MIKE BOCKOVEN

A Month Out

Jun
04

We are a little more than a month out from my second novel hitting the shelves.

That phrase makes me sincerely happy but it also means the next little bit is going to be crazy in the best of ways. I’ve got a few signings and such brewing and I’ll be writing about those when they come up but until then I wanted to share a couple things about “Pack,” which I’m hoping you’ll dig.

-First and foremost, if you haven’t heard about “Pack,” here’s the jacket copy:

Cherry, Nebraska, population 312, is just off the highway between the sticks and the boonies. It’s where Dave Rhodes and his friends have lived all their lives. They own businesses, raise families, pay taxes, deal with odd neighbors, and, once or twice a month—just like their fathers before them—transform into wolves.

It’s not a bad life, but when one of the group members goes astray, it sets in motion a series of events that will threaten to destroy the delicate balance that has kept Dave and his clan off the radar. Between a son getting ready for his first transformation—called The Scratch—a wife with sordid secrets, a new sheriff who knows nothing of the creatures in his midst, and a mysterious man in a bow tie with a shady agenda, the middle of nowhere is about to get very dangerous.

The book is definitely a departure and while I love FantasticLand I’m not hiding behind a gimmick in this one. It’s sincere and bloody and hopefully invokes Fargo by way of early John Carpenter by way of a violent animal attack.

The book is available for preorder on Amazon. If you haven’t preordered it yet and are planning to, please do that soon. Amazon and other book sellers weigh preorders quite a bit and the more preorders the more bookstores order. It’s super appreciated.

-When you read the book (you’re awesome!) please leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon. Again, exposure is so important for a book like this and if you leave a review both sites increase the possibility of others seeing it. Even if you weren’t thrilled with it, a three star review is better than none at all. Again, super appreciated.

-The audio book is coming out on Tuesday, July 3rd, just like the print edition. You can head to audible.com if you’re an audiobook person. FantasticLand received a ton of audiobook interest which made me happy and it’s an increasingly viable avenue. You can’t preorder that now but I’ll have more about that later.

-If you’re not an online type person it will be available at Barnes and Noble stores across the country. If you see it in a store and want to shoot me a photo, I’d love that to death. Post it on my page at facebook.com/Bockovenbooks or email it to me at mike_bockoven at yahoo.com (sorry, my blog’s software is being a butt and not letting me post the email. You can figure it out).

-Finally, if you’re interested in a signed copy, head to my Facebook page or shoot me an email and I’ll get you the relevant info.

I appreciate everyone’s support more than I can say and I will give more updates as we get closer.

We’’re a month away, friends. Thank you for making it possible.

 

-Mike

Riding It Out Then Kicking It’s Ass – My Writer’s Block Story

May
03

 

I really hurt some people I care about tonight. Really bad.

There were tears and blood. A ceremonial knife was involved. I’m still kind of shocked I hurt these people so bad, to be honest. I really did a number on them. I feel terrible about it.

Of course, these “people” are characters. Sure, they’ve been rattling around in my head for a few YEARS now and I’ve given them back stories and character arcs and ways of speaking and triumphs and tragedies and loves and hobbies. I know them and I really, really hurt them tonight. And while I feel kind of gross about some of the things I did to them (man, that ceremonial knife was not a pleasant thing), I’m really glad I was able to hurt them like this.

I finished my first book, “FantasticLand” in 2015. In early 2016 I closed out “Pack” and wrote a third book, the unpublished “Bitter Old Punk” by the end of the year. I finished half of a fourth book and pieces of a follow up to “Pack”. It was a productive time and then…poof. The will to write kind of went up in smoke. That’s not right, not the “will” but the habit. I fell out of the writing habit but, beyond that, I stopped thinking like a writer for a while.

I took notes, I blogged occasionally, but there was a five month period in 2017 where I didn’t write a thing. Not seriously, anyway. I’ve got a few short stories banked from that time period while I was trying to get back in the groove, and it wasn’t like I had a lack of ideas. I was even newly creative, starting a podcast (Atomic Weight of Cheese, check it out) and throwing myself a great 40th birthday party complete with live riffing a movie.

In some way, that’s how I justified this “down” period. I was being creative, books were being bought, deals were being made. No problem, right?

But it was a problem because I made it one. By staying away so long from some of the books I’d been writing I’d completely lost the thread, I had forgotten some of the details about the characters and some of the groundwork I’d laid. I wasn’t writing and it was hurting what I had written.

I wish I had a triumphant “and then I came out of it and started writing again” moment, but I don’t. It started slow, I went back and re-read and I’m back to writing 20,000 words a month or so. I’m closing in on the ending of my second “Pack” book (jinxed it, didn’t I?) and I’ve got other books waiting to land. I’m reading more, I’m writing more and if this was “writer’s block” (which I don’t think it was, at least not traditionally) I kicked it’s ass by not stressing about it and keeping the creative juices flowing.

And if I had any advice it would be just that – if you’re stuck, don’t worry about it but don’t stop thinking about it. Keep being creative, keep on your creative process and wait. The time will come when it starts up again and when it does it will be a blast.

But not for your characters. Those people are going to suffer. He he he.

Early Reviews of “Pack”

Apr
22

They say “don’t read the reviews.” This has not been good advice in my experience.

My first book is pulling decent reviews and even the bad reviews generally fall into two camps – those who didn’t connect with the material or the style (which is TOTALLY a legit opinion and I begrudge these one star reviewers nothing) and those who tend to be hard on books. One review of ”FantasticLand” has never not given a one star review to any book he’s ever reviewed. That doesn’t hurt my feelings any. The good reviews…they’re just more than I could’ve hoped for. I’ve had people tell me “FantasticLand” is one of their favorite books and it makes my day…hell, my week, every single time it happens.  I enjoy watching the conversation, is my point.

(I would be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge my imposter syndrome and that I am honestly delighted that anyone is reading my book at all. Return to text).

But I’ve been nervous recently as early reviews of my second novel, “Pack”, have started coming in. There’s the “sophomore slump” to consider, there’s the fact that my first novel took a different and risky approach to novel writing and, as a more straight novel, I’ve got less to hide behind. Either I’m a writer who can pull of a traditional novel format or I’m not.

The good news, so far, is that the early reviews are coming in and they’re good. Real good. There’s a long way to go and this could all nose dive at any moment (my general operating philosophy, strangely enough) but so far, so good. In the interest of promoting “Pack” a bit and celebrating a really good review, I’d like to repost an early review of the book by Dee Arr who got an Advanced Review Copy of the book that you can read on Goodreads.com. Here it is:

Mike Bockoven’s newest offering “Pack” takes the not-so-normal and turns it into something that helps us accept the paranormal as everyday life. The book describes a small town that not only has accepted the idea of werewolves but treats the pack as an integral part of the community. When one of the pack steps outside of the boundaries governing their behavior, the decisions made bring outside attention and threaten everyone in the town.

“Pack” continues with some of the reporting aspects that made his previous novel “Fantasticland” an incredibly realistic read. The story is told through the eyes of multiple characters and embellished through his “Selective History of Barter County” chapters. These historical entries reveal bits and pieces of the past, events which were important and shaped the town as it is today.

This is not your typical story of werewolves. It is not a tale of young love nor a bloody trail of horror. Except for their ability to change into wolves, members of the pack are no different than other residents. The author humanizes what is normally presented as scary and spins our way of thinking in the opposite direction. It is easy to empathize with the characters in their struggle to preserve a way of life that has been crafted by their ancestors for almost 200 years.

Bottom line – this is a creative story that assumes the paranormal is real. While most writers work toward this goal, Mike Bockoven’s “Pack” seems to effortlessly achieve this level of realism. Highly recommended. Five stars.

My thanks to NetGalley for an advance reading copy of this book.

It feels really good to have someone tell you that everything you tried to do came across. It’s a relief and it’s made me far more optimistic about how the book is going to be received. If you read the book and leave me a review, please know that I appreciate it a great deal and that I take constructive criticism to heart.

 

”Pack” comes out on July 3rd and I’m counting down the days. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon right now. As always, thanks for following what I do. It’s a dream come true.

 

-Mike