ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Our Keto Reset - Day Zero


In this era of save games and respawning, one wonders why we can't do it in real life. Why can't I respawn while my friends stand over my body to keep others from stealing my loot? Why can't I just save game when I'm thin and healthy, indulge for a while, then return to the save? One thing we know for sure is that those options don't exist in reality.

One way I've been able to get healthy is by deploying. Sure, I've seen people return fatter from a tour in Afghanistan, but that takes effort. What with no alcohol and the opportunity to workout every day, one can't help but become more healthy. Well, I don't really want to deploy again anytime soon. My PTSD is finally under control thanks to a happy pill and the world's best therapist, so that option is out.

What about the South Beach Diet, you ask?

Or why not do the grapefruit fast all the Hollywood movie stars do to get in shape for their movies? Pro tip. Don't believe for a second they drink grapefruit juice and then poof! they're suddenly hard bodies. They have dietitians and private trainers who work them like dogs. Since I can't afford either of those that option is out to me as well.

What we have seen is that we've had a lot of friends do Keto and succeed. They make the lifestyle change. They dedicate themselves and are healthier for it. So, Yvonne and I thought we'd like to do the same. She has some pounds that are so dedicated to staying with her, she can't even bribe them to go away. And between my stress, an injury, and some depression, I've gained too much weight to be healthy. So we're going to try Keto for health and body image.

But we're only going to try it for 60 days (at least that's the goal).

We want to use Keto and accompanying Ketosis to cleanse our body of the results of way too much refined sugar, grains, and other bad things. Then, at the end of 60 days, we'll look at how we want to proceed and move in that direction.

At this point on Day Zero we don't really want pizzas, pasta, and bread to disappear from our life. The idea is after 60 days, find a way to moderate the intake of those horrible but delectable foods, while keeping the best of Keto around.

I can see the purists looking askance at us. They have every right to. Everyone has to choose their own paths and this is ours. Is it the right one? We hope it is but we're not sure. Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes and that Disney is going to mess up the Star Wars franchise. But at least we'll try.

What we're going to do is make daily posts. Yvonne and I are both influencers and taste makers and we have a lot of people who look to us for advice. I can tell you this, we're going to eat well. We're going to try some great Keto recipes. If this journey is going to be hard, we might as well eat well on the way.

So here we go.

Day Zero.

Keto Reset Day 1 starts tomorrow.

Wish us luck.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Lush and Seething Hell by John Hornor Jacobs

I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of this book witch contains a small novel and a rich novella. I was eager to read it and justifiably so. Here's my blurb for the book.

"John Horner Jacobs' fiction has always been subversively stylistic. He wields his lean muscular prose with an ease that has been gifted. Where his earlier fiction impresses with its reach, The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky explodes with cosmic understatement and it is the words between words where he succeeds the most. Reminiscent of the best of Jorge Luis Borges and Roberto Balano, Jacobs doubles-down with his own mythology and shares with us a world of hidden brigades, secret associations, and a lushness of spirit that carries our inquisitive main character far beyond the shores of safe belief. Then he gifts us with My Heart Struck Sorrow, a southern gothic musical haunting that becomes an almanac of the human spirit. His characters in each story are in search of something they don't know, but in the end find something they aren't sure of. I'd say this is Jacobs' best, but I know it's not true as long as he continues writing. As much as I am in love with what he has written, its what's yet to come that has me waiting and breathless." - Weston Ochse, Best-selling author of SEAL Team 666 and Burning Sky

The book is available to the public on October 8th. I encourage you to pre-order it from your favorite bookstore. Try Mysterious Galaxy or search for it on IndiBound (your link to independent booksellers).

Friday, April 19, 2019

New Author Alert - James E. Mack

There's an author who needs some love. Cards on the table. I know the guy. He's written two books. Both take place in Scotland. Both are thrillers, but not necessarily military. Here's the thing. I love Scotland. If you've been then you know the deal. If you haven't this is a great chance to learn about the wonderful country.

The author is James Mack. I know a metric ton of information about him so let me share what he says about himself on his Amazon page so I don't speak out of turn.
James E Mack was born in Scotland but spent much of his childhood abroad, gaining a love of nature, the outdoors and wildlife. He became a Commando in the late 1980s and a member of a Special Operations unit, with a 22-year career serving in many of the world's troubled hot spots.
James is the real deal.

His first book is Only the Dead.
In the chaos of conflict, Sergeant Finn Douglas, a veteran Royal Marine Commando, is forced to commit a terrible act to save the lives of his men. Haunted by his actions and devastated by the loss of his family to a terrorist attack, he turns his back on war and killing and escapes to a wilderness off the coast of Scotland.
As a team of Military Police are dispatched to track Finn down and bring him to justice, it provides one of the men with the opportunity to redress an old grudge against the Marines.
And he will stop at nothing to see this through.
When a gang of violent wildlife-poachers shatter his sanctuary, Finn has no choice but to intervene in order to save the lives of the people and animals that he has come to admire. But his actions soon provide the Military Police with a lead, and incur the wrath of the poachers' psychotic leader.
In the mid-winter, mountain wilderness, the manhunt becomes a race against time between the forces of law and order and a vicious murderer determined to take his revenge.
A novel similar to Only the Dead is Bearskin which takes place in Appalachia.

His second book is Fear the Dark

Police Constable Tess Cameron loves her job in the coastal village of St Cyrus. With her Sergeant due for retirement, Tess has her sights set on making detective. Life is good. 
When she arrests a violent stranger who refuses to reveal his identity, Tess suspects that all is not as it seems. Digging further into the background of the mysterious stranger, she finds that he is a disgraced former Special Forces soldier with a chequered past.
When the worst storm of winter hits the village and communications and electricity are cut, the severe weather is blamed. Tess however, feels that something more sinister may be responsible for their isolation.
Because the stranger has friends.
This has the feeling of a rural Attack on Precinct 13. I've been to the setting and James nailed it.

So there you have it. Two great books. Please give them a try.

Friday, January 25, 2019

I'm Coming to Patreon - Will You Join Me?


The big news for 2019 is I'm going to create a Patreon page. It's going to launch Feb 1. I was down on this for a long time, but that's before I realized what Patreon was there for. I thought a Patreon was for me, but I was totally wrong. Patreon is there for you. It's so that you can interact with some of your favorite creators, get personal with them, and receive great rewards for your Patreonage.

This is a preview of my Patreon About You page. Please take a look at it and note that my first ten Patreons will receive a SEAL Team 666 Team Black patch and a special note from me. Also note the rewards I'm going to be providing to my Patreons.

Hi! I'm Weston Ochse (pronounced oaks). Welcome to my Patreon page.

But wait, Who is this Weston Ochse?

Good question.

As of this writing, I’ve had 30 professionally published books. My work has appeared in DC and IDW comics. I’ve had nonfiction in Soldier of Fortune magazine. My work has received movie interest, once from Wesley Snipes, and currently from Dwayne Johnson. With over 120 professionally published works of short fiction, I’ve written my own original works, as well as worked in the universes of Predator, Hellboy, X-Files, Aliens, and Clive Barker’s Midian. I was one of the original writers of V-Wars which inspired the TV show soon to come from Netflix. I also write poetry and have been published in both peered and non-peered literary journals.

I'm also a tastemaker. I turn you onto things you never knew you wanted turned on to. I find things that are new and cool and unusual and share them so you can try new and cool and unusual things.

I'm a born story teller. My ancestors traveled the now British Isles, telling stories, singing songs, delivering poetry, and performing for those who would provide patronage. Fast forward to the 21st Century, we still have bards, but the venue has completely changed. No longer are we performing in dusty castles with questionable food and wine. We perform at small venues or from the comfort of our own homes. I am a modern bard (you don’t want me to sing) and have been patronless for too long. I seek patrons to inspire me, to make me want to work for them, to be a part of my creative process. I’m seeking you.

Why call this Living Dangerously? Many of you also know I have a military background, including two recent tours to Afghanistan. I’ve been to 57 countries, travel extensively for my writing, and often find myself in unusual places. When I’m not writing, I like hiking, fly fishing, cooking, and reading. I prefer single malt Speyside Scotch whiskeys, California Chardonnay, and seafood. I used to be good at martial arts before I got old, but I’m still one of the first to run into any fight to protect my people. I live the life of a Chaotic Good Paladin. It’s just who I am. I’d rather live dangerously than live safely--live boringly. Wouldn’t you? Do you want to live dangerously with me?

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. I want you to be my Patreon. I want to write and perform for you. Here are some of the things I will be working on, and according to which Tier you choose, you will have exclusive access to these things:

  • Short Stories I want to write for you. Each month, I will give you some topics and take your input and write a short story based on what you’ve asked for. I mean, who does that?
  • I will also write the occasional exclusive essay and post pictures of what I am doing from day-to-day. You can share as well. In fact, we will live dangerously together.
  • A book of poetry about my time in Afghanistan. I thought that I might want to write a story or an essay, but neither those would capture the essence of what I want to relate. I think only through the lens of verse can I best explain how it feels to be in such a place. This will be exclusive to you until it’s formally published.
  • Novellas about the continuing adventures of Special Unit 77. They’ve already had two adventures, and I will provide those to you over a period of time. Then I will begin working on the next one, then the next, then the next. Fans of SEAL Team 666 will love Special Unit 77. Set in late 1960s San Francisco, Special Unit 77 protects the West Coast of America from supernatural attack by foreign powers. This will be exclusive to you until it’s formally published.
  • A serialized novel called The Lost City of Hateful Things. I started it and set it aside, but I want to finish it. Only by having patrons can this happen. This will make you a true patron because I will be finishing it for you. What’s it about? A group of five injured soldiers in the Walter Reed Army Hospital Wounded Warrior Clinic are bored out of their minds. At the urging of one of their group, they decide to take a busman’s holiday to find the lost city of Uqbar, mentioned in fiction and non-fiction for hundreds of years. The city is also the centerpiece of Argentinian author Jorge Louis Borges’ short story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.They will find the city and it will be terrible, because they will discover why it is also known as the City of Hateful Things. This will be exclusive to you until it’s formally published.
  • And more. I will frequently give you surprises. Random acts of creativity for your patronage.

What is exclusivity? It’s just as it sounds. I write these for you. Some of these will be published once everything is finished. For the poetry, novel and the novella, I will make some poems and the first few chapters of each available to the general public only so they know what they are missing. But for the rest of it, it’s all exclusive. This is what you are paying for and this is what you get.

I’ll also get personal and you can get personal back. I’ve been a patron of Fucking Amanda Palmer for a while and she gets personal. Will I get that personal? Will I show you my tits? I could but it would be disappointing. So I might not get as personal as she does, but I will spill my guts on occasion and ask your for advice.

Here’s something I read recently from someone wondering about how we think about our patrons and it stuck with me.

“It was frightening to be so personal with strangers, and others warned me against it. But these were the people who had urged us to be entirely true to ourselves. And I think perhaps some part of me wanted to test the limits of this newfound support for authenticity. Was it limited to the book project? Or did it extend to us as individuals? Each time I’d write something intimate, I’d cringe as I hit the “post update” button. Each time I’d expect someone to accuse me of “oversharing” or being “unprofessional.” But the result of my openness was not the rejection or criticism, I expected. The result was kindness, warmth, trust, and empathy. And something beautiful was happening for backers who chose emotional investment. They, like me, began to sense connection and meaning that transcended the book. Long before we delivered anything, several backers who had supported hundreds of campaigns said that ours was their favorite."  -Wendy Ice, Courtesy of Amanda Palmer

This is what I am looking for.

I want a connection.

I want to connect with you.

So, thank you for being my patron.

I’m excited to create with you.

I’m excited to create for you.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Oh Snap - Looks Like I Have A Shared Universe

I've been doing this subconsciously for longer than I have been doing it consciously. After thirty books, including hardback novellas and short story collections, as well as more than 140 published short stories, I'm realizing that many of them live in the same universe and am beginning to impose an intentionality to them.

Books like Grunt Life, Grunt Traitor and Grunt Hero, clearly can't be part of the shared universe because I basically fuck up the planet until there's only a few of us left.

Similarly, I can't include Empire of Salt (Zombies) or the Vampire Outlaw books (SF). But there are a lot I can include.

What made me do this?

It really struck me last year when I was planning to write Dead Sky, which I just turned in last week to Solaris Boos. I knew I was going to have astral projection (Spoiler) in the book, so I hearkened all the way back to my first novel, Scarecrow Gods, which also included astral projection. By having the same astral rules, I made them shared universe.

I'm also referencing characters, ideas, and units from other books. I've yet to have a character cross over, but I'm planning that now. A little late after 30 books, I know, but better late than never.

Well, I do have a Special Unit 77 appearing in Dead Sky, so maybe that's a crossover.

Then I saw a Patreon only post (I think--or was it a newsletter--cant find it--maybe a FB post, oh well) from Brian Keene that listed all the books and stories in his universe. Knowing how much Brian puts out (lol), it was an impressive list. So I figured I'd better up my game and do the same so my fans can get what they want. My list isn't going to be complete for awhile, because I'm in the seemingly forever process of recording all of my short stories and novellas into a data base, but I have to start somewhere.

I'm not sure what to call it but for now I'll use the mega lame name of The Shared Universe of Weston Ochse.

Here they are so far:

  • Scarecrow Gods
  • Recalled to Life
  • The Golden Thread
  • SEAL Team 666
  • ST666: Age of Blood
  • ST666: Reign of Evil
  • Burning Sky
  • Dead Sky
  • Cold War Gothic (Special Unit 77)
  • The Bohemian Grove(Special Unit 77)

Novels in Progress:
  • Oberon
  • The Red Unicorn
  • The Devils Swing
  • The Murder King
  • Free Riders 
  • Bone Chase
 Well, that's it so far. I'm open for some input. What does everyone think? Did I miss anything?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Anyone Remember Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser or Fritz Leiber?

This is a joyously fun tale starring Hemmo and Doogie and hooker mermaids, talking Sturgeons, and sentient octopi, set in 1950s Astoria, Oregon.

Reposting this from editor Eric Guignard.


I’ll be posting all contributors here, one-a-day, to reveal the table of contents for the latest anthology that I’ve created: Pop the Clutch: Thrilling Tales of Rockabilly, Monsters, and Hot Rod Horror, to be published by Dark Moon Books in January 14, 2019!

DAY 2 of 18: Weston Ochse
1. Seanan McGuire presents “The Golden Girls of Fall”
2. Weston Ochse presents “Sea Lords of the Columbia”

. . . Hemmo slapped his beer down and open-mouth-ogled his war buddy and best friend. “What do you mean the fish spoke to you?”
Hemmo Saarsgaard was an acre tall compared to Doogie and as angular as a pike. They each wore a white t-shirt underneath leather jackets. Blue jeans and combat boots finished their ensemble. Doogie couldn’t help note that they were still in uniform albeit not the same uniform they’d worn in Korea. The difference was that back then they’d been part of something—part of something special. Now they were just—they weren’t part of anything. They were just drifting like every other war-aged man in America back in the Land of the Big PX with no focus and no prospects.
Doogie pushed the ennui aside and stood a little straighter. “Just as I said. It spoke to me.”
“I mean, did its lips move? Did it swim up to you and begin a conversation? I mean, come on, Doogie, you can’t just lead with, Did I tell you what the fish said?”
“It didn’t swim up. I caught it. I just told you. And no, its lips didn’t move. It spoke to me in my head.”. . .
—“ Sea Lords of the Columbia” by Weston Ochse

WESTON OCHSE is the author of more than twenty books. His work has appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including The Tampa Review, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Soldier of Fortune, IDW, and DC Comics. His work has also been a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award five times and he’s been honored to have won the Bram Stoker Award for First Novel. He’s recently worked on several franchises, including Aliens, Predator, Hellboy, Clive Barker’s Midian, V-Wars, Joe Ledger, and X-Files. He splits his time between Arizona and Oregon and absolutely loves the outdoors. When he’s not writing, you can find him hiking, running, fly fishing, or just fusting about.

Pop the Clutch: Thrilling Tales of Rockabilly, Monsters, and Hot Rod Horror
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Pop-Clutch-Thrilling-Ro…/…/1949491056
Publisher’s Page: http://www.darkmoonbooks.com/pop_the_clutch.html
Releasing: January 14, 2019

“A fitting tribute to the 1950s with this 18-story compendium of hot rods, rock ’n’ roll, and creature features come to life.” —Publishers Weekly

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Templeton Gate Reviews Burning Sky

I was chuffed as they say in the UK about this review. I love these guys and constantly want to impress them because if I can do that, it means I've done something. Looks like I did. 5 stars. Wow.

Here's an excerpt:

This is highly recommended. I'm willing to follow wherever Ochse leads, and I need to track down some of his earlier work. Yesterday I rated this 5 stars at Amazon and Goodreads, and also mentioned that the author might be surprised about other books I thought of while reading. One of them was still very much fresh in my mind, since I had read Joe Haldeman's Hugo and Nebula winner Forever Peace for the first time last week. What I'm referencing is only the part about the Jupiter Project and the speculation as to what might happen if it was completed. Another book I thought of is Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker, still one of the best books I've ever read. It is all about the vastness of the cosmos, the wide range of species that dwell on various planets of the far-flung galaxies, and the possible discovery of the ultimate creator of it all. I've typed several other sentences, edited them, then decided to delete them as too spoilery. I'll leave it as an exercise for other readers to figure out why those books came to mind. Is there an ultimate beginning point to the universe, or an ultimate end point, or is it a perpetual motion machine, destined to repeat forever? Is everything Boy Scout experiences part of the fugue? Will he ever escape it? I don't know yet, but I'm anxious to find out. If you're not into such musings, if you only want military action (there is plenty of that here) this might not be the book for you. If you're game for things beyond the material world, even as a mere thought experiment, there is much here to satisfy. It has prompted me to do more research into Zoroastrianism and other spiritual disciplines, which I hope to do before the announced sequel, Dead Sky, is released.

You can read the entire very lengthy review here.

Radioactive Reviews Burning Sky

I was very psyched to see that Radioactive Book Reviews decided to review Burning Sky. They are known to be a no shit hard-assed review site that can be trusted. 

Here's an excerpt.

Overall this book was good, but not my new favourite. I really think there’s a huge difference between what the book looks like on the outside, what the description describes it to be, and what it actually is. I think if you like books about army guys and girls killing things and battling their own problems as well as supernatural ones, you’re going to like this. If you like books that change their entire being in the middle, you’re going to like this. And if you like books that confuse you a little but in a good way, then this is the book for you. 
To read the entire review, you can find it here

Burning Sky Makes Another Best of 2018 List

Adman, Bonvivant, and Author, John Hornor Jacobs had his own best list for 2018. Among many illustrious books, he included Burning Sky. Here's what he had to say:
I really enjoyed this book. I’ve said elsewhere that Weston’s short fiction moves with terrifying grace, but his novels have a muscular poetry to them. Burning Sky, his newest novel, moves with urgency and forcefulness with the precision of, well, a military combat team, which just so happens to be the center and beating heart of this fascinating novel. It starts already rolling hard and continues, with some twists and turns and an elegant mystery that sneaks up on you along the way, to a cataclysmically great ending. Ochse’s inclusion of Zoroastrianism (a word, I have learned, I have a terrible time spelling without digital help) is inspired and really caught me in its grasp – I realized how little I actually know about it – so it offers a rich and intricate world for readers to discover, delivered by Weston’s assured voice. Wes makes you care about this menagerie of hard-bit soldiers, drawing you in to feel like you’re part of the team, and then he does horrible things to them. And he fucks with your head while he’s at it. If you like brilliantly rendered military fiction, if you like cosmic horror with new and interesting takes on mythology (seriously, he opens the door a crack for you by the end, exposing the potential for so much more), it’s not a book to be missed. Thankfully, there are more stories coming in this series.
To see his entire list and make sure you have the right books on your TBR, follow this link.  

New Burning Sky Review - Runalong The Shelves

I almost missed this. Thanks to Joe for letting me know about it.

Overall, this is a very positive review, but the reviewer brings up a great point. I'll get to that later. Here's an excerpt from the review over at Runalong The Shelves.

The character dynamic was appealing.  This is a military team with two skilled and respected women operating alongside the men and the men themselves are a diverse group of backgrounds including former criminals and a gay man who again the team have no issues with.  It feels a refreshingly 21st century set-up.  Ultimately the TST enjoy what they do and while they all have their reasons for fighting and it is clear they complement and need each other on a very deep level.
My only reservation was the final reveal is a historical character who really set the ball rolling on the confrontation the team need to address.  That character is shown in a less than positive light and as far as I’ve been able to see he had no ulterior motives and instead is a respected literary figure to Persian culture.  Artistic licence must be expected in the genre but to base a story in Afghanistan and use a famous Muslim character as a potential antagonist (and to be fair their motives are still unclear, so this may be revealed in future stories as a red herring) I felt made this a little out of step with the rest of the book.

So, this is an excellent point. Having just finished the second book, I'm going to include a disclaimer in the acknowledgements. Basically, I had to have a foil for the team. I had to have someone be the bad guys. I chose to make the ultimate bad guy someone who everyone sees as good, because that's just good plotting. To the reviewer's question about it being a red herring, I can convincingly say that it was not and that the next book, Dead Sky, will provide much more reasons for his presence and desire to do what he did. I know this is sort of cryptic, but I don't want to ruin the reading experience for you, but I did want to mention that the reviewers criticism here is valid.

Here is the full review.

Burning Sky Makes Another Best of 2018 List

Thanks to David Agranoff, who besides being a major reviewer in the industry, but is also the founder of the PK Dick Podcast Dickheads. When he puts me on a list, I feel like I've done something right. He placed Burning Sky as number 3 in his top ten. If this was horse racing I would have been in the money.

Here's what Mr. Agranoff- had to say.

Burning Sky is masterpiece that I am more impressed by the longer I think about it. Burning Sky is very much about PTSD, but Burning Sky takes that theme and goes beyond. This novel is about what drives war. It explores the deep trauma not just of the warriors but society. The book points to key moments covered by the news in the last few conflicts that lead to Trauma that we felt collectively. The theme is expressed so beautifully in some of this novel's most horrific moments.

To see the entire list, follow this link here.  

Identity Motifs in The Goldfinch, The Catcher in the Rye, and Life As We Know It

I recently wrote an article called Identity Motifs in The Goldfinch, The Catcher in the Rye, and Life As We Know It that was published over at Civilian Reader courtesy of y publicist over at Solaris Books. Growing up when I did, The Catcher in the Rye was hugely influential to me. Having recently read The Goldfinch, I couldn't help but derive some comparisons to Catcher, as well as my own search for identity in I Am A Cowboy In the Boat of Ra. I thought I might post a teaser here so that you can see what it's about and if you want, follow the link to Civilian Reader. 

I was introduced to the idea of The Catcher in the Rye in 1979. I’d heard about this 1950s novel through my parents, both educators. I’d also heard about it through a Freshman English teacher at my High School. The reason I’d only heard about it and not seen it was because I was living in Tennessee and at the time it was a banned book. By banned, I don’t mean that there were any Fahrenheit 451 Fireman to come and burn them up — although I am sure there were those who wished that to be true. By banned I mean that the book was considered an unhealthy read and stores and libraries were urged not to provide them to young healthy minds. So it was with great delight that I was able to buy a copy of the book in 1981 at the local Walden Books store, who provided it from a box in the backroom and sold to me wrapped in brown paper so no one would see what I’d purchased.

Then I read it and was introduced to Holden Caulfield, who I would soon call a brother because of how he seemed to be me, or at least a shadow of me carried by the hot sun of Salinger’s early creativity. 

Found Footage Fiction - Locus Magazine Article

I recently had an article published in Locus Magazine's Author's Round Table about Found Footage Fiction. For those who don't know, Locus is the industry trade magazine for authors of the fantastic. I thought I might post a teaser here so that you can see what it's about and if you want, follow the link to Locus Magazine. The essay includes discussion of author's Adam Neville, Marissa Pessl, and Gemma Files.

FOUND FOOTAGE FICTION by Weston Ochse (c) 2018
Despite the earlier revolting Cannibal Holocaust in 1980, The Blair Witch Project firmly established found footage as a film genre in1999. The shaky-cam unreliable narrator film about three students who disappeared in a Pennsylvania forest opened the door for the immensely popular Paranormal Activity franchise. Seeing events unfold on a second internal screen somehow made them feel more real to the viewer. The horror we felt while watching was predicated on the idea that the camera can’t lie. But could the same technique work in fiction?
How do you pull off found footage in fiction? In a film, it’s a film within a film. Can you have a book within a book? Can you layer real and fictitious secrets then reveal them through the aperture of a page? Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges did it in his 1940 story “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”. In the space of a short story, Borges creates varying layers of reality by providing real people and places and mixing them with fictional people and places, all based around a fictitious entry in the fictitious Anglo-American Cyclopaedia. In this case, one thing is less fictitious than the other, all of which is discovered by the characters in the story, which unveils, as it should, a mystery.  
This unveiling of mysteries using fact and varying degrees of fictitious detail are the hallmark of found footage fiction (F3).

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Adventures in Kindling - My Year In Books 2018

Turns out I read about forty books this year. A lot of the reason the number is so high was because I spent half the year in Afghanistan, so no TV to compete with my time. I can't write about all forty, but I did want to highlight some of them because talking about books is one of my favorite topics of all time. 

My favorite of the year was The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky by John Hornor Jacobs. I fell immediately in love and posted about it here. While TSDIITS is definitely my favorite read of the year, every other book on this list is a close second. TSDIITS provided me with the greatest enjoyment I think because it gave me everything I want out of Cosmic Horror. You see, I heart cosmic horror. I heart conspiracies larger than ourselves. So, when I began reading, I was hooked.

A young teacher named Isabel meets a gnarly old one-eyed poet simply named Avendano. They've both fled their homeland in South America and now make their home in Spain. The cafe and literati scenes reminded me in all the best ways of Roberto Bolano's works, such as The Savage Detectives. The way Jacobs slides us into the setting is so gentle I feel as if I've been there all the time.Then Avendano, like a cosmic lure, propels Isabel into such an otherworldy mystery that I actually found I couldn't breath in many places.

I've read a ton of books this year and two stand out as incredible. Victor LaValle's The Changeling which won the American Book Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the British Fantasy Award, among others. The other is John Hornor Jacobs The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky, which hasn't won any awards so far. I'm thinking that will change. At least it should. At the very least, I encourage you to read this lovely dark cosmic novella and ask yourself, what is the price of home?

The Changeling by Victor LaValle. As I mentioned above, I read and loved The Changeling. 

From Google Books - "When Apollo Kagwa was just a child, his father disappeared, leaving him with recurring nightmares and a box labelled 'Improbabilia'. Now a successful book dealer, Kagwa has a family of his own after meeting and falling in love with Emma, a librarian. The two marry and have a baby: so far so happy-ever-after.However, as the pair settle into their new lives as parents, exhaustion and anxiety start to take their toll. Emma's behaviour becomes increasingly erratic, until one day she commits an unthinkable act, setting Apollo on a wild and fantastical quest through a suddenly otherworldly New York, in search of a wife and child he no longer recognizes. An epic novel for our anxiety-ridden times, The Changeling is a tale of parenthood, love - in its most raw and brutal form - and, ultimately, humanity."

I think The Changeling could be called cosmic horror as well. There were several WTF moments where I couldn't breath. I actually exclaimed aloud at one point. If you haven't read this one, you're seriously missing leveling up in life.

The Croning by Laird Barron is definitely cosmic horror. 

From Google Books -"Strange things exist on the periphery of our existence, haunting us from the darkness looming beyond our firelight. Black magic, weird cults and worse things loom in the shadows. The Children of Old Leech have been with us from time immemorial. And they love us... Donald Miller, geologist and academic, has walked along the edge of a chasm for most of his nearly eighty years, leading a charmed life between endearing absent-mindedness and sanity-shattering realization. Now, all things must converge. Donald will discover the dark secrets along the edges, unearthing savage truths about his wife Michelle, their adult twins, and all he knows and trusts. For Donald is about to stumble on the secret... ...of The Croning. From Laird Barron, Shirley Jackson Award-winning author of The Imago Sequence and Occultation, comes The Croning, a debut novel of cosmic horror."

Up until now, I'd only read Laird's short fiction and novellas. When I saw this novel and the description, I knew it was something I'd dig into. And I did. I absolutely loved the way Laird crafted and delivered the mystery and I love the way he took us through several decades of a man's life and brought us to an ending that had to be. So perfect.

The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge is a book I thought was cosmic horror but wasn't. What it is is a book within a book within a book. 

From Google Books - "Marina Willett, M.D., has a problem. Her husband, Charlie, has become obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft, in particular with one episode in the The Night Ocean follows the lives of some extraordinary people: Lovecraft, the most influential American horror writer of the 20th century, whose stories continue to win new acolytes, even as his racist views provoke new critics; Barlow, a seminal scholar of Mexican culture who killed himself after being blackmailed for his homosexuality (and who collaborated with Lovecraft on the beautiful story "The Night Ocean"); his student, future Beat writer William S. Burroughs; and L.C. Spinks, a kindly Canadian appliance salesman and science-fiction fan -- the only person who knows the origins of The Erotonomicon, purported to be the intimate diary of Lovecraft himself. In the summer of 1934, the "old gent" lived for two months with a gay teenage fan named Robert Barlow, at Barlow's family home in central Florida. What were the two of them up to? Were they friends--or something more? Just when Charlie thinks he's solved the puzzle, a new scandal erupts, and he disappears. The police say it's suicide. Marina is a psychiatrist, and she doesn't believe them."

La Farge's narrative style and choices in this weren't something I would have done but I think they work wonderfully. What I'm saying is that in the end I found his choice to be much better than how I would have done it. I finished The Night Ocean and wanted to read it again. Something that doesn't often happen. Plus, I love found document fiction. La Farge is now on my list.

The Twilight Pariah by Jeffery Ford. Jeffery Ford was an author who I thought I'd read. It turns out that I hadn't, so I eagerly picked this one up. 

From Amazon - "All Maggie, Russell, and Henry wanted out of their last college vacation was to get drunk and play archaeologist in an old house in the woods outside of town. When they excavate the mansion's outhouse they find way more than they bargained for: a sealed bottle filled with a red liquid, along with the bizarre skeleton of a horned child. Disturbing the skeleton throws each of their lives into a living hell. They feel followed wherever they go, their homes are ransacked by unknown intruders, and people they care about are brutally, horribly dismembered. The three friends awakened something, a creature that will stop at nothing to retrieve its child."

What appears to be a haunted house story is far more than that. This is a haunted cosmic horror story with characters that reminded me of those in Brett Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero. The research conducted in the book - the found fiction - is also one of my favorite things. Here I'm introduced to Kind Nepenthe for the first time and note that there's now a book with that title from Matthew V. Brockmeyer that is on my list of things to read. Thank you Jefferey Ford for not pulling punches with this one. I've already downloaded The Shadow Year and can't wait to dive in.

The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler is not a cosmic horror novel. It's not even a genre novel. It's a book I read right before I went to Afghanistan--literally buying it at the airport as I left. You can read the full post here but I'm providing an excerpt.

From Google Books - "Camp Chippewa, 1962. Nelson Doughty, age thirteen, social outcast and overachiever, is the Bugler, sounding the reveille proudly each morning. Yet this particular summer marks the beginning of an uncertain and tenuous friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan. Over the years, Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes Scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa, while Jonathan marries, divorces, and turns his father’s business into a highly profitable company. And when something unthinkable happens at a camp get-together with Nelson as Scoutmaster and Jonathan’s teenage grandson and daughter-in-law as campers, the aftermath demonstrates the depths—and the limits—of Nelson’s selflessness and bravery.

 "The Hearts of Men is a sweeping, panoramic novel about the slippery definitions of good and evil, family and fidelity, the challenges and rewards of lifelong friendships, the bounds of morality—and redemption.

"The Hearts of Men is a grand novel, well-chosen for its purpose. It's a story about a changing time, when the idea of being a Boy Scout is becoming less and less significant. It's about ethics and what to do in bad situations. It sometimes painfully puts its characters in too real places that make you want to stop reading, but just as the characters are performing for you, out of respect, you have to stay through their performance.

"It's a book about the complexity of always trying to do the right thing."

I cherished this book and it indeed prepared me for Afghanistan. I feel it in my chest. I feel it in my head. I was once a Boy Scout. I made it to Life. My father was an Eagle Scout and was a scoutmaster. Both of these things prepared us in our lives. A little reminder helped rekindle those memories and reminded my that being Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent were things to which we should all attain, despite those around us who would devalue these traits.

Finally, its about being your own man and accepting yourself for who you are.

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker was a book I read in Afghanistan. I immediately face palmed because the title and the idea was so damn obvious. I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it myself.

From Amazon - "When the world ends and you find yourself stranded on the wrong side of the country, every second counts. No one knows this more than Edgar Hill: over five hundred miles of devastated wasteland stretch between him and his family. To get back to them, he must push himself to the very limit―or risk losing them forever. His best option is to run. But what if his best isn't good enough? End of the World Running Club is an otherworldly yet extremely human story of hope, love, and the endurance of both body and spirit."

I really bought into the desperation of the main character and as a person who runs, and sometimes doesn't, understands how hard it would have to be to do what he did. Superior effort by the author. Well done. 

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. My editor at Rebellion Books was the one who turned me onto this book and I'm glad he did. I'm not so much a fan of time travel books because of all the plot holes one can find, but Mastai plugged those holes. 

From Amazon - "It's 2016, and in Tom Barren's world, technology has solved all of humanity's problems—there's no war, no poverty, no under-ripe avocadoes. Unfortunately, Tom isn't happy. He's lost the girl of his dreams. And what do you do when you're heartbroken and have a time machine? Something stupid. Finding himself stranded in a terrible alternate reality—which we immediately recognize as our 2016—Tom is desperate to fix his mistake and go home. Right up until the moment he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and the woman who may just be the love of his life. Now Tom faces an impossible choice. Go back to his perfect but loveless life. Or stay in our messy reality with a soulmate by his side. His search for the answer takes him across continents and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be. Filled with humor and heart and packed with insight, intelligence, and mind-bending invention, All Our Wrong Todays is a powerful and moving story of life, loss, and love."

I also read this one in Afghanistan and I remember looking forward to getting off work so I could return to my hooch and read this. With plenty of surprises, Mastai didn't mess around. If there was an opportunity to fuck with his main character, he took it-- in fact he took them all. 

The Cabin At the End of the World by Paul Tremblay is just another one of Paul's fabulous books. I love that he keeps hitting it out of the park and can trust that when I see one of his books that I will love it.

From Amazon - "Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road. One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, "None of what’s going to happen is your fault". Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: "Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world." Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined."

I also read this in Afghanistan. When the description above used the words 'incredibly tense,' it meant it. Twice I remember calling Paul a Fucker for what he did. This is not an easy book to read because of it, but its a tremendous book that makes you question your own faith. 

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessle is similar in plot device to The Cabin At the End of the World because the protagonists are forced to choose who dies. 

From Amazon: "Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her five best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim--their creative genius and Beatrice's boyfriend--changed everything. One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft--the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world--hoping she'll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim's death. But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she's never going to know what really happened. Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions. Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers . . . and at life."

I almost didn't buy this because it's being sold as a YA book. Not that I don't read YA books, it's just that they are not my first choice. This despite me being a huge fan of Night Film, which I wrote about recently in an essay published by Locus Magazine in their Author's Roundtable called Found Footage Fiction. I don't think this is a YA novel and probably a marketing technique to draw in other fans. Not that Marisha needs it. She's fabulous on her own. What I found most interesting during the middle of the book were the choices her protagonists made and how reliving a day over and over changed them. Then came act three. Just wonderful. I also read this while in Afghanistan.

The Sighting by Christopher Coleman is the only self published book on this list. I enjoyed it because it's cosmic horror. Although there are some minor pacing issues and the main character is sort of a dick, I still appreciated the author's invention. A sign of the author's skill is that even though the main character is sort of a self-centered prick, I still cared for him and was stressed when bad things began happening to him.

From Amazon - "One morning during his daily run to the beach, Danny Lynch witnesses the strangest and most incredible thing he's ever seen. A dark, man-like figure emerges from the ocean, stands for just a few moments on the beach, and then retreats back to the surf. Danny's perspective on the world changes, and as the only eyewitness to this event, his mission now is to convince anyone who will listen that what he saw was real. But with only a vague photo and a dubious story, that task is proving almost impossible. His only hope may be in finding a mysterious woman who was at the beach earlier that morning, and who may hold the terrifying secret that could cost Danny his life."

This is not a novel but a novella. Note that I'm currently reading the follow up to this called The Origin and am so far enjoying it.

So, there you have it, folks. I just wanted to share some of the highlights of my reading this year. Feel free to comment or hit me up with what you think I should be reading. And if you feel like it, try one of my books. I'm told they aren't bad.

(Adventures in Kindling TM is Trademarked by Weston Ochse) 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Cheeseburger Cheeseburger - But Not On An Omelet

Who doesn't like cheeseburgers?

They're everywhere.

My favorite might be the Sonic Drive In Double Cheeseburger because of how the bread melts into the cheese and the cheese melts into the burger creating a new element on the scale called Double Cheese Burgerium. 

Saturday Night Live had a great Cheeseburger skit with John Belushi based on a real Chicago restaurant. There's a Florida-based restaurant chain called Cheeburger Cheeburger and I wonder if they might have based their name on the skit.

I even like Cheeseburger Pizza. Our local Vinny's Pizza has a remarkable Cheeseburger Pizza.

My favorite appetizer of all time were the Cheeseburger Egg Rolls at Applebees that in a stunning moment of mediocrity took off the menu.


This morning I went to Ihop. I don't usually go, but my wife has a fondness for them. Decades ago she worked the night shift Fridays and Saturdays at one and made enough money to get her out of debt. So this morning, I took her out to breakfast and she said, "Let's go to Ihop."

Sure, why not.

I admit, when I saw the Cheeseburger Omelet on the menu I knew it was sketchy. I was okay with the
pickles. I love pickles on pretty much everything. But the lines of ketchup and mustard had me concerned. As they should have. I think having mustard on eggs is akin to crossing the streams of the proton cannons in Ghostbusters.

What did Egon say?

"Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light." 

Yes. That's bad.
Super bad.

Like Cheeseburger Omelet Bad!

Not a fan.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Adventures in Kindling - The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky

I love cosmic horror. I heart conspiracies larger than ourselves. So, when I began reading The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky I fell immediately in love.

A young teacher named Isabel meets a gnarly old one-eyed poet simply named Avendano. They've both fled their homeland in South America and now make their home in Spain. The cafe and literati scenes reminded me in all the best ways of Roberto Bolano's works, such as The Savage Detectives. The way Jacobs slides us into the setting is so gentle I feel as if I've been there all the time.Then Avendano, like a cosmic lure, propels Isabel into such an otherworldy mystery that I actually found I couldn't breath in many places.

I've read everything Jacobs has ever written. His writing was marvelous with Southern Gods and just keeps getting better. The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky is so fabulous, I can't imagine him achieving anything greater. For many, this would be the crowning achievement. The novella is dark and touching and lovely with enough conspiratorial nastiness that even this old soul was satisfied. All this said, I know he'll come back with something special. Might it be a sequel? I can only hope.

I've read a ton of books this year and two stand out as incredible. Victor LaValle's The Changeling which won the American Book Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the British Fantasy Award, among others. The other is John Hornor Jacobs The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky, which hasn't won any awards so far. I'm thinking that will change. At least it should. At the very least, I encourage you to read this lovely dark cosmic novella and ask yourself, what is the price of home?

 (Adventures in Kindling TM is Trademarked by Weston Ochse)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Scary Rednecks Is BACK!!!


David Whitman and I wrote a book of short stories. 

This was our first book. 

It outsold the creator of Babylon 5's book from the same publisher. 

Our book was the first Print On Demand book ever sold by Barnes and Nobles. 

It was groundbreaking in many ways and is considered a fan favorite. 

Then years later after the publishers went under, the collection was republished in limited edition hardback.

Well, while it's been available from Crossroads Press as an ebook, it hasn't been in print in almost two decades. As of now that changed. It is now in print and you can get your copy here.

The original can be purchased for as cheap as $39.

The limited edition can be found for as little as $110.

The new paperback edition can be found here for under  $20.

"SCARY REDNECKS collects twenty-three stories of horror, madness, and humor set in the rural south of America’s heartland. The stories run the gauntlet from terror to outrageousness. Packed with everything from abusive parents, cannibals, deer hunters, demonic catfish, UFO abductions, voodoo priestesses, vampire moonshiners, and other Appalachian monstrosities; it will amuse you, disturb you, and leave you hungering for more."

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Five Books About Heroes Who Shouldn’t Babysit Your Kitten

I was asked to write an essay for Tor.com and came up with this brilliant idea. I mean, how many of you have been tempted to let your fictional heroes babysit your kitten? First of all, what were you thinking? Second of all what were you thinking?

Consider this a public service announcement -- Your own PSA to protect your kittens.

Five Books About Heroes Who Shouldn’t Babysit Your Kitten
Who doesn’t like kittens? Kittens are what cats used to be before the irony of a two-legged universe got to them, making them the moody judgmental purring balls of fur they are today. Kittens are fun. Kittens are daring. Kittens are little evil feline ninjas with razor teeth and spikey claws. Kittens wake up every morning and treat the world like it’s their own personal frat house and the air is spiked with catnip. I love kittens. I also love me righteous protagonists in books and comics. So, I was wondering the other day—I’d trust these folks to save the world, but would I trust them to babysit a kitten?

To read the rest, go to Tor.com at this link

You won't be disappointed and your kitten will thank you.

Friday, October 19, 2018

How to Connect with Leisure Readers about My Novel Burning Sky

Becky Spratford who is the American Library Association's Superhero and their expert on horror fiction, provided a terrific booklist review of Burning Sky. On her blog RA for All: Training Librarians to Help Leisure Readers she has advice for librarians on how to get certain books into their hands. It occurred to me that this same advice might help folks who have read Burning Sky and loved the book and wanted to find ways to share it.

While I'm going to reference some parts of her post, I'm not going to use it all and I highly encourage you to follow this link and read the entire post. I also encourage you to make RA for All one of your daily readers. If you like books and if you like scary books, there are few better places to go. 

I think my favorite part of it is this: Burning Sky is a love letter to servicemen and women who have toured in Afghanistan.

After a synopsis of the book, she provides a section for you to be able to compare other books to Burning Sky:

Further Appeal: I cannot stress enough how the occult elements here never overwhelm the real life horrors of war, rather they serve to underscore the terror and make it feel even more real. Even readers who usually like realistic military fiction, but want a more modern war setting will enjoy this. The cosmic horror elements are incorporated into the frame of Middle Eastern mythology, and the way Ochse introduces them, it feel real; like it could happen. The pairing of the realism and supernatural is seamless, so much so that it makes the book scarier.

Again with the theme of cosmic horror. It's funny, I didn't set off to write cosmic horror, but that's what I did. Now that I know, I'm actually ratcheting it up for the sequel.
Becky Spratford also has a section called Read Alikes that will allow you to compare other books to Burning Sky:
Readalikes: The best match is the Joe Ledger series mentioned above. I also mention Cormac McCarthy because the entire story is framed by the novel Blood Meridian but also, the writing itself is similar. If you like the way McCarthy writes, this novel is a great suggestion.

Fans of literary fiction about war, especially post-9/11 wars and its effects on veterans is also a great option like Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Fountain or The Yellow Birds by Powers.

Books set in Afghanistan and told from the local perspective might also be of interest here. Khaled Hosseini is a mainstream option, but check out this page of books tagged “Afghanistan”by readers on Goodreads.

You could also give this book to fans of military SF for which there is A LOT. Again via Goodreads. Really anyone who likes military fiction as it is crafted within any genre might enjoy this novel
I'm always very proud to have my books compared to my friend Jon Maberry's Joe Ledger books. Those are amazing books and share many of the face paced elements we both enjoy.

I was also very pleased to see her mention Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. I loved that movie before I went to Afghanistan because, more than most any movie, it really showed the repartee and comradeship among a close knit group of soldiers. It also shows how stunning PTSD can be, something I appreciate even more now that I am back. 

If you don't have a copy yet, you can click on one of the book links on the left, or go to the following links for your favorite stores.

Or just hit me up with a question.