A Month Out


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.



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



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.

A Girl Runs Into The Woods


I’m part of a leadership class for my job and, as I’m sure many of you have done at camp or job training or seminars or whatever, we played a word game meant to establish team building. Only mine took a really dark turn really fast and I found it really interesting.

The game is this – everyone in your group gets in a circle, the facilitator gives you the first few words of a story and everyone then goes around the circle saying one word a piece. It’s meant to establish how different people think in very different way. In my case, the start of the story was “A girl was running in the woods.”

By the time my group was done the girl had died, been eaten by a bear and zombies, had prostethetic legs for some reason and then the zombies had ridden on horses through a lake, I think. It was the end of the day and I was a little punchy but here’s why I bring it up – the story turned to horror almost immediately.

Why? I’ve got some theories (some of which pertain to this particular group but that’s not important) but the main one is that horror stories can be easy. Easier than love stories or human dramas anyway. If the girl is running in the woods, she’s running away from something and while it might be her feelings or her sense of self or something else philosophical or frilly it’s more fun to tell the group she’s running from a bear or a zombie. Or in my case, both.

It was interesting and I would imagine most of this group don’t watch horror films or read horror books on a regular basis which makes it more interesting. When forced to tell a story, even if it’s just one word, everyone picked a horror story because it can be the fastest way to be interesting. Plus, who doesn’t like hearing about a zombie versus a bear? I wrote a short story based on the excercise (I’m already the weirdo of the group) and thought you might get a kick out of it knowing the back story.

Once A Girl Went Running in the Forest

By Mike Bockoven

The bear was confused. The zombie, much more so.

Both creatures, ravenous and desperate but for very different reasons, had stumbled upon the girl in the middle of the forest. Somewhere, deep inside the zombie’s brain in that part where the human had once felt things other than hunger, he felt a pang of something he couldn’t identify but he once knew as sadness. The girl, young and in the prime of her life, had obviously gone running to escape the madness and fires and blood that had consumed the world and had made it into the forest but then things got…weird.

Her legs did not give off the “meat” smell that drove the zombie forward, forward, forward. They weren’t meat. They were something else and even the zombie’s brain, driven only by hunger, stopped for a moment to try to figure out what he was dealing with. The bear, once mighty but now thin and weak, who was near the girls head, was struggling with something entirely different. The girl’s head was tangled up tangle of delicate white fabric. If the bear possessed the words for “wedding dress” it wouldn’t have mattered to him one bit. It was obscuring the best meal he’d seen in weeks.

Several feet behind the zombie was a stump. A sharp stick was protruding from the girls head. A few hundred yards back, a bouquet of flowers had rotted, leaving only stems and a decorative cloth that held them together. If the bear had a little more brain capacity, it would be easy to see what happened, and tragic. 

It had been her wedding day after all. She had wanted to get married before the world ended, before the hoards came shambling down her street. She had loved her boyfriend with all she had and the thought of not being his bride before her life ended filled her with more dread than the end himself. But the slapdash ceremony had been too late, the love of her life had fled leaving her there and she had run into the forest, crying, desperate and clumsy. Her end had been swift and had ended a lot of suffering. 

But the bear didn’t know any of that and, instead, was thinking about was his meal and how whatever was in front of him was not going to take it. The bear knew enough to not eat the zombie and that he was dangerous.

The zombie tried to find something to eat. It was harder than he thought it would be. The prosthetic legs that had failed the girl and led to her death were attached with straps and snaps and harnesses that led up her body covering more of what the zombie wanted. It wasn’t until the bear had grabbed the girl’s head and pulled that the zombie realized this wasn’t a meal. It was a fight. Plus a bear was as good a meal as anything.

Shambling toward the bear, the zombie felt nothing but hunger, the hunger that defined his existence. If he were smart he’d have realized he was no match for the bears but he wasn’t and the fight was over in seconds, the bear’s weak paw still powerful enough to destroy the zombie’s head in one blow. As he had with every victory in his life, the bear let out a sharp, loud growl, letting his fallen enemy know he had made a mistake. 

And as the bear drug the body of the girl back to his cave, seven other zombies who had heard the growl started to their slow, shambling pursuit.