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Taking Notes on Your Kindle – and Finding Them Again by Kitty Bucholtz

February 9, 2018 by in category It's Worth It, Writing tagged as , , , , ,

In November 2017, I wrote about how you can send nearly any kind of text-based document to your Kindle. A couple weeks ago, a friend told me she’s taking an overseas trip and she was considering printing out her current work-in-progress so she can at least get some editing done on the plane. I suggested she send her Word doc to her Kindle instead. She wouldn’t have to worry about losing pages, and her luggage would be a little lighter.

When she asked me how she would do edits, I realized I haven’t actually written an article about that yet! Here are my thoughts.

First, I use my Kindle to read. I don’t plan to make it my next editing tool. That being said, if I’m reading a friend’s book and see a typo, I want to tell them about it so they can make the correction and re-upload. In the same manner, reading my final manuscript on my Kindle can help me to see errors I missed because now I am reading the book as a reader. Errors aside, I also like to highlight my favorite bits in a novel sometimes, and helpful passages in nonfiction books so I can come back to them later.

I own a Kindle Paperwhite, so I’ll explain how to do everything on that or on the Kindle app on my iPhone. You’ll have to check how to do things differently if you own a different Kindle or use the Kindle app elsewhere. (I’d think it would all be very similar.)

Highlighting

If I want to highlight a passage on a Paperwhite or using the Kindle app on my phone, I press and hold on the first word I want to highlight until it lights up then drag my finger to the last word I want to highlight. On my phone, it automatically highlights. On my Paperwhite, it highlights but brings up a menu asking me if I want to just highlight, or add a note, or sometimes you can look things up in Wikipedia if your Kindle is connected to the Internet, and other menu items may also be available. (If you highlight a single word, the Kindle assumes you want to look that word up in the onboard dictionary.)

To get rid of that highlighting using the phone app, tap on the highlighted portion again, then tap on the highlight color with the X in it. That will delete your highlighting. If you tap on a different color, it just turns your highlighted color (yellow by default) to the other color.

To get rid of the highlighting using the Paperwhite, tap on the highlighted portion again, then tap on “Delete” in the little menu that pops up.

Notes

Once you’ve highlighted something, you can add notes pertaining to the highlighted bit. On the phone, tap the highlighted portion, then when you see the little menu, tap on the square with the pencil (supposed to look like paper and pencil). A new screen opens that says “Create Note” at the top. Type in whatever you want, then hit Save. Now at the end of the highlighted portion is a tiny little page. That’s your reminder that you have a note there.

On the Paperwhite, it’s similar. You can add the note as soon as you add the highlighting by choosing “Note” from the menu after you press and drag to highlight. A “Note” screen pops up where you can type what you want. Tap Save, and you’ll see a little superscript number at the end of the highlighted portion kind of like what you see for footnotes in textbooks.

To read these notes, tap on the highlighted portion, tap on the Note in the menu, and you can read what you wrote. You can also delete or change the note at this time.

But Why?

If you send your manuscript to your Kindle in a .doc or other text file, highlighting and making notes about things you want to fix or change can be very helpful. As I mentioned, I also like to tell my friends about any typos they’ll want to fix. And when reading nonfiction, I highlight and make notes for the same reasons I would in a paper book – to remind myself of how to do something, or remember to come back to this passage later.

How Do I Get My Notes Back?

Obviously, hitting the page-forward button over and over through a 400-page book would be way too annoying to find all of your marks. But Kindle created a “My Clippings” text file for you and it saves everything you highlight or notate from any book on your Kindle. Yay!

For any ebook that the Kindle recognizes as such (I don’t know if you have to have purchased it from Amazon or not), your notes and highlights show up at https://read.amazon.com/notebook

Unfortunately, the manuscript you sent to your Kindle (possibly using the Send to Kindle app 😉 ) does not show up in your online notebook. (At least, I don’t see mine.) So you have to download your My Clippings file from your Kindle to your computer.

To do this, connect your Kindle power cord with the USB plug on the end to a USB port on your computer. Once it’s connected, your computer will see the Kindle like it would a flash drive. Click on Kindle, then Documents, then scroll down to My Clippings.txt and double-click to open. In that text file, you will find everything you’ve highlighted (probably since you purchased your Kindle). You can now save that file on your computer.

My Clippings.txt from my Kindle

Sending Your Notes to Your Friend

Using my friend Debra Mullins’ book Kerrigan’s Law as an example, this is what I do when I find any typos in a friend’s book. I open My Clippings, then cut and paste the notes that refer to that book into a new document.

Each highlight is listed in My Clippings by location number. If it also has a note, it is listed again at that location number with the note you typed. For instance, I highlighted a typo, then wrote “typo” in the note section. Here is what it looks like in My Clippings:

Kerrigan’s Law: Welcome to Burr: Book 3 (Debra Mullins)
– Your Highlight on Location 434-434 | Added on Sunday, December 3, 2017 10:33:42 PM

How to we make that happen?”
==========
Kerrigan’s Law: Welcome to Burr: Book 3 (Debra Mullins)
– Your Note on Location 434 | Added on Sunday, December 3, 2017 10:34:07 PM

Typo

Now I can cut and paste my highlights and notes into a new document or an email and send it to Deb. I try to highlight enough text so she can search for it and find it fairly easily. The location number will only give her a vague idea of where it is, but it helps. For instance, location 434 is very early on in the book.

Since I’d found a typo and knew I’d send it to Deb, I couldn’t help but highlight a portion that made me laugh out loud to send to her, too. 😉

Kerrigan’s Law: Welcome to Burr: Book 3 (Debra Mullins)
– Your Highlight on Location 1383-1384 | Added on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 1:18:20 PM

our old sheriff, Charlie Norris,
==========
Kerrigan’s Law: Welcome to Burr: Book 3 (Debra Mullins)
– Your Note on Location 1383 | Added on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 1:18:34 PM

LOL

(You get it – Chuck Norris? LOL! 😀 )

Using the Kindle Notebook Website

I only discovered the notes showing up on your own “notebook” page today when researching a question I had for this article. (Here’s the 2015 article I found mentioning it.) I couldn’t find Deb’s book in my “notebook,” so I played around with another book I had on my Kindle, Only a Hero Will Do by Alanna Lucas.

Example from my “Notebook”

You can see that I highlighted part of a sentence, then added a note, “Here is a note on that highlighted passage.”

I went through the books showing up in my My Clippings document and compared them to what showed up in my online “notebook.” I could be wrong, but it looks like Amazon only recognizes books I purchased from them. Anything I “side loaded” or used Send to Kindle to get onto my Kindle seems to not show up in the Notebook. Just a little FYI. So to get your notes for those books, you’ll have to download the file from your Kindle to your computer as I mentioned above.

Editing Your Own Books on Your Kindle

Bringing this around full circle, I told my friend Janice that she can load her current WIP onto her Kindle and take it with her on the plane. She won’t be able to make changes to the document, but she can highlight bits and write notes like, “Need more tension here” or “Potentially better ending could be…”

Loading your final manuscript to your Kindle and reading it through before you upload it to publish can also be one of your last proofreads. You can highlight a section and add the note “is should be it,” etc. One note on this – highlight enough, even a whole sentence, so that you can find it again in your document by doing a search.

I hope you found this information useful. I’ve really loved opening My Clippings occasionally to remind myself of all the cool stuff I wanted to remember from nonfiction ebooks I own. Learn from my mistake, though: when you trade in an old Kindle and get a new one, download the My Clippings file from the old Kindle first! Once you no longer have access to the Kindle, you no longer have access to the file. Darn!

Kitty Bucholtz author photoKitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. She writes romantic comedy and superhero urban fantasy, often with an inspirational element woven in. She loves to teach and offer advice to writers through her WRITE NOW! Workshop courses and the new WRITE NOW! Workshop Podcast.

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Time Management Podcasts and Classes

December 9, 2017 by in category It's Worth It, Writing tagged as , , , ,

Write Now Workshop PodcastI’m excited to tell you about a few pretty cool things coming up! First of all, I’m finally starting my podcast! Woohoo!!

The WRITE NOW! Workshop Podcast is expected to launch on Thursday, December 21, 2017. This will be an opportunity for me to share things I’ve learned with you and anyone in the world who tunes in to listen! I’ll post the link back here when it launches, and in my January 9th post. You’ll be able to listen using the Podcast app on your phone via iTunes, or other apps like Stitcher, or you can listen directly on the website. I’ll even have some of the interviews up on my YouTube channel!

The podcast will have three shorter episodes a week instead of one longer one. (If you listen to Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula Podcast or The Creative Penn Podcast, my two faves, they are both generally around an hour.) On Tuesdays, I’ll present a short teaching topic on something you can use in your writing right away. On Thursdays, I’ll interview a writer or editor or someone helpful to you in the publishing industry. I’ve already interviewed our own Jacqueline Diamond, James Scott Bell, and several others. Then Sundays will be my Encouraging Words segment. I’m really excited to have an opportunity to share all sorts of encouragement with you. This can be a difficult career, and I love helping people feel like they can make it!

Guest on Self-Publishing Formula Podcast

The other exciting podcast-related news is that I’m going to be a guest on Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula Podcast in January! Woohooo!!! I’m having a little fangirl chair dance right now because I absolutely love this podcast. I’m excited to be able to share tips and tricks from my time and project management class. I’ll let you know the air date when I find out. And when you listen, you’ll be able to download a free tip sheet as well. I hope this helps you as you plan out your 2018 writing goals.

Online Class for Time Management

If you’d like to get even more prepared, I’m re-opening my online class, Going the Distance: Time and Project Management for Writers, on January 15, 2018. In addition to the over 200 pages of lecture notes I’ve prepared in the past, I’m going to host a half-day live online event on Saturday, January 20, where we’ll go through the process of planning your calendar. Students will also get access to a private Facebook group so they can get time management help all year long. If you’ve already taken this class from me (through OCC or another group I’ve taught for), I’ll give you a $50 discount off the $150 price for lifetime access to the class. (I’ll post a link to the page here as soon as it’s ready, and I’ll mention it in my January 9th post as well.)

Speaking at EVA RWA Chapter

Finally, if you’re interested in getting a little time management help, but want it quick and fast and in person, I’ve been invited to speak at the East Valley Authors chapter of RWA in Azusa, CA, on Saturday, January 6, 2018. I’ll help you get prepared for a super productive year – as best I can in an hour! Haha! This is a great group of writers, and I’m sure it will be a fun morning. You should be able to get more information on the meeting on their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/eastvalleyauthorsrwa

So, was I right? A lot of really exciting stuff coming up! I hope I get to see you at some of it. Remember, the podcast is free, so you’ll be able to listen to all the interviews and writing tips and encouragement every week! Whew! I have more work to do, so I better hop to it!

Have a very Merry Christmas, and incredibly Happy Holidays! God bless you in every way! 😀

Kitty Bucholtz author photoKitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. She writes romantic comedy and superhero urban fantasy, often with an inspirational element woven in. WRITE NOW! Workshop, her website where she teaches and offers advice on self-publishing and time management, is under renovation. Look for the new website near the end of 2017!

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Tips For Reading ANYTHING (Almost!) on Your Kindle by Kitty Bucholtz

November 9, 2017 by in category Contests, It's Worth It, Writing tagged as , , , ,

Love at the Fluff and Fold by Kitty BucholtzI’m so excited! I’ve been waiting for years to write a book I thought was worthy of being entered in the RITA Awards (kind of the Oscars for romance novels), and on November 1, I entered for the first time. Yay!

One of the requirements for all entrants is that you must judge the first round. Okay, no problem, that seems fair. What I didn’t expect was the warning that you’d be judging five to nine books just for entering one book!

Now I haven’t done this before, so maybe (hopefully!) I’ll get some of the books in the next month. But entrants don’t have to get their books in until early January, and your judging materials are due back by early March. So I have to read a book a week!

If this is your normal reading habit, I’m sure it doesn’t sound too bad to you. But I feel lucky if I can finish two novels a month! And the only time I hit that level is if a) I have some really interesting, great books, and b) if I steal time away from other things I should be doing in order to read.

It’s not that I don’t want to read more – I have four delicious books I’m just dying to gorge myself on as soon as I can take the time. (Truly excellent books can’t be read a few pages at a time at night when you’re trying to turn off your brain and fall asleep. They need planned play dates.) But, like so many people, I have responsibilities I can’t ignore.

Additionally, this is the first year that the contest is going completely digital. Yay for entering the 21st century! But the books are required to be entered as PDFs only. Boo for staying in the 20th century! The last time I read a PDF on a Kindle as a judge for a contest was the last time I offered to judge a contest. It’s so difficult to read, it detracts from the enjoyment of the story. Not something you want in a book contest!

I was chatting with some other RITA entrants, talking about the best way to read all these books on an ereader or other device, and I decided to share what I learned with you.

As I mentioned, you can send PDFs and Word documents and other files to your Kindle. It used to be that you had to send them via a special email address connected to your Kindle. An address I never could remember. 😉 But Amazon created Send to Kindle to make the transfer process so much simpler!

(And here is the Help page with more information on it:)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200902880

On my Mac, the process is a simple drag-and-drop. I’m guessing it’s fairly easy on the other platforms as well. One thing to keep in mind – Send to Kindle for Mac will figure out the book’s title based on the file name. If the file name is funky, you’ll need to manually fix the title in the title box. Also, it always pulls the last author name I’d typed in. I think that means it just doesn’t pull the author name at all and you have to manually type it in (which is why I have to change it from the last book every time). The only reason these things matter is when you’re searching for a book by title or author on your Kindle or Kindle app.

PDF book to Kindle

PDF: Wide-format is hard to read!

Now since the RWA is requiring books entered in the contest to be in PDF format, I had to decide how I would create my PDF. I use Vellum to create my ebooks, and it doesn’t create PDFs. But Vellum requires a Word .docx file to start, so one option is to create a PDF from the Word file. But then each page would be quite wide. You’d have to manually move the page back and forth on every line. And it might also be just too small to read. (The problems I had the last time I did this several years ago.)

PDF book to Kindle sideways

PDF: Easier to read sideways, but still small

If your book is in Scrivener, you can save to a PDF, but I suspect you’ll have the same wide-format problem.

You ever think, “Maybe this will work, I’ll Google it but I’m sure you can’t actually do it this way”? Well, I wondered if there was any way to turn a PDF into a .mobi and fix the problem right there. Turns out – you can!

And once you turn the file into a .mobi (the format required on a Kindle or in the Kindle app), the file will be flow-able again. So you don’t have to worry about the page being wider than your screen. Yay!

Converted PDF to mobi

Converted PDF to mobi file

I’ve added some screen shots here from the Kindle app on my iPhone so you can see the difference between the two files. (Read the captions to see which file is which.)

First, I did some searching and then read some reviews to find a site that looked as safe as possible. (No one wants to upload their book or other intellectual property to a website that is going to send it out all over the web.) I chose this site, PDF Convert Online.

I followed the directions, uploaded my PDF (as I would if I just got nine books I have to read and judge!), and hit the convert button. (I didn’t click the green buttons to download the software. I clicked on Choose File in the middle, found my PDF file, then clicked the red “Convert Now!” button.) Fairly quickly, I got this message.

PDF to mobi online converter messageNot only was my PDF file converted to a mobi that I could then use Send to Kindle to read on my device or app, but the message assured me the file would be deleted shortly.

Excellent!

Mobi file with a larger font size

Now that it’s a mobi file, you can change the font size if you want.

Second, I sent the new PDF-turned-mobi file as well as the original PDF file to my Kindle app using Send to Kindle, and I made screen shots to compare them. As you can see, the PDF document is only readable when I turn my phone sideways and zoom in a little. If I zoom in more, I’ll have to move back and forth, left to right, along each line as I read. Painful. On the plus side, all the pages appear as they should, as if it were a print book.

But the PDF-turned-mobi file is completely flow-able. I can read it like any other Kindle file, I don’t have to turn my phone sideways for it to be big enough to read, and, in fact, I can use the Kindle controls to increase (or decrease) the font size. Yay! On the downside, the pages all flow into each other now as you can see from this screenshot.

Send to Kindle converts PDFs to mobi files

See the check box for the Send to Kindle app to convert PDFs to mobi files!

Now here’s the irony. I almost posted this article by telling you the happy news – you can turn PDFs into mobi files and upload them to your device using Send to Kindle – without realizing Send to Kindle has an option to convert PDF files right in the app! (See me rolling on the floor laughing at my enthusiastic ignorance! LOL!) I was looking for something else I wanted to tell you about the app (I forget what now) and just now found that handy little check box! Haha!

Yay! <still laughing>

I decided to leave in the paragraph about the PDF-to-mobi converter sites in case you have need of it for something else. (They convert all sorts of files one way and the other.) But your big take-away here – and mine! – is that when you have a document or book in PDF format (or if you have nine of them!), you can check the box in the Options area of the Send to Kindle app and automatically convert the PDF to a mobi file as it’s sent.

Awesome.

So go sign up to judge a book contest. The reading is now going to be easy as pie. And hopefully as good!

Kitty Bucholtz author photoKitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. She writes romantic comedy and superhero urban fantasy, often with an inspirational element woven in. WRITE NOW! Workshop, her website where she teaches and offers advice on self-publishing and time management, is under renovation. Look for the new website near the end of 2017!

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Never Give In

October 9, 2017 by in category It's Worth It tagged as ,

Once again, I’m in the middle of having no idea how my life will go in the near future. John’s job in New Zealand is over, and we are waiting to find out where we will live next. He’s interviewed all over the world, from Seattle to Stockholm, so we could end up anywhere. Meanwhile, we’re living out of four suitcases and guest room-hopping in Southern California.

Does that sound romantic? One of my friends said it did with a smile and a sigh. Consider it more deeply. I can’t make plans. I have no place to call home. I don’t have a recipe box or my usual kitchen appliances to cook what I’m used to eating. I don’t know how many groceries to buy because I don’t know if I’ll have to give them away soon if I buy too much. (We gave away over $500 of groceries when John got his last job because we didn’t know we’d be moving out of the country.) I can’t even buy many gifts because some would be too big to move, or would have the wrong type of electricity if we moved out of the country again.

Of course there are lots of positives as well! I’ve lived in other countries and seen beautiful lands and made amazing friends all over the world. I’ve seen my home country from different perspectives, which has helped me to understand the world a little better. I’ve eaten different foods and participated in different activities that I never would’ve known about.

But running a business as you constantly pack and unpack and move and move again is very difficult. A single move may cause you to have to pause your work temporarily, or work only on a laptop for a few weeks. But I’ve moved three times in the last year. (Hear my ginormous sigh.) When your life gets uprooted often enough, you may consider quitting and doing something else that you hope won’t be so difficult.

When I started writing this, I temporarily named the article, “Never Give Up, Never Surrender” because I love the movie Galaxy Quest. But I remembered a zippered pouch my husband gave me with a Winston Churchill quote on it, “Never, never, never give up” so I did a little research to share that with you as well.

What he actually said was:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

Any of us can use those words to strengthen ourselves against what pushes at us, what seems to be attacking us. Never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Sound advice.

But it was another section of Churchill’s speech that made me decide to write this for you. Listen to this:

You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination.

He doesn’t say more on this, but segues into the “never give in” part of his speech. [You can read the text of the speech here (with two added paragraphs that aren’t in the audio) or listen to it here.] But it made me think. Yes, we imaginative, creative types see so many possibilities in the world. We see kind people and angry people and imagine them to be life-givers and destroyers. We see beauty and ugliness and we imagine them to be fleeting and forever.

We can create a new future just with our imaginations. But what will we choose to create? Something life-giving or something destructive?

Today, I’m tired. Bone tired. Soul tired. I don’t know how to have the strength to get through the next few months. But I don’t have to get through the next few months. I don’t have to decide now whether I believe the near future will be a blessing or a curse. I only have to decide what to do and how to feel now. In today’s box.

where is my life goingIn today’s box, I only have to post this blog, go to church, and move to another friend’s guest room. In today’s box, I only have to buy groceries for the next few days. In today’s box, I only have to try to relax and enjoy a Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow I will figure out what is in the new “today’s box.”

Even Jesus preached this wisdom when He said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

I suspect that an upcoming “today’s box” will include looking for a substitute teaching job, something that can be started and stopped with a moment’s notice. Will I give in to the impulse to quit trying to make this writing business work? It’s tempting.

But I can use my imagination to see the world being a better place when people read my fun, encouraging, uplifting stories. I can imagine other writers being inspired by me to not quit when they listen to my podcast, read my nonfiction books and articles, and listen to me teach them what I know.

And I can imagine myself choosing each day to believe more in the good than the bad. I can believe more that we can make the world a better place, not allowing my imagination to see the world sucking the life out of me.

We have more power than we realize. We must use it. To encourage ourselves, to encourage others, to choose not to quit trying to make the world a little brighter because of what we do and who we are.

Decide with me today – never give in.

Kitty Bucholtz author photoKitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. She writes romantic comedy and superhero urban fantasy, often with an inspirational element woven in. WRITE NOW! Workshop, her website where she teaches and offers advice on self-publishing and time management, is under renovation. Look for the new website near the end of 2017!

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