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.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Great Dane Railway to Yuma


 The Yuma Book Tour went awesomely. We survived the dust storms and the driving rain. We outlasted my GPSs decision not to work. And we met --again-- a slew of extraordinary people, not to mention the Nazi Gold Hunter.

Let me tell you about it.

Liljana, Steve, Rudy, Landi and Lucas at B&N

They'd prefer to sit in the front seat with us
It's a six hour drive from our house in southeastern Arizona to Yuma in southwestern Arizona. Normally that wouldn't be an issue. Yvonne would kick back and I'd put the car on cruise, zone out until aliens or highway patrol provoked a response. But this was no ordinary trip. Ordinarily we don't bring any dogs with us, much less three Great Danes. So the 375 pounds of dogs in the back of our SUV provoked me to be vigilant that they didn't decide to play fetch, fight with each other, chase mailmen, or chew the SUV from the inside out. The Mitsubishi is NOT a chew toy!

But alas, this is about a book signing, not the dogs. Or is it?

Like a barrel of monkeys
We'd arranged the book signing back in January. The assistant store manager of the Yuma Barnes and Nobles, Sarah James, took it upon herself to take last years inventory of zombie goodies and provide them as giveaways. Zombie tattoos. Adopt a Zombie Kits. Zombie bookmarks. Etc. She also, with the encouragement of the staff, contacted the local zombie club. (who knew?) Press releases went out the the local newspaper, the army base and the marine corps base, and National Public Radio. Word of mouth had it that two horror authors were coming into town.

This is how it's supposed to look.
Back to us on the road. The dogs were actually great. Ghoulie, our blind Great Dane, tried to chew the car only a couple times. Without sight, it's one of her tactile outlets. We got through Tucson without a hitch. We got past Picacho Peak and Eloy. We stopped to get gas. Then we turned on to I-8. For those of you who don't know about Interstate 8, it is proof that there is gold at the end of the rainbow. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, along the road. Empty swirling masses of desert only interrupted by the occasional tree and the ever-present and ever-optimistic border patrol agent. By the time we passed Gila Bend, the weather started to change.

Yuma is known as the sunniest city in America. It's on their brochures. They're proud about it. But when horror authors come into down, there is no sun. As you can see from the pictures, we hit not one but two dust storms. At least 40 mph winds. The dust was so thick we couldn't see 20 feet in front of us. A tumbleweed (yes my East Coast peeps who've only seen them in Roadrunner Cartoons) the size of a Fahrvergn├╝gen-trumpeted VW Bug hit us broadside. He hit another and carried it on our grill for 50 miles. The sunniest city in America my ass.

This is NOT how it's supposed to look.
But we got there. And we checked into the flea bag motel that allows great big dogs with no extra cost. And we took the dogs to their Great Dane Mafia Hook-up. Thanks right now goes to Amy Breckenridge Smith for her Great Dane Mafia connections. I contacted her and asked if she knew someone who had Danes in Yuma. Turns out she did and they own the kennel Urban K9. I contacted the kennel owner, Victoria Dixon, who offered to watch our dogs for us while we were at the signing. Saved us tons of money and gave the dogs the chance to play and bark with other dogs.

So we hit the store. After we navigated the city using Kentucky windage because my GPS decided AT THAT FREAKING MOMENT to stop working. Still, I'm pretty good at not getting lost so we found it. I'd like to say there were lines out the door, but there weren't. We got inside and found our set-up in the back of the store beside the sports books and in front of the bathroom. It was a good location because of the proximity to the bathroom. Most people used it. The problem is that they were so intent on reaching the bathroom, they didn't even see us. So we adjusted the location twice, ending up near the front door in the end. And the minute we did, we sold six books in five minutes.

Beth taking the Zombie Test
Sarah had created a Zombie Test for people to take. Shown here is Beth taking the test and Acing it. She loves zombies and had no trouble with it. It asked questions about the nature of zombies, what would you do if you are being chased, etc. I made each person take the test. We treated it like a master's thesis. I'd ask them the questions out loud and they'd have to defend their position. It was a lot of fun.

Representin' Zombies Worldwide
Cafe Manager Holding a Zombie Heart Cupcake
We probably sold 20 books for the store that day. We had a lot of conversations. The zombie club came. They all bought books. A lot of folks just wanted to chat and that's always cool and encouraged. Yvonne went to look for something for a moment, and when she was gone, two diminutive retirees came up to me. One sat down in Yvonne's chair and the other, the woman, stood patiently. I, of course, offered her my chair, which she took. They were unfazed when someone asked them for an autograph. They frankly didn't understand. They were from Ukraine and didn't speak great English. So when I signed a book, they finally noticed something was going on. I explained to them what I wrote and it scared them. (Of course it did) Turns out, Ivan was looking for a book on buried Nazi gold because he'd heard that there was treasure in the surrounding desert. He's so lucky. I could have sold him the Brooklyn Bridge to the Seven Cities of Cibola where I know Hitler personally buried his stash of gold, but I refrained.
Yvonne Can Find Great Danes in Bookstores

When Yvonne came back they moved on. My the force be with them.

The guys at the Cafe were awesome. The Cafe Manager took it upon himself to create a special menu of drinks and cupcakes. They sold like Doritos at a post smoking festival. Everyone was ordering Zombie Blood, Graveyard Dirt, Ghostly Mist and The Cure. I had Graveyard Dirt with was an oreo cookie drink with a gummie worm on the bottom. Yum. Then they had the cupcake called Zombie Heart. It looked amazing!

Three hours and it was all over.

We truly had a blast.

The hotel room later with the three Danes was crowded but doable.

The authentic Indian food lamb dishes were actually beef (you can't fool a Welshman), but they were tasty.

Good Looking Author Seeks Booklovers.
It was good news all around.

Thanks to Barnes and Nobles. Thanks to Sarah and the crew at the store. You all were awesome. Most of all, thanks to the People of Yuma-- you Yumanites were great hosts to us.

Until next time.

Steve eating a zombie heart
Danes in the hotel room
Note the zombie drink and food menu

The rest of the pictures (there are about 70 of them) can be found at this location.  CLICK TO SEE. 

Yvonne and I will be at the Tucson Festival of Books this coming weekend. CLICK HERE to see our itinerary so you know where to find us.

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