Ray’s Rambling

Ray’s Rambling is a featured column exclusively for Asnycnow Online by Asnycnow Online’s Diplomatic Editior and former U.S Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray.

An established author and retired public service, Charles brings his writing expertise to Asnycnow Online giving an unparalleled look into world events, a recollection of speeches he has made and his works of fictions.

 Charles’s work at Asnycnow Online:


Charles Ray, recently retired from public service after 50 years, was a soldier (20 years) and a diplomat with the Department of State (30 years). During his government career, he served in dozens of countries; his assignments included being Deputy Chief of Mission in Freetown, Sierra Leone; the first U.S. Consull General in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia; Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs; and his final assignment was as U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe.

Ray is a prolific writer, as well as an artist and photographer. He has worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist, artist, and photographer, and was editorial cartoonist for the Spring Lake (NC) News from 1977 to 1981. His articles, art and photography has been published in a number of US and international publications, and he has contributed to a number of poetry anthologies.

His first full-length work, “Things I Learned from My Grandmother About Leadership and Life,” was published in 2008. He is also the creator of a mystery series about a DC-based PI who, like a knight in shining armor, is always riding to the rescue of the downtrodden, a YA history series about the Buffalo Soldiers, a book of photography, and a number of fantasy and humor books.

A frequent contributor to online content and news sites, he also has a blog, http://charlesaray.blogspot.com/, where he comments on life, ideas, and whatever crosses his fertile and sometimes febrile mind.

A native of Texas, he now makes his home in North Potomac, Maryland, where he lives with his wife, Myung.A writer of fiction and nonfiction, Ray is the author of the e-book mystery series featuring DC-based PI Al Pennyback, and two books on leadership, “Things I Learned From My Grandmother About Leadership and Life” and “Taking Charge: Effective Leadership for the Twenty-first Century.”

He also contributes to Socyberty.comRedRoomFictonWritersPlatform.net as well as Asnycnow Online.

His work is also featued in the Asnycnow Online series, //redirect, which redirects readers to Charles Ray’s other work online, which was also in Associated Content (now known as the Yahoo! Contributor Network) and other sites.

He will contribute to Asnycnow Online whenever his time allows. He contributes articles to Asnycnow Online under his twitter handle and Asnycnow Online writing name “CharlieRay45

He has made his official Asnycnow Online debut during the “Chatzone” live chatroom segment for the December 14th, 2009 broadcast of Asnycnow Radio One’s “The World Today”  joining  co-presenter Vicki Nikolaidis in the chatroom throughout the duration of the program and the taping of the podcast-exclusive, “World Today Extra”.

DISCLAIMER: The views that are expressed in the “Ray’s Rambling” column are of the author’s and do not represent or has represented the views of the Department of State or the U.S. Government.


The Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Zimbabwe, Charles A. Ray, presented his diplomatic credentials to President Robert Mugabe at the State House in Harare on Wednesday, December 9, 2009 and retired in August 2012 after 50 years in Public Service.

Prior to this confirmation, Charles A. Ray was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs in September 2006. Ambassador Ray was responsible to the Secretary of Defense for policy, control and oversight of all matters pertaining to missing personnel, and for establishing uniform policies and procedures leading to the fullest possible accounting of Americans missing in action from all conflicts. This mission included the rescue of individuals who fall in harm’s way as a result of combat.

Ambassador Ray was confirmed by the White House in 2002 and sworn-in by former Secretary of State Colin Powell as the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia, where he served until 2005. More recently he has served as diplomat in residence at the University of Houston. While there, he recruited students interested in careers in the U.S. Foreign Service or the State Department, and he worked with secondary school systems, civic organizations and other groups to inform communities about foreign service.

Ambassador Ray joined the Department of State in 1982 and held several positions such as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He also served in the Department of State Political Military Affairs Bureau, and worked in the U.S. Consulate General Offices in Guangzhou and Shenyang, China. In 1998 he became the first U.S. Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. During his 20-plus year career in the Department of State, Ambassador Ray worked with kings, presidents, soldiers and human rights activists on a variety of issues.

Prior to entering the Department of State, Ambassador Ray served in the United States Army for twenty years. He retired with the rank of Major in 1982. He received two Bronze Star medals from the Army and the Armed Forces Humanitarian Service Award.

Ambassador Ray obtained his undergraduate degree at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and received his Masters of Science degree at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He also received his Masters of Science degree from the National Defense University in Washington D.C.


Angel on his Shoulder

Winston Nesbitt is a 40-year-old loser. His bosses abuse him, his parents have deserted him, and he’s in love with a co-worker who doesn’t know it. As if things couldn’t get any worse, his grandmother comes to visit. Problem is, she died when he was 24, and has come back as a 12-inch tall spirit out to make amends for things she didn’t do while alive. Winston’s life, which had been staid and predictable suddenly takes a sharp turn – for better or worse, he’s hard-pressed to decide.

A Good Day to Die

The is another in the Al Pennyback mystery series, featuring DC-based PI Al Pennyback and his friends who get caught up in odd-ball cases as Al tries to keep his bank account healthy, while at the same time helping the poor and needy.

Child of the Flame 

Child of the Flame is the story of Pip, a fosterling in Lands End, capitol of the Kingdom of Pandara. Neither he nor his foster parents know his origins. When he is taken hostage by Barbarians trying to force Queen Daphne of Pandara to marry their king, he is rescued by Vera and Tamara from the Land of Fire. While in their company, Pip learns the truth of his birth, and that he has powers that ordinary mortals do not possess.

Dead, White, and Blue 

Al Pennyback’s friend Buster Mayweather and his wife Alma witness a crime while on vacation. The perps later kidnap Alma and Al’s girl friend Sandra to keep Buster from exposing a crime far more serious than a simple homicide. Al is faced with a moral dilemma and a deadly challenge: He must save the women, and deal with his developing relationship with Sandra.

Deadline: an Al Pennyback Mystery

Another in the Al Pennyback mystery series, set mainly in an old mansion in Washington, DC.

If I Should Die Before I Wake

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Another Al Pennyback Mystery.

Pip’s Revenge

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The second in the series about Pip of Pandara, a foundling with special powers.  A sword and scorcery fantasy.

Grab the Brass Ring

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A nonfiction work on the values of taking risks for people who want to be successful and fulfilled.

The Day The Music Died

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Al Pennyback is hired to be a bodyguard to an up and coming young singer, Cindy Caton, who is also receiving death threats via email. There’s no shortage of suspects, from her agent-manager, Conrad Bierbaum, to three frustrated singers who are jealous of her exclusive contract with Bierbaum. Al lets himself be talked into accompanying the singer and her band to Colombia, where he has to contend with poisonous snakes in bed and an unfortunate Cindy Caton look alike who winds up with a knife in her back. Back in the US after the tour, he’s under increasing pressure to catch the killer before Cindy becomes the next victim. Problem is, he finds himself quickly running out of suspects.

Taking Charge: Effective Leadership for the Twenty-First Century

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In the turbulent twenty-first century, we need enlightened leadership more than ever before. In board rooms and in command centers, from the White House to each state house, we need leaders who are focused on getting the job done. In Taking Charge, Charles Ray offers some principles and techniques of effective leadership based on his twenty years of military service and over twenty years as a civilian government official, combined with the commonsense, practical philosophy of his rural east Texas upbringing, as previously described in his book, Things I Learned from My Grandmother About Leadership and Life. This is not theory; it is a description of what works—has worked—illustrated with real-life examples of what truly effective leadership really is.

Things I Learned from My Grandmother About Leadership and Life: (How to Light a Fire Under People Without Burning Them Out)

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There are thousands of books in print that discuss leadership, but Charles Ray, a successful leader of government organizations (military and civilian) for over forty years, believes that there was need for one that addresses leadership from a practitioner’s viewpoint. Things I Learned from My Grandmother About Leadership and Life is that book. This small book gives the nuts and bolts of leadership, written in plain language and using real-life examples, intended for the busy executive or manager who doesn’t have time to wade through thick academic prose and page after page of charts and tables. Whether you are an experienced leader or just an aspiring leader, you will find the lessons Charles Ray learned from his grandmother useful in making you a better leader.