Truth Leads to Fiction

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, August 9, 2017, 11:41 a.m.

Football time’s a-comin’ comin’.

Rain, too, unfortunately. I’m scheduled to write about a “jamboree” (a heap of teams show up and match up against one another as planned for either a quarter or a half) in Woodruff on Thursday and here in Clinton on Friday.

By Monte Dutton

Both the Red Devils and the Laurens Raiders are at Woodruff, but they won’t play each other until August 25. Clinton is playing Blue Ridge, a school that inexplicably wears red, in the opening “half” (there are actually three) beginning at 6 p.m. Then Chapman faces Spartanburg, and the final “half” is Laurens vs. host Woodruff. The halves are thirds, but that’s just too complicated to explain over and over.

It’s a handy grouping. Woodruff and Chapman are, like Clinton, in Region 3-3A, and Laurens hosts

Greenwood Index-Journal. I took notes and photos of Clinton-Blue Ridge, then drove to a nearby Burger King to file while Chapman and Spartanburg were playing. I drove back, took notes and snapped photos of what was left of Laurens-Woodruff, then dictated a few paragraphs while sitting in my car in the parking lot.

This time I’ll be able to drive back home to file, and Billy Dunlap, my free-lance employer at the GoLaurens/GoClinton website, is shooting photos.

In other words, a decent story is theoretically possible.

It’ll be nice to tune up my football-writing skills – mostly my note-and-stat-keeping skills – with an athletic contest that is as unofficial for me as it is for the teams. I may look for a new, better stat form here in a few minutes. Last year’s didn’t provide as much room as I needed. I’ll probably find a form I can print, but, being somewhat set in my ways, it’s possible I will draw up my own.

Possible, but unlikely. The Internet offers many options.

The summer has been dedicated to writing fiction. The sequel to my stock car racing novel, Lightning in a Bottle, is in the works. The manuscript is ready. The cover should be completed by month’s end, provided my designer and I see eye to eye (and we did on the two before this one). The new novel will be called Life Gets Complicated.

Believe it or not, writing free-lance stories about high school and college kids is an important part of my fiction.

Several readers of Lightning in a Bottle are convinced that Barrie Jarman is based on a real race driver. More than one have suggested Barrie is a latter-day, teen-aged Tim Richmond, but that never occurred to me once when I was creating him. If truth be known, Barrie, who was 16 when the novel began, is more derived from a high school football player than a race driver I never knew. There isn’t any one, but, when writing about a character 40 years younger, it helps to pay attention to what the kids of today are like.

Most of my books can be purchased here.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

I Don’t Have Roots to Pull for and Cover

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

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, August 11, 2016, 10:06 a.m.

No good verb exists for your favorite team, or race driver, or ballplayer, or golfer, etc.

Who do you pull for? For whom do you pull?

Pull for? It’s hard enough just to pull.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I’ve put a fair amount of thought, over the past few minutes, in how to “pull for”? Let’s say you’re driving a pickup truck, with a friend, and boredom sets in, and you decide to see how far you can coast. Push in the clutch — or slip it into neutral — roll down a hill and try to get to the top of the next one. As the truck slows, you and your buddy start sliding in the seat, stupidly thinking this tiny impetus might get the truck to the top, where, presumably, its coasting can live on for another hill.

That might be an example of “pulling for.” That might be an example of needing a life.

I’ve tried not to use “pull” in relation to sports, unless it’s skeet shooting. Personally, I try to condition myself to use “root.” I root for the Red Sox. I root for the Paladins.

I’m a hog. I’m trying to get out of my pen. Oink! Oink!

Plunging into academic research — I fiddled around with my phone for two minutes — the best alternatives are “back” and “support.” I back the Red Sox. I support the Paladins.

I bore myself.

I love the Red Sox! It went unrequited last night.


10:35 a.m.

Everything is becoming a ballgame.

I know a ballgame when I see it. I’ve been playing in and writing about them for my whole life.

The election is a ballgame. A dirty game. The refs aren’t calling anything. No one cares about the game. Everyone cares about this game.


10:42 a.m.

My grandmother on my mother’s side had many nonsensical sayings. When she felt a bit puny, she’d say, “I’m about to perish to death.” “Perish” was pronounced “persh.” I was 15 years old before I realized she didn’t “ice” her potatoes before she boiled and mashed them. “Aish taters” were Irish potatoes.

I’m about to perish to death of the Olympics, and I’ve barely watched them. They’ve smothered all the channels like hash browns at the Waffle House.

I’m surprised TCM isn’t running a week of Olympic movies.

Yes, I’m ashamed of myself for feeling this way.


10:55 a.m.

I remember when I wrote about football games. (By the way, I am as dismissive of “cover” as “pull for.”)

In case you aren’t convinced that football is king, I now write rich descriptions of “7-on-7 scrimmages,” which once were called games of touch, and other scrimmages that don’t count, still more than two weeks away from games that do.

The local folks can’t get too much about their Red Devils and Raiders. Tonight they’re both playing a half in a Woodruff jamboree, which means “scrimmage that sells tickets,” only they are thirds, technically, since three sessions are being played. Each third is what would normally be a half: Clinton vs. Blue Ridge, 6:30 p.m.; Spartanburg vs. Chapman, 7:30; and Laurens vs. Woodruff, 8:30.

Me to the local McDonald’s to file story and photos, no later than 10 p.m.

All that having been snarked, I’m part of the local folks, too. I love hanging out on practice fields and chatting with coaches. It unearths my inner kid. Most sports fans feed an inner kid. A few get to buy it meals.

I also like the tension of deadline pressure. Another political analogy: It’s the art of the possible. Write the best you can do in the least possible time. It’s like taking the SATs every Friday night.

And, occasionally, Thursday night for a jamboree in Woodruff.

(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. Crazy of Natural Causes is on sale at $1.99. 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).

Popped It Up

Gotta an indie bookstore!

Behind the press box. (Monte Dutton)
Behind the press box. (Monte Dutton)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, October 11, 2014, 9:52 a.m.

On October 7, 1916, Georgia Tech played Cumberland and won 222-0. The Yellow Jackets scored sixty-three points each in the first and second quarters to lead 126-0 at halftime. Their offense then slowed to a crawl, producing only fifty-four points in the third quarter and forty-two in the fourth.

Coach John Heisman – yes, that Heisman – must have emptied the benches. Tech scored thirty-two touchdowns and gained 978 yards, averaging twenty-four yards a play.

Years ago, I read that, the first time Cumberland punted, the football lost all its air between the snapper and the punter.


I was in Woodruff last night, where the Wolverines had to settle for a 71-16 victory over Carolina. The halftime score was 57-9. At the beginning of the game, I was making my weekly appearance on the South Carolina Network’s sports talk show, talking NASCAR. I’m sure some listeners must have noticed when I seemed to lose my train of thought.

It’s because I was watching Carolina High School’s first punt go straight up in the air. It came within five yards or so of landing on top of the punter. Negative ten yards on the punt. Not a harbinger of great things.

The Wolverines hit the ground running. And throwing. And returning. (Monte Dutton)
The Wolverines hit the ground running. And throwing. And returning. (Monte Dutton)

In the second half, the clock ran mostly without interruption. Of The Wolverines’ (yes, 7-0) ten touchdowns, three of them were interception returns.

I thought of the lines of Johnny Cash’s “One Piece at a Time,” about his mismatched Cadillac whose “title weighed fifty pounds.” I was typing the scoring summary.

After I’d finished talking with Woodruff head coach Trey Elder, the Carolina (2-5) players were boarding the buses back to Greenville. Their visit to Woodruff must have been a little like John Denver’s time in Toledo, Ohio: “I once spent a week there one day.”

If you like this blog, I invite you to visit, where I often write of topics other than sports and often ones that are entirely made up. Consider my novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope, please.

The Show, Unadvertised

This was before the deluge. (Monte Dutton)
This was before the deluge. (Monte Dutton)

Gotta an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, September 13, 2014, 11:14 a.m.

Every cloud has a silver lining, it is inexplicably said.

Lightning? Not so much. It’s solid, fluorescent white, or perhaps silver, or maybe yellow. It’s gone so quickly. Who can properly consider the palette?

Here in town, the plan was to have a football game between the high schools of Clinton and Woodruff. I had a plan to write about it. As it turned out, the action, the color, the spectacle, all came as a result of Mother Nature’s Traveling Salvation Show, not to be confused with Neil Diamond’s Brother Love, other than that’s where I got it.

I watched the only show available from an enclosed facility high above Wilder Stadium and Richardson Field. There are probably better places to be in an electrical storm, but I couldn’t think of one closer than my truck, and they let me stay, and I’m sure I was safer than a couple dozen Woodruff partisans across the way who chose to take their chances in aluminum stands until they, too, were finally dissuaded.

Most wasted time doesn’t have to be. The best may not match expectations, but it’s still makeable.

I talked books with a retired teacher and coach. As the thunder rolled and the lightning crashed, Connie Hodges and I talked about Pat Conroy, James Michener, John Gresham, John Steinbeck, Tom Wolfe, John Irving, Elmore Leonard, Dick Francis, Larry McMurtry, Louis L’Amour, Wallace Stegner, Ken Kesey, and several others I cannot now recall.

Word later arrived that the game would not be played until Saturday at 7 p.m., perfectly overlapping a college game, Furman-Presbyterian, about which I am slated to write. The lights of two stadia, only a couple miles apart by route of crow, will be shining at the same time.

Coach Hodges headed on home. It took me a few minutes to get this laptop turned off and to pack my various cords, pads, binoculars, and other items from journalism’s pro shop. I hoisted my mini-umbrella, made my way carefully down the concrete steps, and headed with my coupon to the Hardee’s drive-through. I ended up watching the Red Sox win, and the Giants were ahead of the Dodgers when I tumbled off to sleep.

My novel, The Intangibles, is a tale of the sixties, the South, civil rights, bigotry, and high school football.

The Right to Party

Woodruff Wolverines vs. Clinton Red Devils. An ineptly shot photo that looks kind of cool.

[cb_profit_poster Beer2]

Clinton, S.C., Sunday, November 3, 2013, 11:45 a.m.

Once again, I took Saturday off because blogging fell through the cracks in a day spent cooking chili, watching football, playing guitar, telling outrageous and possibly apocryphal stories, constantly snacking and drinking beer.

I might have dated this old gal in college.
I might have dated this old gal in college.

I’ve been known to tweet and post while drinking, but blogging is where I draw the line. The world is better as a result.

I’ve gone to Presbyterian College football games in consecutive weeks. Those are the two days I’ve also drunk beer. It reminds me of a Steve Earle song: I fell in with this border crowd and took to robbin’ banks.

Actually, this crowd with which I hang outside Bailey Memorial Stadium is thoroughly respectable. I know of nothing illegal that has taken place, with the possible exception of a random board in which it is possible to win a cash prize for having one’s name in the square corresponding with the game’s score. In my case, this enterprise is a charitable donation to others taking part.

When you hot, you hot, and when you not, you not.

Having been sponging off my old buddies for weeks, I brought a big pot of homemade Texas chili. (Hmm, I live in South Carolina. How can it thus be both homemade and Texas? Okay, it must be my homemade version of the chili most often identified with Texas.)

Anyway, the chili was well received, critically acclaimed, and I doubt I’ll have a hankering for it again until about Christmas. I scraped the last of it out of the slow cooker this morning and took it to my mother. I had another bowl of it during the Miami-Florida State game last night. It was great, but it was enough for a while.

The Charleston Southern Buccaneers penned in the Presbyterian Blue Hose.
The Charleston Southern Buccaneers penned in the Presbyterian Blue Hose.

The Blue Hose lost to Charleston Southern, 27-16. I watched the first half with deep interest. At halftime, I walked to my truck in general parking and drove it to the Scotsman Club parking where my friends had set up something too small to be a military encampment but large enough to be the commander’s quarters.

I never quite made it back into the stadium. Watching from a distant slope, we cheered heartily, though as much for the locations of names in little square blanks as support for the embattled Blue Hose.

Uh, we had charcoaled beef and pork, mac and cheese (not charcoaled), lots of cookies, items I never got around to tasting, and a snow-cone machine. Well, it was a glassed-in box with cherry and blue raspberry for Blue Hose Cones and maybe not a bona fide machine. Several dignitaries, one of whom is the president of Presbyterian College, dropped by. Kids threw footballs. Adults threw down a variety of concoctions. I just threw down a variety of beers because beer is easy to measure and I have a laudable sense of decorum. (Yeah, right.)

I marvel at the attention to detail of the wondrous wives getting little cooperation from husbands preoccupied with football and spirits. The women have Spirit. The men enjoy spirits.

I don’t drink much, but when I do, I do it well. I needed coffee to get through the Saturday-night games on TV, but, in retrospect, I would’ve needed coffee for those games anyway. I did go to sleep a bit early and was listening, not watching, as I tumbled off during the ending of Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris on “Austin City Limits.”

Meanwhile, in faraway Statesboro, Ga., Furman was edging Georgia Southern, 16-14, which brought great joy when word arrived in Clinton via my Twitter feed. Next week, I think I shall go watch the Paladins.

Old footage reminds the Red Devils of their legacy.
Old footage reminds the Red Devils of their legacy.

12:25 p.m.

Another reason to celebrate was the continued resurrection of the Clinton Red Devils, whose turnaround has been extraordinary. Once 0-6, CHS completed its regular season 4-6, 4-1 in Region 3, 3A, and is slated to host to A.C. Flora of Columbia in the first round of the playoffs.

The latest conquest was Woodruff, an opponent of great historical significance, by a score of 42-34. Save for a few testy moments, the Red Devils were mainly in control the whole way. For many years, the Wolverines and Red Devils played each year in the season opener, but now they are regionally aligned and play the final game.

Many years ago, Sandy Cruickshanks and I broadcast Clinton games on WPCC-AM, 1410 on your dial if that dial is in the southern part of Laurens County. It’s true, however, that I used to listen to Clinton on the Internet from hotel rooms in places like Fort Worth, where, owing to the end of my NASCAR-writing career, I am not right now.

Anyway, Sandy and I once broadcast a Clinton-Flora game from the municipal stadium in Columbia on a Thursday night, where my chief memory is of there being more policemen present than fans of the home team.

Thus am I especially glad the coming game is in Clinton. As best I know, Flora is still the Falcons and still wears baby blue and red, but I’m sure I’ll know that when The Clinton Chronicle is published on Wednesday.

12:35 p.m.

The impasse between me and my publisher, which I did not know existed until I got an email during the first half of the Charleston Southern-Presbyterian game, has now ended.

In hindsight, it was yet another rationalization for my drinking.

I’m not going to go crazy again unless two boxes of my novel, newer to me than to many who have already received it from, do not arrive by Wednesday. At that time will I sign copies and insert them into padded envelopes that have been stacked on the loveseat in my living room for more than a week. For those of you awaiting shipment of The Intangibles from here, I’ll get them there at my earliest opportunity and apologize because I thought my earliest opportunity would be much earlier.

There’s no need to bore you with details, but this has been more of an ordeal for me than you, and it will soon be over, and my ability to sell my book will be unfettered by lack of communication and needless delay.

Now it’s the Kindle edition of The Intangibles that is “coming soon.” As soon as it officially becomes “soon,” I’ll let you know. The lesson is that I should wait to open the floodgates until water is behind them.

[cb_profit_poster Beer1]