Surprise, Surprise

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, April 22, 2017, 11:14 a.m.

Spring is full of surprises. Maybe that’s true in general. Growing up on a farm makes me think of newborn fillies and calves at the thought of spring.

By Monte Dutton

The major surprises of this season go in opposite directions. One I sprung. Another sprung me.

No one else but I — and my editor/proofreader, and two other people I really trust, one of whom is my mother — knew about Lightning in a Bottle until it struck at the end of March. I wanted to write a stock car racing novel, and I didn’t want anyone to know it was coming, right down to publishing it myself because I didn’t want its submission to be circulating through the publishing industry.

Barrie Jarman (Monte Dutton sketch)

It’s a quick read. It’s simple. It’s just a funny tale about what I think the sport needs. Barrie Jarman is a brilliant, outspoken, brash 18-year-old with a spirit FASCAR — which stands for Federated Association of Super Car Automobile Racing — can’t break. His story is told mainly through the eyes of Charlie, his uncle, with whom he has lived for two years.

Barrie doesn’t lose his innocence. He’s well past innocence when the story begins. In a span of less than a year, Barrie finds success, popularity, controversy, mortal danger, and true love. He is a precocious rogue who is hard to dislike.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

This week’s surprise was an unexpected offer from Jeff Gluck to write about NASCAR events in May at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Charlotte Motor Speedway. (HHP/Garry Eller photo for Chevrolet)

I put out the word early in the year that I might be willing to go back to the track every now and again. I was down because Bleacher Report ended the NASCAR columns I had been writing for several years. Being a journalist nowadays means constantly trying to outrun budget cuts and layoffs. I got run down by the combine — maybe hay baler works better — over four years ago. I think the anniversary of the Gaston Gazette day of infamy, January 4, 2013, fell at about the same time of the “we’re cutting back on our NASCAR coverage” message from Bleacher Report this year.

What created Lightning in a Bottle were deep ruminations about how racing changed during the 20 years I traveled the circuit, coupled with a wide range of “we might be interesteds” and “we’ll be back in touches” from sources of racing dissemination.

Bristol Motor Speedway (Harold Hinson/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

I missed racing. I started writing a novel about it, confirmed in my oft-stated view that everyone wants me to write about racing again, non-fictionally, except anyone who can do anything about it.

You don’t have to be a race fan to enjoy Lightning in a Bottle. I doubt I can convince many readers of that, but my racing following is considerable on social media, and I’m desperately hoping that fans will give an entertaining novel about stock car racing a shot.

When I drive through Charlotte Motor Speedway’s tunnel, I am going to be as curious as Barrie Jarman is every day.

How many people there do I still know? How many still know me? Is my perspective needed? Or has the sport, not to mention the profession, passed me by?

Kentucky Speedway (Getty Images for NASCAR)

I won’t be writing about those races and racers halfway. I’ll bear down. I’ll have something to prove. I don’t want anyone to think I don’t still belong. I’ve no desire to dive back into racing at the level of saturation. Hell, I’ve no desire to get back on a plane.

I wouldn’t mind the occasional Darlington, or Bristol, or Martinsville, or Richmond, or Atlanta, or Talladega. I like a good drive. I might even like to go back to Kentucky, because the one time I went there was cataclysmic, and I probably owe it to the good folks of the Commonwealth (I have created a good many, fictitiously) to give the track another shot.

Or, after Charlotte, I may get it out of my system. I never said never, but I thought it a few times. Maybe I’ll say never after this one. Or, more likely, I’ll say, occasionally.

Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.

(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. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.

(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. Links to print copies are below.

(Joe Font cover design)

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 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).

The Occasional Chip Off the Old Block

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, April 14, 2017, 1:30 p.m.

Mornings like this scare me because I remind myself of my old man. He’s been gone since 1993. I’ve outlived him. He lived on, this morning, when I had errands to run.

When I was a teen, my father ruined a lot of plans because of the way he could kill an afternoon. He’d get me to ride up to the hardware store, or a garage, or any other place where people hung out, and hang out. He’d talk to everybody in the post office, or the grocery store, or the filling station, or, more often, all three and several more.

By Monte Dutton

Meanwhile, not having social media, I’d stare at my watch.

It is my habit to write during the first half of days. I get up, stagger into the kitchen, put on some coffee, turn on my laptop, take my meds, and visit the facilities. Then I’ll sip coffee while thoughtfully perusing the social media that is now available. I’ll check the email, rid my website of spam responses, and, then, I’ll write. Sometimes it’s a chapter. Sometimes it’s a blog. Quite often, it’s a blog and then a chapter.

This morning, I needed to venture out into the civilization early. I couldn’t fix breakfast because I had no food. I had several copies of my latest novel to ship. I needed some office supplies. My cell informed me that a prescription refill was ready.

I had no plans to kill the entire morning. I’m satisfied it was my daddy’s spirit.

I hardly ever eat breakfast out. This morning I decided to give the Clinton Café, which despite its name of many incarnations, recently opened in what was originally a Subway many moons ago, a try. I’m happy that Clinton now has two places where a man can order a fried bologna sandwich basket. I enjoyed two eggs, over medium, grits, sausage, and enough coffee to make me slightly giddy. I also read a chapter of the novel, In Farleigh Field, that is conveniently located in my phone.

From there it was on to L&L Office Supply for some mailing stickers because I was shipping two books to Aurora, Illinois, in a predominantly pink box once designed to transport packets of Sweet ‘n’ Low. I talked baseball with Billy Glenn, which is always enjoyable, and this morning’s topic of conversation was the Atlanta Brave’ new ball palace.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Next, after affixing one of said labels, it was on to the post office, where I chatted pleasantly with other patrons and the lady behind the desk, who knows me well for my frequent use of media mail.

Then I talked current events, and when he’s moving into the new building, with Walter Hughes at Sadler-Hughes Apothecary. One of my favorite spaces in Clinton is soon going to occupy a new one. I fret slightly in the way small-town people do when something familiar changes.

Next was Ingles, where I played my regular game of seeing how high a percentage of items I can purchase that are discounted, thanks to my bonus card. I often let that card dictate what I buy. If, for instance, none of the cottage cheese is on sale, I do without cottage cheese. Realizing there is a certain element of misleading salesmanship at work, I do it as much to lend some competitive aspect to shopping as to save money, though the latter is nice.

Then, the “low fuel” light went on in the truck, so I ventured out to the Pilot Truck Center on I-26 to fill up. By then, nature called, no doubt a result of Clinton Café coffee, and I had a spare quarter, so I weighed myself, knowing full well that the scales there are a good 20 pounds off. I know it’s wrong, but it still makes me feel better. What’s a quarter for a positive attitude?

Now I’m back home, writing. That qualifies in my world as an exciting day.

Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.

(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. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.

(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. 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 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).

The Grind Gets Better

Into the Smokies on the way home. (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, January 31, 2017, 10:58 a.m.

Let’s see. Today is the last day of the month, which means a download of my fourth novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, will no longer be 99 cents. Good news and bad news. I won’t sell as many in February, but I’ll make more money on the ones I do. The idea behind Amazon’s 99 cents specials is that they give the book a boost. It’s already sold the most of my five novels. I should probably write another like it.

By Monte Dutton

Maybe I am. It’s not finished.

Tonight Newberry is visiting Clinton for a big night of high school basketball, and I’ll be on hand to write about it and take a few pictures. The Red Devils clobbered Mid-Carolina while I was away. Newberry is only 25 miles away. The two schools played in most every sport even before they were both aligned in Region 3-3A. They split earlier games, both in Newberry, but the overtime loss was in a holiday tournament, and Clinton won the one that counted. Tonight’s will, too. The Red Devils have an undefeated region record on the line.

Mike Reynolds

I’m just getting reacclimated with the world. I spent most of four days avoiding all that was going on around me. I checked the Twitter feed occasionally. I watched the second half of Kansas-Kentucky on a TV in a Kentucky bar where I couldn’t find anyone who didn’t hate Louisville. The Jayhawks won, and that probably increased sales while the Mike Reynolds Band rocked the night away.

I don’t party much anymore. As best I can tell, I came out of it relatively intact.

The trip: (a.) increased my interest in writing songs and drawing sketches; (b.) lessened my sense of disappointent; (c.) provided me with sustenance and inspiration; (d.) got me out of town; (e.) satisfied a growing wanderlust; and (f.) gave me a chance to play a lot of music and listen to a lot more.

I’m sure I could think of several more, but this blog isn’t for money, and I’ve got to get to some things that are.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

This week is the Super Bowl. I assume, sometime recently, there has been a Pro Bowl. I watched a little of the Rolex 24 over the weekend, mostly with the sound off, and I tried for a while to find the ending, but I am not adept at surfing the program guide of Dish Network, so I watched Virginia-Villanova, again with the sound off.

The Falcons are playing the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The only other time the Falcons reached the Super Bowl, I watched in a condo in Ormond Beach, Florida. All I remember is that it wasn’t much of a game. One year while I was in Florida early for Speedweeks, the Patriots played the Eagles in Jacksonville, so, when I went to see some friends play music in St. Augustine Beach, the bar was full of NFL fans. I wore a Red Sox cap because, well, I wear one a lot. When I got in there, it seemed as if everyone knew me. Some people were slapping me on the back; others just looked at me with scorn and derision. It hadn’t occurred me that a Boston cap would get me lumped in with the Patriots.

This shouldn’t have been so hard to figure out.

I’ve rooted for the Red Sox since I was seven years old, but it all started with Carl Yastrzemski, not Boston. For that particular Super Bowl, which the Patriots won, I just wanted to see a good game.

That’s about the way I feel about this one.

(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. 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 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).

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.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

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).

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)

 

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)

I Wish You a Normality of Your Very Own

I'm going to Setzler Field Saturday. (Monte Dutton photos)
I’m going to Setzler Field Saturday. (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 7:58 p.m.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Ah, the world goes back to normal. My world, anyway.

NASCAR’s Sprint Cup champion will be determined among four drivers – Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano – at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday unless it rains, and as of a check I just made it’s not going to.

dscf3848On Friday night – it never rains here anymore – both of the county’s public high schools, Laurens and Clinton, open play in the state football playoffs. The Raiders host Woodmont in Class 5A; the Red Devils visit Chester in 3A.

DSCF3709Newberry College, just 25 miles to the southeast, is playing an NCAA Division II playoff game with Tuskegee. The Wolves (once Indians) have won 10 games in a row. If they get past the Golden Tigers, they will likely get a second shot at Florida Tech, the team that beat them in their opener.

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving, and neither Donald Trump nor white supremacists nor protesters is going to ruin that. The hashtag in our family is #thatdressing in reference to my mother’s.

cowboyshome_fullcvr343-page-001

My fifth novel, a marked departure from the other four, is on the market. Cowboys Come Home is self-published, which means it won’t get the benefit of Amazon promotion unless it catches its attention via, oh, selling. I’m not overflowing with money at the moment, and it’s the end of the year, when it is righteous to spend every square nickel on others, so I need to spread the word as inexpensively as possible. You can help me with relative ease. Social media “retweets” and “shares” are greatly appreciated.

DSCF3611Not too long ago, someone on Twitter criticized “a grown man who still likes high school football,” and, if that is a criticism, I’m just as guilty of it as I am of being fat and unmarried. I like high school football as much as college football and pro football. I love writing about it because I feel unfettered. Not nearly as many people tell me how to do my job, writing, when I’m running around on the field afterwards asking questions. I haven’t had one kid playing for the Red Devils or the Raiders express concern about protecting his “brand.”

It also fuels my fiction. Over the past few days, a new chapter in what will be my sixth novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (italics when it is published), was a little side trip based on some experiences I had at a couple recent football games. They are by no means what actually happened to me but incidents I imagined while experiencing others.

I’ve written short stories that began with what the guy in the next booth at Fatz Café was saying to his wife. One of the principal characters in Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, began with watching a couple college students drink at a sports bar.

audacity2Cowboys Come Home is set at the end of World War II. The Intangibles is set in 1968. The Audacity of Dope took place in 2008. Postcards from Pit Road, a non-fiction work, was based on the 2002 NASCAR season. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is running concurrently with the present. Trump’s getting elected in the next chapter. He’s not a character. The characters just talk about him, like you and me.

A friend bought a copy of Cowboys Come Home today and told me he was now a novel and a half behind. He hasn’t finished Forgive Us Our Trespasses, which came out in the spring, yet. He asked me if the new one was safe for his son. It is. It’s PG-13, and I think he’s 15 now. I’m fairly sure nothing in it is going to shock him.

I was thinking about recurring themes in my fiction. My heroes are all flawed. Often bad girls turn good. My most unique protagonist was Chance Benford in Crazy of Natural Causes. He becomes fascinated more with the wisdom and goodness of Jesus than the divinity. He reads the Bible, but he’s not completely sure Christ is He and not he. His view is not mine. I let my imagination see through Chance’s eyes when I read the Bible and imagined how a man in his dire straits would react to the Bible.

The reason I think Chance’s story is thought-provoking is that telling it provoked me.

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. 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).

Just Add Water

El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico. I feel like a rock.
El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico. I feel like a rock. (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, October 21, 2016, 10:29 a.m.

Sometimes things clump up. All of a sudden, things start breaking, and they occur too fast to get them fixed as they bounce and bumble their way into our lives.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Until this morning, this website was down for about a week. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the assistance of Lou Lauer, who fixed it. I tried halfheartedly from time to time.

My career has spanned a wide, technological change. When I started out writing, I used a typewriter. I wrote headlines (on typewriters) and shipped them to composing rooms through pneumatic tubes. I oversaw the paste-up. Later on, I pasted up the pages myself.

Here’s a dated joke. A colleague and I were rooming together at a NASCAR race. We started reminiscing, and he mentioned a time when he worked as a desk man and how occasionally someone would bring a Shoney’s strawberry pie back from dinner for everyone to share.

“Care to guess how we cut it?” my friend asked.

I didn’t hesitate. “Pica pole,” I said.

Did I mention it was dated? Did I mention I wanted to boost the business of Google?

Tell Lou I sent you.
Tell Lou I sent you.

Now people use algorithms, whatever they are, to determine content. It’s an extraordinary replacement for human judgment. Now newspapers and websites are concerned about their “brands.” We had a brand when I was growing up. It was electric. We used it on cattle. They were branded. Just like this website. Its brand will undoubtedly be enhanced by the fact that it works again.

DSCF3717This has been an efficient week by my standards, perhaps, in part, because I haven’t been fiddling with this blog and my other one, www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com. On Monday, I wrote about NASCAR for Bleacher Report and assembled information about the upcoming football games involving the county’s high schools. On Tuesday, I wrote advances on the Broome-Clinton and Mauldin-Laurens games, as well as two NASCAR columns. This is the first time all season that both Clinton and Laurens are playing at home. It’s also the first time in three weeks that there aren’t games on both Thursday and Friday nights. The hurricane, Matthew, mostly left us alone, but it affected the sports schedules. Clinton will skip next Friday and face Woodruff on November 4. Mathew is gone, but the effect lingers. I guess it is still trickling down.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I worked on my next novel, tentatively titled Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the first draft is well over 40,000 words now. The only time I feel better than when I’ve finished a chapter is when I’ve finished a book.

Tomorrow, well, that’s quite a story.

Reckless Kelly
Reckless Kelly

A while back, a mutual friend wrote me. He had spent some time with my favorite band, a Texas-based bunch known as Reckless Kelly, and discovered that they were displeased with their official biography. He asked me to rework it. I did. They liked it and invited me to come see them this Saturday night in Shelby, North Carolina. I wrote a chapter about the band in my last non-fiction book, True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed.

Several weeks ago, the editor of the newspaper in Marietta, Georgia, hired me to cover the football game between Kennesaw State and Furman. You may have heard me refer in the past to the difference between a good game and a good story. This may have been my best example ever. The Owls defeated the Paladins, 52-42. What a story. The problem was that I am a Furman graduate. Through my jaded eyes, it was a baaaaaaad game.

On Monday, the sports editor in Marietta, John Bednarowski, sent another email, noting that Kennesaw State is visiting Gardner-Webb and asking if I’d like to write about that game, too.

Well, yes. I would. Gardner-Webb is located in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, which is only a few miles from Shelby, site of the Reckless Kelly concert. The Kennesaw State vs. Gardner-Webb game begins at noon, leaving me plenty of time to write a fine story and wander over to Shelby at my leisure. Two friends are meeting me there.

As an early mentor of mine, Donny Wilder, used to say at such times, “Just add water.”

 

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

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy 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)

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. Links to print copies are below.

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).

 

The Weekend That Was

(Monte Dutton photos)
(Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, September 13, 2016, 7:38 a.m.

On Sunday afternoon, I walked out of Bi-Lo humming the theme from The Rifleman. I have no idea why. I haven’t watched a rerun of it lately.

Bum-bum-bum-buh-BUM-bum, bum-bum-bum-BUM …

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

What a momentous weekend. So much was happening I went to the supermarket to think about nothing.

Like most weekends, it had its ups and downs. I like to say that things are seldom mediocre for me. Either everything goes right or nothing does, but, in truth, most days are in between. I just remember the good and bad ones more.

dscf3767Friday night’s Laurens District High School victory over Irmo was inspiring. Then word arrived that Clinton had lost in Aiken.

Presbyterian got drubbed at Chattanooga, 34-0. The Citadel upended Furman, 19-14. I watched both games on my laptop. Denny Hamlin won the caution-marred and wreck-filled Federated Auto Parts 400 in Richmond.

Mookie Betts energizes the ballclub. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Mookie Betts energizes the ballclub. (Monte Dutton sketch)

On the other hand, the Boston Red Sox are running wide open. With 19 games left, they lead the Blue Jays by two games, the Orioles by three and the Yankees by five. David Ortiz hit his 536th homer last night, tying Mickey Mantle. Mookie Betts has become my favorite major-league player, partly because he wears my old high school football number and partly because he is the most exciting player to watch since Ken Griffey Jr.’s prime. Maybe Willie Mays’. Last night Betts caught the Birds napping and dashed unexpectedly home. He performs such magic quite often.

Billy Dunlap announces plans for the Laurens County Sports Hall of Fame.
Billy Dunlap announces plans for the Laurens County Sports Hall of Fame.

On Monday, I attended a media conference announcing the formation of a Laurens County Sports Hall of Fame and drove home to write a story about it. Then I did my due diligence on the high school games – Abbeville at Clinton, Laurens at Boiling Springs, Laurens Academy at Cathedral Academy – and I’m going to give LDHS coach Chris Liner a weekly call shortly. Then I’ll call Clinton’s Andrew Webb at mid-morning and LA’s Todd Kirk either afterwards or tomorrow morning.

This Friday’s assignment is Abbeville (3-0-1) at Clinton (1-2).

Between tomorrow morning and Friday night, I get to work on my next novel. The rough draft rose above 30,000 words last week. The latest published novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is on Amazon Kindle sale for $2 until the end of the month. I should find out soon whether or not the fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, is going to be published in the KindleScout program. My last two novels, Forgive Us Our Trespasses and Crazy of Natural Causes, have been published in that program, but I’m not sure Amazon is interested in a modern western. I hope so. It’s something completely different for me. I believe in it, and if it doesn’t get accepted, I’ll move on to Plan B. The nomination period – Amazon likes to survey what potential readers think of it – ends in two days (as these word are written). If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, and you haven’t done so already, I’d appreciate it if you’d consider nominating it here.

Obligations are closing in. In the next month, I’ve got a lot of record-keeping and paperwork to catch up on. I’ve got to prepare Cowboys Come Home for print release, regardless of whether or not Amazon chooses it for the KindleScout program.

Troy Dendy rushed for 216 yards.
Troy Dendy rushed for 216 yards.

For a free-lancer, my life has become rather regimented, which is mainly good. I don’t get out much, and feel lonely a fair amount of the time, but solitude has its advantages and observation is more important than interaction.

I’ve been a bit glum lately, but my highs aren’t that high nor the lows that low. I’ve just hunkered down. I’ve decided I’m doing what I do, it is my fate, my only workable option, and it’s not merely that I love writing – whether about a high school football game or a chapter of fiction about a quirky teacher’s first day of school – but it’s what I’m supposed to do, all I really know how to do at this stage of my life, and the best path, however snarled, to success.

(Steven Novak cover design)
(Steven Novak cover design)

Please visit the KindleScout site and consider nominating my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, for publication. You’ll find sample chapters, a short synopsis and a Q&A. Take a look at it here.

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

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is on Amazon sale at $2. Surely my work is worth that much of a gamble.

(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. Links to print copies are below.

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).

 

Let Freedom Sparkle

(Monte Dutton photos)
(Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, July 1, 2016, 9:22 a.m.

Independence Weekend! America steps boldly into the second half of another eventful year. The stock cars are roaring in Daytona Beach. The baseball teams are wearing all sorts of star-spangled pajamas. Fireworks galore, and since this year the Fourth of July isn’t until Monday, I expect they’ll commence tonight and keep on popping them in the wee hours right on up Tuesday.

Monte DuttonNo need to try it at home, kids. Awe-inspiring fireworks displays are available, risk-free, in every downtown square, every minor-league ballpark, and not nearly as much by drunk Uncle Ed, waving a lit Roman candle around in the backyard and inadvertently bouncing a fireball off a donkey’s butt.

Have no fear. If that happens this year, Action News and the humane officer (often a contradiction in terms) will be on the scene, taking fingerprints and making sure all incriminating video is already on YouTube.

Me? I’ll be pecking away at a keyboard, as usual, just like now. The toil of editing a manuscript is not a great way to celebrate freedom, but, as Charley Pride used to say onstage between songs, “it sure beats picking that cotton in Mississippi.”

It sure beats hauling that hay in South Carolina. At this point in life, of course, had I followed in my father’s footsteps, I would have been supervising the hauling of hay in South Carolina. Since the course of my life has been so vastly different, hay is still being harvested in the pastures around my home, but now my only involvement is the yearly receipt of a check and the regular sensation of staggering out of bed in the morning, yawning, looking out the front window, and saying to myself, “I’ll be dogged. Hay.”

I’ll spend a half hour yakking with my mother on the phone. We’ll talk about the books we’re reading, and the latest on that crazy Trump, and who died, and into whom I bumped the other day, and has she seen the latest pictures on Facebook of “the baby”?

The rumble and the roar. (Getty Images for NASCAR)
The rumble and the roar. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

I’ll watch the NASCAR races so that I will be qualified to write about them, but now, instead of sitting in a press box annoying officials with my questions, I’ll be annoyed at the announcers on high-def, but it won’t get heated because I can play some carefree Marty Robbins song — “Singing the Blues,” say — or philosophical Tom T. Hall ditty — “Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine” — and it will settle me down no matter how many times the announcers use harsh words like “carnage” to describe a wreck. If they’re going to use “carnage,” then they might as well use “bloodbath,” too, because they mean the same thing.

See? That’s why I play guitar.

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

My new novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is a crime thriller.

Set in the hills of Kentucky, Crazy of Natural Causes is a fable of life’s absurdity, seen through the unique perspective of ruined coach Chance Benford.

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

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories, all of which are derived from songs I wrote.

All three of these books, already autographed, are available at L&L Office Supply, 114 N. Main St., Clinton. Buy one of the novels, and you’ll get the short stories absolutely free.

Most of my books are also available here.