Thursday, November 4, 2021

Getting to The Finish #Humor From Slim Randles

A few years ago we had guest posts from humorist, Slim Randles, who created this fictional group of guys who hang out at the Mule Barn Truck Stop and trade yarns - as in story not thread. One of those men, Dudley, has been writing a book for years now and never quite seems to get it right. Sharing Dud's attempts to finish, and maybe even get his book published, has always been a nice comedic relief, and goodness knows we all need some comedic relief now and then.

Slim Randles has become a good friend through the years that he has shared his weekly columns with me. First when I was Managing Editor of, an online community magazine that ran for about seven years. After it ceased publication, Slim generously allowed me to continue to use his columns on my blog and here at BRP. The column is syndicated in several hundred newspapers across the United States, and a collection of the columns became his book Home Country.

Now, here's the latest from Dud and his writing challenge: 

 Dud rounded the corner on his block and headed for the edge of town at an easy jog. Well, easy for an Olympic miler, he thought. It was making him breathe hard, and he wasn’t even a block from the house. But this is the price. Oh yes, the price I must pay for my goal, as Doc had reminded him….

“Dud,” said Doc, “I worry about you spending so much time agonizing over that book of yours.”

“I have to do it, Doc,” Dud said. “There are still so many things to plan in the book. Things like the duchess’s daughter and her relationship with the truck driver on special assignment …”

“I know that, Dudley,” Doc said, giving Dud a friendly arm-squeeze, “but what you need is a kind of cleansing. You know, empty your mind and then let the ideas come. To me, the best idea has been to exercise.”

Dud looked at him strangely.

“Yep. Exercise. Get out and go jogging. Or play tennis or something. Not only is the exercise good for your body, but it’ll get that brain cleaned up and working all fresh again. And that solution to your book problem will come. You’ll get it.”

And that’s what had him chuffing and jogging and looking at the trees and appreciating the beauty of the place he called home. But try as he might, the exercise actually intensified his pondering the novel he called “Murder in the Soggy Bottoms,” but was better known to his friends as “The Duchess and the Truck Driver.” The first draft of the book was rejected by a publisher five years ago because it had eight murders … in the first chapter. So, Dud went back to the drawing board and let seven of those people survive through several more chapters. But it was the relationship. The relationship. Why do things have to be so complicated?

After his run, he pulled up a chair at the philosophy counter at the Mule Barn Truck Stop.

“Well, Dud,” said Doc, kindly, “did you exercise?”

“Ran a good mile or so, Doc.”

“And did you get it? You know … the solution?”

            “I’m not sure,” Dud replied, “but I got tired.”


I actually find exercise a good way to shake loose the solution to a plot snarl. How about you? Please share any tips you might have for getting past problems with a story. 



Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at his Goodreads Page and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program.


Posted by Maryann Miller. Maryann has numerous credits as a columnist, novelist, screenwriter, and playwright. She also has an extensive background in editing. You can find out more about Maryann, her books, and her editing services on her Website and her Amazon Author Page read her Blog, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Her most recent book is a short-story collection, Beyond the Crack in the Sidewalk, released by Next Chapter Publishing and available as an ebook or paperback in English and in Spanish.


  1. The humor of Slim Randles is always a welcome reprieve from the evening, morning, or afternoon news reports or any breaking news that interrupts daily programming. When stressful times overtake our lives for an extended period (as has COVID-19), we need a break. Thank you, Maryann, for providing a smile or two to help offset the bad news of the last 20+ months. :-)

  2. He has a nice easy way of telling his story. A lot of my exercise is walking my dog, if you call standing around while he sniffs every bush and tree. It is a good time for thinking through my plots, however, so good advice from Dud.


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