Advance Reader Copy Giveaway

What’s an advance reader copy (or, commonly known as ARC)? An ARC is a copy of a book released by the publisher before the book has gone to press for a complete printing. Many times the ARCs do not have the final dust jacket or paper cover, formatting or binding of the finished product; and the text of an ARC might also differ slightly from that of the final published book if the book is edited after the ARC is produced (usually for widows, typos, or to add pages of reviews and front matter). ARCs are normally distributed to reviewers, bookstores, magazines, and (in some cases) libraries between two and six months before the book is officially released.

Low Man, by T.J. Vargo
Genre: horror
Release Date: October 13, 2008



Robbed at gunpoint while working the nightshift at a convenience store, Benny Assissi takes stock of his life. His good-paying factory job is gone—outsourced overseas. His wife sits in a hospital emergency room with his dying son. And there’s a gun under the counter, one he never saw until now.

Determined to gain control over his life, he grabs the gun and runs after the thief. One bullet later, he finds out how precious life is and how far he must go to keep it, even if it means walking straight through Hell.

In the fog of death, he discovers that life isn’t about what you have, but how much you love—and how far you’ll go to see your love again.


“Vargo introduces the reader to tangible characters in the presence of ancient and impure evil. A must read, preferably during the day in a well-lit room.” —T.M. Gray, Author of GHOSTS OF MAINE

“Vargo is a writer who’s not afraid to take chances, a writer who understands how to craft characters with whom a reader can relate, a writer to watch very, very carefully.”—Brian A. Hopkins, Bram Stoker Award-Winning Author

“Vargo is a voice with a certain place in the future of horror.” —David Whitman, Author of DEADFELLAS

“Vargo writes some of the most vividly detailed scenes I’ve read in years. The characters are as real as anyone you’ll meet on the street (and a few you’ll hope you never meet.) Fans of dark fantasy and suspense should rejoice and welcome Vargo with open arms.” —Brandon Massey, author of VICIOUS and THE OTHER BROTHER

We will randomly pick three entrants to receive ARC copies of the novel. Free of charge. Winners don’t pay tax, shipping, zip.

Simply post a comment on this post with your email address by midnight PST on August 22, 2008. That’s it. We will randomly pick three winners, and will contact them by email. If we cannot reach you within 48 hours after the contest ends, we will move on and pick someone else.

–You can only enter once. We employ highly-trained email spies. They will know if you’re cheating.
–You must post your email address. Otherwise we won’t know how to send you the book.
–If chosen, you must respond back within 48 hours or you lose it.
–If chosen, you promise to read the entire novel, and then write a short and honest review about what you thought of the novel, and then email it to us as well as post on The review must be completely honest. If you love the book, please, rant about it. If you don’t, then say so. Honesty is the key here. And there’s no length minimum/max for your review–just…please do a little more than “Love it!” or “This book sucked.”

Again, the deadline is August 22,2008. AND YOU MUST INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO ENTER!!! Good luck!


Abaculus Stories and Contest Results


Even though I posted the results on the 15th, I’ve still been getting several emails about where to view the results for the contest, the stories that will be included in the book, and whether their story made it.

So here it is again:

For the Leucrota Press WRITING.COM contest entry (opened to pre-registered members only) click here.

For the complete listing of all ACCEPTED and INCLUDED stories into Abaculus 2007, please view our previous posting here.

If you DID NOT get an invitation letter sent to you by the 15th, and your name is NOT on the lists, it means your story was not accepted. We thank you for your submission, and we’re sorry that it did not make the cut. But we had to choose the best 20 stories out of the several hundred we received. It wasn’t that your story was necessarily bad, it’s just that there were others out there that were better.

Keep writing, and remember there is always next year.

Abaculus 2007 Story List

Well, the list has been made, contracts reviewed, and Abaculus 2007 is now officially in the final stages of editing, and will begin layout shortly.

As we’ve said before, it took hours – no, days – of contemplation, arguing, kicking and screaming to finalize the selected stories; the number upped to 20 instead of 19, as we just couldn’t decide between the final two, we chose to put both in.

The Leucrota Press Abaculus 2007 anthology list of stories and authors, in no particular order:

“Poison” by Joshua Waddles

“Atakapa Sunset” by Willis Couvillier

“Itch” by Trevor Hopkins

“Voyage of the Wayfarer” by W.D. Wilcox

“Trauma Train” by David Michael Peak

“Dariel” by Angela Graham

“The Witches Jar” by Beth Ann Starbuck

“The Silent Rattle” by A.S. Berman

“Instinct” by Natasha Le Petit

“Reputations” by Emma Melville

“Waiting for the Flood” by Bryce Steffen

“The Passenger” by Matt R. Konopka

“Neon” by Michael P. McNichols

“Samael Grove” by Phil Keeling

“Game of Concentration” by Sean Berleman

“Elmer’s Grue” by Brandon Ford

“Rebellion of History” by Devlin Lemoine

“Quest” by J.S. Raybould

“Try Not to Breathe” by Lynn McKenzie

“The Hanged Man” by Liz Kimberlin

Again, congratulations to all selected submitters. Your writing stood out above all other submissions sent to us from across the board and around the world – stories sent in from China, Japan, Australia, England, Iceland, Germany, Cuba, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, and of course, the United States of America – and we are glad we are able to give you that opportunity.

For those of you who did not make the cut, please, don’t stop writing. Stories submitted were pitted up against both new and seasoned authors, and it was not easy an easy task for the editors to whittle the numbers down to a handful from the several hundred we received.

The entire Leucrota Press staff thanks you for your support, and we wish you the best.

Keep your chin up, and remember there’s always next year. You’ll get there.

Abaculus comic peek…

Here’s a peek sketch at a comic to be included in the Abaculus 2007 anthology. Besides the nearly 85,000 words of short stories, there will be also several illustrations and short scene-strips by comic artists Joe Navarro and Marlo Ting, creaters of the Poor Boy Comic strip.

This one is still under a critical eye…

A soundtrack for writers?

It may sound weird to some, but when I write I find it helpful, if not inspiring, to turn up the tunes I’ve set up in playlists depending on the genre I’m working on. The same goes for when I edit. I’ve found that music, specifically the right music, can really be a bit of a muse and helps get me in the mood…

For example, just a sampling of favorites from some of my stations:

Horror/fleeing scenes:
Knight Riders by Stromkern
Unleash Hell by Retrosic
Winter Current by System Syn

High Fantasy/describing worlds for the first time:
Vinot and the Sea Bird by Karen Marie Garrett
Kyrie by Chloe Goodchild
Indoctrination by Delerium

Fairy Worlds/magical moment:
Gateway by Constance Demby
Sage of Lamberene by Sam Cardon & Burt Lestor
Endless Cycle by Airto

Depressing/I’ve lost my companions/best friend mood:
May it be by Lisa Kelly
Never Saw Blue by Haley West
Scratch by Kendall Payne

Tension building:
Fault by Imperative Reaction
The Beast Within by Wumpscut
Time by Saliva (from Tomb Raider)

And just to weird you out for no apparent reason, the most off-beat, creepiest thing I’ve heard in a while:
The New Sane Scramble by Jana Hunter

Building a playlist helps you to get in the mood – and for those of you like me who don’t have a lot of personal time to actually slow down, take half an hour getting into writing mode, then rereading what you wrote yesterday, finally to get down to business…It helps to speed things up. Revs you up a bit, if you will.

Again, just a musing by an editor chained to her desk for the day. If anyone else has any playlists/suggestions they’d like to add, please do!

Plot: Questions to ask yourself before submitting

Rejection is never fun. I know, I’ve been there. With the thousands of manuscripts out in the mail and the hundreds more sitting piled on an editor’s desk, your submission must stand out immediately above the gargantuan slush-pile in order to be considered. While a fine-tuned query letter is just the first step to catching an editor’s attention, your story must be able to keep it.

Yet, how do you make your story stand out? Well, that’s not an easy question, and there’s no definite answer. Originality, voice, tone, unique characters and richly detailed cultures and settings are just a few items that top the list. These are also things that many writers focus on. Yet the other big item that surprising many people forget to sit back and analyze is the biggest element of all: Plot.

So, you’ve written your story, your characters are well-rounded, your protagonist is wounded and the climax rises higher than Mt. Everest. But does it work? Below are a few questions to ask yourself at the first stage of editing, before doing the detailed line by line critique. If at any time you get a “no” or a negative answer to any of the questions, you need to stop and really think about what’s going on, and how you can fix it:

1. Is your story good? Be honest. Are you satisfied what you wrote? Wait, cancel that, are you excited about what you wrote? Can you see others liking it?

2. Is your opening line/paragraph compelling? Does it draw you in, make you want to continue on, willing to go through the next 300 pages to find out what happens at the end? A large percentage of readers read the first few paragraphs in a book before buying, and if you don’t catch their interest immediately they’ll move on.

3. Does anything actually happen? Are there events that propel the story forward, forcing the characters to act? Rather than just decide to go down the block for a stroll, is the character forced to run to the nearest payphone in order to…you get the point.

4. Does the dialogue work, and is it believable? Do you have it evenly mixed throughout the story, so that you don’t have ten pages of conversation in the middle of a battle scene?

5. Do your subplots contribute to the overall storyline? Or do they just divert the reader away from the main plot long enough to add in a few chapters of text in order to make the book a bit thicker? If subplots are not directly influential or relevant to the main story, they need to be taken out.

6. Do the characters react appropriately/realistically to the situations presented? In other words, do they act naturally for their characteristics, and do they respond to each obstacle as readers would expect? You wouldn’t make the only guy in the group that’s afraid of the dark dash valiantly into the cave in order to save the kitten – or at least without some hesitation and the introduction of other events that leaves no other alternative…

7. Is the climax built up enough? Do you have enough events leading to the climax that the reader is aware they are actually getting somewhere, and are excited about it? Does your climatic ending create emotion?

8. Is your plot an archetype – that is, an overly done storyline that is seen in many other works of art and fiction: ie. The Cinderella story; beautiful girl is suppressed by overzealous parents/stepmother and is helped out by a friend/fair godmother who in turn transforms the princess/geek into the girl of the prince/popular kid in school’s dreams? Avoid archetypes as much as possible. Sometimes you can’t avoid it, but try.

While of course this is not a guarantee that your manuscript will be accepted, it will definitely help save your plot and yourself from the scrutinizing eye of a trained editor or reader.

Abaculus Stories Chosen

This was originally posted as a comment to another post, but I figured it should probably be posted on the main page as well.

It took hours of contemplation, editors arguing with each other – some even walking out the door to cool off – but we finally were able to settle down (well, some of us at least) and come to an agreement and made our final list of story inclusions for Abaculus 2007.

We’re not going to post the list just yet. We’ll have that up no later than September 15th. We’re holding off until we contact the chosen authors, then send and receive anthology contracts before making any names known. We’re doing this to make sure that the authors and editors agree on everything, and that the details are finalized before going public.
Congratulations to all selected submitters. Your writing stood out above all other submissions sent to us from across the board and around the world – stories sent in from China, Japan, Australia, England, Iceland, Germany, Cuba, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, and of course, the USA – and we’re glad that we were able to give you that opportunity.

For those of you who did not make the cut, please, don’t stop writing. Stories submitted were pitted up against both new and seasoned authors, and trust me, it was not easy to whittle the numbers down to a handful from the several hundred we received.

Keep your chin up, and keep trying. You’ll get there.