“Rich and multi-layered, this is a novel not to be missed.”

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My thanks to Katherine, the book blogger who helms Katherine’s Book Universe, for her kind words and 5-star review of my novel A Light in the Desert.

https://katherinesbookuniverse.wordpress.com/2018/11/28/desert/

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

http://www.midpointtrade.com/book_detail.php?book_id=261955

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

 

Come to the launch of A Light in the Desert on Friday, November 30th at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix. The program begins at 7:00 PM. https://www.changinghands.com/event/november2018/anne-montgomery-light-desert

Shoes: A Black Friday Miracle

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I’ve never understood people’s fascination with shoes.

I’ve hated shoes all my life, because my feet hurt. One look at the sweet little footprints inked on my birth certificate might explain my disdain for footwear. I was born with a bent left foot, and though the condition was surgically repaired in my twenties, shoes … still … hurt. I’ve also had a number of other medical procedures performed on my feet over the years, but – on the off chance you’re enjoying a meal – I will spare you the details.

Birth Certificate

One study says American women on average own 27 pairs of shoes, while men own 12. Eighty-five percent of women admit there is at least one pair of shoes in their closet that they’ve never worn. The shoes are too uncomfortable – too high or tight – according to 64% of respondents. Apropos of nothing, 41% won’t wear their shoes because they were too expensive and they fear damaging them. One can picture these ladies staring longingly at those pointy red stilettos, sighing … wondering what might have been.

Sometimes, my shoes got me into trouble. One gray Connecticut afternoon, my boss at ESPN called me into his office and insisted that I not wear Pumas or Nikes or Adidas or any other form of athletic shoes in the studio. An odd request, I thought, since I was working for the all-sports-all-the-time network. He claimed that viewers would know about my sneakers, whenever I was sitting at the SportsCenter anchor desk.

At first, I thought it was some kind of prank. An initiation joke of some kind, because how could the station’s followers have any idea what I was wearing under the desk? I could have been naked from the waist down and they wouldn’t have known. Then, my boss pointed out the low-angle side camera that clearly displayed my sneaks curled up under my chair, a beacon in their whiteness for a national audience of drunk and sleepy late-night sports fans.

Then there was the time I arrived at a junior varsity football game with a painful big toe. My black officiating football shoes were unbearable, so I switched them out for a pair of white sneakers, figuring that, sartorially, they would go perfectly with my black and white uniform. But, no! You would have thought I’d appeared in pair of pink pumps, considering the reaction of my peers, who rolled their eyes and raised their eyebrows and treated me like a pariah.

I have been lucky the past two decades in that, as a teacher, what covers my feet is never an issue.  Still, whenever I am required to attend a “function” I get a bit queasy. My first thought is always about my shoes and how much pain I’m willing to endure to look the part. Because, for me, finding comfortable shoes is akin to locating that last remaining unicorn. That perfect pair not realty but myth.

So, imagine my surprise when, on my Black Friday shopping trip, the angels sang, and trumpets blew, and there before me were the shoes I’ve always dreamed about.

“How do they feel?” my sweetie pie asked amid the bustle of bargain-hunting shoppers.

I walked around, beaming. I felt like Cinderella. “They’re a perfect fit! And … so pretty!”

He smiled.

“I can’t wait to wear them.”

“You know …

Boots 2

… they’re hunting boots.”

“Obviously!” I said, undoing the laces and Velcro and zippers. “And I will be hunting rocks.”

“Of course, you will.”

 

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

http://www.midpointtrade.com/book_detail.php?book_id=261955

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

 

Come to the launch of A Light in the Desert on Friday, November 30th at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix. The program begins at 7:00 PM. https://www.changinghands.com/event/november2018/anne-montgomery-light-desert

 

 

 

 

 

 

No phone, but my days are numbered

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I don’t own a cellphone.

I know what you’re thinking. What the hell is wrong with her? 

Ninety-two percent of Americans own cellphones. Back in 2004, just 65% were tethered to electronic leashes. Sadly, my days are clearly numbered.

Why do I find the thought of owning a cellphone so awful? As with many things, I had to pop on my thinking cap and ruminate.

I thought about the time I faced a cute soldier friend back from an overseas deployment for a brief 24-hour visit. My phone rang. My news director ordered me into work on my day off because everyone else had called in sick. I’d like to tell you that I was a team player and bailed on my soldier, but I did not. My boss had to do the sports segment on the news that night. I don’t think he ever forgave me. All these years later, I feel a bit guilty. If only I hadn’t picked up the phone.

Then there’s the fact that I’ve spent the last 19 years teaching in a Phoenix high school, during which I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time asking … cajoling … begging … OK, threatening students to, PLEASE STEP AWAY FROM THE PHONE! Please, stop cradling those electronic devices like they’re defenseless newborns. And, geez, are those tears? I promise I’ll give the phone back at the end of class.

My students are universally unmoved.

When informing folks of my phone-less condition, they are at first incredulous. I can see it in their eyes. You are, of course, joking. They stare, waiting for a punchline that never comes.

My sweetie pie does not generally use a cellphone either. Again, I can read your mind. How did they find one another in this world of seven billion plus people? While that remains a mystery, we both agree that cellphones can occasionally be useful. Over the last year, we’ve noted those times: looking for a Thai restaurant in an area with which we were unfamiliar, searching for a friend’s house when I forgot to write down the address, getting lost on my way to officiate a high school football game. I think that was it. Three times over the course of a year.

Now, a disclaimer. When we travel, Ryan grabs his trusty, little black flip phone. And, yes, we see those disparaging glances, ones that label us as old technophobes. We risk the disdain because we’re not dumb. We learned during a long overnight flight delay that some airports lack easy-to-locate pay phones. Also, Ryan now places the flip phone in my car during football season, when I traverse much of Metro Phoenix on my quest to throw yellow flags.

“You might need it.” He shrugs.

“But I don’t want it.”

“Just take it.”

Here’s the funny thing. While many people roll their eyes at my cellphone-less status, more often than not that wide-eyed shock morphs into a sad smile.

“Wish I could do that,” they say wistfully.

“But you can!” I cry, thrilled at the thought that there are more of us out there. “I’ll help you!”

Then they shake their heads at the absurdity of cutting themselves free.

I’ve considered creating some sort of resistance, but I fear there are far too few residing on my side of the isle. And the cellphone companies are too rich and powerful, filling the airwaves with commercials touting their shiniest new gadgets that will soon bring the miracle of 5G.

Still, I’m always on the lookout for like-minded folks who might help me lead the revolution. I’d say, “Call me!” But … well …

 

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

http://www.midpointtrade.com/book_detail.php?book_id=261955

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

 

Come to the launch of A Light in the Desert on Friday, November 30th at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix. The program begins at 7:00 PM. https://www.changinghands.com/event/november2018/anne-montgomery-light-desert

A Light in the Desert is, “An engaging and thought-provoking read.”

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My thanks to Lynda Dickson at Books Direct for her 5-Star review of my novel A Light in the Desert. https://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2018/11/a-light-in-the-desert-by-anne-montgomery.html

Come join me and former Arizona television personality Mary Jo West for a discussion and book signing on Friday, November 30th at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix. The program begins at 7:00 PM.

https://www.changinghands.com/event/november2018/anne-montgomery-light-desert

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

http://www.midpointtrade.com/book_detail.php?book_id=261955

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

https://www.changinghands.com/event/november2018/anne-montgomery-light-desert

A beautiful sentiment

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When I received an official ballot in the mail, I was confused. I had no memory of requesting one. Though I often forget things, so perhaps I did.

It’s just that I always vote at the polls. Lately, here in Arizona, voting in person has been problematic due to a number of snafus – ridiculously long lines because not enough polling places were available, voting machines that were wonky, and poll workers who were not properly trained on equipment.

So mailing in my vote seemed prudent. Still, I carried that ballot around with me for weeks, and when the final date arrived to pop it in the mail, I held on and missed the deadline.

“Why didn’t you just mail it?” my sweetie pie said. “I always mail mine.”

“I know … but … it’s just that there was no sticker in the envelope. You understand, don’t you?”

He nodded. “I do.”

So, now I must admit that I really like the round, red, white, and blue I Voted Today stickers. In fact, I enjoy them so much, I keep them stuck inside my linen closet door. Had I given my collection serious thought early on, I might have arranged it better. But, as you can see, the array is rather cluttered and disorganized.

I voted Today 2

I can’t remember when I started hoarding my voting stickers. Or why. Perhaps I had difficulty discarding them because of the beautiful idea they convey. Or maybe my collection is there to remind me to never miss an election.

When voting day arrived, I stared at my ballot. I would have to go to the polls. When I arrived, three nice ladies eyed the envelope in my hand.

“Is it sealed?” one asked.

I licked the flap and held it shut.

“Is it signed?” asked another. “And don’t forget the date and your phone number.”

“Yes, and yes and yes,” I said.

“Then just slip it in the slot.”

And still I paused. That’s when I saw the third woman holding a thick coil of stickers.

“That what I came for,” I said.

She smiled. “Then take two.”

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

http://www.midpointtrade.com/book_detail.php?book_id=261955

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

https://www.changinghands.com/event/november2018/anne-montgomery-light-desert

An unexpected do-over

Me and Don Baseball

Don Clarkson and I were baseball umpiring partners for five years. During that time, he told me stories about his life as a Green Beret during the Vietnam War. I wove some of those accounts into a book, A Light in the Desert, which is set in Arizona in 1995 against the backdrop of the deadly cold-case sabotage of the Amtrak Sunset Limited .

My dear friend, a Vietnam veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and the effects of Agent Orange poisoning, inspired me to write a book.  I self-published the story a long time ago. Later, a small publisher picked it up, but then the company closed.

Few people read the book. For authors, this is difficult. I’m not sure what to compare it to, but perhaps it’s like people not wanting to look at all those baby pictures proud parents and grandparents pass around.

Before Don Clarkson died in 2010, his wife read the story to him. She told me he liked it. At least I had that. But I had to face the fact that the book would be resigned to a drawer somewhere, the story largely forgotten.

As a former TV reporter and a sports official for 40 years, I’ve spent much of my life in a world where there are no do-overs. So, imagine my delight when the folks at the Amphorae Publishing Group – the same people that released The Scent of Rain – read my book and decided to take it on.

“We were drawn to the idea of the crime of derailing a passenger train and the connection to … domestic acts of terror,” said Kristy Makansi, an Amphoare Publishing Partner and Managing Editor. “And that a person who has done some terrible things in their life–even if in the service of a greater good–can suffer guilt and be redeemed through acts of kindness.”

A Light in the Desert will be available wherever books are sold on Tuesday November 6, 2018. The official launch will be held at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix the evening of November 30. Please come and join me and my dear friend and former TV personality Mary Jo West for a discussion and book signing.

As an author who’s been granted a do-over, I couldn’t be happier.

 

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

http://www.midpointtrade.com/book_detail.php?book_id=261955

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

https://www.changinghands.com/event/november2018/anne-montgomery-light-desert