Books By C. LItka

Books By C. LItka

Friday, March 26, 2021

Essays for Writers


Just a note to mention that I have written two essays for the blog site Writers Supporting Writers. The first  essay is about mixing and matching the conventions of the various versions of English in one's writing. It can be found here Using the World of Englishes

The second essay asks this question of writers; could you recognize your characters if you ran into them on the street? In short, how clear of a picture do you have of the characters you create, or for that matter, you read, as well as my approach to characters. It can be found here: Would You Recognize your Characters

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Secrets of Valsummer House

My latest novel, The Secrets of Valsummer House is now available on Smashwords (for free) and Amazon (for $.99, their minimum price). It will be coming to Google, Apple, Kobo and B & N in the coming days. Lt Di Ai and d'Mere return in this Nine Star Nebula Mystery Adventure that is the direct sequel to The Secret of the Tzarista Moon

This is my mystery story. I'm not a mystery story fan these days, in large part because I grew weary of every mystery involving a murder, or two, or three. Now it may be exactly what mystery fans expect, and perhaps demand in their mysteries. But I think it's just laziness on the part of mystery writers. I would think that you could come up with a compelling mystery without it involving a murder. And, well, I set out to prove that theory in my mystery, The Secrets of Valsummer House. Did I succeed or not? That's up to you, dear readers. Let me know. 

And, if all goes well, there's one more mystery story coming this summer with Vaun Di Ai and Rafe d'Mere. I'm going to try to give it some Gothic vibes. Werewolves, vampires... we'll see...


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Keiree is FREE on Amazon


Oh those wacky algorithms over at Amazon! I noticed that Keiree, which, for some unfathomable  reason, they did not price match to free along with all my other books, is now FREE. However, the balance of the universe must be maintained, so  The Lost Star's Sea is now at my low list price of $.99, taking its place as my one non-FREE book.

Tomorrow, 18 March 2021, that will change again with the ebook release of my newest Nine Star Nebula Mystery Adventure, The Secrets of Valsummer House at $.99  We'll see if they reduce it to FREE once it is out in all the other stores. The paperback book of The Secrets of Valsummer House is now available for $10.00 on Amazon.

Friday, March 12, 2021

One Approach to Writing


My intention was to write an essay contrasting my approach to constructing a story – using familiarity and intuition – vs constructing a story from a blueprint of acts, pinch points, reversals, and such. However, that idea rather jumped the tracks when I began to talk about talent as an ingredient in writing, well before I really got to the original subject of the essay.

So, here’s a sort of preamble to that discussion.

I really dislike the term “self-taught,” as in “a self-taught artist.” As a so-called self-taught artist, which is to say, someone who has never taken a course in art, I can tell you that I didn’t teach myself anything. I just learned. I learned by doing. And by doing it over and over again. I learned by looking at the painting of other painters in books. I learned, when I took up oil painting, by looking over books on oil painting techniques, and how to stretch canvas, and such matters. But again, mostly I learned by painting.

And yet, would all that doing and doing have amounted to anything if I didn’t have something else? Something else that can’t be learned. If I didn’t have a “talent” for art? If I didn’t have an aptitude that attracted me to creating pictures with paint and kept me doing it, year after year, decade after decade? I must admit that I think talent is something that can’t be learned. But I could be wrong.

(I will grant you that whether or not I have a talent for art is open to debate. But you can never please everyone, and I don’t try. And my work certainly doesn’t please everyone. But I’m quite comfortable with that.)

Which brings me around to writing.

I enrolled in college as a journalism major because I dreamed about being a writer. But I soon realized that I was far too shy to ever be a journalist, so I changed my major to international relations. I decided that if I had the talent to write, I could become a writer without going to school to learn how. Rightly or wrongly – and even if I couldn’t spell English. (This was long before word processors and personal computers.) I still believe that today.

Since those far gone days, I have approached writing in the same spirit as I approached art. I did it again and again over the years. I have a small collection of rejection slips for the SF magazines of the ‘70’s for a novella, and one for the fantasy novel I wrote. I wrote many “noses” of stories, never getting beyond a few pages. I recently tossed a box full of notes, drawings, and file cards for a SF novel from the 80’s that I never got very far on writing. And I still have a manuscript for a YA adventure novel from the 90’s, the revised version lost when the computer it was on lost power.

So, like in art, I’m a “self-taught” writer. But in the case of writing, it was not just writing, but reading that shaped me into the writer I am today. I have a wall of books, and with all the library books I read, I must have read nearly 2,000 books over these last 60 plus years. I believe that in reading all those books I absorbed on an intuitive level, the art of storytelling. And when I write, I am intuitively recreating the structure and experiences that I encountered, remembered, and enjoyed in all those books that carried me off and away into their worlds of words.

So not only am I a self-taught writer, but an intuitive one as well. I think of a story to tell, piece it together scene by scene as it seems to me it should be told, without thinking much, if at all, of that process. Which brings me around to the subject I set out to talk about – engineering stories. Which is to say, breaking stories down in to discrete pieces – into blueprints like three act plays or hero’s journeys, and components and techniques that build tension, conflict, with turning points, pinch points, reversals, and all the other terms and techniques you can find set out in books, articles, and blog posts on how to write stories. Concepts, which, I must confess, are much like English grammar to me – a mystery.

But I find that I have rambled on too long already to do the subject justice. Plus I really need to do some research into how to write a story this way. So I’ll save my thoughts on constructing stories vs my more intuitive approach for a future blog.

The Secrets of Valsummer House release date: 18 March 2021! Be there, or be square.

Friday, March 5, 2021

The Secrets of Valsummer House Release Date


The Secrets of Valsummer House, the next Di Ai and d'Mere  mystery story is now up for pre-order on Amazon, the ebook priced at $.99. It will be released on 18 March 2021 It will also be released as a trade paperback book for $10.00.

It will also be released on Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, B & N and Google on that date, or within a day or two, once again for FREE on those sites. Whether Amazon will match that price or not, is always up to Amazon.