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.

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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.

 

Clinton and Laurens … and Life

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, August 26, 2017, 10:58 a.m.

There are those who believe I waste my talents tramping around small-town football stadiums writing about what I see.

By Monte Dutton

They are so wrong. Last night Laurens held off Clinton, 24-18. In a small tract of land known as Laurens County, named after a statesman from the nation’s dawn, the annual football game between the two public high schools is as significant as Clemson-Carolina (it’s the South one here) and, recently, more competitive.

I need the money, but the insight is much greater.

My fiction has a lot of characters much younger than I. Characters much younger than I are more interesting.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

My first novel, The Audacity of Dope, was mainly concerned with men and women between about 35 and 45. The Intangibles took me back in time to when I was a kid. Crazy of Natural Causes had at its center the relationship between a disgraced football coach and several of his players. Forgive Us Our Trespasses was about the corrosive effect of deceit and corruption on families. Cowboys Come Home was a tale of a couple young Marines, home from the Pacific at the end of World War II, who mistakenly think they can find peace and stability in a home that has also changed forever.

This year I have written two novels about stock car racing, a sport to which my life was preoccupied for twenty years. Barrie Jarman bursts on the scene in Lightning in a Bottle and learns hard lessons in Life Gets Complicated. Barrie Jarman gets his brash self-confidence more from observing high school kids playing ball than today’s NASCAR man-children. Barrie is flawed but likable, which runs through characters in all my fiction: Riley Mansfield and Melissa Franklin (Audacity); Frankie Mansfield and the Leverette twins (Intangibles); Chance Benford, Wally Ruff, and Zeke Runnels (Crazy); Hal and Hayden Kinley (Trespasses); Ennis and Becky Middlebrooks, and Harry Byerly (Cowboys); and Barrie Jarman and Angela Hughston (Lightning, Life).

Writing about the young makes me feel that way, even if I can’t act that way anymore.

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.

Even before I had the experience to make such conclusions, I loved sportswriting because it revealed so much about human emotion. Politicians, doctors, engineers … they all choke at the proverbial free-throw line, but, most of the time, their dropped passes, swings and misses, and missed shifts occur outside of public view. Sports failures occur under the glare of sun and floodlights.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

If I miss the mark in my evaluation of the young mind, it’s because times have changed since I had one, but I don’t believe it. I didn’t have virtual games to occupy my time, but a kid’s time gets occupied somehow, often for better and sometimes for worse. Kids still run a gauntlet of peril, and, if they make it safely, the rites of passage hone their character. How one reacts to adversity determines the course of life. Success is reward, but failure dictates the path.

Were I to write an account of my own life, it would be a tale of failure at this late stage. It’s not over, though. I remain optimistic that my labors are not in vain, that somehow, someone important is going to notice that I write good stuff. I’m going to be an overnight sensation. Here’s hoping I live to see it.

As ZZ Top, wildly out of context to my situation, sang: I ain’t asking for muh-uch!

As I wrote, and often sing, wildly in context to my situation: I sold my soul / In different roles / But had my share of fun.

 

 

(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.

 

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).