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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Deadwood Love Affair Still Burns

29 June 2002. The next day's headlines read 'Thousands Flee after Governor Orders Evacuation.'

That morning started just like any other, except I was about as nervous as a cat in a rocking chair factory. I dressed in a black tuxedo, marched through the liquid hot air to Mount Moriah Cemetery, and waited for the rest of the official ceremony to arrive. My family, including both of my kids dressed in their own formals, arrived and marched through the knee-high grass to meet me at the Deadwood overlook, near the graves of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane. Fifteen minutes later, my soon-to-be wife arrived, Yvonne Navarro, looking just amazing in the wedding dress she'd purchases on our trip to Catalina Island. I read a poem, we said our vows, we kissed and lightning struck five miles away.

We went back down the hill, changed into our reception clothes, cut the cake, made sure that folks were happy and were about to have our first dance, only to be interrupted by a plane flying low overhead, dropping water on the fire that had crested the mountain behind my parents' home. Next thing we knew, the governor was calling for everyone's evacuation.

We ran around grabbing things, counting people, saying hurried goodbyes.

We merged into the one way traffic out of town, carrying a total of 30,000 people out of the Black Hills and onto the Great Plains. It wasn't until night that we were able to stop for a bite to eat. Later, we stayed in the basement of a friend of our parent's house.

This was the story of my wedding. It was hot. Not just the temperature, but my feelings for my wife. And they run as hot today as they did that day. A fire still burns inside me.

One day we'll have that reception that we never had. One day we'll do it right.

But for now, we have each other.

Which is the best gift life has ever given me.

Weston Ochse
Tarantual Grotto
Sonoran Desert

Monday, June 27, 2011

Magnificent Monday - Seal Team 666, Shock Totem and Publishers Weekly

Not all Mondays are created equally.

This we know.

It's a truism and was probably carved in stone by the first caveman to invent beer, sunscreen and cable TV.

I've had my share of dreadful Mondays for sure. So it was with sheer joy that I experienced this Monday's announcements.

1. SEAL TEAM 666

This is terribly exciting. I've been working with Brendan and Peter at Thomas Dunne Books for weeks now on this, ever since they reached out to me, firming up the concept. This is going to explode when it hits the bookshelves. Everyone who like character-driven action and horror narratives will love this.

From Publishers Weekly

 Thomas Dunne Goes to the 'Seals'
Brendan Deneen and Peter Joseph, at Thomas Dunne Books, bought world rights (along with dramatic rights for Macmillan Films) to Weston Ochse's Seal Team 666. Deneen and Joseph came up with the concept in-house and attached Ochse, a retired Army officer who's won both a Pushcart Prize and a Bram Stoker Award, to write the novel. The book offers a supernatural twist on the story behind the squad that took out Osama bin Laden—the publication is planned to coincide with the one-year anniversary of bin Laden's killing next spring—and follows a Navy Seal trainee (who was demonically possessed as a child) recruited into a government unit confronting a wave of otherworldly attacks on the U.S. Robert Fleck at Professional Media Services represented Ochse in the deal.
(Note that the PW announcement mentions that I won the Pushcart Prize. I was nominated for it, but to my knowledge didn't win it.)

 2. Publishers Weekly Review of Multiplex Fandango
Ochse (Scarecrow Gods) builds a "multiplex" of 16 stories (six original to this volume) for his impressively diverse first collection. The creepy, Lovecraftian "Fugue on the Sea of Cortez" features a disillusioned American soldier searching for existential enlightenment in the waters near a Mexican fishing village. "The Crossing of Aldo Ray" fuses zombie fiction and social commentary. "Catfish Gods" tells the poignant tale of a 13-year-old Tennessee boy, his recently deceased grandfather, and an ill-fated fishing trip. The standout is unarguably the profoundly moving novella "Redemption Roadshow," in which a guilt-ridden Arizona highway patrol officer seeks a necromancer in hopes of finding redemption--and gets something else entirely. Horror fans will be drawn in by Ochse's cool, collected writing style and then blown away when he peels back reality's skin to uncover the supernatural terrors lurking just beneath the surface. (Aug.)

 3. Nancy Goats Goes Digital

For all of you who wanted a copy of Nancy Goats but couldn't afford the $25 price tag for the signed copy, Delirium has made a digital copy available for $4.99. Just a warning. This isn't your average horror tale. It's ultra-violent, but with the sensibility of a literary fiction story (or so a PHD recently told me).


4. Shock Totem Issue 4

Rarely do I submit to online Webzines. Not because there's anything wrong with it, but because I'm just too damn busy. But when I saw Shock Totem Issue 2, I thought to myself, "Hey! These guys and gals are doing it right." And I liked their style. A story using an MP3 Playlist as a framing device had been rattling around in my head for some time. It sat down and wrote what would become 'Playlist at the End' in an afternoon and submitted it to them. Thankfully, they accepted my story.It's a vile piece of metafiction, and to my knowledge, the only story that has incorporated an MP3 Playlist to the degree that I did. The songs drive the plot and lend it texture. Everything from Muskrat Love to War Pigs. You all are going to dig this one.

So that was my Monday. Pretty freaking awesome I think!

How was yours?

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Art of Evacuating from Fires

The Art of Evacuating from Fires.

I should be good at this. I've done it now four times.

My Parent's Home
The first was during my wedding reception to the incomparable Yvonne. We were married in Deadwood, S.D. beside the graves of Wild Bill and Calamity on a scorching hot dry day in June 2002. An hour later, after we'd changed and almost had a dance, fire sprung up in Grizzly Gulch, causing the evacuation of about 30,000 people, including everyone at my wedding. We never did have the reception. We left all the food and booze behind. I know. Tragic.

My second evacuation came a year later. It was October in 2003. Reggie Bannister, friend and acclaimed star of the Phantasm Movie franchise, had invited me to participate in a horror extravaganza he and Gigi (his wife) had planned. Myself, Brinke Stevens, Angus Scrimm, and several others traveled up past Twin Peaks to Crestline. The local bookstore had dozens of copies of Appalachian Galapagos. We were in for a great weekend. We had drinks and dinner that evening and woke up to a conflagration. The two fires, Grand Prix and Old, converged into one raging firestorm with a cloud as big as Kansas rising above the pine forest. We evacuated along a highway called The Rim of the World.  Fire actually licked at the wheels of my car as it sped between hungry flames and a thousand foot drop above San Bernardino. That was scary.

And now this.

The Monument Fire.

Compilation of great photos

Compilation of some stunning videos

We evacuated once after seeing the line of smoke and burning homes march our direction, then thought everything was okay and de-evacuated. That's a new word, by the way. De-evacuate: To naively return to your residence when you think the fire is no longer a danger.

Yeah. And we packed for a day and a half. Yvonne, using tetris algorithms, packed two carloads into each car and we sped away. Then we returned Saturday night, woke up Father's Day morning and unpacked the car. The mountain chain beside us known as the Huachucas was barely smoking. It just had to be over.

By 1:30 the mountain had exploded. We walked out of the grocery store with Father's Day dinner fixin's in hand and rushed home. Had we been ten minutes later, we would have had to leave the dogs for four days, including our blind one in the crate. She wouldn't have survived it. Ashes were falling on our home. 40 mile an hour winds pushed a yellow cloud over our home. Sheriff cars with loudspeakers begged us to leave or else burn. We decided to Re-evacuate. That's a new word too. Re-evacuate: To frantically flee after de-evacuating prematurely.

Monument Fire Father's Day Night

So what does one take when re-evacuating? Here's a short list.
  • Comic Book Collection
  • Tax Records
  • Eleven socks
  • Fourteen T-shirts
  • Two Pair jeans
  • Seven Pair underwear
  • Elvis Jacket
  • Elvis Blanket
  • Vitamins
  • Blowdryer
  • Bram Stoker Award
  • Blackhawk .357 Magnum single action long barrel
  • Computer
  • Miscellaneus box of books including my own and those I couldn't live without which included Joe Haldeman's War Stories and Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine (Latter personalized)
  • Sunglasses (Not my Elvis ones)
  • Can of tuna
  • Box of Bling (Jewelry)
  • Dop Kit
  • Netbook
  • Four bottles of wine
  • Two hats
  • Family Photo album
  • And that's about it...
So that's four times now. Four. FOUR! I've had to do it three times more than most people ever have to do it. For many of you, I just took your turn. I've now done it so that you don't have to. So if you ever think you have to evacuate, think about it for a moment. You might find that I've already done it for you. So kick back, relax and watch other people's stuff burn.

Special thanks to my parents for letting us take over their home and for allowing our dogs to sleep in comfort and coolness. And thanks to my father in law for protecting my comic book collection. As Brian Keene will attest, I have some seriously rare books.

And most of all, thanks to the firefighters for saving our home.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Introducing Blood Ocean

So while I've been busy gallivanting through Europe and California, people have actually been working. Here is the cover of my new novel from Abaddon Books. It's due to come out early next year. One of the Afterblight Chronicles, Blood Ocean introduces a gang of Hawaiians living aboard a floating city of ships. It's a book about courage. A big hug to the staff artist Luke Preece for doing such an awesome job and thanks to Jon Oliver for letting me write the book.

Here’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. 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)

I'm joining the ranks of Simon Spurrier, Rebecca Levine, Jasper Spark, Scott Andrews and Al Ewing. This is going to be great.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where Art Though Electronica? What shouldest thou get?

So I'm looking at all the new computers, iPads, MP3 players, Netbooks, Kindles, Nooks etc. There are just so many choices. How does one get to just one or two pieces of electronica? What is the single source solution?

Right now I have a netbook (Samsung NC10), a desktop, Dell Inspiron 500 series with two monitors and a cheapo MP3 Player. I also have a CD player in the office and one in the car.

I love the Netbook. Samsung was the company that broke the code on lightweight long-lasting batteries. My NC10, which is 2+ years old, has a 10 hour battery life. It also has instant on, meaning I can put it to sleep and within 30 seconds (which is instant for a windows system) I'm back to my program, which in most cases is msword. It's fast and has a great camera. The speakers suck, though, but that's why Edison invented ear buds.

My desktop is adequate. I use two monitors, which I love. No complaints there, but it is pretty big.

My MP3 player is about dead. It's tiny, holds about 2 gigs and is about as no-frills as a 1950s vibrator.

So in looking at new pieces of electronica, I realize that I want an iPod, an iPad, a Kindle, a Macbook Air, a netbook, and a replacement desktop, probably an all in one touchscreen monitor. With all that I might as well carry around a blender for my foofoo drinks and a microwave for my snacks. You can pick me out of a crowd because I'll be the guy with the wheelbarrow.

And I haven't even talked about the phone. I'm locked into Sprint right now because of the Everything Data Plan for two phones which runs about $125 a month. I like my HTC TouchPro 2 and can't afford and iPhone or the service contract for one.

So what should I get in the future?

iPad vs Netbook: Mac/Apple purists have a single choice. I'm not an anything purist. I do have to say that having to deal with the foibles of microsoft all of my life I've become attuned to troubleshooting and I know the MSWord program like it's my little demented brother. With the iPad I can't write novels using the screen keypad. I've tried. I could get a universal keyboard, then it would work, but the formatting for the programs in iPad aren't perfect for submitting to NY Publishers. Then again, iPads have the cool touch screens with the apps. It is certainly a better social media tool.

What if I throw a Kindle or a Nook into the Mix? Do I have to have an iPad too? What if all I want is an eBook reader? Of course I can download Kindle for PC too?

I think I may have found the perfect little computer... or at least the first generation of a computer that will solve these needs. I checked out the Asus EE PC91, which is a netbook with a Rotating touchscreen.

A quick check shows that there are an increasing number of these sorts of netbooks out there that will give me the social media functions from an app-rich environment touch screen, the ability to convert to a functional eReader, and the ability to triple as an actual computer with the sometimes clunky, but industry standard Windows-based MS word.

I'm going to keep my eye out for the best one. My Netbook has a few months left for sure.

So on to the MP3 vs iPod. I've been reluctant to make the switch because of the price, but I have to. I'm going to get an iPod pretty soon. I have a CD player in my office that I haven't used in ages. I also have a stack of CDs that are dusty enough to have been excavated by Indiana Jones. Plus, my MP3 player doesn't have enough power to be heard when I'm riding my motorcycle, so I need something with a little muscle.

So Netbook with rotating touchscreen and iPod.  Check.

But what about a desktop? I have to admit, I love the Macbook Air (which I'd use as a desktop). It would be pretty ridiculous to have a Windows notebook and a Mac desktop. As peaceful and congruous as the relationship between a Muslim man and his Jewish wife. Still, I like the Mac. I'm up in the air with this. One of the problems is that there'd be a steeplearning curve. I hear there are camps and intervention groups that will help you through the transition, but I know how to deal with my demented little brother. Why should I get a new better brother and try and learn how to socialize with him now too? My father has an HP Touchscreen All in One Monitor. I like that and how it uses such less space. Maybe something like that would be perfect. I'll keep my eye out for them.

So I'm not sure about the desktop yet. But allow me to score your brain and leave you with this stunning image of a Mac thief. I can only imagine what I'd look like if someone was able to hack into my camera.

Read the full story here -- http://thisguyhasmymacbook.tumblr.com/ -- it's freaking hilarious.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Life in Comics - Where I Leap Into the Fray

I've loved comics ever since I can remember. After about the age of five, I always had comics. I remember driving across country and stopping at a Stuckeys in Iowa and convincing my mother to buy bags of pre-packaged comics. My mom was always good about that. She didn't care if it was a comic, as long as I was reading. In fact, I went to the grocery store with her specifially to get her to buy me comics, Cracked and Mad Magazines. We needed apples, I got comics. We were out of bread, I got comics. I tried to get her to buy Heavy Metal once, but that didn't work out. Darn.

My bud Brian Keene and I have talked about this for years. We're both Silver Age Comic nuts. I love old Fantastic Four, The Defenders, and Avengers. I grok the Inhumans, Silver Surfer and Namor (this is when he was impetuous, arrogant and an anti-hero). I dug the hell out of Marvel Team Ups and What Ifs. Remember those? What if Doctor Doom was a member of the Fantastic Four? Stuff like that. They were big in 1978 when I spent the summer with my grandparents.

I went through the 1980s not buying or reading, for that matter, any comics. I'd joined the Army and was literally knee deep in dirt and alligator shit for a decade. I returned to comics during the big wave in the early 1990s. I was able to be a part of the Image evolution. Along with traditional super heroes, they had a comic called Pitt. Remember that? This one sort of changed my idea of comics, that they weren't only about heroes. That got me into Cerebus and The Sandman. I discovered Vertigo and started to really pay attention to all the different companies and what they had to offer.

Then I discovered The Preacher and the writings of Garth Ennis. Then Warren Ellis. And with Warren I discovered that art can be ART, and was inspired by Ben Templesmith (Fell).

During this time I was writing. Learning my craft. I've won awards for fiction and screenplays. I even had a short story printed in the back of about a dozen different IDW comic books. I have projects stacked on top of projects stacked on top of projects. I have three novels and a short novel due tomorrow. Yet comics are still my love. I think about them. I read and reread them. Lately I've been enjoying Brian Keene's The Last Zombie and Joe Hill's Locke & Key. Both books combine tremendous story with stimulating art.

Now I can't draw, but I can write a tremendous story. I'm damn good at that. So after the World Horror Convention this year I decided why not try my hand at comics. I need something more than a story in a comic book. I need to be able to create the entire comic book.  So I've done three things:

One. I've partnered with artist Russel Dickerson on a project called Killing Time. He hasn't worked on comics much either, but he's a terrific artist who is coming into his own. Killing Time will be a webcomic provided page by page. Probably a full-paneled page once per week once we get going. The story of Killing Time is based on the short story 'Tarzan Doesn't Live Here Anymore' from my new short story collection Multiplex Fandango. We're targeting that the first page will be available sometime in July.

Locke & Key Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft HCTwo. I created a 4 script arc for a new mini-series called BLIGHT. It's a slipstream, steampunk, horror comic. Imagine of Locke & Key meets Preacher, then this would be their love child. Like most of my work, Blight takes place along the Mexican Border. I'm very excited about this. Of course the only problem is that very few people in the comic world know me. There are a few joints I can submit this to cold, but the chances are slim. The chances get much better, as do the places where I can submit this increase in volume, if I have an artist-writer team. So, in that light, I'm now searching for a comic artist with experience who wants to partner with me on Blight.  If you know one, or if you are one, shoot me an email at westonochse@gmail.com with the subject "Blight Artist." I'm a hard and fast worker.

Three. I've pitched Dynamite Comics about one of their owned projects. I'd love to breathe new life into it and resurrect it. I've definite ideas. Now to get my foot in the door.

So there you have it. I didn't step, slide, shimmy or skip into the fray. I freaking leaped.

Now to see what I can do there.

Weston Ochse
Tarantula Grotto
Sonoran Desert

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Doctor Doom's Guide to the Universe and the Rules for Burial of Christian Insects

I was overseas during Memorial Day. Brian Keene hosted a special 20 minute video I produced called "Doctor Doom's Guide to the Universe and the Rules for Burial of Christian Insects." With music, cadence calling, and an essay presentation, this was my homage to the American Soldier. I'll share it here now.

Doctor Doom’s Guide to the Universe
May 29th, 2011

Special Memorial Day Guest Video Blog by Weston Ochse

“In honor of the men and women who have trained, fought, and given their lives for America, I’ve created a dramatic and profane narrative about my real and not so real experiences in U.S. Army basic training. This is the story of one young man’s indoctrination into the world’s largest street gang, as well as a love song to what it means to be a soldier. Thanks to my fellow warrior Brian Keene for premiering this video.”

It was Sherman Alexie who inspired this video. If anyone has contact with him, I'd sure like for him to see it.