If you haven't yet heard about it. The cover art was done by Vince Chong. Joe Lansdale provided an introduction for the book. So far it's gotten some fantastic reviews. Surely, this collection has my very best work, encompassing 15 years of writing. I've written 6 original tales for this collection. Of my 100+ published short stories, I selected ten. So Multiplex Fandango has 16 stories for hours of fearful reading.
I could share the blurbs that have been coming in, but I won't inundate you. The latest blurb came in just today, though, so let me share that. You all might not know Dani and Eytan Kollin, but they are the authors of The Unincorporated Man (Tor Books), which exploded onto the science fiction scene, winning the coveted Prometheus Award. I read it with awe, amazed that such an original idea and a well-written book could be written by first time authors. Since then they've gone to write quite a bit more. Here's what Dani had to say about Multiplex Fandango
"Weston Ochse is to horror what Bradbury is to science fiction -- an artist whose craft, stories and voice are so distinct and mesmerizing that you can't help but be enthralled. Multiplex Fandango is yet another in a long line of exclamation points that reminds us of that fact." -- Dani Kollin
That he compared me to Ray Bradbury is most humbling. I dedicated Multiplex Fandango to Messrs Bradbury and Lansdale. I think they are absolute masters of the craft. So to be compared with Mr. Bradbury is a lifelong dream.
So do me a favor and go over to Dark Regions Press, please. I the meantime, you can check out my uber-cool trailer. Feel free to shoot me a comment now and then too.
The Yuma Book Tour went awesomely. We survived the dust storms and the driving rain. We outlasted my GPSs decision not to work. And we met --again-- a slew of extraordinary people, not to mention the Nazi Gold Hunter.
Let me tell you about it.
|Liljana, Steve, Rudy, Landi and Lucas at B&N|
|They'd prefer to sit in the front seat with us|
But alas, this is about a book signing, not the dogs. Or is it?
|Like a barrel of monkeys|
|This is how it's supposed to look.|
Yuma is known as the sunniest city in America. It's on their brochures. They're proud about it. But when horror authors come into down, there is no sun. As you can see from the pictures, we hit not one but two dust storms. At least 40 mph winds. The dust was so thick we couldn't see 20 feet in front of us. A tumbleweed (yes my East Coast peeps who've only seen them in Roadrunner Cartoons) the size of a Fahrvergnügen-trumpeted VW Bug hit us broadside. He hit another and carried it on our grill for 50 miles. The sunniest city in America my ass.
|This is NOT how it's supposed to look.|
So we hit the store. After we navigated the city using Kentucky windage because my GPS decided AT THAT FREAKING MOMENT to stop working. Still, I'm pretty good at not getting lost so we found it. I'd like to say there were lines out the door, but there weren't. We got inside and found our set-up in the back of the store beside the sports books and in front of the bathroom. It was a good location because of the proximity to the bathroom. Most people used it. The problem is that they were so intent on reaching the bathroom, they didn't even see us. So we adjusted the location twice, ending up near the front door in the end. And the minute we did, we sold six books in five minutes.
|Beth taking the Zombie Test|
|Representin' Zombies Worldwide|
|Cafe Manager Holding a Zombie Heart Cupcake|
|Yvonne Can Find Great Danes in Bookstores|
When Yvonne came back they moved on. My the force be with them.
The guys at the Cafe were awesome. The Cafe Manager took it upon himself to create a special menu of drinks and cupcakes. They sold like Doritos at a post smoking festival. Everyone was ordering Zombie Blood, Graveyard Dirt, Ghostly Mist and The Cure. I had Graveyard Dirt with was an oreo cookie drink with a gummie worm on the bottom. Yum. Then they had the cupcake called Zombie Heart. It looked amazing!
Three hours and it was all over.
We truly had a blast.
The hotel room later with the three Danes was crowded but doable.
The authentic Indian food lamb dishes were actually beef (you can't fool a Welshman), but they were tasty.
|Good Looking Author Seeks Booklovers.|
Thanks to Barnes and Nobles. Thanks to Sarah and the crew at the store. You all were awesome. Most of all, thanks to the People of Yuma-- you Yumanites were great hosts to us.
Until next time.
|Steve eating a zombie heart|
|Danes in the hotel room|
|Note the zombie drink and food menu|
The rest of the pictures (there are about 70 of them) can be found at this location. CLICK TO SEE.
Yvonne and I will be at the Tucson Festival of Books this coming weekend. CLICK HERE to see our itinerary so you know where to find us.
In addition to me, you can find internationally know authors such as Alice Hoffman, J.A. Jance, Elmore Leonard, Philip Caputo, John Lescroart, T Jefferson Parker, and Simon Ortiz. They've all graciously accepted my invitation and will be joining me for this celebration of The Book as Art. They'll be signing, giving lectures and readings, and making themselves available to you.
If you want to find me specifically, I can be found a:
Beyond Belief in the Southwest
When: Saturday 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Where: Integrated Learning Center – Room 150
Authors Jeff Mariotte, Charles de Lint, Weston Ochse
Moderators Mark McLemore
Eagerly Awaiting the Zompocalypse
When: Saturday 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Where: Integrated Learning Center – Room 150
Authors Weston Ochse, Yvonne Navarro, Jeff Mariotte
Moderators Brian Gross
And I'll be signing with Yvonne Navarro at the Mysterious Galaxy Tent at 2:00 PM (Booth #249 - #251)
In addition to books, authors and publishers, I've arranged with the city of Tucson to provide food vendors of all types to highlight the myriad flavors available in the Southwest.
If you want to keep track of me while I'm at the Festival, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your location and we can get together to shoot the breeze and talk about how awesome my festival is. This email shoots straight to my phone.
Major Announcement - New Book Deal
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. 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)
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
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.
2010 Top Five Books
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.
Are Zombies the New Vampires?
I'm kind of getting tired of this comparison. I think it's derived from those who worship at the feet of vampires, glittering darkly into the night. The question comes from those people who were laughed at in high school and wanted desperately to be a cool kid. A recent NY Times article used some slap-dashed geek logic that did little to promote the scholarship of zombies any farther than a re-visitation of The Breakfast Club.
Sure, Vampires are cool. Hollywood has taken Nosferatu and made him something you could hug. Girls (and guys) lust after vampires. From James Marsters (Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) to Robert Pattinson (Edward on Twilight) the actors can mostly be themselves. They might add a little toothy sparkle, but they aren't decomposing in your imagined arms like zombies.
So because Vampires are cool, as are werewolves, zombies are uncool? Are we back in high school? Is the popular media, such as the New York Times guilty of creating cool monster cliques as if we were all in the hallway between classes of the Popular Monster High School? Is the football team composed of werewolves and are the cheerleaders vampires? Does that mean that zombies are the special ed kids? Do our green-skinned creations ride the proverbial short bus?
One of these days the media will look past their GQ attitudes and see zombies for what they really are. You see, where vampire and werewolf media is about the monster, zombie fiction is about humanity's reaction to the monster. Sure, there are some fine exceptions like S. G. Brown's Breathers (zombie point of view) or Yvonne Navarro's Afterage (definitively about humanity's survival in an apocalyptic vampire world), but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.
Rarely do we write something from a zombie's point of view. My book Empire of Salt and others are written from the human perspective and are treatises on what people do in order to survive.
Vampire and Werewolf media is much less about the survival of the people, but rather the survival of the monster. Often, they create the need for viewers and readers to champion the monster over humanity, which is almost gleefully accomplished, especially in our post Buffy the Vampire Slayer Universe.
So you see, you high school wanna be cliquish reporters, it's not about cool, it's about humanity. Sometimes it's easier for us to have a monster as synecdoche for ourselves, living vicariously through them. I get that. But don't confuse vicarious living with a total capitulation of our humanity. You see, zombie media is our response to everything out of control in our lives. It's a commentary on our inability to escape the inescapable and argue against the inarguable. Just as the 1950s saw an explosion in monster movies, the late 2000s saw a similar explosion in zombie fiction and movies for much the same reason. Where we were terrified of an invisible threat called the Soviet Union back then, now we have invisible threats that reveal themselves as terrorists and viruses. We are afraid so we put other people in danger and let them escape or die so we don't have to.
Do me a favor, spend a little bit more time in your next article not trying to be a cool kid in the hallway. Instead, dig a little more deeply into the psyche of a populace who is suddenly embracing zombies. For the last time, it's not about what's cool, it's about how scared we are.
|From CopperCon 30|
CopperCon began for Yvonne and me with a harried morning of packing, taking the dogs to the kennel and generally getting things ready. I’d made a superb dinner the night before of homemade sweet potato risotto and veal loin chops. The only thing I burned was my left hand, sizzling the hell out of it until I had raised ridges from grabbing the handle of the frying pan that I’d used to finish the meat in the oven. After trying several things, I tried a cold tea bag, which miraculously by the next morning reduced the swelling and the heat until there as almost nothing there. Which was a godsend, because I was dead set against having a bandage on my hand the whole convention so I could explain to everyone how stupid I’d been. I prefer to unveil my stupidity on my own terms, thank you.
|From CopperCon 30|
Although the weekend had its share of glitches, the good far outnumbered the bad.
Thanks to mine and Steve Donaldson’s requests, the convention invited a local indie bookstore to the dealer’s room to ensure that the authors at the convention had books to sell. The Poisoned Pen did brisk business, but not with any of my books. The reason? A shipment of all my books and half of Steve Donaldson’s didn’t make it on time. When I found that out, I ran down to a local Hastings bought all my copies they had in stock, and brought them for the fans. Dave Summers sold them from his publishing table. All 12 copies sold.
Met some new fans like Chad, an NPR stringer recently relocated from Indonesia. This was his first convention and had he not come to my reading late Monday, it would have been a lonely hour. Lucky (or unlucky) for him, he got Weston one on one.
Spent some great time with old friends like Kevin and Jeannie McAlanon, Adam Niswander, David Summers, Lord Craig of White Cliffs, Craig Porter, Cary Swaty, and Lee Whiteside.
Met some new author friends like Gini Koch, Dani &Eytan Kollin, and Michael D’Ambrosio.
Dani and Eytan Kollin are friends of Cody Goodfellow. That should be enough to describe them, but if you know Cody, that could mean so so many things. Enjoyed meeting the Kollin brothers. Google them and check out their story. Suffice it to say that their first novel, The Unincorporated Man from Tor, is flat amazing. Superb read. They’re also quite the pair. One person called them The Sci Fi Smothers Brothers. They’re definitely brothers by the way they interact. They invited me to participate in their neverendingpanel.com experience when I’m in L.A. in October. I think it will be a blast.
I also met Michael D’Ambrosio. He’s a small press author with big plans. He’s been to near every convention running in America and gave me the low-down-skinny on many of them, including one in my hometown called Con Nooga that I want to attend, and one called FroliCon, which Yvonne will never let me attend. You can see for yourself.
|From CopperCon 30|
So thanks mucho to all my friends and fans and the convention for a swell time.
My next big convention is Rincon in October, where Wil Wheaton and I will play Rockstar until one of us passes out from laughter.
Here's a link to more pictures from CopperCon 30.
- Current Music:Something in the Air
For those of you who don’t know, NECON is one of the best kept secrets of the horror genre. It stands for North East Horror Writer’s Convention and was started by Bob Booth thirty years ago. Most of the time it’s held at Roger Williams University and is more of a summer camp than a convention. By that I mean instead of focusing on the panels, the convention focuses on events that bring people together. Whether it be mini-golf, croquet, midnight darts, softball or just hanging out in the quad until sunrise, most of the NECONites, as we are known, stress the Camp-esque qualities of NECON over the Con-esque qualities.
When I think of NECON I think of sitting drinking scotch with Peter Straub. I think of shooting the shit with Jack Ketchum, who sometimes calls me Warren, even though I’ve known him for more than ten years. I think of the Cabal, Brian Keene and FUKU, who are usually in attendance. I think of the New York Contingent with my spiritual mentor Douglas Clegg, my horror enabler Matt Schwartz, Red Ranger Alexa DeMonterice, Ginjer Buchanan, Gina and Jane Osnovich, Nick Cato, Nick Kaufman, Tracy Carbone, Lisa Mannetti, Dave Simms, Monica O’Rourke and Linda Addison. I think of Holly Newstein and Rick Hautala, who I know would be even better friends if I could make them move away from the frigid north. West Coasters Hal Bodner and John Skipp were a treat. Shout out to Rich Dansky, Jack Haringa and Nate Kenyon.
So what’s new from NECON this year? The rumors about me wearing a dress may or may not be true, but if they are true, it was only as part of a costume to roast Elizabeth Massie and Cortney Skinner. Joe Hill popped in and we had some nice conversations about motorcycles. Heather Graham came in and almost stole the show. Rio Youers slipped past border patrol and managed to grace his way into everyone’s hearts with his guitar and “aw shucks” demeanor. The McIlveen girls are almost all of legal age now which is about as dangerous as the US vs Russia circa 1980. Any attempt to touch them would certainly cause Mutually Assured Destruction, emanating from Papa John and any number of Big Brother NECONites.
It was awesome seeing James A. Moore and Chris Golden. These guys are at the top of their game and shine brightly. Speaking of the top of the game, F. Paul Wilson and Tom Monteleone were also there. Steve Spruill was supposed to come, but he had a last minute engagement and was sorely missed.
Some new folks I haven’t mentioned yet that it was a pleasure to meet (and those I rarely see) include Sheldon Higdon, William Carl, John Dixon, Mike Arruda, Danny Evarts, Scott McCoy, Jason Harris, Mike Meyers, Norm Prentiss, Shelby Rhodes, L.L. Soares, Doug Winter,Gard Goldsmith, Kyle Steele, Nanci Klanta and Craig Wolf.
Images that will stick in my mind are: Mickey Sardina doing a belly dance in a Godzilla Costume (Hubba Wow); Anya Martin lip-sinking to “Tea for Two”; Dan Keohane, my favorite Hawaiian author, screeching Yeeehaaa over and over ( I thought he was going to pop out an eye); Kelly Laymon expending the energy drinks she drank four years ago by doing the 1980s Man Dance; James Roy Daley (killer new writer beating the bongos ); Matt Bechtel with his hand up his own ass (you had to be there); and of course Mattie Brahan faux tap dancing with a murderous Cthulhu doll.
I can’t forget to thank Sara Calia for picking me up and Dan Foley for dropping me off. Thanks to the Booths, one and all. And most of all thanks to my editor-in-chief from Abaddon Books, Jon Oliver, for sending 50 copies of Empire of Salt to the campers. They loved it and we left them wanting more.
I also can’t forget my amazing wife. Yvonne was inducted into the NECON Hall of Fame. It is quite the honor. While I might have been dressed as Elizabeth Massie, she also might have been dressed like Courtney Skinner. Is it me, or does she still look hot with a bald head and old man suspenders.
Thanks to everyone. If I left you out it was for no other reason than I ran out of steam. Each and every NECONite made my trip an excellent one. Now if only I can figure out how to get there without having to take ten different flights, with a dozen screaming babies on each one.
Where’s Dan Simmons and his Farcaster when you need it?
Information about what I've been doing, who I've been doing it with, and why all the fuss.
It's THERE....Not here, but there, unless you are in England, then it's here. Are we clear? Lol.Looks like EMPIRE OF SALT has been released in England twelve days before the release in the U.S. Those lucky Brits. Get yours and be the first!
Also, it's good to know that all is well in the world. I just sacrificed three of them a the Altar of All Elvis
I'm going to be at the Tucson Festival of Books this year. I was supposed to be there last year, but had to travel to Europe. I almost missed it this year too. I'll be there Saturday, but on Sunday I'll be scrunched into an airplane seat on my way to Romania. But here's my schedule on Saturday:
Vampires, Zombies and Monsters
Panel / Sat 2:30 PM - 03:30 PM
Koffler - Room 204
Here's more information about the Festival:
Every spring, the University of Arizona campus transforms into a platform for Arizona’s largest literary event, the Tucson Festival of Books. This annual function supports the advancement of literacy efforts in Southern Arizona through local sponsors, including the University of Arizona and UA BookStores. Their generous contributions directly benefit Pima County Public Libraries and local literacy programs such as the Reading Seed. Free and open to the public, this two day festival endorses the community celebration of reading and knowledge by featuring hundreds of authors, publishers, and exhibitors.
During its 2009 debut, Billy Collins, Diane Gabaldon, J.A. Jance, Elmore Leonard, and Luis Alberto Urrea were among the 450 authors who attended the Tucson Festival of Books. 800 volunteers assisted over 50,000 guests as they made their way through the 19 indoor and 5 outdoor venues. The 24 stages featured author conversations, panels, workshops, and entertainment for children as well as adults.
The Festival of Book returns March 13 and 14! Peruse the UA BookStores events via the navigation on the right, or visit http://tucsonfestivalofbooks.com/ for complete festival information.
The Tucson Festival of Books is sponsored by the Arizona Daily Star, one of the Southwest’s most honored newspapers, and the University of Arizona, the region’s leading public research university. It is planned and staged by an all-volunteer group of Tucson community, commercial, civic and educational leaders. Proceeds from the event benefit literacy efforts in Southern Arizona.
Event organizers have begun lining up authors, sponsors, vendors and volunteers for the sequel. Their goal is to top last year’s spectacular figures:
Wednesday, March 3, 2010blanky and pray to the great god Bacardi? Maybe you just sit back and ignore the whole process, as if it's way beyond you and nothing you can do could help serendipity either way.
I go through 15 stages of anticipation every time this happens. Here they are.
Stage 1. There's a moment when I feel an unholy elation as if in a matter of seconds I will be transported to the mountaintop where all the real good writers live and I'll be told the secrets to publishing. Later, we'll sit around smoking a blunt, drinking red wine from bota bags, listening to Donna Summer and telling stories about when I was but a struggling writer.
Stage 2. Reality hits me square between the eyes and I remember that the odds of getting hit by a car are better than being published.
Stage 3. I act nonplussed, too-cool-for-school, what-me-worry, who's-afraid-of-the-big-bad-wolf-bad-ass and stare down my nose at the world like I'm French and you're not.
Stage 4. I begin looking at traffic wondering if getting hit by a car will make me feel as if the universe knows I exist.
Stage 5. I tell someone, usually Yvonne, who acts authentically pleased, but my mind creates a maddening cartoon visage over he face that says something like, "You poor poor sap. You want to be famous. Take out the garbage. That will make you famous. Write a note to the trash collector. You'll be even more famouser, asshole."
Stage 6. I believe in god for 7.2 seconds.
Stage 7. I email my agent, realizing that only an hour has passed, delete the email, retype it to try and act as if I'm not desperate, delete it, retype it again, the close out the email program before I can actually press send. Then I sit back feeling pathetic.
Stage 8. I play in traffic for awhile.
Stage 9. I consider praying to the dark gods, getting a fetish, learning a new religion, trying yoga, painting henna tattoos on my body, and running naked in the moonlight. I don't actually do any of these things because I'm dreadfully afraid that I might, in a moment of weakness, stumble into the one religion that actually works and be trapped forever.
State 11. I slam my head into a sink filled with ice water.
Stage 12. Fuck it. I grab a glass of wine and begin praying to all my writing fetishes. I pray to my statue of Grifter. I spin my dangly stuffed pufferfish. I touch my Velvet Jesus. I turn on my animatronic Elvis and pretend he's talking to me. I wobble my hula girl. And I whisper dirty little sex secrets to Shardik Jones and his Harem of Barbies, wondering if when become rich and famous if he'll still be the same old stuffed bear lech that he always is and act them out on the floor of my office.
Stage 13. I wake up in a pool of vomit, an imprint of B-H-N-J-M-K on my face. Wine bottles litter the floor. Barbies are splayed everywhere. Shardik looks satisfied. I feel strange and I can't find my underwear.
Stage 14. I throw up.
Stage 15. Three hours have passed since my agent submitted my novel. I email him and ask him if he's received anything yet. He responds a little too quickly with the word "no." I feel pathetic, but act French so no one can tell.
Stage 16. I write a blog about Writer's Anticipation.
Stage 17. I pick up the Barbies before someone actually sees them, but I can't look them in the eye. Shardik grins wickedly the whole time. I wonder if he has pictures.
Stage 18 - 98. Repeat some variations of the previous seventeen stages over and over again, until I either get arrested, my wife begs me to stop, or my agent emails me with news so I can move on, or some combination thereof.
Stage 99. By now I've literally forgotten what I wrote so if it's accepted it comes as a surprise to me that I even wrote it, and if it gets rejected, who cares because I forgot about it anyway. I continue to act French. I still can't find my underwear. But all is good in Weston Land. There's a new book to write and verbs to conjugate. Barbies are all in bubble wrap until the next submission. Shardik sits on the shelf and every now and then I can hear him whisper, "Hubba Hubba." My keys begin to clackity clack as my writing gets back on track. "Hubba Hubba," I whisper back to Shardik. Welcome to the Jungle jumps out of my speakers. Fuck anticipation. If it happens it happens.
Check it out..
You have no idea how happy I am to be home this weekend. The original plan was for me to leave Phili at 9 AM on Friday. If I hadn’t changed it, much to the urging of my Aunt Marlene, I would be entombed in ice and snow, locked into some hotel near the airport, the bar would have run out of booze, the restaurant would have run out of food, and we would have fought over the contents of the snack machines, finally realizing the esoteric value of a chocolate crunchy nougat. So yesterday, when I rode my motorcycle to the Mexican Border in 65 degree weather, and stopped and had a beer at the Gay 90s Bar, which is less than fifty feet from Mexico, I was reveling in the feeling of having escaped.
But it was touch and go. I felt like Papillion in Devil’s Island. Thursday night I got on the telephone and called the travel agency. I got a feisty German lady who kept trying to book me on an outbound flight, anywhere west, regardless of the airlines. But as soon as she would click her magic travel agent buttons, something would happen and the seat she thought was available would be gone. She did everything but drop an F-bomb, preferring Godda**it and sh*t. Not your usual travel agent, but she was MY travel agent and she was working for ME, so I was far from offended. I just kept egging her on as she tried over and over, until finally, after an hour, she found a seat on an American Airlines jet leaving Phili about noon.
Of course, little did I know then, that American Airlines would have a trick up their sleeve to confound all of us fliers. You see, they chose that day, Friday, the day of the storm, to have a computer glitch so that none of their flights showed up on the departure board. Even in Dallas this was the case. But in Phili, where my flight mates and I stared at the relatively empty airport and the decimalized departure board…there were no incoming flights by then listed, although our plane was coming from Chicago supposedly, the lack of our flight being mentioned was cause for worry. Everyone else sort of milled around asking each other if they knew what was going on. There wasn’t a gate agent, so I searched and found the cadre of people I knew would know the answer—The Wheel Chair Mafia. I cornered one of them and asked if anyone on the incoming flight required a wheelchair. They searched, and found out that someone did, and let me know in a conspiratorial whisper that the flight was due to land at 1050AM and they had to have a wheelchair there by then.
The flight landed, deplaned, and then there was a rush for the gate. It was like the last flight leaving Saigon. The flight was oversold. There were 25 people on the standby list. The sky was sheet-metal gray. And everyone knew that if they didn’t get on this flight, they’d never get out. When I grabbed my seat in 7B, and the plane took off, it was with such a sigh of relief, you don’t even know. Those people who weren’t able to leave are still there. As the travel agent told me, if I didn’t leave when I did, she couldn’t guarantee me a seat out until Monday, Tuesday or even possibly Wednesday.
I thought I was lucky. But in the end, the luck wasn’t for me. By the time we landed in Dallas, I realized that the luck was for the couple seated behind me. Gladys and John were traveling to New Zealand for the vacation of a lifetime. They had tight connections and if they didn’t make them, the whole trip would be in jeopardy. Gladys was a sight to see. She was a smallish woman, dressed in traveling clothes. Her skin was very pale. She had a small smile. And her hair was growing back from the chemo. She was a lung cancer survivor and the trip was her reward for living. Had I talked to her in the airport, I wouldn’t have worried as much as I had. The way I figure it is that the fates had conspired to do her a little good, because god knows she’d been dealt an almost fatal hand until now. Making her miss the flight would have been a divine insult, a galactic piling on. That she made her flight was right and proper, and keeping with the karmic balancing of the universe. After all, even in the face of a possible storm of the century, the fates weren’t about to let her down once more.
So here I am. it’s Superbowl Sunday. We’re going to go motorcycle riding later on this morning, then have family over to watch the game. I’m making Italian pork sandwiches with provolone and greens. Deadly Velveeta cheese dip will clog our arteries. Much beer will be drunk. I’ll cheer on both teams, although I’d love to see the Saints win. Sometime during the night, I’m going to think about Gladys and John, though, and thank them, for letting me share in their new bounty of good luck, tailgating along on the first leg of their trip of a lifetime to New Zealand.
Whatever team wins, I’ve won already because I am with my family. Whatever team wins, Gladys and John won, not only because she survived her near fatal ordeal, but because they are right now in New Zealand, having the vacation of a lifetime. Whatever team wins, I hope those left behind get home soon, and those who live on the East Coast are snug and warm and don’t have to fight over vending machine scraps for dinner.
Take care everyone and be safe.
Weston Ochse: The Last Flight Out
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A little about Mr. Wade. He looks a lot like Mr. Ochse, but is much more handsome. He has more hair. He wears sport coats with padded elbows. He absolutely believes in the fundamentals of the New Criticism. He has a centerfold picture of Michael Chabon naked, signed down one leg with the notation, "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh are upon us!" He writes with his left hand. He eschews limericks, especially those about ladies from Nantucket or Venus. He agrees that some things by Cormac McCarthy are almost unreadable, but that doesn't take away from the sheer beauty of the writing. And he thinks that everyone who has tweeted more than 500 times in one month should be forced to read 2666 by Roberto Bolano as penance, and as a lesson in concentration.
All in all Mr. Wade sounds like an interesting guy, if a little tight assed. Do me a favor. If you see him on the stands or on the street. Give him a try. But if he comes on a little strong, feel free to take a naked Barbie and smack it across his head. And if he wants to know what for, just tell him that Mr. Ochse sent you.
Now for four questions:
1. So will you be seeing a lot of Mr. Wade? Not really. He keeps to himself, does the crossword and pretends to write literary fiction.
2. What happened to Mr. Ochse? He's working like a demon writing novel after novel after novel, along with the occasional short story. He's around. He's everywhere. Hell, he might as well be Underdog.
3. What does all this mean? Beats the shit out of me.
4. What should I do next? Go read Steig Larsson. He's damned amazing.
Warning...this is not a story that will make you want to run tra-la-la through the flowers singing songs about happy sunshine.
Summary: Through fields of dead flowers under a red-gray sky, the children dance, arms flapping like the wings of dying butterflies. Desperate to hearken in the city of Dali’s famed Butterfly Spring, they spin and jump as best they can, sometimes falling, sometimes staggering. No longer are they the children who rushed towards the survivors' downed plane. They are forever changed. They are undone.
At least come and check it out and see what it's all about.
More convention information can be found at - http://www.tusconscificon.com/
6:00 Convention Primer. De Priest, Ochse, Vela. St. Augustine.
7:00 Meet the Guests. Gold Ballroom.
8.00 Judging Pima County Library Short Story Contest
1:00 An hour with GoH Weston Ochse. St Augustine.
2:00 Mass Autograph Session. Silver Ballroom.
3:00 Judging the Cos-Play Costume Competition. Gazebo.
5:00 Psychological Horror vs. Viscera. Knowles, McMillan, Ochse, Navarro. St. Augustine.
6:00 Wine and Cheese party for participants
10:00 How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. Ochse, Edwards, Navarro, Bryant, Billick. Gold Ballroom
11:00 The Art of Novel Writing: How other people do it. McKiernan, Ochse, Stackpole. Gold
1:00 Non-traditional Publishing: from specialty press to the digital age. Ochse, Stackpole,
Summers, Wells, Cook. McArthur.
3:00 Creative Partners who live and/or work together. Hammer, Simner, Ochse, Navarro, Shetterly, Bull. St Augustine.
Tobacco Row in Tampa, Florida, used to have a used bookstore, of sorts. I think it was called The Last Chance Bookstore, and they weren’t kidding. All the books were a dollar, regardless of what edition, volume or shape they were in. Just to make sure you understand what kind of store this is, this store wasn’t run by booklovers. This store was run by tabacconeers. You see, this store was the last stop for books on their way to be converted and added as filler to cheap Tampa cigars.
We’d been planning the family trip there for months. I was eleven years old and had saved up all the money I’d managed to earn (and not spend) from mowing lawns, weeding gardens, and attempting in vain to kill the unkillable kudzu that was smothering my Eastern Tennessee home. I had $32 and wanted to buy a Panama Jack shirt and some souvenirs from the beach. Panama Jack shirts were a sign of coolness. Everyone wanted them, but very few of the kids actually had them. And me, I was gonna be the coolest kid in school when I returned and the envy of all my friends.
But when we arrived in Tampa and my parents took me into that bookstore my plans changed. It was akin to the Last Chance Horse Ranch overlooking a glue factory, billowing smokestacks on the horizon, sad-eyed beasts imploring me to save them. I’d be hard pressed to let the horses die if it was within my ability. Likewise, I was hard-pressed to let the books die. After all, I had the means to save them, some of them... thirty two of them, actually. So my hard-earned money didn’t make me the coolest kid in school, nor was I the envy of any of my friends. What I did would have been considered geeky, had I actually told anyone. But it was something that I had to do. The very idea that the books would be made into nasty cigars, to be lip-wrapped by old men playing dominos or young men pretending cool was beyond my eleven year old comprehension.
So I spent two hours picking books-- Weston’s Choice --cognizant that those I didn’t pick would be condemned to an ignoble, terrible death. Each one I passed over was a moment to mourn. Whose sweat, blood, and tears went into the making of this book that would soon be smoked? What of the author? What of the binder and the typesetter? What of the editors and the publishers? Were books so easily forgotten? Did anyone care? Why was I the only volunteer in this dusty old hospice of dying words?
I didn’t cry, but I felt like it. In the end, I chose 32 books and hurried from the store. I didn’t look back because I couldn’t bear to see those I’d left behind. Today I have one of those books left. I gave the rest away over my lifetime. The one left is a 1857 Three Musketeers. Its leather cover is cracked and worn. Pages are falling out. The gold lettering has worn away. But I still keep it. After all, it might be old, but it’s a living thing.
As are all books to me. Long before I became a writer I was a reader and a lover of books. Bookstores are shrines to creativity. Used bookstores are museums to inspiration and commentaries on the times within which the books were written. I think the most tragic character I’ve ever encountered in popular media was Harold Bemis. A giant of the Twilight Zone franchise, Mr. Bemis looked forward to the end of the world and a lifetime of being able to read books, right up until the moment his glasses broke. With no one around to repair them, he was relegated to a life of starring blurry-eyed at all the books of the world, unable to read them and as indecipherable as ancient Egyptian.
If possible, the only thing worse than being Harold Bemis is going to The Last Chance Bookstore and being forced to decide which books live or die.
For all the terrible things that happened in the Twilight Zone, at least the books never died.
From the back cover:
Two things happened on different sides of the galaxy the other day.
On the side nearest us, a mother discovers her child has autism and fights to understand and help the best little boy in the world. On the side farthest away from us, a Vampire Outlaw discovers that his best friend is imprisoned and only the Drug Nuns are capable of helping him, if only he’ll embrace the idea that disease worship is groovy.
This is more than a battle of survival, this is more than a fight to understand, this is a contest to determine who wields more galactic power: Our Lady of the Boogaloo or The Lord of the Lash.
You see I had a dream last night. Lately my wife and I have been experiencing a lot of REM sleep. Both of us are waking up tired, our heads filled with the sights and sounds and smells of our night travels. We've been attributing it to the change in seasons. It's finally getting to the point that we turned off the air conditioner and opened the door at night. The temperature's been dropping into the 50s.
I can't be sure when last night's dream started. I have never been one to keep a dream journal. Even if I had, the wispy vapors of the nether night were already dissipating by the time I stumbled bleary-eyed into the bathroom.
I know there were ghosts. There was also a mummy, because we ( forget who else but there was a we) were hesitant to touch it. But touching it was part of the dream. It was almost like a linear video game. In order to continue on, we all had to touch the mummy. I can remember feeling such stunning anticipation for the thing to move, it was as if I was cast in concrete. But finally I touched it, and moved on. The poor fool behind me wasn't so lucky. I didn't see what happened, but I heard his screams.
Then I went to a place where I had to get a car because I was being chased. I ended up with a beige 1978 Datson, don't ask me why. Sometime between when I got the car, and when I shot the duck (no more information on that one), I ran afoul (npi) of the Russian Mafia. Ghost's might be scary. Mummy's might be terrifying, but they are nothing compared to the evils of the Russian Mafia, or so I thought in my dreamland.
Well, I had this thing I was supposed to do, and it meant life or death. I couldn't do it a lone. I needed someone to watch my back. So I turned to none other than everyone's dreamland superhero, one-time Fresh Prince of Bel Air turned Six Degrees of Hamilton: Will Smith. When I entered his apartment, with my own key mind you, he was preoccupied doing something or other. I remember asking him to help, and he wasn't going to do it. You see, he was running after a chicken. Well, a rooster really. Not being a rooster afficianado, all I know is that it was barnyard red and ran like it's first name was going to be Fried. And it kept running as I kept trying to get Will Smith's attention. Finally, our man grabbed it with both hands and held it with the same fierce pride which Sylvester Stallone nee Rocky held his.
But that was it. Time was getting short. I needed his help. So I said the magic words-- "Drop that chicken!"
Will looked at me, sighed once, and dropped his chicken. Then he changed his clothes into Russian Mafia killing gear, which as it turns out is gray pants, black shirt, and boots. The last thing he did was cinch his belt around his forehead, the extra length flapping over his right ear.
"Come on, man," he said to me, "What are we waiting for?"
And then the alarm clock's buzz shattered the illusion.
What were we going to do? What's the meaning of the belt on his head? What's the meaning of the chicken (rooster)? Why am I having man dreams about Will Smith?
Perhaps all these questions and more will be answered when I go to sleep tonight. Hopefully I can start the dream where it left off. I'd hate to think it wouldn't happen, otherwise poor old Will Smith is wandering around my dreamland, looking for his chicken with a belt on his head. How will he explain that to his wife?
Such is the dream life of a writer.
PS, my wife wanted me to call this "The Night I Told Will Smith to Drop His Chicken," but I thought that would be making too much fun of the chicken. I love my wife, but strangely, I miss Will.
I wonder if I'll ever see him again... and his chicken.
I’ve always tried to be the hero. Since I first picked up a comic book or a novel, I was trying to be that guy who saved everyone—the dog, the damsel, the world. Growing up, I pretended to be Sgt Rock and Sgt Fury from comics. I was Thor and Captain America and Captain Marvel. I had power and needed to save those weaker than me. I read Hemingway and Tolkien and Brooks and learned other ways to be a hero, establishing that heroes didn’t need to be perfect. In fact, Hemingway taught me that heroes were rife with faults, which fit me perfectly.
So as I grew, so did my hero complex. By the time I was 25, I was in the Army, assigned to Special Operations, knee-deep in an Asian hell-hole acting as heroic as Sgt Rock did behind enemy lines in Issue 308, when trying to outrun his enemies. By the time I was 30, I was in an Iraqi hell-hole being the hero pretending to be Sgt Fury with a team of commandos. By my 35th birthday, I marked the 17th year of being a professional hero during 911, while America’s trust in the universe as a fair and honest broker disintegrated, like our two great towers in New York. That Marvel decided to kill Captain America after this is an amazing commentary on America’s reaction to this event, and cemented him in my psyche as a pure, unblemished hero, who would not go to all lengths to save those in his care.
At the age of 39, I retired a hero, well-used, a little broken, and more than a little lost. It was in those quiet moments when I was no longer being asked to travel the world when I reflected on the toll it had cost to live so much for others. I’d lost a marriage. Friends. Family. A dog. And like many of my fellow heroes, I’d missed irreplaceable moments with my son and daughter. Most of all, I’d lost myself.
So how was I to find what I’d lost when I didn’t even know where it went? When you misplace a set of keys, you’re usually told to check in the last place you remember putting them. But what do you do when you’ve lost who you were so long ago, that you don’t know who you were before you assumed the mantle of would-be hero? My only choice was to remake myself and it was through writing that I found myself most able to accomplish this.
Fans and reviewers note that many of my stories and novels have underlying themes of redemption and responsibility. I usually toss off an answer that is closer to the truth than I’d like, but not as close as it should be. Like in this venue, I don’t do any X-rated public soul searching, but rather provide PG-13 versions with enough narrative for most people to find relevant and understand.
The reason for those themes was in response to my need to be a hero.
To what end must someone be responsible?
Is there a limit to responsibility?
When someone fails to save someone are they guilty of something?
How can one redeem his- or herself when they fail to save?
My writing takes these questions and more and provides a canvas for me to work through them. Lucky for me the narratives have been entertaining enough to be read. Even luckier is that with each story, with each novel, with each narrative, nor matter how long, I get closer to finding that little boy I was so long ago before I drank the hero Kool-aid. And as far as I’m concerned, I’ll keep writing, if only to work on myself, to help myself—to save myself from myself.
And most of all, to find that little boy with aspirations to be something that wasn't exactly heroic.
My story is called The Crossing of Aldo Ray and is about a Mexican-American caught south of the Mexican American Border, who has to pretend he's a zombie to get across to America. I tried to channel Cormac McCarthy when I wrote it, using his flowing naturalistic style. Pretty proud of this one. Can't wait for people to read it.
The anthology is available at all the usual places. Here's the link at Amazon. The book will be available in November.
The Full List of Contributers taken from the TOC is:
Richard Matheson & Richard Christian Matheson, Yvonne Navarro, Michael Marshall Smith, Mark Samuels, Joe Hill, Weston Ochse, David J. Schow, Nancy Holder, H.P. Lovecraft, Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Morton, Brian Keene, Gary McMahon, Joe. R. Lansdale, Kelly Dunn, Clive Barker, Christopher Fowler, Robert E. Howard, Stephen Woodworth, Harlan Ellison®, Robert Shearman, Kim Newman, Scott Edelman and Stephen King
This is an old school chat. It’s not conducted in a room, but rather on a dedicated message board at Keenedom. It’s going to be a blast!
Go to http://www.briankeene.com/forum/index.ph
What is a Guerrilla Fiction Writer?
For some writers the traditional method of sitting down at the computer to await inspiration just doesn’t work. Some of us need particular inspiration or tools to help ourselves. Just as a guerrilla fighting against a corrupt government needs to develop new tactics and methods to achieve success, you as writers need new tactics and methods to succeed. It’s a war zone out there and without something new and something that works, your chance at success is hopelessly lost.
The Guerrilla Fiction Writing Workshop is an intensive online workshop designed to teach new, emerging and journeymen writers advanced fiction writing techniques. Through online instruction, reading assignments, homework, exercises and the completion of a short story, students will learn and engage new and unique techniques taught by an award-winning author and instructor.
More Information can be found here - http://www.westonochse.com/guerrilla.htm
There's a scene in the Showtime series Californication where the main character, an author of some success played by David Duchovny of X-Files fame, is in the mansion of a rock star, surrounded by sex, drugs, naked girls, booze, loud music and the usual x-rated trappings, while he's talking to a beautiful woman about the books he's written. There's a similar scene in the movie Almost Famous, a semi-autobiographical tale of director Cameron Crowe when he was a writer for Rolling Stone, where he's in a party with the fictional band "Stillwater" and treated like a rock star himself, both by the band and the groupies. I think that growing up in America, the idea of being a rock and roll star has always been one of those things of which we've all dreamed.
Well, I'll never be a rock star. I can't sing. I can't swivel my hips. And the only instrument I've ever played was the trombone, and there's nothing sexy about the whitened-lip circle left by the mouthpiece after a song. So, it's a good thing I'm a writer. And now, I'm getting an inkling of the feeling Cameron Crowe and David Duchovny's character felt when they associated with rock stars. You see, although it's going to be virtual, which my wife is probably happier about than I am, I'm going to be in a mosh-up with Dave Evans, former front man for the band AC/DC.
There won't be any actual groupies, naked barbies, drugs, sex, booze, or drunks falling from the rafters, unless those are things we have already in our homes. But we will be talking about my new novel, Blaze of Glory and all sorts of things like end of the world, supersoakers with salt water, prophetic nursery rhymes, used car salesmen with Johnny Blaze wishes, the art of wrapping the body with cellophane, and how this book was almost made into a movie staring Reggie Bannister, Ken Foree and Wesley Snipes.
It should be hella fun as Bloodletting wraps up their preorder phase. The event will be on 26 Aug at 5 PM EST. Please be there to call in or just listen from your computer.http://metalcrypt.wordpress
Note that this book is available only as a signed and limited edition hardcover, produced to the highest collector standards. To preorder this book or to ensure you get a copy through HorrorMall or you favorite online bookseller. But hurry. Ordering period is almost up. I’m told that HorrorMall allows layaway. Nice, even though I thought that was only reserved for dishwashers.
And as they said on Leave It To Beaver, "be there or be square."
"When the end of the world came it wasn't with a bang but a whimper. The maggots laid siege to the world destroying everything in their path; small ones that get inside a man and ruin him and big ones that can devour whole cities. Buckley Adamski and a small band of survivors are holed up waiting for the end to find them. The end does find Buckley when the maggots invade his body but before the maggots finish him he wants to lead the survivors to the sea and salvation. He wants to go out in a blaze of glory."
The book is available for a limited time in Signed Limited Hardback Editions from Bloodletting Books. It can be ordered at the link below
Hey all of you heathens out there. Wanna go swimming? Wanna see what's lurking at the bottom of the Salton Sea, the setting for my forthcoming Zombie novel, Empire of Salt? Here's a cover mock-up (probably not the final text) for the book which is due out in January in mass market paperback. Plan is to release it in the UK first and then North America next. Empire of Salt will be published by Abaddon Books
You can order the book here -http://www.horror-mall.com/BLAZE-OF-GLOR
Thanks everyone for the Birthday wishes. What I did on my Birthday? I wrote 6 pages in the novel Empire of Salt, 1 page in the story The Crossing, rode my motorcycle, swam in the pool, grilled steaks, watched The Wrestler and Gran Torino and drank a bottle of Dancing Bull Red Zin. Pretty f*cking glorious if you ask me.
Brian Cartwright worked with Micah Consylman to get the cover just right. Makes me think of the Mod Squad of Monsters. I can almost see Quintin Tarantino directing the film of a garbageman at the end of the world saving a rag-tag band of survivors from being monster meal.
We didn't win but I was very proud to be a part of Burning Effigy. Monica works extremely hard and flew all the way to Cali to be with me. No one is more professional than her. Here's what a Canadian reporter said about her....
Small press hoping for big recognition
by Mike Crisolago in Arts at 5:21 am on June 13, 2009 | 0 comments
Tags: books (5), poetry (7)
This weekend, Monica Kuebler will take her seat at an awards gala at the Burbank Marriott Hotel in California and wait to hear the presenter call one name. Not her name though, but that of Weston Ochse.
The 22nd Annual Bram Stoker Awards ceremony, presented by the Horror Writers Association, take place over three days from June 12 to June 14. Ochse’s book Redemption Roadshow, is nominated in the long-form fiction category. For Kuebler, whose Toronto-based Burning Effigy Press published the book, the nomination is validation that her vision is moving in the right direction. The rest of the article is here