Kids Don’t Make Me Feel Young, but I Remember What It Was Like

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 9:59 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

The day was, in hindsight, just what I needed.

I didn’t sleep well Monday night. I dreamed vividly. It was one of those long, drawn-out visions of frustration. I couldn’t shake it when I went to bed. It continued vividly through the night.

Fortunately, Tuesday was a day I got out. I had a free-lance assignment at city hall, which here is called the M.S. Bailey Municipal Center. The subject was recreation. My idea of recreation these days is going to a meeting.

I came home and wrote the story. Then I wrote some more. It’s a common pattern for a writer.

In the late afternoon, I drove over to Clinton Middle School for a tennis match. Red Devils are habitually good at tennis. This has been a tennis town as long as I can remember. The Clinton High School team hasn’t lost a region match, and by that I include individual matches, this season. I took lots of pictures. I had to be quick for a slow man. By the time I got from one end of the courts to the other, it was all but over. Clinton 6, Newberry 0. Number one doubles wasn’t required.

I mostly chatted with the coach, Clovis Simmons, but it was enough of an interview to fill the needs of a story.

When describing events that overlap, I’m not as comprehensive. I drove from the middle school, where the courts are, to Clinton High School, where the softball park is. Chapman won that game, 6-2. It was tied until the sixth inning. The Lady Red Devils played well; they just got beaten. It happens.

It was Senior Night. Taped farewell messages from each player to their sport, their teammates, their parents and their school blared over the P.A. before the game. The girls got flowers. Even the Panthers’ fans liked them.

I didn’t keep score. I just scribbled notes and asked the lady who kept the book a few questions. The stories were short. I had two of them to write, three if you count a little roundup of other spring sports, which I don’t.

I talked to a lot of people, not for the stories but just making conversation. Tennis players. Fans. Parents. Coaches of other sports. Sometimes someone makes a comment that winds up in a novel. Fiction is a way to change the names to protect the innocent. The character I make up probably isn’t much like the kid who just got through playing doubles. In a different circumstance, though, he might say the same thing. It helps to gain a little insight about what makes people 42 years younger tick. How they interact. Kids have changed a lot, but not as much as you’d think.

When I left the ballpark, my phone informed me the Red Sox were leading the Yankees, 5-0. I thought to myself, by the time I get home, New York will be ahead. It was actually 5-1. I put some coffee on. I started dickering with photos I’d taken. Boston scored nine runs. 14-1.

To make a long story short, I slept well last night.

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. 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.

Advertisements

Johnny Comes Lately

John Steinbeck

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, March 30, 2018, 1:32 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

Hindsight is supposedly 20/20, though I’ve often found memories to be considerably photoshopped.

For instance, it just occurred to me that I have something in common with John Steinbeck.

Hint: It’s not talent.

I’m not particularly modest. In fact, I’m not remotely modest. I think it’s hard to be internally modest and write fiction. Fiction is hard. It takes guts. It takes thick skin. That’s why the brashness is buried deep in the soul.

I doubt I’d be a writer if not for Steinbeck.

If I’m not mistaken – it’s one of those quotations that has been used by so many people, it’s hard to discern the original – Coach Jake Gaither said of Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, “He can take your’n and beat his’n, and his’n and beat your’n.”

As writers go, Steinbeck was the equivalent of an all-around ballplayer. His classic works, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, used to intimidate me. I couldn’t write well if I was reading them. Steinbeck crammed more into a sentence than I could get onto a page. He paralyzed me a few times. I stared at computer screens.

But Steinbeck was not always that intimidating. He also wrote short, comic novels that made me laugh out loud. Cannery Row. Tortilla Flats. Lots were in between, profound commentaries with lighthearted moments. Of Mice and Men. The Winter of Our Discontent. I’ve devoured everything Steinbeck wrote. Collections of stories he wrote while a war correspondent. Stark tales of good and evil in which good didn’t always win. I even read a book of the notes between Steinbeck and his agent while he was writing East of Eden, which he thought was his masterpiece, and I do, too.,

(Steven Novak cover)

I just finished a weighty tome. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a dark commentary on modern morality. It’s outrageous. It’s controversial. (Just what isn’t nowadays?) It’s amusing in places, but it’s not a pretty tale. It’s my best attempt to make what’s going on in the world seem somehow plausible. How did this happen? How did it come to this? It’s my answer to what in hell happened?

It’s important. It takes a toll. I’ve agonized over it. I’m agonizing over it now. Writing it made me a bit neurotic. I wrestled with it, and shaved a lot out of it. Then I rewrote what was left. Then I wrote a completely different ending. Then I read it again, and edited it again, and tried to convince myself that it makes sense. My editor thinks it makes sense. Whew. There exists evidence from one other person on earth that I’m not delusional.

It follows the course of fiction I was taking with The Audacity of Dope, The Intangibles, Crazy of Natural Causes, and Forgive Us Our Trespasses. Then I needed a break. First I wrote a long, but fun, tale of the modern West (post-World War II) called Cowboys Come Home, which was kind of my ode to another literary favorite, Larry McMurtry. It also gave me a chance to use my history degree. I enjoyed changing the brand of beer from Falstaff to Lone Star because the former wasn’t available in Texas in 1946.

Last year, I had fun. I wrote adventures about an outrageous young stock car racer, Barrie Jarman, called Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated. I loved making up tales about Barrie. I’ll write another someday. I’ve just glutted the market for now.

(Steven Novak cover)

As soon as the current muddle – the audio version of Lightning in a Bottle is just out, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is about to be out in print and Kindle, and I’ve been (I hope) putting the latter to bed this very morning – is done, I’m going back to the next funny, irreverent, free-wheeling, first-person romp, which is now four chapters long. It’s about an aging baseball scout and his discovery of a diamond in the rough he thinks he can carve into a big-leaguer. It’s a perfect time to write it. Watching actual ballgames can provide me with ideas and inspiration.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m doing what Steinbeck did. It didn’t occur to me until I was wrapping up Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I didn’t do it on purpose. I did it to keep my sanity.

That could have been the deal with Steinbeck.

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. 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.

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 montedutton.com. 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.

 

Why You’d Enjoy a Stock Car Racing Novel … or Two

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 11:17 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

In 2017, I wrote two novels about a young stock-racing ace named Barrie Jarman. Of my seven novels to date, they are the only ones related to each other. I’ve often explained this by saying that once I’ve completed the arduous process of writing a novel, I’m ready for something else. Writing fiction is hard. I have to fall in love with a story to write it.

I spent twenty years writing about real stock-car racing. I traveled all over the country. The sport is now in decline, and I wanted to do something about it. Four years after that chapter in my career ended, I started missing it, and I started reflecting about how it had changed and how it had gone astray in terms of popularity with the general public.

Barrie Jarman became my version of what the sport needed. I created him as a hybrid between the likable rogues who populated NASCAR when I began writing regularly about it and the kids I write about now who play football, basketball, baseball, and other sports.

Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated were also the first novels I wrote in anything other than third person. Charlie Jarman, Barrie’s uncle, tells the stories, which are written in an informal, conversational style. Barrie comes to live with Uncle Charlie because he and his father do not get along. Jim Jarman has a drinking problem, and it fuels Barrie’s resentment. When he moves from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to a cabin behind Charlie’s house in Lacewell Rapids, North Carolina, his lifestyle is as wild as his talent. He and his buddies have grown accustomed to arriving home from the dirt track and partying till dawn, drinking beer and smoking pot while Barrie picks up his guitar and howls at the moon.

Uncle Charlie becomes his steadying influence. He’s his uncle, not his daddy. He doesn’t tell him what to do. When Barrie asks for his guidance, he provides it. Charlie helps him hone both his talent and his work ethic. Charlie is an old hand in FASCAR, which is what the ruling body of stock car racing is in the novels. He opens doors for the boy. He greases the wheels of his career in a low-key, patient way. Charlie directs him on the track as his spotter, and drives his motor coach to and from the races. He lets Barrie learn the lessons on his own.

Barrie’s a stock car racer, but he could be a ballplayer, or a musician, both of which he is on the side. He’s an impetuous, headstrong, rebellious kid who needs the direction he gets from Uncle Charlie. He gets in and out of trouble in both novels, but, in Life Gets Complicated, success goes to his head a bit. New rites of passage teach him new lessons. He pays a painful price for his mistakes.

I’ve always wanted my novels to be funnier than they are. They’re amusing. Writing in first person through Charlie’s eyes taught me how to be funny. If you read the Barrie Jarman adventures, you’ll laugh out loud whether you’re a stock-car fan or not.

For the past few days, I’ve been reviewing the audio version of Lightning in a Bottle, and I feel fortunate that a narrator named Jay Harper has perfectly captured the spirit of the story. He’s made me laugh out loud at my own words. He is Charlie Jarman. I hope we can get together on an audio version of the sequel.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get the eighth novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, published. It’s a political crime thriller with a theme as contemporary as last night’s news. Its scope gets wider and wider as a group of people stumble unwittingly into forces far beyond their control.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

I’m already getting started on another novel that I’m writing in first person. It’s about baseball, and the narrator grows out of the main character of one of the short stories in my collection, Longer Songs.

Writing it is a return to the irreverent style of the Barrie Jarman adventures, and the plan is to write it while I’m attending real baseball games and writing about them. I don’t have a title yet.

I just have a spirit.

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my NASCAR thoughts. 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.

No Master Plan

A trap begins with Mickey Statler’s pursuit of a bartender half his age. (Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 9:45 a.m.

The process of writing what will be my eighth novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, has been unique, not because I’ve tried some original new method, or suddenly awakened with some master plan that had earlier eluded me.

By Monte Dutton

It wasn’t a master plan. It was a rapidly changing plan. “Evolved” might be a bit misleading.

Almost a year ago, the first draft was almost completed. At that point, I went off my rocker. I started missing my former profession, that of a beat reporter who traveled around the country writing about NASCAR. I thought about how much the sport changed from 1993, that being the year I, uh, picked up the beat, until now. I also thought about its rise and fall during that period.

(Steven Novak cover design)

What if a charismatic modern kid came along? What if his background matched that of the great drivers of the past? Thus was Barrie Jarman created. In six months, I wrote two short novels, Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated. They were fun. They were funny. They appealed to my lingering NASCAR readership, with whom I could more readily connect.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Meanwhile, deep in the electronic recesses of this laptop, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell sat untouched, an orphan novel without an ending.

While I was writing Life Gets Complicated, I started editing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Three times I went through it, cleaning up its inconsistencies, fixing typos, and shaving extraneous portions. That’s been the hardest part of writing fiction for me. It’s hard to take out sections that might be entertaining, thrilling, and/or funny but don’t happen to move the story alone. Over the three edits, I shaved out (and saved for possible future use) about 12,000 words.

(Steven Novak cover)

Meanwhile, the ending I couldn’t quite get settled in my mind disappeared altogether. Current events interceded. The new ending reflects what has happened in the country since the 2016 elections.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is about four people – Mickey Statler, a sportswriter; his daughter Marcia, a college student; Dylan Wannamacher, a prep-school English teacher and budding novelist; and Milo Hirley, a rebellious student at the school – who unwittingly become involved in a national conspiracy that involves drugs, businessmen, politicians, and elements of law enforcement and the military.

It all began with the type of mild question that flows out of one’s mind while he’s watching the news: How come so many people get shot by the cops? Then came another: What if it’s not an accident?

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.
(Monte Dutton sketch)

My first five novels – The Audacity of Dope (2011), The Intangibles (2013), Crazy of Natural Causes (2015), Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016), and Cowboys Come Home – were all complicated and written in third person. The two Barrie Jarman Adventures, Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated, were simple, freewheeling, and written in first person. The stock car racing novels were fun. The other five were challenging. More work was involved. Once Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is out, I may go back to a lighthearted style. At the moment, I suspect that the Barrie Jarman Adventures are ready for hiatus, though I could write ten of them if the market would support them, which I suspect it won’t. In the absence of a real-life Barrie Jarman, stock car racing continues its decline. I’m thinking seriously about a baseball novel, but the novel itself would be funny, not serious.

Now I’m going back to top off Chapter 43 of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Mickey and Dylan are talking about what’s wrong with the world. Little do they know the danger that lies ahead.

(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.

The Car Won’t Start

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 11:22 a.m.

“My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.” – Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman), Blazing Saddles.

By Monte Dutton

Today my mind is more of an intravenous placebo drip, and any cascading rivulets are probably a result of coffee and breakfast. While I use this blog as a musician plays “Chopsticks,” I’ve got a Russian agent negotiating with a crooked businessman in a Chapter 42.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

It just occurred to me that John Farrell got tossed in his final game as Boston Red Sox manager. The home-plate umpire fired him before the team did. Farrell wasn’t a great manager. He was reliable, though. He was stolid. He won back-to-back American League titles and a World Series in 2013. I’m a slow trigger on manager changes. I remember Bobby Valentine.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

When the Red Sox are done, by viewing habits change drastically. Until next April, I’ll be watching PBS and TCM more. I haven’t read enough lately. Even at my advanced age, the best way to learn writing is still reading.

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.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I spent last weekend at a NASCAR track. It was my second trip back to the sport to which I dedicated my career for 20 years. After covering a high school game on Friday night, I drove to and from Charlotte Motor Speedway through fierce weather. An Xfinity Series race scheduled for the day wasn’t run until night. The Monster Cup race went off, miraculously, as scheduled.

For four years, I stayed away, even though I watched most of the races on TV and wrote about many of them.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

Last winter, I started missing it. I’d gone from roughly 500 races over 20 years to none at all over the next four. The immediate result was a novel, Lightning in a Bottle, about a bright, talented, impetuous, wild, mischievous, flawed young man who was my conception of what stock car racing needs.

I set aside the novel I’m finishing now. It remained on the back burner while I wrote a sequel, Life Gets Complicated, about Barrie Jarman. The sequel came too soon. Lots of readers haven’t had a chance to read the first one yet. On the other hand, it was in my mind. It was in there, and it had to come out.

The intervening time was good for the next one, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which has nothing to do with stock car racing. I’ve spent over a month editing (re-editing) the first thirty-nine chapters and shaving about 10,000 words. Now I’m writing a new ending, and I think it’s going to work well because it has been influenced by current events.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I never thought so many of my friends would go soft on Russia. In fact, the ones who have are mainly the ones of whom I thought it least likely.

I almost wrote this entire blog on the subject of “whataboutistry.” Such a blog will happen.

Current affairs have enhanced my historical perspective. I understand fascists, Confederates, communists, and bullshit artists better.

As usual, this took way too much time.

 

(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.

Torn between Tales

(Steven Novak cover)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, September 8, 2017, 12:03 p.m.

I’ve shaved nearly 10,000 words out of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which has become an on-again, off-again, long-term project.

By Monte Dutton

At the beginning of the year, I mostly set it aside to write two related auto-racing novels, Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated, a sequel. I enjoyed creating Barrie Jarman, the brash stock-car-racing boy wonder, navigating a path through the wreck-strewn track of stardom.

Not one of my protagonists have I disliked. Before Barrie, I wrote what I wanted to write about them – Riley Mansfield (The Audacity of Dope), several in The Intangibles, Chance Benford (Crazy of Natural Causes), Hal Kinley (Forgive Us Our Trespasses), and Ennis Middlebrooks and Harry Byerly (Cowboys Come Home) – and was satisfied to let them go.

(Gabe Whisnant photo)

Until Barrie, all my heroes survived in the story but not in my mind. The villain in Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Denny Frawley, succumbed in both places. Antagonist Denny, not protagonist Hal, dominated that yarn.

The simplicity of the Barrie Jarman Adventures is appealing. I raced through them as if I were Barrie on the track. They’re simply plotted. I always wrote in third person before Barrie, whose life is described in the words of his soft-spoken confidante, Uncle Charlie. Charlie’s voice made it easier for me to be funny. I’ve often aspired to funny and settled for amusing.

The other novels are all ambitious. They have multiple characters and settings that switch back and forth. My basic outlines get complicated. There is much to tie together. Such is the case with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which was ninety percent completed when I set it aside.

Two novels about Barrie were fun. I continued to dicker with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on the side. Real-life conditions in the country changed. I felt a need to revamp the novel to reflect what has really happened. It required adjustment from start to finish. The new ending is in my mind. I’m not quite ready to write it yet. I’m still editing and rewriting. This the third trip through the manuscript. I feel the way I imagine a director brought in to clean up a film might. Changing scenes. Deleting scenes. Moving scenes around. Constantly confronting myself with the same question: Does this make sense?

I could be cleaning up a mess. I could be making another one. I feel good about it right now.

Back to Barrie.

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 wrote two stock car racing novels because (1.) I still have points to make about racing, even though I’m five years removed from two decades of writing about NASCAR for a living; (2.) Even though I am old, I like writing about people who are not; (3.) I gave Barrie the spirit of the past and the lifestyle of the present; and (4.) lots of people who follow my writing do so because of my free-lance columns on motorsports. Most of it was for me, but some of it was for them.

I wrote both novels with the intention of also making them interesting to people who aren’t fans of stock car racing. Both novels examine the biracial love affair of Barrie and Angela Hughston, an issue less objectionable to their generation than to the stock car racing fan base. Barrie has an instinctive distrust of authority.

Imagine John Mellencamp as a teen-aged stock car racer. He wasn’t Barrie’s model. I just thought of it.

At the moment, I feel worn down by the tedium of editing. I’m anxious to get through editing the existing version of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell so that I can get creative again and finish it.

 

 

(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.