Gimme That Old-Time Promotion, It’s Good Enough for Me

The Talladega draft. (Harold Hinson/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, May 4, 2017, 6:25 p.m.

It occurred to me yesterday morning. What NASCAR needs is a ground game.

Monte Dutton

Just hand the ball to Jimmy Brown, or pitch it to Gale Sayers. (It’s not that I’m old enough to use the names of heroes many today know nothing about. I take relish in it. There was really no need to use this comparison at all. By ground game, I meant the kind politicians talk about, the one that used to be called “getting out the vote.”)

NASCAR needs to put fannies in seats. Empty seats don’t buy hot dogs. They don’t even stand up to hear Restless Heart perform the national anthem.

Oh, the excuses.

It was a tad warm. It was a little cool. The race takes too long. I might miss The Walking Dead. The wi-fi’s slow. Some tickets are cheaper than they were five years ago. All sports are experiencing a slump (which explains the 5,000 who watched Alabama play Auburn … in volleyball.)

TV is all that matters. Never mind that TV ratings are swooning, too.

You can feel the rumble every time the the steel chariots roar by. (HHP/Harold Hinson photo for Chevrolet)

NASCAR has managed to run off its once-loyal fans, and the ones who straggled in when it became fashionable are now really into mixed martial arts. Or, hell, they might spend all their free time watching President Trump.

For the umpteenth year in a row, the Emperor spent the offseason buying new clothes, and once again, more and more people notice he’s really naked.

If tracks disassembled, detonated, and melted more grandstands into scrap metal, they’d be phone booths. The goal, openly divulged, is to increase the market value of the remaining seats. In other words, it will be easier to charge $100 apiece for them if there are fewer.

What would I have done? I’d have left those desolate grandstands on the back stretch, recruited scout leaders, baseball coaches, bandleaders, Campfire Girls, Future Farmers of America, Beta Clubs and the Royal Ambassadors of the Baptist church to sell the tickets for 10 bucks a pop, let the kids keep $5 of each ticket for themselves or their organization, park the buses and expose them to racing, no matter if the whole program did no better than break even.Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

The first step in rebuilding this fan base is getting them while they’re young. If the only way kids watch is on TV, it’s the most they’re ever going to do. No one has to make them think that being there is important. Being there really is important. They’ve got to feel the vibrations, smell the fumes, hear the fury of powerful engines, and experience the pulse quickening that unfurls with the wave of a green flag.

It’s breathtaking. Take some breaths.

That’s what I mean by a ground game. Turn out the fans. Don’t just open the gates.

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).

One on the Market, One on the Way, One in Progress

I'm no Riley Mansfield, but I do enjoy playing music from time to time. With my friend Joe VanHoose at the House of Pizza right here in Clinton.
I’m no Riley Mansfield, but I do enjoy playing music from time to time. With my friend Joe VanHoose at the House of Pizza right here in Clinton.

Clinton, S.C., Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 9:14 a.m.

For most of two days, I’ve been immersed in the first draft of my third novel, Crazy by Natural Causes. I’m trying to make the transition from a guy who wrote a novel … to a novelist.

The Audacity of Dope is on sale at, and It’s not for the kids. It is a fast-moving suspense thriller involving an unlikely, flawed hero, and it includes drugs, violence, sex and atrocious language in its pages. Miraculously, almost everyone who reads it seems to like it; either that, or those who don’t like it have failed to let me know. I didn’t expect it to be so well received, but I’m proud that even those who undoubtedly disagree with its politics and lifestyles seem to enjoy it anyway.

Many readers have suggested (a.) they’d like to see a sequel, (b.) they think I should produce an audio version, and/or (c.) it would make a great movie.

As much as I like Riley Mansfield, the aforementioned unlikely, flawed hero, I’m anxious to move on. Admittedly, though, Crazy by Natural Causes is also centered around an unlikely, flawed hero. Other than that, Riley and Chance Benford have relatively little in common.

If you’re interested in The Audacity of Dope, click on, or cut and paste, one of the links below:

Via the last link, you can buy a signed copy, though you’ll have to mail me the money. I’m slowly modernizing, but I’m not there yet. There’s probably an add-on, or a widget, or something else I don’t fully understand, in the future of this website. It’s already got ads, so if you don’t want to help me a lot, click on one of the ads and you’ll help me a little.

I’m embarrassed by the blatant self-promotion that making a living requires. If I get comfortable and famous again, I promise I’ll back off.

Aw, hell, who am I kidding? No, I won’t. I’ll just be angst-ridden about it.

The Intangibles, which has been through most of the editing process and is now being designed, is scheduled for publication in November. It’s a tale of a small Southern town, one very much like this one, in 1968, when public schools were fully integrated. The challenge of The Intangibles was cohesively blending in a larger number of principal characters. Few have read The Intangibles, but they all seem to think it’s better than The Audacity of Dope. I can’t really say. I’ve loved writing all three. Crazy by Natural Causes is currently at about 52,000 words and will probably reach 75,000 when the first draft is completed.

I just completed a long, crucial chapter, the 28th, and I hope to get the next two done by week’s end. For most of two weeks, a promotional trip and family matters kept me away from Crazy (yes, it’s a double entendre). My general process is to go by my outline, think each chapter through before I write it and add layers of detail to the outline as it progresses. I didn’t stop thinking about Crazy while otherwise occupied, and that’s why I’m moving along rapidly now. My fingers have to catch up with my mind.

The Audacity of Dope evolved because I tried to come up with a story that would grab the interest of the publisher, and because I had recently completed a non-fiction book about music (True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed, University of Nebraska Press/Bison Books). The Intangibles is a means of coming to grips with the events of my childhood. It’s set in 1968, when I was 10, and some of it is a reflection of events I saw and experienced over the following decade in real life. Crazy by Natural Causes is intended to be sort of a farcical examination of the madness of contemporary life.

I don’t intend to stop writing novels. I doubt I’ll ever write another non-fiction book, but I haven’t said “never.” Nothing challenges and inspires me as much as writing fiction. When I sit down at my laptop and bury myself in the story, I think I’m happier than at any other time. It flies, the time. It’s difficult to reach a stopping point.

Oh, yeah. Here’s a link to the music book, which might be interesting to many of you who have already read The Audacity of Dope.


Free as a Breeze

I'll be doing a little more of this soon.
I’ll be doing a little more of this soon.

Life’s back to normal. I had a dentist’s appointment this morning. I took my car to the garage to get everything checked out, replace the worn parts, stuff like that. I’ve got a stack of bills, a hamper of laundry, income taxes to finish.

Just like everybody else.

In a sense, basketball season ended in that the Presbyterian Blue Hose played their last home game Saturday night. I really enjoy the local scene. The same people from town are there every game. I enjoy bumping into someone I know and chatting about the game, not to mention football recruiting, baseball prospects and the inevitable gossip around town. After spending 20 years on the road as much as off it, I’m gradually becoming a full-fledged Clintonian again.

I really thought this process would drive me crazy. I’m past that now. I think I’m content to write my books and songs and gradually try to reach the point where I’m making a living with them. I just chip away at it every day. I know it’s going to take time. I’m just working hard and trusting in a future I’ll have to form for myself.

Baseball will begin soon. Hope springs eternal. Last year I was pessimistic about the Boston Red Sox, my team for almost as long as I can remember, and it proved right. This year I know they’ll be better. I just don’t know how much. Since I live far from the madness of Boston, I think I’m a little more patient than those who are closer to the action. I’ll be watching the Red Sox on NESN like I always do. Even if the team disappoints, there’ll be the soothing presence of Don Orsillo on the play-by-play and Jerry Remy offering his often humorous insight. Baseball announcers can be like family.

I’ll be on the road soon to promote my novel, The Audacity of Dope. That’s going to give me a chance to travel, though I doubt I’ll be boarding any planes any time soon. In the next few weeks, I’ll be in Martinsville, Va. (March 7, Binding Time, 3-5 p.m.), Winston-Salem, N.C. (March 8, Barnhill’s, 6-7:30 p.m.) and Charlotte, N.C. (March 16, Poor Richard’s Book Shoppe, 5-7 p.m.), and there are more after that.

Pretty soon, the editing process of the second novel, The Intangibles, will undoubtedly begin. The third novel, Crazy by Natural Causes, is about a third of the way through the first draft.

I’ve got to find time to work on some songs. I haven’t even memorized one, “Scuppernongs and Muscadines,” that I wrote a couple months ago.

One aspect of The Audacity of Dope that is unique is that the main character, Riley Mansfield, is a musician. I wrote his songs. The lyrics are in the text. When I have a book signing, I talk about the book, read from it and pick up my guitar and play a few of its tunes.

Would you like to see my act? Get me a contact – a phone number, an email address, a web site – and I’ll pass it along to my valued associate, Rowe Copeland, who’s booking me into places to sell the book. She’s my “book concierge,” a profession I didn’t know existed until she and I had a meeting at a Starbuck’s. I can play music in a coffeehouse and talk about the book on the side, or, talk about the novel in a bookstore and play a few songs on the side. I’ll do my best to entertain you.

On my own, I’m a little reticent about promotion. Selling myself embarrasses me. I want people to book me, or put me on a radio show, or hire me to write, because I’m good, not because I bug them to death. I need someone to bug them to death for me. I don’t have a bit of problem selling myself when I’m up on a stage or sitting behind a table, but it works better to have someone else who believes in my ability and wants the world to know, also.

Hell, I don’t know yet whether I can pull this off or not. If not, I’ll figure something else out. For now, it’s fun to try.