All posts by Alfonso Colasuonno

I am an editor, publishing consultant, and marketer for writers. I am driven to help ambitious writers achieve their literary dreams. I take pride in helping writers perfect their manuscripts. I've had my own writing published over sixty times in over thirty publications. In 2016, I co-founded Beautiful Losers Magazine (belomag.com) to present the sharpest voices in modern literature. I trained under American Fiction Award winner Clint McCown and PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award winner Bei Dao at Beloit College, where I earned a BA in Creative Writing. I'm passionate about writing and providing the best possible path to helping other writers advance. In my spare time, I'm a basketball fanatic, a huge retro video game nerd, and act in and direct short films.

New Blog – Man vs. Goals

The Bad News

First, the bad news.

It’s always better to get that out of the way, right?

As you probably guessed, The Literary Game is on an indefinite hiatus.

I appreciate all my readers for their support. Seriously, you’re awesome.

However, right now, I don’t feel particularly called to dispensing writing advice.

If you need some, ask away. If I can help, I’ll help.

The Good News

My itch for blogging is still around.

I’ve started a new blog, Man vs. Goals, that details the continuing story of the good, bad, and ugly sides of sacrificing (almost) everything to chase my dreams as a writer, actor, filmmaker, and entrepreneur.

If you’re on a similarly unconventional path, you might like my new blog.

If you’ve ever thought about going for a larger-than-life goal, you might like my new blog.

I promise to give a “from the trenches” perspective of this kind of life.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

All love,
Alfonso

 

 

Patience Sucks. Patience Works.

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One year.

I had to wait one fucking year between my first conversation with a client and starting the project.

Did it suck?

Are you deef? Of course it sucked.

But oh my God was it worth it.

My client paid five figures. There are writers with book deals with presses whose advances aren’t even close to that. I received that from a dude.

My client is awesome. Not only is he a badass pilot, but he gave me everything I needed to successfully write what he wanted, without micromanaging my ass along the way. He knew I was a professional and treated like me a professional, not like his bitch.

My client’s project is awesome. A kinetic screenplay set in the world of counterterrorism and espionage. Uhh, fuck yeah.

Waiting a year, yeah, not fun.

But you know what, if you’re not willing to pay some dues, you’ll never break into the literary game.

Sorry.

You’re just not that important yet. If you act like a diva, you’re going to lose any opportunities that may come up.

I’m not saying to just hold fast and wait. You’re not passive (and if you are, knock that shit off), but sometimes things don’t go on your schedule, they go on the gatekeeper’s.

You damn well can try to speed them up, but never, ever, ever, EVER get pissy about it.

Unless you want to be a nobody forever. If that’s what you want, have fun.

The same situation’s come up again for me.

Through a whole bunch of weird and complex life events, I was connected to a New York Times bestselling author.

He read a screenplay I wrote.

He met with me.

And he told me, “Normally I tell people it’s a great accomplishment that you finished a script. Most people never complete one. But here’s what you should do: put it in a drawer, close the drawer, and never open the drawer ever again.”

Do you know how many assholes are constantly bothering a successful writer for a favor, or to front something?

First off, I know I have the luck of the devil himself to even get a read from this guy.

Second, when you have someone who sold over a million copies of their book telling you you’re good, it feels pretty fucking sweet.

Third, when the guy says he’ll connect you to an agent, and then chews you out for why in your early 30s you’re not already writing for Hollywood, then that’s almost surreal.

But then a year later, you’re still occasionally exchanging emails, trying to push him on to connect you.

It’s easy to be a loser and bitch and moan. Most writers would do that in a situation like that. That’s why most writers are wasting their time and should give it up.

But not you, right? You can see this for what it is, a test.

And you’ll pass it because you won’t give up.

If you’re an outsider, you need a leg up to break into the literary game.

Or the screenwriting game.

Or anything big.

If you want to blow up, or change the world, or get rich, or do something other than work as a barista, you damn well need powerful allies.

And your powerful allies are, by nature, more powerful than you.

They can make your career.

Or, if you alienate them, they can keep you doomed to obscurity.

What do you think’s the better way?

When you find your opportunities and your allies, make it happen.

And if you can’t make it happen quickly, then hang on for a long ride.

My 50 Favorite Novels

Introduction

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

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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

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  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:

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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.

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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?

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How did I do it?

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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(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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.