Lacking Motivation

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 1:08 p.m.

Some days are diamonds. Some days are stones.

Etc.

By Monte Dutton

Yesterday morning, I awakened, and Keith Jackson could have been announcing the occasion. Whoa, Nellie! He came to the living room ready to write! Get some coffee in him, and it’s Katie, bar the door!

Keith was always good with the women.

I was clicking. Why people click in such moments, I have no idea.

I wrote the seventeenth chapter of an upcoming fiction project that is to be called Life Gets Complicated. That’s because it does. I then added layers of detail to my outline, and that is penance for the sarcasm I have just unleashed on an unsuspecting, and only mildly interested, future readership.

The world has too many writers who begin consecutive paragraphs with “I.” I am duly embarrassed. Not enough to rewrite one.

I also wrote a NASCAR column for a website. Then I went to Dollar Tree and spent the money.

The Red Sox won. Jon Ossoff lost. The Sox play the rubber game in Kansas City in less than an hour. That’s another reason I’m not getting much done today.

I have, however, watched an exciting episode of Columbo, and, recently, between YouTube videos and looking up Gene Kelly on Wikipedia, witnessed English horse racing from Royal Ascot.

I proofread and edited a chapter of another project called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s going to be the shining star of today’s firmament.

I forgot to change channels, and now some fishermen are pulling sting rays out of water. This is the sixth paragraph beginning with “I” in the past eight. The others started with “The.” I know its definition exactly as well as Bill Clinton does “is,” which is well indeed.

By the time Mookie Betts leads off, I should have this posted.

 

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

The Annual Clash of Emotions about Daddy

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, June 18, 2017, 10:15 a.m.

In a way, Father’s Day is empty. I’m not one, though a niece, nephews, a great-niece, and great-nephews pretend I am. This I appreciate.

In another, it makes me ever more mindful of how I remain affected by my father, who died in 1993.

Monte Dutton

Over the past six years – my Fiction Era – one of my goals has been to diversify. I’ve never written a story solely based on me. The closest is The Intangibles, a tale of the small-town South in the civil-rights era. I’m not interesting enough to be a main character. I do show up everywhere. I conjure up characters as if I’m cooking a stew that requires frequent stirring. I get the character in mind, and then I think through them. He’s this way. That happened. What does he do?

Readers wonder, Is this about you? No. The story is not about me. I am about the story. I’m standing around the corner, pretending to be Rod Serling. (Wikipedia, kids.)

Riley Mansfield (The Audacity of Dope) is a son of my father, as are Frankie Mansfield (The Intangibles) and Barrie Jarman (Lightning in a Bottle). In only one of those cases did I realize it while I was writing. Hal Kinley (Forgive Us Our Trespasses) is kind of a cross between me and him.

If my father’s goal was to live on in me, he succeeded. It’s a mixed blessing.

My father was by no means from the wrong side of the tracks, but he preferred to be. He enjoyed seeing the high and mighty chopped down to size. Me, too. It was the perfect reason to become a journalist.

He could be his own worst enemy. So can I.

I can’t speak for every boy. I suspect, though, that many harbor a deep determination, at some point in the adolescent years, to escape the old man’s shadow. I expect it’s hard for them all. It’s impossible for me. He gave his nature and nurtured it. That’s a tough team to beat.

My father was larger than life, and what I learned is that people who are larger than life often have both magnificent virtues and devastating vices.

I try to stay relatively clear of the wreckage by writing about it, not participating. I’ve seen enough to fake it.

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

So Damned Much Is Senseless

Seaside, Oregon (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 9:56 a.m.

I don’t know what to write. I’m just trying because I find it therapeutic. When nothing makes sense, and I need it to, I just write. With a little luck, it turns into a blog. Either that, or I play guitar a while. The point at which I start writing in earnest – on a fiction project, for instance – is typically the culmination of coffee, social media, breakfast, watching the news, and checking the latest sales figures.

By Monte Dutton

Sometimes, though, the world gets in the way. Bad news seems extra stark in the morning. The TV screen fills up: A CBS News Special Report! I’m lucky. The best possible person to deliver bad news is Charlie Rose.

Five people, one of whom is the Majority Whip of the United States House of Representatives, were shot this morning while practicing for a Congressional baseball game. A baseball game! A shooting at ball practice is some kind of cosmic statement, a perfect allegory of what life has become. It doesn’t matter whether one thinks the solution is reducing arms or increasing them. Both sides know that things are seriously screwed up. America is going to hell. A broad distance stretches out to the horizon as to the reasons why.

Nothing seems real. Not politics. Not sports. In the short run, violence makes me numb. The Red Sox have won dramatically in extra innings two straight nights. That magic went up in a hail of fire.

The Warriors won the NBA. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup. The Tigers went to the White House. Jeff Sessions went back to the Senate. I went to Bi-Lo. Coffee was on sale.

Whoop-dee-doo.

I think I’m going to edit today. I doubt I’m going to be able to conjure something new. I can be meticulous. Probably not creative.

The Washington Monument (Monte Dutton photo)

Too many of these incidents crop up in life. The memories may subside a bit, but they don’t go away. I was five when President Kennedy was assassinated. Some of those memories are the basis of the first chapter in my second novel, The Intangibles. Much of the chapter I invented, but it spread out from the JFK memories.

I was watching on TV when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. I awakened to news of Sirhan Sirhan murdering Robert Kennedy. I was riding around Laurens with my father when Arthur Bremer shot George Wallace. I was sitting on a couch in the Presbyterian College sports information office when the Challenger exploded. I watched 9/11 unfold here, in my living room, where I am sitting now.

At the moment, CBS News looks like an old Clint Eastwood movie.

 

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

 

Sometimes I Feel All by Myself

Montreal, Quebec (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, June 13, 2017, 2:46 p.m.

Donald Trump has changed my life. To some extent, all presidents do. Normally, the sheriff has more to do with a person’s day-to-day life than the president, especially in a rural county, but President Trump has turned me inside-out.

I’m not referring to Russians, health care, golf, a son-in-law, a reince or even a priebus. Okay, Reince Priebus is one person, but no man should be allowed to put “e” before “i” in his first name and “i” before “e” in his latter. His full name is Reinhold Richard Priebus. I remember a major-league pitcher named Tom Phoebus. If I could create real names, as I can in fiction, he would be named Reince Phoebus Priebus. Uh, I might give him an uncle named Remus.

By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)

President Trump has changed my habits, my inclinations, and the way I conduct my days.

For instance, last year an election campaign was going on, but I generally did work while either ballgames or old movies were on TV during the day. I watched the Red Sox with some attention at night, and when the game was over from Boston, I’d often watch the Dodgers just because of Vin Scully.

I still watch the Red Sox, though not as closely. During commercial breaks between innings, I don’t check on other games. I check on what President Trump has done.

This is not good. It seems as if every day brings developments that are alarming. I switch to a news channel, and it gets me down. I have to stay up for the late talk shows just so I can hear jokes about the latest bad news. That way I can sleep.

The president keeps saying all the criticisms are “fake news.” He says they are made up. Then he alleges that the stories are the result of leaks. They can either be made up or the result of leaks, not both. If the stories came from leaks, they are not fake news.

Gosh, I miss Vin. And David Letterman. And Craig Ferguson. And Jon Stewart. And Garrison Keillor.

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

 

 

Mothers by the Numbers

Ella, my niece, and Betty, my mother. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, June 4, 2017, 10:13 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

Age is mathematical.

If I heard someone say that on TV, I would make fun of it.

Duh.

The appropriate response from the imaginary person on TV?

D’oh!

Of course.

I just got through watching a CBS This Morning piece on Norman Lear, Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke, all in their nineties. Reiner, the creative force behind The Dick Van Dyke Show, is 95. The star of that sixties sitcom is 91. I was thinking, fifty years ago, the four-year gap probably made a difference. Today, Van Dyke is 95.79 percent the age of Reiner. They are approximately the same. All you have to do is round it up.

Today my niece is throwing a surprise birthday party for my mother. (There will be a delay in posting this for security reasons.)

Before I was born, my mother was infinitely older than I. When I graduated from high school, she was twice as old. As of Tuesday, her actual birthday, I will be 76.62 percent as old.

I think this is eternally true. When my mother was twice my age, we related to each other half as much. Betty Jean Davis Dutton has always been a guiding force. Now we are close friends, each of our lives lessened if we don’t talk on the phone every day. We agree on most things. We laugh at each other’s jokes. We have been similarly toughened by the slings and arrows of life.

A force for peace the likes of which my world has never known landed on June 6.

Exactly four years later came something called D-Day.

 

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

 

 

 

The Sun Is Out, the Sky Is Blue … I’m in the House

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, June 3, 2017, 9:46 a.m.

Sometimes I get up, and lesser aspects of life greet me, all at once.

By Monte Dutton

Everything seems mildly absurd. It doesn’t hurt, occasionally, to recognize this. Absurdity is on the rise. What Republicans believe about the planet, I believe about the absurdity. Just gotta let it run its course, man. Things’ll come around, right?

Line from a country song: Gimme a beer or two and I’ll be fine / At least it worked every other time …

A man (and, presumably, a woman, though these words represent only me) must take the occasional pause to refresh. Excuse me.

10:00 a.m.

Between now and 1 p.m., when sports commences on TV, I intend to either: (a.) edit my latest chapter of fiction and update the outline, or (b.) add more, reach another ending, and update the outline.

I am considering this, even as I buy time by writing a blog for no apparent reason.

Multitasking. I just finished watching Dan Auerbach perform several songs at the end of CBS This Morning. This makes me want to play guitar. Thinking about a novel and writing a blog are taking place at the same time. I can’t play guitar and type at the same time, so if I want to continue multitasking, I’ll have to think about the novel as I play a song. Maybe I am only capable of bi-tasking.

If that.

10:09 a.m.

Déjà vu. Let me tell you about some déjà vu.

For 20 years, my job took me to automobile races, mostly sanctioned by NASCAR, there to write and be merry. That gig ended with a thud when a newspaper eliminated my longtime position at the behest of its corporate lord.

(Monte Dutton photo)

Now I write novels. Four and a half years removed from my last on-site visit to a track, I finally wrote a novel about stock car racing. Its abrupt construction stemmed from a sudden nostalgia. For the first time, I missed racing, not just the paychecks and benefits.

Lightning in a Bottle first struck on a restless January morning after a sleepless night. Three months later, I self-published it. I didn’t want to go through the process of finding a publisher. I had only told three trustworthy people I was writing it. I wanted it to be a surprise.

A week ago, I went back to the track. I wrote about racing for a web site. I let it all hang out. What I wrote was well received. For a brief period, I was somebody again.

(Getty Images for NASCAR)

Now I’m safely back in exile, watching again from afar, writing a weekly column for a separate website, and a bit of the déjà vu still kicks in.

For instance, I thought, Wow, the Red Sox are in Baltimore on Dover weekend. If I was covering the race, I’d be at Camden Yards right now.

As the race-car drivers say, as if they were in Western movies, Whoa, boy. (After crashes, drivers since at least Sterling Marlin have said they couldn’t “get her whoaed down,” or “whoa’d down.”)

I’m sure the hustle and bustle would quickly grow old now that I am unused to long trips, and even when I take one, I drive so that I use the same time occupied that I would otherwise use waiting for canceled flights to be rebooked.

Besides, it’s cheaper that way, at least until the machinery fails.

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

 

 

 

Oh, I’m Looking at the World from a Press Box … Again

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 12:05 p.m.

I’m not at Charlotte Motor Speedway. I’m not on a four-lane highway. Hell, Memorial Day is even over. If you’re tired, is it a mild coma? Are there degrees of comatosity? Is comatosity a word?

It is momentarily.

By Monte Dutton

Charlotte for the NASCAR races was only four days (May 20, 25, 27, 28, spill-over into 29), about six quarts of road coffee and 1,000 miles on my odometer. The Accord is 17 years old and gets better mileage than the day I bought it. Right now it’s caked in dust, and there’s junk mail in the passenger floorboard and a pile of paper from the speedway’s copiers in the seat.

By the time I pulled into the garage, safely before the sun rose, with plenty of time for memorializing, I was tired of Hardee’s biscuits, and coffee that was too hot to drink even though I was too tired to wait, and even the marathon of sarcasm that is the essence of a sportswriter’s existence.

Where once I was a journalist who dabbled in novels, now I am a novelist who dabbles in journalism. With credit to my friend Jim McLaurin, “Other’n’at, ain’t much hap’nin’.”

I don’t mean to be complaining. It was fun. It was probably more fun than the old days, but the old days were like this every week.

Jeff Gluck hired me to write three columns – I wrote for Competition Plus at the Monster Energy All-Star race, and basically just did so because I wanted to get the greetings and salutations out of the way – so that he could explore the Indianapolis 500. He told me to write whatever I wanted. See jeffgluck.com.

(Getty Images for NASCAR)

I did. I had a ball. I fiddled around all day making observations and then strung them together and blended them in – desk persons used to love the verb “massage the copy” – to make a nice, creative pudding, butterscotch, I think, and whether or not whipped cream was on top is for readers to judge.

The question I needed to answer for myself was: Will I want to go back?

Yes. I do. I don’t want to get carried away by the band of gypsies again. I don’t want to wake up, open the curtains and look out the window to remember which town I’m in.

Stock car racing has changed. Everything else has, too. Me, for instance.

It’s still interesting, though. I haven’t rediscovered its essence, but I’ve made some progress.

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).