Note: Kitty is at a conference so we’re rerunning one of her columns from our archives. We hope Kitty has a great time, and we hope you enjoy her column.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
(You get it – Chuck Norris? LOL! 😀 )
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.
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.
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!
I’ve been attending the Malmö International Rotary Club for the last few months, and in November I gave an “ego speech.” It sounds a little too self-centered to be comfortable 🙂 but it’s basically a “getting to know you” speech.
I wanted to share the real Kitty, but I still didn’t want it to center on me. Then I realized I could do with the speech what I try to do with my podcast episodes, and even in my fiction: encourage the audience in their own lives. Interestingly, I found myself veering slightly from my notes in the end and telling the club that I was thinking about starting a new project to better use my gifts…but it would be scary and I hadn’t had the courage to take the leap yet.
Here’s the speech. If you’re thinking about starting something new, or even if you’re just planning your work for next year, I hope it encourages you. Let me know what you think.
Want to know a secret? Volunteering can be your ticket to building a creative career platform.
Other professions have embraced the nonprofit strategy as personally fulfilling and professionally strategic. Lawyers work pro-bono, doctors cross borders to help those less fortunate, retired business people and teachers mentor those who need help starting their businesses or getting over a hump.
But nonprofits need more than counsel, they need the kind of exposure writers, filmmakers and artists can provide. Whether you’re looking for that first portfolio piece or expanding an already established career, aligning yourself with a nonprofit offers you a wealth of creative opportunities. Since you might know others in creative careers, here are some suggestions for writers, filmmakers, artists and even chefs and gardeners because creativity is never limited.
WRITERS AND/ OR FILMMAKERS
Profile a volunteer
Interview the administrator
Chronicle the history of the nonprofit
Write the newsletter
Write content for their website/blog
Spotlight the success stories of clients
Paint a mural
Design a fundraising invitation
Photograph the clients
Hold art/photography classes
Design a nonprofit’s newsletter
Design a non-profit’s logo
Cook for a fundraiser
Landscape the building
Provide floral arrangements for benefits
There is no limit to the benefits you will receive by volunteering your creative services. You will build your portfolio, be introduced to businesses and clients that are ready to pay for your talent, and, above all, you will have made a difference with your words, your images and your creativity. There is no lack of drama at a nonprofit, all you have to do is seek it out.
Eric, my son and Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Albania, writes plays about his experiences. They are produced in Hollywood and the proceeds benefit the village in which he lives.
Sam, a well-known musician, teaches children stricken with cancer how to play the guitar. Because of his volunteer work, the local newspaper did a front-page article on his efforts.
Cheryl, an aspiring filmmaker interviews people in an assisted living facility and runs those interviews on her website calling attention not only to rich histories but also to her talent behind the camera.
Jackie painted a mural on the wall of a local library. She was credited for her work by the library and her work is seen every day of the year not only by those who visit the library but people who walk and drive by.
The next time you’re looking for a way to showcase your talent, look no further than your community. Your portfolio – and your heart – will benefit from your generosity.
For years, my all-time favorite movie was Sleepless in Seattle. Even when my screenwriting teacher in a professional program gave me the stink-eye, I wouldn’t change my answer. I have watched that movie so many times, I’m surprised the DVD hasn’t worn out. (I’ve owned it so long, I used to have the VHS tape, too!)
Then Richard Curtis wrote some big blockbuster romantic comedies that I love. Love Actually and Notting Hill are my two favorites. Even my husband, John, likes all three of these movies because they are smart and funny and have great lines of dialogue that you can’t help quoting later.
I love these movies so much that I’ll even watch them on Netflix, even though we own all three on DVD. And oh, Netflix, how I love you. Let me count the ways. That’s where I first watched The Decoy Bride with the hilarious Kelly Macdonald and the awesome David Tennant. I’ve watched that movie sooo many times! I bought it on Blu-ray because I wanted to make sure I could watch it in high quality forever. But then I had to buy it on DVD, too, because that’s the only way I could watch it on my computer. I’ve never done that before, buying more than one copy!
And what’s my go-to movie for sick days? The Family Man. Tea Leoni and Nicolas Cage are absolutely adorable, and those kids! And the best friends! The movie makes me laugh every single time I watch it.
I love romantic comedies. I love reading them, watching them, writing them, talking about them. Like I said, they’re my medicine for bad days. And lately, I’ve had truckloads of bad days.
Thank God for romantic comedy writers because I found some new medicine two weeks ago. I’d seen on Facebook that my friend Sean Gaffney (same screenwriting program I was in) had written a new movie called In-Lawfully Yours. I guess I’m a bad friend for not paying very good attention because I thought it was coming out in the theater this fall, but it came out on Netflix!
I was scrolling through the New Releases and saw the title and thought, how funny, Sean’s movie has that same title. And hey, the movie poster looks kind of – hey, that is Sean’s movie! LOL! I was having a bad day so I watched it during lunch. It is soooo adorable! The hero and heroine really played off each other so well! And the characters seemed like people I’d probably know, people I’d want to be friends with if they were real, not like pretend movie characters.
I felt so much better after watching it, just like medicine. I wanted to watch it again right away, but I controlled myself. I waited until lunch the following day. Aw, wow, it was just as funny the second time. It had been a stressful week, so I turned it on again at lunch for the third day in a row. Still had me laughing and smiling! If you like rom-com’s, you’ve got to watch this movie!
In addition to feeling better, watching a movie several times helps you consciously and unconsciously work through what you like about it, and why. You start thinking about what you don’t like and why. And if you’re a writer, you start going over your own characters and asking yourself how they can become better after seeing some other amazing fictional characters on screen or in a book.
One thing about the writing in In-Lawfully Yours. If they hadn’t gotten the right actors, it could’ve been a little dopey. That’s the risk with humor – it’s got to be the right kind, in the right amount, for the right audience. Of course, that’s the risk with movies in general. Wrong actor, bad movie. Right group of actors, amazing movie!
So when I watched this movie for the third time in three days, I had to stop thinking about these actors who had such good chemistry, and I had to think about the characters I write who will ever and only play out in people’s heads. And that’s when I remembered…
When I wrote Little Miss Lovesick, the first several drafts were aimed at Silhouette Romance (kind of like Harlequin, if you don’t know) and the humor was mild, the kind of humor they’d already published. But when I took a risk and wrote the kind of humor that had me laughing as I was typing, a whole new level of fun story developed! It was no longer the kind of book Silhouette or Harlequin or several other houses were buying. (That was a problem for me until self-publishing came along.)
But the readers who enjoyed Little Miss Lovesick really loved it! My risk paid off and I found my writer voice. Since then I’ve had to push myself to get to the edge of my comfort zone and see what else I can do. I can’t let fear or complacency take hold because I’ll lose what it turns out my readers want. (Plus, it’ll be way less fun for me!)
What stories do you read or watch over and over again? What are you learning from them? Are you letting those favorites push you to become a better writer? Give it some thought.
Meanwhile, I’m going to go watch In-Lawfully Yours again. Thanks for writing such a fun story, Sean! And thanks, Chelsey Crisp and Joe Williamson, for making me laugh with and fall in love with a new favorite couple! I’m such a happy Kitty! 😀
The episodes of WRITE NOW! Workshop Podcast where I’m talking about burnout are some of the most downloaded, so I can only assume it’s a topic people want to know more about. With that in mind, I interviewed a friend who is recovering from burnout and asked what advice she can give us.
Because Amanda lives in Sweden, she’s getting professional medical care, not just trying to make it through on her own like I have been. She shared so much valuable information, I had to break our interview into two episodes! Here are the YouTube versions, but you can also listen on your phone’s podcast app, or listen-only on my website.
Stories that will sweep you away . . .More info →
When missing turns to murdered, one woman's search for answers will take her to a place she never wanted to go…More info →
Wedding Dreams . . . and Christmas FiendsMore info →
"A woman walks into a crowded Manhattan bar and meets a nice southern gentleman." That sounds like the beginning of a bad joke or the beginning of an intriguing love story.More info →