GHOSTED – The Drifter Series: Book Four
We have the great pleasure of a visit from Jackie Taylor Zortman. A fine write, Jackie lives in the Colorado Mountains not too far from the Million Dollar Highway, one of the most beautiful stretches of road I’ve ever ridden. Jackie writes police procedural, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction grief.
When you finish check out Jackie’s website:www.jtzortman.wordpress.com
Please tell us a bit about your newest book in the Drifter Series.
Jake rides his Harley again in GHOSTED – The Drifter Series Book #4. He brings his carefully concealed personal secret out into the open for the first time. An untimely and unexpected classified mission in The Tetons of Wyoming takes him away from Kimble, Colorado, at the worst possible time in anyone’s life. His leaving without warning creates hurt, embarrassment, and fury in Tomi. Will it end their relationship forever this time?
Leaving his beloved red Harley behind, Jake has his pilot friend, Stephan, fly him into Jackson Hole Airport in his private plane. Without his cycle, he rents a Jeep to pursue his assignment. An old friend suddenly re-appears in Jackson Hole and indirectly becomes an important fixture in Jake’s world as he finally settles an old score that changes the lives of many beloved people.
Find out what shocking discovery Jake has exposed this time and learn if it turns out to be the wonderful surprise he expected or a total disaster. It’s all there inside the pages of GHOSTED.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels? My 21-year-old grandson fell to his death in the black of night from a mountain ledge. Sixteen months later, I sat down and wrote WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW to soothe my aching soul. It sold like hotcakes and still sells, as needed. I feel Pete lives on through its pages.
As for writing novels, my husband once mentioned he’d like to see a particular case he worked for the Wichita PD as the Senior Homicide Detective as a book. I wrote FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST, spiral bound it and tossed it on a shelf. Years later, I ran across it, modernized it, and sent it to the Public Safety Writers Association’s Writing Competition in 2014. If it bombed there, it was going into the trash. Imagine my surprise when it won First Place Fiction Book Unpublished. I wrote the sequel, SNOW ANGEL, and it won an Honorable Mention, so I was off and running as a novel writer.
Next, I began writing my JAKE series – he’s a drop-dead handsome hot-shot wildland firefighter with a Harley who is a drifter. He hides a secret and only stops when some place flags him down where there’s a disaster for him to solve. Women want him, and men envy him. I’ve written WHISKEY, WATER & WILDFIRE, WINDS OF CHANGE, ECHOES OF SILENCE & GHOSTED featuring Jake.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication? My first non-fiction book was published immediately by Oak Tree Press, as was my first novel Footprints in the Frost, probably because of the award it won.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author? I was originally traditionally published by Oak Tree Press and then Aakenbaaken & Kent, but now I independently publish by choice.
Where do you write? I write in my office in the Colorado mountains on my desktop PC and scribble occasional notes by hand when I’m away from the office.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? Depends on the book. My Detective Max Richards is loosely based on someone from real life. The other characters are pure fiction. My Jake character and most of the characters in those books are pure fiction, except for one. A young male friend wanted to be included in the book I was writing, so I put him in, but in a fictional manner.
Describe the process you use for naming your characters? I knew immediately what Detective Max Richards should be like, so he was easy. He’s very much like my detective husband. Everything about Jake came to me totally out of the blue and completely intact, name included.
Real settings or fictional towns? Why? At first, I used only fictional towns. Then I discovered it was okay to use actual towns. I prefer to use a fictional name for the town, that is my base setting. So the answer is, I use both. The reason I prefer fictional towns is that I don’t want readers who know me to confuse fiction with fact. I’ve discovered readers see themselves or people and places they think they know in my books, though they are wrong.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read? Secrets of the Dead by Caleb Pirtle III is my all-time favorite. However, in a different genre, I think Where the Crawdads Sing is a fictional masterpiece.
What’s in the future for you and your writing? Hopefully, Jake will continue to stay with me as I continue to write. Book #5 is already haunting me. I also intend to write another non-fiction book about Mild Cognitive Impairment because it has touched my life via someone very near and dear to me.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books? I am a Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association, having started with Roger Fulton as The Police Writer. I am also proud to have won ten PSWA Writing Competition Awards since the day I sent that first manuscript in to see if it would sink or swim. I’m also a member of The Rocky Mountain Fictions Writers. GHOSTED is my seventh published book.
Day 1- Saturday 6/6/2020 Started well with a tailwind. That was fine until I turned south, and that same wind pushed almost sideways off the road. In and out of wind tunnels for a hundred miles or so. Then running below the flow of traffic at 80+ mph on I-5. But sure ate up the miles. When I turned onto SR 138, it was a smooth ride, and a bit of scenery again had a tailwind, nice road, smooth as silk. Hit cruise control. After a couple of minutes, glanced at the speedometer, 90 mph in a 55 zone. Dropped to 75 until I the 210 and turned toward the coast, and now the wind was pushing me around again.
210 and I-10 to San Bernardino was an experience. At 85 mph, I was forced to the slow lane. The fast lane was 95 to 100 mph.
528 miles got me to the Best Western in Indio as I enjoyed the welcome dust blowing in the wind. What an experience check-in was.
What a boring day. The only positive was being on two wheels.
Day 2 – Sunday – Not as boring even without any scenery
Sgt. JAK woke me before 7:00 a.m. “You up yet?”
Hit the road and missed the turn to I-10. A mile down the road, asked a guy in a jeep, “If I keep going straight, will I hit the I-10?” He pointed straight ahead and said yes. I kept going for 35 miles. Stopped at the end of the Salton Sea in Imperial County. Checked my map, made a U-Turn, and back the way I had come for a 70-mile experience to the I-10. Trust me; the Salton Sea is not much in the way of scenery.
I-10 is not quite as boring as I-5, but not much less. Crossing into Arizona, I was feeling the heat and felt as though heat stroke was a possibility. It may have taken me 76 years to realize, when that happens, you should get out of the sun. I pulled into the first rest stop, drank two fruit juice packs, a bottle of water, and splashed water on my head a few times and sat in the shade. After a half hour, I felt refreshed and got back on the road.
Being in Arizona, I kept the speed down to 80 mph and watched those doing 90+ fly by.
About thirty miles from JAK’s place outside Phoenix, the cruise control bucked and quit working. This is usually a clue. The amp meter dropped and indicated no charging. I figured I could keep going and get closer to civilization as long as the battery had some juice. Nope, after a couple of miles, everything failed. As I pulled to the side of the road, I spied an overpass ahead. Time to get into the shade for what I knew would be a wait of several hours. I made it.
I pulled out the iPhone. Crap, almost out of charge because the GPS sucks power like the sun melts ice. I did manage to call the Harley-Davidson Road America and get the process started. Four cages and one BMW Motorcycle stopped and offered help. Four Harley’s went by without stopping.
I called JAK, and he came out and got my gear. When the two arrived, the operator was a woman. She was a character. In large letters, she had “TOW CHICK” tattooed on her neck.
Loading was an adventure. The bed of the truck was as slick as snot with oil. Of course, JAK had to get a photo of me sitting on the scooter on the truck. Almost a duplicate of a photo he took about ten years ago when the bike broke down on the way to Sturgis.
We get to Roadrunner H-D. No service personnel until 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday. They would not allow me to lock the Ultra inside. “I’ll lock it up in front of the service door.” That was not well received, but look where it’s parked and locked.
I’ll be waiting when they open.
My riding budding and I, 153 years combined, are ready for a road trip. Our route will traverse seven states and cover 4,000 miles give or take a few. I’ll be leaving from Oakland, California on Saturday, 6/6/2020. We’ll blow out of Phoenix on the 8th or 9th.
The photo shows our route, exclusive of a few side trips. If we hit 4-Corners then it will be nine states.
If anyone is riding some or all the way with us give shout out.
I keep my Ultra Classic in the garage on a trickle charger. For non-bikers, that is a slow charge that keeps the battery alive during winters parked on cement.
Not long after the Shelter in Place (SIP) started, I decided to take a ride. Low and behold, a dead battery, couldn’t even charge it. I checked and found the extension cord was plugged in. Next stop the bike, yup, charger connected. Last stop, the charger. Oh, Oh, not connected to the extension cord.
With my years of investigative experience, I make a deduction: someone in the family used the cord and tossed it back in the general direction of the charger. Hoping, I guess, for immaculate connection. Asking the usual suspects, I received what I expected, a litany of not guilty pleas.
Out to the local Harley-Davidson dealer and $200+ later, I have a new battery.
After working on my soon (hopefully) to be released novel, writing with my on-line writer’s group, and a fantastic grilled SPAM and cheese sandwich, it was time to change out the old dead battery. I’ve done this too many times over the years.
Well, removing the backrest wasn’t too bad, even with a touch of arthritis. I could not for the life of me get the seat off. Swallowing what little dignity remains in this beat-up body, I turned to my wife. “Honey, please help me.”
Between the two of us, mostly Cathy, we got the seat out. I was happy; she dropped the mounting screw, something I never fail to do. She’s human. Then for the battery, my hands would not grip. We constructed a makeshift battery strap and got it.
Putting it all back together was a snap.
Warmed up all 88 inches and went for a ride. On the ride out of town, the traffic was as heavy as a normal commute. What gives? Who are these people? In my neighborhood, it seems most people are staying at home.
Anyway, it was great to be out on the road. When I came back, the traffic was light. I was on a five-lane highway in the number two lane, second from the center. I was rolling along with the flow of traffic when I noticed a car coming up fast in the number three lane. Thinking I might be impeding traffic, I checked the speedometer. Wow! I was clocking along at 85 MPH. The car passed me doing at least 100. A minute or two, another speedster passed me in the fast lane going about as fast. Dang. It was a short but exhilarating ride, and yes, I was wearing Shorts.
If the hotels are open, my buddy and I will be heading out for a fortnight in about five weeks.
Under the scarf is a happy rider.
It’s been several years since my wife and I took a road trip to Gig Harbor, Washington.
We took a couple of weeks up and back. Other than Gig Harbor, the trip was in some ways like a motorcycle trip, except we were in a cage. We went hither and yon with no other plans. When we arrived, we were pleased, not that we would move there.
One morning while on a walk, I saw one of those newspaper boxes advertising free local papers. I opened it and there on top of the papers was a shiny rock. Painted on it was a rainbow with happy faces at each end. Smiling, I picked it up and felt a sense of wellbeing. I took a paper and put the rock back and walked on, thinking about that rock and the feeling it gave me. Back I went. Picking it up, I thought: I’d like to take you home. But I couldn’t bring myself to take something that wasn’t mine. Back a third time, like a thief in the night, I looked in all directions. No one in sight, I slipped the booty into my pocket and fled.
I didn’t know about rock painters leaving a friendly face to be found by people like me. The finder is supposed to take the gift or leave it for someone else to find. Not happening!
Back at home, I put the rock on the window shelf over the kitchen sink. Many times since then, I stop and look at MY rock. I always smile and perk up.
I’ve been suffering writer’s block. I needed something to get me going, so I brought the rock into my office. Holding it helps. I turned it over and found a note from SJP, allowing me to keep it. At the top was a request to post on FaceBook.
Today on the blog and FaceBook, I’m sending my thanks to SJP.
Over the years, my motorcycle trips have been more about the journey than the destination. I have been to the big motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, at least a dozen times. Three or four times, I was what is called derisively ‘a trailer queen,’ we pulled a bike trailer behind a motorhome. Those trips were in the early days, and we were all about getting to the rally: no side trips, only twelve-hour days driving straight through. Once there, we took rides to Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Wounded Knee. These trips were made quickly so we could get back to the rally. Everything was a crowded rush.
We could say we had been there and done that. (I hate that cliché)
In 2001, I got an Ultra Classic and began riding to Sturgis, following the advice of Robert Pirsig: “Sometimes it’s better to travel than arrive” (Pirsig 103). No longer on the road from morning until dark, I looked around. Instead of the most direct route, we mapped out places we wanted to visit. Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, Beartooth Pass are just some of the big names. Places we never imagined like US-191 north out of Green River, Utah, and through fantastic country and on through Wyoming. I liked US-191 so much that I made a solo trip south on it. Not as scenic, but a great ride. I have made these long rides with a dozen riders, three or four, and alone—never once lonely.
This summer, my buddy Jim Kennemore and I, plan on heading north to the Cascades, make a right onto Washington-20 across the state to Kettle Falls on the Columbia River. There we will flip a coin and go—
We have room for other bikers; we don’t care what you ride as long as you miss the open road and the wind in your face.
Pirsig, Robert M. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Bantam Books, 1981.