For those who don't know, I am a writer of sorts. I don't have many credits at all and my books were all accomplished in the pre-Kindle days. My first published book, a young adult mystery titled FOR MIKE, was published by Random House's young adult division and garnered an Edgar nomination. It didn't win, but it gave me the experience of a lifetime when I got to go to the Edgar Awards banquet in NYC, where I was met by pen friend and author Evan Hunter, aka Ed McBain. I think meeting him was better than getting the award which is after all, just a ceramic bust of Poe that isn't even very attractive.
In my writerly life I've inevitably had my circle of friends become more writers than not, and it's one of those friends who led me into a Kindle experiment that I'm quite proud of actually (as if I developed the device and its magical abilities myself). I met Melissa Wyatt many years ago when she was working on a YA novel that was to become her first book, RAISING THE GRIFFIN. For the last five years Melissa has been working on a different sort of book, but even as I write that I am laughing a bit since she certainly wouldn't put it that neatly. This novel has nearly driven her to madness with its puzzling, Gothic plot and its reluctance to comply with her wishes in a neat, lady-like manner, which if you knew Melissa, you'd know that is how she expects everything in her life to come about. (And she does deserve it, really. Melissa exudes Lady.) One day last month she announced she was finished with the novel and was sending it to her agent. Five years of hell, she said. I thought of all the phone time when I tried to help with sticky parts, the ancient lore we'd looked up, the what-if games we played. "It was so fun!" I said. Melissa screamed.
After she recovered from the vapors she asked if I would read the manuscript. Yes, the agent already had it, but he was a man and he might not appreciate the plot through the layers of lace and damask. (This is a period piece where Ladies do what Ladies do.) It's quite long also and quite costly to print and mail, so the idea of putting it onto my Kindle came up. I knew it was supposed to be possible. So yesterday we decided to make it happen.
I'm basically afraid of technology. If I push the right button and something responds in the right way I am happy. If it doesn't I am terrified, and I don't experiment ever! But I got onto the help pages and shared what I read with her and the steps seemed fairly straightforward. I found my Kindle's email address (who knew it had one?) and gave it to her, and I told my account that it could accept email from her address. Then, while we were on the phone, I turned my Kindle on, enabled the wireless, and she sent the email with the attached book file. And we waited. "How was supper?" "Fine, fine." "Is it there yet?" "No." We waited some more. I went to my account on amazon and saw that I had a pending arrival. That must be it! But it wasn't on my Kindle. Oh something came over in a bit and we both got excited about it, but it was a message saying there was something coming and to turn on the wireless so it could download. Well, I had it on! But it wasn't coming! "It's not here! Something's broken, I've done something wrong!" By now my mind is shouting, "Abort! Abort!"
I took a deep breath, told her I'd call her back, and looked at the message I'd received for the umpteenth time. It gave me a number I could call if I experienced difficulties. I thought it time. A personable young man answered my call. His name was Ryan and he asked me enough to tap into my account. He said he did indeed see the one pending delivery I was trying to download. "Is your device connected to wi-fi right now?" Yes, it was. "Do you have wireless in your home? Is that what it is connected to?" Well yes, I do, but I don't have the Kindle connected to that ever, since I forgot the password and can't find the written copy so I just use the 3G feature to download my books. I thought I heard a small chuckle, but he hid it well. "The 3G is like a cell phone type of signal. You need the wi-fi to download a personal document." Well, shoot me in the foot. I told Ryan how embarrassing it was on my end to be an old fuddy who had to be told the obvious and that he must get tired of spoon-feeding old people who call in a dither because their Kindle isn't doing what they think it should be doing. He laughed and said, "Not at all, and you seem to know quite a lot about your device." What a sweet talker! I told him I would run out to the local library if I had to borrow wi-fi and retrieve my book. We ended on a very happy note.
Before I called Melissa back to inform her of the news I decided to ring Frankie and ask if he knew my password. He did! I didn't think twice... I went back to the menu screen that Ryan had led me to and found my wi-fi signal listed, its little lock symbol no longer a barricade. I blasted that lock and watched my Kindle put on that signal like a young miss throwing on her pelisse. Then, the pending delivery was delivered! HOSREV. What?? It's also embarrassing that it took me several minutes to realize this stood for HEART OF STONE REVISION. Melissa and I rejoiced and made merry. I was proud; she was proud; all was well.
One final note. I anxiously waited for my daughter to arrive home from her night classes, excited to show her what I had on my Kindle now. Olivia is always berating my technical abilities. She says I shouldn't even be allowed on Facebook! When she got here and was busy making a plate from supper leftovers, I put the Kindle under her nose. Her eyes scanned the title page and then widened. "How did you get that?" I put on my best poker face. "I hacked into Melissa's computer."