My favorite

Writing Tools

I am frequently asked what tools I am using to research, write and design my book. Here is a quick list with links. I will update as I proceed through the process. Please send me your comments.


Scrivener - Writing App

Scrivener can be adapted to any kind of writing project: fiction, non-fiction, journalism, family history. If you are serious about writing and eventually publishing, this is your go-to tool. There is nothing comparable and there is a huge user community. Don’t even think about comparing it to Microsoft Word!

“Scrivener unites everything you need to write, research and arrange long documents in a single, powerful app. At its heart is a simple ring-binder metaphor that allows you to gather your material and flick between different parts of your manuscript, notes and references with ease. Break your text into manageable sections of any size and leave Scrivener to stitch them together. Integrated outlining tools let you plan everything first or restructure later. And as your project grows, you’ll find that Scrivener grows with it.”

MacOs, iOs, Windows

$45. Frequently on sale for less.

Prowriting Aid - Writing Analysis

Pro Writing Aid is a great set of writing tools including of course spelling and grammar checker. But it goes so far beyond that with analysis of word choice, sentence structure, voice and many other options. It also integrates with MSWord and, my choice, Scrivener. Recently I had it review an article which I was certain was “baked” and it made several suggestions for things I had overlooked. You can try it out for free online (does not integrate with Word or Scrivener.)

This review is particularly complete and they may also have a discount code you can use.

MacOs, iOs, Windows

$70 annually. Frequently on sale for less and once in a while great offers on a lifetime license which is what I got.

Aeon - Timeline App

Aeon Timeline tracks dates, characters, locations and story arcs. It allows me to cross-reference all events and characters. It calculates ages for my characters once I input a birthdate. It can also link to external files such as photos and documents as well as PDFs. This is MacOS and iOs only at this time.

“A timeline is composed of a series of events: an occurrence that happens at a particular time for a given duration. Depending on your project needs, these events may represent plot points in a novel, planned future tasks in a project, or known events in a legal case or historical research.”

MacOs, iOs

$50. Several times a year it is 50% off.


Bookends - Bibliography App

Bookends is a slick tool for creating a bibliography and annotations. What a timesaver this has been: I enter an ISBN number or book title and Bookends finds the information for me. Integrates with Microsoft Word and Scrivener and other apps. This is MacOS and iOs only at this time.

“Reference management entails the collection, annotation, curation, and citation of published information. This is exactly what Bookends does. Bookends can perform Internet searches to retrieve references and associated pdfs or web pages, or immediately find and import references for which you already have the pdf.”

MacOs, iOs


Lightroom - Photo Organization App

Adobe Lightroom is the premiere photo editing and management app. I use it to organize all my photos as well as resize and crop them for my book.

The most economical way to purchase it is on a month-to-month cloud subscription. Currently only $10 a month for the basic plan with or without Adobe Photoshop. Cloud storage varies by plan.

MacOs, iOs, Windows

$10-$19 a month


OneNote - Notebook App

Microsoft OneNote is a great tool to store all your research. It uses the metaphor of a notebook with sections and pages. I use it for pasting information from the web and taking notes. Scrivener has similar functionality and many people use it to store their research. I like the integration of OneNote with my browsers so I can quickly paste an article or link into a section.

It is available to download for free. I have it included in my Office365 subscription. I do not know whether the standalone app has any limitations.

MacOs, iOs, Windows


Adobe InDesign - Page Layout and Publishing

InDesign is “the industry-leading layout and page design software for print and digital media. Create beautiful graphic designs with typography from the world’s top foundries and imagery from Adobe Stock. Quickly share content and feedback in PDF. Easily manage production with Adobe Experience Manager. InDesign has everything you need to create and publish books, digital magazines, eBooks, posters, interactive PDFs, and more.”

Yes, there is a learning curve. However, there is nothing with the same power and options if you want to design your own book or magazine. There are 1,000s of free tutorials and templates. And I am happy to consult with you too! If you just want to go from Scrivener or MSWord to Kindle, you won’t need this.

Available via subscription. Price varies.

MacOs, Windows


Citation Machine

Citation Machine is a free browser based online service which will generate citations from books, articles and websites.

How I Track Images

I have 100s of images in my book. I had been struggling to create a method to cross-reference them. I’ve landed on a simple solution:

I have renamed the images with a sequential numbering scheme. In MacOS I can select a set of images and then group rename them. In this case I chose to use a counter format which sequentially numbers them and put the number as a prefix to the original filename. When I add new image I can manually add the counter or allow MacOS to do it.

Then I created an Excel document with the metadata I want for each image. The counter goes in the first column. The essential columns for me are Chapter and Chapter Image Position(image #1, #2, etc.). That’s all there is to it. I also have a column for the source of the image which for me is either a URL or a my personal collection. If I know the photographer, date taken and location those are added too.


Divi - WordPress Theme

Divi is the WordPress theme I have been using for several years. It is the theme I use almost all the time now. It has a huge base of over 500,000 users with over 2 million sites. The company is constantly adding features and updating it to stay current. I highly recommend it.

Readability Test Tool

Readability gives you feedback on readability of your text using multiple measures. It is especially useful if you are writing for the web and have a URL. You can also copy/paste directly into the second tab.

Online OCR

OCR This online site solves a big problem for me. I will often find old books or magazines online and need to quote a long passage. So I snap a screenshot either on my desktop computer (SNAGIT) or my iPhone. Then I load it here and in seconds I get an almost 100% accurate text transformation. The only editing I usually need to do is to remove extra paragraph markers. Easy to do a find/replace in Microsoft Word for that.

Note Accesories for your Desk

I don’t use paper or postits anymore. These glass white boards are awesome and inexpensive.

Glass Desktop Computer Pad, 18″ x 6″, Whiteboard

And this one if you want something bigger.

Glass Whiteboard Desktop Easel, 9″ x 11

If you get one, I recommend the special markers. they really are better and last a long time

Glass Board Dry Erase Markers by Quartet, Premium, Bullet Tip, Assorted Colors, 4 Pack