In the Path of the Great Eclipse

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, August 17, 2017, 11:05 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

I watched the Red Devils scrimmage Blacksburg for a while. I wish I’d brought an egg to see if it would fry on the concrete stands of Wilder Stadium. Most of the fans were smarter than I. They watched from the visiting stands, which were shaded at 6 p.m. I just thought Blacksburg brought a crowd that coincidentally happened to be wearing red shirts.

For a while, I leaned left to give my right butt cheek some relief, and then I leaned right to lessen the likelihood of blisters on the left. I managed to hold out until all the boiled peanuts were gone. My intention was to make my way across to the other side, but I chatted with M.D. (Mad Dog) Knight for a while. Then Mac Young wandered over, and we stood around telling old stories about the Red Devils of yore.

Mookie Betts (Monte Dutton sketch)

I went home and picked up the Red Sox, already in progress. They fell behind the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-0, almost immediately after I found the remote. I was drinking a quart of ice water at the time.

On Tuesday night, in the first five innings, the Bostons had scored 10 runs and turned one triple and two double plays. Magic was obviously still in the Fenway Park air when, with a man on third, Jackie Bradley Jr., the splendid Red Sox center fielder, charged a one-hop single and threw out the St. Louis baserunner at the plate. Now get this straight. He threw out a man trying to reach the plate from third base on a single. Just a routine one-hopper to center. The play at the plate wasn’t close. It was one of the damnder throws I’ve ever witnessed.

With a total eclipse headed inexorably toward my hometown from 92.96 million miles away – I looked up the driving directions on my phone – the Red Sox’ ninth walk-off of the season seemed inevitable. With two out in the ninth, the similarly splendid right fielder, Mookie Betts, doubled off the wall, and Bradley was safe at the plate because Yadier Molina couldn’t corral the throw. Bradley scored the second run of the play and fifth of the game. The Cardinals finished with four.

It was Molina who had grounded into the triple play. It wasn’t his series.

It’s Meet the Red Devils over at the gymnasium tonight. I’m not sure whether I’ll make it or not. The Yankees don’t arrive at Fenway until Friday. Clinton High doesn’t arrive at K.C. Hanna (in Laurens) until Friday week, as we say in these parts.

(Monte Dutton photo)

Until the past hour, I thought I might be the only person in its path who isn’t excited about the eclipse. I’m not too fond of cramming millions of people into a band that curves toward Clinton from the coast of Oregon. I remember seeing an eclipse of some sort when I was a child. I remember being warned that it would blind me if I looked straight at it for too long, but no one offered special glasses, and I remember that I just looked at it for a few seconds and then looked away. I figure I’ll probably do that again, but I just finished reading the Clinton Chronicle and discovered that, if I go up to something called Total Eclipse at the Rails, safety glasses will be provided by Family Eye Care.

(Monte Dutton photo)

I also read where turtles will hide, bats will fly, birds will nest, and hardworking ants will knock off. Some are predicting an appearance by the Lizard Man of Lee County, most likely in Lee, not Laurens, County. Who knows, though? People know what the cows will do (nothing), but scientists have no fix on the Lizard Man.

I reckon I’ll go uptown like everyone else. I was thinking about taking my guitar, sitting on the bench placed in memory of J.A. Orr on Musgrove Street, and playing a revised verse of Skeeter Davis’s “The End of the World.”

Why did the sun stop shining? / Why do the stars twinkle bright? / Don’t they know it’s the end of the world? / It ended when you said goodbye.

Horseshoe Falls (Monte Dutton photo)

I’ve also been thinking about watching it from Musgrove Mill State Park, a part of which includes Horseshoe Falls on the Enoree River. I’m a little worried, though, at what cottonmouths might do. It wasn’t covered in the Chronicle.

 

 

(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).

 

 

High School Football Carries Me Away

W.L. Varner Stadium, Woodruff, South Carolina (Monte Dutton photos)

I would normally post this blog at montedutton.com, which, at the moment, is out of order, and I tried and failed to fix it yesterday, and I just don’t have time to fool with it anymore … now.

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, August 12, 2017, 12:00 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

Who knows what football season will bring? Clinton visits Laurens on August 25, when both of the county’s public schools will literally be off and running. It’s too early to tell much, but it’s likely both teams will run often and effectively.

On Thursday night, I watched Clinton defeat Blue Ridge, 20-7, in a half, then I half-watched Spartanburg thump Chapman, 31-7, because I was adding up the stats and trying to get ahead on the Red Devil story, and then Laurens arrived on the Varner Stadium field to edge the homestanding Woodruff Wolverines, 9-7. Last night at Wilder Stadium here in town, I was talking NASCAR on the South Carolina Network during part of Woodruff’s 14-12 win over Ben Lippen, and, finally, pleasing the local fans, oh, so much, the Red Devils prevailed over Strom Thurmond, 18-7.

Defying mathematics, Woodruff hosted three “halves,” and Clinton hosted the standard two.

I love old Wilder Stadium. I played in its first game in its present state. That was 1975. It needs renovation, but its aging structure has been the scene of more magic than a circus tent. Most circus tents are gone or in storage, but R.P. Wilder Stadium, named after one local legend and surrounding a field named after another (Keith Richardson) lives on.

In August and September, the sweltering rooms of its press box would make suitable sites for punitive solitary confinement, and trudging up its steps give its occupants a sweaty head start. Last night, the lights seemed so dim that I joked that they ought to cut them off and see if it got any darker. A full moon might actually make a difference. I kept thinking I was wearing sunglasses, and, first home game, I really need to remember to bring the binoculars.

An empty chair was sitting next to me in the press box, though it wasn’t the room I usually occupy. The empty chair reminded me of my line coach, Harold Williams, who died earlier this summer. It wasn’t uncommon for Coach Williams to sit next to me during games. He had so much to say that it sometimes made it difficult for me to keep up with my notes and statistics, but I never minded. He did me more good than I ever did him.

As testimony to the nostalgia attacks I get, while the Red Devils were warming up, it occurred to me that the sophomore quarterback, Konnor Richardson, looks like John Unitas. This isn’t an observation of skill or facial looks. Richardson wasn’t wearing high tops, and he mainly handed the ball off to Clinton’s potent rushers, but his mannerisms struck me. He ambles when he walks. He shuffles his shoulders. He throws the ball straight overhand. When I talked to him on the field afterwards, I realized that he is actually taller than Johnny U. was.

There’s something about that kid. On the basketball court, he reminds me of Dave Cowens, who never reminded me of Unitas.

Describing John Unitas to Konnor Richardson is the equivalent of my grandfather telling me about Otto Graham, but my grandfather never mentioned Graham, or Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, or Sid Luckman. My grandfather was never a sportswriter. I don’t think he ever went to a ballgame that didn’t include me or my brother playing.

Here are links to what I wrote at the GoLaurens/GoClinton website: on Thursday’s Arthur State Bank Wolverine Showcase in Woodruff, first Clinton and then Laurens, and on Friday’s Clinton Game Night.

 

 

(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).

 

 

Daddy Downhill

(Monte Dutton sketch)

I haven’t had time to write short stories recently. With a seventh novel on the way to publication, and an eighth in an ongoing state of repair, I’ve been excising episodes from the latter manuscript. It’s hard to remove items that are amusing but unnecessary. It occurred to me that I could turn them into short stories.

Back home, life on the farm had never been laidback. John Denver didn’t grow up in Alabama.

By Monte Dutton

Mickey Statler lived in fear of winding up like his old man. He could feel the inevitability creeping up, drawing him inexorably toward his fate. He had always believed in free will. He was the master of his fate, not some legacy that lived on in the blood of the souls that followed.

As he sat on the patio of his fourth-floor apartment, Mickey pondered the sudden job loss, the collapse of his profession, the destruction of his security, and the realization of how frail it had always been.

Mickey was depressed. Not clinically depressed. Depressed for a damned good reason.

Naturally, he thought of his father, his symbol of wasted promise.

Mickey remembered a sweltering Saturday, Daddy charging into the house to find him curled up on a couch, watching the Atlanta Braves on The Superstation.

Daddy was hung over and resentful it was not he sitting in his easy chair, a bottle of vodka and another of grapefruit juice at his side, not watching some ballgame but something manly, something like Rock Hudson in Giant.

“Well, I’ll be goddamned,” his father bellowed, red-faced and sweaty. “We got a hog loose, rummaging through some woman’s garden on 208. The hole they squeezed under gotta be patched. The Appaloosa’s in foal. Ain’t nothing been fed. What are you doing? Sitting on your goddamned ass watching a goddamned baseball game.”

“I like things that are goddamned, Daddy,” he said, because he was fed up and couldn’t wait to get out of this man’s house.

It wasn’t all sad. Some of it was amusing, particularly now that Daddy was gone and it all seemed warmer, like the time he got so drunk that he accused Mama of having an affair with Burl Ives.

“Burl Ives!” Mickey laughed at the memory of his mother’s incredulous exclamation. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had been on TV. Burl had sung “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas,” and Daddy had been drinking, and somehow it all got intertwined.

Then Mickey’s thoughts zipped ahead a decade or so, when Mickey was covering preps in Burlington and drove all the way home for some reason, possibly his brother’s bachelor party, and walked into that house to find Daddy sitting on the same couch, now frayed and dirty, leaning forward, bottle of cheap vodka, no glass, on the table named for coffee. Ten o’clock in the morning.

CNN was playing the same clips over and over. BREAKING NEWS! Rock Hudson Suffering from AIDS.

Mickey sat down on the loveseat. Didn’t say a word. His eyes spoke. Soooo, Pop … what’s … the … deal?

Aging, older, now consumed in his alcoholism, father looked at son, eyes rolling, seeing the great Rock Hudson as the end of the world as he knew it.

“Back when me and your mama was datin’, I thought Rock Hudson was the biggest hero ever was. Come to find out, he was a goddamned faggot!” Harvey Statler’s whole body convulsed in anger. “Goddamn! Goddamn! Goddamn!”

Somehow it had become a pleasant memory. He laughed now, to himself, still having failed to find a viable alternative to Let’s Make a Deal.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Twenty more years had passed. His father was listed as a casualty of colon cancer. Mickey knew he had really drunk himself to death, the same as his father before him.

No one in the family seemed capable of getting over things. Everyone had surrendered to one habit, one vice, one substance, one woman, or another. Mickey had already outlived his father, so he had that going for him.

Prosperity was a lover, not a mate. Its pleasures were fleeting. The rain never stopped. The sun never shone. The weight of the world was no heavier than a pink slip. It cut like a knife.

 

(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).

 

 

 

A Sheer Microcosm

 

(Monte Dutton sketch)

I haven’t had time to write short stories recently. With a seventh novel on the way to publication, and an eighth in an ongoing state of repair, I’ve been excising episodes from the latter manuscript. It’s hard to remove items that are amusing but unnecessary. It occurred to me that I could turn them into short stories. This short exercise in trivial description is the first.

On Monday, the eighteenth day of July, Mickey Statler thought his biggest problem was underwear. Underwear was, however, just a foreshadowing of what was to come because it involved his balls, and his ass was hard to keep clean.

By Monte Dutton

The older a man gets, the more he appreciates reliability, and underwear must be the most reliable of his garments. Mickey, like most men, tended to wear underwear right up until the dryer started sucking up the lint to the point where the briefs began to disintegrate. Then he kept them a while because, well, they were clean, if no longer wearable. Indecent underwear – and not just drawers but also tee shirts – turned into one-use wash cloths for filthy messes. Mickey had adapted to some modern developments in underwear design. He’d come to love the modern compromise, the boxer brief, which was built like briefs, only boxier. They were longer briefs, or, perhaps, briefer longs. Mickey had reached the progressive point where he wore all “boxer briefs” except when they were all dirty, at which point Mickey reluctantly turned to the briefs he kept in reserve. These he was wearing when he decided it was time for reinforcements and drove to Costco. In addition to a ridiculous amount of Sweet ‘n’ Low for his coffee and a half-gallon container of shampoo – with a convenient pump! – Mickey bought nine pairs of boxer briefs, each in packs of three, and took a leap of faith that they would be made up of the same reliable cotton he had come to know and love.

 

The next morning, when Mickey put these cutting-edge facilitators of support and efficient waste disposal on, they were not what he expected. Three of them had no “doors” in the front for his “release.” All nine were made of a sheer, elastic material, undoubtedly a synthetic with an origin derived somewhere in oil.

They were slick. They were slippery. Mickey felt like he was wearing panties. He had invested nearly thirty dollars in these sappers of manhood, and that was sufficient an investment for him to realize his manhood was in jeopardy. He would just have to adapt to the unfrilled panties, because, by the next time he purchased any underwear, they would undoubtedly be standard, universal, and, quite possibly, decorated in marijuana leaves. He would die in a car wreck, and an autopsy would be conducted to analyze his coagulating blood solely because of the underwear he was wearing. Perhaps he would live long enough for cannabis to be legal and everyone’s clothes would be decorated with sly green leaves, not just the ones bought in surfside beach outlets.

 

 

 

(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).

 

 

 

Mass Communications, or Lack Thereof …

Mixed messages. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, August 4, 2017, 9:45 a.m.

Let’s say I want to get in touch with you. The options are endless. It doesn’t mean any of them work.

By Monte Dutton

I could send you an email. You would likely do what I often do: um, delete, delete, delete, save, delete, delete, delete …

Then I might – maybe, if I’m bored – read the one I saved.

When I send out information about my novels, I’m painfully aware that most get deleted without a glance. I try to write a slug that will draw attention.

A sequel! In the works!

Perhaps I should write it in all caps.

A SEQUEL! IN THE WORKS!

After all, many people around President Trump were apparently non-plussed by an email with the slug: “Re: Russia and Clinton – Private and Confidential.”

Ah. Nothing to see there.

I could leave you a message. If it’s on your office or home phone, on obsolete “land lines,” you’ll probably listen to it by the weekend. When I see you, maybe you’ll say, “I didn’t have your number.”

The one I left in the message. My home number’s “in the book.”

The book? What book?

A hurricane stole the “I.” Hurricane Donald. (Monte Dutton photo)

The phone book. The one you apparently go through at the even more obsolete mailbox. Throw away, throw away, keep, throwaway, keep …

I leave a message on your cell, too, or would, except that the mailbox is full because the last time you checked the messages, the Easter Bunny was hop, hop, hopping along, or imaginarily, the actual bunny being made of chocolate.

I could text. That’s the most reliable way. The down side is that you may well want to converse via text, which is aggravating. I’ll probably have to decipher acronyms I don’t understand.

His PLX is thru roof. PLX-adj. more killer. Nowumsayin?

No. I don’t nowumsayin. It’s probably best just to type LOL. Or LMAO. Or, on special occasions, ROFLMAO.

As all skilled texters know, ROFLMAO stands for “flounder on roll, extra mayonnaise.”

You may be lit. Or turnt. You may think my idea is chill. You may send a fashionable redundancy.

Mike Trout is good at baseball.

So many are the methods of communication that they are all used sparingly. Endless options are eschewed endlessly.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Post on your Facebook page? Oops. Who knew? We aren’t “friends” on Facebook, even though we have been “friends” (old definition) since grammar school. I send a “friend request.” It is approved almost instantly. I send “a direct message.” Three days pass. I write an actual Facebook post.

I really need to talk to you. I sent you a direct message earlier.

Huh. Thought I sent message back. Must not’ve hit send.

Must not’ve. A likely story.

If we communicate anymore, there won’t be any communication at all. I can remember when the way to avoid someone was to push the shopping cart – or as we used to say, the “buggy” – around to the next aisle.

Go to the book section. You’ll never be detected there.

 

 

(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).

Cowboys Cheap as French Fries

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, August 1, 2017, 12:36 p.m.

Hey, there. Hi, there. Ho, there. I wrote a western last fall. It’s not just any western. It’s a modern western, set at the end of World War II, when a couple Marines return home to Texas, looking for peace, love, and understanding even though they’d be willing to settle for two out of three.

By Monte Dutton

As it turned out, Ennis Middlebrooks and Harry Byerly really just got understanding. When they got back to Janus, things were only marginally less wild than they had been on the island of Peleliu. They didn’t expect war to prepare them for home. They expected war to prepare them for peace.

Cowboys Come Home’s writing had about as many twists as its plot. It goes way back, or at least as far back as me writing fiction, which began, in terms of publication, in 2011, when my first novel, The Audacity of Dope, reached shelves real and virtual courtesy of Neverland Publishing LLC. At about the time the second novel, The Intangibles, was also published by Neverland, in 2013, a publisher interested in westerns contacted me, through a third party, about writing one.

Cowboys Come Home

Kindle Sale, August 2-4

$0.99 Wednesday, August 2, 8 a.m. EDT — Thursday, August 3, 5 a.m.

$1.99 Thursday, August 3, 5 a.m. — Friday, August 4, 2 a.m.

$2.99 Friday, August 4, 2 a.m.-11 p.m.

(Steven Novak cover)

My first response was that writing novels is much too difficult if one isn’t in love with the story. By sheer coincidence, I took a long driving trip, and while I was driving through the Smoky Mountains, I dreamed up a modern western about two cowboys coming home from war. I’m fond of modern westerns, both in print and on the silver screen. I started thinking about Larry McMurtry’s Leaving Cheyenne and The Last Picture Show, and Clark Gable’s final movie, The Misfits, and Giant, the movie made from an Edna Ferber novel of the same name.

When I got back home, I started writing, and I sent a sample to the publisher, and the publisher … wrote back that it wasn’t what he had in mind.

I suspect it didn’t enough campfires, sagebrush, tumbleweeds, branding arms, spurs and chaps, saloons, cattle drives, and gunfights at high noon.

I left it there.

Amazon’s KindleScout program picked up Crazy of Natural Causes, the tale of a Kentucky football coach who loses everything, finds Jesus, wobbles between sin and salvation, and inexplicably finds a comfortable space there. KindleScout also chose Forgive Us Our Trespasses, a wild, outlandish, bloody tale of the political family from hell, conveniently situated right here in the Palmetto State.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Then I went back to Cowboys Come Home, which was not chosen by KindleScout, so I self-published it through CreateSpace (for print) and Kindle Direct Publishing. It has law and disorder, cattle and oil, political corruption, horses and cars, a wild baby sister, and a killer on the loose. The skills Ennis and Harry hoped never to need again are what save them when they return home to Janus, a town just south of the border between Texas and Oklahoma.

It sold all right. Folks who read it liked it. I stole its thunder, though, this spring by releasing Lightning in a Bottle, my stock car racing novel.

Cowboys Come Home is not a classic western. It is brutal, profane, lustful, and violent.

In order to jumpstart recent sales that are almost nonexistent, I have concocted a brief, three-day blowout of the Kindle version. The full retail is only $3.99, but over the next few days, it will be offered first at $0.99, then $1.99, then $2.99, before returning to $3.99 by the weekend. The sale begins at 8 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning.

Grab a western. Don’t cost much.

 

(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).

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).