Category Archives: Writing tips

Winter is coming, but you don’t have to despair

My friends and supporters know that I’m so dang close to getting Mexican Heat down. (For those who don’t know, Mexican Heat is the sequel to Sold Out.)

And for probably two or three weeks now, I’ve been telling my beta readers and close writing friends that it would be done… “Probably in a day or two.” Or, “Just two more scenes, most likely.”

And I’ve said that multiple times. “Probably in a day or two.” “Just two more scenes, most likely.”

And then tonight I cranked out another 2,700 words. (For me, that’s a marathon, by the way. I’m a plodder, not a sprinter — with a good night being 800-ish to a 1,000 words and an average one being 500 to 700.)

So, frustrated tonight, I decided to re-read my writing tips file that I’ve collected through the past ten-plus years, and do some online research. Maybe ole’ Stan was losing his touch, right?

I mean, the 2,700 words I wrote tonight felt solid. Like, really good. But, I just crossed 90,000 words and I still haven’t gotten to those two final scenes that I know must happen. (Most novels should aim for 60-80,000 words.)

Then, I read this by George R. R. Martin, a legend obviously, and felt instantly comforted.

  • “Sometimes these damn characters have a mind of their own and refuse to do what I want them to do”. — George R R Martin

So, the book will be done soon. Probably in a day or two. Just two more scenes, most likely.

And because you guys rock and are such great supporters of mine, here’s some serious motivation I found while trolling the internet, trying to confirm my writer skills weren’t dead.

From, again, George R R Martin. (And if you had to click that link above to figure out who he was, you should seriously punch yourself right in the face.)

Remember: Winter is coming

Valar morghulis — All men must die. I think an awareness of our own mortality is something that concerns most art and literature. But I don’t think that necessarily translates to a pessimistic worldview. Just like in the real world, my characters are only here for a short time; the important thing is that love, passion, empathy, laughter; even laughing in the face of death, is still possible. There is darkness in the world but we don’t have to give way to despair. One of the best themes in The Lord of the Rings is that despair is the ultimate crime. Winter is coming, but you can light the torches and drink the wine and gather around the fire and continue to fight the good fight.

Thanks for being such great supporters, guys. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it and how thankful I feel to be where I am, chasing my dream with every ounce of energy and courage that I can muster, trying to make it to that next mile marker just up the hill a ways.

And I promise: The book will be good. It will have multiple hand-to-hand scenes. And Nick Woods and his crew (yeah, I know, a new development for the typical sniper/loner) will bag some cartel dudes… (Okay, more like a lot of cartel dudes… But would you expect anything less from me?)

Oh, and it will be done soon. Probably in a day or two. Just two more scenes, most likely.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. If you enjoy fast-paced books, you just might like my works. “Sold Out” tracks the life of a legendary Marine Sniper after a CIA unit decides to kill him for reasons of national security. “Little Man, and the Dixon County War” tells the uphill fight a young deputy faces after surviving three years of war only to find himself in the sights of a mighty cattle baron. And “Soldier On,” a short novel, follows the lives of several German soldiers in a depleted infantry company trying to make it through the final, miserable months of World War II.

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Filed under Eastern philosophy, Motivation, Stories about my life, Writing tips

Persistence. Life’s most important lesson?

This blogpost really moved me. It’s about a writer chasing their author dream, and I know that may not apply to many of my readers, but the story really lays out one of life’s most important lessons.

And when you read about her love of writing and how it gets tested by companies going bankrupt, opportunities falling through, and her career field losing that shine it started with, I’m confident it will make you think of whatever career you’re in. (And probably struggling with.) And while the easy thing to do is just switch careers or start with something else, this article helps remind you that:

A) You’re probably closing to succeeding than you think.

B) All career fields start out fun until you realize their dirty secrets and shortcomings.

Just one great quote from the article:

It’s persisting in the game after you know what it’s really all about. After the shine wears off. It’s persisting after all your hopes and aspirations bang head first into reality.

Below is the full article. It’s a tad long, but well worth the read! On persistence, and the long con of being a successful writer(Warning, there is some profanity.)

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. If you enjoy fast-paced books, you just might like my works. “Sold Out” tracks the life of a legendary Marine Sniper after a CIA unit decides to kill him for reasons of national security. “Little Man, and the Dixon County War” tells the uphill fight a young deputy faces after surviving three years of war only to find himself in the sights of a mighty cattle baron. And “Soldier On,” a short novel, follows the lives of several German soldiers in a depleted infantry company trying to make it through the final, miserable months of World War II.

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Filed under Eastern philosophy, Writing tips

My latest work — ‘Solider On’ — now up for sale

I’ve now published my latest work. It’s called “Soldier On.”

Here’s the background behind the book — and the book description is below that.

As most writers know, you want to start a book with a “what if.”

Such as, what if you were a guy and you lost your job and you were on the verge of a divorce already?

That’s a what if, but it’s pretty blah. So you want to make it much worse. Far more intense, if you can.

Thus, imagine the “what if” was this… What if you were a guy and you’d been watching the news for months about a serial killer operating in the area and then you start to realize it could be your wife, but you’re not sure. But your gut tells you that you are sure and she just walked in the door.

So, clearly, that second option was far superior. And obviously, the more extreme your “what if,” the better.

And the book I just published has one of the greatest “what if’s” I ever created…

Let’s begin with the unimproved version. What if you were a soldier in the middle of an incredibly horrific war? That’s pretty good, but that’s been done a few million times, so what if you magnified it further? Let’s doom the characters to this: What if you were soldiers in the middle of an incredibly horrific war, and you were on the losing side? Oh, and better yet, let’s say you were on your home ground and your families might all be dead, as well.

That, to me, was one of the most intimidating ideas out there for me, as a rifle-carrying vet. Especially for we Americans. We have so rarely faced losing a war on our homeground… And I took that “what if” and started a novel about the German Army at the end of World War II.

I started this in college, fresh out the Marine Corps, while I was nice and messed up in the head.

For the past nine years or so, I’ve worked on it, dropped it, worked on it, dropped it. In the end, I usually cruelly would have all/most of the men dying or seriously getting wounded. But that seemed way too depressing, and way too much like literature, which I define as being like real life: Sucky, painful, and often boring beyond belief.

But a few weeks ago, I had an epiphany on how to end it, so I stopped working on the next Nick Woods novel — Mexican Heat — and attacked the book I’d been unable to whoop for so long. Now, thankfully, it’s finally published and ready to buy.

Here’s the book description:

As World War II enters its final stretch, the last elements of the German Army struggle to survive and end the war with honor.

The German soldiers know the war is lost, but have no idea how many days (or weeks) remain before capitulation. The weak and unlucky are gone. Now, only the strong remain, a ragged band of men determined to maintain their prestige and respect. They are the sons of indomitable veterans from the World War I — men filled with too much pride to quit or surrender.

But food resupply is a problem. Ammo, too. And each day,with its increasingly absurd set of orders, begins to test the men in ways they could have never imagined. These days are tough for the men, and tougher for the leaders.

Hemmed in by Nazi SS units waiting to arrest or shoot retreating troops on one side and hordes of well-supplied American troops advancing mercilessly on the other, the men pray they must only endure the freezing weather of the last days. And that their supplies won’t run out. And that they won’t lose the honor and dignity they’ve spent years creating.

“Soldier On” is a short novel. [Approximately 72 pages long.]

Keep moving,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. Please accept the greatest gift I can give, a book I believe to be worth $10,000.

P.P.S. Thanks to all who continue to make my novels a success. I seriously couldn’t have done it with everyone’s support. Thanks to your help, Little Man, and the Dixon County War  has gone as high as No. 16 on the Amazon UK Paid List (see here and here)! And my second novel, Sold Outhas also done well, going as high as No. 81 on the Amazon Paid List for the category of War (see here and here)! Thanks a million to my awesome friends, and if you’ve stumbled on my blog, you can learn more about both books here.

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Filed under Stories about my life, Writing tips

Joe Konrath’s resolutions for writers

A lot of my readers are writers, or folks who deep down want to be writers.

With that in mind, I present to you Joe Konrath’s annual resolutions for writers.

Read it, stop making excuses, and let’s begin making things happen.

Joe Konrath’s Resolutions For Writers

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. Please accept the greatest gift I can give, a book I believe to be worth $10,000.

P.P.S. Thanks to all who continue to make my novels a success. I seriously couldn’t have done it with everyone’s support. I’m excited to say that Little Man, and the Dixon County War  has gone as high as No. 16 on the Amazon UK Paid List (see here and here). My second novel, Sold Outhas also done well, also, going as high as No. 81 on the Amazon Paid List for the category of War (see here and here). Learn more about both books here.

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Filed under Writing tips

Interview about me and “Sold Out”

Today, author Thomas Rydder posted an interview of me on his site.

It’s about me, my writing, and my second book “Sold Out.” So go check it out, and thank him for doing it in the comments, if you don’t mind!

Link to interview. Thanks much!

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. Please accept the greatest gift I can give.

P.P.S. Thanks to all who continue to make my novels a success. I seriously couldn’t have done it with everyone’s support. I’m excited to say that Little Man, and the Dixon County War  has gone as high as No. 16 on the Amazon UK Paid List (see here and here). My second novel, Sold Outhas also done well, also, going as high as No. 81 on the Amazon Paid List for the category of War (see here and here). Learn more about both books here.

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Filed under Stories about my life, Writing tips

Chalk another novel up, but this one about killed me

I finished my second novel tonight, though the term second is misleading. In many ways, this is my first novel — or my first legitimate one not counting those I began as a kid.

I started this novel back in either 2000 or 2001, just shortly after a novel I co-authored with a friend of mine was turned down in New York. That novel was something that my buddy and I foolishly thought shouldn’t be changed when a New York agent called asking us for changes.

Yeah, we were that young and stupid. Cocky, really. But we were convinced we’d soon be finished and how dare someone ask us to change a couple chapters and plot points.

Yet after we had no other takers on the co-authored novel, we were stuck. And feeling pretty stupid and suddenly exhausted.

I eventually picked myself up and started on yet another one, and that one is the novel I’m referring to in this post.

For more than ten years I’ve worked on this novel and I poured a ton of my soul into it. It’s a complex thriller that involves a former Marine Sniper and an arm of the CIA, who eventually goes after him for something they think he’s done.

I’m not going to say more about the plot for now, but I did want to say that this book took all I had in me to finish it. Between launching a business, surviving a divorce, and only barely avoiding bankruptcy, it’s been hard to fight with this novel. Plus, it’s complex.

One of the number one rules in writing is, “Finish what you start.” And as part of that, you’re never supposed to lay something to the side or delay in finishing it.

Doing so makes the task of completing it monumentally more difficult. You lose your enthusiasm. Doubts creep in.

Both of those things happened with this one, and I want to publicly say that my wife Danah deserves an immense amount of credit for encouraging me to finish it. Even the past couple months, just pages from the finish line and with thoughts of giving it up, she helped push me to the end.

I’ll never have another novel that proves this difficult. I’m certain of that. I’ve grown as a writer and learned a ton of tricks and principles that must be followed. This one was birthed the hard way, and it was quite a fight that I nearly lost.

But I’m certain it’s a great book and I can’t wait to get the cover done and complete some final editing.

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. Please accept the greatest gift I can give.

P.P.S. Thanks to all who continue to make my novel Little Man, and the Dixon County War a huge success! It’s gone as high as No. 16 on the Amazon UK Paid List (see here and here), landing smack dab between a Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey book. Learn more about it here.

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Filed under Random posts, Writing tips

Writers fear failure

Some insight into writers from one of the masters himself.

Joe Konrath wrote this in 2005, before he was really big, and the article reads with a level of honesty that seems pretty rare in our world of fake confidence and certainty.

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. Thanks to all who continue to make my novel Little Man, and the Dixon County War a huge success! It’s gone as high as No. 28 on the Amazon UK Paid List, landing smack dab between two Louis L’Amour books. Learn more about it here.

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