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, September 30, 2010

Badmoon Books and Horror Mall have signed copies of Empire of Salt


EMPIRE OF SALT by Weston Ochse (SIGNED paperback)
The Olivers have a chance to make a new home at Salton Sea. Looking forward to California fun, sun and adventure they are unprepared for the ecological devastation they find. The sea is rotting, the town of Bombay Beach is dying and the citizens are like bait, waiting to be plucked from their homes by what comes from the sea. Beware the coming of the green, they say. Beware the coming of the night.

Not only is the Salton Sea a large, stagnant saltwater lake, Bombay Beach is populated by the sort of people one might imagine would be left if everyone with common sense and means just up and left. Not only is Bombay Beach populated by a reformed crackhead with too many kids, a Romanian Elvis-impersonating ex-soldier, and a naked preacher, there’s also a secret, gated installation. And zombies. Don’t forget the zombies.

As Natasha, Derrick and their friend Veronica discover that some of the kooky stories might not be all myth, they rescue a soldier from a group of zombies and, with the help of a few of Bombay Beach’s more colorful characters, attempt to end the clandestine military project behind the zombie outbreak and escape the Salton Sea once and for all.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

OPEN LETTER To Campbell H.S., Litchfield N.H. – Free Yourself

Ernest Hemingway

Dear students, faculty, administration, teachers and members of the school board,

Looking over the American Library Association’s list of Banned Books for 2010, I was shocked that there are so many communities willing to be oppressed. Books such as Fahrenheit 451, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Color Purple, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and To Kill a Mockingbird have been banned by your fellow Americans. To think that there are those who believe that issues such as censorship, slavery, racisim, and the loss of a parent shouldn’t be dealt with reminds me that we live in a country where people would rather not know, than know, and where Sarah Palin can ask her local library what the process is to ban a book.

Regarding your community and your high school, it has come to my attention that you have been oppressed. It seems that a group of parents has banded together and removed Ernest Hemingway’s short story Hills Like White Elephants from the curriculum. First let me offer my condolences. Hills stands as the seminal model for dealing with abortion in the entire cannon of modern American literature. Hemingway creates such a realistic engagement between the two main characters that every reader is capable of taking away strategies to deal with this polemic and decisive issue, that whether we like it or not, is a societal reality. I can’t comprehend how young adults and parents are capable of dealing with this issue in a conversational and informational vacuum. It’s through literature that we obtain examples of how others deal with things. It is through great literature that we are able to take examples to influence our daily lives. In Hills, Hemingway never used the word abortion. He alludes to it through allegory and metaphor only. This story is rife with heartbreak, loss, misunderstanding, and the wonderment and fear of what the future might hold, much like one might experience if the plot became a reality. It doesn’t honor abortion, but rather deals with the emotions involved in the decision.
The Real Ann Frank

When a Culpeper, Virginia public school was asked by a parent to stop teaching The Diary of Anne Frank, they acquiesced. According to the American Library Association “it was reported that officials decided to stop assigning a version of Anne Frank’s diary, one of the most enduring symbols of the atrocities of the Nazi regime, due to the complaint that the book includes sexual material and homosexual themes. The director of instruction announced (that)  the edition, published on the Fiftieth Anniversary of Frank’s death in a concentration camp, will not be used in the future despite the fact the school system did not follow its own policy for handling complaints. The remarks set off a hailstorm of criticism online and brought international attention to the 7,600-student school system in rural Virginia. The superintendent said, however, that the book will remain a part of the English classes, although it may be taught at a different grade level.”

Hats off to the principal and the community for coming to the aid of common sense. Cheers to them for not allowing one person’s fear of their child being confronted with the reality of our world affect an entire student body. The Diary of Anne Frank has become a perennial favorite in elementary and middle schools because it is so accessible to the students. Anne was a young child just like the students, and the similarity helps accentuate the gravitas of the vile evil perpetrated by the Nazis and all of their colludors. You can teach about evil from the front of the classroom for days and not have the same effect as when a student puts him or herself in the place of Anne Frank, hiding in fear for her life, knowing that she might be found and sent to a concentration camp to be killed.

Although the teachers of Campbell H.S. can teach about the emotional and psychological effects of abortion and the decision-making process from the front of a classroom, when these issues are lived through the souls of Hemingway’s characters, they create a new and increased level of awareness of the depth of the issue.

There are dozens of stories in the cannon that deal with this issue that are not banned. Would you believe that Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, written in 1817, also deals with abortion, asking the question that if the creation is too ugly should it even be born? Not only is this an issue that has transmigrated across the centuries, but it poses the unspoken question whether those children with disabilities or malformities should even be born. Explosions from Chinese author Mo Yan deals with the idea of a government-forced abortion in response to China’s One Child Policy. The poem The Abortion from Ann Sexton reverberates not about the act, but about the consequences and the feeling. Are these to be banned as well?

Whether I am in favor of abortion or not is not the issue. I am in favor of freedom of speech. I am in favor of the constitution. I am in favor of exercising the mind and making it work through tough social, philosophical and political issues.

Too many of us are told what to think and we react accordingly. We’ve gone to war with countries that have done the same in an attempt to free their populace from the iron grip of censorship, misinformation, and dictatorial direction. If we hold our freedoms so dear, then why do we continue to allow ourselves to be oppressed?

So I ask you this, students, faculty, administration, teachers and members of the school board of Campbell H.S.:

  • Do not do to yourselves what we free other countries from.
  • Do not create your own literary gulag where the rule of the loudest few subverts the rights of the many.
  • Do give your children the ability to learn from our literary masters.
  • Do talk to your children about these issues so that they are informed of all sides.
  • Do fight against oppression – YES! What this group of parents has done to you is oppression. How does it feel to be oppressed? What are you thinking?
The amazing thing about fiction is that it can teach and inform us of things in a much more accessible way than classic “teach-question-answer-test” methodology.

So for the last time, I am pleading to your sense of Americanism. Don’t ban books. Don’t abrogate your rights. Don’t be oppressed.

Thank You,
Weston Ochse
Author, Soldier, Father

Friday, September 24, 2010

Zombies to Invade Book Store - Eat Customers!

So far it's kind of been pathetic. When I wrote Empire of Salt, I figured I'd have two built in markets- the living and the undead. So far the living have been snatching it up like free popcorn at a dive bar. No complaints at all. I'm happy. The editor is happy. The publisher is happy. Everyone who is living is happy. To date, I've only had a few sad zombies stagger by one of my signings. Of course it was in Bisbee, which could mean that they were real zombies, or just stoned.
Zombies in Bisbee

But now things are different. It must be hard getting the word out to the undead. Not that they don't listen, but with all the moaning and groaning, they probably can't even hear their cell phones ring. Lucky for me the Barnes and Nobles in Tucson (Broadway) has a direct line to the undead and has created a Zombie Event. Now, finally, members of the great rotting masses will be able to turn the pages of my ode to all things zombie.

They will be coming in the form of the Tucson Zombie Crawl. Ten to twenty book-loving zombies will be descending on Barnes and Nobles on Broadway. They have been asked politely by Valerie, the author liaison not to eat the author, nor chew chunks out of the staff. The Crawl acquiesced, but admitted that with the reduced availability of human flesh, it would be open season on the customers (Shhh. Let's keep that between us).

I feel honored that that they are finally coming to get a copy of my book. But at the same time I feel sorry for the store. Sales of Romance novels are bound to fall. But alternatively, and this is something they should anticipate, sales of survival manuals and gun magazines should absolutely soar.

Oh yeah! I've also been told that one or two might stop by for an interview, so that members of the audience can ask the burning questions like:

"Which do you prefer, white or dark meat?"

"How does it feel to be undead?"

"Do you get hassled by Border Patrol?"

"What about taxes? Do you still pay them?"

I think that if we can manage to keep the consumption of customers down to a minimum it's going to be an awesome afternoon. So if you are feeling brave, and if you think that you can outrun the person next to you, come on over at 1 PM and watch the blood bath as it unfolds. I'll be hosting a seminar on How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse, After all, if you wait until the nightly news, you'll miss all the wonderful screams and the arching sprays of arterial blood.

Weston Ochse
Desert Grotto
Mexican Border

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Follow Me

I need Followers. If you are reading this, do me a favor and click on that follow me button right over to your right... no, your other right. 


That one. 


You rock!

And it didn't even cost anything.

Don't you feel better now?

Look Out World

Here they come.

Last night, I spent about two hours with about thirty aspiring young writers and their professors at Cochise College. This college is a traditional two year college with traditional tracks, as well as alternative tracks, such as degree tracks in Rodeo Clowning and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Flight Operator. How cool is that?

Professor Leslie Clark had invited me to speak to her creative writing class. That expanded to several classes, as the Horace Steel Room at the college library was soon filled. Although they seemed a little nervous, I was able to convince them that this published author wasn't going to consume them and that I am really as loving and fluffy as I appear to be

The energy and vibe was great. Everyone wanted to learn and to experience my writer's journey. It didn't hurt in my presentation that I was able to tell them that I sat in their seats ten years ago when I attended Cochise College once upon a time. They especially liked my anecdotes about my failure to understand antecedents, my desire to kill people I don't like in my fiction, and Harlan Ellison's comparison of my name to a nursing home where people go to die.

Lots of good questions. Lots of interchange and feedback. Makes me miss teaching, let me tell you.

Hope to do this again soon, so if there are any other colleges out there who want me to relate my writer's journey and talk about the cultural implications and coolness of zombies, just let me know. I'll do it in a heartbeat.

The complete set of photos can be found here.

Weston Ochse
Desert Grotto
Mexican Border

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


House from Burnt Offerings and Phantasm
Not really the end of me, but the end of the weekend. We made it actually, but the weekend came to an end and I have mixed feelings about that.

If you read chronological through our blog posts on the Haunted Mansion Retreat Blog, you can get an interesting psychological profile of our group. At first we were titillated. We kind of relished the ability to poke and prod everything ghostly. Then the next morning came an onslaught of what-the-f*ck-were-we-thinking posts, with several of our band experiencing very unpleasant physical contact with ghosts/spirits/entities/whatever they were.

At that point, we had two choices. We could either be scared or we could be funny. Like the authors we are, we chose both. As that first day wore on we felt an increasing trepidation. When night came and enveloped the mountain, we costumed our terror with humor. By the next day we were using the K2 Meter to play with sleeping (handsome) authors and watching videos of Rachel Bloom crooning the author appreciate classic, “F*ck Me Ray Bradbury,” as well as the shockingly grotesque video of the woman (was it a woman) singing about what she was doing- "Sittin' on the Toilet."

I'm embarassed to admit I watched it, several times, but these were absolutely mechanisms designed to keep us sane. I have to admit, that second night, I was scared.  The house felt different to me. It felt riled up and ready. That first night it was a little surprised, I think, that we would engage it so. But after a day at the Rubicon Estate, when we returned, I remember looking up at that high windows of the third floor and thinking about the movie, Burnt Offerings. I remember being scared and not wanting to go back in the house.

But we did.
Yvonne and I listening to Ghost Voices on EVP
Thankfully I didn’t have many more experiences. The first floor, for the most part, was a safe zone. The back apartment behind the fireplace had some cold spots, as did the entire second and third floors, including the grand staircase and the murder stairs going to the third floor. In those places I always felt like I was being watched. The hairs on my arms stood straight, and I mean straight, up. I mastered the art of walking in straight lines and not using my peripheral vision. You see, if there was something looking at me, I didn’t want to see it looking at me looking at it looking at me.

Especially the murder stairs. Whenever I went to the second floor, I was aware of them off to my left as I headed towards my room.  It was as if the place had a vacuum that drew your attention and begged for you to come and look. Although it terrified me, I always felt the pull towards the stairs, much like when I am on a high building or mountain, I feel a pull to jump.

So to all of you who ask me was there really something there or were we making it all up? I guess first you have to believe in ghosts, whatever your definition of them may be. Once you believe in them, then I will tell you that yes, there was something there. I felt it. I heard it on EVP. Was it malevolent? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I believe that my physical reactions were symptoms of encountering some strange energy.

So will I go back?

I think so. As long as I have a lot of friends and comrades with me, just like this last time, I think it will be okay.

You know, writing this, a thought just occurred to me. There wasn’t a single time this entire weekend when I remember any of us getting mad at the other. They say that negative energy feeds off negative emotions. We didn’t have any of that. We all seemed to genuinely enjoy each other’s company, which created a lot of positive energy.  I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had we gotten mad and fed the house.

What would have happened then?

I’m shaking my head. I don’t want to know.

I’m just glad that all of us became friends, shared a weekend that will remain with us for decades, and now have a common bond which no one else can claim as their own, because we, and we alone, are Survivors of the Haunted Mansion Writer’s Retreat.

Weston Ochse
Desert Grotto
Mexican Border
Safe and Sound

Friday, September 17, 2010

Haunted Mansion 4

The Cavalry

Eunice Pretending to be dead... not cool
The cavalry arrived in the form of three tattooed young girls. Ghost-Girls.org is their name and even as I type this they are busy settingup IR cameras, full spectrom cameras, trip wires, pits with pungi sticks, flypaper traps, and trip lines to capture every ghost in the freaking mansion.

If we survive, I'll give you the full low down skinny.

BTW, Scott Brown, Eunice Magill and Dan Wiedman went down to the pond awhile ago. They had to pass by the sacrifice table and the Blair Witch totems. They are totally FUBARed.

Haunted Mansion 3

Crossposted from http://hauntedmansionwriters.blogspot.com/


Friday, September 17, 2010

Calm Before the Storm

I survived the first night. I think we all did, although I’m not sure of the whereabouts of Sephera and Rain. Either they’re sill crashed in their rooms or they were taken to the ghost dimension. Also, if you haven’t read Scott’s post, you need to. He had an absolutely horrific experience. As someone who has had a similar ghostly paralysis, minus the shaking Scott experienced, I can vouch that it is absolutely one of the most terrifying moments of my life.

Last night, Sephera and I stumbled through the house with a K2 meter.  In the light of day, not a good idea. We went to the spot where a servant was murdered and the K2 meter spiked to 4 about the same time a chill wind blew through us. I might have screamed. Sephera certainly did, then she cursed in Canadian. I walked by the entry to the stairs this morning and still felt a residual steely bite of fear.

But here… now… everything is okay. I awoke this morning with a feeling of joy and happiness. In the daytime, this is a splendid property. Old curved woods, wide rooms, tall ceilings all speak to a time long gone. Twenty foot wide windows grace the room in which I am now sitting.

Today we’re going to the Rubicon Estate. We might see Francis of Sophia Coppola. We’ll probably drink some amazing wine. I hear that the winery has a place specifically for writers. Looking forward to that. I already have the bones of a story about this weekend I want to begin getting on paper.

This day is turning out to be one of those awesome Northern California days. But I can't help but wonder if this isn't some kind of calm before a ghostly storm.

So if you don’t hear from me anymore, it means something bad happened.

Stay tuned.

Haunted Mansion 2

Crossposted from http://hauntedmansionwriters.blogspot.com/

K2 Meter

So we took a tour of the mansion with a K2 EMF Meter. Rain picked me to hold it. Not so bad. Earlier Von and I had a scary ass experience with a certain door and stairway...goosebumps are still flipping. Anyway, I got three bars in two places in the house, one which was on those stairs. Even without the  k2 I had some crazy crazy goosebumps.More later.

Haunted Mansion 1

Crossposted from http://hauntedmansionwriters.blogspot.com/

Haunted Mansion Reading - Writing Material

So I'm going into the Haunted Mansion this weekend. Actually it's the a well known Retreat in Mill Valley, CA. My number one Dark Tango Poet, Ms. Rain Graves invited a bunch of to participate in a writer's retreat. It's going to be something special.

But I want to make sure I'm in the right frame of mind when I get there. So I've decided not to bring any novels to read that take me outside the reality of the place. I'm anticipating so much sense of place that I don't want to miss anything. Still, I can't not bring something to read, so I've decided to bring a book of short stories, I think: Steven Millhauser's, The Knife Thrower. His ability to render the quotidian absurd will lend itself to the idea of brushing elbows with the dead and turn this absurdity quotidian.

I'm also not going to do any editing on my computer on works in progress. Whatever I write, I want to be stimulated by the feeling of the place and the companionship of my friends. Really looking forward to seeing what happens to us.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Glittering Darkly About Zombies

Are Zombies the New Vampires?

I'm kind of getting tired of this comparison. I think it's derived from those who worship at the feet of vampires, glittering darkly into the night. The question comes from those people who were laughed at in high school and wanted desperately to be a cool kid. A recent NY Times article used some slap-dashed geek logic that did little to promote the scholarship of zombies any farther than a re-visitation of The Breakfast Club.

Sure, Vampires are cool. Hollywood has taken Nosferatu and made him something you could hug. Girls (and guys) lust after vampires. From James Marsters (Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) to Robert Pattinson (Edward on Twilight) the actors can mostly be themselves. They might add a little toothy sparkle, but they aren't decomposing in your imagined arms like zombies.

So because Vampires are cool, as are werewolves, zombies are uncool? Are we back in high school? Is the popular media, such as the New York Times guilty of creating cool monster cliques as if we were all in the hallway between classes of the Popular Monster High School? Is the football team composed of werewolves and are the cheerleaders vampires? Does that mean that zombies are the special ed kids? Do our green-skinned creations ride the proverbial short bus?

One of these days the media will look past their GQ attitudes and see zombies for what they really are. You see, where vampire and werewolf media is about the monster, zombie fiction is about humanity's reaction to the monster. Sure, there are some fine exceptions like S. G. Brown's Breathers (zombie point of view) or Yvonne Navarro's Afterage (definitively about humanity's survival in an apocalyptic vampire world), but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.

Rarely do we write something from a zombie's point of view. My book Empire of Salt and others are written from the human perspective and are treatises on what people do in order to survive.

Vampire and Werewolf media is much less about the survival of the people, but rather the survival of the monster. Often, they create the need for viewers and readers to champion the monster over humanity, which is almost gleefully accomplished, especially in our post Buffy the Vampire Slayer Universe.

So you see, you high school wanna be cliquish reporters, it's not about cool, it's about humanity. Sometimes it's easier for us to have a monster as synecdoche for ourselves, living vicariously through them. I get that. But don't confuse vicarious living with a total capitulation of our humanity. You see, zombie media is our response to everything out of control in our lives. It's a commentary on our inability to escape the inescapable and argue against the inarguable. Just as the 1950s saw an explosion in monster movies, the late 2000s saw a similar explosion in zombie fiction and movies for much the same reason. Where we were terrified of an invisible threat called the Soviet Union back then, now we have invisible threats that reveal themselves as terrorists and viruses. We are afraid so we put other people in danger and let them escape or die so we don't have to.

Do me a favor, spend a little bit more time in your next article not trying to be a cool kid in the hallway. Instead, dig a little more deeply into the psyche of a populace who is suddenly embracing zombies. For the last time, it's not about what's cool, it's about how scared we are.

-Weston Ochse
Desert Grotto
Mexican Border

Friday, September 10, 2010

Review in Shroud Magazine - Empire of Salt

Shroud Publishing  reviewed my novel Empire of Salt. So far everyone likes it. Isn't it odd that a big guy like me can write a story with a 19 year old girl as the star?

In my first novel, Scarecrow Gods, I have a host of male characters, from a young teen boy, to an aged African-American, terribly disfigured Vietnam War vet, to a Roman Catholic Monk, to a homeless man who speaks only in palindromes and anagrams. Guys I can do. Guys are easy. Even my next three novels had strong male leads. So why did I decide to have a 19 year old girl as the hero?

Because I've always been surrounded by strong women and know what they are about. From my wife, to my mother, to all my girl friends, there's not a wilting lily among them. Firm and decisive, yet soft and beautiful, those are the types of women I am used to and the types of women I write. Not to mention that I have a 19 year old daughter, so getting into the mind of a teenager wasn't so hard.

Anyway, thanks to Shroud Magazine for the stellar review. We are one step closer to getting a second printing.

Mexican Border

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

CopperCon 30 Report - No Porn Stars Injured

Double-breasted potato boobs, hot pad warmers for my jimmies, and master of ceremonies at the masquerade ball could confuse my dear reader into believing I attended a porn industry convention, or even the soon to be mentioned FroliCon. Although there were some moments of delightful sexual innuendo, let me assuage your fears and say that no porn stars were injured during the course of this convention; at least not in my presence.

Stephen R. Donaldson and Weston Ochse
From CopperCon 30

CopperCon began for Yvonne and me with a harried morning of packing, taking the dogs to the kennel and generally getting things ready. I’d made a superb dinner the night before of homemade sweet potato risotto and veal loin chops. The only thing I burned was my left hand, sizzling the hell out of it until I had raised ridges from grabbing the handle of the frying pan that I’d used to finish the meat in the oven. After trying several things, I tried a cold tea bag, which miraculously by the next morning reduced the swelling and the heat until there as almost nothing there. Which was a godsend, because I was dead set against having a bandage on my hand the whole convention so I could explain to everyone how stupid I’d been. I prefer to unveil my stupidity on my own terms, thank you.

From CopperCon 30
After a 3.5 hour drive to Phoenix on a clogged interstate, we entered into Mesa. The first thing we learned was that the words ‘Retirement Resort’ was translated into English as ‘Trailer Park for 55+.’ The wide streets were virtually empty. There were hundreds of royal palms shooting a hundred feet into the air and at the base of each one huddled ten or twelve trailers, whose communities rested on the foundation of keeping kids and any reminder of youth as far from them as possible. We had a quick dinner at a local restaurant at five in the afternoon and were the youngest patrons by thirty years. Liver and onions was the first item on the menu. Was this to set the tone for the weekend? Was the fact that the hotel was surrounded by a church on one side, a golf course on the other and a mortuary on the other to be an indication of the events that were about to transpire?

Although the weekend had its share of glitches, the good far outnumbered the bad.

Thanks to mine and Steve Donaldson’s requests, the convention invited a local indie bookstore to the dealer’s room to ensure that the authors at the convention had books to sell. The Poisoned Pen did brisk business, but not with any of my books. The reason? A shipment of all my books and half of Steve Donaldson’s didn’t make it on time. When I found that out, I ran down to a local Hastings bought all my copies they had in stock, and brought them for the fans. Dave Summers sold them from his publishing table. All 12 copies sold.

Met some new fans like Chad, an NPR stringer recently relocated from Indonesia. This was his first convention and had he not come to my reading late Monday, it would have been a lonely hour. Lucky  (or unlucky) for him, he got Weston one on one.

Spent some great time with old friends like Kevin and Jeannie McAlanon, Adam Niswander, David Summers, Lord Craig of White Cliffs, Craig Porter, Cary Swaty, and Lee Whiteside.

Met some new author friends like Gini Koch, Dani &Eytan Kollin, and Michael D’Ambrosio.

Gini is the author of Touched by an Alien from Daw books. On my late night panel on Saturday, I was  assailed by her, the other female panelist and her three minions, as she called them. And where were FOW? Not a one in sight. You all ought to be a shamed of yourselves. But I handled myself like I was besieged by a battalion of commies, with only myself, knee deep in hand grenade pins, and a bottle opener to protect me. Which means I gave as good as I got. Being a little cold in the room, one of her minions tossed her a pair of recently crocheted hot pads to keep her  ‘girls’ warm. She did then set them on the table as everyone laughed. However, the laughter turned into a shocked silence as I grabbed the pads and held them up and said, ‘mind if I use them to keep my jimmies warm?’ The girl who was crocheting them, Chrissy, glared at me and said, ‘those are for my grandma.’ ‘Then make sure you tell her that these have been touched by a horror author, ‘ I said, then dipped them below the level of the table. The room erupted into laughter. She seemed about to cry, but then joined in, albeit a little leery of whether I’d warmed my jimmies or not. Needless to say Gini and I are now friends. Shout out to her daughter and Chrissy, who bought a copy of Empire of Salt which I signed, ‘Thanks for letting me give your grandma a little somethin’ somethin’.’

Dani and Eytan Kollin are friends of Cody Goodfellow. That should be enough to describe them, but if you know Cody, that could mean so so many things. Enjoyed meeting the Kollin brothers. Google them and check out their story. Suffice it to say that their first novel, The Unincorporated Man from Tor, is flat amazing. Superb read. They’re also quite the pair. One person called them The Sci Fi Smothers Brothers.  They’re definitely brothers by the way they interact. They invited me to participate in their neverendingpanel.com experience when I’m in L.A. in October. I think it will be a blast.

I also met Michael D’Ambrosio. He’s a small press author with big plans. He’s been to near every convention running in America and gave me the low-down-skinny on many of them, including one in my hometown called Con Nooga  that I want to attend, and one called FroliCon, which Yvonne will never let me attend. You can see for yourself.

A stunned Donaldson attempts to conjure what kind of food it is
 CopperCon 30
You know I just had to
From CopperCon 30
And of course I got to spend quality time with Steve Donaldson. I have to say, signing a copy of Empire of Salt to him with the inscription – You are the reason I almost failed out of seventh grade—was a highlight. We had a terrific dinner at a local German restaurant. Those round things that look like size 40 DDs are actually potato dumplings. And of course I had to put two of them together. I mean, come on, did you expect any less? Spent a lot of time with Steve just talking about stuff, not writing, just stuff. I enjoyed that. I also enjoyed seeing the look on his face as I compared his character Thomas Covenant to Michael Chikl's’ character on The Shield, which I don’t think anyone had done before.

Then there was the Masquerade Ball. They’d lured me into performing as the Master of Ceremonies. They said it would be easy. They said it would be fun. So it began with 12 minutes of contestants followed by 45 minutes of me standing out in front of the audience looking incredibly intelligent while the three judges ate pizza, washed their laundry, caught a movie, finished a Sudoku book, spell checked War and Peace, watched a Filipino jailhouse version of Doctor Zhivago backwards, and did a shadow puppet show of the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy using only six hands… and finally tallied the score. It almost got to the point where I was telling pirate jokes. God forbid.

So thanks mucho to all my friends and fans and the convention for a swell time.

My next big convention is Rincon in October, where Wil Wheaton and I will play Rockstar until one of us passes out from laughter.

Here's a link to more pictures from CopperCon 30.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Today through Monday I'll be up in Phoenix (Mesa) at a big regional convention called CopperCon. Stephen R. Donaldson, myself, Yvonne Navarro and David Summers are author Guests of Honor. When I'm not on panels, I intend to be outside at the edge of the giant heated pool. I think there may even be a cabana.  Anyway, you can see that I'll be pretty busy.

Fri 730p-8p, Breakfast Nook. FAN – Opening Ceremonies
Fri 8p-930p, Breakfast Nook. FAN – Meet the Pros
Sat 10a-1130a, Breakfast Nook. FAN – Kaffee Klatsche
Sat 1p-2p, Annex. LIT – Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse
Sat 430p-530p, Dealer’s Room FAN - Autograph
Sat 8p-10p, Court A&B&C COS - Masquerade (toastmaster)
Sun 10a-1130a, Court B FAN – Meet the Guests
Sun 1p-2p, Court B. LIT -Anti-Heroes in Literature (moderator)
Sun 4p-530p, Court A. LIT - Small Press
Sun 5p-6p, Court B. FAN - Disaster Strikes! What to do, What Not to do,What is Just Plain Stupid!
Sun 9p-10p, Court B. LIT - Writer's Groups
Mon 10a-11a, Board. LIT - What's "Real" Science Fiction
Mon 1230p-130p,Breakfast NookLIT - Reading

Stop on by if you can.