Weston Ochse is the author of twenty books, most recently SEAL Team 666 and its sequel Age of Blood, which the New York Post called 'required reading' and USA Today placed on their 'New and Notable Lists.' His first novel, Scarecrow Gods, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel and his short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in comic books, and magazines such as Cemetery Dance and Soldier of Fortune. He lives in the Arizona desert within rock throwing distance of Mexico. He is a military veteran with 29 years of military service and currently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. Please contact him through this site.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

And it goes out with a BANG!

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And it goes out with a BANG! 
or
How to Make a Bad Review Good!



I got another Publishers Weekly Review today.

This is my third review from them.

They loved Scarecrow Gods.

They loved Multiplex Fandango.

To say that they love Blood Ocean would be stretching the meaning of the word past any credible elasticity. In fact, I think they hated it. Why do I think they hated it? Using critical thinking and my knowledge of the English language, comments such as 'tolerable prose,' 'shallow world-building,' and 'repellent' have led me to believe that they indeed hate it.

But the clincher was the closing line. The result is a throwback to horror's unpleasant past, from which most readers have long since moved on.


Ahhh.

Feel the hate.

Embrace it

But what does it mean?

Before we can answer that, here's the entire review, lifted from their site.


Blood Ocean
A plague has left the City on the Waves, a ragtag community of decaying ships in the Pacific, isolated and desperate. Kavika Kamilani sets out to find the killers of young drug-runner Akamu. This quest will cost Kavika his closest friends and family, shatter his world, and cast a terrible light on the secret power structures in command of his tiny community. Stoker winner Ochse writes tolerable prose sabotaged by shallow world-building. The novel begins promisingly enough but soon descends into displays of cliché and violence. A plot predictable to anyone familiar with Norman Spinrad's Bug Jack Barron is married to antiquated social and sexual conventions; the fate of a transsexual character is particularly repellent, as is Ochse's decision to describe the Korean characters as cannibals. The result is a throwback to horror's unpleasant past, from which most readers have long since moved on. (Feb.)
How's this: "BLOOD OCEAN, a book so horrific and real that Publisher's Weekly found it repellent and unpleasant."

Or what about this:  "BLOOD OCEAN, a throwback to everything you love about horror."


Or maybe this:  "BLOOD OCEAN, a book so violent that Publishers Weekly became angry at the deaths of it's many characters."
Some say horror died in the 90’s, but this is patently untrue. Horror as a marketing category to be stamped on the spine of a book certainly died, but the stories and books and readers were still there. From 1991 to 1995, the most prominent mass market horror publishers were Zebra Books and the Dell Abyss line. Zebra was your traditional mass-market pulp house, cranking out novels with garish covers. Dell-Abyss was a little different. Started with the mission statement of getting away from the traditional horror of King, Koontz, and Straub, Dell Abyss was to publish more cutting-edge horror, and for a while, they did. Then the whole thing came crashing down, leaving folks like Brian Hodge and Kathe Koja homeless. Meanwhile, over at Zebra, authors weren’t getting paid on time. Zebra collapsed, too, which left authors like Rick Hautala and Ronald Kelly scrambling. (Credit Brian Keene)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Seven of Twenty Eleven

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Last year I did a Top 5. Everyone seems to be doing a Top 10. Looks like all I could come up with is a Top 7. It's been a busy year, what can I say. I mean, besides finishing two mass market novels this year, traveling abroad, evacuations from fires, moving homes, and all the other writing and conventions, I feel lucky to have a Top anything.

These aren't in any order. But they represent the best things I've read or seen this year.

The Talented Mr. Ripley. Not the movie, but the book. I have to admit I didn't watch the movie. For one, it had Matthew Modine, who sadly peaked in the movie Vision Quest. Even his role of Joker in Full Metal Jacket wasn't that great. That movie was saved by Vincent D'Onofrio and R. Lee Ermey, who essentially reprised his role from The Boys of Company C. (On a side note, the two best soundtracks from the 1980s are Top Gun and Vision Quest).

 Out of this digression about Matty Modine's filmography comes the admission that I never read the book either. Since it was published in 1954 that's saying something. But I was due to travel to the East Coast one day and had just finished Reamde and wanted to try it. So I stole it of Yvonne's TBR pile and discovered a delightful claustrophobic take of a young psychopath. At times a confidential, at others a travelogue, and at others a love story (often it was self love), I was entranced by Patricia Highsmith's writing and her story. This is my first Ripley book. It won't be my last 


Southern Gods. This first book by John Hornor Jacobs has been getting a lot of attention. And it should. Here's what I wrote on May 5th right after I finished it.

Occasionally you meet someone at a convention that you just hit it off with. I'm not only a new friend of John's, but a considerable fan. He gave me a copy of Southern Gods, which is due to come out from Night Shade in August. Let me say, I get handed lots of books. I try and read most of them. Some I comment on. Sometimes it feels like a chore, but I don't mind because I have an obligation to pay it back.  Reading Southern Gods was no chore. It was a dark and dreamy delight. The plot rises from the mire of established Southern Gothic and Cthluhu fiction and is enlivened by the sort of characters only Elmore Leonard and Shirley Jackson could write. The narrative creeps on alligator feet through the swamps of Post WWII American South, where slavery is still fresh in the memory and Rock and Roll is being born. A detective noir cthulhu southern gothic mystery, Southern Gods held me fast until the end, leaving me wanting more, but satisfied that I had witnessed enough brilliantly rendered brutality and compassion for one sitting.

It's a no shit brilliant book. Looking forward to sitting back and watching Mr. Jacob's star rise. The boys over at Night Shade Books really know their talent, that's for sure.



The Devil's Alphabet. Switchcreek Tennessee. It would be your ordinary redneck backwoods, something I know quite a bit about, except for the fact that Transcription Divergence Syndrome attacked the town and changed the inhabitants. Some were killed, some remained human, the rest were changed into Alphas, Betas and Charlies. This is not a horror book. This is not a science fiction novel. And this is not a literary fiction novel. Except it is... all of them, at the same time. This is my kind of work. Thoughtful, original, human, although this feels like a piece of a much larger work, I was very satisfied with this second novel by Daryl Gregory.


This Wicked World. I was doing a book signing at The Poisoned Pen and talking with the staff. They recommended this book to me. I grabbed it and could not have been happier. Next thing you know, I had it home and had opened it, only to discover that it was present tense. Let me say right now that I very rarely ever read a present tense book, but this sucker snatched me in and wouldn't let go. The tense provided an impetus that propelled me along at a brisk pace, so fast, that I couldn't get off the ride. The plot about self realization and redemption was perfect, a was the gritty, nipple-twisting majesty of the prose. Since then, I've been in contact with Richard. He's doing more work and has some things about to hit. I can't wait. Until then, please check this book out and his short fiction collection Dead Boys.



REAMDE.  Wow!  Just Wow!  Thank you Neal Stephenson. Just a damn excellent book. Reamde is not a genre book. It is not a literary fiction book. Yet it is all of those in one, much like The Devil's Alphabet. While there is no supernatural or science fiction elements in the book, popular culture, technology, politics, the fears of the world, and the underlying sensibilities of its peoples are the superstructure for a narrative that is filled with hope, regret, naivete, hatred, and the all-consuming, electronic force of capitalistic nature called the Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG) . Ef me to hell! This was just awesome.


Earlier comment on Goodreads while reading --"I can't stop reading this book. It's really that good. Reamde is what books are supposed to be. I wanted to play Xbox and work on my novel today, but I'm not doing any of that. Reamde has me so engrossed I want to see what happens next... like now!"



American Horror Story and Game of Thrones. These shows reinvigorated my belief that television can produce shows that are art. There's been so much said in the 'verse about these shows. Just know that I am a fellow fan and will stand side by side with the rest of you against the barbarians who will eventually try and shut them down for a reality television show about a trucker, a hooker and a bible thumper.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Introducting BLIGHT - The Comic Book

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This is where I announce I'm working on my own comic book with an artist. Our goal is to have the first issue complete by phoenix comicon. Still looking for a letterer/colorist, but we're just starting out. Without further ado, I'd like to introduct you to BLIGHT.

Here's my pitch:



BLIGHT


Format: Four-Issue Mini-Series

Snapshot of part of page 2
High Concept:  A slipstream, steampunk horror tale of a netherplace along the Mexican Border, combining the best elements of Locke & Key and Preacher.

PlotYou did't really think I was going to give this away, did you?

Hook:  Both non-superhero comics and horror comics are experiencing resurgence in popularity.  Steampunk is soaring to the top of the genre mountain. Blight combines these aspects, while paying close attention to what readers love. Adopting some of the profane philosophy and violence of Preacher, along with the mystery and soulful searching of Joe Hill’s Locke family, Blight is destined to explode as a perfect comic for fans of horror, dark fantasy, steampunk and slipstream comics. The four-issue arc is ideal for collecting into trade paperback. 

I've partnered with artist Nick Diaz. I met him at TusCon 38 Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Convention in Tucson. We talked, we showed each other our work, and decided to work together. Here's some of his art that convinced me he was right for this project.

Nick Diaz from Incorruptible 2
So here's how we're going to try and pull this off. We're going to create this page by page. We have a website where we are going to unveil this. In fact, once we get some pages in the bank, we'll begin posting them regularly so you can read the fabulous story of BLIGHT.




Please do us a favor. Bookmark this and return weekly. Share this page with someone. If you are into comics, share it with your other comic friends or on message boards. Nick and I are scraping along the side of a Mount Everest-sized piece of hope and need the occasional hand up. 

Enough of be gabbing. Go take a look at BLIGHT and meet Wysteria, the badass peglegged girl.






Monday, December 5, 2011

eBook Monday

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Wow. I just realized I have a lot of eBooks out there. My good friend Hal Bodner just got a reader and he asked me what I had out. I had to look them up and POW!

Scarecrow Gods
Butterfly Winter
Nancy Goats
Velvet Dogma
Empire of Salt
Scary Rednecks and Other Inbred Horrors
Appalachian Galapagos

Made me realize that although I have it marked as a link on my webpage, maybe everyone doesn't know that I've created a book store (I'm not selling the books, I'm just pointing you to the places you can buy them. Additionally, I've provided links to online book retailers out of pure convenience. I have a lot of favorite brick and mortar bookstores, but these have worked with me and regularly carry copies of my work. I encourage you to try them first. They do ship books as well. Mysterious Galaxy, Book Soup, and The Poisoned Pen.)

So what follows is a capture of my work in progress of my"book store." My intent is to have a quick set of links as well has having a dedicated page. I still have a ways to go.

So. Comments? Critiques? Secret recipes? Want me to sign your eBook? You know that I can do that, right? I am a  member of Kindlegraph, so if you want your eBooks signed and inscribed, then we can do that too.



NOVELS








Published by Abaddon Books

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Published by St. Martin's Press

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Published by Abaddon Books

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Published by Bloodletting Press

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Published by Delirium Books

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Published by Delirium Books

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Published by Delirium Books

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NOVELLAS







Published by Darktales Publications








Published by Delirium Books

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Published by

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Published by Burning Effigy

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Published by Bad Moon Books

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Published by Bad Moon Books

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COLLECTIONS






Published by Dark Regions Press

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Published by

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Published by

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Others












MASS MARKET ANTHOLOGIES






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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Toastmastering 101

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Toastmastering. That's a word, right?

I've toastmastered twice now. Both times as a stand in for the esteemed Ed Bryant. The first time was a few years ago. I got 24 hours notice and was asked to introduce John Ringo. As it turned out we had a lot in common. We both served in the Army. His hometown of East Ridge, Tennessee, bumped up against my hometown of Chattanooga. We like the color mauve and long walks on the beach too. It was pretty cool, although I was pretty nervous.

Then last month, 22 hours before opening ceremonies of TusCon 38, I was asked yet again the toastmaster. On this occasion it was to be for Patricia Briggs. She's pretty famous, although I hadn't read any of her work. And the convention committee wanted me to be funny and professional and spontaneous and entertaining, with me not knowing hardly anything about her.After all, they gave me 22 hours, right?

So I did what anyone would do. I created a musical bumper and read her a love poem. It went something exactly like this.




Play Bumper first ---







Then read poem as if you are a complete and adoring idiot.

Ode to Patricia—
Oh Patricia, Oh dear Patricia,
I think of you in the night. 
When it’s dark. 
And it’s night. 
In the black dark.
I dream about being a monster in one of your books.
They are hot. 
And have sex.
Oh Patricia. 
Oh dear Patricia. 
Make me a monster. 
In the Night. 
In the Dark.
In the black dark of your awesome nasty monster sex books.


It brought the house down. There was a lot more after this, but I'll demure to other folks. Needless to say it was a success. I was a lot less nervous this time. Everyone was gracious. I might have goofed a little, but hey. I'm still a beginner. Not at all as good as Ed Bryant or Jeff Strand.


Thanks to the TusCon Convention committee for having faith in me. You know I'll be there for you again if you need me.


From Left to Right: Marsheilla Rockwell, me, Gini Koch and Patricia Briggs


(Note that the music sample was from the Black Eyed Peas - Pump - and is sampled by Fair Use. If you like the song, I recommend going to your favorite music store and buying it.)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Quick Hits - Thanks, Comics, Scarecrows, Pali Boys, NPR

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Thanks to Mark McLemore from National Public Radio for returning my pen I left at the studio and sending me a disc of my Halloween reading. For those who didn't hear it, there's a link here. Not only do I read an original story, but I also perform a tongue-in-cheek man-on-the-street what if zombies were real. Loads of fun.

Going to have a big Blood Ocean announcement next week. Going to announce the special Pali Boys Club.

Scarecrow Gods is available in eBook for the first time.

Multiplex Fandango is selling out. Bad Moon Books has 3 of the 26 copies of the lettered edition for sale. As Mark West said on Facebook, these are as rare as rocking horse poo.

I posted pictures from TusCon 38 to my Picasa page today. Nice shots of Yvonne Navarro and her art, Patricia Briggs, Gini Koch, Marsheilla Rockwell, Jordan Summers, Dennis McKiernan and more. Here's the link.

I owe the universe a blog about the convention. I was a last minute replacement for Ed Bryant as toastmaster. Without giving too much away, I read a love poem to Patricia Briggs that brought down the house.

I'm also going to be announcing two comic book deals. One I'm working on myself called BLIGHT with artist Nick Diaz. The other I'm co-writing with William F. Nolan. More on that later too.

And last but not least, I'm finishing SEAL Team 666. Should be done by next week. Boy will my editor be happy.

Moving -- Gah!

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I've lived in 14 states and four countries.

I've lived in roughly 35 homes, apartments, barracks, etc.

I've lived in a one room house on the Great Plains. I've lived in a spacious apartment overlooking L.A. Harbor. I spent 13 months in a Quonset Hut 37 kilometers from North Korea. I spent 17 days the guest of the Laymon Family as I looked for other digs. I lived with 59 of my newest and closest friends in a resort located in Columbia, South Carolina, we affectionately call Basic Training at Fort Jackson. I lived in a trailer in Sioux Falls, an apartment in Youngstown, a townhouse in Colorado Springs, ghetto housing on Fort Bragg, a rental home in the crack part of town near Fort Huachuca, and the Ambassadorial Residence in Papua New Guinea.
Working on SEAL Team 666 in Dining Room

I've seen it all. I've lived it all. In fact, I've now moved enough that I know what I need.

I need enough space to live, but not too much space to clean.

I need a two-butt kitchen.

I need a yard big enough to enjoy but small enough that I only have to spend a few minutes upkeep.

I need a place to write. I've only had two offices before. When I first started writing up to 2004 I used dining room tables. In fact, I'm using one now. My first office was a nice space I had for only a few months before we moved. My last office was a long windowless space in the basement. It was a man cave. And it was awesome. For a while. What I missed was seeing other living beings and light. Now my office is in a loft space that is bright and spacious and has six windows.Once I unpack the boxes and get some shutters for the south-facing windows, I can actually use it.Until then, I have this table.

You know, I envy those who have never moved. Stability. Never having to pack and unpack boxes. There's something to be said for that. Of course, there's the other side too. They never experience the thrill of a new place. The joy of hanging a picture in a new perfect spot. The satisfaction of finishing a room.

My New Office
So I'm here now in my new house. I probably won't be in it forever, but I hope it's a long time before we move. Yvonne and I searched for this sort of layout for several years before we were satisfied. We're hard people to please, mainly because we feel that there's enough out there that we shouldn't have to settle.

Yeah. This is a rockin' house.

It's bad ass.

Most of all I'm just happy that we aren't moving anymore.