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.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Conventions, Friends and er... Band Camp

Two things happened last weekend that opened my eyes a bit.

I spent last Saturday and Sunday with 100,000 of my closest fans and friends at the Tuscon Festival of Books. Most folks know me as a dark fantasy author, but with Velvet Dogma and Blood Ocean, I think I've taken some strides towards being a science fiction author. Add to that SEAL Team 666 which is a supernatural military thriller, well,  one could argue I'm a supernatural military thriller author too. I know, I know. Those are just labels. Bear with me. I guess I'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to labels. I think I've sort of pigeon-holed myself into treating myself as a horror author, when I'm so much more.

Simon Wood
The first thing is that I bumped into Simon Wood this weekend. We've been friends for ten years. He started out as a horror writer, but has since been writing mysteries. He has five novels out and is striding towards the big time. I'm so proud of him. I've missed seeing him at horror conventions. Even though he has a pseudo of Simon Janus who writes horror fiction, he spends time in the places he needs to... probably with all of his mystery authors.

So I counted on my fingers the conventions I've attended in the last five years that weren't horror or weren't multi-genre. After I got done counting I came up with ZERO.

The second thing that happened is sort of odd to me. I'm normally the center or near the center of attention. It's just who I am. I'm energetic, gregarious and love to talk. This usually pushes me centerward, but this weekend, on several occasions, I found myself on the outside looking in. It was almost like when I was in high school, sometimes, where everyone had grown up with each other and or went to church with each other so they had a deeper bond than just old me and more to talk about.

So here's what happened. I spent time with Sam Sykes (Fantasy author I've met on several occasions), Kevin Hearne (a new urban fantasy author who I just met), Maria Dahvana Headley (an historical fiction author I'd just met) and Cherie Priest (urban fantasy/steampunk/empress of chattanooga whom I've Facebooked a few times because of our Chattanooga connection).  All four seem to be terrific people, open, engaging, talented. They know each other, either in pairs, or all together, and had clearly spent time talking to each other on other occasions. Eager to say hi and take my place at the center of all things, I joined them in the authors green room at the Tucson Festival of Books. They welcomed me, they included me, but they talked about things and people and places I wasn't part of. Why is that? Because of that big fat zero up there.

I really need to get out more. I need to make friends with more people. I need to go to conventions where the predominant T-shirt color isn't black. I know. Most of you all already know this. You're rolling your eyes going, Jeesh that guy is slooow.

Yep. That's me. I admit it. I'm slooow.

And it's not that I want to be at the center of things. No. I just want to make more friends. These look to be terrific people and I want to be able to talk to them. There are other people out there I want to be able to talk too as well. And to do that, I'll need to get out there so we can share experiences.  My whole, "When I was at a horror convention" reads like "When I was at band camp."

When I get back from Afghanistan next year, I'll have a list of places I want to go. I pledge that at least half of them will be conventions I've never been to before.

I'm going to improve myself.

Hell, I deserve it.

And oh yeah, my next convention is going to be LepreCon - Arizona's annual science fiction and fantasy convention with an emphasis on art. You'll note that the word 'horror' doesn't exist anywhere in there.

Double oh yeah - I've been asked to do the convention interview for none other than Joe Haldeman, of whom I am in utter awe.

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