Category Archives: Stories about my life

Three tips on how to deal with extreme stress from an upcoming event.

Hey guys!

Hope everyone is doing well! Wanted to share a quick video I posted on YouTube.

Hope you enjoy!

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

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Stan R. Mitchell, author and prior Marine, is best known for his Nick Woods Marine Sniper series, which has remained in the Top 100 on Amazon for more than three years. The series has also been picked up by Audible.com for a multi-book audio deal. Additional works include a Western thriller, detective series, and World War II story.

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Filed under Motivation, Stories about my life

My six-year anniversary message

When I met Danah Akin Mitchell eight years ago, she had to have seen a half-crazy man embarked on an insane, impossible dream to create a major newspaper, despite what the balance sheets were showing.

And she somehow overlooked the crappy $415 apartment I was renting, or the fact I didn’t have health insurance or even any furniture in my living room other than a camping chair and upturned box for a sidetable. My TV was a hand me down from my friend Hannah, who used to work for me at The Oak Ridge Observer.

I was basically bankrupt at the time with a TON of company and personal debt, but Danah somehow overlooked all those embarrassing situations.

And for some crazy reason, she agreed to marry me, proudly accepting a small diamond ring that most girls would have turned their nose down at. I promised her then I’d make it up to her someday, and she’s somehow continued to believe in me, as well as encourage me, as I’ve moved on to yet another mountain, this one even higher and steeper.

She foolishly claims she’s the one who got lucky, but I know I’m the one who latched onto an angel and used every salesman trick in the book to convince her to spend the rest of her life with me. Now I just need to sell enough books to buy her a home in Disney. : )

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Filed under Stories about my life

Author Stan R. Mitchell takes on a tree with his bare hands…

A tree fell in our yard recently in the middle of some heavy storms, and we were lucky the tree fell away from our house.

I give major props and thanks to the good man above for that huge break because we would have had some pretty serious damage to our house if it had fallen the other way. Nonetheless, we were stuck with better than half a tree in our yard.

My Dad immediately offered to come by with a chainsaw to help me deal with it since I didn’t own one, but I declined because it was raining and super muddy from days of rain.

My Dad’s about twice the man I am and would have fought rain, mud, lighting, and three packs of wolves to get it cleaned up about an hour after it fell. But, alas, I’m no such man, and frankly, I didn’t want to get muddy and wet. (See what becoming an author does to you?!)

I saw no reason for haste. And did I mention the ankle-deep mud?

Plus, I had just the inkling of an idea about the tree.

As I studied that tree in the days after it fell, while our ground grew less soggy and saturated, I began to imagine taking care of it myself. With nothing but my ax and a small, curved handsaw.

And the more I thought of it, the more it intrigued me. It’s what I imagined a Marine would do. Or a Viking. Plus, Danah always tells me she has a thing for lumberjacks, so there was that.

And day-by-day that tree lay there, and day-by-day I increasingly saw it as an epic challenge.

I imagined life a hundred years ago. What did they do in the days before chainsaws? A tree falls on some young couple’s land, and it’s in the middle of your crops. And you’re dozens of miles away from help, with no phone or Google search on “what to do if a tree falls in your garden.”

Back then, I imagined it was up to the man to deal with it. Could I deal with it? Or would I call for help?

I mean, you didn’t call for help when you lived on a mountain back in the day, did you?

No. You cut the tree up with your ax or dragged it off with your mule or horse. I didn’t have a mule or horse, so I’d have no option but to go with the ax. (Well, also a pretty sweet handsaw, which I doubt they had a hundred years ago, but stop ruining my dream! lol.)

I finally got the nerve to tell Danah that I wasn’t going to call my Dad about the tree, but would instead try to deal with it myself. She gave me that look but decided not to talk me out of it. (She knows I’m nuts and stopped trying to fix me years ago.)

I’m not going to lie. About fifteen ax swings in on that first day, I realized I’d probably made the dumbest move I’d made in several years. (Probably since I opened a newspaper at the age of 27. Or back when I volunteered to carry two packs on a forced march while serving in the Marines because one of the new guys couldn’t carry his pack any longer, and I was a Squad Leader, damn it! Set the example! Ooh-rah!)

But, I’d told Danah I’d give it “a try,” and a man doesn’t stop at fifteen swings. So I went back to chopping. And chopping some more.

That first day, I managed one entire cut through the tree — about midway up the fallen part. And it’s embarrassing to admit, but that was no joke. (Partly, it was because my accuracy was so bad that I probably hit it three times more than necessary!)

By the time I finished that first goal, I knew I’d be sore the next day, so I stopped there.

And indeed, I was the next day. But a couple days later, I was back at it. I also — wisely — sharpened my ax before starting. That second day of work got a couple big parts of the split up top hacked off and dragged into the woods.

But yet again I had to stop. Let me tell you: chopping a tree by hand is no joke if you’re not a lumberjack and you sit at a desk for a living. And no matter how many nights you spend in a gym, it just doesn’t relate.

Cutting a tree is Teddy Roosevelt. Cutting a tree will test your mental toughness. Cutting a tree is no joke.

It took a couple of days to recover from my second day of work, but I eventually returned for more revenge.

Unfortunately for me, this was when the drama picked up significantly.

My neighbor by chance saw me carrying the ax toward the tree and offered his chainsaw. It was the friendly thing to do, for sure, but I explained what I was doing. That I was looking at this as a challenge and free opportunity provided by nature for some exercise. He shook his head in disbelief and called me nuts.

“The chainsaw could do the job in ten minutes,” he said.

I agreed with him but said I had already started this challenge. And with that, I started hacking. And he, unfortunately, started watching. And of course, I had selected a tougher part of the tree. And very few chunks of wood were flying with each strike.

He offered his chainsaw again, and I wanted to melt and turn invisible. But I flexed my arms so he could see I was a man, politely declined again, and reached for the handsaw. (I nearly walked away from that tough spot on the tree to try somewhere else, but that seemed even less manly. So it was time for the handsaw.)

He lit up a grill and I assumed the drama was over. I just needed to manage one cut of about ten or twelve inches of tough wood, then I could go back inside my home with my dignity.

But the drama wasn’t over. Far from it.

Friends of his started showing up. Like 10 or 15, and now they were all watching me and asking him what I was doing. And I heard bits of laughter between my grunts and gasps for air, and I heard the word “chainsaw” from time-to-time.

There were women watching. And there were men watching. I was doomed.

At that point, I knew I’d finish the job or die of a heart attack. Even the latter would beat walking up to my house with my tail between my legs.

And in fact, I spent the next three hours killing myself, sweating, groaning, and wheezing. But in the end, I managed to get that tree completely out of my yard that very day while they watched me like I was some exhibit at the zoo.

I can’t tell you how many times I nearly quit on each of those three days I went at it. For me, it was a test. How much grit did I have? Now, perhaps if you work a lot with your hands, or do physical labor at your day job, you will see all this as petty. I get that. But for me, it was pretty brutal.

And it was made immensely more difficult because I had such an easy out. I knew I could at any moment raise my hand and say, “I’ll take a chainsaw, please.”

But Marines don’t do that. I assume Vikings don’t either.

And if nothing else, I sent a message to the other trees in our yard. You fall in my yard, and I will cut you up. Slowly. With an ax. And a lame handsaw, which was probably designed for pruning.

For those wanting to attempt a similar endeavor, I’d suggest:

  • An extra bottle of Advil, unless you do this kind of work regularly.
  • Hearing protection, so you can’t hear the neighbors laughing.
  • And a megaphone. Because if you do pull it off, you WILL want to tell everyone.

Now, please go buy a book because I have NO future as a lumberjack, I assure you! : )

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

P.S. Get a free eBook!!!

Get a free electronic copy of my book, “Soldier On,” when you sign up today for our mailing list. And do not expect to be spammed or drowned with regular emails. The list will ONLY be used to notify you of when we release a new book, as well as for rare, HUGE updates. Get your free copy of “Soldier On” by signing up here!

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‘Afghan Storm’ makes must read list for 2015 at The REAL Book Spy

I was pumped to see “Afghan Storm” made the list of must-read books for 2015 at The REAL Book Spy! (Link here.)

It’s really stunning to see my name alongside a list that includes names such as Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Nelson DeMille, Brad Meltzer, Daniel Silva, Brad Taylor, Ben Coes, and several other big-time names! (In fact, I am one of the few on the list who isn’t a New York Times Best-Selling author.)

Thanks, as always, for all of your all’s support. Especially the core group of you all who I jokingly refer to as Mitchell’s Militia. Your encouragement and help has been tremendous!

Hope everyone has a great Christmas! (And if you’re chasing your own dream, try to carve a couple minutes out during your time off in the coming days!)

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About meStan R. Mitchell writes some of the most action-packed, fast-moving gunfighter novels around. Tired of slow-paced, investigative novels that take 50 pages to excite you? Look no further! Stan is the best-selling author of 5 novels in 3 different time periods. He’s also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a former journalist who spent ten years in the newspaper business, learning how to hook the reader, cut out the filler, and just tell the story. In short, Stan is knowledgeable, he’s fast, and his books will blow you away. Don’t forget to subscribe for email alerts to keep up with his latest works.

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Filed under Nick Woods, Random posts, Stories about my life

My fall story and how a few leaves inspired me to no end as a young boy

Hey guys!

Hope everyone is doing well!

I wanted to share a quick, personal story about my life, which I think might help inspire you, and which helped change the course of my life.

When I was a boy, I used to love to be in the woods. I loved to explore them and play in them with friends. But on one fall day about this time of year — probably about two weeks earlier — I was in the woods alone on a beautiful day and lost track of time.

And I was sitting there on a comfortable ledge, pretty high up on the side of a hill, just watching the woods. Back then, I could watch squirrels or chipmunks (or a deer if I was lucky) for hours without being bored, and that’s what I was searching for on that day.  

But there was nothing moving, even once I sat down and got quiet. It’s really rare that no animals are out moving, and as a matter of fact, it’s the only time I can recall it happening to me — and I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the woods.

But back to the story, on that day there was nothing moving. No squirrels. No chipmunks. No birds or crows that I can remember, though surely there were some.

Zero. Zilch. Nada.

On this day, I was alone in these wide-open woods. A young boy, sitting on a ledge, watching leaves fall to the ground. And as I sat there, I lost track of time. I was mesmerized by the woods before me, as leaf-after-leaf drifted down.

The entire time, I anxiously waited to see something spring or prance by, but nothing did, and in about a three-hour time period, I can’t tell you how many leaves I watched drift and descend to the ground. Literally thousands, if I had to guess.

Most of them were brown and scarcely discernible from those around them, and they fell fairly quickly and predictably. But every now and then, in my trance-like state, I noticed one that wasn’t brown. Sometimes a yellow one. Or perhaps a red one. Even a couple of purple ones.

These leaves that stood out instantly caught my (bored) eye, and I’d watch them descend while ignoring their brown peers that dropped around them.

And sometimes, a vivid red or yellow one would be shaped in just a way that allowed it to catch small wisps of wind and float sideways as they arced to the ground. Even rarer, sometimes one would be so perfectly aerodynamic that it’d glide far and almost lift up with small winds that bounced along the ground.

For hours I sat captivated by these leaves of all colors, and their varying flight paths and trajectories. But by the end, I could only recall a few that had fallen. Perhaps a couple dozen out of literally hundreds and hundreds that I had watched.

And as I came out of my almost meditative state, prompted by hunger and a stark reality I had stayed out too long, a shocking realization hit me: we are all leaves.

We all fall, our lives brief.

Mostly, we’re barely noticed. Certainly not remembered. 

But I had noticed some of those unique leaves that day. I had remembered their form and color, and the path they had taken. And it instantly hit me that I didn’t want to be a brown leave that fell straight down, same as every other leaf.

I wanted to be yellow or purple! I wanted to glide and float and lift with the wind! I wanted to land a hundred yards from the tree from which I fell, not right below it!

I wanted some young boy to see me and take note! To smile and remember me, and make his own mind up to be a little different and memorable.

And from that day — I was thirteen — I swore to myself I’d do all I could to maximize whatever potential I had. Up to that point, I did things to please my parents and others. But after that magical day in the woods, I did things for me. I felt called to move toward greatness, and the Marine Corps fit my picture of what a great, young man would aspire to at that time.

Later, I’d feel that same call to become a journalist. And still later, an entrepreneur who launched a newspaper. Finally, I’d grow courageous enough to attempt the impossible mountain of becoming a full-time author.

I share these words, this story of mine, because I feel confident that  there is at least one of you out there who harbors some dream, as well, and I hope my small story will help inspire you to pursue it as vigorously (and responsibly) as you can. (Additional motivation for those with just such a dream: Find true happiness: announce your dreams to the world today.)

But this post isn’t just meant for the dreamers who have some burning fire inside their soul.

It’s my very strong belief that all of us can be memorable, despite trying work and life demands. All of us can be red or purple, soaring through the sky like the wind.

A great example of this is one of the most remarkable men I ever crossed paths with. I first met him when I was working part-time at a completely depressing manufacturing plant while I was in college. I don’t remember his name now, much to my chagrin, but he was a jolly man from the inner city.

So many people quit at that plant within hours or days of being hired that you didn’t bother getting to know the new ones, especially those assigned to parts inspection where I worked. But this smiling man was assigned to our station and my buddy and I watched him with great interest on his first day. We wanted to see how fast he’d break — same as so many others before him.

But this man just smiled and sang to himself, and whistled away that first day. He did all this real low and to himself. Not a pest at all, like some of the singers and whistlers out there!

The job required you to lift with your fingers these really heavy airbag cylinders, all of which were soaked in some kind of toxic who knows what. And if you were good, you’d do two per hand and work your way up to three or four or even five.

All the work was timed and each hour crawled by like a mini-lifetime. I kid you not, there was never a day (or even two-hour sprint until we could get a 15-min break) that I didn’t nearly quit.

Your fingers ached, the oil did weird stuff to your skin, and your clothes were ruined nearly every day. But Mr. Jolly New Man survived the first day, and left with a smile and almost a skip in his step — really remarkable given he was mid-fifties or early sixties, and the work was pretty grueling.

But day-after-day, it was the same. Mr. Jolly New Man came in as if he had the greatest job in the world, quickly volunteering for the worst parts of the job.

“Oh, it’s not too bad,” he’d say with a smile as he grabbed another crate to take the load off a weaker worker.

We soon learned he was poor, had no family, and rode the bus to work because he didn’t have a car. (And for my northern readers, let me assure you that in the South, you almost have to have a car. Public transportation practically doesn’t exist.)

Mr. Jolly New Man wouldn’t say much about where he lived, but it was my strong impression he lived in the projects. As we grew to be friends with him, we learned he’d never take any form of assistance. No ride home, even if the bus wouldn’t arrive for another hour. No ride down to the gas station for a snack after work, which was a mile away.

No, he’d rather walk it, even in a downpour.

My buddy and I were finishing up college, happily married, bright futures ahead of us, and at least thirty years younger, but I give you my word that this man was a 100x happier than us. (We were also, by the way, both spiritual and optimistic, happy people in our own right, but we sure didn’t measure up to him.)

Mr. Jolly New Man couldn’t work circles around us — we were both studs — but he held his own and surpassed us by miles with his attitude. We complained about having to be there and what better jobs were out there. He didn’t mind working late, even off the clock if it helped the boss. Or sweeping up afterward. Or tackling a couple more crates.

His attitude was unlike any attitude I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve met some go getters in my day.

Additionally, his countenance was not of this world, and his smile and laughter was infectious. Never has such an imperfect smile been so perfect. Or perhaps he’d forgotten his smile wasn’t perfect?

My buddy and I would try to talk news with him, but he’d ease his way out of the conversation. He didn’t want to talk politics, the economy, or a hundred other things that might kill that incredible attitude and smile of his.

Asked his thoughts on any of this, he’d usually smile real big and say, “Oh, I don’t know,” and pat you on the shoulder if his hands weren’t covered in grease.

Love just poured from the man, and surprisingly, though we learned he was Christian, he never talked about his views or pushed his religion.

He lived his religion, and it was one of the most beautiful sights to behold. A near modern-day Jesus who had no cares for money or security or any of the other things we all worry about so much.

To this day, I can say that few people have influenced me as much as this man. He wasn’t some decorated Marine. Not some kind of big-time author or famous person you hear so much about.

He was just a man who stood out, every single day of his life, like the yellow and purple leaves that floated down to the ground back when I was a boy.

I have told dozens of people about this man in the past twenty years, and I’ll bet every person that’s worked with him has done the same.

My point in this much too-long blogpost is that all of us can be like this man, striving to stand out more, to be more beautiful and memorable and inspiring.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you just never know who’s watching, or how much you will shape their lives for years to come.

In closing, I hope this small story of my life has in some small way sparked yours. Feel free to share it, of course, if it has.

Keep the faith, and be more beautiful!

Stan R. Mitchell

About meStan R. Mitchell writes some of the most action-packed, fast-moving gunfighter novels around. Tired of slow-paced, investigative novels that take 50 pages to excite you? Look no further! Stan is the best-selling author of 5 novels in 3 different time periods. He’s also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a former journalist who spent ten years in the newspaper business, learning how to hook the reader, cut out the filler, and just tell the story. In short, Stan is knowledgeable, he’s fast, and his books will blow you away. Don’t forget to subscribe for email alerts to keep up with his latest works.

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Filed under Faith in the world, Motivation, Stories about my life

Sold Out and Mexican Heat now available as audio books!

Hey guys!

Hope everyone is doing well. I wanted to pass along that my audio books are now available on Audible.com.

For those who don’t need the sales pitch, here are the links:

They are narrated by Jay Snyder, who has narrated numerous James Patterson books besides having quite a career in, well, everywhere. He’s an actor/director who’s appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in regional theatre, and on television, and has been doing voice-over for over ten years.

He has voiced for feature films and has been heard on Nickelodeon, WB, Cartoon Network, Fox TV, the SciFi Channel, EWam, and the new CW4Kids. His bio says he’s best known for his work on Saturday morning cartoons like Yu-Gi-Oh! (lead), Viva Pinata (lead), Sonic X, and Pokemon, but he has also worked on many other animations and can currently be heard in Gogoriki, Pat and Stan, and Chaotic. His other voice-over work includes several audiobooks, documentaries, promos, and commercials.

I’ve listened to his voice on a couple of the James Patterson books and it’s pretty incredible. I’m super pumped he was selected to narrate Sold Out and Mexican Heat, and again more than honored that Audible saw fit to publish the Nick Woods series.

Nick Woods just went to a whole new level, and I’d tell him, but he’s off hunting bad guys and wouldn’t care anyway.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About meStan R. Mitchell writes some of the most action-packed, fast-moving gunfighter novels around. Tired of slow-paced, investigative novels that take 50 pages to excite you? Look no further! Stan is the best-selling author of 5 novels in 3 different time periods. He’s also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a former journalist who spent ten years in the newspaper business, learning how to hook the reader, cut out the filler, and just tell the story. In short, Stan is knowledgeable, he’s fast, and his books will blow you away. Don’t forget to subscribe for email alerts to keep up with his latest works.

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Three times I wish I hadn’t been right…

When I write, I like to push the limits. Doing so allows you to increase the tension and make a book more engaging and fun to read, obviously.

But at the same time, we all know the moment an author crosses the line into the unbelievable, you’re immediately tempted to stop reading. And not just that book, but possibly even future things the author writes. Thus I tread carefully, before I even get close to that line.

Nonetheless, here are my Top 3 push-the-envelope moments, which have unfortunately all been born out by reality after I published the book. Each in REALLY big ways. (And don’t worry, I’ll keep all three vague enough that they’re not spoiler alerts if you haven’t read the books.)

1 ) Prison breakout, Mexican Heat. In Mexican Heat, I needed to have a cartel leader break out of the country’s most secure prison. I knew there were real life instances of break outs in more moderate prisons, but it would be seriously unrealistic for my character to be placed in a medium-secure facility. So in Mexican Heat, I had to take my chances and write that he was able to break out of the country’s most-secure prison. I thought I could take some heat for this, but thankfully readers agreed that in a country with a drug war that’s killed more than 60,000 people, a prison break out wasn’t that unbelievable. And then just a year after writing the book, ‘El Chapo’ Guzman escaped — even after our country warned Mexico he might.

2 ) Friendly fire incident, Afghanistan. In Afghan Storm, in order to facilitate some future turns of events, I needed to have a pretty serious friendly fire incident occur. Friendly fire incidents had occurred several times in the past decade-plus, but we’ve gotten better at preventing them. Unfortunately, I needed this to be a pretty serious incident, which I knew would be pretty unlikely. But it had to happen to make the book plot work, thus I wrote what I thought was a push-the-envelope attack, instigated by the Taliban, and hoped I wouldn’t be lambasted for it being outlandish. But just days after finishing the book, a Doctors Without Borders hospital suffered a far more horrendous and difficult-to-explain attack.

3 ) City seized, Afghanistan. Finally, in Afghan Storm, I wanted to have the Taliban seize a major city. But I knew I was pushing my luck BIG TIME on this one. ISIS has been pushing into Afghanistan, threatening the Taliban. And the country has seemed to stabilize and suffer fewer major Taliban attacks in recent years. But I believed I could make this attack believable, so I strategized with a prior Army Captain (and good friend) and did plenty of research on how it might occur. I SOOO did not want to be ridiculed for this scene, or hurt the possibilities for this book, which I felt was easily my best. In the end, I went with my gut, but worried greatly about the entire scenario. How would readers react? How bad would the reviews be? Could I even lose readers over it? But as you all know, while the book was literally publishing, the Taliban captured Kunduz, the capital of one of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. And they not only captured it, they controlled it for 15 days and freed hundreds of fellow militants from the local jail — neither of which I would have dared predict.

So on the positive side, my author career is likely safe for at least a little longer. But on the negative side, each of these things were horrendous events that have caused unbelievable harm and loss of life.

I can honestly say I wish none of them had come to pass, and that I was forced to vigorously try to defend such “outlandish” events in my books. That, certainly, would have beat the alternative.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About meStan R. Mitchell writes some of the most action-packed, fast-moving gunfighter novels around. Tired of slow-paced, investigative novels that take 300 pages to excite you? Look no further! Stan is the best-selling author of 5 novels in 3 different time periods. He’s also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a former journalist who spent ten years in the newspaper business, learning how to hook the reader, cut out the filler, and just tell the story. In short, Stan is knowledgeable, he’s fast, and his books will blow you away. Don’t forget to subscribe for email alerts to keep up with his latest works.

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Filed under National security, Nick Woods, Stories about my life