Audiobooks

Following Dani Haviland’s advice and example, I decided to accept Amazon’s invitation to create an audiobook using AI voice. It was so easy!!!

  1. I chose the book–one of my books where Amazon put a note [Your eBook is eligible for an audiobook.]
  2. I clicked on Add audiobook with virtual voice
  3. I chose a voice–when the story was mostly in the heroine POV I chose a female voice
  4. I listened, enjoying my own story in a different way.
  5. I paused and corrected the word that weren’t pronounced right–again so easy.
  6. So here are my new audiobooks– those published so far:

Honeymoon Cruise Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author, Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator)  212 ratings See all formats and editions This title uses virtual voice narration. Virtual voice is computer-generated narration for audiobooks.

Mother’s Day Babies Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice,    216 ratings

A Bride For Prince Paul Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator)    96 ratings

We’re All Together Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator)   8 ratings

We’re All Winners Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator)    11 ratings

We’re No Saints Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator) 12 ratings

Heal my Heart Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator)176 ratings

For Sarah’s Sake Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator) 94 ratings

Ai: Are you listening?

Audiobooks continue to surge in popularity, with listeners craving everything from epic fantasy sagas to meditation guides, soothingly narrated in their ears. Traditionally, creating these audiobooks required actual voice actors to record themselves reading page after page – often exhausting work requiring days sequestered in studio booths, reading copy, editing out clicks and other errata, costing authors a LOT of money. Now, Ai voice cloning is shaking up that process.

I was invited to Amazon/KDP’s beta program to supply content for free to The Audible Plus Library (unlimited listening that uses Virtual Voice). I jumped at the chance, I used three (of the offered eight) Virtual Voice narrators for several (okay, fifteen) of my books. I matched the tone and genre of the story with the pitch and inflection of the VV narrator. I carefully curated every word in the books, correcting pronunciation, adding pauses, and slowing down or speeding up the VV’s speech to match the mood of the story. Was I satisfied? You betcha!

The earthy, masculine voice I chose for the Arlie Undercover series was a great match, even better than using my own voice. I used ‘his’ voice for Too Fast For You and The Polar Xpress, also. That Twin Thing romantic suspense series needed someone with more seriousness. An American woman’s voice was the answer.
For my romantic comedies, I went with a female British voice. I liked ‘her’ sprite inflection more than any of the others. Check out samples of The Purebred and the Mutt and The Wizard of Odds samples and let me know what you think.

I’m waiting to use my own voice, professionally cloned by Eleven Labs, for The Fairies Saga books. To do that, I need to produce three hours of cleaned-up narration files for them to plug into their algorithms so they can create a clone. My cloned narrator will not only match my pitch and tone, but will also incorporate the inflection and pacing I use when speaking. I want to use it for Triplets: Three Aren’t One series, too. However, production costs for Ai Voice audiobooks are still high. Converting doc to MP3 files when charged by the character is spendy. Plus, I will still have to listen to over one MILLION words of text, making sure my clone pronounces every word correctly before I release it. Are there enough hours in the day? I think so. And the great thing is even if I get laryngitis, once my cloned voice is created, I can read aloud for hours and hours!
For more info on getting the most out of the new unlimited listening program by Audible (Amazon), check out: https://www.audible.com/mk/l/lto (limited-time offer ends January 16, 2024).

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KINKY BOOTS AND ME.

Too many tomatoes?

Craving a Flavorful Homemade Salsa? Try This Simple Pineapple and Bell Pepper Recipe

Too many tomatoes? Salsas are a great way to use them. No canning is required for this recipe. Plus, this sweet version will add fresh flavor to dishes any time of year. While many traditional salsa recipes call for onions and hot peppers, you can make a tasty salsa without them. The secret is using a combination of sweet and tart ingredients.

This easy pineapple and red bell pepper salsa comes together quickly with just a few ingredients. It highlights the natural sweetness of ripe tomatoes balanced by the tropical tang of pineapple and the brightness of red bell peppers. A bit of sugar and vinegar round out the flavors.

The end result is a chunky salsa with just the right mix of sweet, sour, and savory. Bright orange tomato pieces contrast with the red bell pepper and yellow pineapple tidbits. It looks as good as it tastes!

Best of all, this versatile salsa can be served with tacos, grilled fish or chicken, as a salad topper, quick dinner, or even as an appetizer with tortilla chips. The flavors complement anything from Tex-Mex dishes to Hawaiian cuisine.

Fresh Tomato Pineapple Salsa
Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:

– 2 – 2 1/2 cups colorful tomatoes, cored and diced
– 1/2 cup fresh pineapple tidbits (from fresh or store-prepared pineapple spears)
– @1⁄4 red bell pepper, diced
– 3 tablespoon white sugar
– 3 tablespoons your favorite vinegar or mix of vinegars (I use ½ rice, ½ balsamic vinegars)

Instructions:

1. Mix sugar and vinegars in a glass container (I use four-cup Pyrex measuring cup) and microwave for ½ to 1 minute. This makes the sugar go into solution. Stir to combine.
2. Chop pineapple and bell pepper into ½ inch pieces. Add to vinegar/sugar mix.
3. I usually peel the tomatoes before chopping into ½ inch pieces.. This step is optional.
4. For best flavor, let the salsa rest for 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
5. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. The fresh salsa keeps several days chilled.

Tips for Serving Pineapple Tomato Salsa:
– I use different colored tomatoes.
– I prefer red bell peppers but you can use any color. Yellow and orange are sweet, too.
– Mix with cottage cheese for a quick snack or meal
– Pair it with grilled mahi mahi, chicken, or flank steak
– Spoon over tacos for a sweet contrast to savory fillings
– Brighten up a salad by topping it with a heaping spoonful
– Use as a burger topping in place of ketchup
– Dip tortilla chips or vegetables like jicama and cucumber
– Transform basic rice into something special by mixing in a few tablespoons
– Brush onto salmon or halibut before broiling for a flavorful glaze

This salsa really shines when made with juicy in-season tomatoes. Look for tomatoes that are fully ripe but still firm. The pineapple adds moisture, so drain any excess liquid from the tomatoes before dicing. When I get fresh pineapple from the store, pre-cut, I’ll freeze what we don’t eat. It’s easier to cut into tidbits when it’s partially frozen.

For best results, avoid using out-of-season hothouse tomatoes, which tend to be drier and less flavorful. Though if those are your only option, just boost the sugar slightly to compensate.

The possibilities are endless with this easy pineapple and bell pepper salsa. It’s sure to be a hit any time of year. The sweet and tangy flavors make it truly hard to resist!

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The Rise of Use of AI by Authors

Imagine: Two of Zoe Saldana’s alter egos having fun with karaoke. Limitless prompts!

Advances in AI are providing authors with exciting new tools to bring their stories to life. Recently, text-to-image generators like #MidJourney have popularized the ability to create original images simply by describing them. This emerging technology has intriguing implications for writers looking to vividly visualize their fictional worlds. After a lot of soul searching, I’ve decided to add Artificial Intelligence image creation to my creative toolkit.

Benji, THE GREAT BIG FAIRY, as I visualize him.

For any novelist, a core part of the writing process is imagining how our characters and settings look. Translating those mental pictures into words through descriptions is part of the artistic challenge. Our readers take our words and reinterpret them into their own mental images. Something is often lost in translation. After all, we each imagine things in our own unique way.
I enter word prompts to the AI (MidJourney for me) and it generates a myriad of original images. After picking the one that best matches what I imagined, I fine-tune it with more adjectives. The AI helps me crystallize my vision into impressions that I can describe in new ways, boosting my creativity in how I share my vision with readers.
I love the way the technology bends to my will. I control the size of the image, lighting, and settings. I can also employ whatever media and technique I want to use. These images can be photos, woodwork, line drawings, posters,or works of art based on the Masters, all tailor-made to match my verbal prompts. They can also be fun, whimsical, and made out of metal!

My impression of 2004, the Chinese Year of the Metal Monkey.

It’s also useful for advertising books and sharing inspirations with fans on social media. I created the one above to describe my evening with a brown bat that had come in, uninvited. Isn’t this great for conveying a moment of panic?

Here’s what I got when I asked for a red-haired 18th-century Scot. No names or books were mentioned. Since he also happens to look like Jody Pomeroy in THE FAIRIES SAGA series, he’s a keeper

Fleshing out my fictional characters with AI-created images has allowed me to promote my books in exciting new ways. For readers, AI art shared by authors grants a peek directly into their imaginative process, a glimpse inside their heads to see how they see their characters. Like concept art in movies, it makes the fictional realm feel real.

Here’s Grace from THE SET UP and THE WHOLE SHE-BANG collection

As with all new technologies, there are debates on ethics we must consider, too. However, used judiciously and with respect for human creatives, text-to-image generators like MidJourney feel akin to any new tool in an author’s creative kit. Much like concept artists at Pixar using digital software, these AI can enhance imagination in fresh ways. But human creativity, skill, and labor still remain essential! Someone has to tell the ‘bot what to create!
At the end of the day, it’s the writer who breathes life into her worlds and characters through meaningful stories that connect with readers. In the hands of skilled creatives, AI image generators are an innovation to get excited about. This fusion of emerging tech with the enduring craft of storytelling will be fascinating to watch unfold.

Thanks for tuning in! Dani Haviland

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