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, June 26, 2014

GRUNT LIFE Video Review

It's not often that one of my books gets a video review. It's pretty cool when it happens. Don't get me wrong, paper reviews are awesome, but as an author, I can't see the emotion on the face of the reviewer. You know how it is when you talk about books you like and you sit straighter, your eyes widen, you smile... all of those visual queues are the sort of thing you can only get face-to-face or in a video review.

And I got all of that in spades.

Mr. Erik Smith is a regular guy who likes to read and who likes to share his video reviews. His review of Grunt Life was so much fun to watch... at times, he wasn't sure what to say, didn't want to give away any spoilers, but still wanted to talk about how much he loved Grunt Life.

"I put off eating, going to sleep, and working
 so I could read this book."

"One of the best books I've read in a long time."
"420 pages but they flew by. I've read books half the size that took twice as long to read."

"All around great storytelling it's such a good book!"

"I haven't had the chance to read SEAL Team 666 but if it's half as good as Grunt Life then it'll be worth reading."

Thanks for the great review, Mr. Smith, and thanks for pronouncing my name correctly.

If you haven't read Grunt Life, please go to this link and order it from your favorite store. Tell them Erik Smith sent you.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Day at Desolation Lake

I didn't have anything to do to day and I didn't want to do it sitting in a hotel room, so I decided to take a hike. I googled the best day hikes around Salt Lake City and did some research. The words Desolation Lake kept showing up. How could an author of all things dark not take a hike to Desolation Lake. What the perfect name.

So I got up this morning and took a short twenty minute drive from my hotel in the city to the trail head in the Wasatch Mountains. I like that it's so close. After a winding trip through forests and into the mountains, I arrived at the trail head. There was a sign about glacier movements. Desolation Lake was derived from a glacier.

Then I began the trek. The websites said it was a moderate hike and about 8 miles or 12.5 kilometers. It started out uphill. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but it kept being uphill for kilometer after kilometer. Holy damn but my legs and calves were smoking. My average heartbeat was 120 and I was breathing heavy. I tried to take pictures and look around, but for much of the ascent, I was watching the trail in front of me. 

I achieved the summit and the lake in 100 minutes, about twenty minutes ahead of schedule. Must have been my old Army DNA kicking in. I put my head down and my feet in front of me and took the hill.

Desolation Lake was beautiful. It had a glacial blue quality to it, but it also had a green tinge and a rust brown tinge. Not sure if these were from the reflections or what was in the water. I tried to capture it in several pictures. The lake itself is fed from snow melt and has no other source. 

And of course, I took a drink of the water in Desolation Lake. I mean how could I not?

The trip down was much easier, although six kilometers downhill was tough on my joints. I passed several other hikers and dodged some bikers who were descending at insane speeds (but looked like fun). I saw a chipmunk, some long red weasel who was too fast for me to take a picture of, and a dark blue Stellars Jay.

I also met a man from Alabama who'd never seen mountains this big, so he decided to hike them. Turns out that the trail head has an elevation of 7260 feet and the lake lies at 9760 feet. My watch told me that it was an ascent of  602 meters and a total descent of 780 meters. Uphill was murderous so I told him, "It's all uphill from here." He laughed with good humor.

One of the websites said this - "The 1900 ft elevation gain from the trailhead to the lake is not one of the more strenuous grades in the Wasatch, but there are some stretches that are downright nasty. (My hiking buddy commented "This is one steep Mother--I think he was talking about Mother Nature). On the whole, the trail varies between very steep to nice, easy stretches of flatness."

I totally agree about the downright nasty stretches, but as far as the easy stretches of flatness? What trail are they talking about?

I encountered a Van Gogh palette of wildflowers, aspens rising like white sentinels all along the trail, and towering mountains in every direction. I also saw snow. In fact, I stood in some snow. In June!

And add to that I burned 880 calories on the ascent and 1259 total.

So here are some pictures I thought I'd share. Enjoy!

3 hours 20 Minutes

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Attack of the SLC Crazies

I almost got arrested tonight. Not because I started something, but because I wanted to finish something, and in the doing of that, a man might have died.

So it appears I am a crazy magnet. 

Crazy homeless see me and they think I'm a ride at an amusement park.


Salt Lake City is a Stepford paradise unless you look really close. The downtown area is one of the most beautiful downtowns you'll find but it has a lot of homeless. Not just any homeless mind you, but the crazy homeless.

Take the guy last night. He was tweeking in front of us, ranging back and forth across the wide sidewalk. We get to an intersection and the light is red. The man is shorter than me, older than me, but wears his hair long, and dresses like a teenager. He punches the button to summon the walk signal once twice. Then he curses. He turns around and stares me in the eyes. I'm four feet away from him. He's staring not into my face, but directly into my eyes. I meet his gaze and make the crazy connection. Then be begins to hammer the button over and over and over again, maybe fifty times. I break the gaze and slowly turn to see the cross street counting down and know it's almost over. Then the light 
changes. The crazy nods, then turns, then ranges into the sunset.

I was with two other people? Why'd he decide to stare at me? What is it about me that attracts crazies?

Fast forward to tonight. 

There's now four of us. 

We walk three blocks to a PF Changs to eat. The first crazy we encounter is a guy we see from far away. He turns to look at us. When he does, I shake my head gently. He sees me then turns away and shakes his head savagely. Then he begins talking almost like he's on bluetooth. But the only bluetooth he's attached to are to the voices in his head. He talks about needing women and beer in astronomical quantities as we pass. 

I'm on guard. I'm ready. Especially as he begins to follow us.

You see, I have three bosses with me. My boss, my bosses boss, and my bosses bosses boss, who's a general officer. I need to make sure nothing bad will happen. 

Lucky for us, we walk fast, he gets sidetracked, and we get away.

Then we reach Broadway. 

Another tweeker. 

I see him.

We all see him.

Where the hell are the cops? One of my companions has made the observation that in three days we haven't seen a single cop car. Seriously?

This guy sees me then sees my friends and locks his tractor beam of craziness on us.

He walks up and says "Mind if I bother you?"

I say "Yes. Please go away."

But undeterred, he paces us and says, "Did you know that during World War II 75% of Polish people crazytalk crazytalk crazytalk crazytalk crazytalk--"

My boss shouts, "He said to go away. Why don't you leave us the fuck alone?"

Crazy smiles. He walks closer to us. Then he pats me on the shoulder, only it wasn't a pat. It was a slap. It was a strike. It was a fucking crazy person hitting me. Me! Seriously?

I take three steps as I process it and then spin, fuming.

He's already backing away and shouts, "You Polish bitches!"

I grab my phone and dial 911 because I know I want to hit the crazy. I take a step towards him and he jumps back several feet. He calls me a "crazytalk crazytalk crazytalk crazytalk Polish Bitch," again. Turns out I didn't dial 911, I instead messed up my code to unlock my phone. I begin to dial it again, then look at him. For a second I'm back in Afghanistan and he's about to die. Then I hear one of my mates yell, "Come on, let's go."

I thought about calling 911, but then I think about what a pain in the ass it will be. Once I tell the cop he touched me, it's now an assault case. 


I let it go.

As I sat there in PF Changs, I fume for a bit.

I hate being touched.

What had been a great few days in SLC is ruined by the crazies. 

I tell my mates I was going back outside. 

They dissuade me.

I'm glad they do.

I'm a civilized guy. I'm not a crazy. I wasn't going to be sucked in.

Thankfully I didn't add to it. 

Thus is my life.

Crazy magnet.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Jim Moore's New Fantasy Series -- WOW

 For us Children of Tolkien, there's nothing like reading a new fantasy series. Sure, it was a hard standard to meet. Nigh impossible many have said, but we still urge people to try.
From Terry Brook's Shannara series to Joe Ambercrombie's blood, guts and steel fantasy books, I've read the great, the good, and the unremarkable. Some are getting their fantasy right fresh out of the gates like Sam Sykes or Pierce Brown (His book is a fantasy). Others come from different roots, like James A. Moore, whom I know and love as an author of terrific horror. And I think this is what makes Moore's work shine. I bought The Seven Forges because he was a friend. I read it because it was thinner than Sanderson's brick and I needed something easy to travel with. Then apocalypseI read it.

New races. Check.
New magic system. Check.
New creatures. Check.
Gods and deities. Check.
Old grudges. Check.
Mysterious apocalypse, Check.
Reluctant heroes. Check.
Swords and sorcery, Check.
Socio-political intrigue. Check.

Moore has all these, not only because great fantasy stories have to have all of these elements, but he also improves upon them. The race of the Sa'aba Taalor are the newest and freshest I've read in decades. Where many writers will have gods who are nebulous and unreachable, many of Moore's gods respond immediately. I think I like his creatures the best -- the Pra Moresh. Here Moore's horror roots allow him to really shine. His descriptive prose and keen eye for the horrific proves that he's a master architect of the gruesome and prognosticator of fear.

I raced through the first two books and can not wait for the third.

If you have yet to try these, then do so on my word. You'll thank me for it.

Angry Robot has a sure winner here.

Plus the covers are freaking awesome!!!

Go here for more information.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Limited Edition for Halfway House On Order Today!

Halfway House is coming in September, but the limited edition is available NOW. Follow this link to order. There will only be 100 copies of the limited edition so order before they are gone. 

This is my much anticipated haunted house novel set in the San Pedro suburb of Los Angeles. It's perhaps the best thing I've ever written.

The Halfway House…a place shrouded in mystery…standing shunned and ignored…yet
seeming to devour the souls of everyone who dies in San Pedro.

Bobby Dupree…an epileptic loner from a Memphis orphanage who is on a journey to find out if he truly is…the son of the King of Rock and Roll. When Bobby’s quest becomes entwined with an old surf bum and his estranged daughter, the 8th Street Angels, and a dicey porn director, he discovers that Los Angeles holds more opportunities and dangers than he could have imagined. Discovering he’s at ground zero to a seventy-year-old spiritual curse, all the chaotic events in Bobby’s life begin to circle back to the inscrutable force of the Halfway House

From Journalstone:

The limited edition hardcover is numbered 1 through 100, autographed by Weston Ochse, bound in leatherette and includes 60lb natural interior paper, stamped on the front cover and spine, with a Litho Label Gloss dust jacket.  Print length for the limited edition is approximately 400 pages. 

Limited Edition Bonus Material: Yet to determined but we will be adding some bonus material.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Man of Two Tribes (On the HWA and SFWA)

I've joined a new tribe. I haven't left my old one, mind you, but I now have a new tribe. I'm double tribed and people are laughing at me for being that way.

Paula Guran wrote a controversial essay for Locus about ten years ago called Tribal Stand. At the time I was a member of the Horror Writers Association and many of our tribal members took affront at much of what she said. After all, she was questioning our professionalism. She was questioning or talent. She was flinging words around that hurt.

Thanks in large part to the networking capacity of the Internet, the wannabes could, for the first time, easily find their peers. The Net also was an efficient way to set oneself up as a false writing idol. The mud-whiners were, to the wannabes, "real writers" to be looked up to and listened to. The wannabes and the mud-whiners found great strength in one another.

But I never had a problem with what she said, nor in the way she said it. I appreciated the introspective look, especially on the eve of the advent of new publishing technologies and new distribution methods.

One new catalyst the bad seeds of dark fiction used to sap the strength from horror: the onslaught, in the late 1990s, of new ways to "publish." The Web provided newbies — and nascent fan-writers rungs below even them in ability — a quick, cheap way to declare themselves. [Let it be noted that this writer benefited directly and to a far greater degree than most from becoming a "Web-writer." But that is another subject.] Then CD-ROM, print-on-demand, and other self-service options easily allowed the "publication," so to speak, of work that never had to pass muster before a real editor. Neither these new "writers," nor their "editors," had to meet any sort of Standard at all.
Out of this has emerged what we might call the "miniscule press." The primary fallacy — "anybody can be a writer" — has exacerbated into "anybody can be a publisher." Miniscule horror press consists in part of what we used to call self-publishing or vanity publishing. In part it promotes the Publishing Buddy System: A buddy of yours becomes your publisher; you become your buddy's publisher. No one ever has to deal with an editor's opinion, judgment or, for that matter, assistance. (Most don't even have to be slowed down by something as mundane as copy-editing.) No one has to work and re-work a story or novel and improve it to the point of acceptability. No one needs to learn the craft of writing. No one even needs to fill in plot holes the size of Lake Erie or to be told a story lacks logic or characterization or is an overdone cliché.

Paula was and is right. Although many of us sought a rubric to achieve higher standards, even more of us did not. We all had our own reasons, some selfish, some peurile, but these reasons were our own. We all have to look in the mirror in the morning and validate the things we call ourselves. For me, I needed to go the traditional route. I needed a New York publisher to tell me I was a writer. I needed international fans to tell me I was a writer. I needed college professors from England to email me and fawn over my work. I couldn't just be one because my friends said I was. What self-respecting tribe does that?

Native tribes from around the world force their young men (and sometimes women) to strike out
alone, survive something, suffer, achieve, then return before they could be called members of the tribe. Professional writing organizations have this as well. My first tribe, the Horror Writers Association (HWA), has a professionalism rubric. My new second tribe, the Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), has their own professionalism rubric.  A writer has to go out on his own, write something, and have it professionally published for X amount of money before they are considered a professional. Right?

Not exactly. I'm a full-time soldier. I'm a twenty-four hour warrior for the good and hammer to the bad. I don't take time off. I'm on call 24/7. I'm the same sort of professional as I am a warrior. Being a professional is not a one time demonstration of ability. It's a lifetime commitment. It's a desire to continue and improve your own writing, as well as those within your tribe.

From time to time there's an incestuousness within tribes that prolgates an idea that skewers professionalism. It's the idea that we have to stick together. Us against them. I've seen it in military units and I've seen it in writing. It's usually because the voices of those who can't or won't be professional are louder than those who are professional.

Paula said it well here when she said--

The princes and princesses of the miniscule press read each other — as well as many in the almost-small press and the smallest of the mass market — congratulate each other, publish each other, edit each other, blurb each other, review each other, recommend each other for awards, twirl around together in an unending incestuous dance of parochialism while giving the finger to anyone who dares mention something as passé as a standard of excellence. Professionalism? You'll find more of that in any Girl Scout during the annual cookie sale.
Yes, we're talking about awards. One of the best and worst things to ever happen to writing organizations. Up front, I was awarded the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel in 2005 and I've also been a finalist for a Bram Stoker five other times. But when award season comes around, people get nasty. They point out things like, why are all the organization officers winning awards? Is it because they are that good, or is it because they get free advertising because their names are always up front and center? Or, how come they always vote for the same five people? Sure they have the name recognition, but look at my book or that book over there or this book right here.

Awards are like unicycles. They are rare, nice to have, cool to talk about, fun to ride, but not something you can sit on while actually writing.

A professional points out to members of his tribe when they were screwing up. A professional mentors and uplifts other members of his or her tribe. A professional doesn't stir the pot and walk away. A professional tries to find solutions to problems. A professional doesn't quit.

When I announced I'd joined SFWA, I got a lot of snide and sarcastic remarks. I've heard these same remarks said about the HWA. Bottom line is that I am a professional and I want to belong to professional organizations. If they have problems, then I'd like to be part of the solutions. An organization is only as good as its members.

I chose a very strict definition of tribe for the purpose of this essay, so please allow me to ease out of my rigid stance for a moment. I previously said that SFWA and HWA are tribes. While this is true, science fiction writers are a tribe. Horror writers are a tribe. Fantasy writers are a tribe. And believe it or not, writers are a tribe. SFWA and HWA are merely two socio-political-economic constructs designed to promote professionalism and to provide support to writers.

So I'm really a man of many tribes.

A tribe is only as good as its members.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do in these organizations. So far, I've created and managed HWAs Linked In Account. I've managed websites for HWA. I've arranged events, created their continuing and hightly successful round table discussion forums. I've also mentored several young writers, one of whom has gone on  to receive his PHD and another who is currently short-listed for an International Thriller Writers Award for Short Fiction (Oh yeah, I'm a member of that tribe too.).

But there's more to do.

I'm as  busy as any professional writer. I have projects stacked up for eighteen months. But these are my tribes. I have to find the time. If I can mentor a writer and write a book while stationed in Afghanistan, then there's no excuse for me. I guess I can make it happen.

So ready or not, tribes, here I am.

Just one guy trying to be a professional writer in a dog-eat-dog world.

Weston Ochse is the author of twenty books, most recently two SEAL Team 666 books, which the New York Post called 'required reading' and USA Today placed on their 'New and Notable List of 2012.' His newest novel is Grunt Life and is already in its second printing. Visit him online at www.westonochse.com

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Three Incredible Books by Peter Straub, Russell Banks, and Pierce Brown

I rarely talk about other writers. It's like fight club. The first rule of fight club is you don't talk about fight club. Other writers. You don't talk about them. But if you do, it better be good. See, we're a pretty close community. Of the three authors I mentioned, I know Peter, I'm going to appear at an event next week with Pierce, but I don't know Russel Banks yet. Chances are I'll meet him eventually. So when I do talk about other authors it's always because I'm so damned thrilled to be able to share something special. And let me tell you, these guys are special.

Peter Straub is one of my top five literary idols. I absolutely cherish the fact that I've not only been able to meet him, but that I've also been able to share many private moments with him over the years. For a long time I felt The Throat was his best work. It's a dark mystery with characters so well-wrought, I had actual emotions about their fates. But I recently read a book that's been sitting in by TBR pile for about two years. Every do that? Ever grab a book of your To Be Read pile because it's next in line only to berate yourself for not reading it sooner because it was that good? Well, I did that for A Dark Matter.

It's the story of a group of young adults who fall ensnared by the cult of personality of Spenser Mallon, who takes all but one of the group into a field one night where something spectacular and terrible and magical happens. I love it that the main POV character is the one who didn't go. You feel his regret even though he denies it. That feeling of regret is the thru line for the novel. Everyone has it. Some regret having seen it. Some regret not having done something specific. (Sorry, have to be vague here). Everyone has some form of regret or another. 

We all know regret. It's one of those emotional responses for which there is no cure. Once a moment is gone, once a chance isn't taken, it's gone. Perhaps this resonated with me so well because I was reminded of my own regret when reading this. A Dark Matter is Peter's greatest work and I'm not only proud of him for writing it, but feel extremely lucky that for it to exist.

~ ~ ~
I first met a Russel Banks book in an airport in D.C. I had nothing to read and the cover of The Reserve caught me. I opened it up and the words grabbed me. I finished it that night. So when I was perusing Powell's Books in Portland five hours after I finished A Dark Matter and saw the cool cover of Rule of Bone, I snatched it. What can I say about The Rule of Bone? It's a bildungsroman- a coming of age story. Written from a 14 year old delinquent's point of view,  The Rule of Bone creates its own mythology, populated by mythological characters like I-Man and Froggy and Evening Star. It's a young man's search for his place in the universe, his father, and a reason to not snap and kill everyone in sight. I began reading it at the airport the next morning, and finished it late that evening. It's that good.

~ ~ ~

The following weekend I did a book signing at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego where I premiered by new novel, Grunt Life. I asked Patrick Heffernan, the store manager, which book I should read. He pointed to Red Rising so I bought it. I began to read it the next morning as I waited on the airport shuttle to return home and finished it that night. Pierce Brown hit it out of the park on the first try. Yes, it's his first novel. Rather than envious, I'm very proud to welcome him to our field. But I almost didn't grab it. The cover, for as bold as it is, I thought it was about angels and I didn't feel like reading another angel novel. And the blurb in the cover compared it to Enders Game and Catching Fire. Wow, that was gutsy. Seriously? But Patrick is a good sort so I took his work on it and by am I happy I did because it is like Catching Fire and Ender's Game. I don't want to spoil it. It's a science fiction book that takes place in a far distant future where Mars has already been colonized and terraformed. It's about class systems, revenge, and honor. It's a pretty miraculous book. Not only is the book a cousin to those others, but it broke new ground. Really looking forward to meeting Pierce next week.

Reading three amazing books in a row got my juices flowing. I finished a novella and wrote a story since then. Now to work on two outlines for novels, and to start my next one. I've been contracted to write two more Grunt Life novels. Fans are already clamoring for more.  And yes, that's a good thing. 

~ ~ ~
Weston Ochse is the author of twenty books, most recently two SEAL Team 666 books, which the New York Post called 'required reading' and USA Today placed on their 'New and Notable List of 2012.' His newest novel is Grunt Life and is already in its second printing. Visit him online at www.westonochse.com