Weston Ochse is the author of twenty books, most recently SEAL Team 666 and its sequel Age of Blood, which the New York Post called 'required reading' and USA Today placed on their 'New and Notable Lists.' His first novel, Scarecrow Gods, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel and his short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in comic books, and magazines such as Cemetery Dance and Soldier of Fortune. He lives in the Arizona desert within rock throwing distance of Mexico. He is a military veteran with 29 years of military service and currently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. Please contact him through this site.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Alzada Sisters – Mean, Free and Ordinary

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I’ve always been lucky to be surrounded by tough, strong women. My mother is a strong woman. In fact, when I think of emotional strength, I think of her. Physical strength too. That sort of physical strength that allows one to endure hardship, to hold on and not let go.  She came from a line of strong pioneer women who settled the West. And let me be clear, for all the gunslingers, loggers, hunters, cattle drovers, farmers and cowboys who starred in every book, movie and television show as icons of the American West, it was the wind-hewn, raw-boned women who did most of the actual work. 

Still, I won’t be guilty of idealizing these women as we have the men with whom they were partnered. They are not mere double-x chromosome John Waynes. These women were real. They had their own foibles and their own problems. They had issues derived from being strong-willed. They had issues derived from being survivors. They were victims of abuse. They could lie, cheat and steal as well as any man. Basically, they were human and none of my relations appear to be more human than the Johnstone Sisters of Alzada, Montana- Ella, Edith and Esther.

I’ve been thinking about these relations of mine for awhile now.  And although they seem to be larger than life, they are merely human and no more or less than perfect examples of modern pioneer women trying to survive in a modern era.

Edith Ila Johnstone was referred to as the Ugly Duckling. She was the oldest of the sisters and born in 1913. Although she wasn’t ugly, she was cursed with having sisters far prettier than the norm.

Ella Fern Johnstone was the youngest and born in 1916. It’s been said that there wasn’t a man in Alzada who hadn’t slept with her. She was known by her fiery red hair, which was rumored to glow even in the dark corners of the town’s bars, giving her a special witch light with which to arrange her assignations.
Esther Louise Johnstone was the middle sister and born in 1915. Where most middle sisters become lost among the passions and activities of the older and younger, Esther stood out for being a woman as mean as she was beautiful.

My mother remembers traveling from Western South Dakota in an old pickup to Alzada, Montana when she was five years old. “Esther and her first husband were both blondes. Esther had huge hair. They were two beautiful blonde people. They had a horse farm and I remember seeing them both astride golden palominos, gold on gold, like they were creating their own romantic vision.”

The golden time didn’t last. Esther’s husband, Merle Blasted, must have certainly been proud to have such a beautiful wife, but was unwilling withstand the abuse she constantly levied upon him. When he finally got the nerve to ask her for a divorce, she shot him and ran away to Sheridan, Wyoming where she “took to living with a black man.” This same man was later rumored to have shot her in an altercation at the Silver Dollar Bar in Thermopolis, Wyoming.

Edith, Ella and Esther were cast from the same pioneer mold but were very different women. Each of them represented something quintessential to our pioneering spirit and our humanity.  What caused Mean Esther to be so mean? Why did Ella give of herself so freely? Was Edith happy to be the normal one, or did she secretly desire what her sisters had?

This is all I know of these women. I ache to know more. I want to be able to weave who they were and what they represent into the American quilt we call our history. Hopefully one day soon I will. Until then, I have the shades of these three women to live with, haunting me, a constant reminder that I must tell their story and explain to the world who they were and what they wanted to be. After all, like all women, they were once little girls with dreams of who they wanted to be. Perhaps if I can figure out what those dreams were, I can figure out what happened to them and tell the story of why they became so mean and free and ordinary.

[Note that this blog was originally posted in RedRoom by me February 23, 2011, 10:26 am)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Yuma Zombie Crisis

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Holy Zombie Crisis! There's going to be a full scale invasion of Yuma! What began as two writers driving six hours with their three Great Danes to sign some books has become all out mayhem!

Here's what's transpired so far--
    Highborn (The Dark Redemption Series)
    Concrete Savior (Dark Redemption, Book 2)
  • The local zombie club has become involved and will be lurching through the aisles.
  • Barnes and Nobles is hosting a costume contest with free giveaways galore, to include zombie bookmarks, temporary tattoos and "adopt-a-zombie" kits. 
  • The local head of the National Guard has warned the bookstore that no zombies should be seen outside the store.
  • The Commander of the Marine Corps Depot has put his QRF on alert, making them ready and available to help the population should the store not be able to contain the zombies.
  • The Governor of California warned the Governor of Arizona that no illegal alien zombies should cross the border into California and is backing it up with the deployment of the 233rd Tank Brigade.
  • The Governor of Arizona told the Governor of California to "bring it on."
  • Geraldo Rivera has partnered with Jerry Springer to bring a special segment of the hit show called "Zombie Dead Beat Dads and Their Demon Wives."
  • Ghost, Goblin and Ghoulie, the three Great Danes of Weston and Yvonne, will be hosting a special sing-a-long at Urban K9, compliments of the owner Ms. Victoria Dixon.
  • The Barnes and Nobles Cafe has created a special menu for the event:



Zombie Drink Menu



Empire of Salt: Tomes of the Dead1. “Zombie Blood”…  a slight twist to white mocha by adding raspberry syrup topped with whip cream and red drizzle. Served Hot or Iced.

2. “Graveyard Dirt  a Toffee Mocha Frappuccino with special cookies,
chocolate chips and some gummi worms. Served blended.

3. “Ghostly Mist”…  a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino with chocolate chips topped with red drizzle. Served blended.

4. “The Cure”…   a green or chai tea latte served sweet with vanilla syrup. Served Hot or Iced.

 

Zombie Snack Menu



  1. “a Zombie Heart!”…  a chocolate peanut butter cupcake topped with red drizzle!



Okay. Some of these may be slight exaggerations.
Maybe kinda sorta.

Writing Fear

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I'm a guest blogger over at Janice Gable Bashman's site today. I wrote an essay about writing fear. I talk about what scares me and how I felt that I forgot how to make things scary.

"I’ve been a horror author for about 12 years now. I never started out to be a horror author, but once I started being published, that’s what people started to call me. Which was cool. As long as there’s the word author at the end the label, I’m pretty much okay with whatever someone wants to call me. I suppose one of the reasons I was tagged as a horror author was because I was able to write about fear. I was good at it. I could scare people and it wasn’t that hard. I’d take the mundane, create normal characters, make readers like them, then do something to them."

For the rest of it, pop on over to Janice's website.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Metermaids - Street Poets and Verbal Terrorists

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It's not often that I get the chance to listen to new music... music that hasn't already made the rounds and blasts from radios worldwide. Music that isn't Lady Gaga or Justin Beiber or from Glee or lip-synched from some American Idol alum.

It's a tough thing, especially when you don't know what you want. We have to count on others a lot of times to let us know what's going on in the scene and to show us some alternatives to the same old same old.

I was on Beatpick a few months ago listening to some samples for a project when I ran across these guys. Two White MCs with a mixture of hard rock, rockabilly, garage rock (QOTSA guitar sound), gospel and hip hop who slam their words to the ground. I listened to samples of all of their tracks, then went over and bought a digital album of Smash Smash Bang Bang. With songs line Planes Down, Black Out Baby, and the raccuous Shades Off, it's no wonder these guys are soaring in popularity.

Black Out Baby is a perfect example of why I like them. Steve Juon at www.rapreviews.com says it like this: "Blackout Baby" sums up their musical style quite well - energetic, a little bit angry, provocative and tailor made to get you up on your feet slam dancing to their beats.

Planes Down is also one of my favorites. A song about verbal terrorism, it makes me want to throw my finger guns in the air and open fire on the world. With anti-rich kid and rebellious lyrics, pointed out by Chris Soriano in his review of Metermaids Album Smash Smash Bang Bang over at Potholes in My Blog, Planes Down is the grindingest of the album's songs.

Put your fingers in the sky like BANG
Shoot all the planes down
Shoot all the planes down
Shoot all the planes down

It's the real thing, its the live ammo
Carve the message with a key in the side panel
Its a waste land, it's a salt flat
Burn it all down now, paint it all black 

You can hear this song here, or see it performed even faster live at Arlene's Grocery.
(You really got to hear the energy in this song.)

So who are these guys? They're two NYC MCs named Swell and Sentence. As Steve Juon shares the list of the "diverse range of (Metermaids) influences - Otis Redding, Modest Mouse, Stevie Wonder and The Roots among others."

Chris Coplan adds over at Consequence of Sound that "It’d be unfair to call these guys a rap-rock group. They’re a rap group with rock tendencies. Musically, it’s all crunchy, rhythmic guitars and plenty of banging drums that play out like some countrified blues rock, ala a less-garage-rock-enthusiast version of the White Stripes. Attitude wise, they’re a couple of white guys who confront listeners with the energy of frat boys, but mixed with the depth and sincerity of a couple of street poets."

And they are street poets. Their slow anthem Matchbook is a metaphor for reminiscence and rebirth, capturing a keen understanding that what happened doesn't necessarily have to be owned, but can be set free, and burned like a match, celebrated, then forgotten. I like that sentiment. It fits with my own philosophy.

This morning's cigarette tasted like last night.
And last night like the one before.
I made my bed in the morning when I woke up.
I picked my clothes up off the floor.
I rode the train like a ghost in the graveyard.
I walked the streets like a criminal's son.
I pulled my hat real low.
I had apologies for everyone. 
From Matchbook (Listen to it for free here)


I'm eager to watch and listen to their success. These guys bring an energy that does more than get my head nodding, it sets my spirit thumping. I've been listening to them every day now for a month and I'm still not tired of them. For me, at least, the Metermaids are now part of my mix.

Here you can download some Metermaid Remixes for Free.



 
For all you heavy metal zombie freaks out there, this one will make you happy.
Use it as a soundtrack for reading.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

This Week Around the Web- Stokers, Webbed Feet, Interviews and Contests

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It's the week leading up to Lincoln's Birthday and I'm in a lot of places.

The first place is on Gini Koch's website. Gini's a whip-scorpion gal who's quite the author. She's achieved recent and notable success with Touched by an Alien,Alien Tango, and soon Alien in the Family. Although she has a diabolical inability to pronounce my first name ( she thinks it's Winston), she's on my cool people in Arizona list. She also did an interview with me and Yvonne - a pretty extensive one that get's down to a gnat's ass in detail, including never-before revelations about missing body parts and webbed toes. So check out the interview here as well as the two contests we have running in association with it.

Next up is this weeks International Thriller Writer's Roundtable Discussion. "Amy Robertson, Weston Ochse, Mike Sirota, Kelli Stanley, Michael Haskins, Reece Hirsch, Kate White, Jim Duncan, Weyman Jones, and Tracy March talk about their literary heroes. And don’t forget — everyone is welcome to post to the discussion!"  I've already waxed poetic about Ray Bradbury, Robert Ludlum, and Nelson Demille, as well as touted the importance of subplots.  Come on over. Anyone can participate. We welcome all comments.

Empire of Salt: Tomes of the DeadScarecrow GodsEmpire of Salt is all over the net this week with the release of the titles on the 2011 Bram Stoker Award Preliminary Ballot.  From the Birmingham England Library, to Fearnet, to HellNotes, to Locus, to Australia and beyond. I was awarded the Bram Stoker in 2005 for Superior Achievement in First Novel with Scarecrow Gods. It's a tremendous honor, let me tell you. But what I think is the best part of this is that Empire of Salt is being elevated to places so people who might not have heard of it or who have been waiting to read it will now want to read it. At the end of the day, the greatest honor an author can have is to be read.  Here's what my publisher, Abaddon Books has to say about them.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire HunterLast but not least, in honor of Lincoln's Birthday, let me recommend Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I was given my copy by the publisher in England and read it back on the plane. It's really a wonderful mix of truth and... ahem ... supposition. Seth took true fact and wove it into the plot so that the whole thing is plausible.  And who am I to say it isn't?

That's all for now. Off to have lunch with my wife and father-in-law at a local Mexican food joint.  Mmm. Stomach grumbles.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sierra Vista Public Library

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From Shardik Jones:The Sierra Vista Public Library hosted five authors for their annual Writer's Workshop. This year found Weston among them, preaching his own brand of writing, demonstrating his lust for the art, and propounding advice.






There were a lot of people who had some really good questions. Me and my colleagues tried to answer them as best we could. Many of them have extended to email. I help where I can. Gosh knows that when I was first starting I received a lot of help and owe such debts to writers like Paul Wilson, Doug Clegg, Tom Picirilli and Ray Garton. Now it's my turn to help a little... where I can.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Multiplex Fandango - A First Look

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~Coming in March from Dark Regions Press~
Back Cover Copy for Multiplex Fandango by Weston Ochse

Multiplex Fandango is subtitled “A Weston Ochse Reader” for good reason. This collection contains a comprehensive representation of short fiction and novellas by the Bram Stoker award winner and Pushcart Prize nominee, including his recent powerful Stoker finalist short story, “The Crossing of Aldo Rey” and his brilliant Stoker finalist novella, Redemption Roadshow, as well as acclaimed favorites, “Catfish Gods” and “Big Rock Candy Mountain.” Also included in this omnibus volume of sixteen short stories and novellas are six original new works of short fiction written especially for this collection including such future classics as “Tarzan Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” “Low Men Weeping,” and the stunning “City Of Joy.”


 Multiplex Fandango is, as prominent author Joe R. Lansdale notes in his Introduction,

“…about to burst onto the scene like a comet streaking across the sky, entering our atmosphere, leaving in its smoking wake skywriting from its tail that says: WES OCHSE, HE’S GOOD…The bottom line is this. Wes takes very odd things and finds their connections; his juxtapositions are amazing and original and just the sort of thing I like. This is a book that could almost have been written for me. I can’t give it higher compliment than that.”



Celebrated author Edward Lee has this to say of Weston Ochse:

"Make way for a new powerhouse on the block. Hard work and formidable skills have already shot-gunned Ochse to the front of the genre's exciting new pack of writers. With creative brawn, brains, and balls, the guy's locked, loaded, and switched to full-auto, blazing away with his unique and original brand of modern horror, one of the few new writers, I'd say, who will help re-define the field for the future."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Empire of Salt and Big Rock Candy Mountain Advance

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Hi all. Good news from the Land of Living Dangerously. It looks like my novel Empire of Salt and my short story Big Rock Candy Mountain have been honored by the members of the Horror Writers Association by being selected to move on to the Preliminary Ballot. This means that there are two more rounds before a winner is declared in each category. I feel like a winner now, though and I thank my peers for thinking enough of the works to highlight them for excellence. 

Here is the complete Preliminary Ballot

 ~ ~ ~

Horror Writers Association announces 2010 Stoker Preliminary Ballot

The following works have been recommended for inclusion in the preliminary ballot for this year's Stoker Awards. In the coming weeks, the votes will be cast and counted, after which, the nominees will be announced.
Superior Achievement in a NOVEL
  • VIPERS by Lawrence C. Connolly (Fantasist Enterprises)
  • SIREN by John Everson (Leisure)
  • HORNS by Joe Hill (William Morrow)
  • IT CAME FROM DEL RIO by Stephen Graham Jones (Trapdoor Books)
  • SPARROW ROCK by Nate Kenyon (Leisure Books)
  • DESPERATE SOULS by Gregory Lamberson (Medallion Press)
  • THE FRENZY WAY by Gregory Lamberson (Medallion Press)
  • ROT AND RUIN by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster)
  • APOCALYPSE OF THE DEAD by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle)
  • EMPIRE OF SALT by Weston Ochse (Abaddon)
  • DWELLER by Jeff Strand (Leisure/Dark Regions Press)
  • A DARK MATTER by Peter Straub (DoubleDay)
Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL
  • MR. SHIVERS by Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)
  • FREEK CAMP by Steve Burt (Steve Burt Creations)
  • THE MAN OF MYSTERY HILL by Tracy L. Carbone (Echelon Quake)
  • BLACK AND ORANGE by Benjamin Kane Ethridge (Bad Moon Books)
  • CARNIVAL OF FEAR by J.G. Faherty (Graveside Tales)
  • A BOOK OF TONGUES by Gemma Files (Chizine Publications)
  • AT THE END OF CHURCH STREET by Gregory Hall (Belfire Press)
  • MADIGAN MINE by Kirstyn McDermott (Picador Australia)
  • CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES by Lisa Morton (Gray Friar Press)
  • SPELLBENT by Lucy Snyder (Del Rey)
Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION
  • THE DOCTOR, THE KID, AND THE GHOSTS IN THE LAKE by Mort Castle (F Magazine)
  • REQUIEM FOR THE BURNING GOD by Shane Jiraiya Cummings (Cthulhu's Dark Cults)
  • THE PAINTED DARKNESS by Brian James Freeman (Cemetery Dance)
  • CHASING THE DRAGON by Nicholas Kaufmann (Chizine)
  • DREAMS IN BLACK AND WHITE by John R. Little (Morning Star)
  • DISSOLUTION by Lisa Mannetti (Deathwatch)
  • BLEMISH by Joe McKinney (Dark Recesses #1)
  • THE SAMHANACH by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
  • JADE by Gene O'Neill (Bad Moon Books)
  • INVISIBLE FENCES by Norman Prentiss (Cemetery Dance)
Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION
  • THE BEHELD by Paul Bens (Dark Discoveries #160)
  • RETURN TO MARIABRONN by Gary Braunbeck (Haunted Legends)
  • SURPRISE! by G.O. Clark (Dark Valentine 2)
  • SEMINAR Z by J. Comeau (Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology)
  • THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS by Brock Cooper (The New Bedlam Project)
  • THE FOLDING MAN by Joe R. Lansdale (Haunted Legends)
  • 1925: A FALL RIVER HALLOWEEN by Lisa Mannetti (Shroud Magazine #10)
  • SURVIVORS by Joe McKinney (Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology)
  • BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN by Weston Ochse (Dark Discoveries #16)
  • ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE by David Sakmyster (Horror World)
  • TROOT by Margaret B. Simon (Null Immortalis)
  • THE DAYS OF FLAMING MOTORCYCLES by Catherynne Valente (Dark Faith)
  • FINAL DRAFT by Mark W. Worthen (Horror Library IV)
Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY
  • DARK FAITH edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon (Apex Publications)
  • HORROR LIBRARY IV edited by R.J. Cavender and, Boyd E. Harris (Cutting Block Press)
  • CTHULHU'S DARK CULTS edited by David Conyers (Chaosium)
  • HAUNTED LEGENDS edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas (Tor)
  • THE NEW DEAD edited by Christopher Golden (St. Martin's Griffin)
  • BLACK WINGS edited S.T. Joshi (PS Publishing)
  • EVOLVE: VAMPIRE STORIES OF THE NEW UNDEAD edited by Nancy Kilpatrick (Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing)
  • NULL IMMORTALIS edited by D.F. Lewis (Megazanthus Press)
  • DEAD SET: A ZOMBIE ANTHOLOGY edited by Michelle McCrary and Joe McKinney (23 House Publishing)
  • SCENES FROM THE SECOND STOREY by Amanda Pillar and Pete Kempshall (Morrigan Books)
Superior Achievement in a COLLECTION
  • OCCULTATION by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books)
  • BLOOD AND GRISTLE by Michael Louis Calvillo (Bad Moon Books)
  • THIS WAY TO EGRESS by Lawrence C. Connolly (Ash-Tree Press)
  • WHAT WILL COME AFTER by Scott Edelman (PS Publishing)
  • FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King (Simon and Schuster)
  • LITTLE THINGS by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)
  • A HELL OF A JOB by Michael McCarty (Damnation Books)
  • A HOST OF SHADOWS by Harry Shannon (Dark Regions Press)
  • FUNGUS OF THE HEART by Jeremy Shipp (Raw Dog (Screaming Press)
  • HELLFIRE AND DAMNATION by Connie Corcoran Wilson (Sam's Dot)
Superior Achievement in NONFICTION
  • WEIRD ENCOUNTERS by Joanne M. Austin (Sterling Publishing)
  • TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS by Gary A. Braunbeck (Apex Publications)
  • SHADOWS OVER FLORIDA by David Goudsward and Scott T. Goudsward (Bear Manor Media)
  • THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE by Thomas Ligotti (Hippocampus Press)
  • WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman (Citadel)
  • MASTERS OF IMAGINATION by Michael McCarty (Bear Manor Media)
  • LISTEN TO THE ECHOES: THE RAY BRADBURY INTERVIEWS by Sam Weller (Melville House Publications)
Superior Achievement in a POETRY Collection
  • DARK MATTERS by Bruce Boston (Bad Moon Books)
  • LOVE CRAFT by Bryan Dietrich (Finishing Line Press)
  • CHEMICKAL REACTIONS by Karen L. Newman (Naked Snake Press)
  • WOOD LIFE by Rich Ristow (Snuff Books)
  • WILD HUNT OF THE STARS by Ann K. Schwader (Sam's Dot)
  • DIARY OF A GENTLEMAN DIABOLIST by Robin Spriggs (Anomalous Books)
  • SAVAGE MENACE AND OTHER POEMS OF HORROR by Richard L. Tierney (P'rea Press)
  • VICIOUS ROMANTIC by Wrath James White (Needfire Poetry)
###
More information on the Horror Writers Association is at www.horror.org.