Invent the Track if You Must

Rockingham, North Carolina (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, April 7, 2017, 9:45 a.m.

A new novel’s out. It’s the one readers have been suggesting – hint, hint – I write for years. I’m hardheaded. I had to wait until it struck my fancy. It takes a story to write a novel, and it’s too damned hard to write one for which I have no love.

By Monte Dutton

Eventually, Barrie Jarman came along. I wish he’d been real when I was writing about stock-car racing week after week and airport after airport. For a writer, though, he’s probably too good to be true. That’s probably a reason to fiction. I needed to know someone like Barrie, so I invented him, and I didn’t even use a Playstation. Or a Wii. Or whatever they have now.

I don’t know why Barrie showed up. It could be that, after four years away, I began pining for the occasional trip back to the track. I put out a few overtures: “William Tell,” “The Ruins of Athens,” “The Merry Widow.” A few expressed interest and offered discount subscriptions to websites and the like. I haven’t called them. I hoped they’d call me.

As a stock car racing beat reporter, I’m a known commodity. If anyone wanted me – besides, at present, the Competition Plus website — I’d know it.

I can’t figure out whether journalism died or just became dead to me.

Well, back to the plot at hand.

Lightning in a Bottle may have occurred to me because stock car racing was occurring to me at the time, and when nothing to do occurred, I subconsciously, in a Freudian state, started writing a novel about stock car racing. I started writing it on January 15 and it was available to the public via the miracle of and CreateSpace on March 29.

Sales have started to pick up. Word is getting around. If enough people read it – I’m just getting word from a few who have finished it – it’s going to be a sensation. Some are going to be inspired. Some are going to be amused. Some are going to be infuriated. I expect some are going to be privately amused while publicly infuriated.

All possibilities are within the righteous realm of a free society. One must accept the consequences if he expects to reap the rewards.

As my late father used to say, “Son, don’t do nothing half-assed,” though, in fact, he did quite a few things that way. He wanted his older son to do better. His younger son already was. My dad didn’t care if I could write a lovely paragraph. He wanted me to play ball better.

I made it up to him later by writing about people who played ball better.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Since I read the Kindle version and breathed a sigh of relief, I’ve been either wasting my time doing nothing or trying like hell to jumpstart Lightning in a Bottle. One man’s tweet is another’s promotion. The day before yesterday, I wrote 3,000-plus words of new fiction, but mainly I’ve been firing off blurbs like:

“Even if you’re running neck-and-neck with somebody for 5th place, it’s still fun.” #fiction #motorsports

Meanwhile, in college backetball, the Carolinas prevailed, North in men’s and South in women’s. Entering an afternoon game in Detroit, the Red Sox are 2-0 with a rainout. Somebody is undoubtedly leading the Masters, even as these words are written. Rapid Roy and all the Stock Car Boys are roaring about deep in the heart of Texas.

I’ve got a rerun of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on.

(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 (

(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.

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.


(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).




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s