Snow Angel was Much Anticipated

Just for fun, I thought I’d share one of the reviews from Maybe it will inspire you to check out SNOW ANGEL (Detective Max Richard Book 2), too. You will find it as both a Kindle and trade paperback at: . It’s also available from Barnes and Noble as a trade paperback at: .

Should you decide to buy and read it, please write a review on or Barnes & Noble. Reviews are extremely important to authors and can be as little as a couple of words, just one sentence or as much as you care to elaborate.

It was with great anticipation that I sat down to read “Snow Angel,” and it did not disappoint. A follow-up to the author’s “Footprints in the Frost,” it brings the reader back to the idyllic Colorado towns and the immensely likable, sometimes-quirky characters of “Footprints.” Although technically a sequel, it is also a novel that stands on its own merit. The appealingly masculine homicide detective Max Richards, and Sami Murphy, his high-spirited girlfriend, are now married. Other equally engaging characters are introduced, including Max’s sister Willow (how wonderful to read a novel in which a 50+ year old woman is given a romantic storyline!), the enigmatic Colorado police chief Tom Clinton that she finds herself falling for, and Max & Sami’s lively friends Milt and Maile, not to mention the Siamese cat Lotus, who the author manages to imbue with a personality all her own. “Snow Angel” is a collection of anecdotes about these characters and their lives and histories. With each chapter, the reader learns more about what has transpired to make these people the unique individuals they are. Riddles are introduced, and each time one is solved another presents itself, as deeper and deeper layers of the people and their situations are revealed. Opening with a funeral, proceeding to a mysterious ornate box discovered among a dead woman’s belongings and then to a nearly-forgotten, statuesque house in a remote Colorado town, the author skillfully leads her readers through one intriguing sequence after another, all culminating in discoveries at once wonderful, poignant, and bittersweet. Reading this novel made me feel like I was sitting in the cozy den of a Colorado cabin in front of a roaring fire, listening to the author tell stories about people she knows. In fact these characters and their narratives became so real to me that I am convinced these people are actually alive out there in the world, and I want to meet them. A wonderful read, highly recommended.



Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, book reviews, books, Colorado, SNOW ANGEL - Novel | 4 Comments

Life in Wildfire Land

Woke up this morning to the sound of a wood chipper provided by the city to help residents mitigate for wildfires.  I opened the blinds on our bedroom windows and noticed our little tourist town is still thick with smoke from distant fires. Some are not too distant and the smoke is from Colorado fires, those in Utah or New Mexico. At one point, we were told the smoke was coming from those horrendous fires in California, but a Denver meteorologist insists a certain front between will keep that smoke from our state. At least for now. The constant smoke in our normally pristine air make my eyes burn.

It’s been a strange summer with temperatures that are unusually hot for our altitude and the area in which we live. We also are having a serious drought. The river flows past our house and looking at it this morning, I assure you it would be no trick at all to simply wade across to the other side. I’ve never seen this before and I’ve lived here for almost 40 years.

Only a couple of weeks ago, a lightning strike ignited a tree on Mt. Hayden and the smoke was quite visible from our great room while sitting on the couch. The Bureau of Land Management sent two fire fighter crews to watch the fire and named it the Lewis Creek Fire. It smoldered for days, in spite of several bouts of rain. It is so dry  rains do little to douse flame. Fortunately, it was on a rocky outcrop and apparently only involved one tree, so we got lucky in that respect.  The scary part was the enormous amount of fallen timber just to the left of the flames.  Thankfully, it never spread and ignited it. It did inspire me to begin packing a “go bag”, though. My son was a fireman for many years and assured me we have so much rock face here that it is relatively safe because rock stops fire. But my “go bag” still sits, just in case. Our town is entirely inside a national forest and we live just in the edge of the actual woods, so are surrounded by trees that we could never successfully mitigate.

The enormous #416 fire in Durango is approximately 60 miles from where we live, if you go by the winding highway mileage, but I’ll bet it’s closer as the crow flies.  It began on June 1st and is only now 100% contained. They note contained does not mean it is out and add that it is will take a blanket of winter snow to accomplish that feat.

Things are starting to look very much like fall is coming fast. There is an abundance of acorns on the scrub oak trees that are copious on our land and the apple tree also has a bumper crop. The squirrels and birds are busy storing them.  We are reminded that the bears are now eating for their winter hibernation and will continue to do so until they finally go into their winter quarters around Thanksgiving and to remain mindful. Meantime, the  hummingbirds are drinking a gallon of sugar water per day.

They say we are to have an El Nino year, which means we will have lots and lots of snow. We had a very mild winter last year and really enjoyed being able to drive the 80-mile round trip to where we must go to see specialists and shop super markets and department stores. But there is a price for that trade-off, so be careful what you wish for. Clear winter roads mean hot, dry summers and increased wildfire danger. Cooler fall temperatures will be joyfully welcomed this year and the snow will be what the ski areas refer to as “white gold”. In spite of it all, it’s still lush and beautiful where we live and we have more tourists than ever. I still wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Meantime, please pray for those experiencing the devastating fires burning in California and for all  the other states going through this deadly ordeal. God bless the men and women who so tirelessly fight to control and contain these fires. They are having a tremendous challenge this year.


Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, blogs, Colorado, drought, wildfires | 8 Comments


Detective Max Richards Book 2

To those of you who have read my novel, SNOW ANGEL (Detective Max Richards Book 2) or the Kindle version of FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST (Detective Max Richards Book 1), thank you! The trade paperback version of FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST should be available in the near future when my name comes up in the queue at Aakenbaaken & Kent.

It would be great if you’d take a moment and write a review on Reviews are extremely important to authors and I’d really appreciate it. Some have mentioned they feel intimidated by other reviews already written and just don’t do it.  However, a few words such as “I liked it” or “Good book” works perfectly. Of course, if you wish to elaborate, that’s wonderful as well.

Just go to Amazon and type in the title and author in the search box and it will take you right to a site where you click on it to get to the place to review. Scroll down until you find a box called “Write a customer review” and click on it. It’s that simple.

The importance of reviews does not only apply to me, it applies to the books of all authors. So, if you enjoy a book, let them know by writing a review.

If you’d like to leave a comment, please do so.

Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Colorado, Crime, FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST, SNOW ANGEL - Novel | 4 Comments

Snow Angel by Jackie Taylor Zortman

via Snow Angel by Jackie Taylor Zortman

Just click on the above link and it will take you to P. J. Nunn’s Book Browsing site where I am a guest author today – July 21, 2018. Hope you’ll leave a comment either there or here to let us know you stopped by.

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This Sizzling Summer

We are half-way through July and where I live in the southwestern mountains of Colorado, it is uncharacteristically HOT and it is unusually DRY. We have numerous wildfires burning all around us and one is close enough to occasionally bring a lot of unpleasant smoke to hang low just under the peaks that surround the little tourist town in which we live. However, as of last night, I heard that fire – the #416 Fire in Durango – is no longer a threat. We happily welcome our normally clear, blue skies back.

The meteorologists keep teasing us with hints that our normal monsoon flow rains will begin most any day, but the rain we do have is torrential with horrendous wind and periods of hail falling hard and fast. The wind pounds the rain against the entire south side of the house where it literally flows down the side. Since our house is mostly large windows on the scenic south side, this results in leaking windows and misery. The river will rise to the brink of its banks, then almost immediately lower back down to wading across status as soon as the rain stops.

Yesterday afternoon during the storm, my daughter-in-law witnessed a weeping willow tree just as it was struck by lightning that blew the bark off it.  We heard it hit, of course, with my husband remarking, “That was close!”  My iPhone said it was .3 mile from our house and now that I know what tree it was, it was right.  Thankfully, it didn’t set the tree on fire.

My best friend of thirty years, Hawaii born/half native and just tip-toeing into her 70s, actually went out and bought herself a child’s swimming pool in which she cools off regularly. She lives at a lower altitude than we do, so it’s even hotter down there. We shop in the town in which she lives and can’t wait to get back home where it is usually quite a lot cooler. Since we are almost forty years acclimated to the high altitude, added humidity and heavier air do not bode well for us.

The whole state is under a strict fire ban and we had no fireworks on July 4th, though we did have the traditional water fights and parade, then topped the evening off with a 4WD vehicle flare parade down the mountain switchbacks after dark. No burning flares are permitted anymore, just glow sticks on each side of the front bumper and lots of little LED lights the participants choose to use. Some get quite elaborate.

Here in the mountains, little clouds will get up close to the trees and the sides of the mountains, usually up pretty high. The other day, that’s exactly what happened right after that awful storm. Someone saw it and called the fire department to respond to a National Forest campground, absolutely certain an area we call the Amphitheatre was on fire. Nope. Just clouds. But it does often look like smoke, so we can’t fault them for fearing the worst.

Yes, it’s been very different this year. Our sizzling summer followed a very mild winter with little snow and therein lies the problem. We enjoyed the mostly clear roads all winter, but are already praying for lots of snow this year. I even have a Ulr medal hanging in my car now in hopes the Norse god of snow will also do what he can to help that along.

Detective Max Richards Book 2

Meantime, my personal suggestion is to relax in the heat by reading my new novel SNOW ANGEL. I will take you into the Colorado mountains and surround you with cool, white powdery snow. You can find it at or . Okay, I admit that was a bit sneaky, but the opportunity presented itself and I took it. Take a look at it on either link and see what you think. Should you buy it and read it, if you’d write a review of it for me, that would be great.

If that doesn’t do it for you, check out my Detective Max Richards Book 1 called FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST. The Kindle version is at . The paperback can only be bought from me until my publisher has time to get the second edition of it back out on Amazon. But that will be soon.


Meantime, stay cool and stay safe.






Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Colorado, Crime, FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST, snow, SNOW ANGEL - Novel, summer | Leave a comment

What’s in the old wooden box in SNOW ANGEL?

In this second Detective Max Richards book, he and his sister inherit their mother’s estate and find an ornate old wooden box on a shelf in her bedroom closet. The amount of dust on it indicates it has long been forgotten. The contents reveal a carefully hidden secret about her and connects her heirs to an old abandoned Victorian house in a Colorado town where Max already owns a remote cabin.

Detective Max Richards Book 2

Max and his wife, Sami, and sister, Willow, fly out to investigate their new abode over the Christmas holidays. Following their tire tracks in the snow, the newly appointed local chief of police introduces himself and quickly becomes an important part of their circle of close friends.

Unexpected twists and turns  changes their lives in unexpected  ways and leads them to make decisions they never dreamed possible.

Find out at:

NOTE: If you’ve already read the book, it would be wonderful if you’d write a review on Go to the link above, scroll down to Customer Reviews and  click on “write a customer review”.  Authors need your opinions and appreciate each one, even if it only says, “I liked it.” It helps us sell our books and prompts other venues to promote it, as well.


Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Colorado, Crime, SNOW ANGEL - Novel | Tagged , | Leave a comment


Formidible homicide detective, Max Richards, is back on in the original book FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST, but only in the Kindle version, so far. This is the second edition of my book and it’s sporting a spiffy new cover.  It will soon also be available as a trade paperback. Meantime, you can get the Kindle version at: .

FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST (Detective Max Richards Book 1)
Second Edition

My new novel SNOW ANGEL is Detective Max Richards Book 2 and you can get both the trade paperback and Kindle at .

Detective Max Richards Book 2

Both books are Public Safety Writers Association Writing Competition Award Winners.


Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, books, fiction, FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST, homicide detective, Law enforcement, mysteries, SNOW ANGEL - Novel | Leave a comment


For Memorial Day, I am posting an article written by my dear friend and fellow author, Keith Bettinger. This article appears in the book “I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE-Stories of Valor, Heroism and Patriotism Written by the Wednesday Warrior Writers” and it is used with the written permission of the author. 

Amongst the Shadows and the Stones

 Keith Bettinger

            I don’t know if my feelings and priorities about Memorial Day were different that year because the holiday fell on May 31, as it used to in the past.  Maybe, it was the impending calendar change to the new millennium.  It might have been that my own 50th birthday was approaching, arriving right after the millennium change.  That could have made me more reflective as I approached my own half century.  It also could have been that during the previous year, I saw the movie Saving Private Ryan.  When I walked out of the theater, I was emotionally exhausted.   I came away saying, “Every politician should have to watch this film, before he can vote to send someone else’s child off to war.”  Maybe my observations were distorted when I looked at Viet Nam veterans.  I thought to myself how old they appeared to be, and suddenly, I realized these are the American heroes of my generation.   I do know that my father and my uncle are both veterans.  They entered the service near the end of World War II, and my uncle is now in his 80s; my father recently passed away at 80.  The other veterans from World War II are older and it just seems that all the sacrifices of their generation are being forgotten as time passes all of us by.

My wife and I talked before that holiday weekend.  We decided we would make that Memorial Day like the ones we remembered when we were children, the holiday when veterans weren’t so old, they marched in parades and honored all of those who served.  The Memorial Days we remembered had stores that closed on that special holiday.  We decided we wanted an old-fashioned Memorial Day.  We would honor and remember our veterans.

To celebrate that Memorial Day, I decided to do a number of things that would be different.  I organized members of one of the police organizations to which I belong.  We placed flags at the graves of our veterans and their families at Long Island National Cemetery.  We did it on Saturday, May 29.  We walked amongst the gravestones.  Each one had a name.  They all cast shadows.  The stones cast the shadows now, as the people they represent did, when they walked amongst us.

As we walked amongst the gravestones, we read names, we read dates, and sometimes we had our hearts broken.  We saw the names of veterans laid to rest after they had fought in World War I, the Great War; the war that was supposed to end all wars.  We saw stones for veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, and even the Spanish American War.  We saw the names of spouses of veterans.  Sometimes they were alone.  Sometimes husbands and wives were joined together for eternity.  Our hearts were broken as we read “Child of -” or simply “infant”.   We saw aging veterans remembering their friends.  They bowed their heads in a moment of silent prayer and reflection, and then they placed an American Flag at a special gravestone.  There were Cub Scouts and Brownies running amongst the stones, placing flags at each one – the next generation of Americans was showing their thanks.

It was nice to be able to reflect on all that was done for this country by the heroes with whom we spent time.  There was a special feeling amongst those that decorated the graves. It brought out such strong emotions.  They would be back again the following year, walking amongst the shadows, placing a flag at each stone.

On Memorial Day, my wife and I went to visit Long Island National Cemetery, because our family and friends are there.  Along the way, we stopped and purchased fresh flowers.  It was time for us to pay our respects to some special individuals.

The first stop was my wife’s parents grave.  They are together.  My wife’s father fought in World War II.  He served in North Africa and Europe.  I never had the opportunity to meet him, he was gone before my wife and I met.  I did enjoy knowing my mother-in-law and I do miss her.  We always visit their grave on holidays and birthdays.   However, that day we stopped to say thank you for what my wife’s father did when it meant so much.  We also had to thank her mother, for all she sacrificed while he was overseas for years.  If not for them and the others like them, we would not be as blessed as we are today.

The next stop was the grave of the parents of a retired police officer from California.  His father died when he was a small child.  His father was serving in North Africa at the time, and died in combat.  Eventually he was brought home and interred on Long Island.  The retired police officer never knew his father.  He was left with the stories his mother shared with the family for the rest of her life.  She moved her children from New York to California, to make a better life.  Her husband sacrificed his life for his country.  His wife sacrificed to raise a wonderful family.  She never forgot him.  She never remarried.  In 1994, after she died, she returned to Long Island and was interred with her husband.    I sometimes wonder if maybe, somewhere, while fighting in the deserts of North Africa, my wife’s father and this police officer’s father might have met.

The final stop was to see my friend Bill.  We met the day we were sworn into the police department.  Bill was a Viet Nam veteran who died of leukemia.  Until that Memorial Day, I never knew his middle name was Walter.  I didn’t know he was born in 1947, almost three years older than me.  I know he had a beautiful wife and a wonderful daughter and son.  They made his eyes light up whenever he spoke about them.   I know they miss him; there were flowers from a previous visit, at his grave.  I know he was taken from us too soon, in 1988, when he was only 41.  It seems like such a short time ago, that I was standing in a police honor guard, saying good-bye to my friend.  I know he was a gentle soul and a good friend.  He was there for me when I needed his friendship.  He was also there for an elderly couple in his patrol sector.  They were destitute, and Christmas was rapidly approaching.  The old couple had a nice Christmas because Bill filled their home oil tank with heating oil.  He bought them food, a Christmas tree and presents to make their holiday special.  He was a kind hearted and fun loving soul.

He was a person I am glad I knew.  I know you would have liked him, he was special.  When he was 26, I saw him being teased by his brother.  His father was listening and gave him one of those fatherly looks with raised eyebrows. Bill just looked at him and said, “Oh Daddy!”   You have to like a man who fought in a war, worked the streets as a cop, and could still call his father Daddy.    I wish my wife had met Bill, but it never happened.  I am glad she went with me on Memorial Day.  She made the visit easier, with that special look she gave me as she held my hand.  It let me know she understood.

History has many sad commentaries.  In the early 1960s, General Macarthur went back to the Philippines where was greeted by cheering crowds.  A young high school girl presented him with a bouquet of flowers, and welcomed him to the Philippines.  She then asked a question that was filled with irony, “Have you been here before?”   With all that he and his troops had done, he was forgotten by the generation he fought so hard to keep safe.

I am glad my wife and I decided to spend part of our day the way we did.   Our veterans, alive or dead, are heroes to be thanked for all that they have done.  They cannot be forgotten.  I am glad I got to spend part of my weekend with some of them, amongst the shadows and the stones.


       Keith Bettinger is a retired Suffolk County, NY Police Officer. He’s been writing for law enforcement publications for over 25 years and has received 19 awards for his articles, stories, poems and books. Keith has a monthly column in the on-line magazine titled Musings of a Retired Cop. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Relations with a major in Clinical Counseling. During his career he received the department’s Bravery Medal, Silver Shield Award, Meritorious Police Service Award, Special Service Award, Professionalization Award, Department Recognition Award, Police Act Award, five Headquarters commendations and six Precinct commendations and the Police Act Award from the Suffolk County Police Conference. He also was a field training officer, Crime Prevention Officer and an instructor on Post Shooting Trauma and Critical Incidents.  He was instrumental in the development of a Peer Counseling Program for Officers Involved in Critical Incidents.  He also did debriefings of police officers who were at “Ground Zero” following the tragedies of September 11, 2001. 

       Keith has written three books, Fighting Crime with “Some” Day and Lenny, End of Watch and Murder in McHenry. He has also contributed stories to the following anthologies; Cop Tales 2000, Charity, True Blue To Protect and Serve, Dad’s Bow Tie and I Pledge Allegiance. Keith has over 100 articles published in various publications in the United States, Canada and Europe. He shares credit for the screenplay The Master Cheat with his friend and fellow writer Jack Miller.

If you’d like to read more stories like this one, you can find the book at



Posted in Author Keith Bettinger, Law enforcement, military, Wednesday Warrior Writers | 5 Comments

Is It REALLY Fiction?


Books by Jackie Taylor Zortman

When I wrote my second book, but first novel, “Footprints in the Frost”, almost immediately someone wrote to tell me she knew that my secondary main character was absolutely me. She based her conclusion on the fact that my character bore the same surname as my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. She died when my mother was just fourteen years old, so I never had the pleasure of knowing her. But those of you who are authors know that we writers quite often will use family names for our characters, never dreaming it might lead certain readers to suspect we are being somewhat biographical. Therefore, when I wrote the sequel “Snow Angel” I was determined there would be absolutely nothing in the book that anyone could possibly confuse with reality. I’m here to tell you that failed miserably.

Right away, someone else wrote to inform me that when she read a completely innocuous sentence on page 13 of “Snow Angel”, which she quoted for me, she knew who I was “really” talking about. I just sat there dumb struck. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What makes this happen?

Being an avid reader, when I sit down to read a fictional book (and they are all clearly marked as such on the copyright page) I do so for relaxation and to get lost in the story. Reading is a great stress buster, at least for me. Never would it ever enter my mind to suspect that the author is secretly talking about their personal life or that of someone they know. I am aware of how much time and hard work writing a book takes, so I just let the story lead me wherever it is going to take me, relax and enjoy it.

My first book “We Are Different Now” is non-fiction and is completely about everyone and everything I mention in that book and right out there for the world to see in words written right from my heart. So, if I have something real to say, I write it via non-fiction. Trust me, though that particular book has a lot of tears on its manuscript, most non-fiction is a lot easier to write than fiction.

Now tell me, do you other authors run into this same quandary or is it just me? And if you are a reader, do you look for things in books that might be subtle disguises for some reality in the author’s world or do you just assume they created the whole ball of wax? I’d really like to know because now I am really curious. My suspicion is this only happens with someone who knows you, but not well enough to have all the facts needed to tie situations together correctly. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just life.

Share your thoughts in the comment section, write me an e-mail or find me on Facebook, but do let me know.





Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Authors, non-fiction | 12 Comments


The thing I love most about being an author is not the long hours we have to spend at the computer writing/rewriting/editing. It isn’t the marketing we must do constantly or the months it takes from the time a publisher accepts our manuscripts until that book is finally in a form you can actually hold in your hand. What I love are the other authors we become friends with and the fact that authors do not compete with one another. They will post your book covers, host you on their blogs, retweet your marketing posts and share them wherever they can and do anything else that is possible to help you sell your latest book. It’s unusual to be in such a large group who knows no jealousy and never attempts to rain on your personal parade. They also read your books and write reviews on

My new novel SNOW ANGEL (DetectiveMax Richards Book 2) was recently released and right away, John M. Wills, a former Chicago police officer and retired FBI agent with numerous wonderful books of his own on the market, volunteered to post my book’s info on his website. He is an award-winning author/free-lance writer. Then he put it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well. How neat is that?

Another author friend, Nancy LiPetri, has posted my cover everywhere possible and this gal is active on a lot of sites. She is the author of “The Wooded Path” and “Across the Lake”.  She also wrote the blurb on my book’s back cover. I didn’t ask either one of these people to do this, but they both did it out of the goodness of their hearts and to give a fellow author more exposure.

Then prolific author, Marilyn Meredith, volunteered to post an article I wrote about my new book for the June PSWA Newsletter on her blog after I sent her the information. She writes two series of books, the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series and as F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff PD series. This woman is an icon who has well over 40 books on the market and reminds me of the Energizer Bunny with her constant ability to keep busy (she has a huge family) and still have time to write.

I cannot forget Caleb and Linda Pirtle who happily publicize my books as often as  possible. They have a long established website with over 60,000 views a month. Caleb has over 70 books on the market that are absolutely fantastic and Linda has several cozy mystery books selling, as well. Both of them are award winning authors.

And then there’s my husband. He gave me a pen for Christmas that says it’s for signing autographs. But he intends for me to sign books with it and that’s exactly what I am now doing. What a wonderful and thoughtful gift that is. He’s so patient with me when I have to be writing or marketing for entire days. He doesn’t cook at all, but is always happy to run to one of our restaurants and buy and bring dinner home, so I don’t have to.

So that’s my story. I hope you’ll leave a message to let me know you stopped by. And don’t forget to check out my new book SNOW ANGEL (Detective Max Richards Book 2) both as a paperback and Kindle  at and as a paperback at Barnes and Noble at: . You can only buy FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST (Detective Max Richards Book 1) directly from me at the present time. It will soon be released by my publisher as a Kindle on When my time comes up in the Aakenbaaken & Kent pipeline, it will also be available as a second edition trade paperback.


Posted in Aakenbaaken & Kent Publishing, Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Book, Crime, Detective Max Richards Books, fiction, new book release | 4 Comments