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Dear Trout: AI and holes. AI holes. And a quick hiatus announcement.

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Quick reminder that June is when I go on my annual writing retreat to the Keweenaw Peninsula, and that will be happening next week. Once a year since like… over a decade ago, I started going up there with some friends for a week of distraction-free writing and being away from administrative stuff. I just realized the other day that I finished writing the recap of the final chapter of Fifty Shades of Grey the night before I left on my very first of these annual June retreats. All of the Boss books have been written on this retreat. I can’t even get my mindhole around it. I missed last year because I was directing The Music Man, and this year I am ready to put the words down.

Anyway, that means no content here, on YouTube, or on the Patreon for a week. But if you head over to my Abigail Barnette Facebook page, you can see the cover reveal and sale date announcement for Alpha God Rising!

Onto the questions!

How do I ask my 73-year-old dad to stop using AI to create art for his books? He recently finished a book which is getting published by a small press later this year. He’s setting up a substack and used AI to make a logo for it, then asked me to fix the text as it was the only part that didn’t turn out well (debatable tbh). As an artist, this makes my stomach turn in a way I can’t explain. I’d offer to just do the art myself but I’m not good at the kind of graphic design thing the project needs (I’m more of an illustrator) and I feel weird asking him to do something differently when I can’t help with it and it doesn’t totally affect me. I guess I’d like him to hire someone, but I don’t have a suggestion as to who. I just really hate AI art on principle, but I have a hard time standing up for myself and my principles and I’m afraid he won’t understand and it’ll be a fight for nothing. He doesn’t use AI for writing, just visual art—he’s a writer and I do both. We get along really well and I guess I’m just scared of rocking the boat.

The internet—Threads, at least, and BookThreads, in particular—sure had your back this week. The popular subscription book box OwlCrate was called out for platforming author Lauren Roberts, who allegedly shared multiple pieces of AI art depicting her characters on her Instagram. Readers who questioned OwlCrate had their comments removed, or were blocked, and outrage followed. Another author, Cassie Alexander, posted a long, long thread promoting her lecture on using AI art at Inkers Con, and it didn’t get her the reaction she’d probably hoped for. Reader responses to both of these situations made it clear: readers do not want AI. Not in words, not in art, not on social media, not at all.

If I were you, I would send your dad some links to some of these responses. You could approach it as fear for his future success. “Look, Dad, I know you’ve used AI in the past, and I’m worried that you might be hurting your bottom line. This is how readers feel about authors who use AI images.” Because readers have made it clear: if they see AI art involved, they assume the contents are AI generated, and they don’t trust the creator. A reader’s trust, once lost, is lost forever.

You could also introduce him to Canva, an app that every publishing writer should probably have, anyway. Canva has free fonts and images an author can use to make logos and promo, with templates sized for posting on social media sites. It’s user friendly and has a monthly subscription fee for people who want to access the entire library of fonts and elements. The unfortunate side of this is that Canva also makes some AI tools available to users, but maybe once he sees reader response to the technology he’d think twice about using them.

Re: the ‘dig a hole and get in it’ plan to succeed at Naked and Afraid – could you give some advice on surviving in the wild by expanding on that plan? Would you dig a hole you could lie down in and find some kind of cover for it, or is it a vertical hole you could stand in and bury yourself into until there’s just a little head sticking out for passing deers to investigate?

(I hereby declare I do not intend to dig a hole, nor get in it, nor participate in any strange TV shows I’d never heard of until a certain blog post mentioned them, as a result of any advice I may receive.)

The number one issue I see people complain about on Naked and Afraid is bugs. People have tapped out due to the psychological stress of being bitten by bugs over and over. My theory is that if you dig a hole and get in it, the flying type of bugs can’t get you. I’m sure there are bugs in the dirt, too, but not as many as the air has. You also probably won’t get cold, because your body heat will fill up the space.

My hole plan involves something deep enough that you can sit on the bottom with your head at least six inches below ground level. Not long enough to lay down in (that kind of hole requires too much energy to dig), but wide enough to comfortably sit with your knees bent. The hole can be lined with palm fronds or leaves or whatever. And yeah, I guess you could put stuff over your head.

The biggest challenges presented by what I’m just now coining “Hole Survival” is getting out of the hole to go look for food or to tend the fire or go poop. I’m envisioning some kind of rope-tied-to-a-big-rock scenario where I can pull myself up out of the hole. But you run the risk of collapsing the sides every time you exit. Clearly, I still need time to work out of some of these details.

That’s all for this week. And next week, since I’m going on that trip. But after that, I’ll be back with more great advice that probably won’t require anyone to dig a hole. Got a question you want to ask Trout? Leave it here.

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Here for the first time because you’re in quarantine and someone on Reddit recommended my Fifty Shades of Grey recaps? Welcome! Consider checking out my own take on the Billionaire BDSM genre, The Boss. Find it on AmazonB&NSmashwords, iBooks, and Radish!

One Comment

  1. Lena

    Aww. Every little bit of reader pushback against AI grift warms the cockles of my shriveled little heart. I get too much exposure to brainless automatons who *want* computers to take over all their functions so they’re free to complete their transformation into coleslaw, so it’s easy to forget there are people who value work and skill over algorithmic slurry scraped from unconsenting donors.

    Enjoy the retreat! May the words flow from your real human brain with passion and style.

    June 14, 2024

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