The Fog of Doom Descends

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, January 12, 2018, 10:37 a.m.

I have started to confront the possibility that the world has passed me by.

I am losing touch.

By Monte Dutton

When I write about high-school sports, it makes perfectly good sense that I don’t understand the kids. Their music. Their clothes. Their tastes. Hell, I remember when the first pizza parlor came to town. I remember when every Braves game magically became accessible via the Superstation. I remember when we all sat in the porch swing at my grandparents’ house, watching all the people go by on the way back from town.

In the unlikely event that someone under forty is reading this, I’m satisfied he or she is chuckling.

I try, of course, to stay in touch with all the changes. It reminds me of what a colleague said when a race-car driver complained that he couldn’t possibly write about what it was like to race a stock car because he’d never done it.

The eclipse.

He replied that he’d never died, but that didn’t stop him from writing obituaries. Life is one long obituary.

In conversations, I’m constantly realizing that I’m talking about someone of whom none of the young folks has ever heard. I just rearranged that sentence to prevent it from ending with a preposition.

Nowadays, it’s not a problem.

I have devoted most of my life to writing for people who, more and more, don’t read. I keep on writing because it’s all I know how to do. More and more people write, and less and less people read. This creates a fundamental problem in market economics. It’s not exactly a boost to self-esteem, either.

The place this is most evident is right here in my hometown. Few read my books. Few care to listen to my music. I have no social life other than hanging out in stores and at ballgames. I think I’ve become something of an eccentric. They won’t love me till I’m gone.

The main reason anyone reads these blogs is when, by little more than coincidence, someone important tells them, via retweet rather than word of mouth (because hardly anyone talks anymore), that it’s worth reading. Over the weekend, thousands read a blog about Dale Earnhardt, principally because Dale Earnhardt Jr. retweeted it. During the same period, nineteen people stopped following me on Twitter.

I appreciated Junior’s endorsement, but ultimately, it just called attention to the problem.

Why would anyone pay for writing when so much of it is free?

Nothing. Ever. Works.

That’s my problem. Resistance is futile. Still, I persevere, knowing full well that the dwindling number of people who think I’m good at what I do are still worth serving.

I’m not giving up. I’m just resigned to relative failure.

Depressed? Not clinically. I’m depressed for a damned good reason. Changing times are putting me out of business. It’s not just being a writer. It’s not just living in a small town. The world is changing too fast for many people to keep up. We’re always behind the curve. The money has been made before we get there.

My training is in the description of what already happened. I didn’t major in prophecy.

If my pessimism hasn’t yet freaked you out, please consider becoming a patron of my work here.

In the off chance that you’d be up to reading my books, click here.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

 

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Dreeeeeam, Dream, Dream, Dreeeam …

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, December 9, 2017, 9:20 a.m.

It’s been a week of boring days and exciting nights. I’ve spent most of my waking time proofing an audio version of my year-old novel, Cowboys Come Home, and there hasn’t been much sleeping time because my mind has been occupied with the financial difficulties that always seem to mark the holidays. I’ve tossed and tumbled and had what sleep there was marred by vivid dreams. In contented times, I don’t dream at all.

By Monte Dutton

Vivid though they may be, I don’t remember the dreams for long. Last night one was about playing golf and repeatedly screwing up this 3-wood – back when I played the game futilely, that fairway wood was my best club, meaning that it was most peope’s worst – on a long, narrow hole that was uphill and bordered on both sides by thick woods. A lot of the shots were good, but the imaginary hole – surely it was the thirteenth — required perfection, and perfection I could not muster.

From left, me, Robert Earl Keen and David Poole.

The other involved hanging out in the Texas Motor Speedway infield with the great singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen Jr. Even though it was in the infield of a NASCAR track, racing didn’t seem to have anything to do with it. I once interviewed Keen for a book, True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed, and he played a prerace concert at that speedway, during which I had a picture taken with my old friend David Poole, now deceased, with Keen performing in the background.

We had all sorts of interesting conversations, Keen and I, and then I wondered over to a stage, thinking his show must have started, but when I got there, and after listening to several songs, I realized the guy on the stage wasn’t he.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

One of the first songs I learned to play on guitar was Keen’s “Corpus Christi Bay,” but when I awakened, the words to another song, Steve Earles’ “Tom Ames’ Prayer,” were running through my mind.

And you know I ain’t never prayed before / But it always seemed to me / If prayin’ is the same as beggin’ Lord / I don’t take no charity

I won’t want charity, either. Buying my books is, at least, a respectable form because you’ll get something out of them.

(Steven Novak cover)

Now I’ve got to get back to that audio book. Four chapters to go. An audio book is boring if you’re the author and it lasts nine hours and 23 seconds. This week I hoped to finish my next and eighth novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which won’t get its italics until it’s available for purchase, but those audio chapters arrived from my narrator, and the novel shifted to the back burner one more time.

Next I’m going to fix breakfast, try to finish proofing that audio book, watch some football, and go buy a Powerball ticket, because it seems right now that the odds of winning that are about the same as one of my novels making it big.

Writing is what I do, and it’s all I can do well at this stage of life, even though reading, and NASCAR, and everything else, have gone out of style.

This Too Will Pass … Or It Won’t

Clayton Kershaw. (Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, October 26, 2017, 11:03 a.m.

It was 100 degrees in Los Angeles for the first game of the World Series. The president is Donald Trump. A hurricane hit Ireland. Puerto Rico is still an American wasteland a month after Maria. I thought, oddly, about an old pop song.

Take a letter, Maria / Address it to my wife / Say I won’t be coming home / Gotta start a new life.

By Monte Dutton

Okay. So it’s not a precise match.

Did I mention the president is Donald Trump?

These times are affecting me. Last night the World Series game was a classic. Half of it I spent watching the news on other channels. Until recently, that would have been unthinkable. Until recently, I could depend on hell waiting ten minutes before it broke out.

Funny thing is, most of the constant motion is Trump running in place. Or tweeting in place.

I go about my business in grim resignation. I don’t think it’s going to get better any time soon. Genghis Don got elected. He’s in cahoots with Attila the Russian.

My Republican friends have gone soft on Russia. I never saw that coming. They engage in whataboutistry. Hillary did it too! They ignore all the facts that matter and ignore the ones that don’t. They have the permission of Kellyanne Conway to believe “alternative facts.”

I write. It’s all I know to do. I keep my head down. I try to stay out of trouble on Facebook by holding it down to a few comments a day. Sometimes I can’t help it. I like Twitter better because it doesn’t provide as much room for meanness.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.
(Steven Novak cover)

I’m winding down the next novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I’m rewriting the ending to account for current events. I spent the first half of the year writing two fun, funny, irreverent, first-person novels about stock car racing. I sat Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell aside for them. Now I’ve edited, pared down, and proofread the first 39 chapters, and they’re ready to go. I’ve just got to finish the ending. It’s mapped out in my outline and clear in my mind. It’s a matter of doing it, and I’m saddling up my writing horse to gallop into Chapter 45 as soon as this blog comes to a stopping point.

Meanwhile, down the line, I’m pondering a baseball novel. Maybe a few more baseball fans still read more than 140 characters at a time.

Okay, that’s the stopping point. It’s the best I can do at the moment.

 

 

(Gabe Whisnant photo)

Most of my books — non-fiction on NASCAR and music, collections that include my contributions, seven novels, and one short-story collection — are available here.

Las Vegas from Back Here

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, October 2, 2017, 12:48 p.m.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a large-scale music festival. Thanks to friends in Texas, I’ve been to lots of small-scale music festivals, but, mostly, I’ve watched favorite musicians, barely known to most of my friends, at auditoriums, converted movie theaters, and the like. I don’t even go to large-scale sporting events much. I’m happy as a clam – a phrase John Prine turned – watching the Presbyterian Blue Hose or Furman Paladins play on Saturdays.

By Monte Dutton

TV is just fine for the Clemson Tigers.

But who hasn’t tried to put himself (or herself) in the souls of the music fans, packed into an open area, watching the act he’s been waiting to see for three days – the purpose of the whole trip! – and then finding himself in the middle of a horror movie?

It’s common for me to fall asleep with the TV on. This morning I awakened at 4:30, just enough to realize the TV was still on, and, as I reached for the remote control in the flickering light, I heard a description of a mass shooting in Las Vegas. For a moment, I thought it was a movie. At 4:30, the crawl read that there were least three dead and 20-plus wounded. I left the TV on and spent the next three hours, half awake and half asleep, embellishing the sound from the TV with small, fantastic creations of my mind.

I’ve stayed at least twice at the Mandalay Bay during trips to Vegas for stock car races. I was at the Luxor one year, too. I know the area.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

 

I got up, went to the bathroom, put on some coffee, went back to the bathroom for a different call, got the coffee, walked into the den, and turned the TV on. Forty-plus dead. Two-hundred-plus injured. I couldn’t just sit there. I shaved and took a shower. I drove uptown for breakfast.

“How yew, hun?”

“Sorry. We’re not open.”

“You don’t serve breakfast anymore?”

“Not until Tuesday.”

“Oh.”

I went through the McDonald’s drive-through. In front of me was a van with a ladder on top. The back was covered with bumper stickers.

InfoWars.com (some slogan under it that escapes me now).

Trump.

NRA.

Don’t Tread on Me.

Armed and Loaded.

I wanted to know who that was. I was trying to see his face through the side mirrors on the van. Then I saw a sticker identifying the van as being licensed by the City of Newberry, so I realized it wasn’t likely anyone I knew.

I don’t begrudge anyone his or her beliefs. If there’s anything I begrudge, it’s people who denigrate those who disagree with them. At that moment, though, I was angry. Events were rising up in my chest like heartburn. I guess I wanted the guy to climb out and rip all his decals off. That was unreasonable. So was I. No reason was anywhere.

I listened to satellite radio on the way to the grocery store. Thirty-plus dead. Three-hundred-plus injured.

Nowhere does my extroversion occur as naturally as in a store. I chat with people I don’t know. I wink at their babies. I recommend the chicken salad. On this trip, I didn’t say a word to anyone. I pushed the cart and put things in it. The only decision I recall making was to give the pumpkin spice bagels a try. I bought bagels because all I could remember being in my refrigerator were two tubs of cream cheese.

I got back home and put the groceries away. At least 58 dead. Five-hundred-plus injured.

 

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise). Or, just drop me a line and you can pay through PayPal.

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

I’ve written seven 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.

Life Gets Complicated follows Barrie Jarman as he moves up to FASCAR’s premier series. He and Angela Hughston face discrimination for their interracial love affair, and Barrie has to surmount unexpected obstacles that test his resolve.

(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).

Write me at hutdut@duttonm@bellsouth.net or “message” me through social media.

Among What Is Small by Comparison

 

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Somehow I spent most of two days working on a stock car racing story.

By Monte Dutton

Oh, I cut the grass the first day. Yesterday I shipped off some copies of my new racing novel, Life Gets Complicated. I wrote a regular column for a website. Okay, two stock car racing stories. And two stock car racing novels this year.

In a way, I’m back in business.

At the moment, a huge chunk of Texas is underwater, so it ill behooves anyone else to complain.

I’m glad to be high and dry, though I am concerned about the forecast for high school football Friday night. So dire is the situation in Texas that high school football is the least of worries there. That’s unusual as I have attended several games there, but these are desperate times.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

I thought briefly about going to a watering hole and ordering a Harvey Wallbanger. Only briefly. I’m not sure what a Harvey Wallbanger is, but I have access to the Internet.

It’s made with vodka, Galliano, and orange juice. What is Galliano?

It’s a sweet, herbal liqueur. Okay.

I think I’ll stick with a mug of coffee.

The beginning of this blog, by the way, was an exercise in waiting for a phone call.

Modern problems. They’re waiting for waters to crest on Buffalo Bayou, and I’m fretting about getting my mother’s lawn mowed before rain hits here tonight. I’m worried that a high school game scheduled for Friday might be played on Saturday, when I’ve got a book signing in Spartanburg.

Did I mention I have a book signing? It’s on Facebook, just like everything else that’s on Twitter.

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise). Or, just drop me a line and you can pay through PayPal.

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

I’ve written seven 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.

Life Gets Complicated follows Barrie Jarman as he moves up to FASCAR’s premier series. He and Angela Hughston face discrimination for their interracial love affair, and Barrie has to surmount unexpected obstacles that test his resolve.

(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).

Write me at hutdut@duttonm@bellsouth.net or “message” me through social media.

 

Apparently the Eclipse Zapped Me

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, August 25, 2017, 11:23 a.m.

This week has been a strange one. I think I may have been zapped by the eclipse.

By Monte Dutton

My new novel – and first sequel – is out. I have a book signing in Spartanburg on September 2 at Hub City Bookshop (3 p.m.). The week has been spent the way all weeks are when a new book is out. It’s sporadic, and slow, and unfulfilling. Writing a novel is exciting. Selling it is burdensome.

Everything is slow, most notably money. To paraphrase the late Henny Youngman, buy my novel. Please!

My glands are swollen. Earlier this week, it was on my left side. Now it’s the right. I didn’t feel badly until last night. I’m better this morning. Tonight I’ll be writing about the annual high school football rivalry between Clinton and Laurens. This game is nothing special elsewhere. Locally, it’s roughly as important as the aforementioned eclipse. What separates Clinton-Laurens from the eclipse is that Clinton-Laurens happens every year. The grass needs cutting. Bills need paying. I’m on autopilot. I like it better when I have something to do with the steering of my life.

Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton. As soon as the shipment arrives, so too will Life Gets Complicated.

Last night Cleveland pummeled the Red Sox unmercifully, but the Yankees lost in Detroit, so the AL East lead is still 4-1/2 games as Boston heads home to meet the Orioles at Fenway Park. I’ll be at K.C. Hanna Stadium. That’s where the Laurens Raiders play the Clinton Red Devils. I was once a Red Devil, a mere 42 years ago.

(Steven Novak cover design)

The NASCAR circuit, my home for 20 years, is idle this week. Without racing to watch, I hope NASCAR fans will have time to read, preferably my two novels on the sport, Lightning in a Bottle, which was published this spring, and Life Gets Complicated, which was published this week.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Life Gets Complicated could easily be the title of this week, but the novel is far more interesting. Obviously.

I’ve been writing an original short story about Barrie Jarman, the hero of the two racing novels, for a collection of short stories that will be offered for free in the fall.

Then there’s the next novel, which has been as slow as Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated were fast. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell won’t get italics until it is finished and published. It’s about to get a new ending. Things changed. The real world changed. My fiction changed with the election of Donald J. Trump. It changed so much that I wrote two sports novels while pondering the ramifications.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

This is a time of many thoughts, few of them coherent. I’m trying to find an ending to a novel that makes sense in the context of current events. I’ve got to get it done. A cover is being designed. An excerpt is soon to be published in the same collection noted above.

At the moment, I’m incapable of writing anything more interesting than this. I’m biding my time by spinning my wheels. An old song comes to mind:

Gimme a beer or two and I’ll be fine / At least it worked every other time / I’m a rodeo-deo-deo cowboy / Bordering on the insane.

Hah. I haven’t had a beer in months. I can’t remember the last one. Soon there will be parking lots outside of football stadiums before and after games that I am not covering. The life of a writer is solitary. He’s got to get out, though, so that he can find fuel for his writing to burn.

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, 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 seven 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.

Life Gets Complicated follows Barrie Jarman as he moves up to FASCAR’s premier series. He and Angela Hughston face discrimination for their interracial love affair, and Barrie has to surmount unexpected obstacles that test his resolve.

(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, a New Novel … Jerry Lewis … a Total Eclipse … Just Another Week

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, August 20, 2017, 5:40 p.m.

What a week.

By Monte Dutton

My new novel, Life Gets Complicated, is out, weeks ahead of expectations. The 2016 western, Cowboys Come Home, joins Lightning in a Bottle in audio production, meaning that you will soon be able to listen to those two novels while driving your car, or doing yardwork, or … possibilities are almost endless.

Life Gets Complicated, a sequel to Lightning in a Bottle, gets released in conjunction with a total eclipse of the sun. I’ll be strolling downtown to cover the eclipse from the public square in town. The print version is out at the CreateSpace online store now. It will probably be about a week until I get some copies delivered. It’s available in Kindle on Amazon.

Here’s the CreateSpace link: https://www.createspace.com/7475752

Here’s the Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Life-Complicated-Barrie-Jarman-Adventures-ebook/dp/B074YN5FC2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Jerry Lewis died. I met him once. A friend and I were waiting to be seated at a Las Vegas restaurant. A photo of Lewis was on display. I pointed this out, and my friend thought I was talking about Jerry Lee Lewis. I was explaining the difference, and, to demonstrate, I imitated the comedian.

Hey, laaadyyyy!

I looked up, and he was standing about five feet away. He made a funny face and wiggled his fingers as he waved at us. Then we shook hands. I was so taken aback that I never thought to ask for an autograph or pose for a photo.

It was a while back, before everyone had a cell phone for such duties.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 10:35 a.m.

A few observations regarding the total eclipse of the sun.

Had circumstances been different, my view, literally and figuratively, would have been different. I “covered” the eclipse. It went right overhead. I wouldn’t have felt any particular desire to go anywhere beyond my front yard. When asked if I wanted to write about the local celebration, I said, sure. It’s what a free-lance writer does. Otherwise, I might have mowed the lawn during the eclipse. I told my mother that on the phone last night, and she said the neighbors would have thought I was crazy. I replied that I didn’t mind it if they thought I was crazy.

But … fate intervened. Fortunately.

The wonder of the eclipse was just as significant in watching the people watch as it was watching the eclipse itself. I would not have appreciated it fully had I experienced it in solitude.

The local celebration, Total Eclipse on the Rails, was scheduled for 1-5 p.m. The eclipse occurred in all its glory at 2:41. I drove uptown at about noon, and, since I know what happens when the square is blocked off, I expertly drove several side streets so that I could reach an area only one block away. There I parallel-parked my truck rather well, I thought, and killed an hour talking in the air-conditioned bonhomie of L&L Office Supply, which is a hangout of mine on those rare occasions when I hang out.

I took my camera, a notepad, two pens, and the fold-out seat I normally use only at athletic events. I got parched. The actual eclipse gave me a brief, mild headache. I chatted with many attendees, fascinated by the sudden convergence of some people from thousands of miles away to this simple town.

It was perfect. It was big but not too big. Clinton didn’t make a big deal out of drawing tourists, but it did provide a wonderful experience for those who showed up because they found the town on a map and didn’t want to go through the hassle of Greenville, Columbia, and other larger cities.

Mayor Bob McLean greets visitors. The mayor is the one without the tinfoil hat.

They had food tents, a high-definition TV screen, on-site coverage from the local radio station, and old-time rhythm and blues, a.k.a. “beach music” in these parts.

Most people drifted away after the skies brightened again, and there was a collective realization that it was hot as hell. I had several errands to run, and I was happy to get back home, where I drank about a quart of ice water and went to work writing.

Here’s what I wrote for the county website: http://golaurens.com/news/item/27416

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, 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 seven 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).