Fighting about fouls at ESPN

 

ESPN_logos

In a perfect world, sportscasters would get long leisurely looks at the highlights they use in their live broadcasts. They’d get to rehearse a few times, using their own verbiage to describe a sweet double play or a long touchdown run.

But in the real world, there are times when sportscasters don’t get to view the video prior to a broadcast. Imagine trying to look pleasant, sound authoritative and knowledgeable, and having to describe a previously-unseen set of highlights, while someone is yelling in your ear. Now, try to do it when the highlights are poorly written.

At ESPN, there was a group of workers called PAs: production assistants who spent almost all their time observing games and picking plays for SportsCenter broadcasts. I’m sure to rabid sports fans the gig sounds like having one foot in heaven. A PA would be assigned a game, they’d sit back, watch, and pick three or four highlights. All they had to do was get the plays edited and write a script explaining what was happening in the shots they chose. A final score would then be added. That was it.

Generally, the PAs would appear at the anchor’s newsroom desk before the show and hand over their version of the script. I would always go view the video, make my own additions to the copy, and thank the PA. Beautiful.

However, sometimes there were late games that were still in progress during the SportsCenter broadcast. It was one of these contests and a subsequent set of highlights I received that got me into a bit of a pickle.

One evening, a sheet of game highlights was slipped onto my desk just as the crimson camera light blinked on. I smiled and read the intro. Then, as the video rolled, I eyed the script with my left eye and focused on my desk monitor with my right. (Not really, but it sort of feels that way.) And there it was, a screaming line drive hit into the first row seats, beaning a spectator squarely on the noggin. I read the script and immediately knew there’d been a mistake. The copy read that the fan had been hit by a foul tip. I knew this was impossible, but the next play quickly appeared and I had no time to right the wrong.

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All fouls are not created equal.

It wouldn’t be until the postmortem – the meeting that followed each show, a time during which errors were discussed by everyone involved in the broadcast – that I would get the chance to point out the obvious problem.

“Rich,” I said to the PA, who like all of his ilk was just out of college, sans any previous TV experience, and while they were sometimes treated like slave labor, were willing to do almost anything to get into the business. “Here,” I said, pushing the highlight sheet across the conference table. “Look at the first play.”

“The one where the guy gets hit with the foul tip?” He asked without looking at the page.

“That’s the one.” I smiled. “You don’t want to do that again.”

“Do what?” Rich squinted.

PAs lived in fear of making a mistake, knowing there was a long list of kids who’d do anything to get into ESPN. They worked without contracts for so little pay three or four of them often rented tiny apartments together, and they could be terminated without cause. Still, they lined up in droves to work at the network.

“It wasn’t a foul tip that hit the guy, Rich. It was a foul ball.”

“What’s the difference? The producer asked, palms up.

I looked around the table, finding it odd that no one else seemed to understand. “A foul ball is one that goes out of the playing area in foul territory. It’s a dead ball. Nothing can happen on the field. A foul tip, however, is a ball that generally goes directly from the bat to the catcher’s glove and is legally caught. A foul tip is always a strike and, unlike a foul ball, can result in strike three.”

“So?” Rich said defensively.

“A foul tip is a live ball.” I paused, waiting to see the light bulbs go off in the brains of my SportsCenter peers, but they just stared at me. “If there are runners on base, they can steal at their own risk,” I went on. “That makes it impossible for a fan to be hit with a foul tip. It was a foul ball.”

“It’s the same thing,” Rich insisted.

“No, it’s not.”

“Why do you care?” The PA said, sounding petulant now. “No one else does.”

I looked around the room. None of the other members of the crew had chimed in. Generally, in these meetings, everyone had an opinion and no one was timid about sharing.

“I care, Rich. I’m an umpire. And there are people out there who know that. It embarrasses me to make that kind of mistake.”

Rich’s face turned bright red. “You’re just being a picky bitch!” Then he got up and left the room.

The next day, I was called into my boss’s office. He had been apprised of my comments and insisted that I apologize to Rich.

“But he was wrong,” I said. “I never raised my voice or got defensive. I simply explained that he’d made a mistake.”

My boss was unswayed. That the young PA called me a bitch did not seem to matter. I was forced to apologize.

And all these years later, it still rankles.

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

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

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

A trip to the guitar hospital

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Pete Townshend of The Who was known for smashing his guitars. My only question is, how could he?

I only looked away for a second.

Then the crash … and the awful atonal groan.

I didn’t want to look, but I had no choice.

There she lay on the concrete floor, small bits of her peppered around the room. My little red Guild guitar, my favorite, because she’s the one I’m comfortable playing.

Yes, I have others, but they’re all too large and not made for a woman. (In case you’re wondering, I’ll just say it. Our breasts get in the way. And since I learned recently that more girls are starting to play guitar than boys, someone should do something about it. But I digress.)

She lay top side down. I knelt and gently turned her over. Cracks and scratches marred her cherry-red face. The top panel had split apart from the rest of the body. I wanted to weep.

Those of you who did not lug a musical instrument back and forth to school, perhaps do not understand my pain. From the first time I picked up a clarinet in fourth grade, I was taught to carefully tend and handle instruments, a message not unlike the one I received concerning the care and feeding of our family pets.

Later, I walked slowly into the store where I’d purchased my guitar, seeking a glimmer of hope. I winced as the man behind the counter unzipped and lifted the case lid. He stared for a moment, then quickly ushered me on my way to the guitar doctor.

When I arrived at Atomic Guitar Works, a bespectacled man surveyed the damage using a mirror attached to a long, bent handle. He reminded me of a dentist analyzing a mouth rife with cavities.

“I didn’t mean to do it,” I said, feeling the need to explain. “I was hanging her on a hook on the wall and just looked way for an instant. The hook was loose.”

He ran a finger over a jagged groove that snaked below the bridge. “Did you bring the broken pieces?”

“I did.” I produced a small plastic bag with two fractured shards of red wood.

“Good! I can fix it.”

I reached into my pocket and handed him a credit card.

He waved the plastic away. “No need.” He smiled. “I have a hostage.”

I cringed again. He knew I’d be back.

The good news is after three weeks in the guitar hospital and a big hit to my wallet, my little red Guild is mended. And if you weren’t aware of her accident you’d have no idea it happened.

Three guitars

But I’ll always know.

I hope someday she will forgive me.

 

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

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

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

When you’re nervous, it’s good to have a friend by your side

Book Poster

Though I spent a good portion of my life with a microphone in hand – back when I was a TV sports reporter – there I was at my own book signing last night at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix unable to get the mic to work. Then a friend came to the rescue by simply pushing the on button, and the launch event for my novel A Light in the Desert was underway.

If you guessed that I was nervous, hence my little mic mishap, you’d be right. Despite over 2000 live TV appearances, facing an audience can still be daunting. Would I say the right thing? Would I lose my train of thought? (Hey, I am in my sixties.) Would I offend anyone if I mounted one of my usual soapboxes?

In retrospect, I needn’t have worried, because at my side was former TV anchor and Arizona icon Mary Jo West, my dear friend and consummate professional. Mary Jo moderated the program, and smoothed my way ahead.

Me and MJ Changing Hands 2

My friend Mary Jo West was the perfect moderator at last night’s book launch.

I could not be more grateful.

To those of you to came out last night, thank you so much for joining us. And to the folks at Changing Hands, thank you for allowing us to hold our party at your beautiful venue.

Me and Andy signin booksMe and DewWayne at book signing

What a fabulous evening!

 

 

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

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

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

 

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

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

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

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

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

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

 

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

Shoes: A Black Friday Miracle

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

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

Birth Certificate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He smiled.

“I can’t wait to wear them.”

“You know …

Boots 2

… they’re hunting boots.”

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

“Of course, you will.”

 

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

No phone, but my days are numbered

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I don’t own a cellphone.

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

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

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

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

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

My students are universally unmoved.

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

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

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

“You might need it.” He shrugs.

“But I don’t want it.”

“Just take it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

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

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

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

A beautiful sentiment

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

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

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

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

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

He nodded. “I do.”

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

I voted Today 2

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

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

“Is it sealed?” one asked.

I licked the flap and held it shut.

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

“Yes, and yes and yes,” I said.

“Then just slip it in the slot.”

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

“That what I came for,” I said.

She smiled. “Then take two.”

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

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

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

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

An unexpected do-over

Me and Don Baseball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

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

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

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

Brownies: Maybe I’ll have to share

Brownie poster

Sometimes, life throws you a rose. Or, in my case, a brownie.

Let me explain.

Recently I received an e-mail

Hello, Anne!

I was looking at our records and noticed that you have been a Fairytale Brownies customer since 1995. Thank you for loving our brownies!

Our co-founders, Eileen Spitalny and David Kravetz, will be giving special VIP tours of the Fairytale Brownies bakery before our annual Open House next Tuesday and we would love for you to be a part of it. Are you available for a 2:30 p.m. tour? We would love for you and a guest to join them. Please let me know if you can make it. Spaces for the tour are reserved.

Thanks!

How cool is that!

Of course, I jumped right on the opportunity to see the fairies bake the brownies I’ve been sending friends for years. I’ve spread those chocolaty delights worldwide. So, I called my youngest son – who has dabbled with the idea of becoming a pastry chef – and made the date.

Upon entering the massive kitchen in Phoenix, a fabulous aroma makes visitors swoon.

It might be all that butter and those big bricks of chocolate shipped in from Belgium.

butter-and-chocolate.jpg

It might be giant racks of brownies, with lovely names like Toffee Crunch, Chocolate Chip Blondie, Espresso Nib, Mint Chocolate, and Raspberry Swirl.

IMG_1235

Whatever it is, my son and I agreed it was magical.

Troy at the brownie factory

As we toured the facility, I was on the look out for the brownie fairies, but they were often shy and elusive. We caught this one hiding behind a massive pile of sugar.

IMG_1246

Others were tasked with sorting scads of swirly, cream cheese brownies.

Cutting Brownies

Then there was the freezer. A good 50 yards of frozen treats, packed high to the rafters on both sides. Though I’m a desert dweller and quite averse to the cold, I contemplated remaining in that fridge, setting up a tent and one of those high-altitude sleeping bags, a warm cap over my head, a matching scarf perhaps, and some mittens. In the advent of a zombie apocalypse it might be the perfect place to stay.

Me in the Brownie Freezer

Unless, of course, zombies like brownies.

Gosh. Maybe I’ll have to share.

 

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

298 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

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

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