A crime: A character

The cost of rape is too much to bear.

My new novel, The Castle, which will be published by TouchPoint Press on September 13, 2021, tells the story of Maggie, a National Park Ranger who is recovering from a gang rape she suffered in the military, as well as other tragedies. The reader follows Maggie through her anger, despair, and recovery.

I fashioned Maggie’s after researching rape survivors, noting the characteristics that bind them together. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, rape victims are overwhelmingly young women, though of course older females, children, and males can be victims of the crime, as well.

Maggie, as a former member of the military, is at a higher risk of sexual violence. Women in the military are most likely to be sexually harassed–which is defined as an act that does not involve physical contact–by someone in their chain of command. This behavior easily escalates into sexual assault and rape. Sadly, when these acts are reported, it’s the victim who suffers. Peers no longer want to work with them, fearing that they too will be accused of sexual violence. Often, after reporting these attacks, victims are discharged from the service under less than honorable circumstances, while their attackers are rarely punished.

The fact that Maggie is also of Native American descent further ups her chances of being raped. Statistics show that 1 in 3 American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped at some point in their lives.

Sarah Deer, a professor at the University of Kansas and author of The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America said, “Native women have told me that what you do when you raise a daughter in this environment is you prepare her for what to do when she’s raped – not if, but when.”

Victims are never at fault!

One of the big problems in regard to rape victims is the fact that many feel shame after their attack, as if they deserved the violence that was perpetrated against them. Perhaps the the attack was caused by the clothes they were wearing, something they said, or because they’d been drinking. This, in turn, makes 80% of them remain silent, so they have no closure–carrying the guilt and shame like a backpack stitched to their skin–and allowing the rapists to go free to attack again.

So, what can we do? First, let’s stop blaming the victim. Let’s encourage them to come forward and report the crimes, and provide them with rape counseling advocates so they can recover from the trauma. Then let’s do away with demeaning verbiage like slut and whore and bitch, words that firmly identify women as “less than” in regard to men. We must agree that jokes about sexual assault and rape are never funny nor acceptable. And finally, let’s teach sex education in every school, so that we can arm our young people with the facts and hopefully give them an idea of what exactly consensual sex looks like.

Rape is a cruel and messy crime, one with lifelong ramifications. It’s also a massively expensive problem. According to a 2018 report by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the approximately 25 million rape survivors in the country will cost the US more than $3 trillion dollars over their lifetimes, money spent on health care, criminal justice response, lost productivity, and other costs.

Clearly, rape is crime we can’t afford, both in regard to the financial expense, as well as the horrific personal toll.

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—a six-hundred-year-old 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

Also available on NetGalley

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

The Castle: Unparalleled beauty amidst a treacherous landscape

Montezuma Castle perches high on a cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley.

My new novel, The Castle, which will be released by TouchPoint Press on September 13, 2021, takes place in Arizona’s Verde Valley. The site is an ancient Native American pueblo that perches high on a cliff, a multi-story edifice whose history remains unclear.

What we do know is that The Castle was abandoned by those who resided there about 600 years ago. Today, we call these people Sinagua, which means “without water,” but we have no idea how they referred to themselves. There are no written records from that time. But objects left behind—stone metates for grinding corn, needles for sewing, shell ornaments, pottery, and stone tools—identify the Sinagua as skilled artisans and ardent traders. And, of course, The Castle itself proves they were exceptionally talented builders. Imagine cutting the massive Arizona sycamores and carting them up the cliff face without the benefit of metal tools. And once built, a process archaeologists believe began in the early 1100s, The Castle had to be constantly maintained due to the damaging assault of desert wind, rain, and heat.

President Teddy Roosevelt saved The Castle from destruction by signing the National Antiquities Act in 1906.

When Europeans first arrived in the Verde Valley, they found The Castle abandoned and quite mysterious. With little expertise in regard to southwestern indigenous people, the early settlers assumed that Aztec emperor Montezuma was somehow involved in the building of the edifice. The idea, of course, was nonsensical, since Montezuma was born over 300 years after the construction at The Castle began. Still  the name stuck. So today when you visit, you’ll note the edifice and the 860 acres surrounding the building is called Montezuma Castle National Park.

Upon entering the Visitor Center, tourists will encounter a life-size cut out of President Teddy Roosevelt, resplendent in his bush hat and wired spectacles. Why? Roosevelt was instrumental in saving The Castle from destruction. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Native American artworks became highly prized worldwide. Archaeological sites were ransacked by those seeking a fortune in ancient pottery and jewelry, and the abundance of foot traffic and unrestrained digging were quickly degrading the areas. So, on December 8, 1906, Roosevelt signed the National Antiquities Act and Montezuma Castle became one of the first four sites in the country to come under federal protection. Then, in 1966, The Castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Why place The Castle at the center of a novel about a woman being stalked by a rapist? While the location is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, just off the safety of the trails, the Sonoran Desert reigns. One of the most complex ecosystems on the planet, this sub-tropical desert is filled with both unparalleled beauty and impending danger. Treacherous plants and animals, as well as hazardous terrain mix with extreme weather that can quickly prove lethal. Just as in life, beauty and terror can often exist side by side. It’s how we negotiate our environment that matters.

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—a six-hundred-year-old 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

Never forget, heat can kill you!

People are much more likely to die from heat than from any other natural phenomena.

Here in the Sonoran Desert, the heat is upon us. We desert dwellers are forced to understand the dangers lurking in those high thermometer readings. We know they can very quickly lead to death.

Unfortunately, many visitors to our valley don’t seem to understand. Just two week’s ago, a tourist died on one of our city trails, a young woman who tried scaling Camelback Mountain without water. In July! Earlier, when paramedics had to rescue dehydrated hikers from our parks, a dozen firefighters were themselves overcome by the heat. In response, some of our trails have been closed to the public. Others are only open early in the morning and in the evening.

It’s interesting, I think, that so many people fear hurricanes and tornados and floods and earthquakes when the natural event most likely to kill them is heat.

I know first-hand the horrors of heat sickness. The symptoms can arrive frighteningly fast. Dizziness, confusion, headache, nausea, signs that can quickly lead to unconsciousness and death. All but one of my bouts of heat illness were brought on by officiating and my own stupidity. I was an amateur sports official for 40 years, where I called football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball games. I was almost always the only woman on the field, a fact that was rarely far from my mind.

My first attack of heat sickness occurred when I umpired a baseball game in extreme heat.

As you can imagine, I was sometimes made to feel I didn’t belong in the officiating ranks, and I was keenly aware that any show of weakness would lay me open to negative comments from my peers, coaches, and fans. So, the first time I got heat sickness, I struggled through it. It was a baseball game and I was clad in the necessary armor required for working behind the plate: chest protector, shin guards, wool cap, polyester shirt and slacks, steel-toed shoes. The sun was relentless. After the game, I went home and balanced myself under a cold shower for what seemed like hours. I drank Gatorade and copious amounts of water. I felt lousy for a day or two, then returned to the field.

One of the problems associated with heat illness is that once you get it your internal thermometer is messed up and you start succumbing to it more easily. I’m a slow learner sometimes, so it took me a while to finally take a stand. One day, in a sub-varsity football game, I called time and went to the trainer. He took one look at me and dragged me into the locker room where he filled me with fluids and applied wet, icy towels to my head and neck. I was rather surprised when my crew mates greeted me at halftime and promptly told me to go home and get well. No derision. No smirks. I realized then that most outdoor officials in the southwest have probably suffered similarly at one time or another.

Most of my bouts of heat sickness came while I officiated football games in Arizona’s scorching Sonoran Desert, where temperatures often exceed 110 degrees.

A few years later, the telltale signs of heat sickness attacked in the middle of a varsity football game, and you’d be proud of me. I signaled time out, struggled off the field, and said I was sick. Later, when I opened my eyes in the school’s nursing office, I found myself surround by four paramedics. They were so attentive and cute. I briefly considered that they might be male strippers with their prominent muscles and appealing uniforms, but that was just my heat-addled brain.

What finally made me understand the true dangers of heat illness was the time I got lost in the desert. I did all the wrong things. I went rock collecting alone. I walked away from my stranded vehicle. I had two dogs with me who drank all my water. When I saw that last half inch of liquid in my bottle and felt the sun beating down, I tied my dogs under a bush and hoped the coyotes would stay away. I built cairns as I tried to find my way back to civilization, so I might locate my sweet pups if I survived. While the whole ordeal only lasted half-a-day and I was safely reunited with my dogs, the episode is etched into my brain. As is the fact that today I might be nothing more than a pile of bleached bones in the vast Sonoran Desert.

While lost in the desert, I suffered from heat sickness, and today I consider myself lucky to be alive.

It’s understandable then that I never go anywhere without water. That bottle is always in my hand, which here in the desert is pretty much normal. In fact, those without a mobile water supply are easily identified as tourists.

The point is, heat can kill you quickly. And when you consider that our world is heating up rapidly, it’s something we should all take into account whenever we leave the bliss of air-conditioning.

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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

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Get your copy here

Now available on NetGalley

Women must be bold and share their accomplishments

When I was a teacher, I discovered that many young ladies were uncomfortable talking about their accomplishments.

When I was a high school teacher, part of my job was to encourage my students to think about the future. When it came to resume writing, I’d say, “What are you good at? What have you accomplished that you’re proud of?”

Often, I’d be met with blank stares, which was understandable because they were just kids. Still, I’d press on. “When you choose a career, it’s important to think about what you like to do, what you’re good at, and what someone will pay you to do.”

When the conversation would stall, I’d point out some of my own accomplishments. “When I was your age, I discovered I had a good speaking and singing voice, so I performed in a lot of plays. And I really enjoyed sports. I was an ice dancer and I loved swimming and skiing and watching ice hockey. Eventually, these things put me on a path to becoming a TV sportscaster.”

“Your bragging, Ms. Montgomery,” some child would blurt out. Others around the room—mostly girls—would nod their heads.

“So, you don’t think it’s right to talk about your accomplishments?”

“No!” a chorus of them would answer.

In the business world, the inability to discuss our successes is holding women back.

Then, I’d point at a boy who played sports. “How’d your game go? Which would lead the young man on a tangent about how well he’d preformed on the gridiron. Strangely, when I’d ask female athletes the same question, the response was rarely positive. “I could have done better,” one would say. “I missed an important free throw,” another might add.

Bragging, it turns out, is a habitat peopled mostly by males. A young man can walk into a job interview and wax on about his accomplishments, while women of all age groups seem to feel they must be demure, that identifying their skills and successes is unladylike and casts them in a bad light.

A perfect example is the way many women handle compliments. When someone says something nice about our appearance or a job well done, lots of us stare at the floor, or point out something we did wrong, or give credit to someone else in order to counter the accolade.  And this is a problem.

Just smile and say “Thank you!” when you recive a compliment.

I think denying our successes holds us back, especially in the business world where self-confidence and life experience say a lot about who we are and what we might be capable of in the future. Take participating in sports, for example. Business owners are delighted to hire those who’ve been on teams. They know athletes understand punctuality, working with others toward a common goal, following rules, and getting back up when you’ve been knocked down. (Note here that championships and won-loss records are not relevant. Just participating is all that’s important.) And let’s not forget those other “team players”: young people who’ve participated in choir, marching band, theater, debate, and other activities that are equally favored by many human resources departments. But those doing the hiring will not know about a person’s past if the applicant is unwilling to share the information, so it’s important that people speak up. That’s not bragging. It’s smart!

Today, I don’t hesitate to share stories about my past and the things I’ve experienced and exceeded at. And I’ve learned to accept compliments with a smile and hearty, “Thank you!” It was a bit uncomfortable at first, but now it feels great.

Don’t believe me, ladies? Just give it a try.

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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

Now available on NetGalley.

“A well-rounded story that would be a good read for as many men as the women for whom it is currently promoted.”

My thanks to author and blogger Stuart Aken for reviewing my novel Wild Horses on the Salt.

“The characters, an essential element of any fictional work, are real people. There are no carboard cut-outs here. They are well presented, warts and all. But, as with any author thoroughly at home with their characters, they are drawn with compassion and love. Even the wicked antagonist is given some reason for his appalling actions.”

Stuart Aken

https://stuartaken.net/2021/07/06/wild-horses-on-the-salt-by-anne-montgomery-bookreview/

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?

Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb