BROKEN WING, OIL RIGS AND BOOKS

Spring cleaning meant we got into the closets and really cleaned them out, hauled stuff to the thrift store and filled trash cans to the top.  And then, to fetch just one last bag on a top shelf, my husband climbed up, fell and tore his left rotator cuff.  He was in physical therapy for a time, but the family doc has him scheduled for an MRI this week and postponed PT until we see the orthopedic doctor and discover what’s next. Surgery is possibly looming.
Therefore, we had some free days we hadn’t expected and I got to finish a book called “Back Side of a Blue Moon” written by Caleb Pirtle III. It’s about a desolate Texas town that a con man rolls into and tries to make it an oil boom place.  There’s romance, murder, everything you can want in this book and written beautifully, as always, by Caleb.

Richard, husband of author, with his “broken wing”.

I was telling my husband, sitting across the room in a sling, about this book because I thought he might enjoy it. To my surprise, he has a story of his own about oil fields. When he was 18 or 19 years old, he worked as a rough-neck on an oil rig, just south of Meade, KS. This rig ran 24/7 for 7 days a week and was staffed by three 8-hour shifts. It was never, ever shut off.
My husband worked the night shift from 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM and, at the time, there was a lot of snow on the ground.  He and another rough-neck were half way up the derrick with the ram rod (leader of the team) getting ready to pull the drill out and change it because it wasn’t boring well.  They did this with a strong metal cable on a huge winch because those drills weigh around 20 tons. The pipe has to come out before the drill and as one pipe came out of the hole, it was swinging hard on the metal cable.  It smacked the guy standing right next to my husband, knocked him completely off the derrick and a good distance out into the snow below.  It almost killed him.
How lucky was my husband not to have also been hit.  The author of “Back Side of a Blue Moon” said he grew up on an oil field in Texas and they kept ambulances running around the clock.  It’s a high paying, but very dangerous job that makes a “broken wing”seem like not much of a big deal at all.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Jackie is the author of award winning FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST and WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW.  She’s a charter member of the Public Safety Writers Association and a member of the  Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Coming soon – SNOW ANGEL.  For more about her books, click the “About” button at the top of the page.
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Posted in accidents, Authors, books, fiction, Jackie Taylor Zortman, oil rigs | 4 Comments

CATCHING UP

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

As I write this, it is snowing outside on April 27th to fulfill the infamous “springtime in the Rockies” legend.  Trust me, that legend is all it pretends to be and then some. Sometimes we have all four seasons in one day.

I’ve been neglecting my blog to finish my next novel SNOW ANGEL.  As an author friend once referred to the end weeks of rewriting/editing/polishing, it is grueling.  But now it has gone to my editor, who warns up front that she is really tough.  Well, that’s what she gets the big bucks for, so I hired on anyway. I know she’s good and that’s what I want.

Now I will have a couple of weeks to focus on the other parts of my life before it’s, once again, back to the book. We get to do fun things, such as buy a new electric drier  (as opposed to natural gas) and have an electric water heater installed and the gas heater removed.  If you scroll down, you can read about our two nights with carbon monoxide alarms going off.  They never did find the source, so for peace of mind, I’m eliminating the possible sources.

My husband either sprained or tore his left shoulder’s rotator cuff, so we have many frequent physical therapy sessions to attend, 40 miles away and they are painful for him.  I think we’re at the MRI point and a trip to the orthopedic surgeon to see what sort of damage he actually has. We were cleaning out closets when he fell from two feet up and are thankful no bones were broken. We had been hauling a lot of stuff to the humane society’s thrift store and throwing much away. It’s amazing how much stuff you put into a closet and forget.

Thanks for stopping by and, if you feel like it, leave a comment to let me know you did.  I appreciate your support, especially when I’ve not been holding up my end of this blog deal. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

GOT THEM OLE TIME-CHANGE BLUES

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Welcome to doing everything in your life an hour before you want to. Even though I’m not a drinker, except for a glass of wine with dinner, I feel like I have a bad hangover today.  And to cap things off, the time change seems to roll around a little earlier each spring and stay just a little longer into the fall. What’s the story with that?

Our cat has a heart murmur and has to be medicated twice a day and given a pill every morning.  Took me awhile to figure out why he wasn’t up and waiting for me when I went downstairs this morning.  Then I realized he can’t tell time and I forgot to tell him we are movin’ on today, regardless of what his circadian rhythms are telling him.

I suppose, if you have to farm, ranch or work outdoors, it may be a productive thing to have another hour of daylight in the evening, but it only seems to mess my life completely up.  And here’s a good question. Who decides whether or not we do this and exactly when?  I’d like to talk to that person and see what logic they use to make this decision.  The popular answer to that these days would be “IT’S TRUMP’S FAULT!” However, I am not among the Trump haters, so that won’t work for me.

Meantime, I’ve changed all of the clocks in the house and didn’t realize we have so many.  My favs are the ones you just push a button and it changes automatically and the atomic clocks that do it all by themselves. I carry one of those around with me as I change the others.  

But my nemesis is still outside waiting, so I shall head out there and try to remember how to change the one in the car.  When I don’t do that, I have moments of panic while driving to an appointment thinking I am an entire hour early…or late, depending on what time of year it may be.

(Thanks for stopping by.  Hope you’ll leave a comment to tell me you were here.)
Posted in books, Daylight Savings Time, Jackie Taylor Zortman, Writing | 12 Comments

What’s Your Writing Style?

Here I sit in the midst of writing my third book, SNOW ANGEL, my second fiction novel and sequel to FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST.  Trust me, with all the rest of life that takes so much time, this has been a challenge. 

Writers are taught not to edit as you write and that is a difficult habit for me to break.  I try to write from 1000 to 2000 words every day.  I print out what I’ve written. I read it. I edit it.  I go back and make corrections.

Yesterday, a seasoned writer friend of mine told me to just write the book and then go back and highlight and polish it later. His point being this saves a lot of time, which it does.  He just spent what he calls a grueling week doing that on his next book which will be somewhere around #71. Obviously, he has a lot of good advice to share. I still wonder how he knew what I was doing.

I do not write from an actual outline, but have it in my head.  However, when writing a sequel, a little spiral notebook is essential because you have to remember what/where/how/when that’s in the first book.  Another thing that absolutely needs to be noted are dates. Otherwise, things can grow rather mucky quickly.  It has taken me six years to learn these things in a manner that makes me believe them.  

One recent day, my computer suddenly announced:  “An error has occurred and Windows is trying to recover your work.  This may take a few minutes.”  As I watched the contantly revolving circle on an otherwise blank monitor, I paced the floor like an expectant father whose wife is in the delivery room and he isn’t.  Windows recovered it.  It did take a few minutes.  I save my manuscript every single time I exit it and I probably over do it.  I save it to Word.  I save it to desk top.  I save it to my external hard drive.  But I have 40,000 words and 37 chapters written and don’t want to start over.

Computers are wonderful when they are working like a well-oiled machine, but when they falter in the middle of some block of large work, it’s terrifying.

So, if you have any additional tips for me, I am very anxious to hear them and you can leave them in the comments below, e-mail them to me or leave them on Facebook.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Posted in Authors, blogs, books, Jackie Taylor Zortman, Writing | 6 Comments

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY 2017

Handsome guest on our front deck.

Handsome guest on our front deck.

Who is your favorite team for the 51st Super Bowl later today?  Personally, I don’t have a dog in this fight since my Denver Broncos are not involved, but I do have a favorite, though I’m not going to express it here.  As an author, I think it’s a wise idea to never get publicly involved by taking sides in politics, religion or sports. Sometimes that takes a lot of teeth gritting, but I can do this and it works for me.
With all of the civil unrest and political infighting in our normally peaceful country right now, I think watching a football game for three hours or more will be a wonderful distraction.  Have you noticed any additional stress in your own life since all you see and hear on social media or the television is who doesn’t like what and how they intend to make it known?  Perhaps they will simply peacefully march and protest or they may decide to block a highway, set buildings and cars on fire, throw rocks at the police or totally disrupt and destroy someone’s event, no matter what it is.
What all of that has done for me is simply make me spend very little time on social media sights and to watch either a funny sitcom or a good movie on television now and then.
I am reading a lot of good books instead of doing any of those other things and making great strides writing my next book called SNOW ANGEL, a sequel to FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST.  I’m also creating a few entries for the 2017 Public Safety Writers Associations Writing Competition in Las Vegas in July. The deadline for entries is May 1st, so it’s looming large.
Odd as this sounds, what is being accomplished is some of us are beginning to start living more productive lives once more and ignoring that which brings unpleasantness into our private world.  So, in my opinion, we are slowly, but surely turning something negative into something positive and that’s how it should be. There’s an old saying, “It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow some good.”  That’s not verbatim, but it’s close.
Where I live, we have an added contender with a winter storm warning for one to two feet of snow, starting tonight and ending sometime on Wednesday.  We’ve just enjoyed a couple of weeks of sunny, warm, snow-melting days, so looks like it’s back to winter, as usual, this time of year.
I hope your team wins today and that you enjoy  the game, the legendary Super Bowl ads and the half time show.  You can leave a comment and let me know you stopped by and, if you like, tell me what you are doing these days.
If you need a couple of good books to read, click on the “ABOUT” button at the top of this page and check mine out.
Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Posted in 2017 Super Bowl, Colorado, Jackie Taylor Zortman, professional football, Public Safety Writers Association, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

THE LAST BREATH?

On Friday night, January 6, 2017 at 6:15 PM, one of our carbon monoxide alarms suddenly went live.  It wouldn’t stop, even when I took it outside.  When the second one alarmed, I called 911 and the police and fire department arrived, with us outside as directed, even though it was only 7 degrees.  They found carbon monoxide in our master bedroom and master bathroom  on what is the third level of our house, the ground level being the foyer, my husband’s shop in what is actually a garage, though it’s never been used for one. We also have two other rooms and a bath on the ground level.  However, they could not locate any source of the deadly gas. So, we had to pack ourselves and the cat up and move to a motel a few blocks away and at which my daughter-in-law had obtained a large suite for us to use for the night.
Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon Monoxide Detector

The following day, as directed by the fire department, I called the heating/plumbing company  to check the three natural gas appliances in our home – furnace/water heater/drier and found zero CO.  The fire chief had volunteered to come back and check  with him and he also found zero CO. However, we were told to have carbon monoxide detectors (we already had three) in all bedrooms and on each floor of our house, which we now have for a total of six.
On Monday, another technician from the heating company appeared at our door to do a courtesy check, to make certain all is well. And yesterday, the heating company came and changed our vinyl exhaust pipe to the gas drier to sheet metal.  Apparently, that is a new federal housing code rule.  The old vinyl style is considered to be a fire hazard, plus there’s always a chance a hole might appear in such a vent pipe.
I can now tell you how scary it is to lie down in your bed at night with the knowledge you just may never wake up again due to carbon monoxide.  The fire department moved one of the detectors inside our bedroom and I keep another just outside of it. At this point, that is what I depend on to warn us, should we be in danger. Two years ago, we purchased our detectors after a couple was found dead from carbon monoxide in a motel room in a distant town.
Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon Monoxide Detector

This is something each and every one of you should do for your safety because it is odorless and deadly.  With nothing showing CO in our case, the only possible explanation is that earlier, my husband had our Jeep running just outside the open garage door in the basement while he used an acetylene torch to thaw the hydraulic lift on the snow plow.  He also had our pickup truck running with the exhaust pointing in the exact opposite direction from the Jeep, but also right outside and parallel to the open garage door.  Speculation is that the furnace, just inside the door, sucked the exhaust into the house and spread it through the ducts and upstairs.  Our house is an open chalet style, but the bedroom and bathrooms do have walls and doors, though the doors were open.
A weather inversion can also cause carbon monoxide when it doesn’t allow your appliances outside vents to work properly.  It was unusually cold the night of our own experience.
Also, in spite of the hatred for law enforcement and  firemen today, always support and be grateful  for your police and fire departments because they may be the ones who save your life sometime.
I’m writing this as a public service announcement to make sure you have adequate carbon monoxide detectors wherever you are.  They also might save your life some day or night. Having them saved ours.
Author Jackie Taylor Zortman and husband, Richard.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman and husband, Richard.

Jackie is a Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association

PSWA Member graphic[1]

Posted in Carbon Monoxide, Colorado, Fire Departments, Home safety, Jackie Taylor Zortman, Public Safety Writers Association | 10 Comments

LOOKING BACK

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.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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