John M. Wills

Books and blog



Meet Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Please introduce yourself, when you began writing, your background, where you live, etc.

I began writing, mostly poetry, back in 1990.  Poems would come to me intact and I couldn’t just sit down and write one because I wanted to.  These soon evolved into articles and short stories and now, into a book.  I am a Kentucky native who grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to Colorado’s western slope 32 years ago.  I live in a beautiful little tourist town in the mountains where I once was a bookstore owner.  I am married to a 42-year veteran law enforcement officer and we are both now retired.  Prior to my bookstore, I worked in advertising, travel and medicine and spent a good many years being a stay-at-home Mom.Me

Do you write every day, and are novels the only things you write?

When I am in throes of a project, I do write every day.  Of course, I write every day answering e-mails, marketing my book or participating in social media.  I normally do not write fiction and have also written a great deal in genealogy, history, poetry and have had numerous short stories and articles published over the last 23 years.

I know you have a new novel just released. Please tell my readers about it.

My book We Are Different Now was born when my 21-year old grandson, Pete, fell to his death in the pitch black of night while celebrating July 4, 2010.  He lit a firework of some magnitude and dropped it, so instinctively jumped backwards, falling straight to the canyon floor and riverbank below.  It took just three seconds and killed him instantly from a skull fracture.  This happened in the wee hours of July 5th, his mother and my daughter’s, birthday.  He had been born on my son’s birthday.  Being our oldest grandchild, he was the absolute apple of my eye.  My book tells the story of my journey with death on the mountain and I invite my readers to come along with me to discover what has been revealed to us since we lost this young man with the angelic face and who was born possessing an old soul  His death has changed my life in many ways.  It has, amazingly, been selling to people of all ages and in all walks of life, to my delight and amazement.

What other writing interests you?

For several years, I wrote the police report for the newspaper, which was an experience in itself, mostly because people are not familiar with cop jargon.  That can result in someone who decides to edit your report completely changing the context of what you are saying.  I also have a novel that is fiction based on fact that I will soon rewrite and attempt to get published.  This book took me three years to write, due to the violent nature of the cases involved.  Having to read so many different reports and files, there were times when I had to stop writing for a few weeks because it became overwhelming.  I’ve also written for several anthologies in the law enforcement genre and also history and genealogy are fascinating subjects for me.  Poetry and I seem to have parted company for now.

What is your most rewarding writing experience?

At this point in time, I would have to say that my book We Are Different Now has been my most rewarding experience.  It took 16 months after Pete’s death before I was able to begin writing and another full year to complete.  Luckily, I immediately had a publishing contract with Oak Tree Press and my book was on the market six months later.  Therefore, I believe that I must have had some major help along the way to accomplish that so quickly.  I simply had a deep gut feeling that this is what Pete would have wanted me to do – create something positive out of that which is so painful for me.  My goal was merely to have my book be “out there” and it certainly is.  That has been a huge reward for my heart and soul.

Do you belong to any writing groups, or critique groups?

In 1994, I became a member of the Police Writers Club, which evolved into the Public Safety Writers Association later, and I am still a proud member of that organization.  Living remotely, as we do, I do not know of any nearby critique groups.  I do have a group of far-flung friends who will read and critique my work for me.Cover 300x444

Are you working on any new projects?

Yes, I have three different projects partially written and they are all different.  One is the rewrite of my novel Footprints In The Frost that is fiction based on fact and will be a romantic mystery.  Another is a compilation of stories I’ve written over the years that remains untitled.  This is the one that I’d just love to steal your “Nightstand Collection” title for, but will not.  And the third will be called “Bullets, Badges and Me” and will be a cop tale.

I read that your writing has won awards. Can you tell us about those honors?

After entering my very first writing contest, I was very surprised to win two third place awards in the 2013 Public Safety Writers Association Contest in July for two articles I’ve written.  One is in the non-fiction, non-technical, non-published category called “Amache”.  This is about a WWII government internment camp for Japanese/Americans located in eastern Colorado.  My husband had seen this place intact as a little boy, though it was then empty.  We had looked for it for years and finally found mostly concrete foundations, a few houses and a playground still intact.  We were totally alone and it was eerie to view.  My second award was in the non-fiction, non-technical, published category titled “The Siege At Cortez,” that I wrote at an editor’s request and is about the horrible butchering of law enforcement officers in the Four Corners area years ago.  That article was the very first time I received a sizable check for my work, rendering me a bona fide professional writer.

Is there anything you would like to share with our readers?

Yes, I doubt that anyone can possibly understand how much blood, sweat and tears are involved in writing/publishing/marketing a book.  It has been a huge revelation to me to discover how many different facets there are between first sitting down to write and actually holding the finished book in your hand.  It has been and continues to be a tremendous education for me.  So, to those of you who are seasoned book authors, I applaud your months and years of hard work to provide quality entertainment for your readers and your willingness to help those of us with less experience find our way.  Along this path, I have been introduced to so many wonderful people and gained really good friends and view that as part of the gift that we are given when we discover that we can write.  To those of you who buy and read our books, blogs and websites, we are eternally grateful because when we get a letter or comment from you, that’s the ultimate prize.  You are the reason we do what we do.  Thank and bless you all.  And thank you, John, for allowing me to be a guest blogger on your site.

Please provide the readers with a link to your website, and a link to your book.

My blog is:  My book is called “We Are Different Now” and can be purchased at,, or in Barnes & Noble stores.









Author Interview of Chris Swinney

Please introduce yourself, when you began writing, your background, where you live, etc. cover

Hey folks, my name is Chris Swinney, and I use the pen name of C. L. Swinney. I’m married with two kids and I work in law enforcement in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to volunteer time at my wife’s school, local charities, and anything involving Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

I began writing seriously in college. I wrote poetry and began writing magazine articles for fly fishing. I’ve been in Fly Fisherman Magazine, California Game & Fish magazine,, and the Alaskan Clarion Newspaper.

Currently I’m assigned to a task force covering a wide variety of responsibilities, from tracking down suspects to processing clandestine labs. It’s rewarding work, but sometimes I get ten hours or less of sleep in a week.

Do you write every day, and are novels the only things you write?

I try to write or edit every day. I’m working on editing the second book in my Bill Dix series and I just began writing the third book a few months ago.  I’m sticking to novels, but my friend and poet (author and professor as well), John Brantingham, has inspired me to write poetry again.

I know you have a new novel just released. Please tell my readers about it.

Yes! My first novel, Gray Ghost, came out in July and it has been so much fun hearing feedback about my characters and story.

The elevator pitch is this: Two off-duty narcotic detectives go fly fishing in the Bahamas. They quickly learn their guides were murdered before their arrival.  The locals share with the detectives that they think the guides were drug mules and were murdered by a man known simply as “The Caller.”  Against their better judgment, the detectives get involved and work with the locals to spring a trap for the Caller. Unfortunately, he’s well ahead of their plans. In the end, the main character, Bill Dix, and the Caller, have no idea what happened after an attempt to capture the Caller.

What other writing interests you?

I’m interested in poetry. Recently I learned there are so many forms of poetry and that I was butchering several of them. I grabbed a few books from John Brantingham and have done several exercises to write better poems. It’s coming around. I think I’ll stick with it.

What is your most rewarding writing experience?

I really enjoy hearing from the readers of my stories. My work seems to hit people differently. I write for an audience interested in law enforcement, police work, narcotics, fly fishing, and the outdoors. Gray Ghost captured all of these things, which is why I think it’s been so warmly accepted. The most rewarding experience for me is hearing people ask for more of my writing.

Do you belong to any writing groups, or critique groups?CLSwinneyProfile (2)

I belong to the Public Safety Writer’s Association (PSWA) and I’ve applied for Mystery Writers of America. I am not yet part of a critique group, and I can’t tell you why that is. Most of the great writers I know are in these groups. I’ve been too busy to find one right for me, but I’m looking.

Are you working on a new project?

I’m actually working on two projects right now. I’m currently editing the second book in the Bill Dix series, called The Collectors. This is very time-consuming and I’m dumping thousands of words at a time… My other project is the third (unsure if it’s the final) in the Bill Dix series. I work all day, help at the house, then write from around 10pm to 1 or 2 in the morning. Needless to say, it’s a slow process for me.

Is there anything you would like to share with our readers?

I’d like your readers to know that I spend a huge amount of time making my fiction as believable as possible. I take real life experiences and apply them to my novels, but I won’t share industry secrets or the names of people I’ve investigated. I won’t cross the line to sell a book; it’s not worth it to all my brothers and sisters in blue.

Please provide the readers with a link to your website, and a link to your book.

You can check out more about me at my website located at

And you can pick up a copy of Gray Ghost on here





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