Ain’t No Use to Sit and Wonder Why

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, December 30, 2016, 9:07 a.m.

It wasn’t the best of nights to drive over to Presbyterian College for a basketball game. It wasn’t the best night for a basketball game, period.

The Belk Bowl was on TV. Arkansas led Virginia Tech, 24-0, at halftime. The game seemed safely in the Razorbacks’ hands.

The Blue Hose (4-8) were 3-0 with the writer in the stands. One of the W’s (Furman, his alma mater) had been regrettable. The Big South season was opening with a game against Liberty University (6-8). The writer had no financial incentive to attend. He just thought stupidly, like some fan, that going to the game might bring PC some luck.

By Monte Dutton

He wanted to go “as some fan” because he wanted to sit in the stands, with popcorn and a soft drink, and yell things like, “Hell, ref, I’ve tried to liberalize my views on traveling, but he double-pivoted!” The writer tried to temper his critiques, though. At least once, during the first half, he yelled “good call” even though it had gone against the Blue Hose. Another time, when others near him howled at a block, he offered his view to the guy sitting across the aisle. “Actually, I thought it was a good call.”

It was the writer in him. Part of being a fan made him feel guilty. Part of being a fan took him back years earlier, when it had all been for fun. Before he wrote about it.

Whatever it was, it was in vain. Liberty won. The writer left when the Flames pulled ahead by 20 and got home in time to see Virginia Tech, the team that had trailed, 24-0, pull away from an Arkansas team that looked like it inserted the earbuds and listened to Marley at halftime.

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The writer had high hopes for Oklahoma State and Colorado, but only the former’s were realized. Cowboys won big over Buffaloes back in the old days, too.

Then the writer tried without success to placate himself with other television offerings, but they were all reruns because, apparently, everyone on TV goes home except football teams and their roadies. He jiggled around with his phone, trying futilely to do something practical like get people on social media to buy his books. He reviewed all the discouraging facts, figures, assumptions, intuitions and superstitions, in descending order that happened to be the order they were in.

He couldn’t get sleepy even though it was well past time for Nature to enforce a cease-fire in his synapses. He never slept well and, after precious few hours, not at all. The writer rose at a little after six because he got weary of not being weary. He made some coffee that, for once, he didn’t need, and marveled at the poet William Butler Yeats’ apparent fascination with recommending a click on “Famous Texting Fails!” Yeats, who died in 1939, is hip beyond his years.

Breakfast was the writer’s first constructive act since before the basketball games.

Then he backslid and wrote a blog.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 through December 31. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

This Game Is Friday Morning at Six

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, December 28, 2016, 10:01 a.m.

Live, from Seventh Fifth Savings & Loan Ballyard, home during the summer months to the Gitmo Waterboarders of the Florida Keys League, for the first annual John Ford Movies Stagecoach Bowl. I’m Nat Bumppo, and my partner is ex-All Pro linebacker of the San Diego Evacuators, Sledge McKittrick. Sledge, this is the first bowl appearance for the Okefenokee State Community College Swamp Buggies, and this is a young squad.

By Monte Dutton

That’s right, Nat, the future is definitely ahead for the Buggies. Next year, OSCC becomes Okefenokee State University, which will not only mean they’re OSU, just like Ohio State, but also that head coach Shill McMuffin will be able to utilize a junior class for the first time.

The Swamp Buggies come into this game riding a two-game win streak, but they are underdogs to 5-7 New Miss.

Slack Manassas is probably coaching the best 5-7 team in the nation, Nat. Do you realize that the Angry Americans have lost to Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, Texas A&M and Stony Brook by a combined total of only 119 points?

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That’s right, Sledge, they’ve hung in there every week until almost halftime. Here’s public-address announcer B. Clyde Fitzroy:

Friends, seniors and injectors of life into our local economy, please remove your straw hats and welcome Nashville recording artist Jim Clancy Bobtom for his unique rendition of Our National Anthem:

Oh-ohhhh, say kin ya suhheeee …

Let’s take a break for the two minutes this national anthem is going to require for this word from TCM’s upcoming telecast of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.

What’d you say, Nat? Two minutes.

Yeah. Two minutes.

I’m going to slip out on the roof and have a quick smoke. Be right back.

Okefenokee State has won the toss and deferred until a crucial home game next year against Vanderbilt. Deep for the Americans is J’Uquillunamian Phillips, a 5-10 speed merchant from Philadelphia, Mississippi. He’s a red-shirt graduate student who just received his master’s degree in exotic herbs. High, end-under-end kick, fielded by Phillips at the six.

He’s gone, Nat!

Well, he had just one man to beat, Sledge, but New Miss will start out at its own 16. The senior signal caller for the Angry Americans is John Lee Pettimore of Copperhead Road, Tennessee. The agriculture major takes the snap, fakes the jet sweep to Jalloquille Means, steps back …

He’s got Phillips deep, Nat. He’s behind everybody!

J’Uquillunamian comes down with it. Let’s see if he’s in bounds, Sledge. No. Ruled out of bounds. Incomplete.

His friends call him Quill, Nat.

Who?

J’Uquill … uh … Phillips. Just call him Quill, Nat.

It looks like the play may be under review. Let’s look at the replay.

Nat, it looks like to me that not only did Quill have one foot down, he had both feet inbounds, and, see there, freeze that, right, uh, there, he’s got the ball clearly secured. Now, okay, he runs five more yards before he ever goes out of bounds. I think you’ll see this call overturned.

I’d call that indisputable video evidence, Sledge. Let’s go down to referee Bruton McGillicuddy.

Upon review, the ruling on the field stands. Second down!

And so on. By the time the national championship game is played – that’s James Madison against Youngstown State, best we know as of this moment – no one will be able to focus their eyeballs.

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 through December 31. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

(Design by Steven Novak)
(Design by Steven Novak)

Off to See the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Bowls

(Monte Dutton sketches)
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Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, December 26, 2016, 11:32 a.m.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Only in America can two college football teams, one with a record of 6-6 and the other 5-7, lead fans hundreds of miles to play a game in an indoor baseball stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida.

By Monte Dutton

Not all of them go. They’re the ones whose ears can process the frequency of dog whistles.

These are vastly different teams I’m half watching. Mississippi State, a weakling of the Southeastern Conference, against Miami of Ohio, a mediocrity of the Mid-American. The last time a football game matched this level of intensity and anticipation, it was a Wednesday night in Muncie on ESPN2.

I’m just watching to see if the winning coach gets doused in Gatorade by his players. If I were a coach, and if a minor bowl victory enabled my team to climb within a game of .500, I’d douse them.

In lukewarm vegetable oil.

It’s just noise. Background noise. Mississippi State just recovered a fumble. I’ll alert a tiny portion of the media with this blog.

I so hope the winning coach gets carried off the field on the shoulders of his players. He’s been holding them up all year.

At the end of this magnificent spectacle, ESPN will segue to a tantalizing tussle between the equally 6-6 teams of Maryland and Boston College. In their respective conferences, these two powerhouses combined to win five and lose 12. The two teams are vacationing fittingly in Detroit.

My favorite game is at 5, and it’s on ESPN2. That’s Vanderbilt versus North Carolina State in Shreveport, Louisiana, a gambling capital of some renown. I’m pumped about the Commodores (yes, 6-6) because they are perhaps the only team playing today that could possibly be excited about being in Shreveport. As Charley Pride once sang:

One more stop down in Shreveport / On this tour of one-night stands / Got some time but no piece of mind / ‘Cause I’m back on the road again.

This song is Shreveport’s greatest hit. I spent a week there one night.

The next line is “tomorrow night I’m in Austin,” but I left that out because that’s one of few places where, this winter, no bowl is being played.

The Red Hawks are beating the Bulldogs, 9-0. Whoa, Nellie.

There’s a bottle of gin in the cabinet, but I’m going to resist temptation. I can’t speak for F. Scott Fitzgerald, but if I get drunk, knowing myself as I do, I’ll get no notable work done on this next novel. Besides, the Monday Night Football game, the one that necessitates the ‘Dores and Wolfpack being relegated to ESPN2, is potentially a good one. Detroit and Dallas. Pro-fessionals. Swimming pools. Movie stars.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Even a Dee-troit Lion.

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 for the entire month. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

(Design by Steven Novak)
(Design by Steven Novak)

The Goats Are Loose for the Holidays

(Monte Dutton photo)
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Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, December 23, 2016, 11:58 a.m.

I need to knock this blog out. Eastern Michigan is playing Old Dominion in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl in about two hours. I’d hate to have my attention divided.

After all, I once owned an Eastern Michigan tee shirt. It was given me by the athletic director at the request of the Detroit columnist Joe Falls. Joe isn’t with us anymore, but once upon a time, he drove out to Michigan International Speedway, and we had a chat, probably because he was sitting next to me in either the media center or the press box, and I mentioned that I was lodged in Ypsilanti, and I hadn’t even been able to find an EMU tee shirt in the stores.

By Monte Dutton

About a month later, I got a handwritten note from the athletic director to the effect that Joe Falls had instructed him to send me a tee shirt.

I never had that kind of clout with my family, let alone a public institution of higher learning.

As for Old Dominion, I once applied for a sports information job there. I don’t think the school even replied.

So I’m for Eastern Michigan, and rest in peace, Joe Falls.

I wonder what happened to that tee shirt.

The Bowl games are falling two and three a day. Before they started, I wrote down all the point spreads and picked the games. I didn’t bet them because that would be, like, illegal. Going into the Bahamas Bowl, with Navy-Louisiana Tech and Troy-Ohio U. to follow before bedtime, I am 6-3.

Had I put money on all those games, I’m confident I’d be 3-6. A little-known codicil in the Cosmic College handbook bases the outcome of all bowl games on whether or not I had money on the line. A whole section details all the ways I’m a whiz at anything that doesn’t make money.

Christmas beckons. I’ve been tracking the deliveries to a few special young’uns, all two generations removed from mine. Kids come first and quite often only because all of us are having trouble making ends meet.

I lost my train of thought there for a few minutes. Jimmy the Goat is loose on the streets of Mayberry.

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 for the entire month. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

(Design by Steven Novak)
(Design by Steven Novak)

Sleighbells Ring-a-ling, Ring-ting-ting-a-ling …

Clinton High coaches Josh Bridges (left) and Eddie Romines watch the action. (Monte Dutton photos)
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Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, December 21, 2016, 11:56 a.m.

I needed to get out of the house. I’d been here for most of Monday and Tuesday, writing my next (sixth) novel past 75,000 words and almost to 250 double-spaced pages. I don’t think I’ve written as much in a two-day span since I was closing out my book on Tony Stewart, Rebel without a Cause, back at about this time in 2000.

By Monte Dutton

And that wasn’t fiction. As it was about Tony, a good bit of it was stranger.

I decided I’d reward myself with a nice dinner so I went to Fatz Café, where I ordered the blackened chicken Caesar salad and had the chicken replaced with salmon. I like Fatz Café – it’s the best and only of its kind we’ve got here in town – and dating back to the menu of a café that closed about five years ago, my palate particularly likes the combination of Caesar salad and salmon.

Fatz Café is out on I-26, next to the Hampton Inn, and Clinton High School is conveniently nearby. The Red Devils, girls and boys alike, were playing a high school team curiously representing Greenville Technical College, a charter school or some such, so I swung by. Basketball is difficult to shoot with the camera I own, which leaves me shamed in comparison with other professionals, but I don’t make enough from writing about games, let alone shooting photos, to justify buying anything new. I wanted to experiment with the camera before I’m actually out on assignment bona fide, most likely during the New Year.

CHS subs wait for a whistle, along with public-address announcer Buddy Bridges.

I don’t know why I even bothered. I keep trying to find a way to shoot at a higher shutter speed, but I can’t use an aperture small enough to make it work. I’m sure I’ll do what I always do, which is shoot dozens of shots hoping a half dozen or so will be usable.

Clinton dominated both games. The girls won, 55-22, and the boys, 69-51. About all I learned was that Greenville Tech Charter wears blue and is nicknamed Warriors. Once the boys’ game seemed well in hand – the Red Devils raced ahead in the second quarter – I went home to watch an impressive Western Kentucky squad pound Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl. Tonight Brigham Young plays Wyoming in the fabled San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

Hum baby. Clemson is playing South Carolina in men’s basketball at the same time, so I’ll have something to switch back and forth between.

Presents for grand- nephews and niece should get to the appropriate places on time. Most of the family is nearly broke, so we all take what we can spare and spend it on the young’uns. Maybe I’ll splurge and buy myself a funny tee shirt or something on line.

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 for the entire month. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

(Design by Steven Novak)
(Design by Steven Novak)

The Moon Is the Limit

You’re looking at Williams-Brice Stadium from the would-be moon. (Monte Dutton photos)
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Columbia, South Carolina, Saturday, December 17, 2016, 3:52 p.m.

At the moment, Chapman is playing Dillon in football down on earth. I am watching from the moon, which is hyperbolically the press box at Williams-Brice Stadium.

By Monte Dutton

The game is less than two minutes old, and already it looks bad for the Panthers, whom I have watched win two football games this year. This one is for the state Class 3A championship.

Not only have I little rooting interest. I have no professional interest. My job is to write about the next game, the one that matches Boiling Springs against Dutch Fork.

The day’s first problem: no one I can find from Boiling Springs knows if there is or has ever been an actual boiling springs in Boiling Springs. No one seems to know what a Dutch fork is, either. I bet they’d know in Abbeville. Yoder’s Dutch Kitchen is there, or was the last time I drove by, and I bet they’d know. I could find a Dutch fork there if there’s such a utensil.

By the way, while I pondered important matters like springs and forks, Chapman stormed back to take a 14-7 lead. It’s the second quarter, and I’m still trying to get the wi-fi working here on the Williams-Brice moon.

A really nice representative of the University of South Carolina just remedied my wi-fi problems – yes, there is wi-fi on the moon – and now I can write in Technicolor. Actually, it’s just the same old black and white, but I’ll be able to circulate this triumph of literature to a world that otherwise would have no clue of its cosmic significance.

(Monte Dutton photos)

The moon is remote. The windows are close to soundproof. Before the game, I stood reluctantly for a national anthem I could not hear. A mute national anthem is similar to a tree that falls in the woods. I think it makes a sound, but I can’t prove it.

The Panthers and Wildcats are knotted – that’s right, all the players are involved in a huge scrum that is similar to the biggest game of Twister ever – at 21.

In today’s gala opener, South Pointe defeated Hartsville, 51-28, for the Class 4A title. At some point soon, I plan to write for money.

After I wrote this, I had to go to work. Here’s what I wrote in the Spartanburg Herld-Journal. By the way, Chapman won Class 3A, edging Dillon, 29-27. Dutch Fork defeated Boiling Springs in 5A, 28-21.

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 for the entire month. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

(Design by Steven Novak)
(Design by Steven Novak)

 

For Want of Coffee

Vince Pawless (left) and Andy Serna. (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 9:54 a.m.

The Patriots beat the Ravens.

I’m going out of my mind trying to sell my novels.

The new coffeemaker hasn’t arrived yet.

By Monte Dutton

Having to get up and drive out to the truck stop for a gigantic mug of Dark Roast is a chore, but now I’ve had it, and breakfast, and, inexplicably, I watched NASCAR shows on NBC Sports right up until Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe filled my high definition, and, now, thank God, Aerial America is coming on The Smithsonian Channel, and this blog will have a pleasant, soothing background.

Life isn’t exactly great, but it’s promising.

The Weather Channel has a live feed from Minot, North Dakota, and there’s a 30-percent chance of rain here. Just so someone else can write “we need the rain,” here it is. We need the rain.

Minor bowl games will begin on Saturday, and that’s a grand opening I’m probably going to miss because I will be out on free-lance assignment and hence unable to savor the New Mexico Lobos against the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. I might be home in time for the latter stages of Southern Mississippi versus Louisiana-Lafayette in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

I don’t have a big rooting interest in those games.

Most weeks my novels sell better during the week than on weekends. This week, so far, is an exception. Cowboys Come Home, my western about a couple World War II vets coming home to Texas, surged over the weekend, probably in no small part because of its discovery in the part of the Lone Star State where the story takes place, and definitely in no small part because of the efforts of my friend Vince Pawless, who lives thereabouts.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Crazy of Natural Causes (2015) is on Kindle sale at a whopping $.99 until this year of my and America’s discontent finally ends. It’s about a football coach who loses virtually everything except his life (and damn near that) and mounts the big comeback in the most unexpected ways. In this one novel, I wrote about football, Jesus, music, weed, and sex, both hetero- and homo-. The central character, Chance Benford, is either a con man, a flawed hero, a man of God, a hypocrite, or, in the opinion of his creator (me, not God, Who would be his Creator), all of those things. In my view, Chance is basically a good man who does what it takes, however outrageous, to get his life back on track.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016) is my best selling book to date. It’s been out since spring. It’s a story of small-town corruption that has the potential to burst out statewide. The man running for governor, Denny Frawley, has an alcoholic wife, drug-dealing kids, scheming mistress, brutal henchmen, and a taste for violence and cocaine.

Typical politician. The voters seem to think he’s a pretty good guy.

I’d like to think if you’ve read one, you’d like to read them all — the three above plus Longer Songs: A Collection of Short Stories (2016), The Intangibles (2013), and The Audacity of Dope (2011) — but my tales aren’t for everyone.

If you’re not sure whether my made-up adventures are your cup of tea — or vat of truck-stop coffee — sample them in Longer Songs. The short stories all started with songs I wrote.

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 for the entire month. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

(Design by Steven Novak)
(Design by Steven Novak)

 

Coffee, Football, Television & Writing

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
As Jerry Jeff Walker sings, “Lots of smiling faces, little children running around …” (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, December 10, 2016, 11:55 a.m.

On television, the FCS playoff game between North Dakota State and South Dakota State is about to begin.

The Dakotas and Carolinas share north and south, so I reckon I’ll watch.

By Monte Dutton

Last night I watched Chapman (11-3) defeat Newberry (10-4), 34-27, in the Class 3A football semifinals. I was delighted to be there. It was an honor to write about it. I knew there was a high likelihood of a great game. I didn’t know Chapman would pull ahead, 27-7, or that Newberry would storm back to tie it, or that the Panthers’ diminutive quarterback, Colton Bailey, would throw an 85-yard touchdown pass with 1:25 remaining.

But all that added up to a great game, so I was right.

The Spartanburg Herald-Journal sent me an email asking if I wanted to cover it, and I did. I had even been thinking of driving down to Newberry just to watch, but knowing myself as I do, it was cold, and I didn’t attend either Chapman or Newberry, so I probably would have followed it on Twitter. Instead, I tweeted about it so others like me could follow it, and the only time I shivered was when my hands slid along the aluminum rails walking back up from the field afterwards.

What went around came around. It loses something in past tense.

When I covered NASCAR, I used to say, “I don’t know if I love sports. I don’t know if I love writing. I love being a sportswriter.”

Fortunately, I found out I did love writing. That’s why I’m writing this frivolous blog. It’s why three volumes of my fiction have been published in the past two years. It’s why I’m speeding along on my sixth novel. It’s why I neglect many other things. It’s why I’m still fiddling with this even though North Dakota State and South Dakota State are “getting ready for the opening kick.”

I’m pretty romantic for a guy with no social life. I love the Army-Navy Game. Even though Army never wins, I always root for Black Knights of the Hudson, partly because, all else being equal, I always go for the underdog, and partly because my father’s Uncle Cas was a career Army man, and Aunt Frances and I exchanged letters when I was a kid, and I still keep in touch with Cousin Kitty Lu on Facebook.

For the first time in my life, it just occurred to me that Aunt Frances, who could be rather domineering, helped me along the way to being a writer.

Meanwhile … “Touchdown … Jackrabbits!”

I wonder how many times this year I’ve heard the phrase “indisputable video evidence” and how many times it’s been a lie.

By the way, the Jackrabbits (South Dakota State) did not score a touchdown.

In a related story, I think my coffee machine is dead. This is a crisis. I managed to squeeze half a mug out of it this morning. If it doesn’t work at about the time Army-Navy starts, it’s possible I might drive to Costco in Spartanburg because there’s no way I’m going to buy one at Walmart. If I order one online, I’m going to be running out to the Pilot several times with a great big mug. It’s just two miles away.

South Dakota State did, in fact, eventually score a touchdown.

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 for the entire month. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

(Design by Steven Novak)
(Design by Steven Novak)

Money Isn’t Important If You Got It

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
(Photos and sketches by Monte Dutton unless otherwise noted)
(Photos and sketches by Monte Dutton unless otherwise noted)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, December 6, 2016, 1:15 p.m.

It was an intimate morning. I deleted spam messages on my website, so I monitored such personal messages as:

This makes it a virtuous rootage of straightaway of straightaway sprightliness and an first-class effectuation to retrieve from weariness.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Such profundity. I wonder if it’s written in code.

Then I applied the finishing touches to Chapter 25: Mickey’s Beat, in the first draft of my next novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

img_0417I made arrangements to write about a high school football playoff game Friday night.

Not that I needed any further inspiration, but I half-watched a documentary on America’s great natural wonders to further fire my synapses.

Of course, I checked the social media. That goes without saying. One must keep apprised of the various aspects of life that keep us rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell. Yes, Merle, the good times are really over for good. I miss you, but it was a good time to check out. Rest in peace.

win_20150115_130445Twitter is as addictive as ice cream. Facebook is as aggravating as robocalls. Thank goodness for the stimulating photos of kids, cats and casseroles.

“Every day is a new day” is truer than it was when people actually said it.

The next financial challenge is getting property taxes paid. The holidays are the time for me when money comes in the least and is needed the most. I know I’m not like everyone else with things like salaries and benefits, but most people didn’t decide 30 years ago to go into a business that was as doomed as cowboys and the buffaloes they hunted.

I don’t think this simile occurred to me while I was writing Cowboys Come Home. It’s more hopeful because it’s set in a time before I was born.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Perhaps it’s too much of a good thing that I can check my Amazon book sales every hour. At the moment, Cowboys Come Home and The Intangibles are surging. Next hour, it might be The Audacity of Dope and Forgive Us Our Trespasses. Crazy of Natural Causes has been selling well because it’s on sale for $.99 all month.

Current Average Customer Review (Scale of 5)

  1. Cowboys Come Home (2016) 5.0
  2. The Audacity of Dope (2011) 4.8
  3. The Intangibles (2013) 4.8
  4. Crazy of Natural Causes (2015) 4.3
  5. Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016) 3.9

Is there anyone else who reads out there? I mean, more than 140 characters at a time, and in numbers greater than the attendance of your average NASCAR truck race? Reading is good. This has been widely known for a thousand years. Why not try it? You can read Crazy of Natural Causes for the cost of the smallest French fries you can find. If you don’t like it, what have you lost? Your French fries got stale. That’s all.

If you buy my short-story collection, Longer Songs, you can pick and choose between small, contained stories. It’s not available for Kindle (or phones, tablets, laptops, iAnythings) but it’s only $12.95 in print. Last night 10 wings, some fried cheese balls and a Diet Dr. Pepper cost me $16 at Zaxby’s. Had I to do it over, I’d have been waited on at Fatz Café, and that way I could have read a book on my phone while waiting for the salmon Caesar salad I had the last time I went there.

Am I a snob to think reading my fiction ought to be worth as much a small order of fries? You can taste the fries or taste the fiction. The fiction lasts longer, but stick with it and it satisfies more.

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

Ah, rubbish. My novels aren’t for everyone like fries are. They have bad language, crime, sex, drugs, and all sorts of things one never encounters in everyday life, or on the Internet, or on TV.

I really ought to be ashamed of myself. I’m not, though. I think what I’m doing with my life is righteous. Then there’s the matter of not being able to do anything else.

Last night I got a call from a nice fellow raising money for my alma mater. I told him that I couldn’t understand why someone like him always calls at the time of the year when people are spending every dime they can spare on making a kid’s eyes light up on Christmas morning. I told him I’d give some money to Furman next time I had it to spare, but that might be a while.

Going to school there costs about a dozen times as much as when I did. I reckon that fellow needs the money, too.

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 for the entire month. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

(Design by Steven Novak)
(Design by Steven Novak)

Uh, Don’t Tell Me … I’ve Nothing to Do

Though Clinton wears red and Laurens wears green, this is obviously neither. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Though Clinton wears red and Laurens wears green, this is obviously neither. (Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, December 3, 2016, 10:28 a.m.

I got lots of work done this week, but the last two evenings have been kind of random. After days of mostly writing, I left the house in the afternoon, ran some errands, made no definite plans.

On Thursday night, I headed in the general direction of the Presbyterian College basketball game against Johnson & Wales, which I kept calling Scotland & Wales, but first I decided to eat supper.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

I thought about Chinese, and then I pulled into the parking lot of El Jalisco Mexican Restaurant, and then pulled out, and then considered a few other options before going back. A man and woman were playing music in the bar, and the first song I heard was a Charlie Robison tune and I knew I was hooked up. Several friends showed up, as if by magic, and I stayed a while.

The musicians were Harold Senn and Catherine Varner. I know this because Harold gave me his card, which refers to them as A Touch of Gray: Music for Mature Folks. I knew all their songs. I have more than a touch of gray, but I’m not too sure about how mature I am. At times, I feel in suspended adolescence, but most times I just shoot for a few decades shy of my age as measured in years.

I drove by Templeton Center and stopped in the parking lot, where I checked my Twitter to confirm that the Blue Hose were safely ahead at the half. Then I drove on home and failed to watch the NFL game between the Cowboys and Vikings. Harold and Catherine left me in a mood to play, on my guitar, a couple songs they had played, I knew and hadn’t played in a while. I was mildly cognizant of Dallas winning.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

On Friday night, I did go to the game. This time I had a few errands in Laurens, and, as luck would have it, by the time I got my hair cut, shopped for groceries and had supper in a restaurant we don’t have in Clinton, the timing was just about right to watch the Red Devils and Raiders play boys’ and girls’ basketball at the LDHS gym.

As testimony to all this being unplanned, note that I took no photos.

It was a three-quarter-full gym, the Laurens students were dressed in flannels and the Clinton kids were in “ugly Christmas sweaters” (and man, oh, man, did they take that seriously), and the teams split. The Laurens girls clobbered the Clinton girls, 64-22, and the Red Devil boys trimmed the Raiders, 49-46.

M.K. Kelly, last season. (Monte Dutton photos)
M.K. Kelly, last season. (Monte Dutton photos)

This is not a peak time in the annuals of Clinton girls’ basketball, but I rather enjoy watching them play because I so respect their effort. Girls, I have observed, have more enthusiasm than boys at the high school level. They are undaunted by adversity. I respect that they play hard even if not well. Boys, in similar circumstances, are more prone to sulk. Clinton has one polished player, M.K. Kelly, who looks as if she is playing a game all her own to which her teammates cannot adapt. She is the only player. Others are athletes who are there for volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball or track in the spring. At times, it looks as if the glass backboard might crack from the force of one of their layups, but they do have good athletes and will get better as they become more acclimated to the current sport.

The new head coach, John Gardner, has some work to do.

The boys’ game was not pretty. Clinton barely won a game in which, if you didn’t look at the scoreboard, you’d think it was winning by 20 points. The Red Devils also have a new head coach, Eddie Romines, whom I can attest is obsessed with basketball because I have known him since he played it.

Ben Sinclair
Ben Sinclair

Laurens’ Ben Sinclair entered the season with the barest cupboard I have ever seen. No one who did anything for last year’s 16-6 team is back. The Raiders graduated 10 seniors. Sinclair did a fine job coaching them, and they almost pulled off what would have been a stunning upset.

The Clinton boys have lots of players who have only recently arrived on court from the football field, as the season was lengthened by hurricane recovery and a playoff berth. They sometimes appeared to be still playing football. They played at a dizzying pace, regularly out of control, and that is why a game they played at an 80-point pace ended up producing 49.

Clinton (2-0) could be strong. They aren’t anywhere close yet. Region 3-3A is likely to be strong in most every sport. The first- and second-seeded football teams, Newberry and Chapman, are meeting next week for the upstate football title. Every season is going to be a slog, but it’s the reason they play.

The two schools meet again on Tuesday in Clinton. I might go wandering again.

Lou Lauer helped me repair my website. He could help you, too.
Lou Lauer helped me repair my website. He could help you, too.

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 for the entire month. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

(Design by Steven Novak)
(Design by Steven Novak)