California native Carolyn Jewel is the successful author of such historical and paranormal romance titles as SHARDS OF CRIMSON, A DARKER CRIMSON, THE SPARE, LORD RUIN, and MAGELLAN'S WITCH (upcoming in 2008 from Grand Central Publishing). She is also a fan of Text to Speech, and chooses the TextAloud program near the end of the writing process as one of her most important proofing tools. Easy, affordable, and a breeze to use, TextAloud is a Text to Speech program from NextUp Technologies (http://www.nextup.com/) that converts text into spoken audio files for listening on a PC (or a wide variety of popular portable devices).
"At various times during the process of writing a novel, I use TextAloud to read my chapters to me," she comments. "This allows me to catch typos my eye has missed, or to find places where I need to tighten or clarify the language and dialogue." As she's listening, Carolyn keeps her chapter open in her word processing program at the same time, so that she can pause TextAloud's read-through in order to make instant edits. It's now become an essential part of her process for finishing each one of her books.
"Lots of writers recommend literally reading one's work aloud because it's a great way to catch clunky phrases and repetitive bits," says Carolyn. "I tried that once, but it's pretty hard on the voice, and it still doesn't solve the issue of your eyes and brain conspiring to 'fix' typos for you." She adds, "What I really wanted was for someone else to do all that reading! So, I tried out three or four text readers, and TextAloud proved to be the easiest to use, not to mention the most stable."
Text to Speech can be a surprisingly strong tool for writers like Jewel, and even more so for writers working with unusual words and character names. "Several of my titles included some characters with unusual names (my hero in A DARKER CRIMSON was a vampire named Tiberiu Korzha, for example) so I used the voice editor to tweak the pronunciation of his name as well as some others," comments Carolyn. "That way, the names fit with how I imagined they'd be spoken." She adds, "The most important thing is that TextAloud reads exactly what I wrote, mistakes and all, and that I can pause the reading to insert missing words or to fix typos. Hearing the work read aloud keeps me from supplying meaning that isn't really there."