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  • Writer's pictureChristine Shuck

WOW! Mind Blown!

I've been busy working with a couple of covers and learning new skills, which always makes this auto-didact (a.k.a. self-learner) happy. But today, I learned something new and I am so stinking excited that I had to share it with you.

First, here are those covers I'm working on...

I was playing around on the Wonder AI app. In case you are unfamiliar, you prompt the app with a description. In this case, I was feeling rather out of ideas after having asked for a bunch of mountains and inclines and blah, blah, blah, and typed "life change" into the search box.

It gave me this image. What does this have to do with life change? Beats me, but the colors, along with the sun and moon, and the clouds gave me delicious vibes which said anything was possible. What can I say? I couldn't resist.

I learned a completely new skill. I now know how to download a template from Amazon KDP, do the math necessary to create a custom size in Canva, upload the template and create a wraparound cover that I could use for (in this case) an 8 1/2 x 11 annual planner.

This bucks every trend (if there even is one) in life change/self help. Here are the top six self help books out right now...

The plan is to finish the book by the end of the year, along with Zarmina's World. Whenever I do put out the book, it will also have the accompanying workbook and goals/habits planner - all in the same matching art.

So I'll give it a go, and re-design by the end of next year if I don't see movement (i.e. purchases).

Meanwhile, while on my cover-designing high, I'm working on my thriller cover for The Retirement Home, which I hope to return to working on late this year or first thing in 2024.

The retirement home I had envisioned was one that was modern. However, as I continued to try and find an appropriate building, and corresponding ominous sky above, preferably with lightning, I found myself drifting first toward antebellum mansions, and later Gothic estates. The book is only partially written, it wouldn't take much to write in a retrofit of some older building and set it there in Louisiana.

The jury is still out. And I continue to alter it and consider my options. I do think that I can successfully design the cover myself, though. I don't do that with all of my books. I'm quite happy with the designs on my sci-fi, dystopian, and romantic thrillers - but this one feels... doable.

Okay, so with those out of the way, let me tell you what I learned today!

Claude 100k... O... M... G!

My favorite podcaster Joanna Penn shared a super-special video with her patrons (of which I am one) on Claude 100k. If you aren't a patron of hers on Patreon and want to know/learn more, I highly recommend you visit her website, listen to her podcasts, consider becoming a patron on Patreon, and definitely participate in her Kickstarter for her new book Writing the Shadow (not about AI, but oh my, anything this gal puts her mind to is pure gold!). I watched as she asked Claude to "act as a story consultant with a specialism in genre tropes and to please list the tropes that are in the attached manuscript." She attached hers, and I, captivated, mimicked her and attached a pdf of my book War's End: The Storm. A couple of minutes later, Claude had read the book and wrote the following:

Based on the excerpt provided, here are some of the main genre tropes that appear in The Storm:

· Post-apocalyptic setting: The story takes place after a societal collapse, with infrastructure destroyed and factions fighting for power.

· Strong female protagonist: Jess is the central character, a young woman who escapes captivity and tries to survive and protect others.

· Found family: Jess, Erin, David, and Tina form a makeshift family unit to take care of each other.

· Survivalism: Much of the plot involves the characters scavenging for supplies, finding shelter, hunting/foraging for food, and learning survival skills.

· Escape and evasion: Jess and Erin escape from the enemy camp early on and try to evade recapture.

· Secret sanctuary: The cave where Madge lives serves as a hidden refuge for the characters to stay for the winter.

· Coming-of-age: Young characters like Jess, David, and Erin have adolescent/teen experiences but are forced to mature quickly in the extreme circumstances.

· Romance subplot: Jess and Allen, Chris and Carrie have romantic connections amidst the chaos.

· Loss of innocence: The violence and trauma shapes the young characters and ends their childhoods prematurely.

· Illustrated folklore: Madge shares Native American tales with the group when they are in the cave.

· Military fiction: The Western Front army and warring factions provide military plot elements.

After I picked up my jaw off the floor, I asked it to "please write a good sales copy based on the emotional tropes above and include references to similar books."

And this is what it came up with:

In a world turned upside down, the bonds of family are all we have left.

After escaping imprisonment by a ruthless militia, 16-year-old Jess must traverse an unfamiliar and dangerous landscape, relying on her childhood best friend Erin to survive. Together these two brave but traumatized girls struggle against the elements and evade armed gangs, driven forward by loyalty and their dream of home.

When a violent attack leaves Erin dead, Jess is shattered but finds new purpose protecting two orphaned children, David and Tina. Forming a surrogate family with the young survivors rekindles her capacity for love and nurturing amidst overwhelming grief and trauma.

Guided by an elder named Madge, this group of damaged souls finds refuge in an ancestral cave. Madge's ancestral stories and resilience provide comfort, helping them heal and grow strong. But the threats of the outside world loom, and each day is a battle to hold on to hope and bits of normalcy.

Fans of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison, and The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey will be drawn into this gritty but heartfelt coming-of-age tale set in a starkly rendered post-apocalyptic world.

War's End: The Storm is a gripping character-driven narrative of love, loss, and the enduring power of family in even the darkest of times. Haunting yet uplifting, it will stay with you long after the final page.

Holy cannoli! That is more than any book blurbist I have employed has ever done! Believe it or not, most book blurbists don't even READ the books they write blurbs about. And despite being able to write a 100k+ book, I'm complete shit at writing a sales description. Claude 100k is literally the best of both worlds - where else can something read my entire book, figure out all of my tropes, use them to write effective sales copy, and help me promote my writing - all in under five minutes? I changed my book description so stinking fast, it would make your head spin. I am limited to four queries per day, so I'll be making careful use of Claude 100k. I need it to re-do the blurbs on all of my books, and give me ad copy to use for an eventual future when I try Facebook ads again as well as Amazon ads.

Say what you want about AI, but damn, it is here to stay. And no, I'm not worried about it taking my job away. Not in the slightest. A blurbist's job, perhaps, but not mine. There will always be a place for my own unique voice in this world. I'm pretty damn sure of that.

I'm super excited about what it can do for me when it comes to evaluating Fate's Highway (originally Schicksal Turnpike). I really love that book, but no one buys it. Those few who have read it often tell me it is their favorite of all my books. High praise, indeed!


I recently bought a Lego knockoff from Temu of a typewriter. My teen and I put a huge chunk of it together a week or so ago, and yesterday I asked him if he would finish it, and he did. I love it! It occupies a special place on my writing desk. Here is where I write my Morning Pages each morning and journal entries to my kiddos.

Can you believe that little green typewriter is made of Lego?! It is, I promise! It was under $60 instead of the $250 that the name brand Lego would have cost too.

I added the bookshelf back onto the old library desk. I've had the combination before and missed the extra storage and display space it offered.

I'm off to write more in the Quit Your Job, Change Your Life manuscript. Be well, folks, the writing is well underway!

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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