Artificial Intelligence at Longbourn

Artificial Intelligence at Longbourn

Chances are your immediate thoughts tended along the same line as mine toward Mrs. Bennet, the excitable matriarch in Pride and Prejudice, when imagining intelligence of such sort at Longbourn. As Caroline Bingley reminded Mr. Darcy of his own assertion when speaking of Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s reported beauty:

“She a beauty! I should as soon call her mother a wit.”

What does any of that have to do with artificial intelligence (AI)? Keep reading. There’s a newly announced podcasting for authors opportunity on the market that has me thoroughly fascinated and seriously contemplating whether to incorporate the service into my long-term business plans. As this is not meant to be a product endorsement, I will not go into details except to say it revolves around creating a series of podcasts episodes from book chapters using a form of AI known as text-to-speech technology (TTS).

I suppose the reason I am so fascinated by all this is that years ago when I started publishing, I created book excerpts using TTS and posted them on my website. Here’s an early audio excerpt created in 2010 from my first story: To Have His Cake.

Another reason is that I always create audio files of all my books as part of my editing process. Here’s a snippet from Chapter 1 of my newest release: Irrevocably Gone.


Mind you, I used a very rudimentary TTS app to create this content. The To Have His Cake excerpt took more time to create because of the use of multiple ‘narrators’. The Irrevocably Gone MP3 file was simply a copy, paste, and record effort.  I can only imagine how such content might sound if created using a professional proprietary software.

I’ve read that TTS narrations are the future of audio content. Who is to say if that’s true? I suppose it makes sense for non-fiction works. I have used my Kindle Fire’s TTS function in the absence of a companion audiobook narration quite often. It’s ideal for multitasking. I can have no reason to suppose I’d be averse to listening to TTS narrated non-fiction podcasts.

But fiction? Specifically, romance? I don’t know. I won’t rule out the possibility altogether. As stated before, I have MP3 versions created using TTS of all my books. Plus, podcasts of this nature most likely would be free to download and who doesn’t like free books?

Here’s the thing. I believe audio content produced by human narrators ought to be the order of the day, especially for fiction. In this era of rapid technological advances and the inherent disruptions, the ability to adapt quickly is paramount. Then too there are unforeseen changes having little to do with technology that may prove equally disruptive. For instance, what if a major player in the audiobook world introduced a service with a payout to authors and narrations of pennies per audiobook consumed? Talk about a potential disruption. Indeed, who knows what the future of audio content holds?

I’m just saying.

Giveaway Time

I’d love to incorporate your viewpoint while forming my future podcasting plan. Listening to audio content is not for everyone, but I’m asking all the same. Whether human or TTS narrated, would you download and listen to a free podcast series featuring a favorite romance story? Comment below for a chance to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card.

One winner will be chosen. The gift card will be awarded via If the lucky winner is ineligible to receive a gift card from the online store, a digital edition of a P. O. Dixon story (winner’s choice) will be awarded instead.

The giveaway contest ends on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.


Everybody Wins!

A thousand thanks to everyone who grabbed a copy of Irrevocably Gone. I truly hope you enjoyed the story. If so, will you consider leaving a few words by way of a comment or review at your favorite online store?

Just in case you’re still on the fence about my new release, I invite you to grab a complimentary ebook edition of A Tender Moment, the bestselling short story which formed the foundation of Irrevocably Gone. This is a limited time only offer.

Click here now and use coupon code WM84P at checkout.



One More Thing …

It’s Read an Ebook Week at Smashwords. All of my Smashwords titles are available for 50% off the regular price using coupon code RAE50. What a great time to stock up and save.

Click Here Now!


52 Responses to Artificial Intelligence at Longbourn

  1. Never heard of TTS before. Very Interesting. Thanks for s’plaining. I was expecting it to be horrible and very robotic, but t’wasn’t bad at’all. I’m visual, not auditory, so I rarely listen to audio books. I do like a bargain, tho’ (!) so I would download a freebie and try it out while working on another task. Best of luck on all your endeavors.

    • In my experience, some TTS ‘voices’ are far less robotic than others. I don’t use most of mine despite having paid for them as add-ons for my TTS software. My view of TTS is that it will only get better with time. I’m glad to know you’re open to the free podcast idea. Thanks so much for commenting, Lisa.

  2. I’d listen to a free download. TTS is robotic but kind of interesting. It’s good if you think that human narrators overemote.

  3. I don’t think that TTS would work for me in books like JAFF, but could be good in scific audiobooks. A very interesting idea Pam.

  4. I am a P&P fanfiction fanatic. I love the idea of a podcast type format, as I am a mother of 4 and am a full time student at a university, so I don’t have a lot of time to read anymore. With audio it will allow me to hear interesting stories about my favorite characters on the go!

  5. I didn’t know what TTS was until I read your interesting piece. Although I prefer reading, I will try it on my Kindle now. I especially like your idea of using it to “read” long internet articles,etc. Thanks for enlightening us and for the samples. I like the proper inflections that a human uses best.

  6. I am a 71 year old PP romantic. I have volumes of the many versions and you are one of my favorite authors. I have always been a visual person but I have likewise always been excited about new ventures in technology. Unlike many my age I am a sponge for new things but enough about me. I set the background to say that I have experienced over the course of time the many changes in writing and how it is presented. I am a champion for “The Next” whatever it may be. I would love for you to present podcasts especially of pp books. I have the Kindle 10th Fire because I like to listen (eye wear) and occasionally view the words. I use the TTS and I use human narrators in my audible versions. This way I can enjoy my reads when I commute to work (yes I still work). Please, please make my day and go for it.

    • Your encouraging words mean so much to me. I’m honored to be included among your favorite authors. I’m also delighted to know you’re open to the idea of listening to stories as podcasts. Thank you for commenting.

  7. I prefer human to TTS if I listen to an audiobook. I especially enjoy the ones with a cultured English accent. However, I can see the ramification for TTS for blog posts, internet articles while I can be doing another research.

  8. I have not tried listening to audiobook before and I don’t know if I will ever jump into TTS technology. I prefer to read words rather than listen to them spoken as my mind tend to wander after some time. Maybe if the need arises (poor eyesight or going to go blind) then I would definitely consider utilising this option but so far my eyes are alright.

  9. I do love reading books myself but I also really enjoy listening to audiobooks as well, especially if the reader does a good job. I think I would prefer a human reading instead of TTS but the TTS isn’t too bad, I haven’t listened to much with it before and it sounds like something I could get used to if I used it more often.

    • Good point, Chelsea. I think one of the reasons I am open to TTS is because I rely upon it so much on a day to day basis. Hearing what I write before sending an email (for instance) is a great timesaver for me. Otherwise, I tend to spend far too much time re-reading over and over again to make sure I don’t overlook something.

      Thanks for commenting.

  10. I have never used a TTS feature on my ebooks but am willing to give it a try. I love listening to human voice audio books on long drives or when my husband and I wanted to read the same book at the same time. While it’s great to hold a real book in my hands, we have run out of room in our many bookshelves so now I primarily read ebooks unless it’s one of my favorites then I will pull my hard copy from the shelf and happily lose my self in the pages.

    • I have a ton of non-fiction paperbacks, but only a few fiction paperbacks that, like you, I enjoy losing myself in from time to time. My favorite is Pride and Prejudice (of course). Thanks for commenting, Katie.

  11. I like hard copy print where I can see the written words and can visualize the scenery. I have read a few books but it is not the same. I would try an audio if it is something that is really interesting, but really do not prefer that type of books.

    • Print copies offer a lot of lovely advantages. Indeed, for some books (mostly non-fiction) I only read paperback versions. Plus, I am more likely to read paperbacks in public than ebooks. Thanks for commenting, Jodi. 🙂

  12. Pam, I have a problem with audiobooks mainly because I am a visual person. I understand things better when I can see them, and have trouble if I can only hear them. But I extensively utilize the TTS on my Kindle Touch, so that I can “read” while I’m driving. I don’t know if it’s because TTS (the slightly robotic voice) makes it easier for me to understand, or if I’m just really used to it by now, but I’ve had occasion to listen to an actual audiobook, and I find them too ‘breathless’. I don’t know how to describe that, but sometimes it reminds me of an adult over emoting while reading a book to a child. One other thing that I find frustrating about audiobooks is that sometimes, I want to see the actual words, perhaps because I didn’t understand what was said, or I want to see how something is spelled compared to how it is pronounced. At least with TTS, I can do that, but not with audiobooks. The final reason that I prefer reading to hearing, is that I find it much more pleasurable to savor the written word, when there is something really well written.

    • You’ve raised a very good point, Ginna. Interestingly, I just created and posted (on Facebook) an audiobook excerpt video which includes both the text and the narration. I’ve done several such video excerpts before and I plan to kick off a project to create several more for other books. They’re fun to create but can sometimes take awhile to get the text and audio in sync. Having read your viewpoint, I’m wondering if I might do something similar for one of my stories not yet available in audiobook — perhaps even a future release. Of course, there’s the whispersync for voice function available for Kindle eBooks with companion narrations that can be used to see read the eBook and listen to the audiobook at the same time, I suppose, for I haven’t tested it… I guess what I’m thinking of is a little different. We’ll see.

      As for the “breathless” aspects of some narrations, that’s a conundrum. As for savoring the written word, I can see that. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting.

  13. With all the technological advancements we are losing touch with humans. For me going TTS might take away the human element. For those that do best with audio hearing natural voice inflections is crucial to learning and helping them take that and apply it to 1) a book and 2) normal life. We are taking out the human element and it is hurting us.

    • Indeed, technological advances are occurring at such a rapid pace … TTS, voice activated digital assistants (I’m up to five echo devices throughout the house), text messaging as opposed to picking up the phone to talk – something I resisted for the longest time until I realized it was the only way to ‘connect’ with certain people, although I refuse to text in anything other than full sentences. You’re right, there’s a human cost element as a result of such modern conveniences.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Courtney.

      • Sounds like I am old school like many who are commenting. I love books. I love the smell of them, the feel of pages between my fingers, the texture of covers, the artwork, etc. I find with audiobooks I get sidetracked and have to listen to some of the chapters again. Whereas in a book I can ignore the world completely. I guess to each his own, but books are it. I bring home stray books like stray animals and it drives my husband crazy.

  14. As an audiobook narrator I’m frankly offended by the idea that TTS could improve on a real human. But it’s efficient and if efficiency is the priority, that’s your choice as the author.

  15. When I read I am so engrossed in the story that I block out all noises. I think I like imagining what everything looks like and how each person’s voice sounds so listening to someone else’s voice distracts me.

    • That’s an interesting point, Sally. Engrossing yourself in a story to such an extent allows your own creative voice to shine through as well. Thank you for commenting. 🙂

  16. I’m visual, not auditory, so I don’t listen to books. But, if I had to, I would probably want a less-stilted human voice that can show nuance and emotion.

    • Great point, Linda. It’s hard to imagine TTS with such capabilities. No doubt there are tons of people working on it. 🙂 Thank you for commenting.

  17. There’s nothing I like better than holding a real book in my hands, but audiobooks and podcasts are my go-to formats when I’m doing my daily fitness thing. So TTS is a definite thumbs up from me.

    • Another thumbs up for TTS!! I love it. It’s nice to know how you’re including audio content in your daily fitness routine. I aspire to following your example. 🙂 Thank you for commenting, Nancy.

  18. Great post! I’ve never heard an audio reading before and it was cool to hear! I still like a book in hand once in a while though

    • Thanks, Cindie. I’m so glad you liked the audio excerpts. I’m thankful for so many options. As much as I enjoy audiobooks and ebooks, when it comes to non-fiction writing and storytelling crafting content, my preference is paperback. I have a ton of them on my shelves. I think having the paperback on hand makes it easier for me to reference the content at a later time.

      Thanks for commenting.

  19. I read voraciously. When I’m not reading I’m listening to books on my kindle using the TTS function (though I had not idea it was called that until now lol). I really enjoy the ability to switch from reading to listening at the drop of a hat. The kindle read aloud function also is beneficial at night when I want to have something read me back to sleep. There’s also the amusement factor when words are mispronounced.

    • I had no idea you were such a TTS fan, Lynn. Chances are if I am at my computer, I’m using TTS. I have several voices from which to choose: at least three male and three female, American and British. British female voices are my favorite by far but occasionally I like to switch things up a bit. Thanks for commenting!

  20. I would love for you to produce a series of podcasts. I enjoy listing to them as I walk. I have not used the text to speech on my Kindle but will try it. I must admit that I do prefer a human voice as there is more emotion and less stilted. Thank you for the giveaway.

    • It’s my pleasure. Thanks for commenting for a chance to win. I’m delighted to know you’d love a podcast series. I have just the story in mind – one that has never been released in audiobook format. We’ll see. Depending on the path I choose, it might prove to be a costly venture with very intangible return on investment (considering that downloads will be free), but on the other hand, it might prove to be a lot of fun and I’m certainly up for that. 🙂

  21. Nope… I don’t utilize audio. Sorry, I may change my mind, but at this point… I don’t listen to audio books. I’m still new to ebooks. I held on to my paperbacks with a deadly grip before I finally converted to electronic books. Blessings on your transition to new technology.

    • I remember those days when paperbacks ruled and persuading readers to opt for ebooks instead was a challenge. Indeed, it was not too long ago. Now, I hardly sell any paperback copies at all, but I’ll keep publishing them because they’re nice to have. Plus, they make great gifts. Thanks so much for your kind words.

    • It’s nice to know you’re open to such a possibility as well. I like to read when I have the time, but audiobooks keep me engaged and dedicated to the task at hand. Thanks for commenting.

  22. I’d listen. I prefer reading to listening, but I like having options for those times that reading isn’t an option.

    • I’m glad to know you’re open to other options, Anita. TTS has come a long way and I can only imagine it getting better with time. Thank you for commenting.

    • That’s nice to know, Ria. TTS certainly has its advantages. I forgot to mention that I use TTS a lot when reading internet articles, blog posts, emails — you name it. If it’s on my screen and it’s more than a few lines, I use TTS. It’s a great time saver for me and it’s so easy! Thanks for commenting.

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