The most important skill in sportscasting: It’s not what you think

My straight hair wouldn’t do for my first job in TV, so my bosses made me perm it.

When being a sportscaster paid my bills, it seemed only one thing was really important. My knowledge of sports? My engaging personality? My ability to write stories. My golden-toned voice?

No, sports fans, it seems none of those things were the least bit crucial. You see, the most critical part of my job was my ability to style my hair. Which is pretty silly in retrospect, but which is true, since even now I find myself watching the local news and exclaiming,  “Geez! What’s with your hair?”

In this case, bigger was apparently better.

You’d think since I know better that I’d cut those anchors some slack. But…I don’t.

I fully remember the day I spoke with my mom following a show that went in spectacular fashion. “How’d you like SportsCenter last night?” I asked proudly. There was a brief pause before she replied. “I didn’t like your hair.”

This is not a coif that made me feel smarter, even though a good hairstyle is said to make one feel brainy.

Sigh…

I should have realized just how important my locks were when I got my first job in TV in Columbus, Georgia. They took a quick look at me, decided they didn’t like my straight tresses, and proceeded to have my hair permed. What followed was a constant progression of consultants who criticized my clothes, my makeup, my jewelry, and, most importantly, my hair.

The 30,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf proved humans have been styling their hair for a very long time.

I recently read an article titled “Ten Reasons Why Your Hair is the Most important Part of Your Look.” The reporter opined that nice hair enhances your beauty, can make you look like a professional or a bum, gives you confidence, and will make you feel smarter. I considered that last comment and couldn’t quite agree. Sherly Temple ringlets did not make me feel like I was a member of MENSA.

It was imperative that I got those bangs just right.

Note that hairstyling is certainly nothing new. Take, for example, the 30,000-year-old sculpture now known as the Venus of Willendorf. As you can see, our Paleolithic ancestors were already well into braids by then. And today there’s a lot of money in the global hair care market, which is expected to grow to $87 billion dollars annually by 2023.

Given a choice, I would have rather mic’d up for a football game instead of a sportscast, because when I was a referee my hair never mattered.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a nice coif, but I do wish my former employers prized me for other things, like, you know, my interviewing skills or how nice I am. (Note that the latter is still under contention, since I wasn’t always nice. I’m working on it.) In any case, it appears our fixation with hair is here to stay, so I’m just going to roll with it. That said, I hope the local anchors understand when I yell at the TV.

PS

I’ve decided that if I’d had to choose between sportscasting and officiating, I’d have just blown whistles, since nobody cared about my hair on the gridiron.

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ANCIENT RUINS, HAUNTED MEMORIES, AND A RUTHLESS CRIMINAL COMBINE WITH A TOUCH OF MYSTIC PRESENCE IN THIS TAUT MYSTERY ABOUT A CRIME WE ALL MUST ADDRESS.

THE CASTLE

Anne Montgomery

TouchPoint Press

Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense

September 13, 2021

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—an ancient pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.

One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.

Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.

One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.

REVIEW COPIES OF THE CASTLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
Contact: Chelsea Pieper, Publicity Manager, Media Liaison: media@touchpointpress.com

Get your copy here

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it

When I suggested covering what I thought was a great story, my coworkers were not convinced.

One day, when I was a sportscaster at ESPN, I became enthralled by a story I read. It was about a young college football player who was pursuing a career as a doctor. The young man had recently discovered a gene marker that could one day lead to advancements in the way we treat heart disease. Because of this, he’d been invited to give a talk before 200 doctors.

How cool is that?

In his spare time, the young man played wide receiver on his college team at Washington University in St. Louis. On top of that, he’d been adopted by a man who played football in the NFL.

“I’d love to do this story!” I announced to my newsroom brethren. I was shocked when all I got was silent stares.

“It’s a great story, don’t you think?”

“No!” someone called out. “Washington University is a Division III school. No one cares about them.”

“I think you’re missing the point,” I said. “Brilliant kid. Adopted. Dad plays in the NFL. Despite rigorous studies, he still finds time to play football.” I scanned the room.

Crickets.

When I later took the idea to my boss, he agreed with all the others. This was not a story ESPN was interested in.

It wasn’t until Sports Illustrated did a feature on the story I suggested that my superiors allowed me to do one as well.

That is, until it was.

The next day, when Sports Illustrated hit the stands with a feature on the kid, opinions on the story changed course instantly.

“You’re going to St. Louis,” my boss announced.

So, I flew to Missouri to meet with the young man, who turned out to be charming and brilliant. Now I don’t recall any special reaction to the story, it was the reticent treatment I received in suggesting the idea that remains.

A few years later, I faced another news director who I thought might be interested in hiring me. He asked about my ideas on covering sports stories.

“I like to look at the people who play and coach the games,” I said. “Who they are underneath their uniforms?”

“No one cares about that!” he shot back. “It’s only about the numbers. The statistics.”

“I don’t agree,” I said.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that I didn’t get the job, despite having a worked at four other TV stations at that point.  Still, if you fast forward to today, where the lives of players on and off the field are on bright display everywhere, I think maybe I was just a wee bit ahead of my time.

I’d like to think a good story is a good story whether the subject matter is news, politics, or sports. I’d like to think that numbers aren’t the point. The people are. Where they’ve come from. The problems they’ve faced. Their successes and failures. Their hopes and dreams. It’s this information that allows viewers—especially those of us without any fabulous skills—to relate to famous people.  To see ourselves in them.

While I realize there are those who would argue the point, all I can say is that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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ANCIENT RUINS, HAUNTED MEMORIES, AND A RUTHLESS CRIMINAL COMBINE WITH A TOUCH OF MYSTIC PRESENCE IN THIS TAUT MYSTERY ABOUT A CRIME WE ALL MUST ADDRESS.

THE CASTLE

Anne Montgomery

TouchPoint Press

Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense

September 13, 2021

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—an ancient pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.

One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.

Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.

One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.

REVIEW COPIES OF THE CASTLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
Contact: Chelsea Pieper, Publicity Manager, Media Liaison: media@touchpointpress.com

Get your copy here

“A beautifully considered, sumptuous novel from a skilled storyteller.”

My thanks to Rose at Rose Auburn-Writing and Reviews for her review of my novel Wild Horses on the Salt.

Wild Horses On The Salt (roseauburn.com)

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A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND

AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Get your copy here.

Pets give us so much for so little in return

Those of us with pets know the joy of returning home to smiling faces. Sadie, on the left, with her buddy Bella.

Sixty-seven percent of American households have pets, which equates to about 85 million families. If you are fortunate enough to live with an animal friend, you understand that there is give-and-take involved in that relationship.

I’ve had pets all my life, primarily dogs and cats with some birds and fish thrown in over the years. With the exception of the fish—which I mostly kept when I was a child—all of these creatures came from the streets or shelters or from people who could no longer care for them. I’ve lived with several dozen cats and ten dogs–most of whom lived long happy lives.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

No matter how bad your mood or how crappy your day, that wagging tail or headbutt when you open the door can make all the cranky disappear. While I abhor clichés, the “unconditional love” trope is completely understandable to pet people.

Morgan and Westin, on the right, are best friends who live indoors, so my furniture is often used for scratching.

But residing with pets is not always magical. For example, there’s the furniture conundrum, especially for those of us who must keep some pets indoors. I have a deaf kitty named Westin and his BFF Morgan, neither of whom leave the house. That means chairs second as scratching posts. For a long time, this bothered me and had me considering new furniture, which my sweetie pie pointed out would just give the cats more expensive places to claw. And so, over time, I adapted. That chair with the white fluff coming out of it no longer disturbs me. (Well, most of the time anyway.) Pet owners understand that they can love their furniture or their pets, but not both.

Then there are the bills. Once, I was called home from work where I found my cattle dog Bella whimpering terribly. “She probably has a broken leg or ruptured Achilles tendon. You’re looking at between two and three thousand dollars for surgery,” my vet said, before whisking my dog away for X-rays. But when the diagnostics were completed, the vet looked a bit sheepish. “There’s nothing wrong with Bella,” she said. “I think she’s just a drama queen.” When I was handed the bill for $623, I squinted at my dog. “Really, Bella?” Which earned me a few tail thumps.

Ryan had Baby for almost 18 years and while she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge a while back, he still wears her ID tag around his neck.

My cat Westin was found abandoned in a hotel room with 29 other cats. He lingered at the Humane Society because of skin and ear issues, but when my youngest foster son pointed out that Westin was like him—since no one had wanted him either—I found myself with a pet whose upkeep exceeds the combined expense of every animal I’ve had in my life. When the vet asks if I want an itemized bill, I say, “Absolutely not!” and hand over my credit card. And yet when Westin curls onto my lap every night, it seems money well spent. (See how we pet people justify ourselves?)

Of course, the most difficult part about being pet parents are those end-of-life decisions. Even when said pet has lived a long, healthy life, the end is excruciating. My sweetie pie, who by all accounts is a big tough guy, still wears his dog’s ID tag on a chain around his neck. His Baby gave him almost 18 years and those last moments at the vet were heartbreaking. I’ve been in that special room at the animal hospital too many times, and yet despite the sadness of losing a friend, I can’t imagine living without animals.

They give us so much for so little in return. Even Bella, the drama queen.

ANCIENT RUINS, HAUNTED MEMORIES, AND A RUTHLESS CRIMINAL COMBINE WITH A TOUCH OF MYSTIC PRESENCE IN THIS TAUT MYSTERY ABOUT A CRIME WE ALL MUST ADDRESS.

THE CASTLE

Anne Montgomery

TouchPoint Press

Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense

September 13, 2021

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—an ancient pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.

One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.

Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.

One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.

REVIEW COPIES OF THE CASTLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST


Contact: Chelsea Pieper, Publicity Manager, Media Liaison

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Register & Order Online: TouchPointPress.com/Bookstore
Orders: info@touchpointpress.com
Also from Ingram and major retailers

Get your copy here

Saved by a bag of corn

A quick trip to Trader Joe’s turned into a frantic search for frozen food.

Old age rears its ugly head in the strangest places.

I had just had a lovely massage. Well, lovely doesn’t really describe the thumbs and elbows that get pressed into my flesh weekly by Chinese reflexologists who strive to keep me upright. In any case, I was walking through the parking lot post massage on my way to Trader Joe’s when my sweetie pie handed me a cold bottle of water. I took a drink and it went down the wrong way, which caused me to cough and, ipso facto, triggered a back spasm the moment I walked through the door.

“Ow…ow…ow!’

“What?” Ryan stared over the grocery cart.

“I have a back spasm!” I grabbed my angry tailbone and tried to think about what I’d come in to purchase. “Ow!” Then I turned and ran up the nearest aisle. Butter, bread, eggs, cheese. No help at all. I rounded the corner and hurried down the next aisle. Frozen foods: Mandarin Orange Chicken, Angus Beef Burgers, ice cream, popsicles. Nothing useful. Halfway down the row, my back pulsing like a bass drum, I began to despair. And then I saw a bag of frozen corn. I scooped the red-and-yellow sack from freezer with the intention of inserting it into my pants.

But…my logical brain made me pause. There were shoppers all around me. What would they think if they saw me shoving corn under my shirt? So, I ran to the end of the aisle, corn in hand, bolted around the bend, and scooted to the checkout line. There I found Olivia, a nice young woman Ryan and I spoke with every week.

“Olivia! I’m going to buy this!” I held up the bag. “But I have to put it in my pants first!”

This bag of corn saved my butt. Literally.

Lovely girl that she is, Olivia didn’t skip a beat. She smiled. “That’s fine!”

And so, I slid that gloriously frozen bag of corn into my shorts. But I still had shopping to do and while I tried to concentrate the pain persisted. And then the bag of corn started falling down my leg. “Is there a restroom?”

Ry pointed to what looked like a far-off corner. I toddled in that direction, sensing the bag of corn slipping from its perch in my pants. What if it dropped to the floor? Would the people behind me assume I was a shoplifter? My brain whirled. Would I be arrested? Surely, I could explain.

Once inside the restroom, I adjusted the bag of corn. While I had to waddle a bit to keep it in place, I thought it would stay put, but as I walked through the store that cold bag started to slip again, so I had to slap my hand over my butt to keep it in place. Yes, I wondered what that looked like from behind, but surely my hand on my own backside was far better than having that bag of corn plop down at my feet.

“What else do we need to get?” Ry asked.

“Nothing!” I really needed to sit on that corn to get the spasm to stop, so we both zoomed into Olivia’s checkout line. I suddenly realized the corn needed to be scanned. I briefly considered retrieving another bag, but knew I’d never make it to the frozen food aisle and back without a corn accident.

Ry, as always, came to the rescue. “Give me the bag.”

I dug my hand into my shorts and proffered the corn. When Olivia reached out for it, Ryan waved his hand. “I’ll scan it for you.”

Once inside the car, I placed my bottom on the frozen bag and waited while the pain subsided. (Cold is rather magical.)

Later, when we got home, I went to throw the corn away, but Ry stopped me. “Just put it in the freezer,” he said.

“I think we should throw it out.”

“It’s fine.”

So, in the freezer it remains. Now, every time I open the drawer, that bag of corn stares at me accusingly.

“I paid for you,” I mumble as I close the door, noting perhaps a little gratitude is in order. “Thank you for saving my butt.”

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ANCIENT RUINS, HAUNTED MEMORIES, AND A RUTHLESS CRIMINAL COMBINE WITH A TOUCH OF MYSTIC PRESENCE IN THIS TAUT MYSTERY ABOUT A CRIME WE ALL MUST ADDRESS.

THE CASTLE

Anne Montgomery

Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

September 13, 2021

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—an ancient pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.

One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.

Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.

One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.

REVIEW COPIES OF THE CASTLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST


Contact: Chelsea Pieper, Publicity Manager, Media Liaison

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Register & Order Online: TouchPointPress.com/Bookstore
Orders: info@touchpointpress.com
Also from Ingram and major retailers

Get your copy here