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.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Comiccon Catharsis

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It wasn't like a face palm followed by a 'doh!'

It wasn't the clouds opening up and a ray of light shining on me as a chorus sang somewhere out of view.

It was a lot more subtle than that.

It just sort of dawned on me as I sat in the Brick restaurant on Saturday night, having dinner with Jeff and David Marriotte, Jordan Summers, and my wife, when Wil Wheaton came in and David gave him a hug.

What is it? you ask.

Hold on. I'll get there.

Some real highlight moments from Phoenix Comiccon 2012 were having drinks with Ed and Matt Asner, meeting comic artist Billy Tucci, spending quality time with Joe Lansdale, learning from my Jedi Master, Mike Stackpole, shaking hands and spending a moment with Wil Wheaton, seeing old friends, panelling, and just watching the costumes go by.

I mean this was almost too much sensory input.

What was also nice was that my father, my nephew, and his friend were able to come up and share in the experience. Not only were they able to partake in the visual feast of the con, but they were able to see the reunion of most of the cast of Star Trek the Next Generation.

I saw quite a few stars as they sat signing, but I didn't bother them. I had my own business and my own fans to contend with.

On second thought, maybe my catharsis happened when I was on a panel with Janni Lee Simner. We were talking about Dystopian and post/pre-apocalyptic themes in fiction and were agreeing with each other more often than not. It was one of those terrific panels where, although I had no idea what I was going to say, I ended up entertaining and partner-teaching with Janni, so that by the end, people came up telling us it was the best panel they'd attended.

You know, I've been hungry for success for a long time. I want to be great. I want to be top shelf. I want to be read, people to love me, and to be as cool as Samuel L. Jackson. But I think somewhere along the way I forgot that one can attain this while being a nice person too.

Maybe I've been too aggressive.

Who me? Mister Army Man? BTAM his own badself? Aggressive?

I mean, I am a nice person. Anyone who knows me knows that. Sometimes I just don't feel as nice as the next guy. Is it that warrior spirit leaking forth? Is it all the KILL KILL KILL training I've had over the years?

Don't hate me because I'm deadly.

But seriously.

I want to be nice like Mike Stackpole and dispense good advice.

I want to be nice like Ed Asner and his son, Matt, who's a spokesman for autism.

I want to be nice like Jordan Summers, who opens her heart to recently found friends.

I want to be nice like James A. Owen, who's eager to share how to both write and draw.

I want to be nice like the Marriottes, David and Jeff (and M.E.), who are just damn nice.

I want to be nice like Janni Lee Simner, who can't possible have a mean corpuscle in her body.

I want to be nice like Wil Wheaton, who seems to me like a terribly nice guy, who bends over backwards to be extra nice.

I just want to be nice.

Leo Derocher coined the famous aphorism back in 1939, Nice Guys Finish Last.

Bullcrappity.

I don't buy it.

All those nice guys I mentioned above are doing quite well for themselves.

Leo Derocher can go suck my -- wait!  I'm a nice guy, now. At least let me try and be nice for an entire blog.

And if I can make it through this blog, then maybe I can be nice a while longer.

I know what you're saying. You're nice, Wes. Don't be so hard on yourself. Maybe nice isn't the word I'm looking for. Maybe it's something else. I just don't know. All I do know is that I'm going to approach life from here on in a little differently. All those nice people I mentioned above? I'm going to try and be nice like them.

Because in this world, it's possible for nice guys to finish first (and gals too).

And now some costumes for your viewing pleasure...













The rest of the pictures can be found here -- there's 305 of them.

Phoenix Comiccon 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Viral Video Procrastination - A Writer's Dilemma

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There's no end to the extent writers will go to not to write. The internet is at once the best and worst thing that ever happened to the daily life of an author. Forget the porn. Forget eBay. Even forget Facebook for a moment. None of them holds a candle to the power of viral videos. Here I share my five favorite, most often visited and absolutely ridiculous viral videos I can't not watch. Note that these aren't videos of people getting hurt. I can't watch those. These are just funny-stupid things that I enjoy watching when I'm not writing.

In fact, I'm supposed be writing this moment, but instead, I'm writing about not writing... now that's procrastination.

In no particular order...

I'm a Wizard! This is the newest one. There are several parts to this, but this one represents perhaps the best of it. When the girl, who is just so damned happily stoned, discovers that she's a wizard from Hogwarts, the look on her face is just perfect. I think this has less than 100,000 views, so perhaps it's pre-viral.



Odd German Girl Lip Sinking. I kind of feel like a perv when I watch this, but I don't watch because they're hot or cute or whatever. I watch because some weird part of me can't stop. Their names are Lynne and Tessa and they have a whole bunch of lip sincing videos. I don't watch them... just this one. I know. Lock your doors, I'm weird. On an interesting note, here's a video called The Rise and Fall of Lynne and Tessa which tells their story. Yeah. I watched it too. A couple of times.


Sitting on the Toilet. Now this one really disturbs me. I blame my friend Eunice... or was it Rain. Jesus God this is just a horrific video that I can't stop watching. You'll just have to see for yourself. It's only a 43 second video, but if you make it all the way through, you'll feel like it was hours. And oh yeah. If you watch it, that means you have joined me and 61,366,056 of my closest friends who have also watched it. How's that for a club.




Chocolate Rain. I know you've heard and seen this one. It's just so damn weird and cool at the same time. Note that this has over 79 million views.


The Mack Daddy of the All. And last but not least, Numa Numa. This has been seen over 700 million times, has been parodied by South Park and Spongebob, and has been voted as number one viral video by VH1. I have mixed feelings about this. One one hand, I love that the kid is just getting off and synching like mad. But on the other, I always glance at my web camera embedded in my monitor and wonder... are you really on? Is someone watching me?



Watch and enjoy.

But wait... aren't you supposed to be writing?

I know, right? Welcome to the procrastination zone.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

No Such Thing as Saturation - eBook Logic

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The pre-eminent John Scalzi tweeted a link to an article about writing (because that's what he does) that got me thinking about how eBooks are more of a game changer than I thought they were. For a long time, I've considered eBooks as nothing more than an electronic version of a book. Digital vs textual. Not something that can be grasped by the hand, but something that can be grasped by the mind. But my idea of it was akin to someone looking at a picture of Earth and calling it a circle. By doing so, they miss all the three dimensionality, the fourth dimension of time, and the things scrabbling for existence beneath the layers of polluted clouds.

I recently bought a Kindle Fire and love it!
Chris Meadows of TeleRead, quoting a NY Times article written by Julie Bosman said, “It used to be that once a year was a big deal,” said Lisa Scottoline, a best-selling author of thrillers. “You could saturate the market. But today the culture is a great big hungry maw, and you have to feed it.”

I grok the once a year book thing. I've tried to have them published faster and even established specialty press houses were afraid to saturate the market with a single author-- probably because they were a high end collector market. But the fact is, folks, there is no more such thing as market saturation when it comes to ebook publishing. Readers want to buy more books. When they find an author they like, they're much more apt to shop with their Kindle, Nook, or reader of choice and purchase something else the writer has written. I know because I've done it myself.

Having recently purchased a Kindle Fire, one of the things I did right away was add books to it. Some were free, some were impulse and some were ones that really snagged my attention. Nick Cole's Old Man and the Wasteland was one of my first purchases, not only because of the post apocalyptic and Hemingway themes, but also because it had 700 reviews. I wanted to purchase something else from the author, but he's too busy working in the opera in Southern California. I did recently see a book (recommended to me by the Amazon Bot) that I picked up. After a sample read, I immediately picked up the next two eBooks as well, just because they were so good. This is Michael J. Sullivan's first book of his trilogy, Theft of Swords. Even at the outrageous price of $9.99, which I spent three times, I bought these books. Not only are they badass and the perfectly updated homage to Fritz Leiber's Fafhard and the Gray Mouser books, but they were originally self-published through Amazon, then picked up by Orbit, so I had to see what all the hub-bub was about.

It’s not just publishers asking the writers to do more, the Chris Meadow's observation of the NY Time's article goes on to explain, but sometimes authors feel the need to keep busy themselves, just to make sure their name stays out there in the public eye. And since e-books are much more conducive to impulse-buying, having more titles available more often means they’re likely to sell more often to voracious readers who want to read anything they can get their hands on from their favorite authors.

Over the past year I've been publishing my back list with Crossroads Press, as well as an original novel. With one book published, I wasn't doing so well. With two books, also not so well. Now I have about six books with them and the money I receive every month is astonishing. It's certainly not Joe Konrath cash, but it's an income stream that was an impossibility only a few years ago.


Folks read my original eNovel Velvet Dogma and before they are halfway through, look at my inventory of books and buy one or several. We know because of the analytics and because I get emails from readers telling me this. In truth, the more books you have for sale the income increases exponentially.  That is of course if the writing and the packaging is up to par--defined as whatever the reader/buyer believes the professional standard is, based on their own expectations. There are really bad books with hundreds of reviews and really good books with very few.


I've discovered that packaging is almost everything. You'll note the cover of Velvet Dogma. It was my first eBook cover. I bought the art from Danielle Tunstall for what I consider a substantial sum and read everything I could get my eyes on about eBook covers. The book cover won an award, citing the movement of the art, the white space in the framing, and the large enough letters to read when it's a thumbnail. I've since created two more covers: one for Blaze of Glory and the other for Butterfly Winter. And the best thing about it is that Velvet Dogma has already earned me as much money as a standard Leisure Books (formerly of Kensington Books) advance.


In fact, Butterfly Winter is a prime example about packaging. Look at this original cover. Frankly, I don't know what I was thinking. What sort of book do you think this is? Would you believe it's a military thriller? Stop laughing. I know. What WAS I thinking. Cute girl, but there's nothing military or thriller about it. So here's the new cover I've created using creative commons-licensed images and photoshop. We're going to do a relaunch soon and my bet is that this will sell as many copies in the first two weeks as it sold all last year -- 50. Packaging. Everyone who has read Butterfly Winter has emailed me (okay, most everyone). They love it, but it was not what they expected from the cover. At least half of the emails said that the ebook made them cry. So there's no argument that the writing is there and that the story is there, it was all about the packaging. Gonna fix that. Gonna give them what they want.





















 And the thing I never anticipated was that I'd be spurred to write more. Readers want more so I have to write more. This is a funny thing. The model used to be that writers wrote, submitted through an agent, and got a book deal, then the publication would slow roll for a year. That still exists. In fact, I do it. I still have my agent selling novels for me. My big book deal with St. Martin's Press is still working. And I write the occasional short story that I send out to markets in the hopes they'll be published. But no longer are those my only options. Now I have a choice, especially, it appears, with short fiction.

Here's what Chris Meadows said about the possibility of short fiction success in eReaders: The difference is that previously they were limited to the available markets for short stories—mostly magazines such as Fantasy & Science Fiction for, well, fantasy and science fiction, or Ellery Queen for mystery. And those could only take a few stories per month, and pay has gotten steadily worse as the market for short story magazines declined. But now the stigma against selling short stories or novellas individually has lessened since e-book sales aren’t constrained by format limitations of physical books, so writers can self-publish short stories on-line inexpensively (and more frequently than entire books).

Blaze of Glory is a short novel at 50K. Butterfly Winter is a novella. I'm going to package several themed stories together and sell them, in addition to several stand alone novellas. I'll send them to my eBook publisher, Crossroads Press, with excellent packaging and competitive pricing, they'll do well, you know why? Because people out there are looking for more Weston Ochse books to read.

The least I can do is provide them what they want.





Saturday, May 12, 2012

Weston's eBook Primer

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A quick point and click list of my eBooks for all you eBook-o-philiacs! You have all of these, right?



And some anthologies too!!