Daytime TV: It’s all so awkward!

Covid and a misstep landed me in the hospital with a broken ankle.

I have been home recovering from Covid and a broken ankle that required surgery for over a month now. I’m not used to shuffling from bed to chair and back again as the main events of my day, but I’m unable to walk and so that’s simply the way it is now and will be for a few more months.

That said, there are aspects of my current existence that have taken me by surprise. The biggest being Daytime TV. I have rarely glimpsed this slice of life, aside from streaming newscasts and weekend football games. But that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s the endless array of “talk shows” that blare at me in strange and awkward ways.

Many of these programs have big panels of participants, which are almost exclusively women. (Why is that?) Sometimes six hosts share their thoughts, occasionally all at the same time. As a former news anchor, I find all that talking over one another jarring, but that’s not what bothers me the most. It’s the topics they discuss that have me reaching for the remote.

Shows like The View are a perfect example of daytime programing.

“If your boyfriend has cheated on you consistently over the years, should you stay with your man?”

Now, in my mind, this should be a very short segment: No!

“Serial plastic surgery. Can you have too much?”

Yes! When your skin is as tight as a Barbie doll’s and you constantly look surprised, maybe you should break up with your surgeon.

Some shows focus breathlessly on what “famous” folks are doing in their personal lives. Who was seen stepping out on their spouse. Who wore a designer outfit worth mocking. Who got a horrible haircut and had the “courage” to go out in public. I should mention here that I rarely know who these celebrities are. That either means I’m old and out of touch or the people under discussion are of the D-list variety. As I read the paper and watch various news shows daily, I’m going with the latter.

I do find some of these guests unintentionally hilarious. Actors or musicians few have ever heard of droning on about the “importance of my craft” and how “It’s so difficult be famous.” Oh, the paparazzi! The horror!

Are those real people spilling their guts out to Dr. Phil and a TV audience?

And let’s not forget shows like Dr. Phil who never met a familial car-wreck he didn’t drool over like a hungry hyena. How do they get these miserable people in front of a TV camera and a live audience? What type of person wants to plop themselves into a seat on stage where they will mostly be ridiculed for being dopes? I am truly baffled here. Sometimes, I think they must be actors. Actually, that’s far easier to believe than the alternative: that they are real people with big problems who think sharing them on national TV will solve their issues. Really?

I was also surprised to see that soap operas are still in favor. I tried to picture who might actually tune into these vapid tales of overdressed, bored-looking, mostly upper-crust people, none of whom are happy with their partners, jobs, homes, or families. Mommies, maybe, who are folding yet another basket of laundry and wondering where the romance in their lives skedaddled to. That many of the characters seem good-looking and financially well-off is a stumper. Are their lives really all that dreary?

TV legend Walter Cronkite would rotate in his grave if he knew what is being passed off today as news.

As you might expect, I constantly flip through the stations, hoping something palatable will appear unexpectedly. To stop my brain from turning to mush, I check the news, but the local shows routinely let me down. I used to teach my students that the definition of a news story was something of interest to the general public and an event that was relatively rare. Alternately, fluff pieces—kitties rescued from a drain pipe, babies dressed up in sports-themed clothing, dog-costume contests—were once reserved for the very end of the broadcast, a time-filler to make it to the break. But today, these stories appear at regular intervals throughout the “news”. Why? Are they afraid real news will frighten viewers off? Have station consultants determined that the average viewer is not smart enough to understand real news?

Or perhaps members of the viewing public are simply not interested in knowing what’s really happening in the world. And maybe that’s the answer as to why Daytime TV flourishes. It’s an escape from everything even remotely real. A diversion from why life didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped. Cotton candy for the brain: sickly sweet and sticky, stifling our ability to think clearly.

So, I’m turning off the TV now. There must be something better to do.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-castle_front-cover-1.jpg

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

Get your copy here

Stop blaming Facebook for what’s wrong with your kids

Maybe, this time, we should leave Facebook alone.

Facebook is in trouble, once again. This time the social media giant is being blamed for hurting the self-esteem of young girls by allowing them to see posts including beautiful people—you know, those glamorous and perfectly proportioned folks who are so very different from most of us.

Here’s the thing. While I understand that popular social media sites are programmed to make us click until our fingers fall off, can we really blame Mark Zuckerberg and his buddies for making teenage girls feel inadequate? In my humble opinion, no, we cannot.

Perhaps the greatest depression-inducing product ever created was the Barbie doll.

First let’s hop into the Wayback Machine. In 1959, the Mattel Toy Company unleashed a doll that was, well, perfect. Her dress size, even before such a thing actually appeared on a label, was 0. Her measurements stacked up—and you may take that term literally—to 35-22-32. Classic top-heavy hourglass with an oh-so-tiny waist and long, perfect legs with feet made only for high heels, because flats would never do for a girl like her.

When I was first handed that bubble-headed blonde Barbie, I was a heavy-set elementary school kid, built like an over-stuffed sausage.  As a fifth-grader, my dress size exceeded 14, so I was shoved through the doors of Lane Bryant’s, the first department store to cater to plus-size women and girls. My mother was appalled by my physique and told anyone who would listen that I wasn’t fat because of her. She fed me salad with no dressing and baked fish and policed my every move in the kitchen. No, my round shape was NOT HER FAULT!

My mother gave me a Barbie to show me what I was supposed to look like. As an overweight kid, the message was loud and clear.

I do believe my mom gave me that Barbie to give me an example of what I should look like.  I remember peeling the clothes off that piece of plastic perfection and studying that breast-waist-hip ratio from every possible angle. After glancing at my naked self in the mirror, it took me an instant to realize that Barbie and I just weren’t going to be friends. I tossed her aside, called my dog, and went to play in the woods.

Barbie, no doubt, had millions of young girls scrutinizing her curves and making unhappy comparisons to their own bodies. So, where was the hue and cry for our self-esteem? How come no one asked if I was depressed comparing myself to a hunk of top-heavy plastic?  The doll, which  generated gross sales of 1.35 billion dollars in 2020 alone, is today said to be the best-selling toy of all time. Imagine then the number of adolescent girls affected by all those curves over the last seventy-odd years.

I know what you’re thinking. “Geez, Anne, what does this have to do with Facebook and Instagram and all those other social media sites that are upsetting our children?”

Parents, it’s your responsibilty to monitor what your kids do.

Well, I’m saying we should place the blame where it’s due. And that is squarely on the shoulders of parents. It’s Mom and Dad who should make some rules. No cellphone or tablet that has the capacity to go online until kids are 16. Check the social media sites your children are frequenting and shut them down if they’re offensive or disturbing. Keep an eye out for bullying behaviors, overuse of filters, and creeps who are probably not what they’re pretending to be. Then, set an example. Talk to your kids without having your hand on your phone and one eye on the screen. Let them see that electronics are not the center of the universe. And above all talk to your kids about everything so you can nip dangerous behaviors in the bud.

As a former teacher of twenty years, I hope you understand that adults in the classroom are doing their best to deal with personal issues kids face, but we are not their parents. You are. So stop blaming Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Be the adult in the room. Lay down some rules and stick to them.

Your child’s well-being depends on it.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-castle_front-cover-1.jpg

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

Get your copy here

Obituaries: Why don’t we tell the truth?

My 96-year old mother has been reading multiple papers daily for decades. She reads everything and never fails to always peruse the obituaries, a habit I had never acquired, until recently.

So, let me say that I find obits strange. First, no one is ever bad once they’re dead. I like truth and I think it’s fair to point out that someone was a horse’s ass in life. I mean, why not? Who are we protecting? The person, after all, is dead. They’re not sitting at the breakfast table scanning the obituaries to see what others think of them. So, wouldn’t telling the truth about Uncle Bob—he was a miserable, cheating alcoholic who beat his wife and terrorized his family—be therapeutic? But we never do that. History tells us that the idea that one shouldn’t denigrate the dead goes back almost 2000 years, but curiously there is no explanation as to why.

I do find it interesting how many ways people say someone died: He moved on, went to heaven on the wings of angels, was called home, left this earthly plane, passed peacefully, though that one always has me asking how they knew the deceased settled easily into death. Maybe he was raging against the dying of the light, after all.  

I realize that family members of the deceased are often tasked with writing obituaries. According to Legacy.com, “Writing an obituary can feel daunting. You may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of writing about a loved one who has died. Or you may worry that you’ll forget important facts or that the obituary won’t fully capture your loved one’s life. This is one reason why many families begin preparing the obituary in advance.” 

I like that idea, and so, apparently, does my mother. She has penned her own obit and I’m sure wants no revisions from the family. (As those who know Mary Anne can attest, she’s not one to be trifled with.) That said, my recent brush with Covid had me considering what my own obit might say. As a former journalist—one from olden times when reporters would never consider picking sides—I offer the truth.

Obituary

Anne Butler Montgomery

Anne had a fabulously interesting life where things didn’t always go as planned. Sometimes she succeeded. Sometimes she failed, periodically in spectacular fashion. She was driven and stubborn and opinionated. (The latter of which she blamed on her mother.) She tried to do the right thing when facing important decisions, though sometimes the right thing remained elusive. She could be awfully sarcastic and was surprised when she became a teacher to learn that sarcasm was not appropriate where children were concerned. No, she wasn’t always nice, but in later years she worked hard to improve her sweetness factor. She loved music, wild places, rocks, officiating sports, and animals of all kinds. She relished food, wine, good company, books, and movies. Anne wishes that you hoist an adult libation in her honor whenever you choose. And she would appreciate it if her friends and loved ones would sprinkle her ashes wherever they see fit. If that’s in the kitty litter, so be it.

So, let’s start a trend. Let’s tell the truth about ourselves and ask others to do the same. With that in mind, what would you say about you?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-castle_front-cover-1.jpg

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

Get your copy here

Do I have to update that bio? You make the call

Today, we are often asked to write a little something about ourselves, a bio for our various social media accounts or a job opportunity or that dating site. Constructing a short statement that encapsulates who we are is sometimes difficult. What do we put in? What do we leave out? What information can we relay that shows the world who we are, what we care about, and what we’re capable of doing.

Am I still I reporter? I certainly feel like one.

I’ve had many different bios over the years because I’ve had lots of different jobs. I served in a restaurant for five years. Then I became a reporter, working at five TV stations, three newspapers, and three magazines in my role as a sports reporter and feature writer. I spent 20 years teaching journalism and communications in a Title I high school classroom. For four decades I officiated amateur sports, an avocation that had me calling plays in football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball. And, I’ve been an author for 28 years, a time during which I’ve had five novels published.

I mention all this because now I sense I should rewrite my resume once again. But I find I’m stumped. The problem is I’ve retired from reporting and teaching and officiating. Does that mean these parts of my life no longer apply? When I see the short blurb under my Facebook picture I wonder if I’m being disingenuous. “Novelist, teacher, referee, foster mom, lover of scuba diving, rock collecting, and playing my guitar.”

I hung up my white hat and whistle in 2019, but I still feel like a ref.

Hummm? Clearly some of that is no longer technically true. I locked my classroom for the final time last year. While my white football referee hat and whistle hang in my office, I’m no longer throwing flags. (At 66, I struggle to get out of the way and don’t feel the need to get run over by stampeding players ever again.) My foster mom license has lapsed since my boys—former students who had nowhere to go—are now in their 20s, and though they still call me Mom, according to the state of Arizona my days as a mother have technically passed.

There are no issues with my being a novelist. My fifth book, The Castle, was released by TouchPoint Press on September 13, 2021. And I have another currently in the pipeline. And, of course, I will always love rock collecting and scuba diving and playing my guitar.

I suppose the question is am I still a reporter? An official? A teacher? In my heart I will always be these things. These jobs shaped who I am. My experiences in those careers color my choices every day.

So, I’m taking a poll. Must we remove jobs we had in the past just because we are now retired? Or can we hold onto those things that have made us who we are?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-castle_front-cover-1.jpg

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

Get your copy here

One week into Covid, the gift that keeps on giving

So glad I got my shots, even if I did get Covid-19.

Got my shots.

Got Covid anyway.

Still, I’m grateful to be muddling through without the fear of my lungs filling up and drowning me. Since my diagnosis, I’ve learned that the shots were created to place a warm, soothing womb around our lungs with a bunch of bad-ass Covid-killing assassin cells guarding the periphery. (Okay, maybe that’s not what’s really occurring, but you get the picture.)

That said, the headaches suck. If someone said, “Hey! Put a nail through your eye. That’ll fix it!” I’d honestly consider seeking out a hammer.

I have always pictured my lovely immune-system protecting white blood cells as Marvin the Martian.

Then there are the dreams. Strange barrages of images and words. In one case, I was trying to solve a problem and hundreds of solutions appeared and attacked me. Some of these ideas were clearly wrong, so I batted them away, but then more came zipping at me. It was like that new commercial with Serena Williams where she’s dressed up as Wonder Woman and whacks tennis balls to stop the monsters, but not as athletic. Or sexy. I wondered if my brain was fighting off Covid bugs and if my own immune-system defenders were winning the battle. (For some reason, I have always pictured my little guys as Marvin the Martian in his Roman helmet and basketball shoes. No idea why.)

Covid also gives one a dry cough that constantly wakes you up when ALL YOU WANT TO DO IS SLEEP! Hence, you will understand why I reached for that codeine-laced cough medicine. Which I took. Then, I passed out. I awoke on the bathroom tile, splayed out like one of those TV villains who plunges ten stories and splats on the sidewalk, limbs going in all the wrong directions. Yep! I fell on my own ankle and broke it in two places, which means the next time I watch a football game and some lineman gets his ankle rolled by some other 300-pound behemoth, I will have to leave the room. Then I’ll send flowers.

Fractured my ankle in two places after I passed out. Ugh!

While I would like not to whine, at the moment it’s hard. I must constantly remind myself that I get to be ill in a nice bed in a nice room in a nice house where I’m tended by people who love me. And, medical professionals were there for me when I cracked my ankle in two. Note that next to my hospital room door the sign said BIOHAZARD, and my name was listed below, along with the rest of the hallway’s Covid patients. I’ve been called a lot of things, but biohazard is definitely new to the list.

Do bear in mind that I’m writing this while on pain meds, so if nothing makes sense, please forgive me. And, if you haven’t gotten the jab yet, I highly recommend it.

Now, I will crawl back in bed and see if I can sleep through the next five days.

PS

I know I’m supposed to be launching my new novel The Castle right now, but I promise I’ll get back to it when I’m not overly medicated, because who knows what I might say when my brain is addled.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-castle_front-cover-1.jpg

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

Release Date: 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: Jennifer Bond, 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: A book about rape and healing

We must bring sexual violence out of the shadows.

Why write a novel about rape? For me, the reason was personal. I was a victim of sexual assault when I was a student in college. According to statistics gathered by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, over 23% of female college students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. All women between the ages of 18 and 24 are the most likely to be targeted by sexual predators. While it’s true that males are also sexual assault victims, the numbers clearly indicate that the vast majority – 90% – of adult rape victims are female.

I taught high school journalism for 20 years, so my students and I often examined important and often difficult to discuss issues on a daily basis. Nothing was out-of-bounds. My students were encouraged to ask me anything. My promise was that I would always tell them the truth. Periodically, I was asked whether there was anything in my life I regret. And the answer was always the same.

I look back on that night in 1975 when I went on a dinner date with a sweet-faced farm boy I’d met in the dining hall. He was on crutches, convalescing from a football injury. If memory serves, he was about six-foot-three and probably around 250 pounds, still I never for a moment had a bad feeling, nor the least concern when, after dinner, he invited me up to his dorm room. The stare from his roommate still registers. Another member of the football team who would go on to play in the NFL simply picked up his typewriter, walked out, and closed the door. My date, in what seemed like an instant, stripped my clothes from my body. I fought, which made him smile. “You know I can do anything I want to you,” he said. “And there’s nothing you can do about it.”

I trusted my date to do the right thing. Sadly, he did not.

This was the moment in my life I would come to understand that I couldn’t fight my way out of a situation. I’d always considered myself strong and athletic, so I resisted. But as he pinned me to the bed, I realized he enjoyed the battle. The more I struggled the more aroused he became. Strangely, I recalled something my father said before sending me off to college. He’d given me just one piece of advice. He looked me in the eye and said, “Nothing is worth your life.” When I didn’t respond, my dad repeated the message. “Nothing is worth your life.”

I stopped fighting my attacker, believing my father’s words. To my astonishment, the man backed off. He yelled, “What’s the matter with you?” It was then I understood he wanted me to fight, to scream. I laid on the bed motionless. Nothing was worth my life. He got off me and threw my clothes on the bed. I dressed and ran, expecting him to reach out and grab me every moment until I reached my own room.

The next morning a small girl approached me in my dorm hallway. “Can I ask you a personal question?” she said. She wanted to know if I’d gone out with the man. I said I had. “Did he strip you?” she asked. I nodded. “He stripped me, too.” Our conversation ended there, when she just walked away.

Later that day, a dear friend who played on the football team marched angrily toward me at lunch and pulled me aside. “Why did you go out with him?” he asked. “Everyone knows about him!” Clearly, he was wrong. I didn’t know there was a rapist living in the quad. Neither did the girl who approached me. But apparently others were aware. How many of them were victims? And if his behavior was common knowledge, why was he still living on a college campus?

So, what do I regret? According to the National Research Council, 80% of sexual assaults go unreported to law enforcement. Like the vast majority of victims, I said nothing. I sometimes wonder how many women he has attacked over the years? Could I have prevented some of these assaults, had I found the courage to speak up? My logical mind tells me nothing would have been done, had I gone to the police. I’d been on a date. I’d had a few drinks. I willingly went to his room, so what did I expect?

Sadly, forty years later, this attitude still prevails and we now face an epidemic, a plague with life-long effects. The following statistics come directly from RAINN:

If you need help, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

• 33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide. 13% of women who are raped attempt suicide.

• People who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to use drugs than the general public.

• Sexual violence also affects victims’ relationships with their family, friends, and co-workers.

• Victims are at risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Teachers, like law enforcement officers, medical professionals, and social workers, are mandated reporters of child abuse. In that capacity, I have encountered students who’ve been sexually assaulted and raped, all by relatives and/or family friends, many repeatedly. Primarily female, these victims have been universally blamed for the attacks against them, families seemingly more concerned about protecting men and boys.

I have written The Castle in the hope that we can bring the horrors of sexual assault and rape out into the open. We must encourage victims to come forward, so we can stop these predators. But how can we get people to speak up, if we don’t change the way we think about sexual assault? The blame-the-victim attitude must stop. Telling young people that no means no, has not worked. Maybe, we need to teach them what “yes” looks like. And for those adults who believe that teachers should avoid the discussion of uncomfortable subjects, let me say that ignorance is not the answer. Children can and do find anything they want on the Internet, and they often believe everything they log onto. As adults, it’s our responsibility to give them context and guidance, so the world they grow up to inhabit can be better than the one they live in today.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-castle_front-cover-copy-3.jpg

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

Now available on NetGalley

Contact: Jennifer Bond, Publicity Manager, Media Liaison, TouchPoint Press
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: A Virtual Launch at Changing Hands

I’m delighted to announce to all my book-loving friends that I will be holding a virtual launch for my new novel The Castle at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix on October 4, 2021 at 7:00 PM. (MST)

Mary Jo West will be on hand as the MC.

How’s that work? All you have to do is click here.

Once there, you’ll notice that my dear friend Mary Jo West, the first-lady of Phoenix television, will be on hand to MC the event. (And we know how much fun she can be.) All you have to do is register and order a book. Then, that evening, pour yourself an adult beverage, lean back, and enjoy the talk. You can either head down to the store and pick up your signed copy of The Castle or the book can be mailed to you.

See? Easy.

You’ll receive the Zoom link by email within 24 hours of the event’s start time. For information about participating in virtual events, see the Changing Hands Bookstore FAQ page.

Mary Jo and I are looking forward to seeing you on October 4 at 7:00 PM.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-castle_front-cover-1.jpg

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

Release Date: 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: Jennifer Bond, 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

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