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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

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


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

Ermine 2016

Ermine 2016

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

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

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

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

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

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





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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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


Author John M. Wills

Author John M. Wills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


A few years ago, one of my fellow Oak Tree Press authors, Ilene Schneider,  suggested we do an author’s cookbook and feature recipes from our books.  We got it started and somewhere along the way, it got side-lined.  Just recently, Ilene and authors Lorna Collins and Mary Montague Sikes decided to grab the bull by the horns and make sure we got it published.  As it turns out, we have two editions.  One is full color inside and out, and sells as a paperback SPECIAL EDITION for $24.99.  The second edition has  the same beautiful color cover but is black and white inside.  It sells for $14.99.  Both are available at http://www.amazon.com. It has 132 pages and is a 6×9 trade paperback.  Buy: http://tinyurl.com/pcejv9d.


otp-cookbook-ebook-coverThe gorgeous artwork for the cover is done by author Mary Montague Sikes.  The authors who contributed recipes are:  Amy Bennett, Holli Castillo, Lorna Collins, Lesley A. Diehl, Michael Eldridge, Nicola Furlong, J. L. (Janet) Greger, Shirley Skufca Hickman, Ann K. Howley, Marilyn Levinson, J. R. (John) Lindermuth, Nancy LiPetri, F. M. (Marilyn) Meredith, Sharon Arthur Moore, Radine Trees Nehring, Carolyn Niethammer, Eileen Obser, Beryl Reichenberg, Tanis Rush, Ilene Schneider, Anne Schroeder, Mary Montague Sikes,  Denise Weeks, Robert Weibenzahl, John R. Wills and Jackie Taylor Zortman.

Amazon describes our book this way: ” Not only are the

Back Cover of OTP Authors Cookbook

Back Cover of OTP Authors Cookbook

Oak Tree Press authors wonderful writers, they are also great cooks.  Meals often appear in their books.  This cookbook assembles the best of their recipes along with author profiles and a bit about their books.  Special thanks for the owner of Oak Tree Press, Billie Johnson, for her support and encouragement.”

With the holidays upon us, remember that books are great gifts, both as hostess gifts on Thanksgiving and for Christmas or Hanukkah presents.  Hope you’ll keep it in mind as you prepare your holiday shopping list.  Buy it and enjoy or wrap it up and give it to someone who likes to cook or just loves books.


Posted in Authors, Book, Christmas, cookbooks, Oak Tree Press | 6 Comments


Grandson Pete

Grandson Pete

On December 30, 1988 my oldest grandchild, Pete, was born to my daughter on my son’s 25th birthday. He was beautiful both inside and out from that moment until he died tragically on his mother’s 49th birthday on July 5, 2010.  I wrote my first book about Pete’s tragedy and it’s called  WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW. Losing him is the biggest heartbreak I have ever known and, at my age,  I have known quite a few.

His mother and I immediately recognized that Pete was born with an old soul and had wisdom and insight kids his age normally would not.  When he was an infant and cried, she sang “Over the Rainbow” to him and he’d quiet immediately.  It worked beautifully. When his first Christmas rolled around, I felt so lucky when I found a music box he could easily operate and it played that song.  He loved it. When he graduated high school, they each wore a different colored cap and gown and rainbows were their class theme.  Of course, “Over the Rainbow” played at the end of the ceremony.

Pete's Rainbow

Pete’s Rainbow

In the weeks after his death from a 100 foot fall off a Colorado mountain ledge at night, we had rainbows almost every single day or evening and they were simply spectacular.  I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.  Almost everyone noticed them and started taking pictures to share with us. That was over six years ago now and it’s never happened since.

However, only recently did the beginning lyrics of that song suddenly ring a bell with me as I actually stopped and thought about what they say.  “Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.”  Then it struck me that his mother had done exactly that for Pete when he was so tiny…she sang it as a lullaby to comfort him.  Coincidence?

Pete's Awesome Rainbow

Pete’s Awesome Rainbow

Needless to say, that particular song  is extremely important to our family and it never fails to summon forth tears when I hear it sung.  It has become what I refer to as our family hymn. How prophetic was it to attach itself to Pete as soon as he was born.  He died at the tender age of 21 and was loved by everyone who knew him. Unlike all the hatred and chaos happening in the world today, Pete was blessed with a warm and loving personality and he spread good feelings wherever he went.  Nobody has ever said anything bad about him to my knowledge and he’s still fondly remembered by so many. As I say in my book about him, we take comfort to know he’s still out there…somewhere…over the rainbow.

A Gradnmother's Love is Forever

A Grandmother’s Love is Forever

 (“Over the Rainbow” lyrics by E. Y. Harburg, music byHarold Arlen – written for the movie WIZARD OF OZ in 1939.)

WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW is available as both a trade paperback and Kindle on http://www.amazon.com  and as a trade paperback or Nook on http://www.BN.com orhttp://www.shopOTPbooks.com. It can also be ordered by any Barnes & Noble store. To read more about it, click on the ABOUT link at the top of the page.

Cover 300x444 OTP_logo





Posted in accidents, books, Colorado, grief, music, rainbows | 8 Comments


Fall has arrived in the southwestern Colorado mountains where I live and, as expected, it has been spectacular.  It’s dwindling now and nearly over since we’ve had a couple of snows and some pretty low nighttime  temperatures, some dipping down into the 20’s. For whatever reason, I either become slightly depressed or really restless as this season slowly ebbs into winter.

Very recently, a friend of ours suddenly had to have a pacemaker put in when his pulse rate unexpectedly dropped to 32.  As men usually do, when we first communicated after he was home from the hospital, he treated the whole situation as nothing to get excited about. But he did say something that really caused me to sit down and think. As we were discussing aging bodies, he said, “We should start out old and grow younger. Wouldn’t it be great to live, laugh and love again?”

Last night we watched Hurricane Matthew as it began to roll into Florida and they showed a picture of St. Augustine.  And I remembered  the very first time in my life  I put my feet into an ocean, I was 21 years old and it was at night. On a long road trip to Miami Beach, we decided to stop in St. Augustine to sleep and I was so fascinated that we went down to the beach in the dark in shorts and I excitedly waded into the ocean up to my knees in the quiet warm water lit only by moonlight.  I fell asleep that night listening to waves gently lapping on the beach outside our hotel window. What a wonderful memory that was!  And how odd that it took something so horrendous to provoke that particular memory.

Our middle grandson’s birthday is today and the night he was born is another great memory.  His mother went into the hospital in labor,  so my daughter and I and our first grandson,  nearly two years old, went there in late afternoon.  Our husbands came together when they got off work.  My daughter-in-law’s mother was in the same hospital recovering from surgery, but she was there beside her daughter, along with my son.  My daughter-in-law is from a huge Italian family, so people just kept arriving and pretty soon, we had chairs all up and down the hall of the maternity floor.  It became a huge gathering until my son finally stepped out of the birthing room alone and said, “It’s a boy!”  Fall turned to winter that very night when the first snow of the year 1990 appeared. And that boy is now a fabulous 26-year-old man.

It seems we have lost quite a few people this fall, some old, some young and some in between.  So, it’s nice to sit in the glorious fall sun, look at the beauty around us and think about the fun things we used to do when we were young and plan the things we’ve yet to do as we age.  My grandkids all live out of town now and the one who was almost two on this date 26 years ago, tragically left us when he was 21.  He’ll always be the most wonderful memory of all.





Posted in aging health, Colorado, elderly readers, fall, family, grief | 4 Comments