4 Stars for Wild Horses on the Salt

“This is a moving story about abuse, recovery and the healing power of nature, and it is a love story to the deserts, forests, rivers and wildlife of Arizona.”

Steph Warren

Bookshine and Readbows Blog

Read the rest of Steph’s review on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show?id=4191356231

WILD HORSES ON THE SALT

Contemporary Fiction

  Publisher: Liaison: A Next Chapter Imprint

   Kindle, Paperback, Large Print, and Audio Editions

Get your copy here or wherever you buy books.

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? 

REVIEWS FOR WILD HORSES ON THE SALT

Midwest Book Review

“Wild Horses On The Salt showcases author Anne Montgomery’s genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven and dramatic storytelling that is the hallmark of an award-worthy novel.”

Margaret Millmore

Author

“Ms. Montgomery weaves an intricate parallel tale, portraying the struggles of one woman, and that of a lost wild stallion—both fighting to rise above the cruelty of an unkind world. Her unique writing style, incredible knowledge of her subject matter, combined with her ability to create vivid scenes of the East Valley, and particularly the Tonto National Forest and Salt River area in Arizona, takes the reader on a fascinating (and educational) journey.”

Erin Kosio

Amazon

“A beautiful yet tragic story of healing.”

Sharon Grow

Goodreads

“The story of the wild horses of the Salt is expertly interwoven into this exciting and thoughtful story of a wounded soul determined to regain her life and find genuine love.”

Anne R. Marshall

Amazon

“It is a romance, not just between men and woman, but between people and a place. Montgomery captured it and accurately, too. This was an engrossing read, despite the abuse. I recommend it.”

Rose Aurburn-Writing and Reviews

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

Anu Menon

Thought is Free Book Blog

“Fantastic page-turner. Fast-paced, adventurous, and thoughtful story of the survival of Becca’s wounded soul. Her struggles, experiences, passions, fears, healing, and the truth of her chilly silence are wonderfully portrayed.”

Healing minerals? Maybe, maybe not

If rocks could heal, I’m guessing I would never have been sick a day in my life.

As I life-long rock collector, I have periodically run into folks who get all atwitter when they see my collection. Yes, my specimens are beautiful, but that’s not what they care about. They instantly begin talking about all the healing properties said rocks have. At which point, I’m not sure what to say. (A rare occurrence for me, but there you have it.)

Now, to me, my rocks are glorious bits of natural art, one-of-a-kind pieces in every color and shape you can imagine. However, in the interest of fairness, I popped on my reporter’s cap and did a bit of sleuthing, a dive that took me to one site espousing the following: “Crystals were the source of power in the ancient civilizations of Lamuria and Atlantis. The Altanteans developed patterns that created numerous forcefields of energy to serve a wide spectrum of needs. These people misused among others the crystal energy and it caused the disappearance of Atlantis.”

Um…I was a history teacher for a brief spell, so you can see why I might question such a goofy statement. Still, there’s no doubt that humans have been attracted to bright, shiny rocks probably since we lived in caves. The dazzling colors certainly excited early man, but the seemingly unnatural crystal forms probably gave people the idea that certain specimens were otherworldly. Today, all of those geometric shapes—tetragonal, orthorhombic, hexagonal pyramids, to name a few—sometimes look manmade, but they’re not.

The Greeks believed that amethyst could prevent drunkenness. In the interest of science, I tested that hypothesis. Nope!

According to the websites I visited, humans have, for millennia, believed that certain minerals have specific qualities that can improve both one’s physical and mental health. Jasper, for example, is said to eliminate stress. Bloodstone will improve circulation. Citrine will help your concentration and enhance creativity. Turquoise will soothe you when you’re feeling down. Tiger’s eye will provide motivation and lesson fear. And, the big gun, quartz crystal, is said to be a master healer.

Another popular mineral is amethyst. With its striking purple crystals, it’s considered the most powerful and protective of all stones. The name comes from the Greek “amethystos,” which means sober. Grecians believed the mineral could prevent drunkenness, among other things. However, I know from, um…personal research…this is not the case.

But before we start snickering at those crystal-healing believers, consider that WebMD—my go-to site when I have the sniffles—has a page devoted to crystals as medicine. And the folks there admit that, yes, it seems there is some truth to the idea that minerals can make people feel better. While there’s no scientific evidence proving that a hunk of crystal might heal your aching bones, neuroscientists and psychologists believe cuddling a rock just might lift your spirits.

Nothing makes me happier than finding a beautiful rock in the earth.

“The placebo effect is almost certainly at play,” said psychologist Stuart Vyse, author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition. “And the mere act of doing something to take control of your destiny can often boost hope, brighten mood, and improve your ability to cope with a chronic condition. There is no scientific evidence to support the medical effectiveness of any of these remedies. But there is the possibility that they might have an indirect psychological benefit.”

And here is where I must admit that the alternative medicine folks might be right, because I can’t think of anything more uplifting than digging a beautiful rock from the earth. The feeling of joy is palpable.

So, perhaps, I shouldn’t throw stones. (Couldn’t help myself there.)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg


The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.

Who knew my dopey dog was so smart?

Beware if you come through the front door. You might end up with wet shoes.

We have always considered our dog Bella to be one of the dopier creatures in our pet parade. A blue-eyed cattle-dog mix, Bella came from a rescue organization when she was about one-and-a-half. The only background story was that she had been bathed and then dumped soaking wet on someone’s porch.

When the shelter folks chose us to take her in, a process that felt like we were adopting a child, we were thrilled. Even after we discovered that she had what is referred to in veterinary terms as a happy-water problem. (Okay. That’s not true. That’s what we call it.) The problem occurs when someone comes in the front door and Bella gets so excited that she pees on their shoes in delight.

Like the cats clawing the furniture—as I’ve said before, you can either love your cats or your belongings, not both—we decided we could live with Bella’s predilection.

What conspiracies might Bella be hatching with her dolly Mr. Avocado?

Lately, though, our old girl started having what’s referred to as OLDB: Old Lady Dog Bladder. (Again, this is our term, so don’t blame the vet.) We had her checked out and the doc said nothing was amiss. We were offered the chance to medicate her or try doggy diapers, but decided we’d rather work with Bella. So, we started treating her like a puppy. Paying attention to her more, praising her for telling us that she wanted to go outside, and giving her a cookie when she peed in the yard. “You are such a good girl!” we’d say. And she’d look up at us adoringly.

Bella and her buddy Sadie, who has already crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.

But then we noticed something odd. This dog—who we often joked at Christmastime should be gifted with a few more brain cells—started scamming us. She’d excitedly dance around as if she needed to go out. Then she’d pretend to pee and come running for a cookie.

Hummm? I didn’t know whether to be angry or sign her up for doggy MENSA. It made me wonder what else might be knocking around in her canine brain. Does she know more words than walk and cookie? Is she secretly plotting with the cats to take over the house? Or maybe she’s working undercover and the dopiness is all an act.

I do look at her a bit differently now. What’s really behind that big doggy smile?

I doubt we’ll ever know.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books

Things I don’t understand

Sometimes, life can be rather confusing.

The older I get, the less I understand things. I’m not talking here about things I never understood, like chemistry and algebra. I’m wondering, for example, about the sign I passed the other day, one advertising a “dry bar.” Confusing, yes? How can a bar be dry? By definition a bar serves alcohol, which makes it decidedly wet. As a girl who went to college in a dry county, I do know the difference.

It seems a dry bar in today’s parlance is a place where one goes to get one’s hair “blown out.” Clients can choose a bouncy blowout, a wavy blow dry, a natural blowout and even a 90’s blowout, the ad for which proclaims, “Nineties hair is back in a big way — we’re talkin’ a gravity-defying fluffy blowout. Voluminous, low maintenance and low-key sexy…”

As one who lived through the 90s, I’m not sure a return to those colossal coiffures is a good idea. I’m also unsure about the advertised Brazilian blowout, which brings to mind a Brazilian wax, something I’ve worked hard to forget.

It appears that 90’s hairstyles are once again hot. Does anyone think that’s a good idea?

Then there’s the Nail Supply store I saw the other day. The place seemed large and I wondered just how much space might be needed for some nail clippers, emery boards, and an assortment of nail polish. Then I thought I might have it wrong. Maybe they were selling nails: framing nails, box nails, sinker nails, masonry nails. Those types of things. But again, the size of the store seemed massive if the only thing in the inventory was nails. Very curious.

How is it even remotely possible that a paper bag would prevent a wine bottle from breaking if you dropped it?

A little later, I walked into my favorite store: Total Wine. For those who live in parts of the country without this fabulous retailer, it’s a giant warehouse full of pretty much nothing but booze. Wine, liquor, and beer from every corner of the world. There’s also a smattering of eatables like cheeses and chocolate and upscale munchies, which makes the place the perfect go-to spot in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I plan to be inside when they lock those doors on such an occasion. And yet, I noticed something the other day that made me wonder. The clerk at the counter reached for a narrow, brown-paper sack in which she intended to place my wine bottle.

“It’s in case you drop the plastic bag,” she explained.

“The bottle will still smash anyway,” I said, pointing out the obvious.

I looked into the practice later and discovered that originally the bag was to give the buyer some privacy, the idea being that maybe they didn’t want anyone to know they were buying alcohol. Of course, I’m guessing most everyone knew what was in the sack, so the practice seems a bit silly. And, of course, the protective effects against broken glass are non-existent.

QR codes look a bit like Rorschach tests. I don’t know about you, but if I look at them too long, I get a headache.

Then there are QR codes. Now don’t jump on your soapbox and call me old technophobe. I know that one takes a picture of those weird, black and white, Rorschach-test looking things, in order to be linked with something online. I get the concept. I just can’t figure out how anyone came up with the idea. As I generally do when confused, I researched the issue. Turns out a Japanese engineer named Masahiro Hara invented the QR code back in 1994, in an effort to come up with a better way to track automotive parts. His idea was an extension of the barcode, only with a QR code information can be stored both vertically and horizontally, which is pretty damned brilliant. Methinks Mr. Hara probably never had a problem with chemistry or algebra.

I guess new things will always keep popping up. And maybe that’s for the best. It keeps us on our toes, don’t you think?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg


The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books

The road to a happy retirement can be slippery

I used to have a lot of things to do, which is why retirement has been a bit difficult for me

Like most people, I’ve spent my life running from one responsibility to another. I was a teacher for 20 years, this following about 15 as a reporter in both television and print. All along the way, I was an amateur sports official, an avocation I practiced for four decades. And I’m a foster mom and an author. On top of all that, I worked out most of my life, so the gym and pool were a second home.

Today, I’m retired from my everyday job in the classroom. I no longer traverse football fields blowing whistles, and my workout regimen is a fraction of it once was. Adding to the strangeness is the fact that recently I became an empty-nester as the kids have all spread their wings and flown.

One fabulous aspect to all of this is that the alarm clock that used to brutalize me every morning is no longer an instrument of torture. I looked forward to this time in my life when I could sleep in and do anything I wanted, whenever I wanted. But it turns out retirement can be tricky.

In order to have a happy retirement, we need to consider that the process takes time and effort.

According to the American Psychological Association article “Retiring minds want to know” by Jamie Chamberlin, “Too few people consider the psychological adjustments that accompany this life stage, which can include coping with the loss of your career identity, replacing support networks you had through work, spending more time than ever before with your spouse and finding new and engaging ways to stay active.”

That part about losing your career identity is one I didn’t consider. Like many people, I believed my job was not just what I did, it defined who I was. Leaving the classroom and officiating fields behind left a big hole in my world. Which, considering my personality, is apparently not that strange.

“(P)eople with certain personality characteristics—such as being competitive and assertive—had more difficulty adjusting to retirement…compared with more mild-mannered people coming from low-pressure jobs,” said Chamberlin. “The very attributes that make people successful in their work life often work against them in retirement.”

“I worry that you won’t have enough to do,” my sweetie pie often says to me. “You can’t just do nothing. You always have to have a project. Why can’t you just relax?”

Perhaps because to me a successful day is one in which I accomplish lots of things: took care of the animals, prepared healthy meals, taught school, read the newspaper, answered e-mails, wrote a book chapter, officiated a ballgame, read a few pages of a novel before nodding off. Something like that. And I’d give myself extra credit if some unexpected responsibility crashed into my schedule and I got that done too.

But today the activities in which I used to participate have been pared back dramatically. I’m still writing books and doing all the promotional activities that come with that kind of work. (This blog, for example.) But I often find myself standing in a room wondering what I might do next.

Retirement looks different for everyone. Perhaps someday I’ll just learn to relax.

So, how can we be happy in retirement? First, understand that the process takes time. We’ve been working our entire lives. Stopping cold-turkey can give us whiplash. One way to cope might be part-time work, especially in a job that gives us pleasure. Another is to maintain a solid social circle, because in-person face time with others is good for our mental health. Volunteering is also an excellent way to fill all that free time we now have, because it provides both social interaction and psychological well-being. Studies show helping others can offset feelings of anxiety, stress, and anger, which in turn improves cardiovascular health.

Just remember that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all road to a happy retirement. The trick is to find what works for us individually.

I don’t have the answer yet, but I’m working on it.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books

Let’s not forget the real meaning of Memorial Day

“That’s the blood in the red of the flag. The white is peace. The blue was the sky overhead. They gave their blood to have peace under blue skies…that’s the flag.”

Like many Americans, I used to think of Memorial Day as a reason to celebrate because it was a three-day weekend, one rife with parties and fun. I did know better. As a Girl Scout and a member of my high school’s marching band, I walked in those Memorial Day parades alongside veterans wearing military caps and colorful ribbons who’d wave to cheering people gathered along the route.

But the lure of having a day off and heading to a party with friends eventually blotted out the real meaning of Memorial Day. It wasn’t until I was called over to the editor’s desk, back when I was a newspaper reporter, that I started to rethink the holiday.

“Go and find all the fun events people can attend this weekend,” he said.

I frowned. “Fun events? That’s not what Memorial Day is all about.”

He looked confused.

“I know it’s a three-day weekend, which tends to give people license to party their brains out, but remembering those who died fighting for our country just doesn’t lend itself to Jello shots, does it?”

Okay, I probably wasn’t that glib, but he got my point.

“Write what you want,” he said before waving me away.

And that’s exactly what I did. The story ran on May 24, 2000, in the Arizona’s West Valley View.

Once upon a time on Memorial Day, proud veterans walked in town parades to the beat of high school marching bands. Red, white, and blue floats made of paper carnations rolled by as Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts marched behind honor guards holding high the American flag.

Now, Memorial Day seems to be nothing more than an excuse for a three-day weekend and a blow-out sale at the mall. Some still do visit graveyards where they place tiny flags by stones marking the war dead, but they are relatively few and their numbers are rapidly dwindling. You see, the ones who truly hold Memorial Day in their hearts are the ones who were there, the ones who fought alongside the soldiers who did not come home.

I interviewed a number of aging veterans for that story, men who despite their advanced years, recalled vividly those who were left behind.

“I was a foot soldier. Fifty-ninth field hospital. My brother was in the Seventh Armored Division. He chased me and I chased him, but he was killed before I got to him.”

“The pilot of the helicopter was going to lower me down into the water and I leaned out and took a look. Here was these huge fishes going around eating pieces of bodies. Sharks. And you know they couldn’t declare that person dead because they didn’t know if it was one person or two. I thought about it ever since.”

My dad served in World War II, and despite dementia near the end of his life, he always vividly remembered his time in the Navy.

“A buddy of mine…we went all the way through the war right to the end. Just outside of Cheb, Czechoslovakia he got captured and they stuck a pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger. He was…22.”

I can still see these veterans as they recalled the unimaginable horrors they’d lived through. And, of course, there’s the memory of my own father—a machinist mate on a destroyer escort who helped push the Japanese back during World War II and was there in Tokyo Bay when the war ended.

“I was standing watch at night,” my dad said. “There were dead pilots lined up on the deck waiting to be buried at sea. They were covered except for their feet, that rocked back and forth as the ship swayed in the waves.”

My dad also told me about the young man he retrieved from the water badly burned. He asked my father for a cigarette then died in his arms.

My dad was one week shy of his 96th birthday when he died three years ago. He had the beginning stages of dementia and could rarely remember what you told him five minutes ago. And yet, he could talk about his time in the Navy in intricate detail, as if the war was happening now. I sense that might be the case with most veterans. War indelibly etches their consciousness, visions the rest of us can never quite see.

A quiet visit to a veterans cemetery is perhaps a more thoughtful way to celebrate Memorial Day than attending a party or heading to the mall for a big sale.

Go out to the cemetery. Go look at the graves,” one veteran told me. “That’s the blood in the red of the flag. The white is peace. The blue was the sky overhead. They gave their blood to have peace under blue skies…that’s the flag.”

And yet, it was a living veteran who made me think hard about the meaning of Memorial Day.

“There was one darkened room at the end of a long hallway, empty save for a man in a wheelchair. As I moved closer, I realized all his fingers were gone. With difficulty, I glanced at his face. Ears, nose, lips, and hair had all been burned away. His eyes were opaque white marbles. I spoke to him—of what I don’t remember—but he made no response, no movement of any kind. I hoped desperately that his mind had long ago fled to some better place. On Memorial Day we are supposed to remember those who have given their lives for their country. On Memorial Day I think of him. It makes it kind of hard to go shopping.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg


The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.

An early adventure in computer dating

Computer dating has evolved into a massive pastime that is practiced by people of all ages.

Computer dating has been around longer than most people think. How do I know? I was part of an experiment back when I was in college for the first time. If memory serves—and it doesn’t always these days—it was 1976. I was walking through the student center at my university where I passed a table behind which sat a couple of people about my age.

“Do you want to try computer dating?” one asked hopefully.

Now, the word computer was not yet part of everyday lexicon back then, so I wasn’t sure what they wanted. Still, I dutifully filled out the form, identifying my likes and dislikes, hobbies and future plans. Then I walked away and forgot about it.

Historically speaking, computer dating has been around since 1965 when a couple of undergraduate Harvard brainiacs came up with the idea and charged fellow students $3 a pop. Today, about 40 million Americans are looking for love on the Internet, people of all ages. Not surprisingly, 18-to-29-year-olds are the most likely to participate, especially since all those dating apps are available on their smart phones. But 16% of those 50 and older are scrolling to the left, as well.

If you’re a dating traditionalist, you’re probably now scoffing at the idea that one might meet a suitable mate via myriad mouse clicks, but try not to be judgmental. Note that 54% of Americans say the relationships they started on line were just as successful as those that began in person.

That’s not to say that computer dating doesn’t have it’s drawbacks. I’m looking at the folks who doctor their images so drastically that they look nothing like them in person. And those who, let’s say, over-inflate their skills, talents, or financial status. Dating bios can be rather Facebooky, where people gush about their perfect children, fabulous career, massive house, and pets that don’t shed or claw the furniture. Methinks a little authenticity might alleviate some of those awkward, initial in-person meetings.

Searching for love on the Internet would go better if people just told the truth.

My sweetie pie and I have discussed what might happen when one of us shuffles off this mortal coil.

“Please, go find someone else if I die,” I said to Ryan.

“No! After you, I’m done.”

“Aren’t you sweet! But really…”

He shook his head.

“I know I’m hard to replace, but…”

“I’m never dating again!”

I know what’s discouraged him. The kids, all in their twenties now, have shared outrageous tales wrought by computer dating, some funny, some downright scary. Still, none of them seem put off by the process that has changed substantially since 1976, when there were no photos or bios to scrutinize. Instead, the computer worked it’s magic, sorting through my application answers in an effort to spit out my perfect, on-campus mate.

The results, by the way, were laughable. Now, I’m not saying computers are stupid. (Gosh, I don’t want some rogue AI taking me out for my insolence.) Still, my brush with computer dating didn’t turn out the way I expected. Who had the machine chosen as my perfect match? A young man named Greg who I loathed. I thought he was an ass and the feeling was obviously mutual. I can still see his face after we both got the news.

Soulmates? Please, there are probably thousands of people one could be happy with.

Clearly, no date ever occurred. And yet, since I’m not all that smart, I sometimes wonder what the computer saw that I didn’t. I don’t recall much about Greg, except that I found him insufferable. But was he the perfect match for me?

Luckily, I’ve never bought into that soulmate silliness. I mean, come on, with almost eight billion people on the planet, I’m pretty sure I could live happily ever after with maybe 100,000 them.

Then again, could Greg be one of the 100,000? I’m guessing I’ll never know.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.

1 of the 3%

Ryan and I couldn’t be prouder of our son Troy who graduated from ASU this week.

My son graduated from Arizona State University this week!

I know what you’re thinking. Why, isn’t that nice! But it means so much more than that, and it’s not because he’s my kid. Mostly, it’s because many people assumed Troy would never graduate from high school, let alone an institution of higher learning.

Now, with Troy’s permission, I will explain.

I’ve written about the fact that I became a mom later in life, my children coming to me in a couple of different ways, but in Troy’s case through the foster care system. My parental journey began one summer when a child in one of my classes phoned and told me he’d been placed in the care of the state and that no one was feeding him. I was understandably appalled and quickly found myself attending foster mom school so he could come and live with me. Shortly thereafter, the small, frightened 15-year-old boy arrived at my door. Since that time, five young people have lived in my home, some of whom still call me Mom, Troy among them.

Troy’s story, like the ones all my children carry with them, is depressing. His mother died when he was two. With no father around, he was taken in by his grandmother who, though no one knew it at the time, was in the beginning stages of dementia.  When Troy began running around and acting like a little boy, his grandmother couldn’t cope, so he was medicated to make him more manageable. He was then placed in special education programs.

I remember the day we met. This blond, blue-eyed boy sat by my desk as I tried to ascertain what he was doing in my remedial reading class.

“Your test results show you read at the level of a college freshman,” I said, peering at the scores on my computer screen. “What are you doing here?”

“I don’t know.” He shrugged and smiled.

I tried to move him into a more suitable class, but the counselors refused to change his schedule, insisting Troy was a special education student—he was diagnosed as autistic— and so must belong in a reading class. For the rest of the year, I provided him with upper-level reading material, so he wouldn’t get bored.

At that point, Troy had been in foster care for about three years. After his grandmother suffered a heart attack, and his myriad aunts and uncles refused to take him in, he’d been placed in the system. Troy would, by his own account, live in ten different homes, most of the group variety, where, let’s be honest, children are housed because a paycheck from the state follows wherever they go.

No one expected Troy to graduate from high school, let alone college.

Then, near the end of his sophomore year, a miracle occurred. A young couple wanted to take him in. Why was this so astonishing? Almost no one wants to open their home to teenagers. It’s those perfect little infants people want, not complicated teens with lots of baggage. The idea of a mom and a dad was intoxicating for Troy, as he’d never had either, so he jumped at the chance. I remember feeling sad when he told me he was leaving. I can still see him walking out of my classroom for what I thought was the last time.

About a year and a half later, as I was giving a lecture, he reappeared in the doorway, though he had changed dramatically. Troy had clearly been ill. He’d gained weight. He looked lost. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking on the track behind the high school. He explained that he’d learned his mother had committed suicide, a piece of information that had been kept from him. He’d suffered a nervous breakdown upon hearing the news and the family he lived with said they no longer wanted him. He was placed in a mental institution, where he was heavily medicated. After a few weeks, he was fine. He’d suffered a personal trauma—like anyone who’d lost a loved one—and was ready to leave the hospital.

But there was a problem. No one wanted Troy. And the state had nowhere to put him. So, they just left him there. For three months! In a mental institution! On our walk that day, he explained that he’d recently been placed in a residential living facility for unwanted teens who had aged out of the system. Later, when I visited that crumbling two-story building, I was appalled by the living conditions in what had once been 1960s-era hotel and heart-broken by the lost-looking young people who lived there.

The only good thing was that Troy resided about a mile from my home. Over the next few months, my partner Ryan and I would periodically invite him to dinner. Eventually, we all decided that Troy should live with me. As he’d been hospitalized during his senior year in high school, he’d never graduated, so I signed him up at my school. He quit taking all those prescription drugs he’d been on since he was four, and Ryan and I—standing in as Mom and Dad—proudly watched him graduate.

Despite this, his biological family kept trying to have him declared legally incompetent so he could collect disability checks from the government. It seems none of them believed Troy could ever become a successful member of society.

But they were wrong. Troy entered ASU with the hope of eventually working in the hotel/restaurant industry. He took a job in a local restaurant while he carried a full load of classes. He moved into an apartment with some friends. Recently, he found a job with the Veteran’s Administration and says he hopes to one day become a dietician. He’s talked about getting his master’s degree.

Statistics prove that just under three percent of children who’ve spent time in foster care ever graduate from college, which makes Troy rare indeed.

Ryan and I could not be prouder. Troy could have become a statistic. Twenty percent of kids who age out of foster care instantly become homeless. Thirty-four percent admit to using illicit drugs. Sixty percent end up in the sex industry. Twenty-five percent will be incarcerated within two years.

But Troy will tell you that those numbers don’t matter. The only one that’s important to him is 3%.

“That’s what I want on my cake, Mom,” he said recently. “1 of the 3%.” He smiled.

And so, that’s what we did: “Congratulations, Troy! 1 of the 3%” appeared atop his cake.

You see, just a little under 3% of kids who’ve been in foster care ever make it through college.

Did I mention my son just graduated from Arizona State University?

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The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Get your copy where you buy books.

Believe it or not, scars are hot!

The resulting scars from the insertion of a metal plate and 11 screws left a couple of dandy scars on my left ankle.

I have lots of scars. Some from misadventures, like the first time I tried to shave my legs. I’m still missing a chunk of flesh on one knee cap. I have a bunch of other old wounds from various surgeries: I’ve had my shoulder pieced back together twice. I have some lower belly scars  from when doctors removed my ovaries. (Don’t worry. I wasn’t using them.)  Recently, I acquired a couple of beauties after I got Covid, passed out, and broke my leg. Because I didn’t like that particular story, I asked the surgeon to mess up my incisions a bit.

“Can we make it look more like a shark bite,” I asked just before surgery.

“No!” the doctor said, completely devoid of a sense of humor.

“But it’s a better story,” I pleaded.

He just shook his head and walked out.

Do not tell me that tough-looking, scarred-up Jason Momoa isn’t hot. Geez!

Then, a few weeks back, my sweetie pie took a fall of his own and smacked his head. The subsequent injury resulted in three stitches in his eyebrow. The funny thing was he too asked the doctor to mess up the wound a little, requesting a more jagged-looking scar. (In case you’re interested, his doctor said no, too. Spoil sports!)

Now, before you surmise that we’re both a bit off, note that studies show scars are cool. Psychologists at the Universities of Liverpool and Stirling in England did a study on whether facial scars were attractive. And it turns out…they are! Men with scars are alluring to women, the idea being that these tough-looking dudes are strong, brave, and more exciting than those sweet-faced boys with flawless skin. The scarred man is perceived as a risk-taker which ups his masculinity quotient. But here’s the thing. Those rugged-looking types are popular for a fling, while those who are scar-free are thought of as more gentle and caring, and so are better marriage material. In regard to women, studies show they are seen as no less attractive than if they didn’t have scars.

Yep! Got me a tough guy.

If you’re still not sure that scars are hot, I present exhibit A: Lethal Weapon 3, with Mel Gibson and Rene Russo. When Russo’s character gives medical treatment to a wounded Gibson, the resulting I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours is both hysterical and sexy. Since we’re talking film scars, there’s also the famous scene in Jaws where the crazy captain, played by Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfus’ oceanographer get drunk and start comparing scars, several of the shark-bite variety.  The moment when Roy Scheider’s police chief glances down his own pants and decides not to mention his appendix scar is a scream. (Yes, I know this has nothing to do with scars being sexy, but I couldn’t pass up a good shark-bite scene.) Then there are TV shows like Vikings, where bare-chested, long-haired, scarred-up dudes strut around smacking each other with swords. And you know what I say? All that imperfection is damned alluring!

Obviously, I go for rugged men. Perhaps because on the rare occasion I dated a Mr. Pretty Boy, reality would eventually strike: He’s better looking than I am! So, give me a tough guy who’s not perfect.

Oh, wait! I already have one.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.

Peanut Butter and other miracles

Peanut butter is just one of the magical foods I’ve discovered.

I consider myself a bit of a foody. Maybe it’s because I worked in the restaurant business years ago. Or perhaps it was because I was married to a chef for over a decade. Or maybe it’s simply because I like food. A lot. Whatever the reason, I am amazed by certain eatables.

Take peanut butter for example. Now, most of us have, on occasion, bitten into a rotten peanut, which can taste pretty yucky. So then why is it that peanut butter almost never goes bad? It can get hard, yes, but add a little oil, mix it up, and everything’s fine. Even open, no refrigeration is necessary. As I purchase peanut butter without preservatives, I was confused as to how it manages to keep for years. Scientists say the high-fat content and an abundance of vitamin E, a natural antioxidant, give peanut butter its longevity. What’s really interesting is that even if peanut butter gets rancid and tastes bad, it still can’t hurt you. So, buy a few cases, in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Chocolate might be the most magical food of all. Or I might be just a bit biased.

Chocolate is pretty magical, too. Not just for its incredible deliciousness, but because, like peanut better, it almost never goes bad. Now don’t tell me that the white bloom that sometimes appears on chocolate means it’s bad. It’s not. Just melt your discolored chocolate, stir, and, voila, all better.

One of the most fascinating foods is honey. Humans have loved the stuff for a very long time and have been buried with it for at least 5,500 years. Archaeologists discovered 3,000-year-old honey in the tomb of King Tut which was supposed to keep the boy pharaoh happy on his journey into the afterlife. Another tomb of the same age turned up more honey, which archeologists sampled and found perfectly eatable. The explanation: honey is low in water and high in sugar, so bacteria is unable to grow on it. (As an aside, note that the Egyptians often used honey on wounds and to treat skin and eye infections, since it worked kind of like an antibacterial bandage.)

Honey was found to be eatable after three-thousand years in an Egyptian tomb. How magical is that?

There are also other amazing foods. White rice has been known to keep its flavor and nutrient content for up to 30 years. Popcorn is also a forever-type of food. Yes, I know those little microwave packets have expiration dates, but the corn cornels themselves are eatable pretty much forever. Neither salt nor sugar go bad, nor—thank goodness— does hard liquor. One caveat, here. Cream-based booze that is so lovely in coffee on a cold night will go bad. But have no fear of stocking up on liquor, should you plan to abscond to a deserted desert island or are entering witness protection and must reside in a remote wooded cabin in the Arctic wilderness.

There are some foods that don’t make the magical list. Like the one-hundred-year-old egg, for example.

Some other foods are not quite so magical, in my opinion, and have prompted questions. For example, I wonder about the first person who slid an oyster down their throat. Just how hungry were they? And what maniac invented Australia’s Vegemite and then convinced people to eat it. And who felt the need to create the one-hundred-year-old egg, which is considered quite the delicacy in China. For those who are uninformed, the dish is lovingly described as a preserved egg with a greenish and cheese-like yolk and a transparent, gelatinous body that can range from brownish-yellow to black. Yum! And why do people eat live octopuses, ant caviar, fertilized eggs bearing baby birds, bull penises, fried whole guinea pigs, and puffer fish which, if not prepared just right, can kill you.

It’s clear we humans are up for putting just about anything in our mouths. And I guess I should be glad, since there are so many foods out there that enrich our daily lives with sustenance, flavor, and beauty.

So, I will now do my best to stop thinking about foods that don’t sound the least bit magical.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.