My 50 Favorite Novels

Introduction

I thought I’d have a little fun today and compile a list of my 50 favorite novels.

pexels-photo-164688

First off, the rules.

I didn’t include any short stories, short story collections, poetry collections, screenplays, plays, nonfiction (creative or otherwise), or graphic novels. Every book on this list is a novel (well, there is one novella).

Also, this is a list of my 50 favorite novels, not a list of the 50 best novels in terms of literary merit. Nostalgia, my own personal taste, and the fact that I’ve only read a smidgen of the novels that have been written limit this to a very arbitrary list.

Without further ado, the list!

My 50 Favorite Novels

pexels-photo-590493

  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  2. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  3. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  4. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  6. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  7. Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
  8. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
  9. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
  10. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  11. Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale by Chuck Kinder
  12. Skagboys by Irvine Welsh
  13. Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
  14. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  15. Native Son by Richard Wright
  16. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
  17. Women by Charles Bukowski
  18. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  19. 1984 by George Orwell
  20. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  21. The Plague by Albert Camus
  22. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  23. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  24. The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson
  25. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  26. The Group by Mary McCarthy
  27. Drop City by T.C. Boyle
  28. The Taqwacores by Michael Muhammad Knight
  29. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  30. Junky by William S. Burroughs
  31. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
  32. Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley
  33. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  34. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
  35. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  36. NW by Zadie Smith
  37. The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini
  38. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  39. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  40. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  41. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  42. The Fall by Albert Camus
  43. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  44. The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis
  45. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  46. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
  47. Plainsong by Kent Haruf
  48. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
  49. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  50. Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Feedback

Now, here’s where I turn it back to you with a few questions:

pexels-photo-356079

How many of these novels have you read?

Do you hate any of the books on this list? Why?

What’s on your list of 50 favorite books?

Comments and feedback are always appreciated!

Fighting the good fight with you,
Alfonso

Free 1,000 Word Edit and Critique

Introduction

“Don’t make a career out of this.”

A professor at my alma mater wrote that comment on one of my first short stories.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the first 24 magazines I submitted my short fiction to all responded with form rejections.

In case you couldn’t tell, I didn’t start as a literary phenom. I thought I was a hack. I wanted to give up.

But then everything changed. My ignoble start transitioned into the first taste of success. Many literary magazines began to accept my short stories and poetry.

pexels-photo-347135

Later, I’d receive an amazing contract for a nonfiction book with a monthly stipend and a heavy percentage upon publication.

I’d also earn a five-figure writing contract for a screenplay that I completed in two months.

Five figures for two months work. Not bad, right?

pexels-photo-164652

How did I do it?

I put my pride aside and realized that I, like all writers, needed an editor to perfect my writing.

pexels-photo-226579

I couldn’t edit my writing on my own because it was too close to me. The thought of murdering my literary babies was abhorrent.

But my editors had no problem doing that, and I reaped the rewards.

Because I Advanced, I Want To Help You Advance

From day one, it’s always been my goal to use The Literary Game to help writers learn the ins and outs of craft, publishing, networking, and staying sane as you’re in the process of advancing.

I’ve offered editing services for four years now, and have helped many writers perfect their manuscripts.

But I realized that I could do a whole lot more to help writers who truly want to succeed.

pexels-photo-261630

And so, that’s what I’m doing now.

For the next two weeks, I’m offering a free 1,000 word edit and critique

If you want a free edit and critique, just email me a part of your manuscript in the body of your email.

If you feel confident in my abilities, I invite you to work with me as your editor.

Unlike other editors, I offer complementary services designed to market and publish your book. These include:

  • Sending a list of agents and publishers that represent/publish your genre of writing.
  • A draft of your query letter.
  • A one hour interview that will be promoted on The Literary Game and on my Twitter.
  • Two guest posts on The Literary Game, which you can use to promote your book, other writing, or any other objective.
  • Five hours of phone/Skype/Google Hangout consultations.
  • One year of email correspondence on any question related to writing, networking, or publishing.

If you’ve already looked around at other editors or editing services, you’ll find that my prices are extremely fair.

If you’re ready to take your manuscript to the next level and advance your writing career, let’s take the journey together.

pexels-photo-297755

Conclusion

Trust is critical to an editor-writer relationship. I’m offering a free 1,000 word edit and critique because I want you to be confident that I’m the best editor for you.

To get started, you can learn more about my services, or email me directly.

Interview with Shawn Hudson

Hey everyone! I had a lot of fun talking with one of the finest up-and-coming poets/novelists around, my good friend Shawn Hudson.

20170426_195253

(Shawn on the left, rapper Young M.A. on the right)

In our interview, Shawn shares his thoughts on his poetry collection Poetic Thoughts of a Rebel, contemporary politics, hypocrisy in power structures, and life in general.

You can listen to Shawn’s interview by pressing play below:

20180514_223847

If you liked Shawn’s interview, help spread the word about his writing by sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook.

If you want to support Shawn’s writing career, you can pick up copies of Poetic Thoughts of a Rebel, By Any Means, By Any Means 2: The Ghetto Gospel, and By Any Means III: Judgment Day on Amazon.

If you want to learn more about Shawn, you can follow him on Twitter @RBGLiterature.

To keep tabs on the latest writing info, inspiration, and entertainment, you can follow me on Twitter @bookcartpusher

Fighting the good fight with you,
Alfonso

The Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Writing

Introduction

I didn’t start writing until I was twenty.

I don’t mean I didn’t start taking writing seriously until I was twenty, I mean I didn’t write anything that wasn’t for a school assignment until I was twenty.

No short stories.

No poems.

No novels.

No nonfiction.

OK, scratch that last one. I did write about thirty pages of a memoir on my old IBM Aptiva. I have no idea where that partial manuscript is, and that’s probably for the best.

pexels-photo-257881

When I transferred to Beloit College, I decided to become a Creative Writing major because it seemed like fun, and it was, but back then I had many, many, MANY misconceptions about what being a writer meant.

Top Ten Things I Wish I Knew About Writing As A Twenty-Year-Old Absolute Beginner

1. Writing is rewriting.

You just finished your novel. Great. Now the fun really begins.

2. Rewriting is not a quick process.

God may have created the Earth in six days; however, you will not complete your manuscript in anywhere near that time frame.

sky-earth-galaxy-universe

3. Working with an editor isn’t optional, but necessary.

My short stories wouldn’t have been published without the assistance of Rairigh Drum, who was my developmental editor. My screenplays wouldn’t have attracted the attention of a New York Times best-selling author and a screenwriter who has worked with Spielberg without the assistance of a developmental editor. My non-fiction book wouldn’t have…you get the point.

4. Writing well isn’t enough, you need to think like an entrepreneur to get noticed.

Is it ugly? Yeah, maybe, but the days of the pure writer who refuses to attend to the business end of things is over. Those writers are doomed to obscurity.

pexels-photo-936137

5. Success doesn’t come overnight.

Trust the process. If you know that you’re good, go out and prove it. Stay the course, and don’t lose your confidence if you don’t rapidly advance.

6. Networking with other writers (and, if possible, with editors, publishers, and agents) can open up many doors.

Remember that saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Well, it’s both. Don’t be isolated.

7. Most publishers will have zero interest in your writing and will reject it, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have talent.

Publishers and agents receive an incredibly large amount of submissions. They also usually have very strict criteria about what types of work they publish/represent. Receiving rejections is inevitable. I’ve had over 60 short stories and poems published and scout publications carefully, and still only have an acceptance rate of about 25-30%.

8. You can’t half ass your way to quality writing; you have to whole ass it.

If you’re planning on going through the motions, just put down your pen and give it up.

donkey-fence-nature-outside-70369

9. Not all writers are miserable people, and you don’t have to be miserable to write.

Although I won’t lie, sometimes it helps. 😉

10. You don’t have to drink to excess to write well, but sometimes it can be fun.

Nostrovia!

alcohol-hangover-event-death-52507

Conclusion

“He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory.” – Lao Tzu

Don’t make mistakes based on incorrect perspectives about being a writer.

Make writing a consistent habit, work with an editor that you can trust, network, realize this is a process, and try to keep a sense of humor. If you do all that, and you have some talent, you’ll be more than fine.

What Do You Wish You Knew When You Started Writing?

Leave a comment below!

pexels-photo-247708

In Need Of An Editor?

Check out my editing services page.

Fighting the good fight with you,
Alfonso

Introducing Shawn Hudson, Author of “Poetic Thoughts of a Rebel”

Interview with Shawn Hudson

author photo
Hey everyone!

In a few days I’ll be posting an interview with Shawn Hudson.

Shawn is a talented poet/novelist who has recently released a collection of poems entitled Poetic Thoughts of a Rebel, which you can purchase via Amazon.

20180514_223847

In our interview, Shawn and I talked about a wide variety of topics, ranging from poetry to hypocrisy to respectability politics to former NBA great Reggie Miller.

In the meantime, Shawn prepared a little introduction. You can listen to it by pressing play on the audio file below.

Twitter 

If you want to learn more about Shawn, you can follow him on Twitter @RBGLiterature.

To keep tabs on the latest writing info, inspiration, and entertainment, you can follow me on Twitter @bookcartpusher.

Interview with Brian Anderson

If Shawn’s introduction whetted your appetite, why not check out my interview with Brian Anderson, author of Groundwork.

Interested in Promoting Your Book?

Because I want to help authors, I’m now available to do interviews to promote books.

If you’re interested in promoting your book on The Literary Game,  please complete the contact form below and I’ll get back to you ASAP to discuss next steps.

 

 

I Want To Write, But I Don’t Know How To Start

Introduction

Many of you, I’m sure, have started to write.

Some of you, have achieved a bit of recognition. Maybe you’ve had some short stories or poems published in a few literary magazines. Maybe you’ve self-published a book and sold a good number of copies.

Sorry, this post isn’t for you guys. This post is for those who want to write, but haven’t embarked down that path yet.

Because they don’t know where the hell to start.

fist-blow-power-wrestling-163431

Where to Begin

KISS. It’s an acronym a future writer would do well to heed.

pexels-photo-46024

And no, you don’t need to become a knight in Satan’s service.

costume-screaming-demon-devil-41521

Keep it simple, stupid.

What does that mean? Here are a few examples of rookie mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.

Don’t Write That Novel…Yet

Have you tried to write a novel? Did you get a few thousand words in and then not know where to go from there. Frustrating, isn’t it?

If you’re just getting into writing, don’t attempt something as monumental as a novel.

Especially if you don’t have an idea that makes you want to practically burst with excitement.

Instead, start with short stories. Master the narrative arc. Get familiar with setting, dialogue, internal monologue, and character development.

So yeah, that epic 150,000 word novel. You may want to put that on hold.

Unlimited Freedom Isn’t Always A Good Thing

You can literally write about anything. That’s great, right?

Wrong.

pexels-photo-374918
Beginners often find that they can’t think of a compelling idea. That’s where writing prompts come in.

If you’re a beginner, writing prompts can be a nice tool to help focus, allowing you to focus on writing, not on generating ideas.

The New York Times produced a list of 500 writing prompts. To read it, click here.

Setting Goals

Realize that you’re not going to become an overnight sensation. At least not in the course of your first night writing.

pexels-photo-315191
When you’re just starting out on your writing career, you may find it helpful to set little goals for yourself. Once you achieve your goals, you’ll find that your confidence increases. Your increased confidence will spur you on to write more and write better.

Here are a few goals you may want to consider targeting:

1. Writing 1000 words per day for a month.
2. Completing three short stories.
3. Crafting three works of creative non-fiction.
4. Submitting your writing to ten literary magazines.
5. Achieving your first acceptance in a literary magazine.
6. Learning how to use Duotrope to find literary magazines that publish writing similar in style and content to your own writing.
7. Receiving your first sincere compliment (close friends, romantic partners, and family don’t count).

darts-dart-board-bull-s-eye-game-70459

Conclusion

If you’re new to writing, there are four main things that you want to do:

1. Keep it simple, stupid.
2. Start with short stories.
3. Utilize writing prompts.
4. Set appropriate goals.

How About You?

pexels-photo-247708

For the more established writers who read this post anyway, what methods did you use when you started writing? Did you find them helpful, or were they more of a cautionary tale? Share your thoughts in the comments!

How To Keep Writing When Everything Around You Is A Mess

Introduction

I’ve said it, and pretty much anyone who writes about writing says it, you need to write daily. 1000 words. An hour. As many words as you can fit on the page in as much time as you can possibly spare.

Yeah, that’s all well and good in a perfect world.

pexels-photo

But your world isn’t perfect, is it? Neither’s mine. Who can really say that they don’t have any major challenges in their life?

So, how do you keep writing when it feels like the world’s crumbling at your feet; or, if your life isn’t so bad, how do you keep writing when your life could use a tune-up.

pexels-photo-558375

Solutions

pexels-photo-256307

Fix Your Shit

If you’re unable to write because of too many crazy things going on in your life, then don’t write. Solve your problems first. Besides, you can’t write 1000 words a day if your computer…and your grandparents’ typewriter…are confiscated by repo men.

pexels-photo-388241

Phone A Friend

When life’s at its worst, know that misery loves company. Get on your phone and dial a buddy. You can ring the wisecracking one to get you out of your slump, or the understanding one if you need a shoulder to cry on, but ring someone to get out of your own head and elevate your mood. Then, after they’ve served their purpose, hang up and write!

pexels-photo-920387

Power Through

If your problems aren’t going away anytime soon, then just say “fuck it” and go ahead and write. Put your feelings on the page if it’s a confessional work, or write from a fictional concept to take a brief reprieve from your stressors. Being productive can sometimes be the best cure for mental anguish.

Seek Professional Help

I’m not a psychiatrist. I don’t even play one on TV. If things are really bad, get yourself to a trained professional who can help you get back on track. Who knows, your psychiatrist may even know an agent, and if that won’t get you to start writing again, I don’t know what will.

pexels-photo-271171
Conclusion

We’re all unique. Each of us responds to adversity in different ways. Find the way that best handles your situation, and go with it.

How About You?

pexels-photo-247708

What method do you use to keep writing when life becomes overwhelming? Share it with our readers in the comments section.

As always, I’m Alfonso, and I’m fighting the good fight with you!

Editing and Advice for Determined Writers