<![CDATA[Official Website of author TJ Vargo - Blog]]>Sat, 19 Apr 2014 02:50:08 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[The Great Novel Contest 2014 Selects THE HARD WAY As A Finalist ]]>Sat, 22 Mar 2014 14:30:12 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/1/post/2014/03/the-great-novel-contest-2014-selects-the-hard-way-as-a-finalist.htmlPicture

THE HARD WAY, my magnum opus crime novel of about 110,000 words, has been selected as one of ten finalists in the Columbus Creative Cooperative's GREAT NOVEL CONTEST 2014. Literary agent Terra Chalberg will now review the ten finalists and select a winner and a runner up. If you feel up to it, go visit your local Catholic church and burn a candle for me, say a few prayers to Saint Jude, the patron saint of the impossible, and then send a bribe over to Terra. Seriously, I always get worked up when one of my novels gets into the running for anything. It doesn't mean I'll become rich or even be able to make a living as a writer, but it means that someone enjoyed my work, and that's why I write. To be recognized as an entertainer with a top-notch product is always a good thing. Not sure when I'll hear who wins, but win or lose, I'll let you know. I just hope Terra likes crime novels with no good guys and lots of blood and guts.

Oh, one more thing. My thriller, action-adventure novel, THE EXPEDITION, will be on sale for $0.99 on Amazon from Monday, March 1 through Friday, April 4. THE EXPEDITION is about some scientists who are messing with nature. And, don't you know, nature messes back in a big way when they go on a expedition to the Amazon jungle. It's a fun, scary romp through real eye-popping science that is a little bit Michael Chrichton with a dash of Robert E. Howard. Hope you get a copy and have fun with it.

Take it easy - spring is here!

<![CDATA[The Afterlife Revealed]]>Sat, 01 Feb 2014 15:32:25 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/1/post/2014/02/the-afterlife-revealed.htmlPicture
You know those stories about people who die and come back to life? The ones where the dying person floats above their body and is overcome by a feeling of ultimate peace while angels and friendly deceased relatives and friends whisk them toward a white light? Well, LOW MAN is kind of like that. Only take away the feeling of peace and replace it with terror. Then get rid of the angels and bring in dark creatures hunting for souls to drag to Hell. Finally insert a young down-on-his-luck man, Benny, fighting with every fiber of his being to make his way through Hell to find his dying son, carry him back to life and reunite his family. LOW MAN is an award-winning novel that has been downloaded about 10,000 times in the last year, and it will be on sale for $2.99 from Monday, February 3 through February 9. I recently edited the story to make it faster, scarier and more exciting, so if you get a copy, remember to leave a review on Amazon to let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Click here to download a copy of LOW MAN now.

What reviewers are saying:
Breaking Boundaries, December 24, 2013      
By Katherine A. Kaplan "Bibliophile :-)" (Pittsburgh, PA) - See all my reviewsThis review is from: Low Man (Kindle Edition)

I LOVED this book, and hated for it to end!

I enjoy reading Life After Death books in general. What grabbed me about this one was the diversity of characters, and how their lives intertwined with each other in remarkable and fascinating ways. Even the ending is captivating.

I look forward to reading other works by this author, and highly recommend him.

WOW! A Real Edge of your seat read!, April 25, 2013      
By Debra L. Lopez "Debra Lopez" (Arkansas, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)    Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?) This review is from: Low Man (Kindle Edition) Low Man is an excellent book reminding me of Perretti's style. Got it on my Kindle Fire and finished reading it in one day. Lots of action and other worldly creatures. Makes you wonder about life and what really happens after death or in the inbetween place. Kept me guessing and holding my breath several times till the end. Highly recommended.

Low Man, April 27, 2013      
By crazyt - See all my reviewsAmazon Verified Purchase(What's this?) This review is from: Low Man (Kindle Edition) When I purchased this book, I really was not sure if I would even read it.But, after I started to read it I could not put it down. I reallly enjoyed reading it, and I found myself rooting for Benny.I won't give away the ending but it it did not end the way I thought it would,which is a refreshing change from the norm.All. I can say is give this book a chance and happy reading.

<![CDATA[Night Film]]>Sat, 25 Jan 2014 16:31:50 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/1/post/2014/01/night-film.htmlPicture
One of my favorite pleasures in life is running across a book that I've never heard of, taking a chance on it, and enjoying the experience. Marisha Pessl's NIGHT FILM is one of those books. I've never heard of Pessl. And I'm sure if I saw her first book I would've run screaming in the opposite direction because of the title - SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS. That's unfair, but that title brings back horrific memories of college classes in scientific disciplines that hurt my brain. But NIGHT FILM sounded good to me. I like the dark and I like films, so I decided to try it. Not the most discerning method for choosing a book, but believe it or not, this logic usually works for me. The actual experience of reading Pessl is exactly like a night film. It's surprising, creepy, thrilling and ultimately an experience that makes you sigh and say, "Wow, that was fun." My literary tastes are eclectic, which is exactly how I'd categorize this book. Is it a horror story? Maybe. A mystery. Maybe. A drama/suspense/thriller? Uh, maybe. Being unable to categorize it is, in my mind, very good. I'm tired of the same old music, the same old literature, the same old talking heads, the same old (insert your subject here). Pessl is a writer who keeps me guessing, and I appreciate that. I do have a few nitpicks. Her use of metaphor is pretty heavy handed. When it comes to metaphors, fewer are always better. Her use of italics falls in the same category. But that's technical mumbo-jumbo, so my advice is forgive Pessl her sins and just enjoy the dark world she paints. Pessl's mastery of writing is what you'll enjoy, and it's evident in her ability to create characters you care about, have a story that plants itself in your head, and the inventive and creative way she leads you through a maze that seems to continually sprout new and exciting corridors. I'm not going to go into the plot except to say it's about a search for a reclusive horror film director, Cordova, who has a rabid underground fan base. There are hints of lurid, dark doings from the very beginning to the end of this novel. If that's your wheel house, get your copy of NIGHT FILM today. I enjoyed it so much that I actually picked up a copy of SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS. Any book that can do that has to be good:)

Have a great day - talk to you later.

<![CDATA[Latest News...]]>Sat, 11 Jan 2014 18:41:21 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/1/post/2014/01/latest-news.htmlPicture
Here's the current artwork for the novel I'm working on. As of today, I'm a little over a third of the way done with the first draft. I thought this novel would be finished by now, but no worries -I'll get to the end eventually.

In other news, I've entered my magnum opus crime saga THE HARD WAY into THE GREAT NOVEL CONTEST 2014 which is being judged by the great folks over at The Columbus Creative Cooperative. I believe that the judging should be completed sometime between around March or April, so wish me luck.

Last but not least, my dog Joey has a terrible nose condition. He's a boxer with a smashed in face, and apparently that can cause hyperkeratosis of the nose. This means that his nose gets dried out, cracked and actually grows thick calloused areas. Believe me, a thick calloused nose only adds to the beauty of the monster called "Joey," giving him an especially Satanic visage while he tears apart books, magazines and other paper/cardboard products in my home. Anyhow, I've been on a mad search for the past six months to find something to help Joey's nose. After trying various snout ointments I found something that works. It's rare that I endorse anything (in fact I don't think I ever have) but this stuff works. So if you have a dog with a dry, cracked nose, log on to the Natural Dog Company website and get yourself some snout soother - your dog will thank you:)

Hope your holidays were great. Enjoy the rest of the winter and stay warm!  

<![CDATA[No Footsteps To Follow]]>Sat, 28 Dec 2013 16:20:49 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/1/post/2013/12/no-footsteps-to-follow.htmlYou have one life to live. Question is, what are you going to do with it? For a long time I wished my life was set up for me. I know a lot of people (and I'm sure you do too) who follow in their family's footsteps. To illustrate, I know a friend who's father set up a law practice. So what did my friend do? It's elemental, my dear Watson, he went to law school and is now working in his father's law office. Another buddy had a father who was a plumbing supplies distributor. That friend is now on about his 30th anniversary of selling plumbing supplies. I have a cousin who took over his father's (my uncle's) corrugated box business and is doing exceedingly well, thank you very much. The singer in my old rock band graduated from college and started selling batteries at his father's distributorship, which will one day be his distributorship. And the list goes on and on. George Romney becomes a politician so what does his son Mitt do? Evelyn Foster is a film producer so what does her daughter Jodie do? Following in the family's occupational footsteps is a time-honored tradition. It's a fast-track to figuring out your place in the world. And it's usually a great financial move. The foundation of building the business or practice or client list has already been done, but there's still much hard work to be accomplished to keep things moving along. How nice it would be, I used to think, if I had someone that could offer me a path. Hey, you want to be a policeman, like your father before you? Hell yeah, sign me up. You interested in working in the family restaurant? Sure, I'll wash the dishes. Whatever it takes. Welder? Of course. Lawyer? No problem. My father, however, was a physicist at NASA. Not much path to follow there, especially when you consider that my proficiency at math and science is less than top notch. So I've been left to my own devices, which are scant at best. I worked my way through college painting houses, which I contracted through hand drawn flyers and signs I put up around town. Not easy, but I did it. During my first semester in college I survived my last couple weeks eating nothing but peanut butter because I had to guard my remaining few bucks for gas to get home. I co-opped and interned and worked every job from truck loader at UPS to furniture mover to get through college. And when I graduated, I still wished I had someone to offer me a path. But when that didn't happen I fell back on what I knew I could do - I wrote. Brochures, user guides, technical data sheets, video scripts, proposals, annual reports and everything in between. What I learned in college was that I had a talent for writing, so I used it to pay the bills. I still kept an ear to the ground, hoping that my elusive path would crop up in a newly-formed family business. But as my kids were born and the years flipped by and I kept writing, I discovered something. I, it turned out, had been making my own path without anyone's help. You see, all the writing I was doing was rubbing off on me when I was done with my workday. It started whispering at me to write a novel. And then another. And another. Before I knew it, I got into a rhythm and there was always another book I was either working on or conceptualizing. I began reading everything I could on how fiction writing worked, became an MFA student in creative writing and attacked fiction writing with an energy that was exhilirating. And here's where it's gotten me. I still have to work a full-time job to live. I don't have an agent. I don't have a publisher. What I do have, however, is an ability to make my own path. I'm not following in anyone else's footsteps. And I'm okay with the fact that no one ever offered me a path to take because, although it's a good thing to work in a family business, I think it's just as good to make your own way, which is exactly what I'm doing.

Writing Update - THE HARD WAY will be removed from Amazon tomorrow. It's being entered into a contest which does not allow it to be available for purchase during the judging period, which will probably be a couple months. If you haven't gotten your copy downloaded yet, you better do it now.

Also, my Young Adult novel THE BRAVE is coming along nicely. I'm about a third of the way through and the cover art is finished. I'll post a teaser in an upcoming blog.

Hope you've had a wonderful holiday season - I'll talk to you later.]]>
<![CDATA[ How Much Is A Year Of My Life Worth? How Bout Two?]]>Mon, 02 Dec 2013 02:09:28 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/1/post/2013/12/how-much-is-a-year-of-my-life-worth-how-bout-two.htmlPicture
Imagine this. A friend grabs you, takes you aside and whispers confidentially:

"Hey! I have this great thing we should try. We'll suck at it for a real long time - maybe forever. It'll take years, possibly decades to get good at it. Gaining any skill in this endeavor will require thousands upon thousands of hours of toil. And it's a million-to-one shot we'll ever make any money. How bout it - you in?"

Sounds like a winner, huh? Knowing you to be a reasonable and intelligent person, my guess is you'd tell your friend to get lost. Maybe even punch him in the nose. That's an acceptable response to such a ludicrous offer. And yet, I accepted it with glee many years ago when I decided to write novels. I started writing so long ago and have done it so long that the glee has faded, but - believe it or not - I still get more of a kick out of writing than anything else. And here's why. When I write something you enjoy, it makes me happy. And I love being happy. So in the interest of your enjoyment and my happiness, here's what I'm gonna do. I'm putting my award-winning Horror novel, LOW MAN, on sale at Amazon from Tuesday, December 10 through Friday, December, 13. The hard part is deciding what a couple years of my life are worth. LOW MAN took at least that long to write, so I need to price it accordingly. Hmm... A couple years of my life...

How bout $0.99? But that's only for the first day (Tuesday, December 10). It'll go up a dollar a day after that until it's back to it's full price of $4.99 on Friday. How's that sound to you? Two years of my life for $0.99? Not a bad deal, if you ask me.  Just remember one thing - if you like LOW MAN, remember to post a review or email me or something. If I can't get rich, I might as well get happy:)

Talk to you later.

<![CDATA[If You Like Haunted House Stories, Try This...]]>Sat, 16 Nov 2013 19:26:30 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/1/post/2013/11/if-you-likehaunted-house-stories-try-this.htmlPicture
I just finished HOUSE OF THE DEAD, my newest fiction. It's the only short story I've ever written and let me tell you - it's a doozy. It's available right now on Amazon for only $0.99, so hurry up and get a copy!. Here's the story:

When advertising copywriter Jerry Fairhaven stumbles upon a seemingly abandoned house in the city's best neighborhood, he's ecstatic. If he can afford it, the house will be a ticket to his dreams. He can hobknob with the city's movers and shakers and, more importantly, impress Renee, the woman he's infatuated with at work. But something's wrong. There's strange graffiti on the house. And he can't shake the feeling that something is inside the house, watching him. He soon discovers what is watching him - and it's more terrifying than anything he could ever imagine.

So there you go. A good old-fashioned haunted house story. Well, not really. This story has some twists that might give you whiplash. As always, let me know what you think. Hope you're enjoying your Fall - Winter is almost here.

I'll talk to you later. Happy reading!

<![CDATA[How The Devil Helped Me Become A Better Writer]]>Sat, 19 Oct 2013 17:09:03 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/1/post/2013/10/how-the-devil-helped-me-become-a-better-writer.htmlPicture
I'm a fan of Stephen King and Robert E. Howard. It's safe to say that Mr. King and Mr. Howard are the reasons I decided to be a writer. I read everything I could from both these guys as a teenager and young adult. You may not know Howard, but I'm sure you've heard of someone he created - Conan the Barbarian. The thing about Howard's writing is that he was very good at "showing" who his characters were - especially Conan, who would get into the most dangerous situations and have to fight his way out. What made Conan angry or willing to fight were keys to my understanding of him. I knew who Conan was based on how he acted. King is similar. He creates characters you swear you know because of how they act. Pick any King story and I'll bet my house there's a character in there that'll remind you of someone you're acquainted with. Maybe it's your Uncle Frank who does magic tricks whenever he's at a family function. Or the sullen eyed twenty-something cashier at the corner gas station who barely grunts when he takes your money. Or maybe you even see yourself. As a newbie writer I couldn't understand how this trick of characterization was accomplished. I wrote two or three novels trying to figure it out and didn't make much progress, But then I began to freeform write a story about a girl running through the night with her baby. A dark man was hot on her tail, trying to catch her. I didn't know who the girl or the guy were, but damn if the guy didn't turn out to be the Devil. Well, I'm happy to say the Devil helped me that day. He helped me learn characterization because all I had to do was let him act the way I knew he should. I figured I had a pretty good idea who the Devil was and how he acted. He was sneaky. Powerful. Seductive. Overly solicitous when he wanted to be, and soul-crushingly evil when it suited him. The Devil taught me a huge lesson during my writing of THE DEVIL'S DUE. I learned that I could show who a character was by putting new skin on a character I already knew. So, if you'd like to get a peek at who the Devil is, get yourself a FREE copy of THE DEVIL'S DUE from Oct. 21 through 25. The storyline goes like this:

The Devil is real. He walks the Earth, on a search for the one woman who can give birth to the Antichrist. And now she's in his grasp. But one man stands in his way - her long lost twin brother.

In an isolated town in the middle of nowhere, a battle for the fate of mankind is waged. One man stands alone against the most powerful and evil creature ever created.

He is our last hope.

THE DEVIL'S DUE is about 100,000 words of gothic, pulse-pounding horror. The phrase "dark and twisted" crops up quite a bit in reviews.

And please remember to take a minute to type an honest review on Amazon if you get a chance to download and read it.

Have a great Halloween!

<![CDATA[LOW MAN is #2 In Christian Fantasy!]]>Mon, 14 Oct 2013 23:20:33 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/1/post/2013/10/low-man-is-2-in-christian-fantasy.htmlPicture
We're half way through the first day of LOW MAN being free and it's already reached #2 on Amazon's UK list of most downloaded Christian Fantasy. Wow. Let me say that again. WOW. This book has always been a hard one for me to categorize, but I think I just found another group of readers that are searching for a high action, scary story with an uplifting message. If you're looking for an award-winning novel that will keep you reading, download your free copy of LOW MAN by Friday, October 18.

Here's the storyline:
Benny is a young father with a dying infant son. When a robber's bullet sends him to the afterlife he is offered a chance to save his son. Horrors will block his every step, but if he can make it through a dark and dangerous forest to the gates of Heaven, he may be able to pull his son back from the brink of death and reunite his family. And he must be quick - his own life is draining away. Time is not on his side, but is it possible love will give him the strength to finish his journey?

LOW MAN is a chilling and uplifting tale of the enduring strength of family and the power of love. Described by readers and reviewers as being reminiscent of the fiction of Frank Peretti, Stephen King and Dean Koontz, LOW MAN is a compelling journey through the afterlife that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Get your free Ebook copy today, and please post an honest review on Amazon after you read it. Have a great day and happy reading!

<![CDATA[FREE - Amazon's #2 Horror Novel!]]>Sat, 12 Oct 2013 13:49:21 GMThttp://tjvargo.com/1/post/2013/10/free-amazons-2-horror-novel.htmlPicture
LOW MAN is popular. It's been as high as #50  among all free kindle books and reached #2 in the Kindle Store for Horror books. And it will be FREE from Monday, October 14 through Friday, October 18. I'd categorize it as a Horror/Crime/Christian/Fantasy Thriller novel (how's that for being specific?). It won a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year award and I recently edited it down from 84,000 to 60,000 words to maximize reader enjoyment. As my old football coach used to say, it's mobile, agile and hostile. If you like scary action stories, this is your cup of tea. Here's the story:

Benny is a young father with a dying infant son. When a robber's bullet sends him to the afterlife he is offered a chance to save his son. Horrors will block his every step, but if he can make through a dark forest to the gates of Heaven he may be able to pull his son back from the brink of death and reunite his family. And he must be quick - his own life is draining away. Time is not on his side, but is it possible love will give him the strength to finish his journey?

LOW MAN is a chilling and uplifting tale of the enduring strength of family and the power of love. It's been described by readers and reviewers as being reminiscent of the fiction of Dean Koontz, Stephen King and Frank Peretti. It's a compelling journey through the afterlife that will keep you guessing until the very last page. so get your free copy and please post an honest review on Amazon if you have time.

 Hope your Fall is going great - I'll talk to you later.