Amazon, Drafts, ebook publishing, Editing, Kindle, Kindle Personal Documents, Kindleboards, Project Gutenberg, Research

I love Kindle’s “Personal Documents” feature

I’ll start with our personal use of Kindle’s Personal Documents.

My husband prefers to read and store important manuals and technical documents on his Kindle. If they exist on the web as word processing or PDF files, they normally can be sent successfully to Kindle.

I use the personal document feature to send chapters of my novel-in-progress to the Kindles of a few readers for early reactions. Seeing pages on Kindle gives me a different sense of the flow and pace of the story, something helpful for editing.

I also put research on my Kindle. Recently when I wanted to know more about mules used in transportation, I downloaded then sent to my Kindle a reprinting of The Mule, an instructive document written by Harvey Riley in 1867, made available by Project Gutenberg. Underlining and notes made on the Kindle are easier to retrieve than on paper or in a hard-copy book.

Other neat uses found on a Kindleboards forum: Shopping lists, driving schedules, camera manuals, notes for presentations—anything you want to take along in a compact format.

One of the best: A teacher puts her lecture notes on her Kindle and lets the Kindle read them aloud as she drives to work. Also great: A mom puts her kids’ textbooks on Kindle. Another mom surprised and delighted her daughter by sending to her Kindle a story the girl had written.

You can find your Kindle’s email address on Amazon by going to Your Account/Manage your Kindle. On the left side of that page, find the menu for Personal Document Settings. Clicking that link takes you to a page where you see the email addresses of Kindles to which you can send personal documents.

To exchange files with other Kindle owners, you need to add their Kindle addresses and they need to add your email address on their Approved Personal Document Email list, which is also on that page. In other words, exchanging files this way requires something to be done by both parties.


To send a file to a Kindle, attach it to an email that you send to the designated Kindle address. The address will be something like In the subject heading, I type ‘Convert’ but I’m not sure if that’s necessary. Remember, the Kindle’s address is preset, and you find it on your Personal Document Settings page.

You can find other options for sending files to Kindle and Kindle apps at

Kindleboards posters noted problems in sending some types of PDF files to Kindle. You can find their discussion and solutions here:,134169.0.html

How have you used Kindle’s Personal Documents?

Research, Writing

Writing from Scratch

It’s not necessary to have ingredients on hand to start writing a novel.  Unlike scratch cooking, you concoct most everything that goes into it and make up the recipe as you go along. 
Planning my current story began with a brief image from a dream that I recorded in a notebook some time ago.  The dream had a poor child huddled in bushes by the door of a privileged home, an open carriage driving up to the door, a man who pulled his children roughly to the ground, a girl who fell, and the small girl who rushed from hiding to help her.  The story, I thought, might be about the poor girl and the privileged children who’d just lost their mother.
I pursued that idea for some days, looking at pictures of carriages, imagining scenes for the child, creating her history, considering where and when the story might take place.  Eventually she became a different character; I didn’t use the bush scene, reduced the children and their father to minor characters, and forgot about the carriage. 
To get to that point I did a lot of thinking in many directions, recording even the least promising ideas in my messy spiral notebook or the better organized OneNote Notebook, sometimes waking and writing in the dark to preserve a thought without coming fully awake.
It’s harder in the beginning.  Writing from scratch is not like cooking, but like working a puzzle of your own design, having only one piece and no clue to the whole picture. 
I thought a lot about the main character and possible bumps in her road, and tested ideas in brief scenes.  In a OneNote section labeled “Problems,” I created a page of “Character Problems” and one of “Author Problems.”  Author Problems included things like “Why would she be in that place at that time?”  Also inconsistencies to be fixed.
To make the setting and society authentic for 1900, I developed 49 pages in a OneNote research section and to answer questions that popped up, like “Would there have been metal barrels then?”  In the research section I also pasted pictures, thanks to Internet, of such things as decorative iron gates and primitive washing machines, and copied words to a Fanny Crosby hymn and quotes from Longfellow’s “Evangeline.”  Now that I’m 20 chapters into the story, I know I won’t draw on most of what’s in those 49 pages, like the description of glove-making.  But I have a feel for the time, and the search has been fun.
When I get stuck I read back over all my notes and hope a new, logical direction will emerge when I wake in the morning.

Cleaning a Slop Jar in 1883

Wide Awake by Charles Trowbridge Pratt

Because my new novel-in-progress is set in 1900, I’ve been researching details of daily life in the late 19th century.  I bought two books and read another via Inter-library loan, but the greatest help has been the storage of memories, documents, and special interests on Internet sites. 

One day, thinking a character might have to clean a slop jar (chamber pot), I googled “clean a slop jar” and found a wonderful publication scanned by Google Books.  The name of the publication is Wide Awake by Charles Trowbridge Pratt and the (or “of the”) Chautauqua Young Folks’ Reading Union, published in 1883.  The work appears to be a course of study, with stories, poems, and illustrations by authors and artists, plus other sections like science, music, cooking, housekeeping, and business.  Today I downloaded this treasure in PDF format and may post a review of it later, though the PDF file says it’s more than 1,000 pages long.  Here’s an excerpt.  No more complaining about cleaning the bathroom!  
“… [plenty of] hot suds for washing the toilet ware and clean dry cloths for wiping should go round with the slop pail every day. Bring the chamber pail now with hot water and a pitcherful of the strong hot soda water I told you of, and wash and scald every article, for you will find they need it. Often the sediment on pitchers and bowls will need sapolio [brand of soap] to remove it, for it almost becomes part of the glaze in time. That neglected slop jar you will take out, and scrub with a broom and suds, not touching it with your hands; then let it stand with scalding soda water in it an hour or two, rinse, drain, and leave it all day in full sunshine.
…But you must know that dirty water leaves a slimy coating on whatever it stands in, wood, china, or tin, which is not rinsed off, and if left in this careless way, your slop jar takes a lining of putrid matter which gives the bad odor to ill-kept chamber ware.”
Writing is a good excuse to be distracted by all kinds of interesting stuff.