A Long Trip Down a Rocky Road

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, September 14, 2017, 1:32 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell* is going to be my most carefully composed, diligently examined, and thoroughly questioned novel to date. At the moment, I’m taking a break from the long slog of rewriting and reconsidering what will be my eighth novel. Twice I interrupted the process to write stock car racing novels, Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated. Partly it was because I found it delightful to invent brash young Barrie Jarman, and partly because Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell had me good and buffaloed.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

The racing novels took three months apiece. I started writing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell about fifteen months ago. Last winter, with the planned story nearing completion, I decided I should factor in the real-life election of Donald J. Trump. Of course, the new president in the book — who is not a character at all, just a reference – is named Martin J. Gaynes. The change in the novel isn’t about the man; it’s about the country. I’ll leave future readers to speculate on how Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would have ended had Gaynes not been elected.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures are fun. I hung around race tracks for twenty years professionally and for most of my life otherwise. I saw stock car racing as a grade-school kid, a teen, and a college student long before I started going to races to write about them. That’s why I made Barrie a brash combination of old and new. I’ve seen old and new.

(Steven Novak cover)

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a return to the tone of my other novels, all of which were more serious, complicated and ambitious. The heroes are likable but imperfect. The bad guys are horrible. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell jumps around like The Audacity of Dope and Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s even more conspiratorial than Forgive Us Our Trespasses. I drew from a couple of the short stories in Longer Songs. It’s my sixth novel in which someone plays guitar.

I play guitar.

Maybe this has taken so long because I’m getting more careful. Even while I was writing the racing novels, I was pondering the new ending. I kept editing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell while I was writing about Barrie Jarman. Without question, I’ve put more time into it than those that preceded it.

The first-person viewpoint – through the eyes of Barrie’s Uncle Charlie – taught me how to be funnier. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell may be the least funny of my novels. I’m back to “amusing,” not out-and-out “funny,” and third person. The racing novels cleared the “funny” bar, in my jaded estimation.

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.

As I close this blog and focus more on a Red Sox afternoon game, I’m about fifty pages from completing the fourth run-through of the existing text. I have shaved more than ten thousand words. Much of that was painful. A lot of it was entertaining but extraneous to the story.

I expect the new ending is going to be roughly a different ten thousand words from the ones I cut out. I’m hoping to get Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell out before the end of the year, but I haven’t rushed any other part of it, and I’m not going to rush the last, either.

I hope I’m evolving, not just this novel.

*Gets italics when it gets published.

 

(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.

(Gabe Whisnant photo)

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.

 

 

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Winning Would Be Indescribably Delicious

The Citadel exercised many options. (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, September 10, 2017, 1:38 p.m.

I can’t imagine a better place to watch a football game than Presbyterian College, that is, if you don’t mind it if the Blue Hose lose.

By Monte Dutton

It’s early yet. Yes, Presbyterian has been been outscored 99-13, but Wake Forest and The Citadel are stiff competition for a liberal-arts school of 1,300 students playing in the lower subdivision of NCAA Division I.

A year ago, Presbyterian hosted four games at beautiful Bailey Memorial Stadium. This year, thanks to the threat of a storm leading The Citadel up to Clinton, eight games will be played here. Campbell visits next week and Cumberland the week after.

It’s almost impossible to park more than 200 yards away. Lovely shade trees abound in the green lots. It’s tailgate-friendly, kids-friendly, and, unfortunately, visiting teams-friendly.

The Citadel is ranked 13th in the nation, Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), and the state’s military college wore their “Duty” uniforms, which meant lead-gray jerseys and pants and white helmets. The Bulldogs wear white helmets every week, but the jerseys vary from gray to navy to light blue to white. College football has gotten awfully complicated. One cannot reliably walk through the gates of a stadium anymore and be sure he or she can tell which team is which. Some teams wear camouflage jerseys, the ostensible point being they couldn’t be identified at all.

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.

Presbyterian does not play on the road again until November 4. I kid you not. I hope the Blue Hose get better and have a decent year, which the past two were not. On Saturday, they had their moments. At one time, it was only 14-7. The Citadel (2-0) only outgained the Blue Hose by 310 yards.

The Blue Hose beat their next opponent, Campbell, last year. I don’t know anything about Cumberland other than Georgia Tech beating a Cumberland, 222-0, but that was in 1916, and, presumably, the Phoenix have risen from the ashes of that. I’m familiar with Lebanon, Tennessee, having met a friend for dinner there on at least two occasions.

All else being equal, I’m guardedly optimistic about the Campbell and Cumberland games.

I wrote a free-lance story on The Citadel’s unexpected visit, and because of the professionalism that journalism requires, I enjoyed no frosty beverages until the story was safely written and my friends, Presbyterian football variety, commiserating the setback across the street.

Libations are marvelously useful in the aftermath of victory or defeat.

As I drove home, knowing that a stock car race from Richmond, and football games from Clemson, Columbia (Mo.), South Bend, and Los Angeles would soon be on at the same time, I hummed the theme from Green Acres.

Keep Manhattan / Just give me that countryside.

(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.

(Gabe Whisnant photo)

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.

 

I’d Batten Down the Hatches if I Had Any

Charleston, the Holy City. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, September 7, 2017, 12:15 p.m.

A week ago, a large chunk of Texas, which itself is a large chunk, caught the largest amount of rain ever recorded on the continent.

By Monte Dutton

Now the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever is curving toward, eventually, here.

How many “once-in-a-thousand-years storms” are going to have to hit this decade before we figure out that the climate just might be changing?

Maybe that’s the silver lining that glistens on the edge of swirling clouds that are 420 miles across. If only that silver could be mined … the electricity would still go out.

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.

Here in the Carolina foothills, we have been fortunate. The hurricanes that have recently hit our coast have generally bored inland and curved to the right at about Columbia and headed for Charlotte. Gulf hurricanes are considerably weakened by the time they blow through. We’ve gotten wind and rain but no direct hits.

This time all bets are off. Not just in weather, now that I think about it.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I thought about all my friends in Florida. I thought about the Keys, where I’ve spent some time during and after stock car races in Homestead. I thought about the maddening Miami airport, and the Everglades, and Lake Okeechobee. I thought about Daytona Beach, and Orlando, and Jacksonville. I thought about how my home isn’t going to flood but is a decent target for an unruly tornado. I thought about drinking water and how I need to go to the grocery stores, where I wouldn’t be surprised if the bread and eggs are gone already. I thought about Aunt Linda, who just lost Uncle Maxie last week. I thought about Ella, my niece, and here three beautiful little boys near Columbia, and Ray, my nephew, and Jessica, with their three-year-old boy and one-year-old girl and another whose arrival date is next February. And Vince, at whom I fussed unnecessarily yesterday, and Jake, living near Lake Greenwood.

I thought about how glorious the eclipse was here in town, and miracles never cease, but some miracles are wondrous in their fury instead of their peace.

The Citadel and Presbyterian College have moved the Saturday football game here, and it seems like such a good idea to stroll over to PC and have a good party because, two days later, all hell is liable to break loose another way.

Eat, drink, and be merry!

I prayed an inordinate amount because I awakened an inordinate number of times, and I asked for forgiveness because I can’t help but hope all that wreckage in the Caribbean takes the starch out of that monster before it gets here.

Irma. What an inoffensive name for a monster. It ought to be named Butch. Irma La Douce was a beautiful Parisian prostitute, played by Shirley MacLaine, opposite Jack Lemmon, in the movies. Erma Bombeck was a humor columnist. Laurens is playing Irmo High School Friday night.

The view from here. (Monte Dutton photo)

This morning the local weather gurus seemed less hysterical than they usually are when wind, rain, heat, cold, sleet and/or grandly exaggerated hail approaches. Maybe they’ll come around and tell me about the bowling-ball-sized hail that was spotted in Pacolet.

Finally, I thought of the inspiring words of the late Jerry Reed, who sang, “If I’m not out of gas in a pouring rain, I’m changing a flat in a hurricane. Lord, Mr. Ford, what have you done?”

 

(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.

 

 

It Is What It Is at the End of the Weekend

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, September 3, 2017, 3:34 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

I’ve drawn no conclusions from the past few days. They’ve been good experiences, I guess. Character building. Not altogether good. Not altogether bad. Clouds with silver linings still glistening.

Greer clobbered Clinton, 41-0, in the local home opener. Chapman clobbered Laurens, 61-24, on its home field. One week earlier, Laurens had defeated Clinton, 24-18, leaving both with positive feelings heading into week two. Now it’s back to “we just gotta get better” talk for both head coaches. I never sleep well after a hectic night of high school football coverage. Come home. Process photos. Go through the stats. Listen to what the coach had to say. Cobble together a story. Still keyed up. Watch an old movie, preferably one that makes me sleepy.

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 had a book signing in Spartanburg at a wonderful place, the Hub City Bookshop. It wasn’t particularly successful. I hoped a few people would drop by on the way to the Furman-Wofford football game. They didn’t. I played a couple songs I’d written on guitar. I talked a little about each of my eight works of fiction. I think that’s right. One collection of short stories. The Audacity of Dope (2011). The Intangibles (2013). Crazy of Natural Causes (2015). Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016). Cowboys Come Home (2016). Lightning in a Bottle (2017). Life Gets Complicated (2017).

(Gabe Whisnant photo)

Yep. Eight. Seven novels and one collection (Longer Songs, 2016). I’m glad I brought a couple copies of each along. I sold one copy of The Audacity of Dope and one of The Intangibles. I read one passage of Lightning in a Bottle and two of the brand-new one, Life Gets Complicated. I believe most of the people there enjoyed my little show. I sang two songs that mention stock car racing, “Martinsville” and “There You Are.” Before it started at 3, I also sang a couple others, “Your Independence Day” and “Bills to Pay.”

There wasn’t any sound, so I guess I can’t call it a sound check.

The former sports editor at the Gaston Gazette, the newspaper where I worked for 16-1/2 years, stopped by and bought a book. Gabe Whisnant now works at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, where I wrote about NASCAR for 3-1/2 years before I moved to the Gazette.

(Gabe Whisnant photo)

The big surprise was the almost-random, coincidental appearance of one Tommy Tomlinson, whose work I have enjoyed for many years. He and his wife were passing through town and somehow discovered either Hub City Bookshop or that I was there. The Tomlinsons bumped into a onetime newspaper colleague of his, and it was a tiny reunion of once and current ink-stained wretches.

Not as many ink stains these days. It’s not like the old days when I’d steer clear of white caps because they always developed smudges on the right front of bills because that’s where my thumb and index fingers met when I put them on and took them off and tipped them.

I’ve always enjoyed tipping a cap.

Meanwhile, while I was spending all the day’s profits on a nice meal, the Paladins were playing Wofford across town. I left Clinton prepared. I wore long khakis because I was signing books. I wore a light shirt because I might go to a ballgame. If there had been someone who called me, or texted me, or posted, or tweeted “hey, I’ll see you at the game,” or even, “are you going to the game?” I probably would have spent the day’s profits over at Wofford College, but they didn’t, and I didn’t, and, since Furman lost in painful fashion, 24-23, on a two-point conversion that went awry, I guess I made the right move. I’m afraid that, every time I go back to Furman these days, I feel more removed, more remote, and less relevant, which is exactly as it’s supposed to be for someone who is 37 years out of college and too poor at the moment to give money.

I do root like hell for them, though.

The Hub City Bookshop, 186 West Main Street, Spartanburg, is much more than just a place to buy books. If you are so inclined, however, to buy one or two while you’re there, copies of Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated are available with my modest signature on the title pages.

 

 

(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.

 

 

Among What Is Small by Comparison

 

(Monte Dutton sketch)

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

By Monte Dutton

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

In a way, I’m back in business.

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a sweet, herbal liqueur. Okay.

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

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

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

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

 

(Steven Novak design)

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

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

I’ve written seven novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

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

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

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

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

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

 

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.