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, December 27, 2018

Anyone Remember Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser or Fritz Leiber?

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This is a joyously fun tale starring Hemmo and Doogie and hooker mermaids, talking Sturgeons, and sentient octopi, set in 1950s Astoria, Oregon.

Reposting this from editor Eric Guignard.

DAY 2 OF ANNOUNCING! Table of Contents for: POP THE CLUTCH: THRILLING TALES OF ROCKABILLY, MONSTERS, AND HOT ROD HORROR

I’ll be posting all contributors here, one-a-day, to reveal the table of contents for the latest anthology that I’ve created: Pop the Clutch: Thrilling Tales of Rockabilly, Monsters, and Hot Rod Horror, to be published by Dark Moon Books in January 14, 2019!

DAY 2 of 18: Weston Ochse
1. Seanan McGuire presents “The Golden Girls of Fall”
2. Weston Ochse presents “Sea Lords of the Columbia”


EXCERPT:
. . . Hemmo slapped his beer down and open-mouth-ogled his war buddy and best friend. “What do you mean the fish spoke to you?”
Hemmo Saarsgaard was an acre tall compared to Doogie and as angular as a pike. They each wore a white t-shirt underneath leather jackets. Blue jeans and combat boots finished their ensemble. Doogie couldn’t help note that they were still in uniform albeit not the same uniform they’d worn in Korea. The difference was that back then they’d been part of something—part of something special. Now they were just—they weren’t part of anything. They were just drifting like every other war-aged man in America back in the Land of the Big PX with no focus and no prospects.
Doogie pushed the ennui aside and stood a little straighter. “Just as I said. It spoke to me.”
“I mean, did its lips move? Did it swim up to you and begin a conversation? I mean, come on, Doogie, you can’t just lead with, Did I tell you what the fish said?”
“It didn’t swim up. I caught it. I just told you. And no, its lips didn’t move. It spoke to me in my head.”. . .
—“ Sea Lords of the Columbia” by Weston Ochse



ABOUT: WESTON OCHSE
WESTON OCHSE is the author of more than twenty books. His work has appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including The Tampa Review, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Soldier of Fortune, IDW, and DC Comics. His work has also been a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award five times and he’s been honored to have won the Bram Stoker Award for First Novel. He’s recently worked on several franchises, including Aliens, Predator, Hellboy, Clive Barker’s Midian, V-Wars, Joe Ledger, and X-Files. He splits his time between Arizona and Oregon and absolutely loves the outdoors. When he’s not writing, you can find him hiking, running, fly fishing, or just fusting about.

PREORDER NOW FOR THIS AND 17 OTHER TALES OF THRILLING FUN AND IMAGINATION!!
Pop the Clutch: Thrilling Tales of Rockabilly, Monsters, and Hot Rod Horror
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Pop-Clutch-Thrilling-Ro…/…/1949491056
Publisher’s Page: http://www.darkmoonbooks.com/pop_the_clutch.html
Releasing: January 14, 2019

“A fitting tribute to the 1950s with this 18-story compendium of hot rods, rock ’n’ roll, and creature features come to life.” —Publishers Weekly


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Templeton Gate Reviews Burning Sky

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I was chuffed as they say in the UK about this review. I love these guys and constantly want to impress them because if I can do that, it means I've done something. Looks like I did. 5 stars. Wow.

Here's an excerpt:

This is highly recommended. I'm willing to follow wherever Ochse leads, and I need to track down some of his earlier work. Yesterday I rated this 5 stars at Amazon and Goodreads, and also mentioned that the author might be surprised about other books I thought of while reading. One of them was still very much fresh in my mind, since I had read Joe Haldeman's Hugo and Nebula winner Forever Peace for the first time last week. What I'm referencing is only the part about the Jupiter Project and the speculation as to what might happen if it was completed. Another book I thought of is Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker, still one of the best books I've ever read. It is all about the vastness of the cosmos, the wide range of species that dwell on various planets of the far-flung galaxies, and the possible discovery of the ultimate creator of it all. I've typed several other sentences, edited them, then decided to delete them as too spoilery. I'll leave it as an exercise for other readers to figure out why those books came to mind. Is there an ultimate beginning point to the universe, or an ultimate end point, or is it a perpetual motion machine, destined to repeat forever? Is everything Boy Scout experiences part of the fugue? Will he ever escape it? I don't know yet, but I'm anxious to find out. If you're not into such musings, if you only want military action (there is plenty of that here) this might not be the book for you. If you're game for things beyond the material world, even as a mere thought experiment, there is much here to satisfy. It has prompted me to do more research into Zoroastrianism and other spiritual disciplines, which I hope to do before the announced sequel, Dead Sky, is released.

You can read the entire very lengthy review here.





Radioactive Reviews Burning Sky

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I was very psyched to see that Radioactive Book Reviews decided to review Burning Sky. They are known to be a no shit hard-assed review site that can be trusted. 

Here's an excerpt.

Overall this book was good, but not my new favourite. I really think there’s a huge difference between what the book looks like on the outside, what the description describes it to be, and what it actually is. I think if you like books about army guys and girls killing things and battling their own problems as well as supernatural ones, you’re going to like this. If you like books that change their entire being in the middle, you’re going to like this. And if you like books that confuse you a little but in a good way, then this is the book for you. 
To read the entire review, you can find it here

Burning Sky Makes Another Best of 2018 List

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Adman, Bonvivant, and Author, John Hornor Jacobs had his own best list for 2018. Among many illustrious books, he included Burning Sky. Here's what he had to say:
I really enjoyed this book. I’ve said elsewhere that Weston’s short fiction moves with terrifying grace, but his novels have a muscular poetry to them. Burning Sky, his newest novel, moves with urgency and forcefulness with the precision of, well, a military combat team, which just so happens to be the center and beating heart of this fascinating novel. It starts already rolling hard and continues, with some twists and turns and an elegant mystery that sneaks up on you along the way, to a cataclysmically great ending. Ochse’s inclusion of Zoroastrianism (a word, I have learned, I have a terrible time spelling without digital help) is inspired and really caught me in its grasp – I realized how little I actually know about it – so it offers a rich and intricate world for readers to discover, delivered by Weston’s assured voice. Wes makes you care about this menagerie of hard-bit soldiers, drawing you in to feel like you’re part of the team, and then he does horrible things to them. And he fucks with your head while he’s at it. If you like brilliantly rendered military fiction, if you like cosmic horror with new and interesting takes on mythology (seriously, he opens the door a crack for you by the end, exposing the potential for so much more), it’s not a book to be missed. Thankfully, there are more stories coming in this series.
To see his entire list and make sure you have the right books on your TBR, follow this link.  

New Burning Sky Review - Runalong The Shelves

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I almost missed this. Thanks to Joe for letting me know about it.

Overall, this is a very positive review, but the reviewer brings up a great point. I'll get to that later. Here's an excerpt from the review over at Runalong The Shelves.

The character dynamic was appealing.  This is a military team with two skilled and respected women operating alongside the men and the men themselves are a diverse group of backgrounds including former criminals and a gay man who again the team have no issues with.  It feels a refreshingly 21st century set-up.  Ultimately the TST enjoy what they do and while they all have their reasons for fighting and it is clear they complement and need each other on a very deep level.
My only reservation was the final reveal is a historical character who really set the ball rolling on the confrontation the team need to address.  That character is shown in a less than positive light and as far as I’ve been able to see he had no ulterior motives and instead is a respected literary figure to Persian culture.  Artistic licence must be expected in the genre but to base a story in Afghanistan and use a famous Muslim character as a potential antagonist (and to be fair their motives are still unclear, so this may be revealed in future stories as a red herring) I felt made this a little out of step with the rest of the book.

So, this is an excellent point. Having just finished the second book, I'm going to include a disclaimer in the acknowledgements. Basically, I had to have a foil for the team. I had to have someone be the bad guys. I chose to make the ultimate bad guy someone who everyone sees as good, because that's just good plotting. To the reviewer's question about it being a red herring, I can convincingly say that it was not and that the next book, Dead Sky, will provide much more reasons for his presence and desire to do what he did. I know this is sort of cryptic, but I don't want to ruin the reading experience for you, but I did want to mention that the reviewers criticism here is valid.

Here is the full review.

Burning Sky Makes Another Best of 2018 List

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Thanks to David Agranoff, who besides being a major reviewer in the industry, but is also the founder of the PK Dick Podcast Dickheads. When he puts me on a list, I feel like I've done something right. He placed Burning Sky as number 3 in his top ten. If this was horse racing I would have been in the money.

Here's what Mr. Agranoff- had to say.

Burning Sky is masterpiece that I am more impressed by the longer I think about it. Burning Sky is very much about PTSD, but Burning Sky takes that theme and goes beyond. This novel is about what drives war. It explores the deep trauma not just of the warriors but society. The book points to key moments covered by the news in the last few conflicts that lead to Trauma that we felt collectively. The theme is expressed so beautifully in some of this novel's most horrific moments.

To see the entire list, follow this link here.  

Identity Motifs in The Goldfinch, The Catcher in the Rye, and Life As We Know It

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I recently wrote an article called Identity Motifs in The Goldfinch, The Catcher in the Rye, and Life As We Know It that was published over at Civilian Reader courtesy of y publicist over at Solaris Books. Growing up when I did, The Catcher in the Rye was hugely influential to me. Having recently read The Goldfinch, I couldn't help but derive some comparisons to Catcher, as well as my own search for identity in I Am A Cowboy In the Boat of Ra. I thought I might post a teaser here so that you can see what it's about and if you want, follow the link to Civilian Reader. 


I was introduced to the idea of The Catcher in the Rye in 1979. I’d heard about this 1950s novel through my parents, both educators. I’d also heard about it through a Freshman English teacher at my High School. The reason I’d only heard about it and not seen it was because I was living in Tennessee and at the time it was a banned book. By banned, I don’t mean that there were any Fahrenheit 451 Fireman to come and burn them up — although I am sure there were those who wished that to be true. By banned I mean that the book was considered an unhealthy read and stores and libraries were urged not to provide them to young healthy minds. So it was with great delight that I was able to buy a copy of the book in 1981 at the local Walden Books store, who provided it from a box in the backroom and sold to me wrapped in brown paper so no one would see what I’d purchased.


Then I read it and was introduced to Holden Caulfield, who I would soon call a brother because of how he seemed to be me, or at least a shadow of me carried by the hot sun of Salinger’s early creativity. 




Found Footage Fiction - Locus Magazine Article

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I recently had an article published in Locus Magazine's Author's Round Table about Found Footage Fiction. For those who don't know, Locus is the industry trade magazine for authors of the fantastic. I thought I might post a teaser here so that you can see what it's about and if you want, follow the link to Locus Magazine. The essay includes discussion of author's Adam Neville, Marissa Pessl, and Gemma Files.

FOUND FOOTAGE FICTION by Weston Ochse (c) 2018
Despite the earlier revolting Cannibal Holocaust in 1980, The Blair Witch Project firmly established found footage as a film genre in1999. The shaky-cam unreliable narrator film about three students who disappeared in a Pennsylvania forest opened the door for the immensely popular Paranormal Activity franchise. Seeing events unfold on a second internal screen somehow made them feel more real to the viewer. The horror we felt while watching was predicated on the idea that the camera can’t lie. But could the same technique work in fiction?
How do you pull off found footage in fiction? In a film, it’s a film within a film. Can you have a book within a book? Can you layer real and fictitious secrets then reveal them through the aperture of a page? Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges did it in his 1940 story “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”. In the space of a short story, Borges creates varying layers of reality by providing real people and places and mixing them with fictional people and places, all based around a fictitious entry in the fictitious Anglo-American Cyclopaedia. In this case, one thing is less fictitious than the other, all of which is discovered by the characters in the story, which unveils, as it should, a mystery.  
This unveiling of mysteries using fact and varying degrees of fictitious detail are the hallmark of found footage fiction (F3).


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Adventures in Kindling - My Year In Books 2018

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Turns out I read about forty books this year. A lot of the reason the number is so high was because I spent half the year in Afghanistan, so no TV to compete with my time. I can't write about all forty, but I did want to highlight some of them because talking about books is one of my favorite topics of all time. 

My favorite of the year was The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky by John Hornor Jacobs. I fell immediately in love and posted about it here. While TSDIITS is definitely my favorite read of the year, every other book on this list is a close second. TSDIITS provided me with the greatest enjoyment I think because it gave me everything I want out of Cosmic Horror. You see, I heart cosmic horror. I heart conspiracies larger than ourselves. So, when I began reading, I was hooked.

A young teacher named Isabel meets a gnarly old one-eyed poet simply named Avendano. They've both fled their homeland in South America and now make their home in Spain. The cafe and literati scenes reminded me in all the best ways of Roberto Bolano's works, such as The Savage Detectives. The way Jacobs slides us into the setting is so gentle I feel as if I've been there all the time.Then Avendano, like a cosmic lure, propels Isabel into such an otherworldy mystery that I actually found I couldn't breath in many places.

I've read a ton of books this year and two stand out as incredible. Victor LaValle's The Changeling which won the American Book Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the British Fantasy Award, among others. The other is John Hornor Jacobs The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky, which hasn't won any awards so far. I'm thinking that will change. At least it should. At the very least, I encourage you to read this lovely dark cosmic novella and ask yourself, what is the price of home?

The Changeling by Victor LaValle. As I mentioned above, I read and loved The Changeling. 

From Google Books - "When Apollo Kagwa was just a child, his father disappeared, leaving him with recurring nightmares and a box labelled 'Improbabilia'. Now a successful book dealer, Kagwa has a family of his own after meeting and falling in love with Emma, a librarian. The two marry and have a baby: so far so happy-ever-after.However, as the pair settle into their new lives as parents, exhaustion and anxiety start to take their toll. Emma's behaviour becomes increasingly erratic, until one day she commits an unthinkable act, setting Apollo on a wild and fantastical quest through a suddenly otherworldly New York, in search of a wife and child he no longer recognizes. An epic novel for our anxiety-ridden times, The Changeling is a tale of parenthood, love - in its most raw and brutal form - and, ultimately, humanity."

I think The Changeling could be called cosmic horror as well. There were several WTF moments where I couldn't breath. I actually exclaimed aloud at one point. If you haven't read this one, you're seriously missing leveling up in life.

The Croning by Laird Barron is definitely cosmic horror. 

From Google Books -"Strange things exist on the periphery of our existence, haunting us from the darkness looming beyond our firelight. Black magic, weird cults and worse things loom in the shadows. The Children of Old Leech have been with us from time immemorial. And they love us... Donald Miller, geologist and academic, has walked along the edge of a chasm for most of his nearly eighty years, leading a charmed life between endearing absent-mindedness and sanity-shattering realization. Now, all things must converge. Donald will discover the dark secrets along the edges, unearthing savage truths about his wife Michelle, their adult twins, and all he knows and trusts. For Donald is about to stumble on the secret... ...of The Croning. From Laird Barron, Shirley Jackson Award-winning author of The Imago Sequence and Occultation, comes The Croning, a debut novel of cosmic horror."

Up until now, I'd only read Laird's short fiction and novellas. When I saw this novel and the description, I knew it was something I'd dig into. And I did. I absolutely loved the way Laird crafted and delivered the mystery and I love the way he took us through several decades of a man's life and brought us to an ending that had to be. So perfect.

The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge is a book I thought was cosmic horror but wasn't. What it is is a book within a book within a book. 

From Google Books - "Marina Willett, M.D., has a problem. Her husband, Charlie, has become obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft, in particular with one episode in the The Night Ocean follows the lives of some extraordinary people: Lovecraft, the most influential American horror writer of the 20th century, whose stories continue to win new acolytes, even as his racist views provoke new critics; Barlow, a seminal scholar of Mexican culture who killed himself after being blackmailed for his homosexuality (and who collaborated with Lovecraft on the beautiful story "The Night Ocean"); his student, future Beat writer William S. Burroughs; and L.C. Spinks, a kindly Canadian appliance salesman and science-fiction fan -- the only person who knows the origins of The Erotonomicon, purported to be the intimate diary of Lovecraft himself. In the summer of 1934, the "old gent" lived for two months with a gay teenage fan named Robert Barlow, at Barlow's family home in central Florida. What were the two of them up to? Were they friends--or something more? Just when Charlie thinks he's solved the puzzle, a new scandal erupts, and he disappears. The police say it's suicide. Marina is a psychiatrist, and she doesn't believe them."

La Farge's narrative style and choices in this weren't something I would have done but I think they work wonderfully. What I'm saying is that in the end I found his choice to be much better than how I would have done it. I finished The Night Ocean and wanted to read it again. Something that doesn't often happen. Plus, I love found document fiction. La Farge is now on my list.

The Twilight Pariah by Jeffery Ford. Jeffery Ford was an author who I thought I'd read. It turns out that I hadn't, so I eagerly picked this one up. 

From Amazon - "All Maggie, Russell, and Henry wanted out of their last college vacation was to get drunk and play archaeologist in an old house in the woods outside of town. When they excavate the mansion's outhouse they find way more than they bargained for: a sealed bottle filled with a red liquid, along with the bizarre skeleton of a horned child. Disturbing the skeleton throws each of their lives into a living hell. They feel followed wherever they go, their homes are ransacked by unknown intruders, and people they care about are brutally, horribly dismembered. The three friends awakened something, a creature that will stop at nothing to retrieve its child."

What appears to be a haunted house story is far more than that. This is a haunted cosmic horror story with characters that reminded me of those in Brett Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero. The research conducted in the book - the found fiction - is also one of my favorite things. Here I'm introduced to Kind Nepenthe for the first time and note that there's now a book with that title from Matthew V. Brockmeyer that is on my list of things to read. Thank you Jefferey Ford for not pulling punches with this one. I've already downloaded The Shadow Year and can't wait to dive in.

The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler is not a cosmic horror novel. It's not even a genre novel. It's a book I read right before I went to Afghanistan--literally buying it at the airport as I left. You can read the full post here but I'm providing an excerpt.

From Google Books - "Camp Chippewa, 1962. Nelson Doughty, age thirteen, social outcast and overachiever, is the Bugler, sounding the reveille proudly each morning. Yet this particular summer marks the beginning of an uncertain and tenuous friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan. Over the years, Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes Scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa, while Jonathan marries, divorces, and turns his father’s business into a highly profitable company. And when something unthinkable happens at a camp get-together with Nelson as Scoutmaster and Jonathan’s teenage grandson and daughter-in-law as campers, the aftermath demonstrates the depths—and the limits—of Nelson’s selflessness and bravery.

 "The Hearts of Men is a sweeping, panoramic novel about the slippery definitions of good and evil, family and fidelity, the challenges and rewards of lifelong friendships, the bounds of morality—and redemption.

"The Hearts of Men is a grand novel, well-chosen for its purpose. It's a story about a changing time, when the idea of being a Boy Scout is becoming less and less significant. It's about ethics and what to do in bad situations. It sometimes painfully puts its characters in too real places that make you want to stop reading, but just as the characters are performing for you, out of respect, you have to stay through their performance.

"It's a book about the complexity of always trying to do the right thing."


I cherished this book and it indeed prepared me for Afghanistan. I feel it in my chest. I feel it in my head. I was once a Boy Scout. I made it to Life. My father was an Eagle Scout and was a scoutmaster. Both of these things prepared us in our lives. A little reminder helped rekindle those memories and reminded my that being Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent were things to which we should all attain, despite those around us who would devalue these traits.

Finally, its about being your own man and accepting yourself for who you are.

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker was a book I read in Afghanistan. I immediately face palmed because the title and the idea was so damn obvious. I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it myself.

From Amazon - "When the world ends and you find yourself stranded on the wrong side of the country, every second counts. No one knows this more than Edgar Hill: over five hundred miles of devastated wasteland stretch between him and his family. To get back to them, he must push himself to the very limit―or risk losing them forever. His best option is to run. But what if his best isn't good enough? End of the World Running Club is an otherworldly yet extremely human story of hope, love, and the endurance of both body and spirit."

I really bought into the desperation of the main character and as a person who runs, and sometimes doesn't, understands how hard it would have to be to do what he did. Superior effort by the author. Well done. 

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. My editor at Rebellion Books was the one who turned me onto this book and I'm glad he did. I'm not so much a fan of time travel books because of all the plot holes one can find, but Mastai plugged those holes. 

From Amazon - "It's 2016, and in Tom Barren's world, technology has solved all of humanity's problems—there's no war, no poverty, no under-ripe avocadoes. Unfortunately, Tom isn't happy. He's lost the girl of his dreams. And what do you do when you're heartbroken and have a time machine? Something stupid. Finding himself stranded in a terrible alternate reality—which we immediately recognize as our 2016—Tom is desperate to fix his mistake and go home. Right up until the moment he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and the woman who may just be the love of his life. Now Tom faces an impossible choice. Go back to his perfect but loveless life. Or stay in our messy reality with a soulmate by his side. His search for the answer takes him across continents and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be. Filled with humor and heart and packed with insight, intelligence, and mind-bending invention, All Our Wrong Todays is a powerful and moving story of life, loss, and love."

I also read this one in Afghanistan and I remember looking forward to getting off work so I could return to my hooch and read this. With plenty of surprises, Mastai didn't mess around. If there was an opportunity to fuck with his main character, he took it-- in fact he took them all. 

The Cabin At the End of the World by Paul Tremblay is just another one of Paul's fabulous books. I love that he keeps hitting it out of the park and can trust that when I see one of his books that I will love it.

From Amazon - "Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road. One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, "None of what’s going to happen is your fault". Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: "Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world." Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined."

I also read this in Afghanistan. When the description above used the words 'incredibly tense,' it meant it. Twice I remember calling Paul a Fucker for what he did. This is not an easy book to read because of it, but its a tremendous book that makes you question your own faith. 

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessle is similar in plot device to The Cabin At the End of the World because the protagonists are forced to choose who dies. 

From Amazon: "Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her five best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim--their creative genius and Beatrice's boyfriend--changed everything. One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft--the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world--hoping she'll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim's death. But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she's never going to know what really happened. Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions. Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers . . . and at life."

I almost didn't buy this because it's being sold as a YA book. Not that I don't read YA books, it's just that they are not my first choice. This despite me being a huge fan of Night Film, which I wrote about recently in an essay published by Locus Magazine in their Author's Roundtable called Found Footage Fiction. I don't think this is a YA novel and probably a marketing technique to draw in other fans. Not that Marisha needs it. She's fabulous on her own. What I found most interesting during the middle of the book were the choices her protagonists made and how reliving a day over and over changed them. Then came act three. Just wonderful. I also read this while in Afghanistan.

The Sighting by Christopher Coleman is the only self published book on this list. I enjoyed it because it's cosmic horror. Although there are some minor pacing issues and the main character is sort of a dick, I still appreciated the author's invention. A sign of the author's skill is that even though the main character is sort of a self-centered prick, I still cared for him and was stressed when bad things began happening to him.

From Amazon - "One morning during his daily run to the beach, Danny Lynch witnesses the strangest and most incredible thing he's ever seen. A dark, man-like figure emerges from the ocean, stands for just a few moments on the beach, and then retreats back to the surf. Danny's perspective on the world changes, and as the only eyewitness to this event, his mission now is to convince anyone who will listen that what he saw was real. But with only a vague photo and a dubious story, that task is proving almost impossible. His only hope may be in finding a mysterious woman who was at the beach earlier that morning, and who may hold the terrifying secret that could cost Danny his life."

This is not a novel but a novella. Note that I'm currently reading the follow up to this called The Origin and am so far enjoying it.

So, there you have it, folks. I just wanted to share some of the highlights of my reading this year. Feel free to comment or hit me up with what you think I should be reading. And if you feel like it, try one of my books. I'm told they aren't bad.


(Adventures in Kindling TM is Trademarked by Weston Ochse) 



Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Cheeseburger Cheeseburger - But Not On An Omelet

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Who doesn't like cheeseburgers?

They're everywhere.

My favorite might be the Sonic Drive In Double Cheeseburger because of how the bread melts into the cheese and the cheese melts into the burger creating a new element on the scale called Double Cheese Burgerium. 

Saturday Night Live had a great Cheeseburger skit with John Belushi based on a real Chicago restaurant. There's a Florida-based restaurant chain called Cheeburger Cheeburger and I wonder if they might have based their name on the skit.

I even like Cheeseburger Pizza. Our local Vinny's Pizza has a remarkable Cheeseburger Pizza.

My favorite appetizer of all time were the Cheeseburger Egg Rolls at Applebees that in a stunning moment of mediocrity took off the menu.

 

This morning I went to Ihop. I don't usually go, but my wife has a fondness for them. Decades ago she worked the night shift Fridays and Saturdays at one and made enough money to get her out of debt. So this morning, I took her out to breakfast and she said, "Let's go to Ihop."

Sure, why not.

I admit, when I saw the Cheeseburger Omelet on the menu I knew it was sketchy. I was okay with the
pickles. I love pickles on pretty much everything. But the lines of ketchup and mustard had me concerned. As they should have. I think having mustard on eggs is akin to crossing the streams of the proton cannons in Ghostbusters.

What did Egon say?

"Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light." 

Yes. That's bad.
Super bad.

Like Cheeseburger Omelet Bad!

Not a fan.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Adventures in Kindling - The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky

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I love cosmic horror. I heart conspiracies larger than ourselves. So, when I began reading The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky I fell immediately in love.

A young teacher named Isabel meets a gnarly old one-eyed poet simply named Avendano. They've both fled their homeland in South America and now make their home in Spain. The cafe and literati scenes reminded me in all the best ways of Roberto Bolano's works, such as The Savage Detectives. The way Jacobs slides us into the setting is so gentle I feel as if I've been there all the time.Then Avendano, like a cosmic lure, propels Isabel into such an otherworldy mystery that I actually found I couldn't breath in many places.

I've read everything Jacobs has ever written. His writing was marvelous with Southern Gods and just keeps getting better. The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky is so fabulous, I can't imagine him achieving anything greater. For many, this would be the crowning achievement. The novella is dark and touching and lovely with enough conspiratorial nastiness that even this old soul was satisfied. All this said, I know he'll come back with something special. Might it be a sequel? I can only hope.

I've read a ton of books this year and two stand out as incredible. Victor LaValle's The Changeling which won the American Book Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the British Fantasy Award, among others. The other is John Hornor Jacobs The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky, which hasn't won any awards so far. I'm thinking that will change. At least it should. At the very least, I encourage you to read this lovely dark cosmic novella and ask yourself, what is the price of home?


 
 
 (Adventures in Kindling TM is Trademarked by Weston Ochse)


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Scary Rednecks Is BACK!!!

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ONCE UPON A TIME...

David Whitman and I wrote a book of short stories. 

This was our first book. 

It outsold the creator of Babylon 5's book from the same publisher. 

Our book was the first Print On Demand book ever sold by Barnes and Nobles. 

It was groundbreaking in many ways and is considered a fan favorite. 

Then years later after the publishers went under, the collection was republished in limited edition hardback.

Well, while it's been available from Crossroads Press as an ebook, it hasn't been in print in almost two decades. As of now that changed. It is now in print and you can get your copy here.

The original can be purchased for as cheap as $39.

The limited edition can be found for as little as $110.

The new paperback edition can be found here for under  $20.

"SCARY REDNECKS collects twenty-three stories of horror, madness, and humor set in the rural south of America’s heartland. The stories run the gauntlet from terror to outrageousness. Packed with everything from abusive parents, cannibals, deer hunters, demonic catfish, UFO abductions, voodoo priestesses, vampire moonshiners, and other Appalachian monstrosities; it will amuse you, disturb you, and leave you hungering for more."


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Five Books About Heroes Who Shouldn’t Babysit Your Kitten

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I was asked to write an essay for Tor.com and came up with this brilliant idea. I mean, how many of you have been tempted to let your fictional heroes babysit your kitten? First of all, what were you thinking? Second of all what were you thinking?

Consider this a public service announcement -- Your own PSA to protect your kittens.

Five Books About Heroes Who Shouldn’t Babysit Your Kitten
Who doesn’t like kittens? Kittens are what cats used to be before the irony of a two-legged universe got to them, making them the moody judgmental purring balls of fur they are today. Kittens are fun. Kittens are daring. Kittens are little evil feline ninjas with razor teeth and spikey claws. Kittens wake up every morning and treat the world like it’s their own personal frat house and the air is spiked with catnip. I love kittens. I also love me righteous protagonists in books and comics. So, I was wondering the other day—I’d trust these folks to save the world, but would I trust them to babysit a kitten?

To read the rest, go to Tor.com at this link

You won't be disappointed and your kitten will thank you.








Friday, October 19, 2018

How to Connect with Leisure Readers about My Novel Burning Sky

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Becky Spratford who is the American Library Association's Superhero and their expert on horror fiction, provided a terrific booklist review of Burning Sky. On her blog RA for All: Training Librarians to Help Leisure Readers she has advice for librarians on how to get certain books into their hands. It occurred to me that this same advice might help folks who have read Burning Sky and loved the book and wanted to find ways to share it.

While I'm going to reference some parts of her post, I'm not going to use it all and I highly encourage you to follow this link and read the entire post. I also encourage you to make RA for All one of your daily readers. If you like books and if you like scary books, there are few better places to go. 

I think my favorite part of it is this: Burning Sky is a love letter to servicemen and women who have toured in Afghanistan.

After a synopsis of the book, she provides a section for you to be able to compare other books to Burning Sky:

Further Appeal: I cannot stress enough how the occult elements here never overwhelm the real life horrors of war, rather they serve to underscore the terror and make it feel even more real. Even readers who usually like realistic military fiction, but want a more modern war setting will enjoy this. The cosmic horror elements are incorporated into the frame of Middle Eastern mythology, and the way Ochse introduces them, it feel real; like it could happen. The pairing of the realism and supernatural is seamless, so much so that it makes the book scarier.

Again with the theme of cosmic horror. It's funny, I didn't set off to write cosmic horror, but that's what I did. Now that I know, I'm actually ratcheting it up for the sequel.
 
Becky Spratford also has a section called Read Alikes that will allow you to compare other books to Burning Sky:
Readalikes: The best match is the Joe Ledger series mentioned above. I also mention Cormac McCarthy because the entire story is framed by the novel Blood Meridian but also, the writing itself is similar. If you like the way McCarthy writes, this novel is a great suggestion.

Fans of literary fiction about war, especially post-9/11 wars and its effects on veterans is also a great option like Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Fountain or The Yellow Birds by Powers.

Books set in Afghanistan and told from the local perspective might also be of interest here. Khaled Hosseini is a mainstream option, but check out this page of books tagged “Afghanistan”by readers on Goodreads.

You could also give this book to fans of military SF for which there is A LOT. Again via Goodreads. Really anyone who likes military fiction as it is crafted within any genre might enjoy this novel
I'm always very proud to have my books compared to my friend Jon Maberry's Joe Ledger books. Those are amazing books and share many of the face paced elements we both enjoy.

I was also very pleased to see her mention Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. I loved that movie before I went to Afghanistan because, more than most any movie, it really showed the repartee and comradeship among a close knit group of soldiers. It also shows how stunning PTSD can be, something I appreciate even more now that I am back. 

If you don't have a copy yet, you can click on one of the book links on the left, or go to the following links for your favorite stores.



 
Or just hit me up with a question.
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

PK Dick, HP Lovecraft, Cosmic Horror, and Burning Sky

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I've met David Agranoff, the reviewer, several times. In all honesty, when I asked him to review Burning Sky I was worried because David knows his shit. He's balls out into the genres and knows how to think and talk critically about all the best and worst books - Where I feel like a blithering idiot when I talk about others books. As it turns out, he loved the book. Fist pump!
him to

We conducted an interview, which you can see here on his podcast called Dickheads, while I was in Astoria convalescing after my return from Afghanistan. He brought up how I must have been heavily influenced by PK Dick because he could see the influences in my writing. Then I flummoxed him by stating that I hadn't read any PK Dick. None. Nada. Zip. I know, I know. My loss. I accept that. I've also never read any Lovecraft, unless you include his essay on the supernatural,  but that doesn't mean I don't understand cosmic horror. Lovecraft didn't invent cosmic horror in the same way that Dick didn't invent conflicting realities. 

Here's something David said about Burning Sky-  
 "This is also a fun novel at times, with entertaining action, monsters, ancient gods and Philip K Dick worthy time shifts and alternate realities that will remind readers in all the right ways of Jacob's Ladder. There is a What the hell is real twist that is so well executed I was shocked when Weston told me in a e-mail that he has not read much PKD. That is a round about way to say this is a mind expanding cross genre read that I can't recommend enough." 
Several reviews have said that Burning Sky is cosmic horror. I had to ask what cosmic horror was. Here are two comments from my FB page:

David Thomas Moore, Editor in Chief of Solaris says:  "It's the category of horror of which Lovecraft is the exemplar: horror in which the supernatural element is existentially threatening, supercontextual and largely - to mortal understanding - incomprehensible. "Cosmic" in scope, as it were."

Marc Weiner says: "Cosmic horror is another way I saying Lovecraftian...which Burning Skies surely was." 

Maybe according to DTM's definition it is.

But is Burning Sky Lovecraftian? I'm not so sure. I certainly never set out to write it that way. Do I have Elder Gods? Sort of. I do lean heavily on Zoroastrian mythology and real history. Are they Elder Gods? Well, they are older than any other mythology, I think, so that definitely makes them older. And being so old, they are also mysterious because we know the least about them.

Here's something else David says about Burning Sky-

"Much like his last Grunt trilogy Burning Sky is very much about PTSD, but Burning Sky takes that theme and goes beyond. This novel is about what drives war. It explores the deep trauma not just of the warriors but society. The book points to key moments covered by the news in the last few conflicts that lead to Trauma that we felt collectively. The theme is expressed so beautifully in some of this novel's most horrific moments. As a writer, reader and fan of Weston I honestly pumped my fist in the air at one of these moments."

Those key moments he's speaking of are the iconic images of the Falling Man, Napalm Girl, and the Burning Monk, which I talk about here
 
I urge you to read David's whole review.

Burning Sky will be available September 25th. Please pre-order so we can sell out the print run before publication. That will help guarantee more books in the series. You can click on one of the book links on the left, or go to the following links for your favorite stores.






Friday, September 21, 2018

First Paragraph of My New Novel 'Burning Sky'

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After announcing the signing of a contract for a new mass market paperback to be published by Solaris called Burning Sky. I sat down and wrote the first 1111 words (here and unedited). I discovered that the main character, who is referred to by his team and others as Boy Scout, has an affinity for Cormac McCarthy, Herman Melville, and those books that pit man against nature.

I thought I might share the first paragraph with you.






What Booklist has to say about Burning Sky-


"This dark, twisted, and unnerving cosmic horror is framed by Middle Eastern mythology, with a sense of unease that increases with the relentless pace of the action." - Booklist on Burning Sky


"Without slowing down, Ochse also offers a thoughtful commentary on the human cost of war. This is an excellent example of the emerging genre of military horror, combining details of army life and technical jargon with a well-constructed supernatural thriller." - Booklist on Burning Sky


"Ochse's writing finds the beauty in the language of brutality, which will appeal to fans of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985)." - Booklist on Burning Sky

Burning Sky will be available September 25th. Please pre-order so we can sell out the print run before publication. That will help guarantee more books in the series. You can click on one of the book links on the left, or go to the following links for your favorite stores.



Thursday, September 20, 2018

"Burning Sky is the beginning of something remarkable... prepare to be astonished."

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Mass Movement Magazine recently reviewed Burning Sky and blew the roof off the world.

The review begins with-

"Few authors are capable of successfully combining the established tenets of genre fiction, moulding them and reshaping them and then seamlessly welding them together to create something new, inspiring and unique. Weston Ochse is one of that all too rare breed. Having first become aware of his work via his outstanding Seal Team 666 trilogy and having them moved on to his engrossing Task Force Ombra series, I slowly, but surely, became aware of the fact that Ochse had rapidly become one  of my favourite authors. So it was with great anticipation and much nervous excitement that I began Burning Sky, the first of Ochse’s T.S.T. novels. Six hours later, my mind spent and my imagination locked in overdrive, I read the final line, closed the cover, put Burning Sky  down, made a pot of the strongest Java I had to hand and then started reading Burning Sky again."

I'm always honored when people read my books. After all, I'm a kid from a broken home who didn't have a lot to show for it, joined the army, and puttered away a future that had been pretty bright. That I was able to ressurect it amazes me still. And to have someone re-read by books just blows my mind.

The voice behind Mass Movement Magazine and the reviewer, Tim Cundle, concluded the review saying this-

"If Clive Cussler had a PHD in creative writing and literature and used it to tell tales based around, and upon, the ideas of Phillip Pullman and Richard Morgan, then he’d come close to being half the story-teller and writer that Weston Ochse is. Burning Sky is the beginning of something remarkable. Prepare to be astonished."
Again, blown away.
If you want to read the entire interview, which I urge you to do, please go here.

Burning Sky will be available September 25th. Please pre-order so we can sell out the print run before publication. That will help guarantee more books in the series. You can click on one of the book links on the left, or go to the following links for your favorite stores.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Trigger Warning - Iconic Imagery in Burning Sky

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I was recently interviewed by My Life My Book My Escape where I talk about Cormac McCarthy and how iconic images change us. I specifically talk about The Falling Man, Napalm Girl, and the Burning Monk, who are all part of Burning Sky and the idea of them intrinsic to the plot.

We all know how seeing something can change our lives. Many things we've seen we can't unsee. I remember when the video of the poor man being beheaded was being passed around. There were those who would eagerly see it and those like me who wouldn't. My imagination filled in the blanks. I didn't need to see the real thing.

Because I knew it would affect me.

When I was a child I saw both the pictures of the Burning Monk and Napalm Girl in a big Time Life book and they haunted me to this day. Then after 911, the image of the Falling Man came to light. All these images are touchstones to history, mnemonics of how terrible we can be to each other.



Excerpt from Interview:

DJ: What were some of your influences for Burning Sky?

Weston: Cormac McCarthy was a huge influence in the book. His continuing theme of man vs nature and man’s inability to overcome nature is the fulcrum in the novel which the plot circles. I especially mined his masterpiece Blood Meridian, using some of the motifs like how he never names any major character but instead uses titles for them. In Burning Sky, the members of the team are never referred to by their names while in Afghanistan. I also loved the way McCarthy landscaped Blood Meridian and tried to use some of the landscape in Burning Sky as a dark mirror to the McCarthy’s terra damnata. I also mined several cultural icons that when seen, can’t help but bring us memories and stir our thinking. Images such as The Falling Man from the Twin Towers during 9/11, or the Burning Monk and the Napalm Girl from black and white photos from Vietnam. Each one of the images is shorthand to something terrible and I used them as interactive touch points for readers.

If you want to read the entire interview, which I urge you to do, please go here.

Burning Sky will be available September 25th. Please pre-order so we can sell out the print run before publication. That will help guarantee more books in the series. You can click on one of the book links on the left, or go to the following links for your favorite stores.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Dark, Twisted, and Unverving Cosmic Horror - Booklist on Burning Sky

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The review has been published so I can share it now. Booklist loved my new book, which means librarians will love it, which means that readers will as well. I feel like I hit the trifecta.


Burning Sky. By Weston Ochse 
Sept. 2018. 420p. 
Solaris, paper, $14.99 (9781781085295)
The members of the Tactical Support Team (TST), army veterans turned private contractors, sawhorrifying and improbable things on their last assignment in Afghanistan. Now, six months later, these men and women are experiencing things too eerily similar to be classified as PTSD. Ochse (Reign of Evil, 2014), a veteran himself, begins his new military-horror series by unveiling the diverse and complex backstories of the TST before sending them back for the ultimate mission: a fight for their souls. This dark, twisted, and unnerving cosmic horror is framed by Middle Eastern mythology, with a sense of unease that increases with the relentless pace of the action. Without slowing down, Ochse also offers a thoughtful commentary on the human cost of war. This is an excellent example of the emerging genre of military horror, combining details of army life and technical jargon with a well-constructed supernatural thriller. Perfect for readers of Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series, and Ochse's writing finds the beauty in the language of brutality, which will appeal to fans of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985).  — Becky Spratford for Booklist


Here are some gems that I urge FOWs to share with their own people.

"This dark, twisted, and unnerving cosmic horror is framed by Middle Eastern mythology, with a sense of unease that increases with the relentless pace of the action." - Booklist on Burning Sky

"Without slowing down, Ochse also offers a thoughtful commentary on the human cost of war. This is an excellent example of the emerging genre of military horror, combining details of army life and technical jargon with a well-constructed supernatural thriller." - Booklist on Burning Sky

"Ochse's writing finds the beauty in the language of brutality, which will appeal to fans of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985)." - Booklist on Burning Sky

Burning Sky will be available September 25th. Please pre-order so we can sell out the print run before publication. That will help guarantee more books in the series. You can click on one of the book links on the left, or go to the following links for your favorite stores.