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.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

MIDSOUTHCON UPDATE:

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MIDSOUTHCON UPDATE: 

Day two I'm alive. Yesterday saw your usual parade of furries, superheroes, gamers, Trekers, Star Warsians, Whovians, Manganese, killer clowns, and giant apocalyptic rabbits. Had two great panels. One on Blending genres and the other on short story writing. Lots of folks were eager and passionate to learn and listen. Always fun to share my hard-earned knowledge. It's why I went to cons when I started writing and
how it helped me become who I am. I also introducedTom Howard to Nerdom. Turns out he was a card carrying member all along. Also met up with John Hornor Jacobs and his lovely keeper. Ended up staying up way past my bedtime and about 3 AM my body began to shut down important functions. Woke up this morning to the clamor of 27 spider monkeys clashing cymbals against the inside of my skull. Fed them breakfast and shocked them with aspirin so they'd shut up. I have a panel in 30 minutes, then to drop some sentences into Triple Six and maybe a late workout. If you see me say hi. If not, say hi anyway. Wait.....WTW..... kid in a horses head and a rabbit body just walked by. Sigh. Kids these days.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Am A Google Glass Explorer!!!

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I've been selected to be a Google Glass Explorer!!!

I don't know why this is so intriguing to me, so cool.

Part of it has to do with all the science fiction I've read since I was a child. This is one of the first things I've seen that really binds human and computer interaction. It's so cool it's almost cyberpunk. In fact, in my only cyberpunk novel (Velvet Dogma), which I wrote in 2005,  I created PODs, or personal ocular devices, which do much the same as Google Glass, if not a little more advanced.

I also like that I'm a Beta Tester for something I see infiltrating all of our lives in the next few years. In fact, I doubt there'll be a family out there without a version of Google Glass. To be able to test and provide feedback to me is very cool. It makes me feel like I'm a part of something much larger than I am.
 
Glass is in beta, and your testing and feedback are an important part of the Explorer program. By participating, you acknowledge that implementation of some Glass features and services are still under development and that you should not rely on the Device, software, or Glass services having the full functionality of a consumer release.

What am I going to use it for?

Social networking for sure. Is it going to make it easier? I'm thinking
  • Taking videos and pics using voice commands of
    • My dogs
    • Running
    • Fishing
    • Firing Weapons
    • Hiking
    • Cooking
    • Writing Related
      • Book Signings
      • Conventions
  • I like that it can be used real time as well as post later
Google Glass is also tied into Google maps and provides a HUD for your viewing, rather than having to look away from the road.

Of course there is also this hilarious Google Glass for Guys video.  Lol. (Please don't show this to my wife)

There's really so much I could use it for, but in the end, will it improve the quality of mine and my families life, or diminish it. That's the biggest question. See, in my novel Velvet Dogma there's a whole subculture of people who are addicted to the Sims on their PODs. They're effectively zombified because they no longer live in the real world. Is that what Google Glass will do?

We'll have to see. Literally. And you can see for yourself through my Google Glass eyes. You can Live Dangerously Through Weston's Eyes. Not exactly Being John Malkovich, but it could be real fun.

I'll be posting on it over the next year using the tag WestonsGoogleGlass for both twitter and for my blog. Look for it. Be a part of my journey.

Next step will be to get my Google Glass in the mail. Should come within 7 - 10 days. 

I'll let you know.

Until then, let the journey begin.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Grunt Life US Distribution News

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GRUNT LIFE news! 

Speaking with the US distributor. Barnes and Nobles put in a 'really good order' for the book so it 'should be in all stores.' I know Mysterious Galaxy and The Poisoned Pen Bookstore are two indies who've put in orders. Do me a favor. If you have a favorite local store, be it a big box store or an indie, please inquire if they are going to have Grunt Life and if not, ask them to consider ordering some copies, or maybe you order a copy, to jump start it. This is the critical part of a writer's career to which we have no control. It's sort of up to you all to help me out with this. I thank you in advance. And to pay you back, I'll continue writing the best fiction I can, providing you with recipes and fitness tips, and entertain you with the craziness surrounding me, my wife, my dogs, and my life. 


Click this link to see all the indie bookstores nearest you.

Click this link to see all the Barnes and Nobles nearest you.

Mysterious Galaxy has Grunt Life available for preorder. They are one of the preeminent genre bookstores on the planet so consider supporting them.

The Poisoned Pen, which is a mystery suspense bookstore in Scottsdale, is also a preeminent book store. They've shown me a lot of love by having me sign with them. Consider supporting them as well. 

Here's the back cover copy- 

This is a brand new Military SF series from Weston Ochse, an experienced military man and author.

Benjamin Carter Mason died last night. Maybe he threw himself off a bridge into Los Angeles Harbor, or maybe he burned to death in a house fire in San Pedro; it doesn’t really matter. Today, Mason’s starting a new life. He’s back in boot camp, training for the only war left that matters a damn.

For years, their spies have been coming to Earth, mapping our cities, learning our weaknesses, leaving tragedy in their wake. Our governments knew, but they did nothing—the prospect was too awful, the costs too high—and now, the horrifying and utterly alien Cray are invading, laying waste to our cities. The human race is a heartbeat away from extinction.

That is, unless Mason, and the other men and women of Task Force OMBRA, can do anything about it.

This is a time for heroes. For killers. For Grunts.
I need you guys to help out. The first few weeks a book is out can chart the success or failure of the book and future books (if it's a series, like I want this one to be).

Thank You.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Joys of Power Bowls

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POWER BOWLS: Optimize taste and quantity while delivering low calories and high protein.
Author: Living Dangerously
Duration: 30 minutes
Average Cost: $8.00 US
Serves: 4 


Here's the thing. You need protein. Web MD says that adults in the U.S. are encouraged to get 10% to 35% of their day's calories from protein foods. That's about 46 grams of protein for women, and 56 grams of protein for men. Most people get enough protein, but they also get the fat that goes with it. Not good. So how do you get enough protein without the fat? Let's see.

But before we do that, though, let's find out what happens if we don't eat enough protein.

RunsOnPlants says you become more tired, lose muscle tone, you feel weaker when exercising, your recovery from injury and pain takes longer, and your hair falls out. Livestrong adds another important point. If your goal is weight loss, don't skimp on protein; compared to fat and carbohydrate, protein is the most satiating of the macronutrients, meaning it will help fill you up and keep you feeling full so you avoid overeating and food cravings.

I notice lack of protein when I'm tired and when an exercise that I normally do easily becomes more difficult. Because I constantly exercise, I need more protein to help in building muscle. The more muscle you have the more efficient your body is in processing, rather than storing, what you eat.

But doesn't eating a lot of proteins mean a lot of calories? It does if you're thinking of  a Fred Flintstone steak. If this question crossed your mind, then you probably aren't well-read on protein alternatives.

Enter the world of Power Bowls.

What's a Power Bowl? IDEA Health and Fitness describes it as a bow which can be filled with any power foods that you can think of including fruit, vegetables, protein, and more. They provide five of their favorite recipes

Thrive Forward has recipes that concentrate on complex carbs and proteins designed to give you the most protein and nutrients, while reducing calories and keeping you full.

I see Power Bowls as a blank canvas to do whatever you want with them. The picture above has most of the ingredients I normally like with the exception of the vegan sausage.

The ingredients are: Farro, baked cauliflower in sesame oil, blanched asparagus, quick cooked kale, Field Roast brand Apple and Sage vegan sausage, cold Baja mirepoix (avocado, cucumber and red bell pepper), sunny side egg, little siracha, little ponzu. About 700 calories with 28 grams of protein. 

I normally don't have the vegan sausage (which was terrific btw), but I always have farro, kale, Baja mirepoix (my name for it), and egg. I sometimes add quinoa or black beans.

Let me talk Farro for a moment. It's the only grain in this Power Bowl. But as Three Fat Chicks say, it's a good grain. It's also the oldest cultivated grain in the world.

Here's the Nutritional Value for Faro thanks to Three Fat Chicks:

Additionally, farro has twice the fiber and protein than modern wheat. Different than some other whole grains, a carbohydrate in farro called cyanogenic glucosides has been found to stimulate the immune system, lower cholesterol and help maintain blood sugar levels. While farro does contain gluten, the gluten molecules are weaker than modern wheat, making it more easily digested. Below are more detailed facts regarding farro’s nutritional value:
Per ½ cup raw farro:
  • 170 calories
  • 1.5 g of fat
  • 0 g saturated fat
  • 0 mg of sodium
  • 34 g of carbohydrates
  • 5 g of dietary fiber
  • 2 mg of iron
  • 6 g of protein
  • 4 mg of niacin
  • 60 mg of magnesium
  • 2 mg zinc
In addition to minerals and vitamins, farro is rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, lignans and betaine.  Betaine, when combined with choline, has been shown to prevent or reduce stress-included inflammation, which can be beneficial for individuals suffering from certain medical conditions.
I don't do too many grains, but when I do, and when it's a Power Bowl, farro is it. Just look at the protein in 1/2 a cup. Incidentally, I have to get my farro at a food co-op. I can't get it at any of my grocers.

So there you have it.

The Power Bowl.

Do you have any favorite Power Bowl recipes? Please share them here. Here's a great site for a whole lot of Power Bowl ideas.

And remember. Eat healthy, exercise often, and enjoy life longer.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Velvet Dogma - The Road to Cyberpunk

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I've always loved Cyberpunk.The raw, neo-noir, underground feel of it is one of my favorite kinds of science fiction. When I think of cyberpunk I think of the movie Blade Runner, and the books Neuromancer William Gibson) and Dr Adder (KW Jeter). So I was extremely pleased when I was able to write a cyberpunk novel for a major publisher.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the term cyberpunk, allow me to provide a short Wikipedia-produced primer:
Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a near-future setting. Noted for its focus on "high tech and low life," it features advanced science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.
Cyberpunk plots often center on a conflict among hackers, artificial intelligences, and

 I played the pre-Windows video 
game based on the novel. Brilliant!
megacorporations, and tend to be set in a near-future Earth, rather than the far-future settings or galactic vistas found in novels such as Isaac Asimov's Foundation or Frank Herbert's Dune. The settings are usually post-industrial dystopias but tend to be marked by extraordinary cultural ferment and the use of technology in ways never anticipated by its creators ("the street finds its own uses for things"). Much of the genre's atmosphere echoes film noir, and written works in the genre often use techniques from detective fiction.
"Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body." – Lawrence Person

The article goes on to say that 'Cyberpunk writers tend to use elements from hardboiled detective fiction, film noir, and postmodernist prose to describe the often nihilistic underground side of an electronic society. The genre's vision of a troubled future is often called the antithesis of the generally utopian visions of the future popular in the 1940s and 1950s.'

Now that we have an understanding of Cyberpunk, on to my story.

It was 2005, I'd just won the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association for my dark fantasy novel, Scarecrow Gods. I was looking to break into the mass market paperback market side of the business. I'd heard that Medallion Press was taking submissions and trying to expand into the fields of horror and science fiction. I could have tried a horror or dark fantasy novel, but I have many loves, and cyberpunk has always been one of them. The idea of inventing a new future, reflecting what I think could be the terrible consequences of current behaviors and inventions, was too good to pass up. Plus, I'd just spent four years living in Los Angeles and had a terrific understanding of its culture and its heartbeat.

Not only was it a welcome challenge to create a near future 'high tech low life' setting, but I had to populate it, creating entire subcultures. These included skater hackers whose skateboards are mobile servers; an underground religious-technology group who eschews modern computers and longs for a return to the early days; and a group so against the idea of a persons organs being levied to the highest bidder that they'll poison themselves with a most awful disease.

I wrote the pitch and sent it in- synopsis, three chapters, and a complete outline. It took about three months to get a reply, but I received a message on my answering machine from an editor who was on her last day at Medallion. She said she loved the idea, and would like for me to send Medallion the completed manuscript. She then gave me the name and contact information of her replacement. I was giddy. Not an acceptance, but damn close enough. They wanted my novel!

So I wrote the novel. It took me about five months. And I sent it to the editor in question. Several months went by. I contacted them by email. Medallion Press had moved their offices. Could I please resend. I did. About two weeks later, I followed it up with a phone call to the direct line of the editor. After all, this editor was expecting it. Hell, she was probably looking forward to it. The call went something like this:

Me: Hi. This is Weston Ochse. I just wanted to let you know I finished and sent in Velvet Dogma. It should be somewhere on your desk.
Editor: (the sound of crickets)
Me: You know. Velvet Dogma. The editor you replaced called me on her last day and asked me to complete the manuscript and send it to you. She said she loved it.
Editor: (I can hear her breathing)
Me: Velvet Dogma. It's a cyberpunk novel about a woman imprisoned for 20 years, only to be released in a society that--
Editor: Stop. I don't know what you're talking about.
Me: You don't?
Editor: I'm also not working on my predecessor's projects.
Me: You're not?
Editor: (I think she's now doing the NY Times Crossword Puzzle. What's a a six letter word for pain in the ass? A-U-T-H-O-R.)
Me: Uh, thanks very much.

 Sigh. As it turned out, I wasn't writing the novel at the request of an editor, but doing it on Spec and Medallion Press didn't look like it would be its home. Three weeks later I received a form rejection confirming the obvious.

Thanks for that.  Sigh Redux.

Thus began the cold sad life of a lonely manuscript trying to find a home. As I write this, I think of that old School House Rock animated jingle (I'm Just a Bill, Sitting on Capital Hill). My manuscript is singing too, a lonely jazz dirge about being homeless in the big city. I let it make the rounds for about a year, then shelved it.

I moved on.

I wrote several more books and saw my first two mass market paperbacks come out from Abaddon Books: Empire of Salt (Zombies) and Blood Ocean (post-apocalyptic sci fi).

Then came Crossroads Press. David Wilson was putting together a publishing house for eBooks. He asked me to submit. I looked around and realized I still had Velvet Dogma. Then I thought, how perfect to have a novel that centers around the internet, published on the internet for the first time. He didn't offer an advance, but the royalty share was more than competitive. I thought, why not?

But I wanted to design the cover. After searching for images, I came across the image which was finally used for the cover. I contacted Danielle Tunstall in the UK, negotiated a purchase price, and the cover for Velvet Dogma became one of her first images sold as book covers.  Collete Von Tora was the model and I just loved the action and movement in the image. Then I put the book cover together, concentrating on the use of space to highlight the image, not crowd it. I also worked on using a font that was clear, but didn't detract from the overall cover. The cover ended up winning an eBook Cover Design Award (ironically from the site I used to learn how to best use space on an eBook cover).

So the book was published. I made a thousand bucks the first two months. I've been making several hundred bucks a month on it since 2011. I've far surpassed what Medallion Press would have paid for it and the book is doing well, so well, that it was recently #1 on Amazon's Cyberpunk and Steampunk lists, the latter I have no idea why.

Some observations about the book now that it's been out three years.

  • I should have hired a professional editor. I tell people to do this all the time, but didn't follow my own advice. There are about 20 errors in the book. I'm actually working with the publisher to correct these now.
  • I pitched a softball in a lot of areas. What I liked about many of my cyberpunk influences was the raw grit and darkness they brought to sci fi. While I achieved this holistically, I missed a lot of opportunities to get darker. I blame this on myself. I wrote the novel for a publisher who wasn't then known for publishing science fiction, much less cyberpunk. I softened the effects to fit the market, something I've never done again. 
  • For the most part, reviews are good to great. There are a few readers who took the time to itemize what they didn't like, many of whom complained of recycled parts and unreal technology. I'll buy that. I took all that I liked best, and invented my own ways to use them. At the time I wrote the novel, there were no other novels about organ levying. Since then, however, there have been quite a few. What was new then, was no longer new six years after I wrote it when it was eventually published. This tells me how fragile near-future fiction can be, and like Rutger Hauer, who plays Roy Batty, the leader of the rebel replicants in Blade Runner, this sort of fiction has an expiration date.
 
So that's the journey so far.

I'm not sure if this will be my one and only cyberpunk novel. Whether or not it is, it remains my only journey into a wonderfully dark and inventive subgenre of science fiction.

If you are interested, Velvet Dogma is currently only 99 cents and available for immediate download.

Thanks for reading.