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, September 18, 2013

GRUNT LIFE - Up Against Deadlines and War

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I knew this was going to happen.

I have 33 days left in Afghanistan.

The book is due in 27 days.

I have roughly 60 pages left to complete the first draft of my novel for Solaris Books, Grunt Life.

It should be easy.

But the problem is that I have 33 days left in Afghanistan. We're trying to deal with an enemy here who wants to kill innocent civilians as well as our own soldiers. It's my job to try and protect both of them. I'm constantly busy. I'm working 14-16 hour days. I come home exhausted. But like tonight, I sit down and pump out some pages and do some edits. Grunt Life is all that I am working on. It IS my spare time.

This is going to be an amazing book. If it hits right, it's going to hit HUGE. As writers we are able to recognize such things. My internal voice keeps saying, "You got something special here. Don't fuck it up." And I'm trying desperately not to.

How am I going to finish and edit this novel in 27 days and not screw it up?

Stressed?

Who me? Stressed?

Gah!

 Enough whining.

Now I got to get back to it.

More words.

More pages.

Progress the plot.

Kill aliens.

Catharsis.

Redemption.

Gunfire.

Sex.

War!

GRUNT LIFE!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Victory at Last: From Fat to 5K

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When I arrived in Afghanistan, I was 275 pounds and could barely walk three times around the 550 meter interior square of my base. By the end of these first few attempts, I was gasping, my knees and back were hurting, and I was done. I'd once had an idea of getting in shape before I deployed, running, doing martial arts, exercising, until I was once again that lean mean fighting machine I'd been before the army started to take its physical toll-- somewhere around my ten year mark in service while I was assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. But when I ran, my feet hurt. When I walked, my feet hurt. When I breathed, my feet hurt.

Sure, the weight was a part of it, but my feet hurt when I was 180 pounds too. What was I going to do? After coming back to my room out of breath and almost out of hope, I'd search the Internet to see if there were others like me and if there were, what the hell they were doing to make it better. Luckily, I was paying attention to my Internet searches.

I'd long ago been diagnosed as a pronator. I also have one leg slightly longer than the other. We all know those people who can strap on the cheapest pair of running shoes and run forever without pain. I'm not one of them. I put on even expensive running shoes created for my specific issues and I'm in pain within 30 seconds that gets severe and debilitating across the top of my foot within minutes. This is the result in a long-held belief that people like me need motion control shoes-- basically the sport equivalent of metal braces in ones shoes. Think Forest Gump as a kid. This has since been proven absolutely wrong by many studies, but I talk more about that in my article Confessions of a Toe Runner: My Journey to Pain Free Feet.

But I learned. And what I learned was that I needed to free my feet. The idea that there were shoes meant to force my feet to run an unnatural way for my body was supposed to have been a good idea. But along came neutral shoes. And zero drop shoes. And toe shoes. In a feat of desperation, I ordered a pair of zero drop Five Finger Bikila's and began running.

And I haven't stopped yet.

My feet have absolutely ceased to hurt.

Are they because of the weird looking Five Finger design? Oh sure they are. Of course they are. Pain is too busy laughing at my feet to actually possess them.

Seriously. The reason is because of the zero drop and because my forefoot can spread out.

Ever feel like your forefoot is bound like a Chinese Victorian woman's? You should have room in the front of your shoe.

What's zero drop, you ask? For years, traditional training shoes have been built with a 12-15mm heel-toe differential. But in the shoe revolution we're in now, moderate minimalist shoes typically have a 4-10mm heel-toe drop and zero-drop shoes are generally those that fall in the 0-4mm range. Many studies in recent years have suggested that a significantly raised heel is one of the culprits to many common running injuries, partially because they tend to encourage heavier heel striking, higher impact forces and greater rotational forces (overpronation). (The Running Times)

Fast forward to September 11, 2013 and the 5K Memorial Run.

So there I was, in Kabul, Afghanistan, 7000 feet above sea level, a little after eight a.m., on the starting line of a race I never thought I'd be able to run in my life. Sure, I'd run 5Ks before, but only accidentally onpurpose as part of a military run where I was just one member of a larger painful mass of men and women, running until our platoon sergeant finally let us stop. This race was absolutely on purpose. This race was different. This race was going to be my signature stamp on 5 months of weight loss and training that not only saw me lose 50 pounds, but also saw me begin to run pain free for the first time since 1994.

I'd practiced the run both on the treadmill and outside. I was ready for it. I knew my pace: a little over 8 minutes a kilometer. Not fast my any means, but it is my pace for now. I was stretched. I was hydrated. I was ready.

Lap 1 - We all started in a clump. I kept my head on the road and focused on my pace. I didn't want to start out too quickly. About  halfway through the lap I checked my time. I was faster than my pace by over a minute and forced myself to slow down.

Lap  2 - I'm a little pissed right now because I was hit in the face with water from a hose. The guy was supposed to hold it out and let us run under it if we wanted, but he got bored and started aiming for us. I want windshield wipers on my RayBans. I feel sorry for the guy. There's more than 300 of us who wants to kill him. I spend the next lap angry as a wet dog and forget about any pain or breathing.

Lap 3 - I'm dry now. I ran four practice laps the day before as a warm up. My legs are feeling tight and I'm wondering if I might have sabotaged myself. I watch as two muscular security guys give up and start walking.

Lap 4 - I've been passed now by people who are super fast. I wonder if they even know what pain is? They seem to be floating. Damn them.  I remember we keep our own lap count. If I stop early, no one would no. Except me. I'd know. What kind of signature would that be? Plus, I'm only breathing a little bit hard. My feet don't hurt. Move out soldier!

Lap 5 - Holy cow! I'm being lapped by a woman 20 years older than me. Ignore it. Ignore it. It has nothing to do with you. My legs feel leaden, but my feet do not hurt. My breathing is fine. And hey look, there are those two guys, walking back the other way, too embarrassed to make eye contact.

Lap 6 - Damn. People have already finished. I have 2 laps left. Stop it! You have THREE laps left. Right. Three laps. And I am dam hot. Thirsty too. Where's that guy with the water-- ahhh. And look. There are those two guys and they're getting T-shirts!  Cheaters.

Lap 7 - I grab a bottle of water, rip off the top, drink about four gulps and toss the water to the side. I forgot to look, but since I didn't hear a scream, I'm good. I begin noticing people I know cheering for me on the sidelines. So cool.

Lap 8 - A friend of mine who has already finished joins me. He says for me to come on. He's a nice guy, but I have my pace. It's my secret weapon. Head down, eyes forward, feet in front of other, pace, pace, pace. Is that a dog passing me? It's a bomb dog on a leash.  Cool!

Lap 9 - I'm on my last lap. This is pretty amazing. My feet do not hurt. My breathing is good. I'm going to go faster. I increase speed.  I tear around the last corner and am at full out sprint. Look at that man run.

I cross the finish line and raise my arms.

No one knows how special this is except me.

No one knows what a life event this really is. I'm not supposed to be able to run. The Veteran's Administration has already formally acknowledged how badly the military messed up my body. This wasn't supposed to have happened.

I spend the rest of the day basking in the joy of my accomplishment.

And now it's the next day.

There will be more 5Ks. There might even be a 10K in my future. People are sending me emails telling me I should do marathons or ironman competitions, but I'm rational and a little worried it will all come crashing down. I haven' felt pain yet, but I'm wondering if it might show up. All my research says it won't, but I'm still taking care of myself. Still, I send them back replies, thanking them for their excitement on my behalf, promising them that if I decide to do an Ironman, they'll be the first to know it.

My next race is in early November in Arizona. It's a Run for Your Lives Race and I'm going to be a zombie. A fast zombie wearing toe shoes.  Muaahahahaha. Forget The Walking Dead... I'll be The Running Dead.

The irony is that with this death, I breathe new life into myself.

Now pain free, I'm going to take advantage of it.

Toe Shoes and a 5K?

Smells like...

Victory.

Click to make it bigger


 
*     *     *

Weston Ochse has spent 29 years in the military in one shape or fashion. He's a world traveler and an internationally best-selling author of high action fiction. Please Note: This article is copyrighted by Weston Ochse. Any reproduction in whole or in part without the author’s permission is prosecutable by public law. If you'd like to borrow part of this or see it reprinted, contact me here. Thank you. © 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

BOOKLIST Reviews AGE OF BLOOD

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UK Paperback
Age of Blood.
Ochse, Weston (Author)
Oct 2013. 320 p. St. Martin's/Thomas Dunne, hardcover, $24.99. (9781250036629).

Here's a snippet:

"Ochse’s novel attempts to blend the military fiction of Tom Clancy with the supernatural horror of early
Stephen King. It shouldn’t work, but it does, thanks mainly to the SEAL-team characters, just the kind of appealing heroes you want fighting visions from all our nightmares." - Booklist

Here's the full review:

US Hardback
In this follow-up to SEAL Team 666, a kidnapping propels the team into hell. The daughter of a senator vanishes from a beach, and video footage shows her being attacked by a giant sea creature. But evidence demonstrating she’s still alive sends the team to Mexico, where one of the team members is bitten by the creature. Rather than seek help when he shows signs of being possessed, though, he hides what is happening to him. Soon the mission goes haywire, and the mayhem and bloodshed escalate. Ochse’s novel attempts to blend the military fiction of Tom Clancy with the supernatural horror of early Stephen King. It shouldn’t work, but it does, thanks mainly to the SEAL-team characters, just the kind of appealing heroes you want fighting visions from all our nightmares. More in this genre-blending vein will be eagerly anticipated. -Jeff Ayers

The Savage Dead, Zombies, and Joe McKinney

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To celebrate the release of his new book The Savage Dead, Joe McKinney published this from me on his website, Old Major's Dream. I wanted to make sure people read his ultra nice words about me and had the chance to buy his book.

Weston Ochse

In my line of work – actually, in both lines of my work – I’ve been forced to develop a thick protective layer of skepticism, especially when it comes to people telling me their biographies.  Rampant padding and overestimation might be another way of putting it.  I’ve seen people take credit for things others have done, and I’ve seen people try to convince me they are all that and a bag of chips when in fact they are nothing but paper tigers.  Keep that in mind when I tell you that within a few minutes of meeting Weston Ochse (we were manning the HWA booth at the Book Expo America in Los Angeles at the time) I learned he was an intelligence agent for the military, an enthusiast of not only pulp fiction, but contemporary crime fiction and Eastern philosophy as well.  And, he had even won a Bram Stoker Award for his first novel, Scarecrow Gods.  And…AND he’d been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  I was thinking sure, whatever.  Nobody could be that good.  But we hit it off great.  Wes is totally captivating to talk to, and has such an easy way of talking with people he’s only just met that I could have mistaken him for a veteran street cop.  In other words, I liked him.  Enough that I could forgive him a little padding of his bio.
And then, we went to lunch.  Keep in mind this is at the cafĂ© in the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  There are tourists everywhere.  On the way to our table I heard at least half a dozen languages spoken.  We sat down, and seated next to us was this older Asian couple.  I had no idea what they were talking about, because of course they were speaking in Mandarin, but I’ve been a cop long enough to recognize tourists in distress.  The husband was looking at a map and shrugging every time his wife asked a question.  I thought, Ah, you poor people, I wish I could help you.
But then Wes turns to the couple and begins speaking fluent Mandarin.  I don’t know who was more surprised, the couple or me.  But Wes patiently found out where they wanted to go and then gave them the directions they needed.  In Mandarin!  Shocked as they were, they gushed with thanks.  And Wes?  He simply returned to his hamburger.  Like it was nothing.
I knew then that I was in the company of the real McCoy.  Here there was no padding, no bullshit.  Weston Ochse, I’m happy to report, is all that and a bag of chips.
Wes is an amazing writer with plenty of zombie credit to his name, but he’s also incredibly versatile.  He writes in several genres, sometimes focusing on the military, sometimes on everybody else, but always with a passion for life and a depth of human emotion normally reserved for the best of contemporary literature.
And did I mention that he’s currently stationed in Afghanistan, protecting our collective asses?  Because he is.
I hope you enjoy this extra special interview, because it was written in a soldier’s downtime from the hot box that is Afghanistan.  Here is Weston Ochse!

Joe McKinney:  Thanks for joining me here on Old Major’s Dream. I’m glad you could swing by. You’re no stranger to zombie fiction. Would you mind telling the folks out there a little about your zombie-related writing? How do you approach the genre?
Weston Ochse:  My novel Empire of Salt was published by Abaddon Book as part of their Tomes of the Dead series. It takes place in the Salton Sea and features PTSD soldiers turned into zombies. It sold out in paperback worldwide and did incredibly well. My most famous zombie short story is probably “The Crossing of Aldo Ray,” which appeared in The Dead That Walk (edited by Stephen Jones). This was a very Cormac McCarthyesque piece about the dead and illegal aliens. It was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award.
JM:  The zombie apocalypse is happening right now. Are you prepared? Would humanity win?
WO:  I’m prepared. Are you? One thing The Walking Dead gets absolutely right is what someone has to do to save themselves and their family. Sometimes it’s terrible what you’d have to do. Let me ask you this? How much of your humanity are you willing to trade to stay alive?
JM:  What’s your favorite zombie book, movie, short story, whatever? (Please feel free to ramble as much or as little as you like here. I’d love to know why that story or movie or whatever grabs you.)
WO:  I really enjoyed Feed. I thought it was very timely and gave us a perspective we’d never seen before.
JM:  What’s your favorite zombie kill scene of all time?
WO:  From Dead Snow, when the two men face off with the Nazi zombies with only a chainsaw and a sledgehammer a hammer and nail and all sorts of gear. It’s such a great scene with such great music that goes with it. It’s funny, but unintentionally so.
JM:  I’ve always felt the best and most effective horror is trying to investigate what we think of ourselves and what it means to be us. Washington Irving’s tales, for instance, generally grapple with the question of what it means to be an American in the post-Revolutionary War period. Nathaniel Hawthorne battled with the intellectual promise of a nation rising to international credibility while simultaneously choking under the yolk of a Puritan past. Stephen King made a name for himself chronicling the slow collapse of the American small town way of life. What do you think the zombie and its current popularity is telling us about ourselves?
WO:  And you call yourself a writer. Shame on you.
Seriously. Of course these things are a reflection of a deeper psychosis. In the case of zombies, their popularity I firmly believe is linked with our ever-increasing concern with the the dissolution of social bonds, loss of civilized structure, and the fracturing of neighborhoods as an identifiable block. And of course because it’s just cool and fun to kill dead things all over again.

Weston Ochse also maintains one of the best author blogs out there.  Please go by and check out some of the most original content on the web here, and when you’ve had your curiosity piqued, go here to read his books.
But I’m not going to let you go just yet.  Weston Ochse, as I’ve said, knows his shit.  And he proves it in his most recent release, Babylon Smiles.  If you liked Three Kings, if you liked Kelly’s Heroes, you owe it to yourself to check this out.  Here’s where you can get your copy.
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