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Episode 1 – A Dive into AI for Authors

Hello, AI enthusiasts, authors, and podcast lovers! In the first episode of Brave New Bookshelf, Steph Pajonas and Danica Favorite discuss how they incorporate Large Language Models (LLMs) in their writing process and how this assists them in writing engaging content for their audience.

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Introduction of the Co-hosts

Our first episode begins with introductions from Steph Pajonas and Danica Favorite. As experienced authors and ardent advocates for technological advancements in the writing field, they shed light on their passion for AI and how it motivates their work.

The Co-hosts’ Journey into AI

Both Pajonas and Favorite provide an interesting viewpoint into their journey with AI. Steph Pajonas used AI tools for writing marketing copies, while Danica Favorite highlights how these tools helped her counter the brain fog she experienced after suffering from Covid. They both stress the difference AI has made to their processes, the creativity it brings to their work and, most importantly, the fun they discovered in using AI tools.

Debunking the Myths Around AI

The hosts dutifully acknowledge the misconceptions and anxiety around using AI in the writing field. They reiterate that it’s meant to be used as an assistant to enhance creativity, and not as a replacement for human interaction and creativity. As Pajonas eloquently puts it, “I’ll say that every author needs to lean into their strengths when it comes to their process. And then let AI shore up all the weaknesses.”

Favorite and Pajonas further debunk myths concerning the ‘training’ of AI models. They both emphasize the importance of understanding the ethical use of AI in the authorial writing process.

Encouraging AI Adoption Among Authors

Our co-hosts heavily encourage authors who have not yet adopted AI tools to consider them more seriously. As tools designed to make life easier, Pajonas and Favorite highlight that they can be leveraged as per the author’s need, whether it be brainstorming, editing, or marketing. According to Favorite, “The great thing about AI is that it’s your choice. You get to use it to your strengths or to augment your weaknesses or whatever it is that you need it for.”

Final Notes

Wrapping up their first episode, Steph Pajonas and Danica Favorite express their hope for the positive collaboration of authors and AI in shaping the future of the publishing industry. They stress the importance of ongoing discussion about AI’s role in publishing and encourage authors to reach out and share their experiences with AI.

Stay tuned for more insightful discussions and breakthroughs in the world of AI and writing in the subsequent episodes of Brave New Bookshelf.

Full Transcript

Steph Pajonas: [00:00:00] This is the first, first, first episode of our new podcast, Brave New Bookshelf. And I’m Steph Pajonas and I have Danica Favorite with me. Say hi, Danica.

Danica Favorite: Hello, good to see everyone.

Steph Pajonas: We’re here, we’re going to do a little bit of an introduction into who we are and why we started this podcast and why we are using AI as part of our process as authors.

And I’m sure that some of you won’t even know who the heck we are. So let’s get started and we’ll figure it out as we go along. We’re going to have a lot of fun and a lot of laughs. Danica and I like to riff off each other plenty. So we should be having a good time on this podcast.

Danica Favorite: I think so. I think that that’s why when we were talking about doing a podcast, I was like, Oh my goodness, doing this with Steph is going to be so much fun because we do have a good banter between us. And we like to chat and sometimes we get sidetracked. So hopefully we don’t do that too [00:01:00] much. And hopefully we also entertain you along the way.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah, absolutely. Why don’t you tell us about you, Danica?

Danica Favorite: All right, so I’m Danica Favorite. I am the Community Manager at PublishDrive. And PublishDrive is a book aggregator that helps authors and publishers distribute their books to the largest worldwide market of any aggregator.

And rather than taking a percentage of your money, we charge a flat monthly fee. So for a lot of authors who are making substantial money, that’s a really good deal. And we got into this because as we were looking at publishing and innovations and publishing, the AI thing just kept coming up and kept coming up.

And my boss said to me, hey, we need to do more with AI. Actually, he said it to everyone in the company. And, so this was my contribution to say, Hey, let’s start having these conversations and really take a look at what authors and publishers are doing and how we can be part of that conversation and hopefully help [00:02:00] shape what AI is going to look like in publishing in the future.

And the reason that’s important to me is because I am also an author. I’m multi published. I am a hybrid author. And so I have 19 books with Harlequin. And then I have, I think, 10 indies. I could be wrong on that.

Steph Pajonas: It’s easy to lose count.

Danica Favorite: It is! I think that I, I, I sat down and I counted and then I thought, oh, but wait, there’s this thing and this thing and this thing that I took down and so it’s a lot.

But I think as someone in the author community you hear Everybody talking about AI, this AI, that AI is that AI is good, blah, blah, blah. And once this conversation started coming up, this is important to me as a writer, as a creative. And for me to be part of that conversation and to do the research and to figure out what’s really going on.

I think that we’re at an incredible [00:03:00] point in the history of publishing where we get to guide that future. And so let’s work on guiding that future in a positive direction.

Steph Pajonas: Oh, yeah. I agree with all of that. Yeah.

Danica Favorite: Yeah. That’s why we’re friends. That’s why we’re doing this together.

Steph Pajonas: That’s why we’re doing this together, right?

Danica Favorite: And not, it’s an echo chamber because I do feel like there are times where you’ll be like, hey, what about this? I’m like, and then I’ll say, oh, and so we have those conversations, which I like. I like that ability to run ideas off of each other and be able to come up with something really interesting to both of us.

So yeah, that’s why I’m excited. So Steph, tell us about you. Tell us about who you are and what brought you to doing this podcast.

Steph Pajonas: So yeah, like I said, Steph Pajonas, I write as SJ Pajonas and I have a cozy mystery pen name as well. And that’s Steph Gennaro. I’ve been published for 10 years.

I just had my 10 year anniversary in September. Yay! I made it a whole decade [00:04:00] in this business. This is exciting all on its own because I’m sure that I thought about quitting at least, at least a couple dozen times, right? It’s not an easy business. So I’m all self published. I have about 40 titles.

Not an easy job. I think I’ve told many people over the years that this was one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had. Because if you’re going to be self published, you have to do pretty much everything yourself, right? You have to write the books and, and maybe you are also your editor.

Maybe you’re also your cover designer and your marketer and everything. So there’s a lot involved in being a self published author. And I did it for 10 years and I plan on doing it for many, many more. And it was fairly recently that I got all involved in the AI side of things. I use it in a lot of different aspects of my career right now.

But when it comes to my career, I’m helping a lot of people [00:05:00] by starting a business called the Future Fiction Academy with the, I started with a few other people. My biggest co worker is Elizabeth Ann West. We run the Future Fiction Academy so that we can teach people how to use AI as part of their process as authors.

We believe that creatives need control and that’s something that is really, really important to us. And we see the advent of AI coming and we know that the big companies like publishers will end up putting AI into their business as part of their process. And so in order to compete, in order to be a part of that ecosystem, I feel it’s really important that authors need to know these tools as well.

So we started that fairly recently. That was almost a year ago. I can’t believe it’s been almost a year.

Danica Favorite: Wow, that’s crazy.

Steph Pajonas: We started talking about it. Yesterday. I know, we started talking about it in February, March, and then it was like in April that we started getting going. It’s been about, it’s [00:06:00] been about a year, right?

So while we we do a lot of work, we help a lot of authors, and it’s something I really enjoy doing. So I’ve always been one of those people that I like to help people if I can. I have this knowledge, there’s no reason for me to keep it all to myself all the time. I certainly don’t want to work for free, but I don’t have any problems helping people and at least pointing them in the right direction, right?

Yeah, so that’s part of my life as, Future Fiction Academy, but then I also run the AI Writing for Authors group on Facebook, and Danica is one of my moderators there.

She does a great job. And we help authors through there, too. That’s about Oh my gosh, it’s five and a half thousand people now in that group. People are coming, they’re learning. They’re excited and I’m excited to see the community grow on top of that.

And this was one of the reasons why we decided to start this podcast because we feel like we need to reach a whole new group of people.

Between me, my Future Fiction Academy, and [00:07:00] Danica with PublishDrive. I feel like we can reach out to authors who are thinking about these tools and trying to decide what to do about them, and I’m hoping we can do that with this podcast.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, yeah, I completely agree. I think that one of the things that I’ve noticed because I’ve been in the AI for Authors group, as you mentioned, for quite some time.

And when I joined the group, it was funny, because we were just a small little group of people who just wanted to learn about AI together. And we also wanted a safe space from the people who absolutely hate AI and think, That we’re the devil. We are not the devil.

Steph Pajonas: No, we’re not. I swear.

Danica Favorite: But it was, it really was a good safe place to have good conversations.

And that’s what we wanted the podcast to be about so that people can come here and find a safe place to discuss AI. And also to look at some of the concerns and things people are worried about, back in the day when the whole AI group started, I can [00:08:00] remember. We really had just that small community and we were able to answer all the questions.

And now it feels like as we’re talking more and more with different authors and people come in and I’ll see the next question to be approved. I’m like, Oh my goodness, we just answered this. And so I really hope that eventually we can use the podcast as a good repository of information, but also knowing how much it’s changed.

I, I think about. What we were talking about as a year ago, and so much of that has already changed. And so understanding that it is constantly evolving and it’s evolving at a much faster pace than anything I think any of us have seen in our lifetimes.

Steph Pajonas: I agree. Stuff that we’re doing now, we couldn’t do six weeks ago, or even, like two, three months ago, it wasn’t even a thing, right?

Now it’s just like the change is starting to slow down a little bit, I’ve noticed. It’s starting to slow down just a little bit, [00:09:00] so we can catch our breath a little bit. But otherwise, it is such a rapidly expanding groups of tools different LLMs, and there’s just so much going on that really need like a spot where people can go and be like, Oh, this is all the basics.

Great. I can learn from this and grow from this.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, because I love, there’s so many good writing podcasts out there. And every once in a while, they’ll do an AI episode. But what we’re hoping here is that this is going to be a much deeper dive, so that you can come back week to week and get that AI information that you’re looking for.

Because. While the podcast episodes I’ve listened to are fantastic, it’s okay, I want more. I want more. Give me more. And so here we are. We’re giving you more.

Steph Pajonas: We hope to give you more. Yes. And like you said, like when people come into the AI Writing for Authors group a lot of them have the starter questions like I want to get started with AI [00:10:00] and I don’t know how, and now we’re at the point actually in that group where we’ve answered that question a ton of times and I can say hey I know we’ve answered this recently go search the group and you’ll find your answer. And then we’re also at the point in that group where I don’t have to answer every single question anymore.

You remember when it first started? It was just like, what, like 30 of us maybe? And I had to basically answer every question that I could because I was the only person that had any kind of background. And then it slowly grew. Like you joined the group and then we’ve got lots of people in there who know enough about AI that now any one of those questions that get asked in the group. Plenty of people can chime in and it doesn’t have to be me.

Danica Favorite: And I love that too. I love that too, because I can remember, way back when I would see a notification on my phone and I’d look at it and okay, I need to go in and answer that question. And, a couple hours later, I’d get, I’d finally get the time to go in and answer it.

And now. [00:11:00] I’m like, Oh, yeah. Okay. I’ve got to get to this question. And by the time I get to it, a couple hours later, there are several different answers that are just as good, if not better than what I could have said. So I’m like, Woo hoo!, this is awesome. Sometimes I feel like I don’t do anything.

I’m like, yeah, I feel guilty because I’m not doing anything because everyone else is doing such a great job of supporting the community.

Steph Pajonas: Mm hmm. Everybody else is doing a really great job. And I’m really, really, really happy with the progress that group has made. Yes, there are still people out there who are very anti AI.

And we’ll get to that in a minute. But why don’t you tell me how you first started using AI? Because I’m curious.

Danica Favorite: Okay, believe it or not, I started several years ago, at my previous company. I was doing marketing type stuff social media, all of that. And my boss said to us, Hey, I found this great new tool.

That’s going to help you write copy. And so I’m like, huh, that is interesting. And so she gave us this AI tool that she [00:12:00] subscribes to. I won’t mention it cause I actually don’t recommend it. I think it’s expensive and not a great tool, but it was what we had. And so we’re like, okay, cool. And so we would use it to write our marketing copy now a couple of years ago.

So I think this was like probably actually four years ago. The AI tools weren’t great, but what I loved about it was it would I don’t know about you, but I struggle with marketing copy. Sometimes I realize

Steph Pajonas: Oh, totally. It’s the worst.

Danica Favorite: I’ve been professionally. Yeah, I’ve been professionally writing this stuff for longer than I want to admit. Anyway, I with the marketing copy and writing it was just so great because I would pop it in like this is the concept and it would come up with. Okay. Here are some ideas on what to do or what to say. And it would give me the copy. And it was not up to my standards.

And but then I would have the baseline marketing copy and then I could rewrite it and it was enough that it jumpstarted that [00:13:00] marketing copy process. And so I was like, huh. This is super cool, because even though it wasn’t giving me something I could use right out of the box by the way, that tool still doesn’t do that, and most AI tools don’t.

Steph Pajonas: Most AI tools don’t. No, they’re only a jump to that point.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, but it was great, because It saved me from wasting so much time just going, Oh, I don’t know what to write. And so I loved that and we used it quite a bit. As far as I know, they’re still using it. And then once things started heating up in the author world about AI stuff.

Oh, and I should also say I dictate my books.

Steph Pajonas: Okay.

Danica Favorite: I’ve been a dictator for about seven to ten years now. And so for those of you who don’t know this most of your dictation transcription tools, even the ones that we’re, we were using seven to ten years ago, those are AI based. And I’ve always used that to transcribe.

And once the conversations [00:14:00] started happening. More and more in the author community at first, I was baffled because I was like doesn’t everybody always use these tools already? And then, of course, you’ve got your tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid and all of that, which is also AI.

And I was like, I was just baffled and so I started to investigate more and then I met you, I met Elizabeth, and then we started talking about using it for fiction writing and for all of the cover design and everything else and I got really excited because, again, I knew it was never going to do all the work for me, but I thought this is a helping hand and it’s not going to just help me, it’s going to help a lot of other authors.

So that is where my AI journey has gone. So how about you tell us about your AI journey?

Steph Pajonas: Yeah, it’s I had a different way of coming to AI than you. Of course, I can trace a lot of it back to Joanna Penn. Thank you, Joanna Penn and the Creative Penn podcast [00:15:00] for always keeping me abreast of what was going on in the author world.

She had the founders from Sudowrite on her podcast at some point. They were talking and she was demonstrating or talking about the different tools of Sudowrite. And I thought, Oh, that sounds super interesting. And this was maybe 2021, 2021. Yeah, somewhere in there in the summer.

So I subscribed. And I opened it up and I wasn’t really sure how to use it. I was like, oh, do I put text in here? Do I start writing? I don’t really know what I’m doing.

And I played around with it for an hour and then I let it go. And I stopped paying a monthly fee for it because I wasn’t really using it. I didn’t really understand it or how it worked. So fast forward a little bit, and then in April of 2022 I got Covid after we went to Disney World, as a family, it’s great.

I came home with souvenirs, including covid. Awesome. The Covid wasn’t so bad. I [00:16:00] felt like a really bad cold. I got a sinus infection, had antibiotics and whatnot.

But the problem was, is that brain fog set in right after. As I was coming out of feeling sick, I was just like, why can’t I think anymore?

This is, this is a problem. I have a lot of writing to do. I have a lot of things I need my brain for. And nothing is really working and I had started on a book and I was writing it and and it was going really, really slowly. And it used to be that I, if I were going to write like a 80, 000 word, 90, 000 word book, it would take me about two months, so eight to ten weeks to write it.

I got to like month four of writing that book and I was like, something’s wrong. Something is majorly wrong with me. I cannot concentrate on the story. I can’t and I’m, I like this story. I love this series that I’ve been writing. There’s no reason for me to not love what I’m writing. And later, I went through the summer and I started I struggled through the summer and I sat down with my [00:17:00] husband and I like, I started bawling.

Something is wrong. I can’t think I don’t know what’s going on with me. And he was like you’re going to go see your primary care physician and get blood work and blah, blah, blah. But I need something to fix things right now. Like I need. I just need help.

There’s got to be something out there that can help me, right? And then that was when I was like, Oh, that’s Sudowrite tool. I’ve heard about it again. Somebody was talking about it again. Maybe I should go check that out. And I remember taking my first chapter of that book that I’d been writing forever.

I plopped it into Sudowrite, like I copied and pasted it in. And then I started highlighting things in the text and when it started giving me suggestions, I noticed that it understood context. It understood the words around what I was highlighting. And that was when it finally dawned on me how this technology worked.

Oh my God, it understands context, it understands that my characters are doing a certain thing in this scene and that it can give [00:18:00] me suggestions about descriptions and whatnot based on what is already here. And that was when I was like, okay, this is a game changer for me. And then I used that tool, used Sudowrite, to finish that book.

I went through it chapter by chapter, I added descriptions fixed dialogue, and then suddenly I can concentrate because this tool is helping me focus. It’s helping me focus on what I need to be doing. And then as brain fog lifted over the next six months, it lasted pretty much a year and I still don’t think my memory is all that great after all of that.

I started really falling in love with the tools and thinking that the tools were a lot of fun to use. But it was interesting that I would tell people about it. I’d be like, there’s this really cool tool and it’s really helping me and I’m actually getting work done that wasn’t before. And the amount of people who were just like, Oh my God, that’s plagiarism.

You can’t be using that. This is the end of our creativity, and I sat there for a moment. I just, I looked at [00:19:00] the responses and I was like, no, this is actually a future. This is, I can see it right in front of me that this is going to change everything.

This is going to change everything. And then the image tool started coming out too. And I was like, this is really going to change everything. And I, I’m Gen X, 48 years old. I grew up with an Apple IIe computer. I’ve always worked on computers. I was a web developer for several years. I know PHP and Perl and JavaScript and I can make websites and I have this technical background and I could see it it was just like the advent of the web that when it took off you just see that it was going to change things and I could see this coming.

This is going to change things. And I decided right then and there that I wasn’t going to fight against it, that I was going to figure out how to make it work for me, for other people. And boom, that’s how I ended up where I am today,

Danica Favorite: Yeah, yeah.

Steph Pajonas: It wasn’t just Sudowrite. Now [00:20:00] there are a ton of tools out there, you can learn foundational tools, foundational models, you can learn how to prompt any one of these, and they can help you, and I’m now at the point where I’ve been doing this for enough time to know that I made the right decision. I know I did, even though people have fought me tooth and nail all the way here, I still know I’ve made the right decision, and I want to make sure that the authors who are on the fence. They’re not sure if they like it. They’re not sure if they hate it that they can hear a more positive side of things from us.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, yeah, I love that. And I think it’s important, when you were talking about you recognize it as the future. I did the same thing where.

I realized that this whole thing with AI is very similar to what I remember when we went through the whole indie revolution. And I can remember being on boards of different writing organizations. And, and I do, I say this very honestly, that I regret many of the [00:21:00] decisions that we made during that time, because authors all thought, Oh, indie, it’s such a threat.

It’s Oh, bad. It’s bad quality books. There’s this, there’s that. And. And so there was this feeling in that community of, okay, how can we make it, we can regulate it, how can we do this, and how can we do that, and we can do all these things, and I really regret doing that because I think what we did is we hindered a lot of people, and we hurt people and we made them feel like they were less than.

And I really look back at that now, and I look at how people are treating each other now, and I’m like, this is the same thing, and let’s do it differently this time, because, like what you were saying about people telling you, oh, it’s ruining your creativity, this and that, I don’t know about you, but I feel like it makes me more creative, because when I will put something into the AI to get a response it’ll give me different responses, and maybe it’s not what I would use.

But it [00:22:00] always inspires me to say, okay, wait a second. Like I was really stuck on this thing and it gave me these ideas. I don’t like the ideas that it gave me, but based on those ideas, boom, I have the idea I need. And then sometimes it will give me an idea and I’m like, Oh my goodness, I never thought of that.

That’s perfect.

Steph Pajonas: 100%.

Danica Favorite: And so to me, it really makes me more creative because suddenly it’s not just me and in my own little box. It’s gotten me out.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah.

Danica Favorite: And it’s gotten me thinking of different ways I can move and adapt and do things a little bit differently. And I love that. And that’s my hope for other authors is that whatever box you feel like you’re in, we can help you get out of that box.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah, I agree. I just, I love the fact that the people I see who are taking up AI and actually like using it, they’re actually. Feeling more creative than they ever have. I remind people that a [00:23:00] lot of these LLMs, Open AIs and Claude, and all of these were built on billions and billions and billions of words of training.

And a lot of that is the internet, so they just let it read the internet and learn from that. And when you think about it, it has a whole lot more knowledge than I will ever have. I’m just a puny little human here, like I’ve been to a couple of countries. I know quite a lot. I went to college, I’m never going to know the kinds of stuff that reading the entire internet will get me. So its breadth of knowledge is so much more vast than mine. So why wouldn’t I go to it to ask for help about something, it’s going to give me something I necessarily wouldn’t have thought of before.

I have a brainstorming story about this actually because it was one of those things where I remember once I sat down to start brainstorming. It was a story I was working on. And I was asking about folklore of different places [00:24:00] and folktales that I could bring into a story.

So riff off them. It’s kind of like, people do the fairy tale retellings, right? I was like, tell me more about different ones from England and different ones from different countries and it actually gave me a few that Oh, I’ve never heard of this before.

I’d never heard of this particular folklore before. This is super interesting. And then I went down a rabbit hole of my own, going, I went to Wikipedia and then I went and did some search on it and then I downloaded a Kindle version and I started reading it and it was great.

I wouldn’t have come up with that on my own. It gave me some ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of. And now that’s a part of my brainstorming for that particular book. It’s let’s go and let’s talk about these things that I don’t know anything about.

So school me. The LLM is so great for that sort of thing. I really think it’s a boon to authors who, struggle with brainstorming. And it really helps nudge you in directions you hadn’t thought of before.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, I [00:25:00] completely agree. So one of the things I would like to ask you, and I don’t know if we’re going to do this this episode, so we may have to cut this part out, but do you want to talk about what an LLM is and how it actually works? Or are we saving that for later?

Steph Pajonas: Oh, we can talk a little bit about that. Why not? This is an intro episode. Let’s go ahead and talk about some of these terms we’ve been using, right? AI itself is like an all encompassing term that people are using for any of these generative features. That you can do generative text, you can do generative voice.

It’s, you can do generative imagery, you can do generative video, which it means it’s generating, right? It’s coming up, it’s creating stuff from an algorithm that is based on a huge amount of data and like a neural network.

Okay. So when we say LLMs, that stands for Large Language Model. And that’s usually a model that’s been built on training of many, many, many words. And we’re talking like billions worth of words. And it’s all on a neural network, so it’s [00:26:00] learning patterns. It’s learning patterns to speech. It’s learning patterns to language.

Elizabeth Ann West calls this the dictionary slot machine, and so you have to think of it that way, like it is looking at patterns in language and trying statistically to come up with the next word and the next word and the next word, right?

And it’s doing it based on context. It’s looking back at what you’ve written and deciding what should come next based on the patterns available.

So when you think about it, this is very much like humans speak. We speak and we write because we’ve been trained that, coming after happy could be birthday, or it could be Happy New Year.

We know these things because we’ve been trained and we’ve written and we’ve learned over the years, and then the LLMs are very similar in that way.

This is why I [00:27:00] apply the same code of ethics to humans as I do to computers. And I’m sure there will be people out there that disagree with me on this, but that’s fine.

This is the way that I work. So if you apply the same code of ethics to computers as you do to humans we as humans, we read copyrighted material all the time. We ingest movies and art and whatnot, and we use all of that information in our brain to create as well. We’re creating stories, images, art of any kind, and we do that by taking in stuff around us and mixing it up in our brain and coming up with “something new,” something new, and I put that in quotes because there really is nothing new on this planet. I know we like to think that we’re all making new and cool things, but really we’re just making a new spin on things.

So if that is okay for humans to do, if that’s ethical for humans to do, Then as far as I’m concerned, it’s ethical for computers to do it as well. [00:28:00] So I don’t have any problem with LLMs ingesting copyrighted material, I don’t have any problems with them going out and reading the internet and then coming back and, ingesting that material and using that to inform what they spit out.

So this is why I don’t have an ethical problem with AI. And I understand that some people do, but this is my stance on it.

How do you feel about it?

Danica Favorite: I’m coming at it from a very similar perspective, like I think about how many times do you look on Facebook and they say, type this in your phone and the next thing that it comes up with, that’s how your year is going to be, and that is exactly how an LLM works, like that is that predictive text is.

Of, when you say happy, what is the next thing that we think about? If you tell me happy, I know today’s my birthday. I know the next word is going to be birthday. If it’s January 2nd and you tell me happy, I know you’re saying happy new year. Because I’ve learned those [00:29:00] contexts and that’s what the LLM models do.

Now, using it in that way, I have zero problem with it. I have zero problem in telling it something and seeing what it comes back with because it’s not like it’s, if I say, Hey, tell me about Steph Pajonas and what she writes it’s not going to come back and give me word for word. This is how you write this like Steph Pajonas.

Number one, I don’t want to write like Steph Pajonas. Like your writing is lovely. I love it, but it’s not me.

Steph Pajonas: It’s not you. It’s not you. Yes.

Danica Favorite: And frankly, I want my writing to be me. So that’s why for me, like any LLM stuff, like it’s got to be me. And yes, I will say there are unethical ways that I could get it to write me something exactly like Steph Pajonas. That is unethical. That is wrong. Do not do it. Do not go people will talk about copying this word for word. Yeah. Don’t do that.

Because it’s just if you were writing a paper for school, if you’re going to [00:30:00] copy it word for word, that’s not okay. And, even when we were kids we would talk about that. We would talk about, okay, here’s how you cite your sources. If you’re going to copy something, you’ve got to quote it and this and that. To me, it’s that same principle that we were raised on and that’s how I take it with using the LLM. And of course, I’m going to take a look and say, okay, I’m going to use this.

And if there is a question about, whether or not it’s copied or whatever, that’s on me, that’s on you to do your due diligence and make sure that it isn’t copying something. But when you talk about books being used to train LLMs and people are like, oh, that’s stealing. Is it? Because, look behind me, look at all these books.

I was trained to be a writer on those books. And there are so many I think about a book that I wrote, a friend of mine just reminded me of this and I put it away for a while [00:31:00] because I’d sent it to my agent and he liked it, but he was like it needs a little something more. You need this and this.

And he gave me some changes to make, but it wasn’t a priority. So I hadn’t made them and it’s just languishing. But now I think I do wanna pick it up because of something a friend said to me. But basically it’s a knockoff of Walden, right?

Steph Pajonas: Oh, yeah. Mm-Hmm. .

Danica Favorite: I was like totally inspired by Thoreau. And the idea of leading a life of quiet desperation. And what would it be like to go into the woods to escape that and really find that meaningful life? And so I wrote a book.

Steph Pajonas: Mm-Hmm.

Danica Favorite: And so completely inspired by Thoreau Now. I don’t think I have quoted Thoreau at all in this book. Because it’s definitely, it’s a modern day romance. So sure. There was nothing romantic about Thoreau. But that’s what informed me in wanting to write that book. And I think about all the other authors who will tell you, oh, yeah. I watched this movie and it inspired me. How [00:32:00] many people will see like a celebrity couple in the news and think, Ooh, I’m going to write a book about that.

And they do. And so that’s how we as writers work. We are inspired. By the world around us and by the things we consume and that’s how LLM works as well. And yes, can you tell it to do something unethical plagiarize?

Steph Pajonas: Oh, sure.

Danica Favorite: Absolutely. You can do that. It’s wrong. Just like us as humans can sit down and plagiarize something. Plagiarism wasn’t invented with AI plagiarism has been happening as long as writing has been happening.

And that has to be part of the conversation, which is also. One of the reasons you and I wanted to have these conversations is to say, look, like we don’t support plagiarism. We do support ethical use of AI. And let’s talk about what that looks like to ethically use it.

Because I do think that some of the authors listening maybe okay, but how do you know [00:33:00] what is and isn’t ethical? And how do we know what is and isn’t plagiarism? And some of that is using common sense. And some of it. Really is like you and I are talking right now about how those models work and how those models are trained because I think they don’t understand that those models, they’re just trained the same way we learn.

I want to write something based on Thoreau, if I put that into an LLM right now, it’s going to give me a wide variety of ideas. Now, if I go really specific, it’s definitely going to plagiarize Thoreau. But, if I just say, hey, I’m writing a romance, and I have this Thoreau esque thing I want to do, and this and that I would be interested to see what it came up with.

I think I may do that at the end of the…

Steph Pajonas: I think you should do that at the end of this.

Danica Favorite: Yeah.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah. Prompt it. See what it says.

Danica Favorite: But that’s the thing we do as writers. And as I tell everyone who meets me for the first time, everything is fodder. Anything you say and do in my presence can and will be used in a book.

Steph Pajonas: And [00:34:00] it will be used against you, right? In a court of law.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Steph Pajonas: Oh my goodness. Yes, I think I would like to dispel some of the myths around AI and how it’s trained. I think a lot of authors think that they just chuck books into it, like whole books and be like, learn this book, learn it, when really that’s not how it works at all.

I’ve done some research on data sets and how they were all put together. And we can talk about that too in a later podcast, because it’s something I think that people would like to know, because as we talk about ethical use of AI, we should also talk about the fact that of the way it was trained, we should talk about using it in ethical manners, right?

And we should talk about the super fun things that you can do as well. Like we’re gonna, we’ll do the whole gamut, I think, on this podcast.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, I agree. And I think, you and I have talked about the different guests we want to have on. I’m so excited. Obviously, we’re not going to tell you who they are, because we haven’t invited and gotten acceptances, but I’m [00:35:00] super excited because I think that the people who are really doing good things with AI right now.

You want to follow them, you want to watch them, and you want to learn from them, because that’s who we learn from. And the great thing to me about the AI journey, which to me feels so wonderful, and what has me passionate about it, is that we are learning from each other. Just before I got sat down with you, Steph, I had a message from someone else geeking out over something new that she had just figured out with AI and wanted to know what I was doing with it.

And I was like, yeah, isn’t that cool. I personally, I’m going to be working on that this weekend. We’re supposed to get a huge snow storm.

Steph Pajonas: Oh yeah. Oh no.

Danica Favorite: I’m going to sit. At home and just play with it. So I’ve set aside the weekend. This is my playing with AI weekend since I can’t go outside and play.

Steph Pajonas: It sounds like a good idea.

Danica Favorite: But I think that just goes to your point of having fun with it and. [00:36:00] Really using it to have fun. But another important perspective. And this is why I’m coming at it from my role working with PublishDrive is that it also does make your life easier and it makes your life simpler.

And how can we make the publishing process easier for us as authors, easier for publishers because I don’t know about you, but the thing I love about writing is actually writing. I don’t love doing the other stuff. And so the more we can get AI tools to help us and streamline our work process, whether that be as writing, as marketing, as distribution, whatever stage of publishing you’re in, if we can have those tools to make our lives simpler, that gives us more time and more space to do fun things like play, because I love to play.

Steph Pajonas: I love to play too, and that’s exactly the way that I use it. I use it and try to have fun with it, at every opportunity that I can.

Like you said, you want to get back to writing, and I do too. This has been a [00:37:00] crazy few weeks. I haven’t written much of anything. But I am enjoying like actually using it as part of my writing process too. Getting in there, help me write this next beat of the story.

I think this, this, and this happens. It gives me a rough draft and Oh, I like that particular sentence. Let’s keep that. Let’s, let’s move things around because at heart, I really love being an editor. I really enjoy the editing process. I feel like every author has something that they love about their process and there are some people who love writing that first draft and that really really speaks to them. There are people who love that whole brainstorming and world building and they’re building huge wikipedias of everything in their world before they even sat down to write one word of the story.

Or, you love the editing process. So I do. That’s my favorite thing. I feel like the first draft is just to get the story down. And now I know the story and now it’s all about picking the right words and the right sentence cadence and the way that the way things are said.

I really love dialogue and sometimes I’ll go back to the AI for that too and [00:38:00] be change this dialogue. I want to make it a little bit funnier or a little bit, like a little bit more serious and I use it for that. And, I feel like any part of your process AI can be helpful.

I feel like there’s got to be a pain point in almost every person’s process, somewhere along the way.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Steph Pajonas: Let’s, figure out what that is, and if AI can help solve that problem for you, so that you can get back to doing the things that you love.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, and I completely agree with that. I was just thinking, as you were talking, two really important things that came to mind. So number one, when you were talking about, Oh, you put it into AI and you’re like, okay, I take the sentence. I like the sentence. And then the rest, I do this, that is the skill of you as an author.

And that’s where I really want people to understand that if you’re going to use AI to write a book, you have to have some skill as an author, because the only way you knew that line worked and the rest of it didn’t, or you wanted to change this or you wanted to change that is because you’re a skilled author.

The AI [00:39:00] is good as it is at putting together sentences and words and understanding context even it’s never going to have that knowledge that you have. And that’s what I hope listeners really get out of this is to understand that the AI output is only going to be as good as the author working with it.

And that comes from the prompting of it. And then that comes also from what you were doing and saying is the editing of it. And that’s your skill. And that is my big passion is really letting authors understand that. That’s their skill and they need to be proud of their skills.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah.

Danica Favorite: And the other piece of that, I was laughing as you said.

Yeah. I just loved edit. I hate editing .

Steph Pajonas: Yeah, I get that a lot from people. They’re like, I hate editing, I hate the revision process. .

Danica Favorite: Yeah. I just wanna put it on the page and be done with it. This is the Danica embarrassing confession. And one of the reasons I did come into AI is I have.

Maybe 10, 20, maybe even 30,

Steph Pajonas: Books in a [00:40:00] drawer,

Danica Favorite: Yeah, complete manuscripts on my hard drive. I have that many that I would write them, like that book I was saying about Walden, I sent it to my agent and he told me some things that needed to improve and I was like, okay, but I just got bored and frankly, I had other paying work.

I had other work I was getting paid for. So I was bored and I was like, you know what? This editing part is boring. I’m getting paid to do this other thing. Why would I do something boring that I don’t even know if I’m going to get paid for? So it’s languishing.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah.

Danica Favorite: And like the thing that I have loved is some of those projects that have been languishing. Now that I have AI, I’m able to look at them with new eyes and run it through the AI and say, okay, how can I make this less boring? And actually, I am having fun with editing now because it’s just what you said. And even when I have led some groups and showing them different things with AI, I like getting ridiculous results from the AI.

I love it because it just it’s fun. And so for me, okay. [00:41:00]

Steph Pajonas: What’s it gonna say next? I don’t know.

Danica Favorite: Yeah. And that’s the fun with it. I think that it turned a chore into something fun.

Steph Pajonas: Mm hmm. Yeah. And that’s how I feel about first drafts. I feel the first drafts are such a chore. I hate getting through them.

It’s so tough. It’s so tough. And then I get to the end. I’m like, Oh, thank God now I can just start editing this because that’s where the magic happens for me. It’s always been in the edits. It’s the magic is happening there.

Danica Favorite: Yeah.

Steph Pajonas: I rewrote my first book like 12 times. Oh my God. Okay. I can’t do this again.

Danica Favorite: Yeah.

Steph Pajonas: So I think every author needs to lean into their strengths when it comes to their process. And then let AI shore up all the weaknesses.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that is really a good place for us to end this episode is to say that.

We all have our process, and AI isn’t meant to replace that process completely. It’s supposed to help you. [00:42:00] And for people who say, Okay, great, I want to use AI for my editing, but I don’t want to use it for my writing. You get to say that. If you say, I want to use AI for my marketing and nothing else, you can say that.

The great thing about AI is that it’s your choice. You get to use it to your strengths or to augment your weaknesses or whatever it is that you need it for. It’s a great tool and Steph and I are not going to use it in the same way. I learn a lot from Steph. We learn from each other.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah.

Danica Favorite: We talk to each other. But at the end of the day, we each have our own process. And that’s great. And that’s what I want everyone listening to understand is that this is your process and you get to use it however you want. And you get to be there and support others. Maybe they don’t use it the same way you do as long as it’s, again, ethical because we are really strong on that.

And, as long as we’re [00:43:00] following. Good principles behind the AI you get to do however you want and you don’t have to let someone tell you, this is exactly how you have to do it. Cause that’s just not how it is.

Steph Pajonas: Yep. I think that’s great. And that was a perfect thing to end this podcast on. Definitely.

And since this was our first podcast, we introduced ourselves. We talked a little bit about all the different things that we’re into when it comes to AI. And so I think next week we’ve got more stuff coming up. So that’s going to be exciting. I I’m looking forward to doing this with you all the time.

Danica Favorite: I am too. Like I love. I love talking to you in general. I love our friendship and I’m so excited to see how it’s just going to grow. And so I look forward to that and I look forward to hearing how other people are using AI and what else we can do again, just to make this a positive contribution.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah. So if any of our listeners are listening in, please let us know how you’re getting on with AI, how you’d like to use it. We’d love to hear from you [00:44:00] too. So we’ll just sign off now because we don’t know what we’re doing yet entirely.

Danica Favorite: Yeah. I know. Cause I was just thinking we should probably like have some way for them to contact us and all of that. And

Steph Pajonas: we’ll figure that out later.

Danica Favorite: We’ll figure that out. We’ll figure it out.

Steph Pajonas: We’re figuring stuff out as we go. It’s fine.

Danica Favorite: It’s all good. It’s all good.

Steph Pajonas: All right. So let’s wave to each other. Bye.

Danica Favorite: Bye.

Steph Pajonas: And we’ll be back.

Danica Favorite: We’ll be back.

1 thought on “Episode 1 – A Dive into AI for Authors”

  1. I create my own GPTs to assist in writing , I started with prompt engineering and now i am learning GPT “engineering”. They are general so they can be used in any genre and any story.

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