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.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Major Announcement - New Book Deal

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT: Abaddon Books has hired Weston Ochse to write another shared-universe novel, this one for their Afterblight Chronicles novel series.  Weston’s novel, title to be determined, takes place on a floating city off the coast of California. Other authors who’ve written Afterblight Chronicles books include Simon Spurrier, Rebecca Levine, Jasper Spark, Scott Andrews and Al Ewing. Although Afterblight is a shared world, each book stands alone, much like Tomes of the Dead, the zombie imprint for Empire of Salt: Tomes of the Dead, Weston's last book.
The Afterblight Chronicles #1: The Culled 
Death Got No Mercy: The Afterblight ChroniclesHere’s an Afterblight Chronicles primer: The Afterblight Chronicles is a post-apocalyptic shared world series published by Abaddon Books. All the novels are mass market paperbacks and are released everywhere English language books are sold. Here’s a little about the World of Afterblight from the Abaddon Website” The world has been devastated by an epidemic. Although there are pockets of an attempted continuation of civilization, the truth is that the world has gone to hell in a handcart. The reason for this is a disease that has wiped out most of the world's population. It kills almost all those who are not of the blood group 'O neg'. Those people who survive are untouched. Everyone else dies. Infrastructures have collapsed. Mobs run rampant. The only kind of law that exists is that imposed by the people with the biggest guns. In this devastated and chaotic world who can bring hope and order? (From The Abaddon website)

Empire of Salt: Tomes of the Dead"Because of a genetic quirk, about twelve percent of native Americans are left alive. In Central and South America, this is slightly higher. To the East - Korea, Tibet, East Asia - the figure rises to around fifteen percent. In the remains of the USA, this could make them the dominant force. In other parts of the world, where survival rates are higher than the west, the balance of world power (when some kind of order eventually re-emerges) could change. Which, as will become clear, brings with it a whole new set of problems." From the Afterblight Chronicles Bible"


Luke Preece will be doing the cover art for the book. Here are two of Luke's covers --

House of Fear

End of the Line

          ~MORE NEWS LATER~

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cheating in the Virtual Classroom

Cheating in the Virtual Classroom
By Weston Ochse © 2011

I recently read an article called The Shadow Scholar. When originally published in November 2010 it was anonymously ascribed and detailed one man’s accounts of his contributions to America’s institutions of higher learning. Now given a pseudonym because of a book deal on the matter, Ed Dante admits to writing other people’s term papers for a living. 

In addition to 5,000 papers over the last few years—“I've written toward a master's degree in cognitive psychology, a Ph.D. in sociology, and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy. I've worked on bachelor's degrees in hospitality, business administration, and accounting. I've written for courses in history, cinema, labor relations, pharmacology, theology, sports management, maritime security, airline services, sustainability, municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, Eastern religion, postmodern architecture, anthropology, literature, and public administration. I've attended three dozen online universities. I've completed 12 graduate theses of 50 pages or more. All for someone else.”

The article was originally published in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Reading it, I find it difficult to raise my ire to an acceptable level. Sure it’s bad to cheat.  That there are so many illiterate graduates out there is egregious. But isn’t he a symptom of a problem, rather than the creator of one. Dante states that he wrote the article to stimulate conversation and perhaps a debate about the mechanisms by which we judge the success or failure of our curriculum.

So where is the failure? Does it lay in our inability to monitor students’ work in a virtual university environment? Are we applying a two-hundred year old rubric to a modern problem set? What about those English as a Second Language students who are capable of creating advanced quantum mechanical equations, but cannot form enough perfect English sentences to complete a cogent thesis: is the thesis then a measure of their knowledge or a measure of their English?

These are all good questions I don’t have an answer for. I do think that a person shouldn’t be penalized in this modern age for their inability to speak a local language, unless that language is critical to the performance of the degree.  Perhaps in this case a new university paradigm can be created wherein students can attend in their native language, be graded in their native language, and still receive the same degree. This should be especially the case for the sciences. How much invention are we stifling because of the unnecessary need to conjugate words in someone else’s language?

I finished an online Master of Fine Arts a few years ago. I attended National University. They probably have a rigorous method of detecting cheating, but the very nature of my creative writing degree precluded even an attempt on my part of cheating, so whatever they did, it was invisible to me. Still, in conducting research, I noted those times when I could have taken shortcuts, cheated, even made up things more erudite than I was able to find. But I didn’t. Then again, I didn’t have to.

But there are those who do find it necessary to cheat, and when they do, there are people like Mr. Dante out there to service their needs.  So I ask again, what should we think about this? How would you approach solving this problem?

I noted that the pseudonym Ed Dante comes from Alexander Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo character, Edmund Dante. The book is the tale of a man unjustly imprisoned, who eventually escapes, and brings down those involved in the imprisoning. Perhaps this is a bit overly dramatic. I for one would have used the pseudonym Bartelby the Scrivener. At least he copied things for a living. I suppose he just didn't render the appropriately heroic figure.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

American-German-Russian Surf Music!

I have love affair with music. Like most people, different music affects many different ways. Sometimes I'm happy to just go around listing to my MP3 Player, which includes artists like Eminem, Muse, Black-eyed Peas, Tokyo hotel, Life House, will.I.am, and Pink. It's all good. I've even been known to listen to a few Lady GaGa, but I won't admit that in public. I do like Nellie. I'm huge fan of Earth Wind and Fire. I can't figure out why Kanye West is popular. The White Stripes,
Queens of the Stone Age, Guns and Roses, Boy Hits Car and Papa Roach are all awesome Papa roach. I dig Rihanna. But it seems to me that I get these phases where I listen to all the songs over and over and over again incessantly. I get to the point where I'll listen and I really want to be able to just get in the groove, as if the music puts me in some type of beta wave state. Which is cool but sometimes I want more.

So I was on Beatpick the other day just check out the music and bumped into a group called The Jancee Pornick Casino (Pravda). I was actually looking for some surf rock music so how these two crazy Russian dudes exiled in Germany were able to come up on a search engine for surf rock was crazy. But before I figured it out, I began listening. The first song was called Pute au Crack which I won't translate, but it is a pretty awesome song. Essentially what The Jancee Pornick Casino (Pravda) is a rock and roll blender full of
surf rock, rockabilly, 60s garage band. They have been compared as Brian Stetzer meets Angus Young. The Jancee Pornik Casino has a certain profanity about them which I absolutely adore. So it isn't any surprise then, that I've been using them to write my latest story, which is titled 20th level chaotic Evil Rogue Seeks Whole Wide World to Conquer and is a profane soulless story about a guy who travels the world trying to take advantage of it.

The story goes:

American guitarplayer Jancee Warnick meets two crazy Russian dudes in his German exile. Together they form one of the strangest and most explosive rock’n roll-bands of our time.

Since 1999 the trio has been living in their tour-van ploughing through Europe on a jagged trail of rock’n roll hardship and blazing success.

Countless gigging in small dives and bigger concert halls (e.g. with DICK DALE, ROYAL CROWN REVUE, RESTLESS, THE KLINGONZ, LES WAMPAS) has gained the band a cultish following.

The PORNICK CASINO dishes up an irresistable (Molotov-) cocktail of SURF MUSIC, ROCKABILLY and 60’S GARAGE yet always being topped off with some vodka-drenched Russian spirit, adrenaline and self-irony.

Jancee’s jack-in-the-box Las-Vegas-on-speed persona tries to crossbreed BRIAN SETZER’s virtuosity with ANGUS YOUNG’s striking force all the while driven by a Sibirian hurricane of Vladimir’s bass balalayka and Stanislav’s drum craze.

If you haven't heard The Jancee Pornick Casino (Pravda), check this out. I think that if you're like me, that you will be very interested. I am absolutely curious to know what other people think. There are a lot of you out there who know a hell of a lot more about music than I do. In fact, I really don't pay as much attention to it as I should. Still, I really want to find out what you all think of this band.

So let me know.
Don't keep me waiting.
Which one is your favorite and why?

Weston Ochse
Tarantula Grotto
Mexican Border

Monday, January 17, 2011

Where's Weston- Schedule of Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events:
Jan 17 – 23           ITW Roundtable Blog: Outlining and Plotting.
Feb 5                    Sierra Vista Library: 2nd Annual Writers Workshop
Feb 7 – 13             ITW Roundtable Blog: Which authors inspire you?
Feb 15                 Guest Blog for Janice Gable Bashman: Writing Fear
Mar 12                  Tucson Festival of Books
                                1130: Beyond Belief in the Southwest
                                1600: Eagerly Awaiting the Zompocalypse
Apr 3-ish              Guest Lecture at Oradea, University in Romania

This list is continually updated. When updated, it will be re-posted.

International Thriller Writers Roundtable - Do You Plot?

Today I begin an International Thriller Writer sponsored roundtable discussion Do you plot, plan, or outline? Or, do you just go where your characters lead you? Why? 

The Roundtable is comprise of Matt Lynn, Weston Ochse (that's me), LJ Sellers, Allan Leverone, Pam Callow, Chris Beakey, Michael Haskins, Larry D. Thompson, Blaize Clement, Matt Forbeck, Reece Hirsch and Edgar Franzmann. All my partners in this crime have written terrific books.

As a member of International Thriller Writers (ITW), I was asked to participate in this and another discussion in a few weeks. I’ve been looking forward to this because we aren’t lamenting problems, but discussing craft. We’re going to be talking about process. For me, the writer's process has always been of incredible interest to see how others do the same thing I do. It never ceases to amaze me that two of us can write a book doing it completely differently.

In this week’s discussion, however, we are talking about plot. My guess is that all of us outline to some degree. What’s going to be of interest is the different degrees. My hope is to learn from these ITW friends and perhaps incorporate some small elements into my own writing.

We’ll see. If nothing more, we’re talking about my favorite thing, writing. And that counts for something.

So please come on over and read a little of what we are saying. Feel free to comment (I think anyone can comment). This is open to the public.

And don't forget to read The Big Thrill, ITW's online newsletter.

Weston Ochse
Desert Grotto
Mexican Border

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2010 Top Five Books

Everyone's doing a list of best books of the year. Why should I be any different. I read as much as the next guy, albiet, my reading habits aren't the same as many of you. If you were to break down my reading for pleasure, it would go something like this:

Literary Fiction 40%
Mystery/Thriller 20%
Fantasy 15%
Horror 15%
Science Fiction 10%

So why is it that I write dark science fiction and horror? Because it's what I like to write, I suppose. Actually, I like to write damn near everything. At a booksigning at the Poisoned Pen yesterday, Patrick Millikin, one of the managers, mentioned that it used to be that authors could write whatever they wanted. Readers recognized that if an author could write, then he could write just about anything, as long as he was well-read, educated and talented. But somewhere along the way we got pidgeon-holed by the markets. So sad.

Still, most of the time, I write what I want. And I always read what I want. So here are my top five books of 2010. I refuse to put them in any order. Each one could have been a number one pick at any given time.

Conscience by John Skipp. Skipp and I have known each other for awhile now, and I proudly call him my friend. I've read some of his work before, but nothing like this. Conscience is a business card he used when breaking back into the scene a few years back. It's a tremendous collection of work and I think represents the best of what Skipp can do, which is better than 99% of what the rest of us can do.

A Happy Marriage: A Novel by Rafael Yglesias. I first heard of this during an interview on NPR. I listen to this station whenever I am not listening to music. I love the special programs regarding arts and literature. Rarely does NPR steer me wrong, as you will see later in this list. A Happy Marriage is not for the faint of heart. But if you want to read about love, real love, the kind of love where a man has to care for his wife during her last days of cancer, then this is your book. It's at once inspiring and depressing. But where it could be easily bogged down, Rafael uses flashbacks and forwards. He begins with both the beginning and the end of relationship, then works inwards towards the heart. 

 The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One) by Joe Ambercrombie. I love good fantasy trilogies. I read several this last year. Brent Weeks Night Angel Trilogy was damn good. Joe Abercrombies was both damned good and gritty as a two dollar hooker in a crack den. I bought this book while in vacation in Warwick, England. I devoured it so quickly that I bought the other two at Heathrow on the way back. This is everything a fantasy novel and trilogy should be. It has absolutely all the elements, with the addition of being violent, unrelenting, and breathtaking in the author's determination to present a realistic setting, with all the blood, gore, and stench it has to have.

Biggest Elvis: A Novelby P.F. Kluge. I also heard about Kluge on NPR. I bought Gone Tomorrow and really enjoyed it. So when I went to the bookstore to see what else this author had written, I was pleased to find this title. Those of you who know me know that I have a little love affair with all things Elvis, evidenced by my tattoo, if nothing else. This novel is the tale of three Elvis impersonators living in the Philippines. Each impersonator represents Elvis at a different time in his career. With mafia, prostitutes, and the eternal theme of redemption, this novel had everything I wanted and left me wanting more. This is really a nice piece of work, even if you don't care at all about Elvis.

Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel by John Irving. It's hard to believe that in the years he has been writing that he's only produced a few novels. You'd think there'd be fifty. There should be. But the very fact that they're not, makes each one a gem. Last Night is no exception. This is another novel about redemption and acceptance. It carries the characters through their entire lives, letting you live along as they experience truth, majesty and tragedy.  This is Irving at the top of his game.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mike Calvillo - Get Well My Friend

So, I just heard that my dear friend Michael Louis Calvillo has Stage 4 CUP. This stands for Carcinoma of Unknown Primary. Oh. My. God.

There are too many emotions running through me right now. My hands are shaking so typing this is hard. But I want to send out amazing thoughts to Mike.  So here goes.

Mike, when you came to me and asked me about writing five years ago, I'm glad I spoke to you. I don't know what I said, but you always tell me what an inspiration it was. Personally, I think you were just being polite, because you are an inspiration in your own right. When you published your first book, I'm glad you sent it to me. I was amazed by it. When you had problems or questions about the industry, it was my pleasure to give advice. Whenever we saw each other there was a smile on your face. I have a dozen memories of you walking towards me, each time the smile owns you. You are one of the most upbeat and energetic people I've known. It's always been a great pleasure to see you and talk to you. You're a teacher and when I watch you in a crowd, I wished I had a teacher like you. I've had the pleasure of dining with you and your wife, of reading your work, of talking to you as both a mentor and a friend, and of watching you succeed. Mike, I love you and am sending all of my energy to you. Get better Mike. You are a good man, a great friend, and a tremendous writer. We need you. Hell, I need you.

Here's a link to a video of him reading right after me in Brighton at WHC 2010. Isn't he awesome?

You don't have to reply, but please, send out thoughts into the universe. Good ones. Healing ones.


Poisoned Pen Book Signing Tomorrow!!!

TOMORROW! Yvonne and I will be signing copies of our books for at the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona. The book signing will occur at 2 PM.

 Yvonne will be signing copies of her new novel Highborn. The bookstore will also have copies of many of her previous novels some of which are out of print.

Poisoned Pen Bookstore

4014 N Goldwater Blvd # 101
Scottsdale, AZ 85251-4344
(480) 947-2974
I will be signing copies of Empire of Salt. If you are one of the three people living in the Phoenix area who has not read this novel then now is your chance to get in on the graph copy signed by the one and only me.

Allyson James will also be signing her books.space I get to meet her, but look forward to it. She will be signing copies of her new book Firewalker.I thought maybe it was a novelization of the 1980s Chuck Norris and Louis Gossett Junior movie but as it turns out it's not. But that doesn't mean it's not any good. It's probably an awesome book. Even without Chuck Noris and Louis Gossett Junior.

So be there or be square. I know who you are. And if you are not there I will be incredibly disappointed.

Weston Ochse
Desert Grotto
Mexican Border

Stupid with Glory

I don't know what it is about Blaze of Glory, but it makes me do stupid things. Take the first promotional reading I did on the internet. I wrapped myself in Saran wrap, wore dish gloves and my motorcycle jacket, a cold weather hat and ski glasses. If you listen to me read, I'm reading so fast, because I can barely breath and and I'm about to pass out. What you can't see during the reading is my glasses fogging up. It was just ridiculous.

Stupid Author Tricks Take 2! I decided to  film me opening the package containing the tray case deluxe edition. I make about twenty errors in the video and almost destroy a $500 dollar slip case.  It's just ridiculous.

But... if you want to see this author in all his (ahem) glory, feel free to click on this video. I've also included the initial video. Don't drink while you're watching it or you will spit-take on your monitor.

A Weston Ochse Primer - Jan 2011

I figure I should do this occasionally. Not only are there publishers out there who have thought enough of me to publish my work, but there are fans out there who are trying to feed their kids by selling my books. The least I can do is occasionally point everyone in the right directions.

So where is Weston?

There's a very rare uncorrected proof of my Bram Stoker-winning first novel on eBay that will be gone in 2 hours.

Empire of Salt is still selling like crazy overseas and online. It's a hard title to find in U.S. stores because it was sold out initially. Abaddon sent some of the British copies across the pond, however,so they are making their way into stores. If you can't wait, I recommend buying it online at Mysterious Galaxy, The Poisoned Pen, Book Soup, or Amazon or Barnes and Nobles.

Blaze of Glory which is still available in Limited Edition is now available in Deluxe Lettered Edition. There's only a few of these left so if you want one of the lettereds you need to act now. Thanks to Bloodletting Press for producing an amazing book. And yes, that color is 'Supersoaker green.'

One of only 26 signed, leather bound and traycased hardcover editions.
  • Custom endpapers
  • Black topstain to pages
  • Satin ribbon sewn in bookmark
  • Bound in calf skin leather
  • Custom traycase with satin ribbon to lift book
  • Different signature sheet from the limited

Blaze of Glory is precious to me. It started out as a novella, that then became a screenplay that was almost made into a movie by Wesley Snipes, then became this novel. An essay telling the sordid tale is included.

Digital Books. Also are several of my books which have been placed on Kindle. They are Empire of Salt (Zombies), Scary Rednecks and Other Inbred Horrors (short stories), Butterfly Winter (novella), On Writing Horror (Writer's Digest How To Guide), and The Dead That Walk (features The Crossing of Aldo Ray). They can be found at this link. Scary Rednecks and Butterfly Winter are also Nook Books and are in all other formats on Smashwords.

Let's not forget Lord of the Lash, an intergalactic pulp opera from Bad Moon Books. There's only a few of these left and at $12.00 it's one of the cheapest of my limited edition books available.

Audio Books. Last but not least are my audio books and stories. The crowd favorite is Catfish Gods, but there are many of my stories available. They can be found at Amazon or at Audible.

There are probably more books out there, but that's all I can think of at the moment.

Feel free to email me or respond with any thing you want to say. Talking to readers, both old and new, is the fun part of writing.

Let me leave you with this, written by a bookseller at The Poisoned Pen in Phoenix about Empire of Salt. When you can scare someone who reads books for a living, then you've done something. "Weston Ochse has produced a novel that truly scared the hell out of me.  Ochse novel is set in Salton Sea, CA- truly one of the creepiest places on earth.  Zombies have begun to emerge from the depths of the lake itself (a result of a failed government project).  Only a few town residents will survive the night.  I guarantee a few sleepless nights for you, the reader."  

All the Best

Weston Ochse
Desert Grotto
Mexican Border

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Day - 2011

The last few days of 2010 were filled with Family. Not much writing, but getting back with family is important. My daughter came home from college and my son came down from Nevada. First time he'd been home in four years. It was nice to have them back, if not a little hectic. Family sure is something special and I have a certain amount of pride for both of my children.

Christmas came and went. I got plenty of goodies, not the least of which is this awesome Christmas ornament that plays Viva Las Vegas. For Yvonne I got a 27 inch HD flat screen monitor from BenQ. Her office is now a NASA backup location.

On the writing front, Locus Magazine reported that I signed a contract for Dark Regions Press to publish my first ever solo fiction collection. It's titled Multiplex Fandango. Cover art by Vincent Chong. Introduction by Joe Lansdale.

Locus also reported that Yvonne Navarro and I signed another contract with Dark Regions for a YA novel called Ghost Heart. Vincent Chong will also do the cover for this one. It takes place in the Black Hills of South Dakota during the Sturgis Biker Rally. It's pretty awesome.

I also have a story in the next Cemetery Dance Magazine.

On the personal side. I've been doing a lot of reading. I read A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias. It was damned awesome. I know why it won the L.A. Times Book Award now.  You might know him from his screenplays, From Hell, Dark Water, Fearless, etc.

I also read Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. It was a modern Peyton Place. I thought it was too long, but enjoyed it nonetheless. Franzen has a skill in making me want to read about people I don't like.

Reading now The King's Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniells. Major epic fantasy from my publisher in England. Truly enjoying it. Highly recommend.

On the Movie front, I watched The American with George Clooney.  Oh My God. It was so awful. I mean, it wasn't even good. It was the slowest thing I've ever seen. My local video store had 50 copies (which were all checked out) and I told my son when we saw that there are now 50 pissed off people in town.

That's it so far.

I got up this morning and finished the proposal excerpt for a major novel that an editor at a major publisher asked me to do. Nothing firm yet. He can still turn it down. But it has awesome potential. I still need to do the chapter summary, but that will come easier now I'm 4 chapters into the novel.

Wish me luck.