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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Weston's World Horror Convention Schedule

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I was in AfghaniCon last year, so I missed all the fun times in New Orleans. Of all the years to have it there, last year was the year. Damn. One of the great cities I still haven't been to.

But this year the World Horror Convention is in Portland, Oregon--another great city.

I'm putting my schedule here for anyone who wants to know. I'm including those things I am attending and the ones in which I'm participating. In between these I'll be in the dealers room or hanging out in common areas. So come by and say hi, buy me a drink, bend my ear, or whatever. Between the four books I have coming out this year, SEAL Team 666 movie news, as well as Afghanistan war stories, I have a lot to share.


THURSDAY
6:00 PM -7:00 PM, Multnomah/Holladay
Opening Ceremonies

10:30 PM – 11: 00 PM, Hawthorne
Reading: Yvonne Navarro

FRIDAY
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM, Sellwood
Panel: Being F*cked -Up And In Love
(Weston Ochse, Yvonne Navarro,Brian Keene, Mary SanGiovanni, Jeff Strand, Lynne Hansen, Cameron Pierce, Kirsten Alene) Henry Miller and Anais Nin or Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath? Horror writers discuss the horrors and joys of pair-bonding with our own kind.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Multnomah/Holladay
Panel: Victoria Price Presents The Life And Influence Of Vincent Price
Daughter of the silver screen legend Vincent Price presents his life and work.

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Ross/Morrison
Panel: Hardcore F*cking Horror
(Jeff Burk, Jack Ketchum, Wrath James White, Christine Morgan, Michael Huyck, Aaron Sterns) Horror has always pushed fiction to the very edge. Follow us over to the most exteme corners of the genre. And is there such a thing as going “too far?”

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Multnomah/Holladay
Panel: Grand Master Award Come meet Brian Keene, as the World Horror Society honors him with the Grand Master Award

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Willamette Foyer
Mass Autograph Signing All of your favorite writers are in one spot and are willing to sign books!

10:00 PM,
Deadite Press Party

SATURDAY
11:00 AM – 11:30 AM, Hawthorne
Reading: Weston Ochse

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Ross/Morrison
Panel: You’ll Never Get Out Alive!  Advice To New Writers
(Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum, Weston Ochse, Lois Gresh, F. Paul Wilson )
Professional authors with decades of combined field experience tell the audience everything they wish they could tell their younger selves when they were starting out as writers.

6:30 PM – 9:30 PM, Multnomah/Holladay
Stoker Award Ceremony and Banquet. I'll be presenting the award for short fiction, along with Joe McKinney.

10:00 PM, Oregon Room
Bram Stoker Awards After-Party
HWA and our sponsor Samhain Horror would like to invite all convention attendees to join us for the traditional party after the presentation of the Bram Stoker Awards. Come and celebrate!

SUNDAY
Dead Dog Party
 I'll let you know if there are any changes. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Real Issue of PTSD in Grunt Life

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My new novel Grunt Life is about to hit the streets on April 29th and I wanted to make something clear about PTSD. The book's characters and plot is steeped in the realities of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, suicide, and depression. The publisher was worried when I turned in the manuscript. And I get that. But then again, how many authors out there have my military credentials. As a military man with 30 years service and combat deployments, I know about PTSD first hand.


Still, it is a heavy issue and might turn some off. Despite that, I wanted it to be a central theme to Grunt Life. Not only am I trying to make readers understand what it's like to have PTSD, but I'm also turning PTSD sufferers into heroes. Too often they think themselves the opposite. This is where I show them how they really are worth it and can save the planet, if only between the pages of Grunt Life. 

Here are some facts about PTSD from the Veteran's Administration:

Here are some facts (based on the U.S.):

  • About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • About 5.2 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.
  • Women are more likely than men to develop PTSD. About 10% of women develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with 5% of men.
 Also:
Experts think PTSD occurs:

  • In about 11-20% of Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom), or in the range of 11-20 Veterans out of 100 who served in OEF/OIF.
  • In as many as 10% of Gulf War (Desert Storm) Veterans, or in 10 Gulf War Veterans out of 100.
  • In about 30% of Vietnam Veterans, or about 30 out of 100 Vietnam Veterans.
 Many PTSD sufferers, like the characters in my book, can see no way clear of their disorder and often take their own lives. This excerpt from Forbes Magazine is sobering.

Almost once an hour – every 65 minutes to be precise – a military veteran commits suicide, says a new investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs. By far the most extensive study of veteran suicides ever conducted, the report, issued Friday, examined suicide data from 1999 to 2010.
The data was then compared with a previous investigation – primarily an estimation – that had been conducted over the same time period, and had found a suicide rate of 18 per day.
Many of these suicides involve older veterans; 69 percent of the suicides recorded were by veterans age 50 and older. But another way to look at this is that 31 percent of these suicides were by veterans 49 and younger. In other words,by men in the prime of life.
And then there are the shockingly common active duty suicides. Just two weeks ago, the military released data showing that suicides among those on active duty hit a record high in 2012. There were 349 suicides among active duty personnel – almost one a day. That means there are now more suicides among active duty soldiers than there are combat deaths.
 I want to make it clear that Grunt Life is a work of fiction. I chose to have PTSD as a central theme because I see so many war books out there who won't touch it. Well, I'm trying to touch it. If my only success is to bring more attention to it then good. Know it's out there. Know it's for real. And if you get the chance, see what you can do to help, even if it's just to tell a veteran or service member to have a great day.

The popular website Pop Cults focused heavily into the PTSD aspects with an absolutely glowing review of the book. 
'With Grunt Life, I feel like Ochse was striving to write the kind of military narrative that Heinlein or Haldeman would have written. I am a huge fan of both authors, and Ochse is well on his way tojoining their ranks, but I don’t think he is quite there.  He is close, and he is on the right track — heck, he even acknowledges Haldeman at the end of the book. Ochse goes beyond the normal chaos of combat and asks of the tough questions that we, as a greater society, are just starting to ask. In this novel, he addresses one of the biggest killers of our veterans these days: suicide.  While the taking of one’s life has been addressed before, Ochse embraces it and integrates it into his story without making it the focus of the book or glorifying it. The book starts out with a suicide attempt, but it isn’t for the reasons that you would expect. Ochse was willing to get past the Hollywood and mainstream media explanations of military suicide and try to address some of the real reasons why veterans would be willing to end their lives. This is a subject that needs to be addressed openly and honestly, and Ochse was brave enough to risk turning some readers off to do it. I think that many of the readers who do get turned off by his frank observations on this subject might feel that way because it hits way too close to home. I don’t want this to sound like a challenge, but for some folks out there, this might be the book that makes them stop and think.'
Mat Best (Former Army Ranger)

Mat Best of MatBest11X wrote an article about PTSD which I'd like to share here. Known for his youtube comedy and parody videos about special operations forces, he provides an inside view of PTSD that should be shared with everyone. 

One last thing. The military isn't the only group with PTSD sufferers. Police and fire fighters, as well as rape victims and victims of sexual abuse have a very high rate of PTSD as well. You could literally spend your day interacting with PTSD sufferers and not even know it.

So at the very least, treat everyone with respect. 

And that woman in the middle of road rage or the guy not moving fast enough for you in the line you're in, they might be having a hard time of it so maybe think about treating them that way.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Seven Days Until GRUNT LIFE Hits the Streets

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With seven days until Grunt Life hits the streets, the excitement is mounting. This is my plunge into the military sci fi pool where I take on and try and break new ground concerning the realities of PTSD, suicide, and depression. Not only am I trying to make readers understand what it's like, but I'm also making PTSD sufferers heroes. Too often they think themselves the opposite. This is where I show them how they can save the planet, if only between the pages of Grunt Life.

Reviewers are raving over GRUNT LIFE so far.

Beauty in Ruins called Grunt life 'a fast-paced story with some daring ideas, Grunt Life: Task Force Ombra is a must-read for fans of the military science fiction genre, and definitely worth a read for sci-fi fans in general.'

Reviewer Bob Milne goes on to say that 'the opening arc of the story was, by far, the most interesting to me. Getting to meet the suicidal men and women recruited for Task Force Ombra, seeing how they're trained/conditioned in prison-like conditions, and watching as they engage one another in a confessional sort of catharsis is fascinating. Ochse devotes a considerable amount of time to setting the stage for his grunts, and I liked that.'

He also nailed my Lethal Weapon reference.  Nice!

Pop Cults focused heavily into the PTSD aspects with an absolutely glowing review of the book. 'With Grunt Life, I feel like Ochse was striving to write the kind of military narrative that Heinlein or Haldeman would have written. I am a huge fan of both authors, and Ochse is well on his way to
joining their ranks, but I don’t think he is quite there.  He is close, and he is on the right track — heck, he even acknowledges Haldeman at the end of the book. Ochse goes beyond the normal chaos of combat and asks of the tough questions that we, as a greater society, are just starting to ask. In this novel, he addresses one of the biggest killers of our veterans these days: suicide.  While the taking of one’s life has been addressed before, Ochse embraces it and integrates it into his story without making it the focus of the book or glorifying it. The book starts out with a suicide attempt, but it isn’t for the reasons that you would expect. Ochse was willing to get past the Hollywood and mainstream media explanations of military suicide and try to address some of the real reasons why veterans would be willing to end their lives. This is a subject that needs to be addressed openly and honestly, and Ochse was brave enough to risk turning some readers off to do it. I think that many of the readers who do get turned off by his frank observations on this subject might feel that way because it hits way too close to home. I don’t want this to sound like a challenge, but for some folks out there, this might be the book that makes them stop and think.'

Even SFF News weighed in. ''Grunt Life' at its heart is an Intense, Thought Provoking and Eye Opening look at the issues soldiers have to face everyday during and after their service.'

Reviews will be coming faster and faster. I hope to be able to link all of them. 

In the meantime, help this hardworking guy make this a NY Times Bestseller and order a copy  today!

For an independent bookstore near you, try this link to find where the book can be found.

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. You can request a signed copy through 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.
 

Monday, April 21, 2014

But They Chose to Join - Volunteerism and Service to Our Nation

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Something's been bothering me... the words 'But they chose to join.'

Here's why they're bothering me. It was Easter and I reposted a picture meme of service men and women deployed to Afghanistan huddled around a meal at their DFAC (dining facility). I mentioned something about take a moment and think about those out there serving.

And one of my followers said simply 'But they chose to join.' I looked at it for a long time. That's not a simple sentence, no matter how simple it appears. To post that as a reply to my request seemed to mean that this person shouldn't have to take time out of their Easter Day to think about these service men and women because of a choice they made. After all, they chose to join

Seriously?

Think about that.

There are young men and women out doing what our nation commands, living under very rough conditions, at risk of violence or death, and receiving poverty wages but because they weren't drafted they get no respect? Not even a moment out of your day?

To make it perfectly clear, they didn't choose to join, they chose to serve. You join a gym or a club. You serve your country. Big difference.

I'm sure this has made me testy because of my nearness to the subject. I've spent the last 30 years in the military. 20 as a US Army soldier. 3 as a DoD contractor. 7 as a DoD civilian. When I go to work I see soldiers marching. I hear them call cadence. I see them salute. Fort Huachuca is predominantly a training post so most of these young men and women have chosen to serve and are getting ready for their first assignment. They're idealistic. They want to do things for their country. They want to have that feeling of service. They curate their own version of patriotism through their actions. They put up with poverty wages, working 15 hour days, being screamed at by drill sergeants, getting up and being forced to exercise and stand in formation, and eventually going to a combat zone instead of getting a regular job like regular people.

Me serving in Afghanistan 2013
When I chose to serve, I had lots of choices. I joke about how my mom made me join because I'd messed up two scholarships. That's partially accurate, she did lay down the law, but I had choices. I was smart, from a good family with great connections, I know I could have landed on my feet. Hell, I was waiting tables at the most expensive restaurant in Chattanooga at the time making almost $2000 a month back in 1984. It would take me more than a dozen years in the military to get back to that salary. But you see, I have this idea that we as citizens should give back to our nation. We should protect it and her people. Maybe it was my grandpa. Maybe it was John Wayne. Maybe it was all those old WW II movies. I dunno, but it made me want to serve.

Everyone doesn't have to. In fact, less than 1% of the US population serves. But that doesn't mean the other 99% get off free and clear. So when you're asked to pause a second and reflect on someone else's service that seems like a kind of respect.

I get that there are politics at work. I get that there are folks who don't like violence and war. Guess what? Soldiers hate it even worse. Let me set you straight. Whether you like the reason for a service man or woman being somewhere, don't confuse the issue with the person. The person was ordered to go there. They fight for those beside them, they fight for their command, and they fight for the ideal. 

But they chose to join. No, they chose to serve

Serving like my best buddy SGM Marshall who just received a Bronze Star for his outside the wire actions in Afghanistan.

Or serving like Sgt Keri Paulson, a young girl who could be anyone's daughter in a shopping mall anywhere in America but instead pulled a deployment to Afghanistan and turned out to be a crack NCO.

Or like my writer pal SFC Lincoln Crisler who's pulling an unaccompanied tour of duty in Korea, leaving his wife and kids back in America for a year.

Or serving like the 72 year old SFC (retired) Melvin Morris, who chose to serve by joining the Oklahoma National Guard in 1959, only to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor last week for actions he conducted in 1967 while serving in Vietnam.

They didn't join a bridge club. They didn't choose to join a political party. They didn't join a frigging bowling league. They chose to serve and deserve a damn moment of your attention.

But they chose to join.

Let me backtrack a few inches so people don't think I'm being overly semantical. It really is okay to say someone joined the military. You don't have to say that they chose to serve. But it's only okay if you understand that by joining the person is also serving. 

It is absolutely not alright to use the world join as an excuse not to show someone respect.






Monday, April 7, 2014

The Twelve-Fingered Shibboleth

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It's not often I get to write a post like this, but when it happens, it's an awesome feeling.

Once upon a time there was this guy who wanted to be an author. He approached an author he admired, one to which he felt an unexplainable kinship, and he told him of this authorial dream. I was that author and I basically said to this fella the same thing I say to everyone. "Just write. Stop talking about it and do it."

And he did. His first book was Southern Gods and was magnificent. 


Then he got an agent and now has book deals and a new fantasy series coming out and is living the dream.

But somewhere along the way he wrote (is still writing) a YA series. When I saw that, I said to myself, "That's odd. I never took him for a YA author."

But then of course I've written a YA book (co-written with Yvonne Navarro and comes out this year), so why shouldn't he have.

I thought about reading it, but said to myself, 'Nah. I just don't have the time.'

Then we got together last month at Midsouthcon, a Memphis genre convention and he gave me the first two books of the trilogy, The Twelve-Fingered by and The Shibboleth. Now I felt like I had to read them. I like this guy and he's asked me to so I just had to.

I adored The Twelve-Fingered Boy. Just adored it. Written from the POV of a sassy middle-teen, petty criminal I could feel the truth of the character. Shreeve, his name, has a little of me in him. He's that friend I never had. He's also part of the author. I could hear his voice saying some of the words. The Twelve-Fingered Boy was damn terrific.

But as good as that was, The Shibboleth is even better. Wow. I just finished it and fucking Wow. I'm so damn pleased that this author has accomplished what so many have tried and failed to do-- create something new and wonderful that will stand the test of time.

I mean, if this 48 year old white dude can read a YA novel and come away with the absolute knowledge that it's the best book I've read this year and in my top ten books of all time, then it's just fucking spectacular.

The guy's name is John Hornor Jacobs. I call him Jakes. If you don't know his name yet, you will. If you want to be fucking amazed and thrilled, Pick up The Twelve-Fingered Boy as a calling card. Once you read that, you'll plummet into the next book like I did. You can find them at an independent bookstore near you or at Mysterious Galaxy.

Gosh. I wish I was a fly on the wall when you finish these books just to see the smile on your faces.

And Jakes, if you're reading this, Good Damn Job. I'm proud as hell to call you a friend. I'm also proud to call myself a fan.