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.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

FUBAR, One Star Amazon Reviews, and Deciding to Actually Review a Book

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Rant Zone: So I was curious about FUBAR a few minutes ago. Realize, I don't troll Amazon Reviews generally, but the book sold about 3000 copies a few weeks ago in a surge, so I wanted to see if any of those folks who bought it reviewed it. When last I saw, there were ten reviews. Now there are 23. Seriously? Can't it get more reviews than 23? I can poll the local nursing home and get 13 reviews from them.

Then I started reading a few of the reviews. 
I know, what was I thinking?

But I did.

The single two star review that said it 'wasn't their cup of tea' was totally fair. As was the only three star review which said that the stories were a little far fetched. It does start out with a hum-dinger of a Lovecraft story, so if you weren't expecting it, then, yeah.

But the one star reviews are another thing all together. Investigating them, I see that one of those hadn't reviewed a single thing on Amazon and decided to break their review cherry on FUBAR with a one star review. What makes someone want to review? Is this the only thing they've ever bought on Amazon? Did they buy it then get an automated note from Amazon in their inbox urging the person to review? But then doesn't that happen every time? So why now? Why this one? Why me?

The other one star review was a single word review  (awful) by someone who votes all of Severed Press's books with Five Stars. Not sure what this means. Just noteworthy. Probably random. But again, why review? At least if you review, be constructive.

Then the third one star reads like this: "I was interested in true stories of battle and sacrifice. This book of short stories is fictional, morbid, depressing, and hopeless. I read four of them and to avoid depression had to stop. I can only hope that some the images in my head fade with time." Again, someone who probably doesn't read horror regularly. I don't mind this one. I struck a cord. Mission accomplished.

My big question, is where are the other 3000 reviews that should be there. Hell, even if 10% reviewed, that would be 300 (see, ma, I can do math). Have you reviewed it? Would you?

Now back to working on a secret Grunt Life novella to appear in the upcoming SNAFU: Future Warfare so Geoff Brown will stop sending Girl Scouts who follow me around and shout at me to finish my damn story. And my story (titled Shatner Rules) better be good too, because the fabled Mike Resnick is in this book with me. I was getting advice from him on AOL before I ever wrote my first story, so I owe that fella a lot. 

Yeah. Back to work. I need to score more one star reviews.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Use It and Lose It - My Fitness Goals for 2016

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I have my Altra shoes. I have equipment. Hell, I have a whole home gym with a treadmill, an elliptical, weights, access to Daily Burn and DDP Yoga and god knows whatever online workouts
that are available; so to not exercise would be lazy.

Plus, I have a lifestyle I want to live. I don't want to drink water, eat lettuce, and call it a day. I want to eat fancy and healthy. I enjoy my wine and occasional martini. I like to watch TV, see movies, and play video games.

Also, as a best selling author, I spend a lot of time on my ass writing, researching, and editing my work.

So I have to exercise, if nothing more than to keep the continental drift of my gut at bay.



 
How many of you reading this have exercise equipment in a room, a closet or in your garage that you haven't touched. I'm actually laughing out loud as I type this because I used to be you too and ballooned up to 270 pounds. The ability to exercise was at my fingertips but I ignored it, just as I ignored long glances in the mirror that could have told me what I already knew. Plus, pictured don't lie.

Then came Afghanistan.

Then came a 60 pound weight loss.
And this is me at 215 Pounds

This is me at 270 pounds



















And I'm back now.  Or mostly. I've gained ten of the sixty pounds that I'd lost back. That's ten pounds  in twenty six months, mostly the result of not exercising due to injuries. But now I'm hale and healthy. My legs and feet feel great. So it's time to kick it up a notch.


Goal 1: 9.5 minute mile. I ran a 15 minute mile in 2014. By the end of 2015 I'm at a 12 minute mile. I can do this.

Goal 2: Sirsisana-- headstand yoga pose. I want to do this.

Goal 3: Lose 20 pounds.

And how am I going to do it? The trick is to exercise every day. 

EVERY DAY!!!

"But I don't have time, Drill Sergeant Ochse."

No time, then TABATA! What is that? It's a four minute workout. Check it out here

"But I'm traveling and don't have anything with me," you cry pathetically.


We'll just forget that pretty much every hotel that isn't Motel 6 has a workout room. If you're traveling, then TABATA. Or get your wifi cranking and go to Youtube and type in yoga or hotel room exercises. You'll be surprised at the shit ton of free workouts that all you have to do is follow. Now your laptop or tablet or phone is a piece of exercise equipment.

The trick is to do something. By doing something-- anything -- what it does is give a destination for your food. Instead of going to fat, it goes to repairing torn muscles and fibers or building new muscles and fibers. The trick is everything in moderation and switch it up.

"Wait! That's like three tricks you've mentioned," you snivel.

Yeah?  So? Thank you Captain Obvious, now stop quibbling and do what I said -- Use it and Lose it.

What are your goals for the year? How are you going to make sure it happens? Do you have a tracking mechanism? Do you have an online support group? I'm curious to know.


Please note that I am an Altra Running Affiliate. The shoes below are ones I own and use all the time. From the Instincts I use indoors on the treadmill, to the Lone Peaks I use for hiking and trail running, to the Olympus which I use for street running, I use all of these. I wouldn't be pimping them if I didn't. If your arches hurt and if shoes feel too tight for you, these shoes are the ones for you.
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Friday, February 12, 2016

Grunt Traitor Makes Nebula Reading List

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Click to Buy
The Nebula Awards are awarded by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. First step is to get on the reading list and guess whose military sci fi PTSD novel made the cut? Yep. Grunt Traitor. Can you be both humbled and thrilled cause I'm both of those!!!

The reading list used to be a top secret (if I tell you I have to kill you) list. But 2015 marked the first year that the Nebula Reading List became open to the public.

Nebula Commissioner Terra LeMay says “Even before I became the Nebula Awards Commissioner, I’ve always thought the Suggested Reading List was one of the best resources I’ve ever encountered for finding the most exciting new science fiction and fantasy works each year. It is a great privilege to have helped bring this list out to the public where any reader may benefit from it.”

Here's the full article about the reading list going public. 

Nominating for the list ends on Monday, so if any of you SFWA members have read books that you think should be on it, I suggest you hasten to the list. I added several myself that I felt were deserving of recognition.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pan-seared Trout Fllet in Brown Butter Pecan Sauce - Recipe

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EATING DANGEROUSLY

Pan-seared Trout Fillet in Brown Butter Pecan Sauce
Author: Living Dangerously
Duration: 30 minutes
Average Cost: $12.00 US
Serves: 2- 4
 
I've always loved trout. I grew up fishing for trout in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Smokey Mountains of southeastern Tennessee. I can remember as a child, going out with my grandfather and father on Pactola Lake, night fishing for trout, lanterns hung over the side and bugs swirling as we reeled ice cold rainbows up from the deep. I remember fishing Tellico River in Tennessee and catching so many trout on our secret spinner that we had to throw most back. Oh, trout fishing is something I hope I never stop doing.

But we're talking about eating trout, not catching it.

For most people, you'll get your trout from the store. And that's cool. I do too. Living in southern Arizona it's so hard to catch decent trout, so I often get it from my local fishmonger.

Growing up, the way my family cooked trout was to stuff them with lemon and dill, then wrap them up and bake them. Very aromatic this way, very tasty, but they can get mushy.

Recently I've been stuffing them with dill, garlic and lemon and grilling them on a flat cast iron pan on the grill. These turn out very crispy on the outside and done and firm on the inside.

When I eat out, I most often see trout as a fillet, but the fish is so delicate and I was always afraid of mauling it. Yeah, honesty time. In my 47 years of trout fishing, I've never filleted a trout. 

Well, this past Friday, I had left over green chili cheddar grits and some fresh asparagus, so I wanted to pair some fish with it... barring fish, sausage. In the seafood section of our local grocers I spied two beautiful trout-- about a pound each. Upon seeing them I was determined to fillet them... by hook or by crook I was going to do this.

So, I bit the bullet and learned how and it was amazingly easy. How'd I learn? The way I learn most things, I googled it and watched a video. This video to be specific.


Did you watch it? Did you see how easy it was? Amazing. Whoever this guy is who dropped the F-bomb, thank you! It took me about twenty minutes to fillet two trout. I took my time... really took my time. I imagine I can cut that time in half next time.

So what's the recipe?

Here it is and it's simple too and only takes five minutes.

INGREDIENTS

2 whole trout or 4 trout fillets (sans skin and bone) 
4 tbs butter
half cup pecans
1 tbs dill
1 tbs tarragon
1 garlic clove (diced)
salt to taste

Prepare fillets by dusting both sides with dill, tarragon, and salt. If you want more dill and tarragon, go ahead and add it. Much if it will fall into the butter sauce, but it will serve to flavor it too.

Heat large frying pan to high heat. Add garlic and butter. Once butter is melted, turn down to medium. Place two fillets in pan on the butter by laying the fillet away from you. This is a safety measure to ensure no hot butter splashes on you. Wait two minutes, then using a long spatula, carefully flip each fillet. (Note: that I don't put all the fillets in at once. You don't want to crowd the pan and muddy up the sauce.) Wait two more minutes, then the fillets are done. Repeat for the other fillets, but after the first minute, add the pecans.

After a full four minutes for the second two fillets, remove fillets and plate. Stir pan juices with butter and pecans for thirty seconds, then pour evenly over fillets. Your fillets should look something like this... and they'll taste magical.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Kayla Montgomery Inspires Me to Run

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my legs... my legs... where'd they go... help me... help me... 

I enjoy running... words I never would have said pre-2013 when I began running again thanks to new motivation and the right shoes (Altras). I enjoy running, recording my progress on my Suunto watch so I can review it later, and the feeling of accomplishment I feel afterwards. I enjoy running races. I enjoy running trails. I enjoy running new cities. But as much as I enjoy running, with the aches and pains of my fifty year old body-- the body of a combat veteran with significant VA disabilities --I still find excuses not to run.

Oh my back.

Oh my legs.

I just don't have enough time.

I'm just too busy.

The locker room at the gym is too crowded.

Whatevs. (insert eye roll here)

We know what those are. 

They're excuses.

Let me back it up a little bit. Do you know what a maximum effective range is? Its a military term which refers to the maximum range at which a weapon is effective. For instance, I think a grenade has a maximum effective range of 45 meters. The old M16 had a maximum range of 3600 meters, if I remember correctly, but it's maximum effective range was only 550 meters. That means the only realistic chance of hitting something is within that 550 meter span.

Now that you understand that, let me fast forward back to where I was. I'd just talked about all the excuses I make for myself not to run. Excuses. I had a drill sergeant who once asked me what the maximum effective range of an excuse was. I remember staring at him in fear, his brown round hat shadowing his deep set eyes as he leaned forward, ready to rip my throat out at the slightest sign of non-conformity. I replied with silence which was probably what he expected. Then he turned to the entire platoon and bellowed, "The maximum effective range of an excuse is zero point zero meters." And we all instantly understood what he meant.

please help me... help me... please help me...

I'd forgotten about that until last night when I watched the video about Kayla Montgomery. She has MS-- multiple sclerosis. MS is devastating and causes nerve damage that disrupts communication between the brain and different parts of the body. For Kayla Montgomery it's her legs. Yet she's one of the best runners in the country.

Just watch the video.

 

If you haven't watched the video, stop reading and go back and watch the damn video.

If you've watched the video, no doubt you're looking for a Kleenex. Go ahead. I'll wait. And if you haven't, again, watch the damn video, fool! 

my legs... my legs... where'd they go... help me... help me...

Okay, now that you've watched the video (or you're being sneaky and not watching it and ignoring my plea), you can see where my drill sergeant is correct. She runs knowing that at the end she'll collapse. The hotter the muscles, the less control she has of them. Perhaps the most special moment for me was when we see her coach catching her, lifting her, and taking her into the field so she can recover, her legs not her own, her mind worried that they'll never come back.

Then of course there's the championship race where she falls down, everyone passes her, then she gets up and wins. Dear god that made me choke up.

Yeah. Kayla Montgomery. She's a bad ass girl.

So when I'm ignoring my drill sergeant and coming up with a pathetically transparent excuse not to run, I'm going to channel Kayla Montgomery. If she can run, then I should to.

The maximum effective range of any excuse not to follow her example is zero point zero meters.

So, what are you going to do next time you don't feel like running?

Sci Fi Gazette Looking Forward to Grunt Hero

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Nice to be on someone's wish list. Internet icon Sci Fi Gazette posted their 2016 preview. Among such look forwards as the return of the X-Files, Stephen King's 11.22.63 being broadcast on Hulu, The Expanse TV series on Syfy Channel, lies Grunt Hero, my third book in the PTSD alien invasion series started with bestseller Grunt Life.


You should go to the complete list and check out the books, movies, tv shows and comics that Sci Fi Gazette is most anticipating in 2016. You can find that here.

What's the Grunt Life Series About? I talk about it here on my webpage and how I pitched it to Solaris Books.

But don't trust me. See what two of my literary idols have to say about it.

"Grunt Life was a major achievement in military SF! A real page- turner! This new David Gerrold, Hugo and Nebula Award Winner of The Martain Child
chapter in the series is even better!" -

“Add Grunt Life to your list of must-have books.  This is action adventure at its best.” - William C. Dietz, New York Times bestselling author of Legion of the Damned