Google Books to Kindle

A month or so ago, my friend and fellow writer Laurie AliceEakes posting on Colonial Quills about how to use Google books for research. I’d dabbled in Google books, but her article helped me figure out how to find what was really useful to me.

But I still wasn’t happy. I could read those old research books on my phone or my computer, but I needed to be more flexible and spend less time reading from a backlit screen. If only I could get those books on my kindle, I thought. They would be easy to read and portable, as well as have a highlighting and note-taking feature.

But was there a way to do that? I searched “google books to kindle.” The blog post I clicked on mentioned Calibre.

Way back in February, Rachel in my historical writers email group touted this free program for organizing your ebook library. Cool, I thought. I downloaded it but didn’t really have time to figure out how it worked or why I would need it with my kindle. I kind of forgot about it. Now I pulled it back up, spent some time figuring out how to navigate things and poof! Those ancient research books appeared on my kindle!

Want to know how? Here are the steps.

From the Calibre home screen, click on Get Books. Select Stores. Select Google Books.

If you have already found books on Google books and have them in saved in your library, click “my library” to access them. If not, search for the books you need.

Click on the book title. On the right side of the screen, click Read Now.

From the choices, select “Download to my computer.” There will be two options: EPUB and PDF. Some books won’t have the EPUB option, but that’s okay. Calibre’s beauty is it imports, converts, and exports in many different formats! (I did find that a few books didn’t download correctly as EPUB, but for those I just went back and downloaded them as PDFs.)

Once they appear on Calibre, you can edit the meta data for each title. Most of it will download correctly, but one piece of info I wanted that didn’t download automatically was publication date, so I always went in and corrected that.

Now click Convert. I left all the settings as they were, just changing the export format to MOBI.

Attach your kindle to your computer via USB. The Calibre should recognize it. Then click Send to Device and then Main Memory. The PDF files can go to your kindle as they are. (I worried about this because I had tried to read a PDF on my kindle before and hated it because the text lines didn’t fit the screen. But I haven’t had that same trouble with these old titles.) A check mark will appear beside the titles that have gone to your kindle.

I’m so excited to have these old books in a readable and portable format. I don’t have to worry about faded words in front of my eyes or crumbling pages in my hands. And I get to delve into the past in the words of those who lived there. I can’t imagine anything better as I search for new stories to tell.


Twenty-Four Years

We started out young, married while still in college (me) and graduate school (him). By the time he accepted his first post-graduation job, we were expecting our first child. We bought a house and had two more children while mired in student loans and battling our own personal shortcomings. We’ve weathered ups and downs—financially, spiritually, emotionally. We’ve laughed and cried and loved and fought. But most importantly, we’ve grown.

And we’ve lasted.

Today we celebrate 24 years of marriage.

Thank you, Jeff. I love you more than words can say.


A Sunday Psalm

Keep me safe, O God,
for in You I take refuge.
I said to the Lord, "You are my Lord;
apart from You I have no good thing."
    --Psalm 16:1-2


Celebrating "Lasts"

I’ve been celebrating “lasts” ever since my third child was born. The last bottle. The last diaper. The last first day of kindergarten. The last baby tooth.

Lately it has been bigger things. The last day of middle school. The last braces to be removed. The last child to become a licensed driver.

So when our dentist informed me that child number three needed his wisdom teeth out, I threw my arms in the air with a big “Woo-hoo!”

He looked at me kind of funny. “I always celebrate the ‘lasts’,” I told him. He asked if I really celebrated or if I forced myself to celebrate so that I wouldn’t mourn my children growing up. No, I assured him, I truly celebrate.

He thought I was kind of odd. I get that a lot. Especially from mothers who weep with every last thing the last child does. But I can’t make myself go there. These children came to me with a purpose: for me to care for and raise them so that they could go out into the world and be independent and productive adults, hopefully sold out to the kingdom of God and following hard after Him.

Will I miss them? Ten years ago I wouldn’t have imagined it, but yes, I’ll miss them. In fact, I have a feeling that last graduation will be the first really hard “last.” But would I want them back? No. I want them to move forward, to find their place in the world. And because I know the Lord isn’t finished using me when my day-to-day duties as Mom end, I look forward to whatever hovers on the horizon of our empty nest. But there are two more years to go until then.

For today, we celebrate no more wisdom teeth with milkshakes and movies. And we check yet another “last” off our list.  


Learning Not to Hurry

Like most of our society today, I tend to hurry things. I don’t want to wait. I want to push ahead to the next thing. I have a hard time with stillness and rest. I want to work, to accomplish, to move forward.

This is not always a good thing for a writer.

Why? Because very often my first thoughts on a storyline, a scene, a setting, are the most prosaic. They are familiar. They are easy. They’re usually the ones that have been done before, even if not in the exact manner.

My editor has been teaching me to think beyond my first thoughts. To get to the unusual ideas. The ones that surprise. The ones that read fresh. The problem is that getting to those places takes time.

It’s not easy for me to sit back and ponder without guilt, to measure the quiet of those moments as work. Necessary work.  But I’m learning patience. And stillness. The importance of noodling an idea before throwing it down on the page. Who knows? One of these days that unhurriedness might even spill over into other areas of my life. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, either!

What about you? Do you tend to hurry, hurry, hurry or are you deliberately patient about your work?


A Season of Sacrifice

Long ago, when my kids were little, I thought I learned about sacrificial love. I mean I gave up so much during those years—time, money, energy, dreams. Somehow I imagined that would be the pinnacle of the giving up of myself.

But now I see it was only the beginning.

We registered our second child for college this weekend. In fact, it was the second weekend in a row we’d driven to another state to do college stuff with our kids. Two weekends of time and money and energy spent. With much more to spend waiting on the horizon. And just like when my husband started his own business, I see we are about to make a lifestyle change. A season of sacrifice. And it’s much bigger than anything I imagined when my kids were small.

The thing is, all those years ago I struggled with resentment. I felt I didn’t understand before I jumped in what would be expected. I felt imposed upon, less of a sacrifice, more of a punishment. This time it’s different. This time, while sacrifice is uncomfortable, as it always will be, I see meaning in it. I see growth coming for myself, my husband, my kids. And I’m even finding joy. For sacrifice changes us all—the one giving and the one receiving.

I’ve learned enough to realize even this won’t be the last moment of sacrifice in my life. Or even the probably the most painful. It’s simply another facet of the journey up the mountain of faith.

What sacrificial act has meant the most in your life? Was it something sacrificed by you or for you?


A Sunday Psalm

The Lord reigns forever;
He has established His throne for judgment.
He will judge the world in righteousness;
He will govern the peoples with justice.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know Your name will trust in You,
for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.
     --Psalm 9:7-10



This week caught up with me and here I am with nothing to post! But my Sunday psalm will appear and I'll be back with something (probably a book review!) on Monday!

Hope your summer days are lazier than mine!


At Just the Right Moment

I love how the Lord’s fingerprints show up on seemingly insignificant things in my life. Like choosing what book to read. It may seem like a small thing, but it isn’t beyond the realm of His attention!

Here’s kind of how it goes: I know about a book, have generally even heard that it’s a good, or even a great, book. But for some reason, I’m not compelled to pick it up. I have not even a spark of desire. Then later—weeks, months, years later—I think, Wow, I need to read that book. When that happens, I generally whiz through it, marveling all the while at the truth that I wouldn’t have been ready to receive at an earlier date!

My most recent example of this is with a book on the craft of writing. I always try to read one between working on novels. I have a shelf full of titles I read over and over again. But this time I picked up (or rather downloaded!) a book I’d often heard good things about but never read—James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure. It’s exactly perfect for the stage I find myself in at the moment. In fact, as I am noodling on new storylines and characters, it addresses that very thing I am struggling with!

Of course it isn’t just writing books that expose this phenomenon for me. It occurs with non-fiction books and novels, too. And each time I realize that the title I’d put off reading, or even in some cases shunned, was simply waiting for me to be ready to receive the truth or instruction it had to offer.

Has this ever happened to you? Can you share the title? Maybe it will be the exact one someone else needs to read right now!


The National World War II Museum

We went to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans last weekend. We’d been years ago, when it was new and was called the D-Day Museum. But let me tell you—this is one fabulous place! It’s very interactive and gives a great “big picture” view of WWII. Honestly, by the time we hit the part of the museum about the Pacific Theatre, we were about beat! I’d have liked to do that whole part on a second day.

The movie, Beyond All Boundaries, was an incredibly moving experience. I had to fight to hold back tears as with pictures and video and audio clips we relived the war, from Pearl Harbor to V-J Day. I learned things I didn’t know and was able to understand some parts of the war I hadn’t seen clearly in just learning through lectures and readings in history class.

But I think my favorite part was the personal stories scattered throughout, memories of veterans pertaining to that specific exhibit. It brought it all home, made it real. We sat and listened to (sometimes there were clips to watch) every single one of those personal accounts. They were amusing and sobering. They were enlightening. They made me wish I had asked questions and listened to stories from the older generations.

Even though I don’t write stories set in the WWII era, it is a time that still fascinates me, both the war and the home front. If you ever get a chance to visit this museum—do! You won’t be sorry.


A Sunday Psalm

How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise Him!
The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers
the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
His understanding has no limit.
     --Psalm 147:1-5


Broken Wings by Carla Stewart

I’ve been on a roll of reading good books lately. And it makes it even more fun that people I know—and often people I consider my friends—have written them!

Here’s the latest one I couldn’t put down:

Broken Wings is Carla Stewart’s second novel and is it wonderful! Of course, I love stories that involve the friendship between generations, and Mitzi and Brooke’s friendship, which begins in the emergency room, does not disappoint. I also loved the “historical” part of the story (Mitzi’s history) woven in on occasion. It was a story that tugged at my heartstrings. I couldn’t keep the tears from falling—mostly because by the end of the book, Mitzi and Brooke and the others truly lived in my imagination. I felt if I ran into them just around the corner, we’d embrace like old friends.

It’s a good one! You should get it!


Summer Thoughts

I always think I’ll catch up on things during the summer, yet I always feel like I’m already running behind. I think it is the abundance of daylight hours that deceives me. Somehow I imagine there to be more hours in the day—hours for work, for errands, for relaxing, for being with my friends and family. But in spite of the presence of the sun, the days are still only 24 hours long. And somehow seem even shorter, given the amount I get accomplished each day!

Ah, summer. The love-hate relationship begins again.


Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins

I’m not really a suspense reader. In fact, I pretty much avoid it. However, several years ago I read a couple of Brandilyn Collins’s books because I liked her as a person. I even recommended her books to others I knew enjoyed a suspenseful novel. But I haven’t picked one up myself in several years.

This spring, Brandilyn went on a booksigning tour for her new book, Over the Edge, a medical suspense of sorts that deals with the issues surrounding Lyme disease. One stop on her tour brought her close to my home. Since my sister enjoys Brandilyn’s books—and I enjoy Brandilyn—I thought it would be fun for us to go. We did. We loved our visit with her. And, of course, I bought a book—more out of solidarity as an author and knowing that my sister and possibly my husband would enjoy reading it.

Then something happened. It was sitting by my bed on Thursday night. I picked it up to read just the first page, to remind myself what a good writer Brandilyn is, and I got hooked. Totally hooked! Friday and Saturday didn’t allow for much reading time, but by Sunday evening, I’d finished the entire thing. I simply couldn’t put it down! Brandilyn weaves a great story that keeps you guessing all the way to the end. If you are looking for an engaging and fast-paced read that is suspenseful (but not too scary!), Over the Edge is definitely a book you need to find!


A Sunday Psalm

I will sing of the Lord's great love forever;
with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known
through all generations.
I will declare that Your love stands firm forever,
that You established Your faithfulness in heaven itself.
    --Psalm 89:1-2


Free E-books!

Right now I’m agonizing over the Amazon gift card my kids gave me for Mother’s Day. So many books I want to read. But my funds are limited. How to decide?

That’s one reason I love free books, whether traditional or electronic. In that vein, I thought I’d share with you four free titles I downloaded this week. (They are available on both Kindle and Nook.)

This Fine LIfe by Eva Marie Everson
The Voyage of Promise by Kay Marshall Strom
Journey to the Well by Diana Wallis Taylor
The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser

I’m looking forward to reading each one even while I continue to agonize over what titles to purchase!


The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden

Last October I was able to take a quick couple of days and visit my publisher, Bethany House, in Minneapolis. Two other authors visited at the same time, and one was a newbie like me. Well, her first novel has just released—and is it a doozy!

Elizabeth Camden’s The Lady of Bolton Hill is a fascinating blend of romance, adventure and history. Late nineteenth century Baltimore. A heroine of high standing making her mark on the world. A hero who has risen from poverty to riches. And a villain that . . . well, I don’t want to tell you too much!

This book literally held me captive from beginning to end. And even at the end, I desperately wanted to know more, especially the fate of one of the characters I never intended to like. In fact, I found myself desperate for a sequel—and I haven’t felt that way about a book in very a long time!

All I can say is “Wow!”

Disclosure: this book was provided free from the publisher.