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  • Christine Shuck

She Dreams of AI

Really, it's all Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn's fault. All this talk of NFTs and AI generated art on her podcast got me interested and then I was sucked in. I can't even complain, because I am in awe of how these nascent thoughts have life now.


The possibilities of it are really captivating. These images in my head, made real.

The tavern I described in The Glass Forest, a book in progress, now a reality.


I opened up the Wonder app, which I have now forked over $39.99 for the annual subscription, typed "medieval tavern with tree growing through it" and hit my favorite style, Pen and Ink, to get the picture on the left.


At the beginning of November, when I still had dreams and aspirations of writing an entire book in the month, I created a ton of pictures for a children's story I wanted to add to the G581 Anthology. It's about a raccoon. Life inspires art, which inspires more art, I guess. We fostered a raccoon a couple of years ago in the height of COVID, for around a month, before it became clear that the best thing for her was to return to the wild.


However, I wanted to honor her memory, so Rocky the Raccoon became Bandit, the first raccoon ever created using an artificial womb there on the surface of Mars in my sci-fi book G581: Mars. And not just that, but my research into raccoons led me to Rebecca the Raccoon, a famous pet of Calvin Coolidge and his wife, who were sent a raccoon intended to be served for Thanksgiving dinner. Gasp!


I took that little factoid and ran with it. The reason the character in G581: Mars wants a raccoon is because she was read a story as a child called Rebecca the Raccoon Saves the White House. This is not a real story. At least, not yet. But I have the following art created in anticipation of writing the story.


The details of the story are still revolving about in the back of my brain. I've only written one children's story, and that was for my eldest, nearly 30 years ago! But I thought it would be fun to add to the anthology. Who knows, maybe readers will end up reading it to their children. If nothing else, I hope they enjoy it.


The way I see it, AI generated art is a win-win. It helps cement in my brain the reality of my nebulous imaginings. It also provides inspiration and even helps me with a way to describe the setting in better detail. For instance, yesterday, I was thinking about the stone keep I described in Fate's Highway which will resurface in later books in my upcoming series The Chronicles of Liv Rowan. I typed in "medieval stone keep with tall doors" and here is what came up:


Tell me that doesn't get your mind a'spinning! Stories and word begin dancing about in my head just looking at the images.


I'm crossing my fingers and toes that I can actually add these to my upcoming manuscripts with little or no difficulty. I haven't had much experience with uploading image-heavy manuscripts to the various bookselling platforms. I think they will add to the reader experience, though, and who would love that?!


AI Art for The Cottages?

A recent ad on Facebook sent me down the Wonder app rabbit hole again. Between new car payments, braces for the kiddo, and squirreling away every penny for renovations on our future rental house, Cottage East, I'm counting every penny I think of spending, twice.


I saw the images above and thought, "What if I typed in one of the quotes into Wonder. What would it create?"


I tried multiple styles - everything from Mythology to Cinematic, Oil Painting, and more. I found them rather fascinating!


It makes me wonder how expensive it would be to create a series of images, have them printed out in color at a local printer, and then hand-write the quote that I was using to generate the art. It could also be an interesting attraction to the house - "decorated entirely with AI generated art and quotes by famous writers" for example. Inexpensive, unique, and quirky. And that, in essence, is my kind of style. Remember folks, I have this image hanging on a wall near my desk...

AI Chat -Sales Descriptions and More

And if all this talk of AI hasn't bored you, here is one more tidbit. ChatGPT, which I'm pretty sure is going to change my life. It's in a free Beta right now, so I've set a couple of days aside to really dig into it. Joanna Penn (yes, her again!) has a great explanation of how it works and what authors can use it for here on her recent podcast episode. She had mentioned it to her Patreon supporters a few days prior, and I had gone there and poked around, but didn't truly get it until her recent episode. She gives some great ideas for how to query, including using "please" - LOL. At least she won't be the first to die when the machines rise up to kill us all. Me, unfortunately, for as much as I cuss at Alexa, am doomed. Nonetheless, I have been using "please" when asking ChatGPT for things.


So here is an example of what I've done.


I typed the following in:

Please generate a sales description for a fantasy book called The Glass Forest where a young woman, Liv Rowan, is suddenly transported into another world full of magic and mystery at the moment of her 21st birthday. Liv is a Protectorate, tasked with protecting the world, Byd Arall, from threats. In this story, she must save the children of Glass Village from a mysterious illness that is killing them. This is this first book in the Chronicles of Liv Rowan series.

And this is what ChatGPT gave me:

The Glass Forest, the first book in the Chronicles of Liv Rowan series, is a thrilling tale of magic and adventure. At the moment of her 21st birthday, Liv Rowan is suddenly transported into the world of Byd Arall, a place full of wonder and mystery. As a Protectorate, Liv is tasked with protecting this world from threats, and in The Glass Forest, she must embark on a dangerous quest to save the children of Glass Village from a mysterious illness that is killing them. With her courage and determination, Liv must overcome challenges and unravel the secrets of the Glass Forest to save the day. Join Liv on her exciting journey and discover the magic of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan.

Not bad for a book blurb! I wasn't totally satisfied with it, so I typed:

Please rewrite the sales description above to be more like a bestselling fantasy novel

And ChatGPT returned with:

In the epic first installment of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan series, The Glass Forest introduces readers to a world of magic and adventure. On her 21st birthday, Liv Rowan is suddenly transported to the mystical land of Byd Arall, where she discovers that she is a Protectorate, tasked with safeguarding the world from danger.
When a mysterious illness threatens the children of Glass Village, Liv must embark on a perilous journey to save them. With her courage and determination, she must overcome challenges and uncover the secrets of the Glass Forest in order to save the day. Join Liv on her thrilling quest and experience the magic of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan.

Not bad! I can do a few tweaks and fixes, and I just saved myself $125 of paying for a book blurb!

But it gets even better. Because it can also help with creating book outlines. I decided to try it for some upcoming books in the Benton Security Services series. I had written a basic premise, which ChatGPT then turned into a great sales description. I asked ChatGPT to create a 25 chapter outline of Deadly Sins and this is what it came up with...

  1. Naima Reichlin, the successful writer of erotic romance, receives a threatening note in the mail

  2. The local police dismiss it as a prank or religious attack

  3. Naima turns to Benton Security Services for help

  4. She meets Jesse Bardin, a dark and brooding security expert

  5. Naima and Jesse team up to uncover the mystery of who wants to kill her

  6. They struggle to resist their growing attraction to each other

  7. Jesse and Naima interview potential suspects and gather evidence

  8. They encounter several false leads and dead ends

  9. Naima receives another threatening note, raising the stakes

  10. Jesse offers Naima round-the-clock protection

  11. They spend more time together and their feelings for each other deepen

  12. Naima's friends and family become concerned about her safety

  13. Jesse and Naima discover a connection between the threats and Naima's writing

  14. They go undercover to gather more information

  15. Jesse risks his own safety to protect Naima

  16. Naima's attacker is revealed to be a jealous rival author

  17. Jesse and Naima confront the rival and put an end to the threats

  18. They confess their love for each other and decide to pursue a relationship

  19. Naima's friends and family are happy for them and support their relationship

  20. Jesse continues to work for Benton Security Services while also being a supportive partner to Naima

  21. Naima writes a new book inspired by her experiences with Jesse and the threats against her

  22. She dedicates the book to Jesse, thanking him for saving her life and inspiring her work

  23. The book becomes a bestseller, further cementing Naima's success as a writer

  24. Jesse and Naima celebrate their newfound happiness and success

  25. They look forward to a bright future together, knowing that they can overcome any challenges that come their way.

Wild, huh?! It won't write a book for me, although I could try and have it write a scene or two if I wanted. I don't, but it is there to play with later if I change my mind or get to a stuck point. And while I'm sure I would change different aspects of the outline, but it is a fun start. I love the idea of #21-#23. I hadn't thought of that idea, but seeing it makes it kind of perfect. I think I'll add in that while her erotic romance was financially successful, her romantic thrillers take her success to new heights. Life imitates art, art imitates life.


At the very least, ChatGPT can help me with those pesky book blurbs. It seems ridiculous, really, that I can write an entire book and yet be so very challenged when it comes to writing a simple book description for Amazon. The thought of condensing down a complicated story into a couple hundred words is just overwhelming for me. ChatGPT is somehow making it better. I've got an example to work with, and then I can tweak it or even request that ChatGPT do it again, and again, until it feels right.


I'm going to futz with some more book blurbs, maybe generate a couple of book outlines, and then I'll get back to writing the G581: Plague Tales anthology I'm working on this month.


Author Fair

I displayed my books at an author fair on 11/19. I had met with a local author (thank you, Lori!) who I met a year ago at 20Booksto50k in Las Vegas who gave me some wonderful advice in regard to setting up my table. I learned plenty at the author fair as well. Attended by library patrons, no one was interested in the QR codes for the ebook versions of my books.


"I prefer to hold my books and turn the pages." - a refrain I heard over and over. People after my own heart!


I sold eight copies of my books. A small, yet decent amount. Certainly, better than last time I attended, where I sold NOTHING.


I am trying to find other author fairs and conventions that could work for displaying and selling my books. Let me know if you know of any. It looks like I'm already too late for Comicon in March, all of the "inexpensive" booths (minimum is $350!) are sold out.


A Different Approach

Earlier this month, I mentioned I was going to try a different approach to writing and starting in December (or as soon as I finish the edits on Short-Term Rental Success), I will be trying it out. I've marked it on the calendar and everything! I hope to write, just write, and tackle the projects as follows:


December: Finish the G581: Plague Tales short story anthology

January: Finish Glass Forest (Book 1 of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan series)

February: Write Broken Code (Book 3 of the Benton Security series)

March: Finish Quit Your Job, Change Your Life

April - July: edit manuscripts, publish, repeat

August: Plan 2023-2024 winter writing projects


I have no idea if this will work. Who knows, it might blow up in my face and cause even more stress. Or it might be just what I need. I gues we will find out together!

Find Me on Facebook Join my group General Malcontent's Grumbles and Scribbles on Facebook and get plenty of weird memes, the opportunity to read my newest releases for free, pics of the family, and other author news. I look forward to seeing you there!

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