Keep editing, or shelve it? Whether a story is a success or forgotten, writers should enjoy storytelling.

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In 2018, I wrote two short YA pulp stories for a now-defunct publisher. I also wrote about some lessons I learned writing pulp.

Pulp is quick-written ephemera. It’s designed to sell well at the front-end, then never again. It’s entertaining, then forgotten. I succeeded by these metrics.

Three years later, I regained the rights to my stories. By then, they had run out of gas and I’d moved on to write other things.

Then, Francis Ford Coppola happened.

The Godfather, Part III — a movie by an auteur that never quite fired on all cylinders — always fascinated me. Coppola…


If the raid on the capitol building were simply about “violence,” perhaps we could compare it to the events of Jan. 6.

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On January 6, a group of angry Donald Trump supporters who had rallied in Washington, D.C. stormed the United States Capitol to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden as President of the United States. This happened against a complex backdrop.

First, President Trump, who lost a free and fair election and could not provide any evidence of substantial voting irregularities, for weeks insisted the 2020 election was fraudulent and rigged. At rallies and on Twitter, he maintained he was the rightful victor while judges he appointed sided against him and threw out virtually every case he brought forth.

Trump’s followers…


I’m not going to do anything about William Faulkner

I once wrote a piece on Medium about how Chinua Achebe took offense to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (How Conrad and Achebe Battled over Africa). Achebe felt Conrad’s story frames colonialism as a white man’s struggle and reduces Africans to props. In the second decade of the 21st Century, people want to have similar conversations about William Faulkner, the Coffee Boss, himself.

What to do about William Faulkner? asks the Atlantic. I’m not going to do anything about William Faulkner. Not tonight. I have a sink full of dishes.

A Matter of Interpretation

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People should always consider and critique a story’s narrative viewpoint…


Kwame Anthony Appiah answers a question from a writer and drills into the politics of identity

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On September 22, an Asian television writer wrote to the New York Times to express reservations about her career writing Black characters. The Times’s ethicist, British-Ghanaian philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, replied.

When engulfed in Twitter, I’m refreshed to hear what an actual philosopher has to say about identity politics. I would expect the chasm between heart and head to be too great for anybody to find his answers conclusive. Still, here’s what I gather from his response.

You can’t predict the effect of a self-denying ordinance

In literary circles, it’s common to hear people talk about privileged writers “taking the space” of a marginalized writer who’s “more qualified to…


WNYC’s On The Media sat down with the “Contrapoints” host to discuss cancel culture — and being cancelled.

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Contrapoints’s Natalie Wynn

I discovered Natalie Wynn through WNYC’s On the Media podcast in an episode titled “Making Sense of Cancel Culture.” Wynn, who is a trans woman, hosts the website/YouTube vlog Contrapoints. She’s a popular social commentator who has found herself cancelled more than a few times for infractions that, to an outsider, appear benign.

Like so much internet slang, this use of the word “canceling” started out on black Twitter where a few years ago people, well, mostly women, would tweet “cancel R. Kelly” and things like that. You know, it started out as this vigilante strategy for bringing justice and…


Jill Criswell’s article about finding inspiration in global travel misfires when aimed at the YA crowd

Jill Criswell is a writer from Northern Florida. She took an MFA in creative writing from UCF, and, like me, she travels the globe. We haven’t met, but I think we’d be friends. Like her, I think world travel creates a perspective shift worthy of discussion. Unlike her, I’m not sure I’d say “everybody needs to do it,” especially when speaking to an audience of often-struggling writers in a genre sensitive to privilege.

Criswell plugged her book Kingdom of Ice and Bone in a September 1 blog post in the School Library Journal titled, “Want to be a Fantasy…


Instead, she wants to be the villainous star in a drama of her design

Jessica Krug isn’t black. That was the big news yesterday, because the George Washington University professor was pretending to be black — and Latino — as she wrote, taught, and profited on her minstrelsy.

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Jessica Krug at — wait for it — the Embassy of Haiti

My mother, a pastor and counselor, once said, “when people have affairs, they should never confess it to their partner. It only serves to hurt the victim, and no good comes of it. An affair is between the cheater and their conscience.”

That is what I was thinking as I read Krug’s lengthy, unprovoked mea culpa on Medium. How many people did the mea culpa hurt…


The drama at a series of NYC community education council meetings is grand theatre, and a testament to our current cultural zeitgeist

I literally- literally!- got a headache trying to follow the cast of characters in Conor Friedersdorf’s story Anti-racist Arguments Are Tearing People Apart in The Atlantic. Without sticky notes on my wall, pieces of yarn connecting them, and a tube of lipstick so I can write on my bedroom mirror, I cannot trace the drama unfolding at — wait for it — a series of NYC Community Education Council District 2 meetings. What a bizarre series of events, and what grand theatre.

What happened (I think)

In New York City, fourth graders must test in to middle school. This system separates kids with higher…


Writing pulp fiction for the young adult crowd left little time to worry about pleasing critics and made me a better, faster writer.

A few years back, before publisher Rot Gut Pulp took another direction, I spent two months writing pulp fiction. The experience was everything I wanted it to be.

Cover of CT Liotta’s “Relic of the Damned.”
Cover of CT Liotta’s “Relic of the Damned.”
Relic of the Damned,” my first attempt at writing pulp fiction.

My editor, Curt Sembello, was a drunkard with a cabin in Southeast Asia who forgot about the time difference and called me in the dark hours of the morning in fits of pique. He fired me thrice, fought with his staff on Twitter, and broke his arm trying to have sex in a hammock.

“More young adult pulp! It sells!” he cried, as if pointing a trawler into a sea full of…


Albert Richard Wetjen’s sea-story is poorly written and racist as hell, but remains a shining example of pulp structure.

Terror Island
⭐⭐⭐
By Albert Richard Wetjen
7,500 Words.
Action Stories, October, 1938.

Lightning over a tropical island
Lightning over a tropical island

The Author: Albert Richard Wetjen

Albert Richard Wetjen, who has a biography at Pulpflakes far better than this summary, was by most accounts an unseemly man. He was a drunkard who died at 48, and told inflated stories of daring-do like a Merchant Marine. In fact, he was a Merchant Marine. In many ways, this made him an ideal man to write for the pulps.

His father and grandfather were sailors, and he…

CT Liotta

World traveler & foreign affairs enthusiast. GenX. Lawful neutral. I write gags and titles . Smoke if you got ’em. www.ctliotta.com

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