I Had to Think It Through

At Pocono in 2004. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 10:50 a.m.

I first saw it on Twitter at roadandtrack.com. I thought it was a fake. I thought it was one of those stories where they made the website look like something reputable and then ran a head that said, “Hillary Clinton Using Slave Labor at Nigerian Brothel.” Then the writing would be so bad that I’d know it was ersatz.

By Monte Dutton

The story looked okay. The website looked like it might really be Road & Track. Other hastily thrown-together articles showed up on the timeline.

It’s real. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is retiring at year’s end.

I’m going to be about the 100th person in my cast of Twitter followers alone to write that I was surprised but not astonished. I get asked about Earnhardt Jr.’s future almost every week on the South Carolina Network’s SportsTalk show, where I generally appear every Friday night at 7:30 EDT (EDT being the standard reference in the Palmetto State).

(Harold Hinson/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

I kept saying that it was too early to tell whether or not he had fully recovered from his concussion protocols. When he had his one decent finish to date, I said maybe it was a good sign. Like many, I watched Monday’s rained-out race in Bristol, and, when Earnhardt wrecked, I thought, Well, just another brick in the wall.

Many people will be surprised when I tell you the one word that comes to mind when three words – Dale Earnhardt Junior – flash into my head.

Earnhardt is a folksy, modestly educated North Carolina kid who learned much about fame from having a famous daddy. As amazing as it may seem, the word that occurs to me is …

… Civilized.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. masters the Talladega draft. (Harold Hinson/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Junior is more civilized than his contemporaries. Maybe it’s because he is the son of a hard man who provided his son with examples but not lessons. The son had to learn how to think, observe, and analyze. All racers — many of whom today have lived either comfortable or sheltered lives, and, quite often, both — graduate from the School of Hard Knocks … literally. Not everyone makes the best of his degree. Junior must have concentrated on the liberal arts.

He understands how the world turns. He understands how the media work. So many people use the word “humble” with such reckless abandon. Most times an athlete says “I’m humbled,” he is nothing of the sort. Nothing about great achievement instills humility. Adversity instills humility.Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost his fierce, legendary father, which is bad enough in itself, but devastating particularly in the timing of the son’s loss. Their relationship had been complicated. Now they were both competing together, father and son, and against each other, man against man. Love had lost many of its conditions.

Phoenix. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)

In 2001, before any of what followed happened, I was struck by how happy both Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were. I was there when both raced yellow Corvettes in the Rolex 24. I was in a dinner line when The Intimidator picked up an extra set of silverware and provided one to me. That may not sound like much, but I would not have been more surprised had Earnhardt raised a sword and dubbed me Sir Monte of Dutton. He also high-fived me. People high-five me every day. Not Intimidators, though. Dale Earnhardt was very much alive, and no one thought that was going to change, and I still thought Speedweeks in Daytona was getting awfully weird.

I went to the funeral. I traveled to cold Rockingham for a collective temperament that was even colder. I was in Atlanta when Kevin Harvick won in the Great Man’s car, tastefully renumbered.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives to victory in the first of two Can-Am Duel races. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett for Chevy Racing)

More pity did I feel for Dale Earnhardt Jr. than had I for the loss of his legendary father.

Now, I feel great. I’ll miss him, but I don’t think he will miss it. He might miss it as much as I miss 10 months of flights, missed, delayed, canceled, and rerouted; rental cars, good, bad, inappropriate, and balky; traffic jams, Atlanta, LA, D-FW, and, occasionally, tracks; and those special occasions when I’d get cussed out by a man who hadn’t read the story about which he was perturbed.

Earnhardt Jr. with Jeff Gordon. (John Clark photo)

I miss it now. After four years. I missed high school football after four years, too, and it was also hell. I miss it so much now that I wrote a novel about it, and I turned its hero into the essence of what I think stock car racing needs. Barrie Jarman isn’t righteous, either to himself or God. He’s a brash kid who has an accurate estimation of how good he is, which is very.

No intention was involved, but a little, and by that, I mean, just a touch, of Junior may have seeped into my latest prose.

Like Kyle Petty, Junior wasn’t as good as his daddy. Like Kyle Petty, Junior is every bit the man, and, in both cases, it’s because the son had enough sense to follow his own dreams and take his own course. Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt were vivid products of their generation. So, too, were their sons.

It’s going to take someone living and breathing, not a creation of a hero in fiction, to raise this next generation. Barrie Jarman is as close as I can get.

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).

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.

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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).

I Feel Like I’ve Gotta Travel On

(Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, January 13, 2017, 10:52 a.m.

I haven’t been to a race track since Homestead, Florida, at the end of 2012. On January 4, 2013, the Gaston Gazette informed that my position would be discontinued on … January 4, 2013. When I think about it, it still grinds my innards.

By Monte Dutton

It’s been a while. It shows. When Carl Edwards announced his decision to step away from NASCAR, it somehow made me think about stepping back.

I realized how much I miss by not being there. I’ve been writing from home for The Bleacher Report and competitionplus.com for quite some time now. I realized it was more difficult, but the Edwards incident underscored how much the loss of the intimacy of being there was costing me. Jeff Gordon’s gone. Tony Stewart. Now Edwards. A generation is changing, and it’s a generation I’m missing just by reading transcripts and watching TV.

It set me to thinking, and that is often a dangerous thing.

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I’ve decided I’m willing to go back, at least on occasion. That, of course, doesn’t mean I will. I must have said a hundred times on radio shows, discussions with friends, etc., that everyone seems to want me back except anyone who could do anything about it.

I am well aware that the business has passed me by. I’m not sure there’s a journalism market for me any more. That’s why I went home to anonymity in the first place.

So, as you may have heard someone say to you before, if you hear anything …

(Alan Marler/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Why? Why? Why?

I’m finally tired of home. For the longest time, the surprise was that I didn’t miss racing more. When I was on the beat, I used to say that I’d been a gypsy so long that I wasn’t fit for anything else. It finally hit me over the past few weeks. I’m tired of being nobody. In retrospect, the cockeyed version of normality in my life was three days at home and four on the road.

The words I can’t believe are coming from my fingers: I miss travel. I have, however, visited such burgeoning metropoles as Saluda, Newberry, and Seneca during 2016. I even drove through Clemson once.

(Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Writing fiction means observing things other than Andy Griffith reruns on Sundance TV. As the late, great Hondo Crouch once wrote, “I’m out of soap.” The context might be helpful.

I’ve loved writing about local sports. It’s drying up, though. I don’t know why NASCAR should be any different. As noted above, it could be I.

As this has always been too low a priority in my mind, I held it back. I could use the money to grease the rusty skids of writing fiction. The royalties are rather sporadic.

I’m tired of slow pay and broken commitments. Last summer, I took a part-time job covering Laurens County for a nearby daily. I was happy with it because it was just about exactly as much as I wanted to write. I took it with the agreement that it would be year-round, not just football. That’s right. When football ended, it was, “Let’s rethink this thing.” Now, of course, losing that gig made it difficult to regain others, in spite of claims to the contrary.

So … to quote an old Johnny Horton song (and wish the subject was his, not mine):

I’m ready / If you’re willing!

(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 fourth, and best selling, novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, 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 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).

Off to See the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Bowls

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

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)

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)

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).

‘Strong Side, 36 Power, on the Second Hut, Ready, Break!’

(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 29, 2016, 10:42 a.m.

I haven’t quoted Tom T. Hall in a while. A week or two, anyway. Don’t be alarmed. I quote him when I’m playing my guitar, too.

The dogs are running own in Memphis / And them nags are running in L.A. / I’m stuck in Spokane in a motel room / And there ain’t no way to get away.

I don’t know what I’m doing here / I could be somewhere else / Like in Atlanta, drinking wine, wine, wine / I don’t know what I’m doing here / I should be somewhere else / Like in Kentucky drinking shine, shine, shine.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

The name of that song is “Spokane Motel Blues.” I’ve never been to Spokane, but I know the feeling. I even get it here at the house, especially when I’m trying to squeeze in as much as possible before the pace quickens at minimum and a deluge sweeps me away at max.

As of today, I hope to write a Chapter 6 to fit in between the fifth and seventh I wrote yesterday. This isn’t common. I don’t write my novels in random order just for kicks. It’s complicated. I split an episode in two and decided the comedy, and a bit of drama, would be enhanced by fitting a change of venue in between.

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

I’ve submitted the new western, Cowboys Come Home, for publication, and resubmitted it again this morning because I screwed up downloading the manuscript the first time. I’m not sure whether italics are proper before there is a publishing deal, but I italicized because it would look like a typo if I didn’t. That’s my best rationalization of the day so far.

Football has started even as I write. The Clinton Red Devils hit the field this morning at 8, and the Laurens Raiders followed promptly at 9, a dozen miles away. Last night on Twitter, I read of some schools that began practice at midnight. Basketball teams started doing that at least 30 years ago, though not on the 29th of July.*

They don’t allow no foolishness like that around here.

Clinton head coach Andrew Webb
Clinton head coach Andrew Webb

I’ll likely pay them both a visit on Monday. Once they start scrimmaging other schools, at the end of next week, I’m going to write about at least a couple. I’ve got preseason features and season forecasts and jamborees and county championships, and don’t even get me started about the Presbyterian College Blue Hose.

Laurens head coach Chris Liner
Laurens head coach Chris Liner

Or the photos I have to take.

It’s about time for me to start comparing schedules. I need to start compiling a Who’s Who in Laurens County Football 2016. (This is not formal. I’m not really making a list and checking it twice, but I do plan on filing away who’s naughty and who’s nice.)

I’ll work on thoughtful questions to pose to Chris Liner, Harold Nichols and Andrew Webb. (Notice how I listed the schools and coaches in alphabetical order.) Questions like:

“Who is that Number 21 again?”

“What exactly is a Stomp-Down Good’Un?”

“On a scale of 1-10, just how super a kid is he?”

“Did you just say he can literally fly? It might be worth a separate story.”

Double rainbow over Presbyterian College.
Double rainbow over Presbyterian College.

One of my favorite observations is watching a high-school athlete, when he reaches the point where he remembers that Coach wants him to be humble.

Presbyterian College head coach Harold Nichols
Presbyterian College head coach Harold Nichols

“I just took the pitch from P.K., and I kinda juked that boy, and then, phew, I was gone!”

The body language changes. He pauses. He takes a breath.

“Uh, I couldn’t have scored if it wasn’t for my teammates blocking for me. And Coach, he called a good play. All I done was tote the football.”

The teams hope they have winning records and make the playoffs. I hope I can go an entire season without once placing my all-purpose phone in front of a coach’s mouth and saying, “Talk about the game.”

ChsByrnes13 002

I’m better than that. I always have been. Whose idea was it to try that onsides kick? What made you think that option pass would work? How did you motivate the kids when the team trailed by two touchdowns at the half? Where in the heck is Rakevious Johnson?

As best I know now, without perusing the rosters, there is no Rakevious Johnson, but, even so, the most common question not to be posed to a coach but, rather, to one of the radio broadcasters in the press box, would be:

“Hey, how you spell that?”

*Laurens Academy also fields a football team, but, as of yet, I have no assignments there. No disrespect to the Crusaders. Respect to the righteous bucks.

 

(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?

(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 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).