Early Reviews of “Pack”


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.



On Writing Warm Ups


I haven’t fallen down the Tumblr hole quite yet, but I’m on the precipice.

For the uninitiated Tumblr is a social network of mini blogging sites carved into intricately fine niches and with its own way of sharing, interacting, praising and innovating. It’s a singular thing and, like Twitter, you either get it or you don’t. I’m not sure I get it yet but I’m almost there, at which point I will fall into a hole, never to return.

My Tumblr, which I’m not sharing yet, is stuffed with writing advice, tips and tricks and I’ve noticed a trend. Some people do warm ups or a couple hundred words of whatever is in their head to get their fingers moving and their brain pumping. Not a bad idea if, for example, you have a block of time in which you can write, uninterrupted. And, like anything, if it works for you do it and do it proudly.

Let me tell you about the last time I tried to write.

I was in the gymnastics studio where my daughter was taking class (she’s great, by the way. Fearless and enthusiastic, using force of will to make up for whatever she lacks in grace) and I was squeezed into a child’s sized chair. Less than two feet away from me was a young boy, whatever you are after you are a Toddler. Creeper Pain in the Ass, I think is the clinical term. This up and comer wanted candy from his mom, who had some in her bag so he asked “Mommy, candy”. She said no, but he got stuck on a loop. It took him about two seconds to say “Mommy, candy,” and before the “y” in “candy” was completely out of his mouth he was on to the “m” turning it into a sort of chant, pausing only for breath. When the mom ignored him (smart phones are a powerful thing) he took his act on tour, eventually making it to me where he stared dead at me and said “Mommy, candy” over and over with the mommy in question not paying attention.

I finally piped up, saying “I don’t have any candy, bud,” the “bud” being thrown in to prove I wasn’t upset or creepy. This caused the mother to take notice and quiet the kid and I went on with my novel (knocking on the door of 50,000 words).

Why tell this story? Because it’s the only time I have. It’s a full, mostly uninterrupted hour and even that doesn’t happen as often as it used to. Unless I’m up early (like now) or up late this is the only time during the normal, waking day I have to write and I have it once a week, twice if I’m lucky. And I really like sleeping.

Bottom line: If a kid chanting in my ear isn’t going to stop me from writing, I’m not going to let my brain being a little slow do it. That’s one of the joys of discovery writing – picking right up where you left off, even if your brain was on fire. And, yeah, like anything sometimes you have a slow start. And, yeah, sometimes you have a bad writing day. But I’ve found that thinking about it before hand, like on the drive over to the gymnastics studio, and then diving right in works for me and when I lock in, that’s a glorious feeling. I wish I had it more often.

Again, that’s not to say warm ups aren’t valuable. I like reading them. It’s just not how I work right now and with a year where I’m hoping to increase my output, I am going to stay away from them for right now. Come back in a few months when I’m extolling the virtues of warm ups and asking for suggestions.

You know. Whatever works.

Cheap Books = Lots of Reviews


My first novel, “FantasticLand”, was on sale in ebook edition for $1.99 a few weeks back and as a result, something happened that I’m still trying to process.

People seem to really like my book.

I’m not trying to be self deprecating. I mean, I like my book and there’s a team of editors and agents and such that also like my book. I trust in their taste but it’s one thing to get a book published and another thing to read reviews like this:

“I knew this book was going to be scary. The reviews on the back and word-of-mouth prepared me for that. But I’ll admit, when I started the book and saw it was written as a series of interviews, I thought the level of action and suspense would somehow be muted or diminished. Boy, was I wrong! I was hooked from the beginning and stayed up way too late reading, and even after I put the book down, I kept thinking about the story and the characters. I love how each interview built on the previous one but added a new perspective and dimension to the story. It gave enough information to get your heart rate up and left just enough to the imagination to really freak you out at all the right moments. I’ve never read a book quite like this, but I loved it. I highly recommend it!”

Or this one:

“FantasticLand is a fantastic voyage into the depths of the human soul and what lengths one might stoop to when faced with a tragedy. It is written in the style of interviewer and interviewee and quite believable at points. If you are a fan of the technique of investigative reporter ala Max Brooks and the post apocalyptic World War Z, this book is for you. While there are no zombies in this story, the real monsters are the young men and women who are set in a circumstance where there are no consequences to actions taken. Some times the real horror of this story is the things that are not said but rather implied. People pushed to extreme limits and the struggle to hold on to one’s own humanity give this book chops, a difficult thing to accomplish when dealing with horror fiction.

You have to ask yourself. “To which tribe would I belong?” I hope I am never put in a circumstance where I have to find out.

I look forward to other books by Mr. Bockoven.”

Of course, there are negative reviews, but just a few and none of them are of the “you suck” variety but more of the “I was disappointed” or “not what I expected in a negative way” sort of thing. And I’m used to disappointing people. OK, I’m being self deprecating.

You can visit the book on Amazon and read all the reviews here.

What’s the point, then? Two fold. One, I like pointing out any and all “gold stars” I get because part of me is still in awe that all this is happening. And I like selling books. But, secondly, I really want to give a hearty, heart felt and humble thanks to everyone who read and reviewed the book. I can’t go into this too much, but right now some folks are looking at my book for a project and while I’ve been told it’s selling “modestly” (I don’t find out until June), I was able to point to the reviews of “FantasticLand” as something impressive. I could not be prouder to do so or more thankful for everyone who took the time.

It’s going to take a while to process all the positive reviews but it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing to have to work through.