Don’t Ask; I’m About to Tell

(Steven Novak cover)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, March 24, 2018, 4:46 p.m.

Surprise, surprise.

I awakened this morning to discover that a close friend’s edit of my next novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, had arrived via email.

(Steven Novak cover)

Last night I arrived home from a free-lance assignment to discover that my stock car racing novel, Lightning in a Bottle, is freshly on sale in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes).

My life is in a discovery phase.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a project I’ve been working on for nearly a year and a half. I wrote a first draft. Then, in a burst of inspiration, I set it aside to write two short novels about stock car racing, Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated. I never stopped chipping away at Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. While writing the other two, I was editing down the manuscript. By late fall of last year, I had shaved about 15,000 words out. Then I decided to do away with the ending and write a new one. The base was thoroughly self-edited, far more thoroughly than any of my previous novels. I wrote the new ending, which, by the way, at this moment, is “ripped from the headlines.”

This may be fleeting. Headlines are changing rapidly in America.

By Monte Dutton

I’m glad that my editor likes it. It’s hard to be objective. Of course, I like my novel. I wrote it. I certainly didn’t write a bad novel on purpose. The racing novels were short, fun, funny, simple, and, relatively speaking, easy. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is organizationally complex. It’s ambitious, controversial, and far away from its beginning at its end.

Here are some excerpts from my editor’s remarks at the end:

Hell, this thing’s got the makings of a big book!

I figured it would be a good read on the current sorry state of journalism, but I really didn’t expect it to fly off on the particular tack you took. …

Brilliant! You mashed every hot button out there! Dope! Crooked politics! Implied hot sex! Football! …

Seriously. This is a helluva book. If it manages to get out, it may be your best seller yet. It tags a lot of bases. …

Yes. I took him up on his offer of a blurb.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is about a group of not particularly significant people who unwittingly get themselves involved in what becomes first a national and then an international conspiracy. They gradually realize what serious trouble they are in. Some don’t realize it until they’re in it.

The story grows and grows, and, by the end, it involves police, drug dealers, politicians, image makers, businessmen, a newly elected president, his attorney general, and operatives of the Russian Federation.

I don’t where I came up with all this.

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which are available for sale here.

Join me live on Facebook after most NASCAR races. I’ll play songs, shill my writing, and engage in a discussion about the race and whatever else you’d like to ask. It’ll start a few minutes after TV network coverage ends.



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