<![CDATA[Official Website of author TJ Vargo - Blog]]>Mon, 01 Aug 2016 19:53:32 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Invite some BAD COMPANY to your house]]>Sat, 16 Jul 2016 15:08:05 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/blog/invite-some-bad-company-to-your-house-on-july-26

Hot girls. Motorcycles. Muscle cars. Strip clubs. And a bunch of bad asses fighting over girls, money and power. What else can you ask for?

Have some fun - invite BAD COMPANY over to your house. They might break a thing or two, but I promise you won't get hurt. What you will get is a Crime/Romance/Thriller that stomps on the gas and never lets up.

Preorder BAD COMPANY now.

<![CDATA[BAD COMPANY Cover Art is Done and Release Date is Set]]>Wed, 01 Jun 2016 16:35:37 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/blog/bad-company-cover-art-is-done-and-release-date-is-set
I love this. The graphic artists at Totally Entwined Group (TEG) rounded up the criminals, back-stabbing beauties and bad asses that are snapping necks and cashing checks in my latest release, BAD COMPANY. I don't know how they did it, but somehow they got everyone to sit still for this cover, which turned out fantastic. I'm just glad I wasn't in the room - I heard things got kinda dicey after the photo shoot (these people aren't interested in making nice, if you know what I mean). If you haven't heard, here's the storyline:

Hard men, bare-knuckle brawls, fast girls and dreams of making the big score have filled Curtis's days. Now he wants out. But leaving a life of crime in the city of Tombs isn't easy. Whether it's his partners-in-crime, his ex-girlfriend or his broken-down crook of a father, the whole town seems to be lining up to settle scores. The only bright spot? Julia, a dark-haired beauty who's on the run from an abusive boyfriend. Although her body's been bruised and her soul's been battered, she still believes life can be good. Working together, Julia and Curtis know they can make it out of Tombs. But when the crime lord's personal killing machine, Joe Cracker Jones, comes after them, they're faced with the hardest decision of their lives - let Curtis fight to the death or go on the run together.

Pre-order is July 26.
Early Download is August 9.
General Release is September 6.

​It's been a chore, a grind and the best high of all time spending time with this group of killers, crooks, hot chicks, bikers and lovers for the past five-plus years. At times I thought I'd never finish this story of desperate men and what they'll do to get what they want. But finished it is and it'll soon be out there for everyone to experience.

Mark your calendar - BAD COMPANY is coming.
<![CDATA[Getting Closer....]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 21:26:41 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/blog/getting-closer
My latest novel is inching toward publication with the Totally Entwined Group (TEG). The editing process is near complete and it's been nothing but a lot of hard work, but I haven't noticed. What's that old saying, "Do something you like and you'll never work a day in your life?" Well that about sums it up. I've been putting in full days of writing at work and then rushing home to, you guessed it, write some more. I head out to work around 6:30 am and then come home to write until around 9:30, and it's been a blast. I just sent in my latest draft. If it passes muster, then I'm going to be on the clock for getting the cover art designed and the publishing date set. If you read any of my earlier posts, you know that my novel was originally contracted as a crime novel, but TEG saw a better fit for this novel in their Romance line, and I have to say I'm in total agreement. I remember when I first started writing this novel as an MFA student that one of my professors said he thought the story had a strong romantic element. He was right then and TEG is right now. So I've got that to add to my resume, in addition to my horror, thriller and sci-fi credentials. And if I ever finish my YA novel, I'll be that much closer to writing every genre under the sun. Anyhow, I'm done for the day, but I can't leave without giving you guys a music recommendation from Joey, my gorilla-faced dog. I think he's getting antsy for getting out in the sun and doing some running around, so I'll leave you with Joey's latest - the Girl Talk, All Day album!!!

Enjoy your spring:) Later.
<![CDATA[Joey's Mini Me Music Pick for March]]>Sat, 05 Mar 2016 16:08:50 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/blog/joeys-mini-me-music-pick-for-marchPicture
Joey met his spitting image the other day - a funny little miniature version that ran around like a kook under his legs. If I didn't know better I would think Joey has been seeing a lady friend while I wasn't watching based on how much this little guy looked like Joe. The coolest thing was seeing how gentle Joe was with his Mini Me. He didn't even blink while the pup ran under him and chomped his legs with those needle-sharp puppy teeth. But who cares about all that - we want new music, right? Well here's Mini Joey's pick for the month. These guys rock hard, so put your big-boy pants on and get ready for... The Transplants!

BTW - The edit for my crime epic begins in the next couple days. Very Exciting! Enjoy your Spring:)

<![CDATA[C'mon - Get HAPPY!!!]]>Mon, 01 Feb 2016 22:18:54 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/blog/cmon-get-happyPicture
Here's my favorite dog in all the world - JOEY!! And here's his favorite song of the month. If you're feeling like you need a straight shot of happy, check Joey's song out at...

Five Years Time - Noah and the Whale

I haven't started work with my editor on my crime saga, but I'm looking forward to it. They just launched their YA imprint Finch Books. If you're a fan of YA, check out Finch Books - there are some great stories waiting for you.

<![CDATA[The Publishing Contract Is Signed...]]>Sat, 28 Nov 2015 15:55:24 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/blog/the-publishing-contract-is-signedPicture
And now the hard work begins. Editing a novel over 100,000 words will most probably require some heavy lifting, but I don't care - I'm excited to be working with a publisher like the Totally Entwined Group (TEG). They've been nothing but consummate professionals in every aspect of the process so far, and I'm guessing the editing and publishing process will be more of the same. I've published two other novels with small presses in the past. The process with both was exciting, but neither had the experience or a staff of professionals like TEG, so I'm making an educated guess that the editing, cover design, promotion and release will be executed at a higher level. You know, when I began writing many years ago I always had a dream that someday I'd write something good enough that other people would join me in polishing it and delivering it to the public. I've gotten close, but as the years passed and I never reached the level I dreamed of, I began to think that maybe writing wasn't for me. TOMBS was really my last shot at seeing if I had what it takes, and it was such a long shot. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure how I did it. I started TOMBS over four years ago and they were tough years. In that time I moved to a new city with no friends or family. I ended my pursuit of an MFA due to lack of funds. I didn't have a job. And I didn't have any prospects. My wife, thank God, did have a job. In short, I was hanging over a cliff and my rope was short, frayed and some idiot had left a candle burning under it. But who the hell cares, right? Life is nothing if it's not an adventure. So I took my eyes off that burning rope, put my head down and spent each day looking for work and writing. And, as all things in life, when you work at something, progress happens. I eventually found a job as a contractor, which means I don't get benefits, vacation, sick time or any sense of permanence, but it does keep the lights on and beer in the fridge (I'm convinced that cold beer will see me through the apocalypse). And TOMBS took shape to the tune of an original draft of about 155,000 words. It was a doorstopper. Then that original draft went through two years of workshopping, revising and editing until it was down to a lean, mean 105,000 bullet of a story. Then it was sent out to agents and publishers. And here's what happened - I received two offers of publication. Not one - two!! After reading up on both publishers, I choose TEG. Which brings me to this moment, this wonderful moment, of writing on my blog that my novel is under contract and is scheduled for release on August 23, 2016. Phew! Man, even though it was fun, I don't think I want to do that again, but it proves that chasing your dreams is only for the stubborn and the stupid. So be stubborn and stupid as long as you can, my friends. Sometimes it pays off:)

<![CDATA[Publishing Contract In Progress With Evidence Press]]>Sat, 03 Oct 2015 15:43:56 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/blog/publishing-contract-in-progress-with-evidence-pressPicture
Latest News: 
Evidence Press, a UK publisher of crime and thriller novels, is interested in publishing my crime novel, TOMBS. Updates will be posted as more information is available. Evidence Press is an imprint of Bonnier Publishing - one of the largest media groups in Europe, with offices in the UK, Australia, France, and the U.S. I've done some preliminary work with a content editor, but the real editing and revising work is ahead. To tell you the truth, I'm looking forward to it. When you're doing something you like, it never seems like work, does it? Tombs is about Curtis Monroe, a lawbreaking loner who is trying his level best to escape his life of crime. But to get out, he'll have to get past his partners-in-crime, his broken down crook of a father, his crazy ex-girlfriend, and the world's most dangerous cage-fighter, Joe Cracker Jones. The novel is a long one, clocking in over 100,000 words, and, according to BestThrillers.com, it's a "fast-paced tale of betrayal, women, motorcycles and stolen taxidermy." In other words, fun, fun, fun!

<![CDATA[Injured Hand, Injured Writer]]>Mon, 19 Jan 2015 16:29:25 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/blog/injured-hand-injured-writer

I've been battling a bad shoulder, elbow, wrist pain for the past six or seven months. Because of the pain, I haven't written anything new and I haven't been able to sleep through the night for a pretty long time. I've edited and revised some stuff, but I've really tried to take it easy. The bad thing is that even with my abbreviated work schedule, the pain just got worse. It really, really sucked. When you're injured or sick, everything turns to ashes. I have, however, started physical therapy. I went to my second treatment today and I have to say I think some of the pain is gone. I'm nowhere near 100 percent, but I believe I'm on the right track. So I wanted to throw out a big thanks to the physical therapists at the Westerville office who are helping me. They're great. Hopefully I'll be back to my old self some time in the near future, and if that happens, I'll get back to work on my Young Adult novel, THE BRAVE. In celebration of my recovery I have put all my novels on sale for $0.99. I may keep them there forever, but there's a better chance I won't, so stock up on some inexpensive entertainment while you can. And remember, get your review up on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to let the reading public know if one of my novels is worth their time.

That's all for now. Happy Martin Luther King day! Take care and thank God for your health everyday:)

<![CDATA[I Entered The Great Novel Contest 2015]]>Mon, 05 Jan 2015 23:32:12 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/blog/i-entered-the-great-novel-contest-2015Picture
I entered The Great Novel Contest 2015 today. Took me about three months to review, revise and edit the first novel I ever wrote. After doing this rewrite I can tell you that this novel was never published for good reason. You don't realize how lousy a writer you once were until you go back and try to make sense of a first effort. But - and I say this with all humility - I think I was able to carve a story out of my first novel that's worth reading. And believe me, I did some serious carving. The novel was initially about 100,000 words. It now stands at 70,000 and there was quite a bit of new writing that was added in. The problem with my writing has always been overwriting. This is a problem for many new writers, but it's one I've been working very hard to shake for many years. Going back and seeing how overwritten my earliest work was provided a very nice lesson in why overwriting is bad. Very bad. So now I'm going to take a deep breath, maybe relax in a hot bath and read A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD by Jennifer Egan. It's supposed to be near zero here in Columbus tonight, and it's not much warmer right now - I just finished traipsing down to the local jeweler to see about getting a new watch and I still can't feel my face. A hot bath is going to feel good!

If you're a writer with a novel lying around, you have until the end of January to enter it into The Great Novel Contest. I recommend it highly. It's a smaller contest, but it brings in some really great talent from around the English-speaking world and there are fantastic prizes. If you're not a writer, light a candle and say a prayer that my novel is enjoyed by the judges and maybe even makes it into the finalist round. I'll let you know what happens. Take it easy and stay warm!

<![CDATA[Have Fun and Become A Better Writer—Enter The Great Novel Contest 2015!]]>Sat, 06 Dec 2014 17:48:49 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/blog/-have-fun-and-become-a-better-writerenter-the-great-novel-contest-2015Picture
If you’re a member of the growing horde of artists who write fiction, let me fill you in on a few secrets. First, your chances of becoming rich or famous are about the same as becoming a professional athlete. Really. So get that out of your head. Second, you’re not smarter than your workshop, class, or writing group. Even if you’re a genius, the group is and always will be smarter than you. That’s just the way it is—sorry. As a writer myself, I’m aware that many of you stopped reading after I wrote that you won’t be rich or famous. Writers are a particularly delusional lot (as are most artists), and newbie writers are especially prone to believing they’re the next big thing. No amount of reason or logic will sway them. But the bald-faced truth is this—if you’re a writer, you’re a member of the creative class, which is a veritable MOUNTAIN of a class. To get an idea of how titanic it is, log on to Amazon’s book selling machine, check out that ever-expanding galaxy of novels, and then realize that the books on Amazon are an infintesimal speck of the literature being produced by the great unwashed masses. Published work represents approximately three or four percent of the universe of literature. There is a great unseen tidal wave of novels out there, my friend, and if you’re a writer, you’re part of that wave. It’s a scary proposition. You work your tail off only to be part of a teeming mass of dreck, with no way to determine if your work has any merit. The random nature of this process breaks many writers. “What is the secret?” they cry, shaking fists of rage as their novel dies the slow death of apathy, ignored by agents and publishers alike. “What am I doing wrong?!”

Well, unclench your fists you big dummy. The secret is simple. From this point forward your job is simple—do your best work and learn from your mistakes. That’s all. The best part is it doesn’t matter what your skill level is. Unless you’re unable to work up the gumption to put words to paper or are locked in the delusional throes of your own genius, you can always do your best work and learn from your mistakes.

There are a couple options on how you can master your writing talent, or (as is often the case with me) figure out how to—ahem— skillfuly hide your lack of talent. If you’re interested, my strategy is as follows:

● Write something

● Have it critiqued

● Rewrite it

● (and the fun part)—Enter it in a contest

We’re going to skip over the writing part. If you haven’t written anything, stop reading and get busy—we’ll be here when you get back. For the rest of you, the first part of this strategy—critiques—vary in efficacy depending on the source. Critiques from agents, publishers and book reviewers are notoriously hard to get, but they’re the best. They’ve helped me really understand why I stink and how I can write stuff that’s less stinky.

(For the record, I usually don’t try to fix my weaknesses, I do my best to eliminate them from my writing and concentrate on making my meager strengths stand out. For instance, if your dialogue sucks, don’t write dialogue. H.P. Lovecraft is a great example of this—his dialogue blows, so he did his best to not include dialogue in his stories. But I digress, onward ho—back to critiques!)

Unfortunately, getting critiques from agents, publishers and professional reviewers is hard and sometimes impossible, so the next best route is to get critiques from fellow writers at workshops. If you follow this strategy, your job is to filter out the nonsense and focus on the real input.

Rule of Thumb—If more than two fellow writers think your thirty-year-old Shaolin monk-turned-assassin talks like an eighty-year-old Yiddish housewife, take that input as gospel and fix that unfortunate misconception.

Once you’ve completed the rewrite phase, you’re ready for the real fun of being a writer. If you’ve written a novel, had it critiqued, and rewrote it, then contests are your next order of business. Yes, you heard me right, CONTESTS. They’re the perfect vehicles for having your work weighed and measured against the competition. I mean, what the heck are you writing for anyhow? You want people to read what you’ve written, don’t you? Contests will get that done for you, and they’re also a ton of fun. I came late to this realization, entering my first contest after writing fiction for twenty plus years, but once I did enter a contest, my eyes were opened. It’s exciting. Contests gives you a buzz for the entire length of the competition. Even when I’m having a bad day I think to myself, “Hey, maybe a judge is right now laughing at my story—hopefully because it’s funny—and is passing it along to the finalist round.”  You will not believe how much it boosts your creativity when you enter your work in a contest. No joke. Maybe it’s because I feel the need to fill the vacuum created when work leaves my computer, but whatever it is, I write more when I enter a contest. Which brings me to today. I am currently in the midst of preparing a manuscript for The Great Novel Contest 2015. If you have a completed novel, you need to do the same. This contest is legit. Last year I creeped on all the writers who were finalists. It was a sobering experience. Writing professors, established fiction writers, and highly-regarded graduates of MFA programs from all four corners of the U.S., as well as at least one or two from Canada, were among those in the finalists round. Let’s put it this way, these people knew what they were doing and trust me, that’s what you want when you enter a contest. If you’re going to be a writer, you have to know how your work measures up against people who are serious about the artform. In addition to stellar competition, this contest also has some pretty cool benefits if you win or get runner-up status. You get $1,000 if you win and a bunch of publishers consider your novel for publication. The runner-up gets $500 and a letter of recommendation that can be used for contacting publishers and/or agents. This is the third year of the contest and the past two winners have had their novels published. That’s a good track record. What really attracts me to this contest is that manuscripts are judged blind. This means that the judges are reading the story and giving it a thumbs up or down based on the writing. It’s like that show “The Voice” where judges pick singers for their teams without seeing them, in effect selecting singers based on the quality of their singing rather than how they look, dance, command the stage or any of the other extraneous stuff. The Great Novel Contest 2015 follows this model. There are no names on the manuscripts. No listing of prestigious degrees or honors and previous writing glory to sway the judges’ opinions. It’s nothing but your writing put to the ultimate eye-test.

Believe it or not, I’m entering the first novel I ever wrote. Yes, I know—it’s a fools strategy. First novels are often atrocities, and mine definitely falls into this category, but I’m taking the time to work through it and see if it’s salvageable. And once I’m done, I know of only one way to find out once and for all if I was able to transform the stinking heap of words I called a first novel into something readable—I’m entering it into The Great Novel Contest 2015!

If I can do it, you can too. Hope to see you in the finalist round. Good luck and happy writing!