddy’s name with all our love and respect.

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On April 26th my husband and I will celebrate 35 happy years of marriage. Since neither of us need anything, we usually buy something that both of us want or can use. This year I had an 18×18 inch throw pillow made that says IT ALL BEGAN with an area to fill that information in along with the names and dates. We both laughed when I had it say “At a Hardware Store”. But that truly is where it started.

I had been putting the finishing touches on the new apartment on top of our commercial building all day and was both tired and dirty. The building contained my bookstore, the apartment above it and an antique store below. On the way home, I stopped at the local hardware store to buy an Apartment for Rent sign. I stepped inside at the top of the flight of stairs that went down into store level and said to myself, “Wow! Look what just blew into Ouray!” I saw the best looking man I’d ever seen in my life talking to the owner at the checkout counter below. Oh, I wasn’t the only one who had this thought about him. The available ladies in town were standing in line to meet him for a very long time.

Not wanting to be seen by him with a red dew rag tied on top of my long, sweaty hair, I was careful to hide behind the tall counters that made up the aisles of the store until the man left. I came out of hiding and plonked my sign down on the counter to check it out.

The store’s owner said, “Is your apartment ready?” I told him it was and he asked, “Did you see that guy that just left?” I assured him I did. He replied, “He’s new in town and is looking for an apartment. ” This is a small town and it’s very easy to find new people. By that night, the handsome gentleman had rented my brand new apartment and was happy to have it.

He was single and a newly retired metropolitan homicide detective that never wanted to be in law enforcement again. He had retired after twenty years, the last eleven in homicide. He applied for a job as an UPS driver and told this to everyone who would listen. Despite that, three months later he was sworn in as the local chief of police and remained in that position for twenty-two years when he opted to retire. City Hall was right across the street from my building and it was super convenient for him to get to work and back home. Five years after that fateful day when we first met, we were married. It was the best thing either of us have ever done.

My very first novel was based on a case he had worked in the city. One day he remarked that he’d love to see that case written up as a book. I decided to get his old files out and do just that as an act of love for him and for no other reason. The case was rather horrific and I had to stop writing at times and put the files away for a week or two, but finally it was finished.

That book was Footprints in the Frost. I wrote it and tossed it on a shelf where I discovered it years later. I read it once more and decided to rewrite it as fiction and enter it into the Public Safety Writer’s Association’s Writing Competition. My plan was if my book bombed there, that would be the absolute end of it. Imagine my surprise and delight when it won First Place in the Fiction Book Non-published category in Las Vegas on July 13, 2014. My publisher at the time (Oak Tree Press) was delighted to publish an award-winning novel for me.

That was the beginning of my fiction novel writing and today I have seven books on the market with an eighth as my WIP. I also wrote a sequel to Footprints in the Frost titled Snow Angel that won a PSWA Honorable Mention award on July 16, 2017. Both are available on, if you’d like to check them out.

Your comments are always welcome on my blog or via email, Facebook and Twitter.

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Lunch With the Dalton Gang

My husband was born in a house built by his grandfather on a large homesteaded wheat farm in western Kansas. If the walls of that house could talk, what wonderful stories they could tell.

His grandmother was Scotch/Irish and a tiny little thing in stature, though she is reputed to have had a fiery personality and hair-trigger temper. She, her husband and little daughter moved from Indiana to western Kansas in 1883, leaving behind a son in his eternal rest.

Grandpa was adventurous and when he heard about the opportunities in the west, he took his horse and wagon and rode on a railroad car to where the rails ran out in Anthony, Kansas. His wife and daughter had gone ahead via passenger train and the family reunited there. With the wagon, horse and a borrowed one, they traveled on trails requiring them to ford rivers and creeks with all their possessions. They lived in a sod house about three-fourths of a mile north of the splendid farm house he eventually built. The house still stands today, occupied by his descendants. Family legend says the weeds outside the sod house were taller than grandma and she had to pick bugs off her small child every night. Hearing such stories, it is not surprising the tiny lady had a red-hot and quick temper.

In July 1884 Grandpa homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres that is still part of the much larger Zortman farm of today. There isn’t a lot of excitement around the farm right now, but let me tell you about the day when there was plenty of action with Grandma right in the middle of it.

On June 8, 1893 Grandma was cooking the noon meal for her husband, sons and field workers when the Dalton gang rode into the yard. They spotted the nearby barn and put their horses inside it, leaving one member to tend to them. They walked across the short distance to the house and entered it, telling Grandma they wanted food. She told them the men would be in from the fields shortly and she would feed them at that time. However, they didn’t hesitate to make it clear that was not going to happen and they would have their food right then and there. She fed them.

When they finished their meal, they returned to the barn and sent the lone man in to also be fed. When his hunger was sated, they saddled up and rode off to Cimarron, Kansas where they robbed a train. Following that, they retraced their trail, riding hard and fast past the farm while Grandpa and a neighbor man happened to be standing outside in the yard. They did not bother to acknowledge the two men, wave or stop to talk and appeared to be in a tremendous hurry with their horse hooves kicking up dust and gravel as they rode by.

When Grandpa and the neighbor later heard about the train robbery, the neighbor is said to have remarked, “I had my big 50, if I’d a known what they’d done, they’d never have made it out of Kansas.”

I’ve never heard how Grandma felt after all of this happened, but were it me, there would be a twelve-gauge shotgun by my side and a substantial pistol in my apron whenever I cooked lunch.

I hope you enjoyed this true story and that you’ll check out my books at My latest book is GHOSTED: Book Four in The Drifter Series at

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Big Snowstorm Rolling In

According to the meteorologists, here in the southwest Colorado mountains we are preparing for a huge snowstorm from today (Friday) through Monday. We don’t panic when this happens and it is probably easier for us than those of you who have been and are long in city pent. We love the snow in Colorado and our outdoor activities, such as the ski resorts, pray for plenty of it. In addition, we are in a drought condition and need the moisture.

The storm has already begun here at our house and my husband and son have prepared the snow blower and Jeep with the snowplow on it with adequate gas and have a collection of snow shovels and brooms handy and dry. We have groceries in the house and our son is a chef and does almost all of the cooking. In addition, we have a treadmill, exercise bike and free weights, so working out won’t be difficult, if you don’t get enough cardio from shoveling snow or cleaning the house.

Forty years ago, I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio and three inches of snow would absolutely shut that entire town down. Around here, three inches of snow is considered a dusting and we pay little attention to it since we often measure our snowfalls by the foot. Normally it is powdery and not conducive to making snowmen or snowballs, but sometimes we have a wetter version that packs well and is super heavy. It’s much like picking up water with a shovel and pitching it off the deck or wherever else it may happen to be. A nice push broom is a must for cleaning snow off the vehicles because pickup trucks and SUVs are what most everyone drives in winter. We couldn’t get up our driveway without four-wheel-drive..

On a lighter and brighter note, the snow is absolutely beautiful and those who visit, but do not live here, say it looks like a Christmas card. I have to admit that it is absolutely beautiful and I love it.

I know there have been some horrendous snowstorms in many other places recently and they have created havoc and left many people without electric or other essential needs, so I’m not trying to make light of the seriousness of the situation. Furthermore, things can get ugly here, too, when things such as the loss of electricity come into play. We have a wood-burning stove in our home with lots of candles plus my mother and great-grandmother’s kerosene lamps, in case we are forced to be independent. It’s simply a different life-style in our remote neck of the woods and living here isn’t for everyone.

Wherever you are today, I sincerely hope you are safe and warm and that you have everything you need. COVID has taught most of us how to stay home and survive well, so that is the silver lining in that horrible pandemic. To quote the tag line that has come with our nemesis virus – We Are All In This Together. Be kind. That works for snowstorms, too.

PS: While you are weathering the storm, it’s a great time to read good books. My latest is titled GHOSTED: The Drifter Series Book Four. You can find it on


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Murder on the Dance Floor

While doing a search on, I ran across six different books with the title “Murder on the Dance Floor“. This snapped my mind back in time to a story I’ve known for many years involving my great-grandfather, known locally where he lived as Al Hale and to me as Pappy.

Pappy died when I was five years old and that was my first experience with death. Of course, back then they didn’t tell children anything at all about what was going on, so it was all a huge frightening enigma to me from beginning to end. I was only five years old at the time. All the quiet and secrecy surrounding me was terrifying to me, only to be surpassed by the mob scene and tears, plus the fire and brimstone service at his funeral.

Pappy was a member of a Bluegrass Band that had been playing for a dance on July 24, 1914. As I understand it, the place was packed with revelers, all local folks enjoying the festivities of Christmas Eve.

As the story goes, one woman had asked her husband to watch their children while she walked a short distance to repay another woman a small amount of money she owed her. She had it in change that was wrapped in her apron and she set out on her mission, saying she’d return in a few minutes. Apparently, she didn’t keep that promise and at midnight her husband set out to find her. He must have waded the creek because he is said to have been wearing trousers that were wet to his knees and is alleged to have been drinking.

Long story short, he found his wife at the dance. She was on the dance floor dancing with a man the husband was very jealous of. He stabbed and killed her right then and there…on the dance floor. Another man at the dance was also stabbed when he tried to interfere. Then the killer tried to stab himself but was unsuccessful in his suicide attempt, inflicting only superficial wounds before passing out.

One little girl remembered seeing the funeral procession pass by her house on December 26, 1914 while snow softly fell. Many people slowly walked to the church and cemetery on the hill. The knife is said to have been borrowed from the little girl’s father and it was eventually returned to him, though he didn’t keep it.

The victim’s death certificate (which I happen to have a copy of) states the cause of death as “killed by knife stab-instantaneous death”. Written on the bottom in someone’s handwriting are the words “Crazy husband killed his wife.” She was twenty-seven years old at the time of her death.

The killer served one year and one day for the murder.

But I still think Murder on the Dance Floor is one terrific title.

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At my age, which we will simply say is advanced, I have watched many years come and go and I have to say that 2020 stands out in my mind as one of the absolute worst. We seemed to get the ball rolling early on with the pandemic and lock-down, which in my opinion was not good for anyone’s psyche.


In our house, there were absolutely endless things that needed to be repaired or replaced to the point where it became astounding. Illness has touched our lives through my husband and Rick (son) moved in to help with his Dad, handle the deep snows and fix endless things that needed attention. Birthdays were not celebrated on the right days, holidays became lonely events and life changed in a major way. I had no Christmas spirit this year and only put up the tree and a few small decorations here and there inside the house. However, Christmas Day with our adult children was wonderful. My son and daughter-in-law cooked a big brunch and we all agreed that being together around a family table is what Christmas is really about.

I no longer make New Year’s resolutions, having learned how that works via the hard way.  I have no expectations for the coming year except to hope it is better than 2020. I’ve made only one plan and that is to return to my normal times to write my books. They’ve been neglected and I’ve missed having the time to focus my mind on things other than the trials and tribulations of the real world.

We are excited to have fireworks at midnight on the snow-covered mountains which is always beautiful to see. We didn’t have them on July 4th because we didn’t want to attract crowds of people to watch them, which is traditional in our little mountain tourist town. However, COVID did not stop tourists from pouring in here through summer and fall and they are still here through this weekend. We also have many new residents moving in and houses are going up on any vacant land available. Realtors have no listings for houses to sell or even places to rent. It’s true that the pandemic has inspired many folks to leave the cities, work from home and live rurally.

My message to you on this final day of 2020 is that you have a happy and healthy 2021 and that life settles down for us all once again. We have hope and with it comes potential. Our new motto is to wake up each morning and say, “Today is going to be a good day.” Take it one day at a time, make it happen and we shall all get through this together. Happy New Year!

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Hasn’t this year been filled with one thing after another. In the little Colorado mountain tourist town I live in, almost everyone put their Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving and for the first time ever, we did the same. My husband no longer likes to put up outside decorations, therefore I simply hang a pretty lighted wreath on the side of our house that can be seen from the vehicles on the highway across the canyon. Most other residents put their outside decorations up super early this year. The most popular theory is that everyone is looking for some happiness during the pandemic and, in addition, they are  anxious to see this year come to an end. Count us among that group.

A Grandmother’s Love is Forever

Before Christmas this year, I have lowered the price of all my published paperback books on Amazon to make it is easier to purchase them as last minute gifts. You can check all of them out on simply by typing my name in on the search box. When it takes you to one of my books, click on the link (usually right below my author’s picture) that takes you to my Amazon Author’s page where my books are listed. Simply click on the cover and it will take you right to the book and the description of the content. I hope you can find one you like and don’t forget that books make a great gift, not only those I write, but from any author you prefer.

Life has been a bit hectic around our house recently  and I haven’t tended to this blog or marketing my books as often as I should. I’m hoping that the new year will provide some personal time for me to return to being more attentive to the book business. I have a new JAKE book as my work in progress and hope to have that out after the holidays, though it may take a few months to get it finished. My mentor stresses patience and my muse has become indifferent due to my lack of attention. Gives me a good resolution for the coming year.


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People frequently ask writers what is the hardest part of writing a book. My answer is locked and loaded, so I do not hesitate to say “marketing”. It’s not a word that adequately explains the whole concept of what we have to do to sell our books because marketing has some facets that are tougher than  others.

In my opinion, the hardest part of writing books is getting those who say they just bought your book and couldn’t put it down or proudly tell you they’ve read it and loved it, to take a minute and write a review on

There’s an endless amount of time, fatigue, self-doubt and hard work involved in writing a book and it’s not as easy as it sounds. First of all, it’s a long, time-consuming process from the first word you write until you are finally ready to write the words The End.

At that point, you have to involve a group of specific professionals. You need to find an editor you trust and believe in.  If they truly know the ropes, you’ll see a lot of black, red or purple lines through some parts of your work and copious notes in the margins when you get the manuscript back. Then the real work begins. Rewriting is a long and tedious process and it takes total dedication and many hours. It leaves you weary at the end of each day you do it.

You must find and hire a professional formatter to convert your book to both eBook format and paperback. Next you  find a cover by an artist whose work you like and have the front and back cover created. I am lucky enough to have both a particular formatter and cover artist that I love to work with. But that didn’t happen overnight and you wouldn’t believe the hours that go into selecting just the right cover for your book.

Once your  book is finally out there for people to buy and read, you need to ask those who don’t automatically volunteer to write a review on to do so. Reviews are extremely important to authors and it helps us sell our books. I’ve had people accept free books and then not write their promised review. A few tell me they simply never got around to reading the book and now don’t have the time. One friend told me she’d gone on Amazon to write her review and decided to read the other reviews, then decided her review wasn’t as good and didn’t follow through. Don’t ever do that! It doesn’t matter how simple or short your review is, it’s just as valuable as anyone else’s. Author’s love them all, I promise.

The purpose of this blog post is to ask you who have read someone’s book to sit down and write a review. It only takes a minute and you will make some author extremely happy. For purposes of showing you how to do a review, I’m going to use my latest JAKE book titled GHOSTED, but you can do this for any book.

Go to: where the book sells. Scroll down until you see “Review This Product” on the left side of the page. Below that is a  box that says “Write a Customer Review”. Click on that. Choose the number of stars you think the book should have. Create a title for your review. Write the review. Hit Submit. That’s all there is to it. Try it. Authors love to hear what the readers think of their books and it helps us perfect the next one.






Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, book reviews, JAKE, Paranormal Romance, Promo, Reviews, romantic suspense | 2 Comments