Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

It’s rather astounding to realize that Christmas will be here in only  three days. I made my last batch of fudge this morning, the gifts are all bought and wrapped. the ones to distant important people in my life have been mailed and received, Christmas cards are long ago sent. Just one more dish to make for the wonderful big Christmas brunch my daughter-in-law and son provide on Christmas Day. It feels good when we finally can see that light at the end of the tunnel.

This year has been filled with wonderful surprise phone calls from so many dear friends who live far away. Such a simple gesture that can mean so much, especially at this time of year. We’ve all talked for hours and, frankly, it’s something we should do more often. I think we need to slow our lives down and remember while social media is easy, something a bit more personal (such as an actual phone call) can mean so much more.

I’m on my fourth or fifth rewrite of my current WIP and just about have that ready for my editor. Of course, I know she is busy with the holidays and her own family now, but come the first of the year, off it will go to her and my beta readers. Perfect ending for 2018.

The purpose of this blog post is simply to tell each and every one of you how important you are to me and how thankful I am to have you in my life. My wish is that we all have a wonderful Christmas and that 2019 is the best year ever. I no longer make resolutions or create expectations for the coming year, but I am always hopeful and looking for the best being yet to come.

Many blessings to each and every one of you.


Author Jackie Taylor Zortman and husband, Richard.


Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Christmas, Colorado, Friendship | 6 Comments


Author Keith Bettinger

My Christmas guest is my good friend, author Keith Bettinger. Keith was the first to read the manuscript for my non-fiction book WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW. Since he is not only a retired Suffolk County, New York police officer, he is also a long-time grief counselor and there couldn’t have been a more perfect person to review my journey through  grief from the death of my 21-year-old grandson. He writes from the heart, so be prepared.


Keith Bettinger

            It all started years ago, one summer day at a gas station on a busy street on Long Island, New York.  A mongrel dog living out of garbage pails, delivered a litter of puppies behind the station’s dumpster.  People felt sorry and left food for the mother dog and her puppies and somehow they managed to survive.

Eventually, the weather changed to autumn and people realized the future for the mother dog and her puppies would become bleak as winter approached.  Someone called animal control and the mother dog and all but one of her puppies were captured and taken to the shelter to hopefully find new homes.   One puppy remained free and was left to survive on his own in the only world he knew – his world behind the dumpster at the gas station.

In the meantime, in another part of the county, lived a husband and wife, both of them were police officers.  The female officer was a counselor in the department’s employee assistance unit and the husband was assigned to the mounted unit.  They didn’t have any children, but they did have two Labrador Retrievers.  The older Lab came as part of the marriage; he was with the husband before there was a wife.  The second Lab eventually joined the family after the wedding ceremony.

The older Lab was fourteen years old and having all the difficulties that come with advanced canine aging.  The husband and wife were going away on vacation and boarded both dogs with their veterinarian.  While away, they received a phone call from the veterinarian; their old Lab had quietly passed away.  The doctor told them he believed the old Lab simply waited for them to go away so he could pass on without them being present.

The couple returned home with empty spaces in their home and hearts.

Eventually, Christmas Eve arrived and the puppy was still living on his own having avoided attempts to capture him.  An immigrant family had their eye on the puppy for quite a while, and they thought the puppy would make a great Christmas present for their children.

On Christmas Eve evening, they lured the puppy their way with hamburgers from a fast food emporium and finally managed to capture him while he was distracted and eating.  They placed him in their car and were driving to their home with the feral puppy, a puppy that had spent his entire short life dodging cars, not riding in them.

Suddenly the puppy panicked within the car and was acting wild and causing additional panic amongst the couple.  The family pulled into a large parking lot and opened the doors to get out of the car and quiet down. The puppy immediately jumped out of the vehicle and was running around the large parking lot nestled between two busy highways.

Witnessing this event was a police lieutenant who was making a call from the police call box in the corner of the parking lot.  She went over to investigate, thinking the family was abandoning the dog.  When everything was explained, translated and sorted out, the family, left and the lieutenant put the puppy in the patrol car where it now rode quietly and peacefully back to the mounted unit’s office.

Sitting in the office, manning the desk was the officer who had lost his Lab not so long before.  Without any words of introduction, the puppy calmly walked in with the lieutenant and went right over to the officer; put his chin on the officer’s knee, waiting to be petted.  No crying, no growling, just with a look that said I need love and affection and so do you.

When the four pm to midnight shift ended, the officer took the puppy home with him.  He wondered what his wife would say when they arrived.  At the house, the puppy quietly walked through the doorway, greeted the wife, and then walked into the living room. He sat down on the floor and looked at the bookshelf.  On the bookshelf was the urn containing the cremains of the old Labrador Retriever.  It was as if the puppy was telling the old timer he would now watch over the husband and wife, the old timer’s former owners.

The husband and wife knew they had a new member of the family who came into their lives on a very special night in a very special way.

About Keith Bettinger:

Keith Bettinger is a retired Suffolk County (N.Y.) Police Officer. He’s been writing for law enforcement publications for more than 45 years and has received 22 awards for his articles, stories, poems, and books. 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, five Headquarters commendations and six Precinct commendations. He also was a field training officer and an instructor on Post Shooting Trauma and Critical Incidents. 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: I Pledge Allegiance, Cop Tales 2000, Charity, True Blue, To Protect and Serve, and Dad’s Bow Tie. He also shares with Jack Miller, the screenplay Master Cheat. Keith lives in Las Vegas with his wife Lynn.

NOTE: In addition to the things mentioned in his bio, Keith was also at the 9/11 Ground Zero and debriefed the numerous other officers who also were there.

Please leave a comment to let us know you stopped by to enjoy his article.



Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Author Keith Bettinger, Christmas, Law enforcement | 4 Comments


Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

On this Black Friday, I happen to be the guest on author Thonie Hevron’s blog at https://thoniehevron.wordpress.com/2018/11/23/thankfulness-jackie-zortman/. Hope you’ll take a moment to stop at her site and read what I have to say about Thankfulness.

Comments are always welcome, of course.


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It’s a bit startling to realize the holidays are actually upon us already. I’ve decided it is the magical season. If I’m really mindful, I can find good things happening all around me.

Detective Max Richards Book 2

For example, for the second time in about a month, Barnes & Noble has featured my novel SNOW ANGEL in their ads. How cool is that? If you want to check it out, here is the link:     http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/9781938436444 . I’ve never had them feature one of my books in their ads before, so to have it happen twice in a month is such a wonderful surprise. Of course, if you want the Kindle, it’s available at amazon.com.

And speaking of surprises, yesterday I received a phone call from a dear high school classmate of mine back in Cincinnati. She’d been cleaning out stuff and dropped a book. Out popped an unsealed and unread letter that I’d written to her in 2008. She called to apologize for not having answered it. We laughed over the fact it was ten years ago and I don’t even remember writing it. We managed to chat for over an hour and it was so much fun to remember way back when we were hanging around with our little bunch of girlfriends and remembering the sometimes crazy, but always fun things we used to do. Unfortunately, we have lost many of the gals we ran around with. Big school with many small groups of tight buddies.

Then, out of the blue, an author friend of mine sent me a wonderful story that may require having some tissues handy. It will appear on my blog at Christmas time. This friend is not only a retired Long Island NY police officer, he is a grief counselor and the very first author to read my first book’s manuscript for WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW, A Grandparent’s Journey Through Grief. It sold like hot cakes when it first came out and still sells “as needed”. We bonded right then and there and have remained good friends for the last eight years. I love his article and can’t wait to share it with you. But just like Christmas gifts, you have to wait a little while.

WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW is not yet available as a second edition, but you can buy the first edition trade paperback directly from me.

My other book is only available in the second edition as a Kindle on Amazon.com at the present, but will eventually also be out as a second edition paperback. Meantime, the Kindle is at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DD1Y2F8 . First edition paperbacks can also be obtained directly from me, however.

Don’t forget that books make a wonderful Christmas gift. Personally, I have not yet begun Christmas shopping and haven’t a clue as to where to start. Books do happen to be high on my list of gifts to give, however. They never fail to please.




Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Author Keith Bettinger, books, Christmas | 3 Comments

TANGLED WEBS by F. M. Meredith a.k.a. Marilyn Meredith

Today I am hosting my friend and fellow author, F. M. Meredith a.k.a.  Marilyn Meredith. This lady makes the Energizer Bunny look lazy. In addition to caring for her home and family, she writes two different series of books a year and can accomplish more in a day than the rest of us do in a week.  Here’s what she has to say:

Rocky Bluff, the Setting for Tangled Webs

Rocky Bluff is an imaginary beach town somewhere between Santa Barbara and Ventura in Southern California. It’s geography is the main reason it hasn’t grown and become a popular vacation destination. One side of the town backs up to a bluff. The bluff overlooks the ocean and  is filled with expensive homes and a spacious church. On the southern side there is a condemned pier and a campground, the remains of a warehouse and the ocean coming too close to the cliffs where the 101 highway is, limiting how much the town can grow.

The 101 also divides Rocky Bluff. On the eastside, ranches and orange orchards climb the hillside.

The town and the beach are separated by sand dunes. Old cottages are being replaced by three story condos, though not finished, many have already been sold.

Valley Boulevard is the main street on where many old and new businesses are located. A recent earthquake demolished some, others were rebuilt On or near the boulevard is a museum, the police department, city hall, the library, gift shops, restaurants, schools, the hospital, and a day care center.

The residential part of town is also built on a hill with side streets leading from the boulevard. Many of the homes have been here for a long time, Craftmans, some Victorians, and here and there, homes built later. There are also a few apartment complexes.

In other words, Rocky Bluff is like many small towns. The biggest problem for the police department is lack of funds to finance more personnel and newer equipment.

Though Rocky Bluff is a product of my imagination, I can see each business, home, streets, the beach, and hills in my mind as well as any place I’ve lived.

Marilyn, who writes the RBPD series as F. M. Meredith




Blurb: Too many people are telling lies: The husband of the murder victim and his secretary, the victim’s boss and co-workers in the day care center, her stalker, and Detective Milligan’s daughter.

Link: https://tinyurl.com/yabj9z9f



Bio: F. M. Meredith who is also known as Marilyn once lived in a beach town much like Rocky Bluff. She has many friends and relatives in law enforcement. She’s a member of MWA, 3 chapters of Sisters in Crime and serves on the PSWA Board.

Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com

Blog: https://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com

Facebook: Marilyn Meredith

Twitter: @marilynmeredith


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Losing My First Publisher

When I wrote my first book (non-fiction grandparents grief book) WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW, I had no clue how to find or use a publisher. But via Keith Bettinger, a former police officer and grief counselor who was the first to review my manuscript via the Public Safety Writers Association, I was linked to Oak Tree Press and its publisher, Billie Johnson. She immediately accepted my manuscript and I signed with her on November 12, 2012. At the time, she was only publishing fourteen books a year. Where I live in the Colorado mountains, we have a tourist season from Memorial Day through October and Billie worked hard to make sure my book would be available by that time. It was on the market May 17, 2013. It turned out beautifully. I like the classy look of the books Billie provided with great covers and cream-colored pages. This particular book sold like hotcakes. I personally sold three hundred myself almost immediately. It still sells today, as needed, though it is not yet available on-line as a second edition, but can be purchased directly from me.

Detective Max Richards Book 1

Billie was present when my second book FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST won First Place as a Non-published Fiction Book at the PSWA Writing Competition in Las Vegas on July 13, 2014 and couldn’t wait to publish it with the award sticker on the cover she created. This book also sold extremely well. I think that says a lot about the quality and enthusiasm Billie had for her authors.Unfortunately, after a serious illness struck her twice a few years ago, she was no longer able to function as the Oak Tree Press publisher, so in September 2017 I took my rights back and moved to Aakenbaaken & Kent. This was no reflection on Billie or Oak Tree Press. It was just time to move on since I had a new manuscript SNOW ANGEL ready to roll and Billie could no longer accommodate her authors.

Billie Earlene Beard-Johnson

On September 28, 2018 at the age of 71, Billie passed away, unfortunately. Her obituary was written lovingly and revealed a lot of things about Billie most of us never knew. We knew she loved cats. But she also was passionate about Trivial Pursuit, CNN, MSNBC and mystery novels. It also told  you would have a hard time finding her without a pack of Extra Spearmint gum on or near her. She will always have a special place in my heart for giving me my start as a published book author and for the ease with which we were able to work together. By the time of her death, she had around one hundred fifty authors working for her. That’s a large jump from just fourteen a year. It speaks volumes about her ability and success with Oak Tree Press. I will miss her and never forget her. May she rest in peace.

Detective Max Richards Book 2



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Max will be going on duty at six o’clock PM. and won’t get off until six o’clock in the morning.  This routine crops up three times a year when each division has one detective on that shift, making a total of five detectives.  Of course, the regular uniformed officers will be working as usual.  During this time, the detectives don’t just sit in the office with their feet up on the desk, but drive around throughout the neighborhood streets, either doing follow-ups on open cases or tending to whatever happens in their particular department.  In Max’s case, most homicides happen at night, so he is usually busy.

Max’s day passes rather quickly, including about an hour’s nap in the afternoon to accommodate the long hours of the job.  He is soon on his way to City Hall to pick up an unmarked detective’s car at the police garage, leaving his own car there until end of shift.  He enjoys the night detail because that’s where the action is for police and he has always been prone to enjoying his job the most when there’s something going down.

Max starts his usual routine of driving through the streets to observe what is going on, much the same as any patrolman does.  As he turns right into a particularly rugged residential area, he hears two shots ring out and observes two men running through the yard of a nearby house.  A man, no more than forty-five years old, is lying on his face in the street bleeding profusely beside a Yellow Cab.  Max notifies dispatch to send back-up and an ambulance, quickly parks his car at the scene and gets out, running to the injured male.

He kneels down and is feeling for a pulse in the man’s neck when the man opens his eyes, turns his head and weakly speaks to him.

“Hey, man.  I was dispatched to this address for a cab and the minute I pulled up, two guys pulled me out of my car, grabbed all the money and shot me twice.  I’ve never seen either of them before, so don’t know what the hell that’s about.”

“Here, let me help you get more comfortable.”

Carefully, Max helps him sit up and lean back against the front tire of his taxi. Seeing the tremendous amount of blood surrounding the body, Max knows it’s not a good sign and the ambulance is not going to make it in time to save this guy’s life.

“Okay, just relax.  There’s an ambulance on the way and I’ve got officers looking for those guys.  Just hang on. I hear the sirens now.”

“I’m not going to make it, am I?” the victim asks as he weakly gazes into Max’s eyes and has to struggle for breath to speak.  His face has completely drained of its color.

Max cannot bring himself to lie to this poor man at such a time. “No, I don’t think so.”

“Okay, will you stay with me and hold my hand until I’m gone?”

“Of course I will, Buddy.  Just relax.”

Regardless of what the situation may be, cops have a unanimous tendency to tell those in the worst possible situations to “just relax”.  Sami is always amazed at this propensity.

Max sits down on the street beside the man and gently places the man’s head on his shoulder as he tightly holds his hand.

 “I’m right here and I will stay with you. I will get the son-of-a-bitches who did this to you and make them pay.  I promise you!”

“God bless you.”  The man can no longer speak above a soft, weak whisper.

Those were the last words the man ever uttered as he died in Max’s arms. Max doesn’t move until the ambulance with the paramedics arrive on scene. His face shows nothing, but inside his soul is screaming with sadness and anger at the same time.

The chapter continues on from here. How does Sami react to seeing her husband covered in blood? Does Max keep his promise to the dying man or does he fail? Read the book or Kindle and find out.

Detective Max Richards Book 2

Buy SNOW ANGEL here: 




NOTE: Amazon is presently selling it for a ridiculously low price.



Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, blogs, Book, fiction, SNOW ANGEL - Novel | Tagged | Leave a comment


The title today was told to me by my late, great, beloved friend/cousin, Marilyn. We used to talk on the phone up to five times a day, even though she lived in  California and I live in Colorado.  She would fly to our house several times a year and stay for a week and was absolutely the best house guest we’ve ever had. She was one of those rare gems that fall into your life and is there for you no matter where they are, what time of the day or night it might be or who they are with. Unfortunately, she passed away four years ago and I cannot put into words how much I miss that woman. When her granddaughter (and only grandchild) was four years old, she spoke the words of wisdom that are my title to her grandmother who shared them with me.

The reason that quote leaped into my mind today is because, via the USPS, we received both an invitation to our great-granddaughter’s first birthday party and one of the presents we had made for that important occasion. It is difficult to believe she’s been with us one full year already. She is our first and only (so far) great-grandchild, which makes her pretty darned important.  We are blessed that she is beautiful and healthy with a vivacious personality that she reveals through hilarious facial expressions that boggle her mother’s mind. But they are super cute and only show what is yet to come. In other words – we ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Now that we are great-grandparents, we find ourselves remembering when we were younger – the good times, the bad ones and everything in between. As the old adage states, with age comes wisdom. It takes awhile before you actually realize the truth of that expression, but now we can clearly see it is right on target. It makes you realize how much time you have spent on things that, in reality, are of no importance. So many things that seemed to be earth shattering a decade ago seem so insignificant now and it’s hard to believe anyone would devote time to them.

With the birth of this wondrous little girl child, we look back at raising our own kids (without a manual!) and the unbelievable joy of grandchildren. What I have now learned is, mixed in with the excitement of watching a great-grandchild grow, there hides a  subtle sadness, just barely detectable. It’s quietly lurking there for all the first things they do. It’s then you truly realize how fast time passes and how important it is to fill each day with something that’s fun and enjoyable. Get out and be among people. Walk through the woods. Listen carefully to silence. Feel the breeze on your body. Catch snowflakes on your tongue. Dance in the rain. Sing in the sunshine. Be grateful for just this day.  Most importantly, try to find something to laugh about and if you have someone to share that laughter with, do it. The three in the picture are some of our grandkids when they were younger, laughing with (possibly at – but that’s another story) me. Shared laughter is never wasted.

Hard lessons to learn. It comes with age. And it’s a gift. It saddens me that the world seems to be filled with nothing but hatred for each other and people hell bent on changing even the most mundane of things, just because if they throw a big enough fit, they can do it.  Yes, in life you gotta be there every day, so why not enjoy it.

(Your comments are always welcome, so don’t hesitate to leave one to let me know you were here.)
Posted in aging health, Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Friendship, Grandchildren, Great-grandchildren, Laughter, tolerance | 9 Comments

Snow Angel was Much Anticipated

Just for fun, I thought I’d share one of the reviews from Amazon.com. 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: http://amazon.com/dp/193843644X . It’s also available from Barnes and Noble as a trade paperback at: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/9781938436444 .

Should you decide to buy and read it, please write a review on Amazon.com 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