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Nick Woods used to be one of our country’s greatest snipers. A Marine who completed a bloody, top-secret mission behind enemy lines years ago, he now just wants to live in peace with his wife.
But Nick is about to get caught in a grand conspiracy between a senior investigative reporter and a shadowy, CIA group.
After said reporter, Allen Green, breaks the details of Nick’s story — blowing the top off America‘s national security — both Nick and Allen find themselves in the sights of a CIA hunter-killer group.
This CIA group breaks the law and kills at will, and they’ll stop at nothing to take down Nick Woods and the reporter who published the earth-shattering story he’d been chasing for years.
Mitchell often says, “I write books chock-full of shooting and stabbing. Description? Not so much.”
In his second offering to his growing fans, he chases down this theme with a ruthless efficiency.
Today, I’m interviewing Stan R. Mitchell, who bills himself as an Action Fiction Writer. He says of his writing style, “I write books chock-full of shooting and stabbing. Description? Not so much.”
TR: Morning, Stan, and welcome!
SM: Good morning, Thomas….
TR: Let’s get this ball rollin’. How old were you when you wrote your first piece?
SM: First, Thomas, thanks a million for taking the opportunity to interview me.
Regarding how old I was when I wrote my first piece, I think I was about eight or nine.
TR: Really? I was playing with trucks at that age. What did you write about?
SM: It was an action book about two young Native American Braves who decided to go against the wishes of their tribal elders. These two young men — about sixteen as I remember — left their tribe and began ambushing settlers moving West, instead of agreeing to a peace treaty negotiated by their tribal elders with the U.S. government.
TR: That’s pretty elaborate for an eight year old. What made you write it?
SM: Two things, I think
First, I was a small kid and bullied a fair amount, so I read all the time to help me escape. And I soon transitioned from just reading to actually writing. Partly because I wasn’t happy reading the stories that were out there — I’m a notoriously picky reader still to this day — and partly because in these stories I changed from a little boy to a young man who was tall, strong, and desirable. And brave. Always brave.
Second, I wrote that story because I have a small amount of Native American in me (Cherokee), and thus I was always fascinated with Native Americans and all the various tribes – Sioux, Iroquois, Apache, Cheyenne, etc. And today I understand why the Cherokee tried so hard to live peacefully with European settlers, but at the time I didn’t understand why they didn’t fight more – I knew that I would have fought people I saw as invaders, and so that story was my own form of resistance. And it was also some serious foreshadowing since I’d eventually leave home to join the Marines at the age of 17.
The irony of all this though is that my first completed book is about a badass cowboy, and not some bow and arrow wielding warrior. (“Little Man and the Dixon County War.”) I guess that’s life.
TR: Well…still shows an interest in the Old West, I’d say. What have you written since then?
SM: About thirty stories that were never completed, just as the first story wasn’t from when I was a kid. I usually either get stuck or bored. And it usually happens between page thirty and sixty.
TR: Sounds like you have a lot of revisiting to do. What was the inspiration for “Sold Out”?
SM: The inspiration for “Sold Out” came from the two vastly different lives that I’ve lived. One, as a knuckle-dragging Marine a touch too paranoid, and the other as a journalist covering all kinds of political shenanigans.
TR: Hah! A Marine…OOOO RAHHH! Tell us a little about it, and where it’s available.
SM: “Sold Out” is a Marine Sniper/CIA thriller, and the story began with a question, or “what if?” And so, I wondered, “What if a Marine Sniper did some Top Secret work, kept his mouth shut, but years later had it all exposed in the media by a tenacious reporter.”
A great question, in my mind. And it makes you wonder, “What would the CIA do to try to knock down the story? And what would the Marine Sniper do, who’s been exposed? And finally, what kind of trouble has this reporter gotten himself into?”
TR: Sounds fascinating. Washington is always good for intrigue. So, is there a particular place or setting where you get your writing ideas?
SM: Usually from reading the newspaper each morning. I’ll start reading an article and then stop halfway through it and find myself imagining the people involved. The angry. The desperate. The hurt. The crooked.
These great stories, right in front of me, every morning. And with just a few twists, you’ve got some great plots (or “what if’s?”) and some great insight on character motivations.
TR: That’s a great idea, actually. True life is often stranger than fiction, isn’t it? So tell me, what made you choose either traditional or independent publishing?
SM: This is too long a topic to go into here, but I suggest writers study both options and select what’s best for them. In my case, I had some advantages that made independent publishing the better option in the short term. For instance, my wife’s a graphic designer. That’s a huge edge. And honestly, I’m too much of an entrepreneur and Marine at my core. I’ve gotten spoiled and used to having full control of any project I’m involved in, and like all entrepreneurs and Marines, I’m impatient as hell. So, for me, independent publishing was the best option. But again, I think every writer should study the pros and cons of both options and decide what’s best for them.
TR: Good advice on trying both. But indie does sound like a good fit for you. Now, if you had to choose the most important element in an author’s platform, what would it be?
SM: I think the most important element in an author’s platform is a website. I think all authors need a good website or personal blog first, and then you can build on that with Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.
TR: Too right. Here’s a good one – what mistakes have you made in regards to publishing and marketing your work, and what will you do differently in the future?
SM: My mistakes as an author have been switching from book to book based on what excited me at the time. I’m not an outline writer and so I often get stuck, leaving a novel unfinished. Thus, I need to be more disciplined in my work. I need to always finish what I start.
In regards to mistakes in marketing, I think it’s important you have a strong and brutally honest person taking the journey with you — in my case, it’s my wife Danah. She keeps me straight and prevents me from looking stupid.
And so far, thanks to her help, I think I’ve managed to avoid some of the mistakes I’ve seen others make. Namely, fellow Indie authors, try your best to avoid these mistakes…
One, don’t pull a melt down because you’re an Indie author and you didn’t catch a break or got ripped by a reader/critic. It’s hard for any author to take criticism, but you’ve got to keep moving and developing that proverbial thick skin.
- Two, don’t talk politics from one side of the fence. It’s way too dangerous and I don’t know many authors who can afford to give up 50% of their sales.
- Three, don’t upload a book that isn’t the absolute best you can do. For instance, if I hadn’t been reading, writing, and studying how to craft a great story for more than twenty years, I doubt I would have had the success that I’ve had. (Both my books have made it into the Amazon Top 100 Paid List, competing against some big names — I’ve got to give huge props to Danah and my beta readers for helping me pull that off.) And don’t get me started on crappy covers. Get a good cover or no one will even read your book description, much less buy your book.
TR: Brilliant advice, all of it! I hope readers take note of those. This question, I think, is rhetorical, but do you have an idea for your next book?
SM: Hah! Yeah, about twenty different ones, which is always my main problem. (I laugh when I hear writers complain about not having ideas; I should be selling them! Likewise, they should be reading a newspaper each morning with a writer’s mindset.)
But, seriously, I plan to write a sequel to both my Western novel (“Little Man”) and my Marine Sniper/CIA Thriller (“Sold Out”). Yep, have started both sequels — see earlier point about lack of discipline to a single work; but, hey, there’s always tomorrow.
Anyway, since both books are proving successful on the market, and since I really dig the main characters in them, I’ll probably end up writing at least a three-book series for each.
And since I see some people nodding in the back, let’s wrap it up there.
I appreciate everyone who made it down this far into the interview and would love to hear from any of you. I love meeting new people and I love helping writers. (Just be prepared for lots of questions — it’s the journalist in me.) You can find my website here: http://stanrmitchell.com. And I’m on Twitter here and Facebook here. So, drop me a line. I’d love to hear from everyone.
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Death Flu: pray you won’t be a survivor…
Racists, murderers, rapists, and sociopaths — it seems that only the worst of America rises like human scum to the surface of a land shattered by the Death Flu. Only they have the strength to survive in a world where your neighbors and loved ones rise again after death, ravenous for your flesh.
In such a blighted world, would you really want to be one of the survivors?
And yet there are heroes too: men and women who battle to preserve at least some semblance of decency in a world gone insane. Their fight appears hopeless…
Death Flu — a novel you won’t dare to put down.
Not for the squeamish.
The rather hairy gentlemen above are feral cats who have chosen to adopt my wife and I. It all started with a kitty not shown her, one we named “Mew“. He and his brother Crackles were part of a litter born in the woods by our complex, and who eventually showed up around our apartment looking for food. My wife is a life-long animal lover, and has worked for years in the veterinary business. She promptly had me venture out to get an extra bag of cat foot, and a friendship was born. This happened over a year ago, and both are still around. In the meantime, the fellows above were also born, again in the wild, and they heard through the kitty grapevine there was free food to be had around our digs. So, one day, much smaller versions of these fellows showed up outside our door. Out I went again, of course.
That’s been several months now, and as you can see, one and all are hale and hearty. They are fed twice daily (and I dare say are at our door waiting at the assigned time, morn and night), and both Hisser and Midnight enjoy getting pets and attention from us both – in fact, I think they could go inside someone’s place, but the local SPCA is so crowded, they give cats and dogs away, so our guys have little chance in being placed. We can’t take them, for we have two dogs and two cats (And are only allowed two pets total – SHHHHHHH). However, the SPCA does offer free spaying and neutering for feral cats, so my wife has spent her time over the last few months renting cages from them, and trapping each of our friends. They have all been spayed or neutered, received a full series of shots, and now we know at least more little furry fellows won’t be coming out of them.
By the way, if you noticed up above, I said “extra” cat food“, because shown below is the crew we feed in our place every day. They are also rescues, and suffice to say our home is filled with beings not wanted elsewhere (my wife has seen fit to include me in that number).
For all these many reasons, my wife and I strongly support organizations like our local SPCA, and the Lowcountry Animal Rescue, a completely volunteer group who have no headquarters, but whose members foster unwanted animals until they can be adopted, and who hold weekly adoption drives around the Charleston area. They are heroes, one and all, and their sole thanks in all this is the satisfaction of seeing homeless animals go out the door with a new family, and no who no longer have to live in a cage, or worse, the wild.
I urge everyone to support their local groups, and drop a bag of food by, or some old towels and blankets. They are always in need, and welcome any help they can get.
Additionally, you can help stem the flow of sometimes overwhelming numbers by simply spaying or neutering your pets.
Please! Do NOT respond to this by telling me what heroes my darling wife and I are. It’s not praise we seek. It’s a better life for creatures who deserve nothing less.
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A photo of a New York City police officer kneeling down to give a barefoot homeless man in Times Square a pair of boots on a cold November night is melting even the iciest New Yorkers’ hearts online.
On Nov. 14, NYPD officer Lawrence DePrimo, who was on counterterrorism duty in Times Square, saw the older homeless man without shoes sitting on 42nd Street. DePrimo, 25, left and then returned with a pair of $100 boots he bought at a nearby Skechers store.
“It was freezing out, and you could see the blisters on the man’s feet,” DePrimo, a three-year veteran of the department who lives with his parents on Long Island, told the New York Times. “I had two pairs of socks, and I was still cold.”
The random act of kindness was captured by Jennifer Foster, a tourist from Florence, Ariz., who was visiting the city. Foster, communications director for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona, emailed the photo to the NYPD with a note commending DePrimo.
“The officer said, ‘I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let’s put them on and take care of you,'” Foster wrote. “The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put socks and the new boots on this man.
“I have been in law enforcement for 17 years,” she continued. “I was never so impressed in my life. … It is important, I think, for all of us to remember the real reason we are in this line of work. The reminder this officer gave to our profession in his presentation of human kindness has not been lost.”
Foster’s photo was posted on the NYPD’s Facebook page on Tuesday, where it received more than 320,000 “likes,” 77,000 “shares” and 20,000 comments—most of them praising DePrimo, who seems to have restored Facebook’s faith in humanity.
“This is one hell of a police officer,” Desiree Wright-Borden wrote.
“Wow,” Jack Horton wrote. “It’s nice to know there are still good people out there.”
“Angels truly do walk on earth!!!” Charlene Hoffman-Pestell wrote.
Some commenters, though, were skeptical, saying the photo could have been staged.
“Clever stunt!” Louis Zehmke wrote. “The hobo is ‘parked’ at the entrance of a shoe shop.”
But Foster claims DePrimo had no idea he was being photographed: “The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching.”
(12 December 1998, Canada)
Kevin, a 19-year-old Quebec student, killed himself at Bishop’s University while shaking a 420-kilogram Coke machine. He had been celebrating the end of final exams with friends. He died beneath the soda machine, asphyxiated, with a blood alcohol level slightly over the legal driving limit.
Kevin’s last act was committed in vain. “Even as it fell over, the vending machine did not let out a single can,” the coroner reported. Soda-holics take note! The report also states that toppled vending machines have caused at least 35 deaths and 140 injuries in the last twenty years.
For those with enquiring minds, I refer you to a website dedicated to the quest to clear Kevin’s name. His family questions the official version on their website, aptly named cokemachineaccidents.com. They recently sued Coca-Cola, two related companies, and Bishop’s University for “gross carelessness.” Their website expose proffers several explanations for why Kevin’s death was not his own fault: shaking coke machines “was common practice at the University,” and anyway, unknown persons might have crushed Kevin with the vending machine in a bizarre murder, as it “would be difficult for one person to move” the machine.
In response, a spokesperson for Coke said that Canadian machines are now labeled with a warning that “tipping or rocking may cause injury or death.” They have also installed anti-theft devices in newer models to keep people from obtaining free drinks.
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In a lonely lot at the end of a forgotten road sits a building, a place of secrets and unimaginable horrors. Wendell Mackey has just escaped from it, where he had been imprisoned against his will. But after his escape, Wendell begins to change.
The old Wendell is dying, but something new is being born, something uncontrollable and terrifying. The men in that building planted in him a seed that is beginning to grow, and when they come to find him, Wendell isn’t sure what will be there to greet them.
ursued by his former captors, threatened by the dregs of a city imploding from within, watching his body melt into something monstrous, Wendell sees little chance of escape, until he meets one person, an old woman, who may be the last ray of hope in his brutal and dark life.
What follows is a journey into fanaticism, deception and violence. The horrors of science run amok blend with the surreal and nightmarish, creating a story that forces you to question reality and the foundations of human nature. The Death of Wendell Mackey will stay with you long after the story ends.
CT: The first story I remember writing was a short story back in the fifth grade.
TR: That’s pretty good…I can barely remember 5th grade. What was it, and in what genre?
CT: When I was a kid, I remember loving the child-friendly Three Investigators mystery series. They were about three boys in Los Angeles who solved crimes with the help of Alfred Hitchcock (yes, that Hitchcock!). And I remember spinning off one of those stories and writing my own, with three little boys investigating a crime that brought them to, of all places, Cambodia. (I remember looking at pictures of Angkor Wat in a picture book, and I thought it would make a great scene for a story, as far-fetched as my story came to be.) So, I guess that would fall into the mystery genre.
TR: Cambodia. That’s a pretty impressive undertaking, for a 5th grader. How did that come about?
CT: It was a school project. I actually remember reading it aloud in front of my class. I can still see my teacher, sitting in the back, giving me encouraging nods as I quickly began to realize how ridiculous my story sounded.
TR: I doubt she thought it was ridiculous. You should have received an “A” just for the setting. So, what have you written since then?
CT: For years after that I wrote mostly short stories. I’d complete a creative writing project at school, and then I’d go home and write its sequel. Haunted carnivals, aliens, spy thrillers, everything a pre-teen boy would love to read.
Right after college I tried my hand at novel writing. My first attempt was a Ludlum-esque thriller about a terrorist coming to America. After that fell flat, I worked on another thriller with a more supernatural bent. That one lasted quite a bit longer, but after having my wife read the opening chapter, and after seeing the puzzled look on her face, I decided to shelve it. A year later, I started The Death of Wendell Mackey, and surprisingly enough, I finished it.
TR: You were a busy young man. What was the inspiration for Wendell Mackey”?
CT: That’s a good question. I’m not entirely sure. Around that time I had finished reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, so I’m sure that had an impact on me. I started writing it, thinking it would end up as a novella, but then I just kept writing, thinking, “Hey, why not just flesh it out a bit and try for a novel?”
TR: Makes sense. Tell us a little about it, and where it’s available.
CT: The Death of Wendell Mackey is a psychological thriller, but it does have a few traditional horror elements as well. I tell people it’s a little Koontz and a little Cronenberg, a thriller with a twenty-first century Frankenstein vibe. Wendell Mackey, the main character, was the subject of a series of horrific scientific experiments, and after his escape from the institution in which he was held captive, he finds himself changing into a creature. But as his body begins to change, so too does his mind, forcing him to call into question all of reality and the most basic elements of human nature.
TR: Very nice. So tell me, Is there a particular place or setting where you get your writing ideas?
CT: Not really. Every idea has a different source, I’d say. Some come from things I’ve seen on the news; others come from things I’ve read in books. The story I’m working on now started as my wife and I were driving north on Route 15 through Tioga County, Pennsylvania. I was staring out the window of the car, and the seed of a story was planted.
TR: Ah. Pennsylvania, my home state. Very cool. Now, what made you choose either traditional or independent publishing?
CT: At first, I considered traditional publishing. But I assumed that finding an agent and then getting published would be very difficult, if not completely impossible. (I’ve heard enough horror stories.) And since self-publishing with ebooks has exploded in popularity, I thought this might be a good way to get started with my novel. The time it took to get my cover art and my formatting ready, and to get uploaded to Amazon, was rather quick and painless.
TR: They do make it relatively easy nowadays, don’t they? If you had to choose the most important element in an author’s platform, what would it be?
CT: Reviews. Getting reviews of your book from reputable sources is essential. Reader reviews, mind you, are essential too. But getting other authors and full-time and/or professional reviewers to give your book a look makes an enormous difference.
TR: I agree, especially with all the competition out there. Now, tell us – what mistakes have you made in regards to publishing and marketing your work, and what will you do differently in the future?
CT: I’m still figuring that out. (By that I mean that I’m still making plenty of mistakes.) Next time, I might try to land an agent, and see where that takes me. But honestly, I’m not sure. I still feel like a newbie.
TR: We are all newbies, my friend, don’t worry. Do you have an idea for your next book?
CT: Right now my next novel is in its infancy, but it’s starting to grow. It’s a murder mystery, and it involves a series of ritualistic murders that occur in the hills of Southern New York and North-Central Pennsylvania. Two bored academics, over their summer break from school, decide to investigate the killings, and as their investigation spins them into various directions—pseudoscience, drug gangs, doomsday cults, the occult—they quickly realize that they’re on to something far greater than they ever imagined.
Tune in Thursday, when I interview my pal Stan R. Mitchell, author of “Sold Out”. Be there!