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Posts Tagged ‘Anne Montgomery’

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

That square screen you carry

by

Anne Montgomery

Hold onto your hats!

I do not now – nor have I ever – owned a cellphone.

Now don’t jump to conclusions and assume I must be an old technophobe. I’m well versed in both MACS and PCs. I can layout a newspaper in InDesign and use Photoshop. I am on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and have multiple e-mail accounts, a website, and a blog.

So why no cellphone? First, I’m a teacher who spends a great deal of time and energy trying to keep my students focused on lessons. Surveys show that teens 15 to 18 spend almost nine hours each day utilizing on-line media. Children eight to 12-years-old are logging about six hours daily. These kids are more anxious than their predecessors, with higher rates of suicide and depression.

Now let’s consider what these children might be missing with so much time focused on a screen. Other than the issues involved in falling behind in the classroom, many are not participating in sports and clubs, so social interaction is limited. I know people will argue that they are interacting with others on-line, but as a teacher of communication skills, I know in-person contact is much more important.

Anyone who doesn’t believe that children are addicted to their phones – as are many adults – are kidding themselves.

So, how do we get people to disengage? Dr. Michael Ungar wrote in Psychology Today, “(I)t would appear that at least part of the solution to our children’s cell phone addiction is to offer them equally stimulating and socially engaging opportunities to do things that produce the same brain rewards as … staring at a small blue screen.”

Ungar went on to say that the solution is “providing young people with lots and lots (and lots) of opportunities to stay engaged with each other, to participate in arts and sports activities, and to have safe spaces after school to hang out.”

Of course, we must get kids to buy into putting down their phones and, in my experience, that is almost impossible.

The other problem with phones is the damaging effect they have on relationships. Time reporter Mandy Oaklander wrote in her article How Your Smart Phone is Ruining Your Relationship, “Real-life interactions are dulled when a person feels the urge to check their phone, and the distraction a phone affords one partner doesn’t make the other person feel good.”

Oaklander says phones are interfering with our relationships, leaving us anxious.

“It didn’t matter much how much a person used their device, but how much a person needed their device did. People who were more dependent on their smartphones reported being less certain about their partnerships. People who felt that their partners were overly dependent on their devices said they were less satisfied in their relationship.”

I think my aversion to cellphones is that I’m afraid of becoming like the people I see daily: heads down, consumed by the screen, unaware of what’s going on around them. Who hasn’t witnessed people at restaurants busily texting, ignoring one another? Or the mother, face in her phone, instead of talking with her children? Or, geez, those who feel the need to communicate from a bathroom stall?

I can’t help but wonder what is so urgent.

“Ms. Montgomery, how can you not have a cellphone?” my students often admonish.

“I’m not that important,” I say.

“What if there’s an emergency?”

“Call 911.”

“What if a family member is sick?”

“I’m not a doctor.”

My biggest concern is that it’s getting more difficult to live without a cellphone. It’s almost as if there’s a secret conspiracy to require everyone to get on board. A few weeks ago, I discovered I can no longer go to NFL games. All tickets work only through your phone. No more paper copies will be accepted. The league is determined to get 100% of fans to use their smartphones at the gate.

I sense this line of thinking will creep into use at movies and concerts and grocery stores and restaurants, so, eventually, I will be on the outside of society looking in.

I know what you’re thinking. “Geez! Get a friggin’ phone and join the 21st century.”

I know my time is coming. Still, I wish I wasn’t being forced to join the crowd.

What’s peculiar is that when I tell people I don’t own a cellphone, there is always a beat of silence as they examine me for obvious flaws. Then, oddly, many say wistfully, “I wish I didn’t have one either.”

Think about that.

Now, turn off your phones. Breathe. Watch a sunset. Walk your dog. Have a real conversation. There’s a world out there you can smell and touch and people with whom you can make eye contact.

Try it. You might be surprised.

Here’s a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. I hope it intrigues you.

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.

While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

BUY LINKS

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Liking cars

by

Anne Montgomery

I have never cared much about cars. Never understood why people spend so much to get the newest, fastest, sleekest version with the most gadgets. The last vehicle I bought came after my mechanic pointed at my ancient Geo Prism and ordered me to drive it one last time.

“Take it to a dealership and turn it in,” he advised. “Get a new car!”

The day I abandoned my Prism in a dealer’s parking lot, I found a vehicle that spoke to me. It was a black Ford Ranger pickup. Slightly used – I think I read 14 thousand miles on the speedometer. Black paint sparkled in the Arizona sun. I drove it around the block.

“That’s the one,” I said to my sweetie pie, who’d accompanied me on my car hunt. Following what felt like half a day of paperwork, I drove my new truck home.

Later, I stood proudly by my recent purchase. My mother squinted at the pickup’s bed where I’d installed a bright silver toolbox to hold my rock collecting gear, camping equipment, and emergency rations on the off chance I might find myself stuck in the wilderness for any length of time.

She stared at me. “Aren’t you afraid of what people will think of you?”

“I am a black pickup kind of girl, Mom.”

She shook her head.

“Really.”

My truck is now going on 19. I love my old truck. We share lots of memories: good, bad, and ugly. Together we’ve had countless adventures into the mountains and deserts, some wondrous, some difficult, and a few rather dangerous, in retrospect. Still, we always made it home. Eventually.

Then, my parents, in their nineties, mercifully decided to give up their car. I had been begging them for years to stop driving. Anyone who’s butted up against that major-life decision understands the complexities inherent in taking the keys away from mom and dad.

“We’ll sell the car,” my mother finally announced.

That vehicle, a blue 2010 Ford Fusion, now sits in my driveway. Though my mom continues to tell anyone who will listen that I took the car, Ryan and I wrote them a check for a little over seven grand.

A funny thing happened when I started driving the Fusion. I liked the built-in bells and whistles. Note that the vehicle is not high end, but compared to my truck, the little car is like owning a rocket ship. We call her Zippy. Now, when I drive my pickup, it feels only slightly more mobile than a covered wagon.

Then I got a letter in the mail: AIRBAG RECALL! I stared at the red triangle depicting a driver facing a steering wheel that had burst into flames. I read the section that said, “Until parts are available …your dealer is authorized to provide you with a rental vehicle.”

Today, a 2018 Ford Fusion Platinum sits in my driveway. The car boasts a power tilt/telescoping steering column with memory, dual integrated bright exhaust, premium leather-wrapped and stitched instrument panel and console rails, and myriad other extras I couldn’t possibly explain. The overall effect is…well…Wow!

I’ve had the rental for several months. It seems Ford is having a great deal of trouble getting the parts to fix the airbag that might explode and shred me with shrapnel. Apparently, 37 million vehicles have been identified as needing the fix, and more are expected to be added to the list. Takata, the maker of the defective airbags, announced it might take five years to install all the replacements.

I wonder sometimes, especially when those comfy leather seats are hugging me in their soft embrace, when I will have to return my pretty sedan. Neither Ford nor the rental company seem to care that the $40,000 vehicle is occupying space in my driveway day after day.

I have never cared much about cars. Never understood why people spend so much to get the newest, fastest, sleekest version with the most gadgets. Until now.

Perhaps Ford will forget about my cute little rental. I’ve grown quite fond of her.

Here is a brief intro to my novel dealing with abuse and it’s aftermath. I hope you’ll take a moment to peek into it.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father’s age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

BUY LINKS

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Creepy, crawlies

by

Anne Montgomery

This little guy lives by my dog’s water bowl. 
We’re all good with that.

I faced the webs on my porch. You see, when it’s fall in the desert, it’s time to clean our yards and outside living areas. To those who’ve grown up understanding the concept of spring cleaning, note that we perform that chore in the fall. It makes sense, since we spend the summers cooped up with our air conditioning – hiding from blast-furnace temperatures – and the winters basking blissfully outdoors.

I gently moved the broom across the ceiling and into the corners, careful not to harm any of the arachnids who’ve made camp by my door. I admonish the tiny ones to run, since I don’t want to injure them.

And, now, you might think me strange, because I could never hurt a spider. Why this is the case, I’m not quite sure. Perhaps it was growing up with Charlotte’s Web. Or maybe it was watching my parents deposit spiders who had found their way inside outside, instead of crushing them into little blobs of spidery goo.

I never thought this behavior odd, until faced with folks who felt differently. There was the tough US Marine who hailed from Trinidad who was my housemate for a while. I had explained about Mathilda, the black widow who resided in a low corner of the kitchen who only came out at night.

“Just don’t walk barefoot by the sink after dark,” I explained.

Then, one day I heard him howling in the kitchen. “You need to come in here! Now!”

I complied and was delighted by gossamer silk threads floating in the air, each speckled with dozens of tiny golden babies holding on like wee surfers. I grabbed some newspapers and corralled the infants and released them outside.

The big brave Marine recoiled.

Then there was the evening stroll in the Costa Rican rain forest. My sweetie pie and I joined a small group searching for night creatures with a woman entomologist.

“Oh! Look at what we have here!” She reached into the leaf litter and produced a large long-legged spider. Eyes wide, she grinned like a grandma with a newborn babe. “These are the ones they use in horror movies. Who would like to hold it?”

No one moved. She frowned, disappointed in our little group, so I stepped up and held out my hand. Her eyes sparkled, one of those perhaps-she’s-not-quite-sane looks that made me reconsider our decision to follow her into the jungle in the dark. She placed the beast in my palm.

“So cute. Just like a kitten,” she cooed.

OK, I admit I had a sudden urge to flee, an impulse that had nothing to do with the spider. In fact, the little guy was rather sweet. I silently said goodbye as he scampered off into the undergrowth.

Then there was the football spider and that rascal cemented my love affair with spiders.

Late in the first half of a high school game, Phil, my line judge, ran toward me, blowing his whistle, and waving his arms overhead, killing the clock.

“Tarantula!” He stared wide-eyed and pointed downfield.

My first thought was that the home team had a spider mascot, but that idea was quickly dispelled when I saw a fuzzy creature moving in a strangely robotic motion near the 20-yard-line.

The barrel-chested coach, who’d been on me the whole game, grinned and crossed thick arms. “What are you going to do about it?” he yelled.

As we crouched over the beast, I envisioned some hapless kid with a fist-size spider wriggling from his facemask. I bit my lip and glanced at the players who eyed me from midfield.

Phil and I stared at one another. He raised both palms up.

“What are we going to do?” I asked.

“What are you going to do?” he mimicked the coach.

I took a deep breath and watched the hairy beast inch forward, moving all eight legs in a silent ballet. Did I hear the coach laughing?

I shot my arm into the tarantula’s path. And, without pause, the spider crawled onto the back of my hand and up my wrist, fuzzy feet tickling my skin.

Phil stood and backed away.

“Please don’t bite me,” I silently pleaded over and over, as visions of old horror movies played in my head. While the tarantula traveled up my arm, I walked slowly toward the end of the field. When I reached the outer edge of the track, I bent over and gently dropped the creature near a patch of rocky desert. The tarantula landed upright and marched on.

I swallowed several times, then turned and ran back up field past the coach. I herded the players to the line of scrimmage and took my position behind the quarterback. I blew my whistle, putting the ball into play.

But no one moved.

Then Phil’s whistle sounded and he signaled time-out. He doubled over and I thought he might be ill, but then I saw he was laughing.

“What?” I stared as he ran toward me.

Phil leaned in, then looked around to make sure no players were nearby. The coach said, “She has a pair hangin’ and they ain’t tits.”

I eyed the coach. He nodded toward me, deferential, all remnants of his previously condescending attitude having disappeared with the spider.

For the rest of the game, no matter the situation – whether a flag went for or against his team, whether he agreed or disagreed with a ruling – the coach only addressed me with two words.

“Yes, ma’am,” was all he said.

Perhaps now you can understand my love affair with spiders.

Here’s a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. I hope it intrigues you.

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.

While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

BUY LINKS

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

how life is confusing

by

Anne Montgomery

The older I get the more things confuse me.

I looked up again at the crane. “What if some of the screws are missing?” I felt an irrational desire to flee. “What if they didn’t put the parts back together correctly.”

Then, I got my car insurance bill. “Hey! How come I’m paying so much more? Did your bill go up too?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I’ll call Vickie and ask,” he said.

Ryan returned from his chat with our insurance lady. “You’re old.”

“Pardon me?” I raised both eyebrows.

“Vicky said your rates went up because you’re an older woman.”

“But I haven’t had a ticket in almost thirty years,” I sputtered. “And, in my life, I’ve had one fender bender.”

Ryan shrugged. “That’s what she said. You’re in an age group that causes more accidents.”

I looked into the issue and found that as people age their vision, cognitive abilities, and reflexes tend to dull. I also learned that old people increasingly die in car crashes because they’re “frail”. Frail! No one has ever accused me of being frail.

Eieee!

Then, I got a letter telling me that the high blood pressure drug I’ve been taking for years might … gosh … cause cancer. “But don’t stop taking it!” the message emphatically stated.

Wait!

You want me to keep taking a drug that could give me cancer?

Recently, I went to a high school football game. I arrived early, since I was serving as the referee. I had contacted the school ahead of time, as I always do, identifying myself and my crew mates and the time they could expect us to arrive. I was escorted to the officials dressing room where I faced a sign that was prominently displayed on the door. No Females Permitted in the Locker Room after 4:00 PM. No Exceptions.

I paused. It was 5 o’clock.

The older I get the more things confuse me. But one thing that isn’t confusing is my novel. I hope you’ll take a moment to peek into it.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father’s age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

BUY LINKS

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

her pets from the past

by

Anne Montgomery

I have, over the course of my life, been the caretaker of myriad cats and dogs and birds and fish. I know I’ve been a good pet mom to my animal friends, tending to their needs and holding the four-legged ones tight when, old and infirm, we made that last trek to the vet.

While I have done well by my animal friends, who almost universally came from streets and shelters, I do have a dark past involving some beasts, the memories of which continue to haunt me.

When I was maybe five, I found a tiny, featherless bird, who, despite what appeared to be a broken neck, chirped piteously. I held the fledgling up to my mother, who blinked dispassionately behind black cat-eye glasses.

“Maybe he’s thirsty,” I said.

“I’ll get some water.”

“No, he’s a baby. He needs milk.”

“Birds don’t drink milk.”

“Milk!” I insisted.

So my mother gave the baby bird milk … and it died.

When I was older, I discovered a crow fluttering in the grass in my back yard. I placed the bird on the patio table and decided he might be hungry. I considered what might be tasty to a crow and determined that corn was the answer. Finding none in the refrigerator, I checked the freezer and was delighted to see a package of Green Giant Frozen Nibblets. I rushed to the patio and sure enough, my crow gobbled up that icy treat. A few minutes later, he toppled over … dead.

Then there were the fishes. Shortly after my mother allowed me to plant a rock garden behind the house, my dad and I formed a tiny concrete pond, not much more than a foot wide. I joyfully filled that small depression with water, but quickly sensed something was missing. So, I grabbed an empty Skippy Peanut Butter jar, called my collie dog Betsy, and headed to the brook to do some fishing. Later, I dumped those tiny fish into my pond, quite sure they would be happy with their new living arrangements. The next morning, eager to visit my fishy friends, I rushed to my pond to discover it … empty! I did some pondering on the mystery and determined that the fish had disappeared with the water though some minuscule crack and were now traversing an underwater stream that would lead them back to the brook.

Really.

In a similar fashion, I gathered unfortunate salamanders from under rocks in the woods and plopped them into the terrarium, which I made myself. I gathered soft, green moss, which I was sure the lizards would appreciate, and uprooted other woodland flora to decorate their home. I artfully placed bits of wood and rocks in the tank, along with a jar lid filled with water, so they might get a drink or go for a swim, should they feel the urge. What I never once considered was food. I think I believed my salamanders – some black, some red sporting a dark stripe – would discover reptile sustenance in the dirt somewhere. In any case, the fact that someone, I’m guessing my older brother, “accidentally” dislodged the glass tank top, proved to be a boon for those beasts, because they escaped, heading, no doubt, for the lizard version of McDonalds, never to be seen again.

I did enjoy my lizard friends, still, in retrospect, they were lucky they managed to escape.

The good news is that, once I got a bit older, I learned how to better care for the creatures that counted on me for their survival. We kids were required to feed and provide water for our dog and cat every night before dinner. One evening, when we had collectively forgotten to nourish our furry friends, my father admonished us.

“They can’t feed themselves!” he said, clearly disappointed by our neglect. “It’s your job to take care of them. They count on you.”

I stared at my dog, a look she returned with unabashed adoration, and felt ashamed. From that day forward, my pets have eaten before me. And I have made it my goal to treat all animal friends with kindness and compassion, with perhaps one well-intentioned exception.

The giant goldfish belonged to my two young nieces.

“What’ll we do?” My sister-in-law said, wrinkling her nose at the chubby, orange creature that swam in wobbly circles.

“We will…um…I don’t know.”

She stared at me. “The girls can’t see him like this.”

I considered the alternatives. Finally, I spread my hands wide. “Put it in a plastic bag and freeze it?”

I won’t say any more about that, except that it seemed kinder and less messy than the hammer option or any of the other routes we contemplated. Surely, you can see that my intention was one of benevolence.

I hope.

Here’s a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. I hope it intrigues you.

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.

While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

BUY LINKS

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

being a sports reporter

by

Anne Montgomery

I was a sports reporter for a good chunk of my life. Whenever I share that part of my past, the same question pops up.

“What about the locker room?” people ask breathlessly. “Did you ever go in?”

Well, of course I did. It’s not like I had a choice in the matter. I was a reporter on deadline. If I didn’t head into that messy inner sanctum, I would have returned to the newsroom empty handed. With no interviews, I have no story. With no story, I have no job.

Still, when I wormed my way into the sports world, way back in the early 1980s, the thought of a woman entering the locker room had barely registered on the general consciousness, even though Robin Herman, a 23-year-old reporter for the New York Times, and radio reporter Marcel St. Cyr both gained access following the NHL All-Star game in Montreal in 1975, a moment widely believed to be the first time women reporters shared the same rights as their male counterparts.

When I arrived in Phoenix, Arizona in 1988, a newly minted weekday sports reporter and weekend anchor at what was then KTSP-TV, the question of my entering the locker room became a story in and of itself.

Gene Stallings, the head coach of the NFL’s Cardinals, appeared stunned the first time he saw me in the locker room. Another reporter asked his thoughts on the occasion and Stallings was quoted as saying, “Well, I have four daughters.” His discomfiture was obvious.

I, however, tried to hide mine. I tended toward the back of the horde of reporters who would press up against those locker-room doors, intent on asking insightful questions before the players dashed away, most wanting nothing to do with scribes who might pillory them for their performances.

Once inside, I discovered reactions to my presence varied considerably. The Cardinals locker room had some players who seemed rather appalled that I might see them undressed.

“Just a minute, Anne!” quarterback Neil Lomax would call out. “Let us put our pants on.”

So, I would stand in the middle of that post-game chaos, and do my best not to stare, while waiting for the men who cared to cover up.

There were others who found no discomfort in being exposed. I remember needing an interview with a player who already had a gaggle of reporters surrounding him. I instructed my videographer, a tall man, to shoot up over the group. Then, microphone in hand, I edged my way through the mob and kneeled. When I looked up, I faced a naked man perched on the edge of a metal folding chair who quite comfortably conversed, despite his state of undress.

Suffice it to say, he was rather spectacular, by all accounts. Later, I would succumb to bouts of laughter, recalling the awed expressions displayed by my peers, no doubt brought on by a substantial amount of envy.

Michael Jordan (left) and Magic Johnson, two of the biggest stars in NBA history, were known for their outrageous talents on the court and their infectious smiles.

I faced a new challenge when the NBA season got underway. While NFL players are often exceedingly large people, basketball players are, almost uniformly, very tall. When interviewing them outside the locker room, I would often arrange myself on stairs, so as not to disappear from the video frame. But inside the locker room, I had no such option. Positioning oneself to interview naked basketball players took some delicacy.

One evening, when the Phoenix Suns were hosting the LA Lakers, I stood outside the locker room, this time at the front of the pack. I felt a rush of insecurity I would never have admitted to at the time. I had no wish to enter that noisy, sweaty realm filled with giant men, some not so happy with their on-court performances. Behind me, reporters on deadline fidgeted like cattle ready to explode from a corral. Then, the door burst open. Lakers star Magic Johnson grinned at us, that beatific smile that would become his trademark. Music blared from the locker room and Magic locked his eyes on mine. Suddenly, I was whirling in his arms, dancing before that throng of male reporters.

Our dance ended quickly. Magic nodded, the grin never ebbing, and walked through the crowd. For a moment, I was afraid to look, conscious that such behavior would be deemed unprofessional. I expected derision, since some of my peers were unaccepting of my presence in their club.

Someone laughed. I turned and was shocked to see a number of those hardened reporters grinning, genial expressions that dispelled an awkward moment. For the first time, I considered that they too might be uncomfortable entering the locker room.

We surged toward the doors, a bit more relaxed. And all it took was a short dance and big smile from a big man. And for that, Magic, I will always be grateful.

I hope you’ll take a moment to peek into my novel.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father’s age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

BUY LINKS

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Anne Montgomery who answers a question often asked by readers.

When Friends Become Characters by Anne Montgomery

Authors are often asked how they create characters. In my case, as my friends and family now realize, they are sometimes inspired by people I know.

My long-time sweetie pie seemed shocked when he read his words coming out of a character’s mouth.

“Hey! I said that!”

“Yes, you did.” I admitted. “Thank you.”
As a former reporter, I tend to think everyone’s words are fair game. If you’re going to fling them out into the universe, don’t be upset if I catch them and keep them for my own.

At other times, I’ve incorporated friends’ stories into my characters. In my book, A Light in the Desert, I borrowed numerous times from the life of my dear late friend Don Clarkson. I have written before about how Don and I met umpiring amateur baseball, a time during which I struggled with debt, a crumbling marriage, and joblessness following what would be the end of my TV-reporting career. That I spent a great deal of time feeling sorry for myself is an understatement.

Don, on the other hand, complained very little. This was astonishing in retrospect, considering the suffering he endured. Don was a decorated Green Beret, a sergeant who served alongside South Vietnam’s ARVN soldiers in the 9th Infantry during the war. His time in country was brutal and, like many servicemen and women, Don relived those experiences until he died at the age of 61 from a combination of Post Traumatic Stress and the myriad devastating effects of Agent Orange poisoning.

Don and I umpired baseball together for five years. During that time, he shared his stories with me. He was gravely wounded and left to die, but was saved by a South Vietnamese soldier who returned to the aftermath of a jungle fight to look for him. He was sometimes crushed by guilt, because of war-time life-and-death decisions and because – unlike many of the men he knew – he had managed to survive and come home. Tears would well in his eyes as he spoke about the soldiers – his brothers – that were lost.

And still, when we would sit in our folding chairs in a school parking lot, waiting for the second half of a double-header to begin, he sometimes spoke about the beauty of Vietnam and his love and admiration for the people who lived there.

One of the main characters in A Light in the Desert, is, like Don, a Vietnam veteran with memories that torment him. But Jason Ramm is also a sniper turned post-war governmental assassin, which Don was not. What they share is a deep desire for peace and forgiveness, which neither of them believe they deserve.

I wrote A Light in the Desert for Don. His wife Marie read the story to him before he died. I believe he understood Jason Ramm and recognized him as a brother. I also know that Don seemed appreciative that I shared some of his story and that I dedicated the book to him.

I miss my friend and the talks we used to have. Though he struggled mightily, Don always looked for the best in people and for beauty in the world.

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.

Here’s a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. I hope it intrigues you.

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.

While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

BUY LINKS

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Read Full Post »

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