Interview with Anne Montgomery

Today I have another treat – an interview with author Anne Montgomery. Anne is a former reporter turned writer. She has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. Her first TV job came at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, and led to positions at WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, and ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter. She finished her on‐camera broadcasting career with a two‐year stint as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery was a freelance and/or staff reporter for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces. Today we’re going to be talking about her book, The Scent of Rain.

32337760I really enjoyed your book. (My review is here.) Where did you get the idea for this book?
The ideas for all of my books come from current events. I am an admitted news junkie and have been reading the newspaper front to back daily for about 40 years. I’ve learned that truth is often far stranger than fiction. Stories about the polygamists in Colorado City are often in the news here in Arizona. I had never heard about the cult until I moved here and was shocked that such a group could exist in the US. In regard to Rose, the 16-year-old protagonist, I am a teacher in a Title I high school in Phoenix. Many of my students come from difficult and disadvantaged backgrounds. I am also a foster mom. I have seen what abuse and neglect can do to children first hand.

What kind of research did you do? Can you describe your writing process?
As a former reporter, I greatly enjoy digging for a story. I read articles about Colorado City and conducted interviews with people who had lived and worked in the community, including Flora Jessop, who escaped twice from the cult and today works with the Child Protection Project: an anti-child abuse group that helps women and girls escape from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The stories Flora told me were so harrowing that to this day I have not listened to the three-hour recording of our interview session. The images were burned into my brain. I also interviewed Dr. Theodore Tarby, who bravely confronted the cult members, asking them to refrain from marrying and reproducing with their close relatives, after he discovered that the cause of the awful birth defects in the community were the result of incest. Unfortunately, Dr. Tarby was ignored.
I find it impossible to write stories without actually visiting the locations where my characters live, so
I recruited a friend and we drove to Colorado, City. We concocted a story about looking for a place to retire. As we studied the community, children stared at us as if we were monsters. They are told that outsiders are devils. I am not afraid of many things, but I have to admit that I was uncomfortable while doing my research on site and have no desire to go back.
In regard to my writing process, I’m what you call a “pantser”, which is an author who doesn’t have a specific plan or plot line in place. While doing research my characters are fleshed out, but I’m never certain exactly what they will be doing or where they will take me. In fact, my characters often surprise me. This is writing by the seat of your pants. Hence, “pantser”.

Adan and Rose both have difficult family situations. What was your own family like?
I was raised the middle child in a middle-class family in Livingston, New Jersey, not too far from New York City. Both my parents were college graduates – a rarity in the 1960s – who expected their three kids to go to college, as well. I struggled early on with what I would later learn was low-end dyslexia. So, I hated to read and school was a battle. When it came time for college, my older brother bet me that I’d drop out freshman year, because I was too stupid to graduate. Perhaps I should thank him for my later successes in academics, because I was determined not to lose that bet. I was also obese until I was about 14, a condition that embarrassed my family and had me spending a good deal of time without human companionship. However, I was lucky to have the best dog on the planet who wandered the nearby woods and streams with me, so I never felt alone. I believe those early forays into nature provided me with the love of wild areas I still have today.

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The setting is very important to the book. What experience did you have with the desert before the book?

The state of Arizona, where I have lived for almost 30 years, is one of the most wondrous wild areas I have ever explored. We have the incredibly diverse Sonoran Desert, as well as high mountains and canyons and rivers and forests. I have seen much of the state because I’m a rock collector. (It’s true. I have about 400 specimens in my living room alone. Friends know not to ask about them if I’ve had a glass of wine, because I then feel compelled to explain when and where I obtained each one, whether they want to know or not.) Before researching The Scent of Rain, I had not traveled to the Arizona Strip. I was thrilled by the stark beauty of the area. Zion National Park is just a short drive from Colorado City. The thing I enjoyed most about writing the manuscript was incorporating descriptions of the landscape into the story.

Which of the characters in the book can you identify with the most?
Like Rose, I am often enthralled with the beauty of nature. I’m a high school teacher, and to have a student like her would be a delight. I admire her enthusiasm, her determination to find answers to the natural world around her, and her efforts to reconcile the beliefs of the strange community in which she was raised with all the new things she learns about the outside world. I can also identify with Adan. Through some strange twist, I became a foster mom at 55. As I never had any biological children, you can imagine what suddenly having a 15-year-old boy in my home was like. Adan reminds me of my first son, Brandon. I now have three boys who call me mom.

What would you like readers to take away from the book?
Be aware of what’s happening around you. Some characters in The Scent of Rain are kind, well-meaning people, but they don’t acknowledge what’s happening right under their noses. Mistreatment of people, especially children, is something no one should tolerate, and no belief or religion should be a mask for abuse.

Is The Scent of Rain your first book? What are you working on now?

Actually, I have six books, through two are neatly tucked away in a drawer, likely never to see the light of day. Two books are to be soon to be reissued. A Light in the Desert is a soft-thriller involving an assassin who is succumbing to a strange form of mental illness called the Jerusalem Syndrome, a pregnant teenager, and the deadly real-life sabotage of an Amtrak train in the Arizona desert. Nothing But Echoes is historical fiction that deals with the discovery of a fabulous tomb in Northern Arizona that reveals a man interred 900 years ago who doesn’t look like the pueblo people who buried him, and which leads to questions about when Europeans first arrived in the Americas. The Castle, which tells the story of a female National Park ranger who is struggling to come to grips with being raped and the serial rapist who is stalking her, is currently being offered to publishers.

Which authors would you say have influenced your work the most?

That’s a tough question. I’m told I write like a man. More likely, I write like a reporter. We are, after all, story tellers. We are just more succinct and often lacking in flowery prose. So, perhaps reporters have influenced my writing more than authors.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I have several hobbies. I am a high school football referee and crew chief. That means I’m the white hat, the official that signals to the press box about what’s happening on the field. I began officiating in 1979 as a way to learn the main team spectator sports. I wanted to be a sportscaster, which was unheard of for a woman in the 1970s, so I decided to become a certified amateur official in football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball, in order to become knowledgeable enough to report on the games. I believed a news director somewhere would appreciate my efforts and hire me. And that’s exactly what happened. I would go on to work for five TV stations. My first on-air job came at WRBL-TV in Columbus, Georgia, and led to positions at WROC-TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP-TV in Phoenix, Arizona, and ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where I anchored the Emmy and ACE award-winning SportsCenter. I finished my on-camera broadcasting career with a two-year stint as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. That I still officiate football surprises me, but I can’t seem to quit. My other hobbies include rock collecting, gardening – which is quite an adventure in the desert – scuba diving, and playing my guitar. I’m also a movie buff.

What’s the best way for readers to stay in touch with you?

I am active on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and LinkedIn. Readers can find me on Wikipedia and Amazon, and are also welcome to contact me on my website, https://annemontgomerywriter.com/.

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Newt’s Emerald: Sunday Standalone

Standalone Sunday was started by Bookslayer and you can find more here. It’s for title that are not part of a series.
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Title: Newt’s Emerald: Magic, Maids, and Masquerades

Author: Garth Nix

Setting: Alternate England 1830s

On her eighteenth birthday, Lady Truthful, nicknamed “Newt,” will inherit her family’s treasure: the Newington Emerald. A dazzling heart-shaped gem, the Emerald also bestows its wearer with magical powers.

When the Emerald disappears one stormy night, Newt sets off to recover it. Her plan entails dressing up as a man, mustache included, as no well-bred young lady should be seen out and about on her own. While in disguise, Newt encounters the handsome but shrewd Major Harnett, who volunteers to help find the missing Emerald under the assumption that she is a man. Once she and her unsuspecting ally are caught up in a dangerous adventure that includes an evil sorceress, Newt realizes that something else is afoot: the beating of her heart.

In Newt’s Emerald, the bestselling author of Sabriel, Garth Nix, takes a waggish approach to the forever popular Regency romance and presents a charmed world where everyone has something to hide. ”

Lady Truthful’s family has guarded the Newington Emerald for generations, using its magic to control the waves. One stormy night, her father displays the emerald to her and her cousins when there’s a violent crash. When everything is cleared up, the emerald is gone. Her father is distraught over the loss of the heirloom. Truthful decides she must recover the jewel on her own.

Garth Nix has done it again. He is such a versatile writer. I just finished a review of Frogkisser! which I really enjoyed. This book was just as much fun. He takes all the conventions of a Regency romance and turns it into something fresh and new. Every romance trope is in here – a heroine in disguise, a masquerade ball – but uses them to gently poke fun at the conventions. The addition of the magic was a fun touch.

The romance in here was a lot of fun too. Major Charles Hartnett – or is it Robert? – is dashing and heroic, but it’s Truthful who manages to rescue him more than once. Their attraction is combined with some nicely managed sexual tension, but it’s all PG rated.

My biggest complaint is that I wanted to see the emerald’s powers used more. There’s some stuff at the end, but it could have been used better. In general though, Nix does a great job of taking a traditional Regency romance and weaving in magic. The fantasy aspect is well thought out and a lot of fun.

This one is recommended for fans of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer or those looking for a romance with something extra.

Thumbs Up for This One

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions, however, are my own.

Title: Forgotten Reflections

Author: Young-Im Lee

Setting: Korea 1950s

I must admit that I haven’t read much modern Asian fiction, and even less Asian historical fiction, so when I was offered this book, I was excited to read it. When I got a look at how long it was, I admit to second thoughts. I’m glad I stuck with it because it was a great read.

This is two stories in one, the story of Iseul as a girl, and the one of her as a grandmother now suffering from Alzheimer’s and living in assisted care. Her granddaughter starts digging into her grandma’s past when they move her into the care facility. Meanwhile, Iseul herself is remembering her past.

Iseul grew up in a small village in Korea. She barely remembers the Japanese soldiers who roared through her town, killing her mother and many of the villagers. Now Iseul is old enough to help her father with his paper-making business. She attracts the notice of Jung-Soo, son of the local bigwig, and that relationship will shape the rest of her life. She and Jung-Soo become aware that the village has a secret Communist cell and soon war breaks out.

I won’t spoil the rest of the book, but I can say that their paths part, but neither can forget the other one. When they are reunited, everything has changed. Several times with this book, I thought it was so long I was never going to finish, but I just couldn’t give up on it.

Like I said, I’m not familiar with Korean books, and the author says that she was only born in Korea and grew up in the Philippines. But the writing is very different from what I’m used to. Sometimes the narrator (the granddaughter) addresses the reader directly. The way Iseul talked made me laugh too. She’s not like any other MC I’ve read this year, that’s for sure.

I definitely recommend this one. If you’re in the mood for a good long book, this one should be on your list.

Unlocking the Past

Title: On Little Wings

Author: Regina Sirois

I’d whispered the entire thing. Every detail that fit into words. It sounded so much more civilized when I whispered it, when I turned down the volume of the fear and disgust. But horrible things whispered are still horrible.

Jennifer’s family is turned upside down when she discovers a photograph of a young girl – a girl who looks surprisingly like Jennifer. The trouble – the picture is 20 years old. Her mom has lied about her past. She’s not an only child. She has a sister. Jennifer wants to meet this aunt, get to know her, but her mother wants Jennifer to leave it alone. After some negotiations, Jennifer heads to Maine to discover her family’s past and along the way, discover herself.

I heard a little about this YA book, enough to add it to my list and then forget about it. But when I found it free on Kindle Unlimited, I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did. I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA. Most of what I read is fantasy, so this was a change of pace for me, but it turned out to be a good one.

The story kind of struck home for me. My mom also had a sister she didn’t talk about. Her sister wasn’t a secret or anything, but it was still a big shock when this woman called from out of the blue saying, “Hi, I’m your aunt.” I already had an aunt, and I knew this woman was not her. I guess I experienced this story from the other side.

Our relationship was still distant and things didn’t turn out quite the way they did for Jennifer, but I still felt it was worth getting to know something about this stranger who was my relative. Now my mom and my aunt have both passed away and I can only guess at what their relationship used to be.

I recommend this one to anyone who likes contemporary YA. There is some romance, but that wasn’t what stuck with me about the book. What I liked was the main character herself and her journey to figure out who she was and where she belonged. 3.5 stars/5

Fun Romance Romp

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Title: The Hidden Duchess

Author: Bree Verity

Celeste is about to be unjustly arrested for her husband’s murder. She needs a quiet place to hide out while her lawyers gets things sorted out. Marcel is her cousin. He has a little farm in the French countryside. It’s the perfect solution . . . If these two don’t kill each other first.

What a fun book! Like most romances, the question wasn’t whether these two would get together, but how. They had great chemistry. I have to say though I wasn’t so sure in the beginning. I liked Marcel right off, but Celeste was such a brat! So spoiled! But she gets better.

One caution – This book has some love scenes that were more explicit than I was comfortable with. If you like it steamy, you probably won’t mind, but I skipped ahead.

I’m recommending this one for fans of historical romance. Thanks for the chance to read it.

 

 

 

A Little Time Travel

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Galveston, Texas 1900

Title: September Sky

Author: John A. Heldt

Setting: Modern San Francisco and Galveston, Texas 1900

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

If you had the chance to go back in time, would you do it? I know I would do it, as long as I could come back to the present day. Would I bring my kids? I mean, they’re adults, but still, I don’t know that I’m comfortable with them taking the same risks I would take myself.

Chuck Townsend and his son Justin get a chance to travel back in time to 1900. Both are at loose ends, looking for new experiences, and what could be more exciting than visiting the past? How about catching a murderer, falling in love, and getting caught in a hurricane? Sounds like this book would be really exciting.

But for some reason, I found it rather boring. There was so much dialogue about so many trivial things. Then the author skipped back and forth between POV so often than I never connected to any of the characters.

I want to end on a positive note, so I will say that I was impressed by the amount of research that the author did into the Galveston hurricane. It was truly a horrible catastrophe, and I think the author really captured what it must have been like.

Thanks for the chance to read this one. I know that the reviews have been pretty positive, so maybe I’ll try something else by this author later.

 

Cover Reveal – The Last Dragon Rider

The Last Dragon Rider

Summer is the perfect time for those sweet, special summer reads. Books about epic quests, about true love, about fighting for a noble cause and that perfect ending. Australian writer Errin Krystal has just such a book coming out next month, in time for the end of vacation reading before routine starts all over again this fall.

Book Description

Trained as an elite warrior from childhood, the elven crown prince Flintathriël fights to bring a stop to a war that began before he was born. With the aid of his betrothed Sairalindë, a skilled mage and dragon rider in her own right, they must find the Book of Souls – an ancient and mysterious tome rumored to have belonged to the god Hath’Raal.

When the missing book turns up in the hands of Mnuvae, the bastard child of the dead king, Flintathriël finds himself fighting to not only save his people from this new threat but also trying to keep Sairalindë safe when Mnuvae takes over the dragons in her attempt to win back the kingdom she believes is rightfully hers.

The love Flintathriël and Sairalindë share shines pure and true, but when the smoke of the battle clears, will their hearts survive the aftermath of war or will their love become a casualty that cannot be revived?

If this book sounds like something you’d be interested in, the book will be available August 9th! And you can find out more about the story, the characters, and see some additional artworth here:

Website: http://errinkrystal.weebly.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ErrinKrystal/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ErrinKrystal

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/errin.krystal.bookishwriter/?hl=en

Finally, what you’re waiting for, here’s a look at that amazing cover!

TheLastDragonRider Cover

More about the author!

Errin Krystal is a fantasy romance writer who has been writing since she was a small child. Her head has always been full of stories. She began work on her first novel when she was sixteen.

She lives with her family in regional Victoria, Australia, and works as a chef. In her quieter moments, she loves to indulge her passion for storytelling, basking in the joy that comes from creating vibrant characters, fantastical worlds and all manner of magical creatures. Dragons and elves, mages and warriors, troubled princes and beautiful princesses, romance, magic, and adventure can all be found in her writing.

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Reads & Reels Book Tours

This whole cover reveal tour was organized by R&R Book Tours. If you’d like to be in on the next event, contact Shenanigan here. This is my first time hosting one, and I’m sure I will do better next time, but it’s fun to be part of the event!

Review: A Lady in the Smoke

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Review: A Lady in the Smoke

Author: Karen Odden

Format: audiobook

Setting: 1874 England

Themes: love, family, medicine, addiction, revenge, politics, law

Lady Elizabeth Fraser and her mother are returning home after a miserable London Season only to be involved in a train wreck. Elizabeth has a minor concussion and her mother’s ankle is sprained, but she can’t manage anything without Elizabeth’s help. Only handsome Dr. Wilcox is able to provide the care her mother needs. Elizabeth is drawn to the young man, but such a match would never be permitted by Society. Elizabeth knows this, but her heart refuses to listen. She’s drawn into Dr. Wilcox’s life, his crusade for safer railway conditions, and the bitter struggle against his powerful enemies.

I found this one while browsing the titles my library had available for online audiobooks, and I have to say I was hooked. I love a good historical mystery and this one was very promising. Victorian setting, star-crossed lovers, class struggles, and a new author, it was lots of fun. Definitely recommended.

 

Review: Puss Without Boots

Title: Puss Without Boots, Fairy Tale Kingdoms #1

Author: Shari L. Tapscott

Genre: fairy tale romance

Themes: true love, magic, work, trust

Suzette, also called Etta, is the youngest child of the miller. Now that her aunt has passed, she left the mill to the oldest child, the donkey to the middle child, and Suzette – well, she gets the cat and some money – to buy boots for the cat. Suzette is less than thrilled. She uses the money to buy herself some boots.

But a few weeks later when Etta takes her first day off, she discovers that this is no ordinary cat. Puss can talk. He doesn’t mind about the boots, but he had definite plans for Etta. Plans that involve teaching her to hunt and stop spending time with the new chocolatier, Beau.

I really liked this book. After a string of books that I was only lukewarm about, this one won me over with it’s charming story and characters. Etta is such a refreshing change from so many stupid characters! And Beau, I mean come on, he has a chocolate shop! Plus their relationship developed slowly enough that I really cared about them as a couple.

This was a very quick read. I’m definitely recommending this one if you like clean fairy tale romance, and I’m pleased to see that she has several other books out. The next one is about Rapunzel.

Review: Midnight Pearls

Title: Midnight Pearls: A Retelling of the Little Mermaid (Once Upon a Time #4)

Author: Debbie Vigiue

Genre: fairy tale, YA romance

reprinted review

I am a big fan of the retold fairy tale, so I was happy to find this series of familiar tales and fables rewritten for teens. I just finished this one yesterday, and I enjoyed it. Finneas is out fishing one night when a terrible storm blows up. Just when he is ready to give up and surrender to the sea, he spots a child floating in the ocean. He rescues the girl and together with his wife, they raise the girl as their own. They name her Pearl. It’s a promising beginning, and I did enjoy the book. It’s not really anything unique, pretty much a classic tale. All the regulars from the original story are there – the handsome prince, the Sea Witch – but there are a few twists. I read it in a day, a quick fun story.

If you like this genre, I can recommend some titles from the ‘Once Upon a Time’ series. Overall, the writing is uneven. Some of the stories are really well done. My favorites are The Storyteller’s Daughter (1001 Nights), Sunshine and Shadow (The Magic Flute), and Golden (Rapunzel). Before Midnight, based on Cinderella, is my very favorite. But there are a few I just couldn’t read, one based on Little Red Riding Hood that has her falling in love with the wolf, and some one I can’t remember set in France during World War I. I got this one at the library.