Category Archives: Stories about my life

Will write for ammo, but I had forgotten that real shooting is tough…

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The start of the day, when it was still chilly. This is the view from the 1,000-yard line. And if you click the photo and zoom in, you’ll see some vehicles at the upper left-hand corner. They are parked at the 200 yard line. (Seriously, just think of this view the next time you read about some sniper shooting a thousand yards.)

I had the most amazing thing happen this past weekend. I had a reader/follower of the site take me shooting.

We had tried to set this up last month, but it fell through due to all the snow and ice. Last Saturday, the weather was perfect and we made good on our promise.

I’ll be honest though… When the offer was made, I tried to decline. After all, I have very few guns now, having been forced to sell most of them to keep the newspaper going back when it was in its start up phase and not making any money.

Additionally, I hadn’t shot a rifle in in seven or nine years. (Truthfully, I can’t remember the last time, and trying to remember based on the life-landmarks of divorces, near bankruptcies, and practically being homeless just isn’t much fun, so let’s just say it’s been a hell of a long time since I have shot a rifle.)

So I was worried to death I’d embarrass myself, and figured stating the truth — that the only rifle I still own is an ole’ lever action given to me from a deceased relative, and that I hadn’t shot in forever — might be enough of a reason to politely decline an incredible offer from a fellow veteran.

But, this veteran came back with the even more absurdly generous offer to bring his M14 (or the civilian version, the M1A) and all the gear we needed, PLUS ammo, AND he’d even come to Oak Ridge (where I live).

At that point, I just couldn’t say “no.” Not to mention, I’ve always dreamed of shooting an M14.

Thus, we made the shoot happen this past Saturday. It was truly an incredible day and since we shot from 200 and 300 yards with iron sights, complete with raised and lowered targets, it really took me back to my Marine Corps days.

Two things stand out from the day.

First, I had forgotten that real shooting is work. Sure, plinking at cans or stumps is fun. But when you back up to 200 or 300 yards, you’re going to be in very uncomfortable positions and you’re going to be concentrating at Zen-like levels. Additionally, if your arm’s not numb from a sling cutting it in half and your back’s not killing you from being bent over in the sitting position for thirteen minutes, then you’re probably not doing it right.

Secondly, it was incredible how giving many of the instructors were that day. It was an open shoot for mostly new shooters and there were many super experienced shooters there, who seemed happy to be teaching a bunch of newbies. Four or five of them, who I won’t name, were ranked national shooters, i.e. the best in the country who shoot in ferocious competitions at Camp Perry. These included several “Distinguished Riflemen,” “President’s 100” shooters, and at least one former National Champion.

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Me, at the end of the day: Sweaty and exhausted.

The way these near legends just gave and gave last Saturday was nothing short of remarkable — and I found out afterward that it’s not out of the norm; they do this regularly.

So, to wrap up, I want to send out a huge word of thanks to Old Gyrene, who let me borrow his rifle and reminded me how a Marine should shoot, as well as all the instructors who helped make it happen that day.

It was truly an incredible day for a prior Marine who hadn’t shot in such a serious way for FAR TOO LONG, and it was really a remarkable feeling to have as an author. I mean, some guy I had never met found me on the internet, subscribed as a follower, enjoyed my books, and eventually wanted to meet me.

Is that not every author’s dream? (Add in that he’s a two-tour Vietnam vet, who earned a Purple Heart, and it’s just impossible to describe how honored and humbled I am by the entire experience.)

Again, thanks Old Gyrene, and all involved.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.

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Thinking of some long, lost friends

It was a dreary day today.

Ugly clouds combined with a slow, mostly constant rain that was more sprinkle and drizzle than anything worth measuring.

The “rain” was the kind of rain that just makes everything miserable. The kind that loves to follow a week of nearly everyone being snowed in. And loves to add its weight to already soaked ground and nasty mud.

I know Spring is around the corner, and hope, beauty, and life will arrive in the air soon, but today had me thinking about something I’ve been chewing on for a while now. (Actually, for most of the winter.)

And that’s about long, lost friends. And, no, I don’t even mean those who’ve moved on to the next life.

I mean those who just move on. Sometimes it’s not even a job change or a relocation. (Those make at least some sense.)

I’m talking about that slow drifting apart. Or loss of interest and enthusiasm. Sometimes, there’s a callous word exchanged, or a small wrong committed, that splinters that steel I-beam you considered unbreakable. That steel I-beam that in truth was nothing more than some fragile eggshell.

I’m not really sure of all the reasons these things happen, but I’m increasingly aware of how friends grow apart in life. And it seems no matter how hard I try to reach out, to repair, to rekindle, it’s of little use. That magical time together has passed.

Now the Marine in me says, “That’s life. Deal with it. Move on. They helped you through some tough times, you helped them, as well. We’re meant to help each other for the time our paths run parallel, but life goes on, people move on. Just let it go, man up, and keep moving.”

And I suppose all of this is true.

But on nasty, muddy, gray days such as this, I wonder if they miss me the way I still miss them? I wonder if if they want to resist life’s direction as strongly as I do, and try to salvage what can be salvaged?

My friends will tell you I’m a sap. I bend, I forgive, I tolerate far more than I should.

And it’s true. Goodness knows if you’ve read this post, there’s no shaking the label of sap. (Action fiction writer my ass…)

But on dreary days like today, I miss my old friends.  And on wet and cold days such as this, I commit to being a better person to my current friends. With those acquaintances I’m growing closer to. (And the sap curse grows deeper…)

Unfortunately, it seems clear that friends come and go. We’ll still — usually — rush to each other’s rescue when in need (that foundation will always be there), but things will probably never be the way they once were.

Something happened. Or nothing happened.

And in the winter that eats at everyone’s soul, when life and beauty seems months away, you know they’re gone. You can see through the woods and they’re not there, standing with you in the wet and mud.

On days like today, I miss my old friends. And I yearn for Spring.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.

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My big news, and as much motivation as I can possibly shove your way

I hinted to big news recently and I figure I’ve procrastinated about as long as I can on writing it.

Typically, I knock these things out with barely a strain, same as I’ve written literally thousands of news articles. (And those were on deadline, under intense pressure, with the possibility of being sued for tons of money if I misquoted someone or made a mistake.)

But this one is different because I’m talking about myself, and like most writers, I can diagnose the hell out of someone else, but ask me to talk about myself and I flee like a crawdad shooting back under a rock.

At any rate, I’ve dallied too long and seriously disappointed my journalism teachers, by backing into this story as pathetically as a first-year journalism student. “Just put the news in the first graph. In a single sentence!” they’d harp.

Enough. The news is this: I am now a full-time author. (Fireworks explode, an audience leaps to its feet in applause, and girls from high school who never looked my way start pounding their heads against the table.)

Wait, none of that actually happened, did it? Well, of course it didn’t.

But while none of that happened, I assure you this is a big deal for me.

My earliest dream as a child was to be a writer, and while I strayed from that goal with my time in the Marines and in the newspaper business, I’ve never stopped writing fiction on the side. (And thankfully, the stories are a little better now than when I was nine or ten.)

I’m very fortunate to be where I am. I know so many incredible writers who are striving to reach this point, and I hope I never take being a full-time author for granted.

I’d be lying if I said I never thought this was possible though. I’m a dreamer, and I constantly work on my mental beliefs, reading self-help books on a regular basis and imagining myself successful (even when I was massively in debt and without health insurance).

Now, I’m here, and truthfully, I thought it’d take longer. Maybe another three years or so, and probably four or five more books.

But thankfully, my books have caught fire and that timeline has advanced nicely.

I owe each and every one of you, and I always swore to myself that if I were lucky enough to “make it,” I’d help encourage as many others as possible to reach their dreams, as well. (That’s why I constantly post motivating videos and thoughts, which I know can grate on you when you’re not where you want to be in life and it feels like the entire world is plotting against you in the most one-sided, unfair fight in the world.)

But that’s where I was just a few years ago. Just ask my close friends or my many creditors to whom I owed more than $100,000 in business debt.

But I kept believing, I kept fighting, and I want you to do the same. So, instead of any more gushy thoughts about my feelings — of which there are many right now, I assure you — I want to use the remaining space to try to inspire and motivate you. (If it works at all, share parts of it with some friends or others you know are struggling.)

So, what thoughts of mine could possibly help you? I’ve been chewing on that a bit…

Statistically, I know how staggering the odds are against success for either you or me. But I have always tried to lean on my most spectacular attribute! Without question, I’m honestly a little dense and stubborn and stupid when it comes to “impossible odds,” and these traits have served me well, teaching me to never give up. To completely ignore someone when I hear “you can’t” or “that will never work.”

And I’d encourage you to do the same, including evaluating immediately if your friends and family are supportive, or are they instead negative cynics who keep dragging you back to the ugly present. (If the latter, start looking for supporters and people you can look up to. Immediately. This journey is hard enough without carrying a lot of dead weight.)

The other two things I have going for me is I’ve never had much money, and the Marine Corps helped inject into me a little bit of crazy belief.

The good news for you is you probably don’t have much money either, or you wouldn’t be reading this. The bright side to not having much money is it creates an amazing drive.

And you don’t have to go to boot camp to get what I got from the Corps. You, too, can get some of that crazy belief by reading dozens of amazing self-help books, same as I’ve done. (Here are two to start with: No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline and Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny.)

Finally, I have mentioned before that I love to study Eastern Philosophy and martial arts. This heavy mental and physical training gives me loads of belief and energy.

And on that note, I want to quote just a few things from some of the Eastern Philosophy that I’ve studied (and that I love so much), in the hopes that it might help you. (The following quotes come from the once-secret book titled, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, which was written back in the early 1700’s.)

And in that book, you’ll find the following passages:

  • “Even if you begin without talent, you can become great if you imitate a good model and put forth enormous effort.”
  • “Emulate the best behaviors of those around you.”
  • “In military affairs, a man must always strive to outstrip others.” <— I’m applying this to fiction writing.
  • “In the stories of the elder warriors, it is said that on the battlefield, if one wills himself to outstrip warriors of accomplishment, and day and night hopes to strike down a powerful enemy, he will grow indefatigable and fierce of heart and manifest courage. One should use this principle in everyday affairs, too.”
  • “It is spiritless to think that you cannot attain what you have seen and heard others attain. The masters are men. You are also a man. If you think you will be inferior, then you are well on your way.”

And the following quotes are from The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way. I highly recommend this book, as it’s without question the greatest book I’ve ever received (after the Bible, which you already know about).

  • “Getting your body and mind right can affect your whole life.”
  • “Think you are handsome and beautiful. If you have a negative outlook about yourself, you’ll definitely fail.”
  • “The more chi you put into your life, the more you’ll get out of it.”
  • “Nothing is difficult or easy in itself. We make it difficult or easy with our attitude. If you don’t want to do it, then nothing is easy.”
  • “Strong body, strong mind. Weak body, weak mind.”
  • “You create your own life. You make it heaven or hell. Destiny is not something that happens to you. You make your own destiny.”
  • “A foolish person wishes for good things to happen to them, but fortune, success, and happiness rarely just fall in your lap. You must grasp your life and sharpen it.”
  • “Confidence is the most important key to success in all areas of your life. Believe in yourself. Trust in yourself. If you lack self-confidence, you can’t get the job done. You will find it difficult to succeed in any endeavor. Face your day today with the confidence that you can handle any task, solve any problem, overcome any obstacle!”

Inspired, I hope? Then read this: Find true happiness: announce your dreams to the world today, and get busy chasing your own dreams. And don’t forget to share this with that friend on their own journey. Or one who wants to get moving on their own journey.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.

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If you liked “American Sniper,” you’ll LOVE…

Hey guys!

Sorry for the interruption, but I just wanted to let you know that “Sold Out” just made a list of five indie books similar to the movie/book “American Sniper!

Check out the post here! If you Liked “American Sniper”, You’ll LOVE…

It made my day to see this, and with luck, “Sold Out” will continue to get more attention in the weeks and months ahead.

I say this because somehow the book has stayed in the Top 20 on Amazon in the political thriller genre for the past three months. And, I say “somehow” because I’ve run no ads, seen no other posts about it, and had no email alerts on my name and book title.

So, the book has been selling like crazy based on word of mouth alone, best I can tell. It’s been selling so well that I’ve become really nervous about upcoming increased attention from magazines and reviewers, and thus have decided to have it re-edited. Again. (I’m halfway done with this and should have it done by the end of February.)

One final quick note. Based upon this explosion in sales of “Sold Out,” and its follow-up Mexican Heat (Nick Woods, No. 2),” I’ll be sharing some pretty big news with you guys in the next few days.

Until then, go check out the article above! And if you’ve read the book and enjoyed it, consider dropping them a comment that thanks them for mentioning it, and tells all those who see the article that “Sold Out” is worth a read.

Thanks!

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.

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An administrative note on my blogs

Okay, guys. As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been struggling of late with my focus for this author blog of mine. My numerous competing passions have been pulling at me, and it’s probably shown.

Sometimes, my posts have been inspirational. Sometimes, they’ve been military/foriegn policy in nature. Sometimes, they’ve had something to do with Eastern Philosophy or living in the moment.

SO, to cut down on this lack of focus, I’ve made a decision to restart an old blog and start a new one.

Now, there will be three options for you to choose from.

1) On this current site (stanrmitchell.com) that you are already subscribed to, I will continue to post about things that motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh. My efforts are paying off, and I intend to inspire, drag, or shame as many of you as possible into your own dreams. So, if you need the motivation or inspiration, or just want to keep up with me as I continue to pursue my author career with everything that I have, there’s no need to do anything. Please, stick around. I love having each and every one of you.

2). If you care about military matters, I am relaunching Marine Watch, a blog on American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps. If this is something you’re interested in, please go there and subscribe.

3) Finally, I’m launching a new blog on one of my other lifelong passions: martial arts and Eastern Philosophy. My search for the way will be about martial arts, physical fitness, and ESPECIALLY everything that goes with Eastern philosophy — mindfulness, living in the moment, and eastern philosophy. You can read about why I’m launching the site here, so if you’re interested, please subscribe for email alerts and join me there.

I hope having more specific blogs will lead to greater focus and community for each of the sites. Thanks for everyone’s patience, support, and friendship. I hope to catch you all at one of the sites — or even multiple ones.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m an action fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.

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Filed under Eastern philosophy, Faith in the world, Fighting and training, Marine Corps, National security, Stories about my life