Keep the Line Moving

Rockingham, North Carolina (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 11:15 a.m.

Yesterday I finished a manuscript. It’s just a first draft, but I doubt it will require much revision. Lightning in a Bottle just required two drafts. I think its sequel will, too.

By Monte Dutton

The other project nestled snugly in this laptop … ah, that’s a different matter. It’s through second draft, though now I’ve decided to write a new ending. It’s a new story, although I did draw on two old short stories while I was concocting it.

One cannot plagiarize oneself.

My goal is to get them both out by the end of the year. I don’t know which will come first. The stock car racing sequel, Life Gets Complicated (A Barrie Jarman Adventure), will be ready first, but I may hold it back for Christmas, or try to get it out in the fall and hold the crime novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, for Christmas.

I know I need to get more books out. I need the money. I have a job. It’s writing books. The income is erratic. I write free-lance stories to help me get by.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

If you haven’t read Lightning in a Bottle – and I’m painfully aware that many haven’t – now’s the time because, if you love stock car racing or even if you don’t, you’re going to be fascinated by Barrie Jarman, and one of the reasons is that I am. I raced through his first story, and I’m racing through this one, and I’ve finally created a character that maintains my interest for more than one book.

So get to know him by reading Lightning in a Bottle. That way I can draw you into my web of intrigue, and you’ll feel compelled to read another.

I don’t write romances, but I tend to romanticize the hopes for my novels. They never do as well as I hope.

Barrie Jarman started out on the dirt tracks. (Monte Dutton photo)

The immediate reason I wrote Lightning in a Bottle – in addition to one of those extraordinary brainstorms that always plant the seeds of my fiction — was that it gave me a more direct market through social media to spread its word. A large portion of my friends and followers know me from my many years writing about NASCAR for a living. I figured a novel about stock car racing would take the sport by storm. I thought racing writers would write reviews. A couple have.

Their ranks are thinner. They’ve got a lot more to do. Several wrote nice personal notes, though. Writers of books are not alone in suffering the decline of newspapers and their chronically short staffs.

By the way, I really appreciate those who have given the novel exposure. Twice, Mojo Nixon has allowed me to talk about the novel on his weekly SiriusXM radio show, “Manifold Destiny,” on NASCAR Channel 90. He’s read it. It’s not the first of my novels he’s read.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Barrie Jarman is a mixture of a throwback and a kid as modern as the cars he races. He feels a bit alienated because most of his peers come from backgrounds dramatically dissimilar to his own. Maybe that’s why his best friend, Errol Hughston, is one of few African Americans racing stock cars at FASCAR’s (FASCAR is the ruling body in the novel, and the tracks are in different places) highest level, and Barrie falls in love with Errol’s sister, Angela.

Our hero is smart, not to mention brash, proficient, and more than a little wild. He bristles at FASCAR’s interference from the first time he walks through a speedway gate. When Barrie fights authority, authority doesn’t always win.

Readers have frequently observed that they “couldn’t put it down.” For some reason, it has often taken them “two sittings.” It ended before they wanted it to.

Voila. Another reason for a sequel. I need to get about a thousand more readers so that the sequel can hit the Amazon running. Or swimming. In a boat. Beware the piranhas. Oh, never mind. It’s a website.


(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.

(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).



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