Monthly Archives: August 2013

Modern-day journalism brilliantly explained…

Most of my regular readers know that Danah and I own a weekly newspaper, called The Oak Ridge Observer.

It’s a paper I started in 2004 — No, I’m not being Mr. Take All The Credit; this was Pre-Danah timeperiod, or PD — and  Danah and I still spend too much time working at.

Besides the newspaper we run, journalism is also my major.

All of which brings me to my point. The article below brilliantly explains modern-day journalism …

Let Me Explain Why Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. You should seriously consider buying this book as it has absolutely changed my life. It’s about $20, but is worth about $10,000, in my opinion.

6 Comments

Filed under Stories about my life

Two pieces of news about my writing

I wanted to share a couple important writing notes with you guys, who are so kind to flatter me by following my blog and buying my books.

First, I recently took some of my own advice. As you remember, I recently wrote the post “Advice for those leaving for college, as well as the rest of us,” which was mostly about living in the moment and trying to embrace it and breathe it all in.

Well, I had been stumbling over myself with my novel Mexican Heat, which is the second book in the Nick Woods series — Book One was Sold Out.

I had two gunfight scenes to write before moving on to a couple of other pivotal scenes as I try to wrap the book up. And I kept stumbling over myself and wanting to move on to the other parts, but knowing I needed to nail both of these.

And then it hit me… Stan, pay attention to your own advice, you moron.

I realized that I need to just live in the moment and embrace it and slow down, just like I said in the blogpost I linked to above. So, I had this incredible idea. I decided I wanted to ignore the rest of the scenes I needed to write, ignore the deadlines I had put on myself, ignore even the second gunfight scene that would follow.

All I needed to focus on was the shooting scene before me. Nothing more. Nothing else. And like that, snap — you need to imagine me snapping my fingers, because I just did — I was living in the moment. And since I had no other worries or pressures or scenes to distract me, I decided I wanted to write the most epic shooting scene ever.

After all, I can’t think of the greatest gunfight scene I’ve ever read. And why is that? So, I decided that even if the rest of the book sucked, I wanted to compete for best gunfight scene ever. It’s now been two weeks and I’ve spent — yep — that much time on this one scene.

It involves lots of men and women, ammo crates worth of ammo fired, and even a guy wielding a sword and hacking people to death!!! And the best part of all? It’s the most fun I’ve had writing in a long time.

So, if you missed the post on “Advice for those leaving for college, as well as the rest of us,” go read it. It might really help you, and it sure got a ton of comments and views/shares, so there must be something worth reading in there… : )

Secondly, I wanted to talk in this post about one other piece of news about my writing life. Are you sitting down? I have some pretty serious, even more awesome news for the fans of the Nick Woods series.

Let me give you some quick background first… So, about two years ago, I got 3/4 of the way through a stand-alone novel about Afghanistan. It’s a straight-up action plot that’s awesome. (A hint: Four dudes cross the mountains of Afghanistan and sneak into Pakistan to abduct a dude. This guy has some valuable information, and he needs to be taken alive. And no rescue op with helicopters or support is authorized, so some nutcase volunteers are needed to attempt the impossible with NO support from anyone; and, of course, complete deniability by our government.)

So I get about 230 pages into this Afghanistan novel — yep, I was counting — and I realize the plot is crazy good, but I’m totally stuck. (I was trying to make is super ambitious…) And worse, I realize the characters were a bit average or weak: Maybe six’s or seven’s on a one to ten scale.

So, both stuck and disappointed with the characters, I set it aside and jumped on Little Man, and the Dixon County War.

Well, I had a huge — and I mean HUGE epiphany — the other night. I’m going to take out the characters from this Afghanistan novel, since they’re weak anyway, and I’m going to insert Nick Woods and the new characters that Danah and I spent days developing for Mexican Heat.

Yes, it’s true. My greatest weakness as an author is developing characters, which thankfully Danah is a master at, and I lean on her heavily to help me with my greatest weakness.

So… What this all means is this: With any luck, I’ll have three books done by the end of the year in the Nick Woods series. (Sold Out, Mexican Heat, and whatever we decide to call this other one about Afghanistan in the present; yes, Nick Woods spent time in Afghanistan in the past — or 80’s — as the Sold Out readers know, but that’s a book for another day.)

It’s impossible to say how pumped I am about this news. Besides knowing it will be easier to finish that novel now, I’m so glad it won’t be a stand-alone novel but rather a continuation of the Nick Woods series. (In case you didn’t know, series books almost always sell better. Think Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games, etc.)

I’m also straight stoked that with three books in the series, the entire series and character should take off to an unprecedented level for me. (And from a money stand point, the sales should multiply because if a reader finds any of the three books and enjoys them, then they may be tempted to buy another one. And maybe another one after that!)

I just really think having three books in the same series should do wonders, and with that I’m bouncing off here. As I mentioned above, I still have that epic gunfight scene to finish!

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. This book has absolutely changed my life. You should seriously consider buying it. It’s about $20, but is worth about $10,000, in my opinion.

6 Comments

Filed under Random posts

Some motivation from Will Smith

This video totally motivated me this morning and fired me up to push harder toward some of my goals.

Just one of the great nuggets from it was this: “Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity. Why would you be realistic? What’s the point of being realistic?”

Hat tip to inspirationenergy for the video.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. This book has absolutely changed my life. You should seriously consider buying it. It’s about $20, but is worth about $10,000, in my opinion.

Leave a comment

Filed under Motivation

Author Lee Child makes quite a confession

The Daily Mail profiled best-selling author Lee Child. The interview is definitely worth the read.

See it here: Shock confession by bestselling thriller writer Lee Child.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. This book has absolutely changed my life. You should seriously consider buying it. It’s about $20, but is worth about $10,000, in my opinion.

5 Comments

Filed under Random posts

Advice for those leaving for college, as well as the rest of us

I had an interesting conversation this week.

A young friend of mine, who worked for Danah and I, has been anxiously awaiting leaving for college all summer. And on Tuesday, I texted her to check in and she told me that she was “freaking out and packing too much.”

And hearing what she had to say, and what she’s been saying all summer, brought me back to when I graduated High School and was moving on to the next part of my journey.

I remember I was just like my young friend. I was so excited and so nervous and just couldn’t wait for it to “get here.”

I remember the two days and nights before I left for Boot Camp, and they seemed to last for ages. I had family and friends who wanted to see me, but I was distracted and hardly cared. I wanted nothing to do with my hometown of Knoxville. I was ready to take that next big step. To take the plunge and become an adult.

And as I talked with this young lady, who was also moving out of the state, I told her that she should just live it. Breathe it. Experience it and try to inhale it and embrace it all as much as she could. (After all, you only pack up to move out on your own for the first time just once in your life.)

I know I didn’t live it or breathe it. I was in a hurry, and it started before I turned 17. It really started for me at about 15. I can remember wanting my Driver’s License so bad! And then to be a Senior in High School! And then to graduate! And then I wanted to get to Boot Camp! To get through my School of Infantry training!

I could go on, but you get the point. My other high marks were to get out of the Corps, to get through the wedding (so we could get to our long-planned trip), to get into (and graduated from) college, and to land the job I had trained for so hard.

All of these steps were like mile markers that I rushed and sprinted toward as hard as I could, and as my older readers know, once you get through them, you realize that, well, there’s nothing “there” that wasn’t where you were.

There is no grand party. No cool club. Barely any additional recognition that you thought would land in your lap.

Even worse, often the “there” isn’t what you thought it would be and you find yourself wishing you could just go back.

I know you guys have experienced this, and it’s a depressing thing to have to learn. Unfortunately, the lesson — once learned– proves to be just one step of your education, as well. While it’s an important lesson, it’s not the final one because after you learn to stop rushing through life, you then have to learn to stop looking back — and that’s a challenge that for many of us could last a lifetime.

But I think the lesson that applies to you when you’re young is the same lesson that applies to you as you age. You can’t spend all your time looking back.

You need to live and breathe whatever you’re doing, where-ever you are. Because one thing’s for sure: You’ll only get this moment once, and you’ll certainly wish you had it back someday.

One final thought before I close, I suggested to my young friend that she should buy a journal and write down her thoughts and hopes and fears. I would nearly kill to have a journal from back then. How I talked. What I believed. How optimistic I was. How much I worried about the (in hindsight) silliest of things.

And with that, I’d like to say that Danah and I started journal-ling EVERY day as part of our New Year’s resolution. We’re using a five-year journal called One Line a Day.  The super cool part of this journal is two fold: A) You get only a few lines, so it’s not intimidating and easier to just scribble something down even when you’re tired and don’t wan to. And, B) Next year, I’ll be able to see precisely what I was thinking or doing one year ago.

Already, I find myself flipping back to a few months ago and it just kills me that I haven’t been doing this line-a-day journal my entire life. I actually did journal some before this — I started after my divorce, but it wasn’t regular; more like every other week or so, and thus I believe the daily One Line a Day concept is far superior.

So, give serious toward picking up one of Line a Day Journals and think about how valuable it would be to read it years and years from now… And remember, no matter how old or young you are, just live it, breathe it, and experience it all as much as you can. Even if you’re headed into Assisted Living. One day, you may wish you could sit in a wheel chair again, so try not to look back, but enjoy each visit, each meal, each prayer.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. This book has absolutely changed my life. You should seriously consider buying it. It’s about $20, but is worth about $10,000, in my opinion.

26 Comments

Filed under Eastern philosophy, Stories about my life