Books By C. LItka

Books By C. LItka

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Early Works Part 1 Introduction

I had to post this picture in black and white because writing on a typewriter seems that far away in time -- from an age when the world was in black and white, before they invented color.
I guess I’ve been writing stories off and on most of my life. Why, just this summer, while getting rid of some boxes of junk I’d saved for 40 some years, I discovered a bunch of handwritten story books that I’d written sometime after fifth grade when I started to read for fun. I’d forgotten all about those little books. They were mostly science fiction stories, from my Tom Swift and Tom Corbet, Space Cadet era, and perhaps some spy stories from that Man from U.N.C.L.E era as well. I still have my U.N.C.L.E card.

The curious thing about my memory is that I remember very little of my life. I can remember facts, but looking back at my life, it is mostly those facts, giving it a sort of skimpy third person narrative feel to it. Just today while collecting some material for this Early Works blog project, I discovered a manuscript that I have no recollection of – a second complete version of the science fiction novella I wrote entitled “The Hybrid-Worlder.”

Now, I’ve always known that I wrote that story – I’ve had its manuscript on a shelf for 30 some years – but apparently the ms I knew I had was only the first version. It’s 29,900 words long and dated June 1979. The typed ms I discovered today is some 21,900 words and dated October 1979, and has a completely different opening than the June version. Truth is, I really don’t remember much of the story at all, so I have no idea what else changed from one version to the other beyond the opening scene, though it got 8000 words shorter. I also discovered the opening chapter of a third version that I also have no recollection of either. This version I started in 1989, and includes a long outline of the principles of starship propulsion as well as detailed plans of the starship, The Shadow of Dreams, or the Cir Ay Cey as it became known in that version. I also have a completed short story with the same narrator, Rhyl Dunbar.

I’m planning on posting the first couple of pages of all three versions, just to illustrate how they changed over the years, plus some pages from a comic book version I did as well. I do know that I changed the story for the later comic book version and have a much clearer idea of that version then the others.

In addition to that novella, I’ll post the first chapter of my 85,000 word fantasy novel, "The Brigand Sea-Prince."  It is a story about an envoy sent to the court of some far-ranging sea raiders. I remember that much, and one dungeon scene, but otherwise the story is pretty much a complete blank. Couldn’t have been very good, eh?

This summer I also found my collection of rejection slips for those two completed manuscripts that I had collected back in 1979. I was surprised to find that I’d actually sent them out to so many magazines of the times. I didn’t remember being that preserving. 

I also will share the opening pages of several other stories I started and never finished, one, at least that I’ve no recollection of. I did have one other novel in the works – a box full of 3x5 cards, outlines, character studies, and such, for a cold-war era sci-fi story that I was planning to write, but never did. It dealt with the Reagan era “star-wars” type of anti-ballistic missile system of that era and the implications of what a unilateral ending of “assured mutual destruction” might mean. Most of this was all handwritten, and I believe I got rid of all of it this summer.

The last treasure is the first draft of a completed manuscript – a young adult environmental mystery/adventure novel written on a Z88 computer and printed on a dot matrix printer that date from sometime in the late 1980’s. I never got around to submitting this piece. I think I lost the second draft when I had to reset the computer, or some such thing. I can’t think for the life of me why I decided to write a YA novel.

After that I gave up on writing and turned to painting for my creative outlet. I'd been painting off and on all my life, and paintings offered two great advantages over writing. The first that a painting, at least the way I paint them doesn't take a year or more to complete. The results are far more immediate with far less work than a book. (I've never been a fan of short stories, as a rule.) The second great advantage of painting is that once done, is complete in itself. You can hang it on the wall, display it in galleries, or on line, you can sell it or sell prints of it. A completed manuscript is not complete until it is published, and with one chance in a hundred of it being published commercially, well, you're unlikely to ever see it complete -- a book strangers can read.

However, that changed sometime around 2007-8 with ebooks and the kindle.  After that, you could take a manuscript from start to finish yourself. And so, when the writing bug bit me again around that time, I took up writing again – The Kiss of the White Witch, being the first result of this new burst of creativity, which over the last decade lead to the four books I have taken from manuscript to their completed form as books myself. 

My plan is to post the opening chapters  -- a few pages -- of these works, just for shits and giggles. They are all "analog", i.e. typewritten copies, and though I tried to digitize them using an OCR app, with all the necessary corrections, just retyping them seems just about as fast, which is not fast at all, hence just a sample of a few pages of each of them 

I think that it may prove interesting as to how my writing has changed – and has not. I’ll also post some comments about them as well. Some of them are pretty bad, but I must say that I was surprised just how many of the ideas I used in these early works made it into my Bright Black Sea – even though I’d completely forgotten the original stories.

So, in the next post, we’ll start this walk down memory lane with the sci-fi novella, “The Hybrid-Worlder” version 1. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Coming Soon -- The Early Works

My first project for this blog going forward is to look backwards. I have a number of early works written on my old manual typewriter that I  thought I might post samples of, just to see how bad they are -- and how much my style has, and has not, changed in the last 40 some years. At one time I was also playing around drawing comics, and the piece above is a panel from one of them The fellow in the background is Rhyledunbar -- as star-farer, or "sarfeer" -- the narrator/main character of a 30K word novella, a short story and a partially completed comic book.  But I'm jumping ahead of the story, so stay tuned for more about Rhyldunbar, and the early works of C. Litka.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Plan B

My Plan A of writing – writing two or three stories concurrently, skipping between them when I ran out of ideas for the one I was working on, has run off the rails. The reason being that even with three stories in the works, I can not seem to find any enthusiasm for any of them – much less a complete and/or compelling plot. I simply don’t feel like writing them. (Ah, ma, let me sleep. I’ll find a job tomorrow.) So it’s on to Plan B (“Screw it”).

I think there are two types of work; work-work and play-work. Work-work is the thing you have to be paid to do and the thing you have to do to pay the bills. Play-work is the stuff you enjoy doing, even if it involves hard work, say, like gardening or building furniture – things that some people have to get paid to do. Now, if I was a traditionally published author contracted to deliver a new book next year, or a “indie publisher” who, having been dropped on his head as a child, was actually trying to make a career as an indie-publisher and needed to get another book out to pay the bills, I believe I could do get that book out. I have story ideas – though no detailed plots – for three books that, with work (work-work), I could probably eek out 100,000 words with a plot of sorts out by next summer. But I’m neither a traditionally published author or a starry-eyed indie-publisher, I’m proudly an amateur writer who writes and publishes simply for the joy of it. Of course, this also involves work, but it is of the play-work variety. I’m not prepared to make writing a work-work type of work. I had a taste of that writing The Lost Star’s Sea. Getting the story to its end, came pretty darn close to being work-work, but having started it, I needed to push on and finish it. Having had this taste of work-work writing, I’ve no desire to force myself to start off writing a story, that doesn’t engage me, and so will be work-work to get through just to meet … well what really? My expectations? I’ve written and published nearly 800,000 words – the equivalent of eight full novels, or 16 of the common indie-published “novels,” so I I feel that I’ve to prove to myself. I dreamed of writing science-fiction stories and now I have. Do I need to do more? No. Would I like to do more? Yes, but only if it was fun to do. As for reader expectations, well, I’m always happy when readers are entertained by the stories I’ve dreamed up, and would certainly like to keep entertaining readers with more stories – but only with stories that entertain me as well, stories that I enjoy dreaming up and writing – play-work. It’s always been about me. I write stories that please me, everyone else is just along for the ride, so that stories that do not excite me, stories that seem to be just work-work are simply not going to be written. And with no contract to fill or dollars to make, I can maintain this standard. I’m not going to work just produce a so-so, or so-familiar story. It may be that I’ve told all the stories I have to tell. There are limits to both my talents and creativity, and a 67+ years old I may well be bouncing up against them. At this particular time point in my life, I seem to up against them in both my writing and painting. We’ll see if we can push beyond them. Or not.

So, long story short, I’m just going to take some time off from writing stories until – out of the blue – I feel like I have a really fun one to tell again. Can’t say when that will be. However, since I still like playing with words, and have a two hour slot in the morning to fill, I’m planning on spending it writing blog posts like this one. I can think of all sorts of things to write about my writing, including my early unpublished stories and comics, and indie-publishing in general, so I expect I’ll not run out of things to write about any time too soon. So that’s Plan B – blog posts & essays while I wait for creative lightning to strike.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Dog Days of the Blog

For the last several years I've written this blog primarily to provide supplementary and background information on the books I write and publish. I also use it to update the status of upcoming books, and occasionally post entry about the business of self publishing. However, The Lost Star's Sea, was the only book I was writing for the last two years, and with its publication, I now have nothing to post about.

Though I had, for the last year or so, been trying to come up with a new story to follow The Lost Star's Sea, I hadn't come up with any story I could get excited about.  And so, for the last half of the summer, I didn't anything to write. I found, however, that, after five or six years of spending the first two hours of my day, everyday, writing, the absence of writing left a rather large hole in my day. I missed writing. Writing for me is like playing with words, and the end result is less important than the process of writing. I missed playing. So several weeks ago I started writing two different stories on the flimsiest ghosts of a plots. I figure that with two stories in hand, I can bounce back and forth between them whenever I run out of ideas for the story I was working on and slowly push both ahead by keeping them fresh. And if that doesn't work, I'll start another one.

Now, at this point in time, I have no expectation of publishing either of these stories. I have only the nose of a story. To get a complete story you have to write it back to the tip of its wagging tail, and that is far from certain at this point in their development. For that reason, I'm going to keep these stories under wraps for now. If and when I have a first draft of one or both, I'll be back with concrete information on when they would see the light of publication.

This, however, leaves me little – well nothing – write about. I could write about self publishing, but that's old hat these days. The gold rush days of indie publishing are behind it. All the readers and genre open to reading and being read on ebooks are now found on ebooks. Any growth will incremental and with tens of thousands of new books being released each month on Amazon, it is a golden era for readers, and a brutally competitive marketplace writers in it for the money. A best of times, the worst of times thing. But I'm not in this for the money, and I expect to be writing everyday, and while I don't expect to have much to post, don't take the absence of posts as evidence that I've abandoned writing. There's no reason why I can't get a story from its nose to its tail in time for summer 2018, though, at this point it's not a given. Hopefully in a few months, I will be able to tell you for certain that there will be a new novel in 2018.

And as a down-payment on that promise, below is a sketch map of one of the stories I've started. Make what you will of it.