Different Except for the Same

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, July 28, 2017, 11:01 a.m.

By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)

As I have recently realized, my novels have some recurring incidences, and several incidents. Over the course of writing six novels and dozens of short stories, my protagonists have characteristics I applied to more than one. I didn’t really realize the extent until I started hyping all my novels by posting short excerpts on social media.

Riley Mansfield (The Audacity of Dope), Frankie Hoskins (The Intangibles) and Barrie Jarman (Lightning in a Bottle) all have troubled relationships with their fathers.

(Monte Dutton sketches)

Illegal drug use is a subplot in The Audacity of Dope, The Intangibles, Crazy of Natural Causes, Forgive Us Our Trespasses and Lightning in a Bottle. Political corruption is in place in The Audacity of Dope, Forgive Us Our Trespasses and Cowboys Come Home. Crazy of Natural Causes, Forgive Us Our Trespasses and Lightning in a Bottle include gay characters in secondary roles.

Sports plays a major role in The Intangibles, Crazy of Natural Causes and Lightning in a Bottle. Mansfield, Chance Benford (Crazy of Natural Causes), Denny Frawley and Hal Kinley (both in Forgive Us Our Trespasses) are former athletes. Benford is a coach, as are Reese Knighton and Willie Spurgeon in The Intangibles. Since I’ve spent most of my career as a sportswriter, this is only natural. I expect I know what makes athletes tick better than most.

Mansfield, Joey Leverette (The Intangibles), Zeke Runnels (Crazy of Natural Causes) and Barrie Jarman (Lightning in a Bottle) all play guitar, as do I.

They all have love stories, crime, suspense and humor. The Intangibles, set mostly in 1968, and Cowboys Come Home (1946) are historical novels. Religion plays a prominent role in The Intangibles and Crazy of Natural Causes. The most menacing villain in The Audacity of Dope is a murderous religious fanatic. Politics is involved in The Audacity of Dope, Forgive Us Our Trespasses and Cowboys Come Home.

Racial interaction is a crucial factor in The Intangibles, Forgive Us Our Trespasses and Lightning in a Bottle.

All my heroes are flawed. They are independent, eccentric and unmoved by convention. The dialogue is frank and often profane. As I inhabit these characters, they speak the way I imagine.

I neither aspire to nor feel capable of doing it any other way. I’ve written thrillers, adventures, love stories, sports stories, and a western. Lightning in a Bottle will have a sequel, which will be my first. Barrie Jarman is the first character who instilled in me a desire to write more.

 

(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).

On Truth in Relation to Fiction

There’s a chapter in there. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, July 13, 2017, 10:27 a.m.

When I was a boy, my grandmother used to say, when a thunderstorm approached, that it was about to “come up a cloud.”

My lawn needs mowing. I’m going to do so if it doesn’t come up a cloud.

By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)

I’m also going to write fiction today if it doesn’t come up a cloud. Preferably, I’d like to write it, and finish the chapter I started yesterday, first. I know where the chapter’s going. As for this blog, I can’t say.

Fate slowed my start. The old Willie Nelson/Kris Kristofferson movie Songwriter was on.

I really need baseball games to be back. The Red Sox don’t play again until tomorrow night. They’re playing the Yankees at Fenway. If I still wrote about stock car racing for a living, I’d be in New England right now, or, to be more accurate, I’d be catching a plane, or in a Philly layover. Missing that is no longer prominent in my mind. I left the NASCAR circus, and vice-versa, at the end of 2012. I’ve spent two weekends at a race track, the same one, in all the years since.

In all the years since, there hasn’t been a New Hampshire race with the Yankees in Fenway. And the Red Sox up by 3-1/2 games. I’m a tad wistful. It’s “Gentle on My Mind,” but “it’s not clinging to the rocks and ivy planted on their columns now that bind me.”

Another reason baseball should start again is that it keeps my mind off the news. The news is always a mixed blessing. Now it’s not a blessing at all. As my father would say, had he lasted within two decades of seeing this, “If that don’t beat all ever I seen …”

(The sayings repeated in this blog offer great insight into the dialogue of my novels.)

Truth is stranger than fiction. No hyperbole resides in this. Truth is stranger than it has ever been in regard to fiction. Times have been worse but never stranger. My previous outlandish novels get less so all the time. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad.

Life is revealed in Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings lines, most likely these written by Ed and Patsy Bruce: Them that don’t know him don’t like him, and them that do sometimes don’t know how to take him / He ain’t wrong, he’s just different, and his pride won’t let him do things that make you think he’s right.

The Battle of Britain just ended. Had I switched the channel, Columbo would still have a few minutes left.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Now it’s up, up, and away to fiction, or down to the seat of a lawn tractor.

 

 

(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).

Relative Originality

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 12:15 p.m.

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ / Though the streams are swollen / Keep them dogies rollin’ / Rawhide! / Through rain, wind and weather / Hellbent for leather / Wishin’ my gal was by my side / All the things I’m missin’ / Good vittles, love and kissin’ / Are waiting at the end of my ride …

By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)

Oh, I feel this way. Not because I’ve been on a cattle drive.

Writin’, writin’, writin’ / Mind is struck by lightnin’ / Mental fish are bitin’ / Push on! / Dirty clothes are waitin’ / Outline needs updatin’ / A chapter is formattin’ in my soul / Some of it needs cuttin’ / Written down for nuttin’ / No one will ever know but I …

Another novel is racing toward conclusion. Twenty chapters down. Nearly fifty thousand words. A hundred eighty-nine pages. My mind is ahead of my fingers. The rest of it is now all wrapped up. I just have to write it. That’s why I’m going so fast. The outline is only so useful. I’ve got to get it down while it’s fresh, and then I’ll start over, but I don’t think an edit will take long.

Another project is in the editing stage. I’m not sure which will be published first.

I was thinking about this yesterday. Writing is an art. Editing is a craft. Writing is like painting a picture. Editing is like building a model airplane.

It’s entirely possible that this works only for me. It’s doubtful, though. The world has too many people in it. The odds of originality are long. The best to which one can aspire is personal originality. Someone else did this, but I didn’t know about it.

Sometimes I post on social media, and someone replies, “Is this yours?”

Best I know, sir. If someone else said it to my knowledge, I stick his or her name next to 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).

The Writing Man Can’t Get Nowhere Today

This is why I don’t design my own covers. I drew this up trying to sum up the characters. (Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, June 24, 2017, 1:39 p.m.

This has been a troubling week. It’s better than, oh, a disastrous week.

It’s had its good points.

By Monte Dutton

My latest novel, Lightning in a Bottle, is getting rave reviews and middling sales. So far, 10 readers have reviewed it on Amazon, and it’s gotten nine “five stars” and one four. They absurdly seem to think it’s as good as I do. It may seem vain, but, of course, an author loves his own work. As I’ve said, regarding journalism, nobody writes shit on purpose. What’s gratifying is seeing that others like it.

No one likes to seem delusional.

It’s been a good week for writing, which is a shelter from figurative thunderstorms. I just had one bad day. I think it was Tuesday. On Tuesday, I wasted lots of time staring at the screen.

It happens. Sometimes thoughts have to gather and coalesce before it’s possible to advance and progress. I have developed some intuition about reaching a level of comfort in a subject before deeming it time to write it. It’s been, oh, seventeen years since I stumbled upon what I call “mulling time.”

I was writing a NASCAR book, and I had been compiling information all season long, as I hopped, skipped, and jumped (via my vehicle, rental vehicles and airplanes) across the country for parts of ten months. At season’s end, after Thanksgiving, I had my notes assembled and was ready to write. In order to get the book out quickly, I had to abide by a tight deadline schedule, one that involved writing an average of a chapter and a half a day. As a daily-newspaper journalist, I thought that would be a snap. What I discovered was that the book required as much “mulling time” as writing time. I had to think about how I was going to go about each chapter, and get that method settled in my mind.

It was the closest I ever came to a nervous breakdown and the beginning of my intuition regarding the role of “mulling time” in the process.

All in all, the week was satisfactory. I’ve been editing one manuscript and writing another.

But:

My knee is bothering me. The arthritis has been acting up. I’m getting around, but it hurts.

I haven’t been reading as much as I should. I haven’t been playing guitar as much as I should. I haven’t completed any sketches in months. I haven’t been “getting out,” partly because it’s a barren time for free-lance writing, though I had an enjoyable return to NASCAR in May.

Jerry Jeff Walker (Monte Dutton photo)

Jerry Jeff Walker wrote:

Getting by on getting by’s my stock in trade / Livin’ it day to day / Pickin’ up the pieces wherever they fall / Just lettin’ it roll / Lettin’ the high times carry the low / Just living my life / Easy come, easy go.

That’s pretty much it.

What hangs over me is the prospect of life without health care. I’ve been paying close attention at what the Republicans are doing, and for me to have more of a target on my back, I’d have to get some stencils and red paint.

Lots of people criticize Obamacare, but it’s been a godsend for me. If anything close to what is currently proposed goes through, and is signed by President Trump, then, (a.) my rates are going to at least double; (b.) I will be eligible for tax credits that I will not be able to use because I cannot pay the premiums; (c.) allowing my coverage to lapse will make it even harder to regain it because missing as little as a month will allow companies to charge me even higher rates.

Republicans speak as if the phrase “higher deductibles” belongs in The Ten Commandments. That’s because there are actually some of them who can afford to pay higher deductibles.

Mixed messages. (Monte Dutton photo)

An extensive body of work suggests that no one is going to hire me. Since the Gaston Gazette eliminated my job, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to claim that I have applied for a hundred jobs. For exactly two have I been interviewed. None of these applications was for executive editor of Sports Illustrated. I’ve applied for jobs I was so overqualified for that it embarrassed those doing the hiring. One of the interviews was, as it turned out, for a part-time job I took that didn’t last but a few months of the year that had been, well, not quite promised, but assured.

Ah, those fellows in the business office. They’re forcing us to cut back. I hate it.

In spite of my liberal arts education, I have reached the point of age and health where all I can really do is what I do best.

Write. Every day. Every way.

AMAZON CUSTOMER RATINGS

FICTION BY MONTE DUTTON

SCALE OF 1-5

Lightning in a Bottle        4.9

Cowboys Come Home	   4.7

The Intangibles                 4.7

The Audacity of Dope		    4.7

Crazy of Natural Causes	 4.2

Forgive Us Our Trespasses*	        3.7

*Biggest seller to date

Now I need you folks to read. Give my books a try. There’s a heap of them. Take one or two or five to the beach. Download them to your phone. The novels range in price from $2.99 to $4.99. The latest, the aforementioned Lightning in a Bottle, is $3.99 for your Kindle app and $16.95 for your coffee table.

I wrote the book. Now I need the lightning.

With that shameful plea hanging, the best way I know to make more money on books is to write more of them.

You may see me on a street corner, playing my guitar, passing a cowboy hat, and leaning a sign against a lamp pole that reads:

WILL WRITE FOR HEALTH CARE

 

(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).

 

 

Around the Track in Eighty Days

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, April 3, 2017, 9:26 a.m.

What a weekend.

A new novel, Lightning in a Bottle, is out. Brad Keselowski won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (just remember, MENCS) race in Martinsville, Virginia. The University of South Carolina won the women’s basketball national championship.

By Monte Dutton

The Boston Red Sox open today at Fenway against the Pittsburgh Pirates. I’ll be glued to the set. For now, let’s get to the heart of the matter.

This novel is crucial to my career. I need a hit. It doesn’t have to go platinum. A gold record would be super.

On the one hand, no recent racing novels have been notably successful. On the other, there haven’t been many. I’m betting on a modest market arising out of the void. On the one hand, racing fans are not generally correlated positively with readers of fiction. On the other, a high percentage of those who follow my writing are racing fans. Do they love racing enough to read fiction about it? Some do. I need many.

I am a racing fan and have been for almost my entire life. I spent a mere twenty years traveling around the country writing about it. It is generally acknowledged as my field of expertise. Writings about it have generated most of my awards. Undoubtedly, someone will read my novel and exclaim that I don’t know what I’m talking about. I doubt I’ve ever written anything about racing where no one said that.

I am sick and tired of reading racing stories by people who don’t know anything about it.

I’ve written on site about more than 500 races, sir.

Oh.

 

DoverPocono 035
(Monte Dutton photo)

After four years watching on TV and writing about stock car racing from a distance, I started missing it during the past offseason. For the first time, I had a desire to go back. I offered my services. A few people wrote me that they “had something in mind.” Apparently, it’s still there.

 

I spent a lot of time in the winter thinking about racing. This isn’t unusual. Race fans pine for the roar of engines like a hunter for his best bird dog.

Racing changed a lot from 1993, when I first started writing about it full-time, and the beginning of 2013, when my job of 16-1/2 years’ duration was eliminated by corporate management. I thought about what was great about back then and what is awful about now and started thinking about a reasonable conciliation of the generations.

Racing needs a brash, bright, brilliant kid who came up the hard way. The racing fan base is growing older. The sport needs someone to bring back the young fans. Jimmy Buffett sang about “a hot Roman candle from the Texas panhandle,” but he meant a country singer. My racer is a rare bird from Spartanburg. Sorry. If I’d been worried about rhymes, I’d have put him in Calabash.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Barrie Jarman showed up. I don’t know where I got the name. He just introduced himself to me while I was trying to get some sleep. I got out of bed that January morning bolt upright. I cleared the few cobwebs with the rudimentary chores of preparing the coffeemaker to make coffee, then sat down at this laptop and wrote the Prologue of what was not then but became Lightning in a Bottle.

Then I headed off on a weekend road trip and got back to work on it when I returned. The Prologue was a product of January 15. Publication, hastened by doing it myself, was a product of March 28. I wrote a draft, worked my way back through it, decided miraculously that it was ready, sent it to a friend to edit a little and proofread, worked with an artist on a cover design, laid out the interior, and, as amazing as this seems, completed it. What’s amazing is that it’s possible, not that I managed to do it.

It’s 240 pages. A quick read. Written conversationally through the eyes of Uncle Charlie.

By the way, I sat aside nearly 90,000 words on a novel that could not be more different. Now I shall return there, once I get some boring requirements of contemporary life completed. I’m not ready, anyway. I’ve got to wrap my mind back around the serpentine tale I left unfinished.

And sell the hell out of the one I’ve got out now.

 

(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.

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).

 

 

The Rush to Fiction

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, March 18, 2017, 10:25 a.m.

It’s been a lovely cruise, this week. Other than a couple cold nights at athletic fields, it was mainly noteworthy for what I am doing now, which is typing in various directions.

This wasn’t nose-to-the-grindstone typing, in part because I own no grindstones, but also because the writing was interspersed by reading, watching, and playing (guitar). I must catch up on my thinking before I rashly advance. Lord knows, as my grandmother used to say, you can’t rush it.

By Monte Dutton

This one — this manuscript of fiction I just shipped electronically to my trusty proofreader, editor, font of wisdom, and onetime running mate – was a rush. It gave me a rush. I awakened one morning with the story in my head, and it had to get out!

I was a little panicky that 6 a.m., because there are times when nighttime dreams and visions do not linger much longer than my need to use the facilities. Allowing only for this bodily need, I pressed the power button on the electronic collector, and wrote 1,118 words – then the “Introduction,” now the “Prologue,” on account of I called the one at the end the “Epilogue” – because I feared losing them if they were not promptly recorded.

That was this year. I couldn’t sleep because I was down in a half-dozen different ways. Trump was about to become president. Okay. A dozen different ways.

I wrote a novel in two months. This is the first time I did it in two, not three, drafts. I think it’s ready. I felt it was progressing nicely all along the way. Maybe it’s because it’s shorter. Maybe that makes it simpler. Maybe it was that I had that sleepless night tucked away.

Writing fiction requires a certain force of will. Write what you mean. Don’t worry what people think. Have your characters talk like people talk. Be brave enough to depict the truth as you see it. Damn the torpedos! Full steam ahead! It’s coming off the coffee.

By the way, I set nearly 90,000 words aside to feed this Lightning in a Bottle (its title). Once this leapfrog has been tucked away in its shoebox – in the literal form of a finished manuscript, a cover, and publication – I’ll return to those nearly 90,000 words and revisit the concoction of an ending.

Writing becomes increasingly exciting as I age. I can experience untold adventures as I sit on my ass with an old movie on.

cowboyshome_fullcvr343-page-001

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Cowboys Come Home, 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 five 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.

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

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

My new novel is a western, Cowboys Come Home. 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).