Tools I Use

I’m going to start listing some of my favorite tools, in case anyone is interested.

I’m working on adding affiliate links for some of them, and I will tell you which ones. If you buy such a tool through my link, I’ll get a small commission (but you still pay the same price). If you’d prefer to connect through a different link or a web search or a retail store and skip my commission, that’s fine. There is no obligation here at all. I do not sell or share your information from my website, but if you click on a link, the rules for that website will apply.

I write with WordPerfect until the last minute, when I have to copy to Word in order to format. Yes, I’m aware that Microsoft Word is the “industry standard,” but I find it clunky and harder to use, and it doesn’t play well with other programs. It’s also expensive. WordPerfect, on the other hand, can open and save in a wide variety of formats (including Word!), and I find it elegant and easy to use. It’s also cheaper, especially if you catch a sale. I know a lot of people love Scrivener, but I do fine with just WordPerfect and a binder. One of these days, I’d like to have a corkboard and magnetic white board, too. πŸ˜‰ (Affiliate link here, but I’ll be honest, I use the cheaper Home & Student Edition, which isn’t part of the affiliate program. If you want to get the cheaper one, no worries, I won’t feel cheated!)

I edit with Pro Writing Aid. I did a lot of research with different grammar/editing programs, and I was most impressed by Pro Writing Aid. (But if you don’t want to use PWA, please run your writing through a different program. And unless you are very good at punctuation and grammar, be nice and do it before you give your story to beta readers or editors.) One of the nice things about Pro Writing Aid is the many different kinds of reports you can run. Some of them are available in the free version (yes, there’s a free version), some are not. The oh-so-lovely custom report that allows me to double-check that characters are using the correct culture-specific words is only available in the paid version. (I hope I have the affiliate link set up correctly.)

I highly prefer to give and receive beta reading with Google Docs. I set permissions to “Comment,” and then suggestions show up in a pretty, contrasting color and wait for me to approve or deny them. When I’m finished with a comment, I can resolve it, and then I know anything that’s left is still waiting for a solution. And it’s totally free.

For formatting books, I use Vellum. Although expensive, it’s very easy to use and makes beautiful books for both e-reading and print. In one afternoon, IΒ  learned how to navigate a Mac (NOT intuitive!) and how to work with Vellum. A simple book took only a few minutes. A fancier book took an hour or two, and the results were fabulous. I’ve already started making plans to take advantage of its capabilities. (It isn’t as versatile as InDesign, but I don’t want to spend the time to learn InDesign, either.)

I do my photos on Picasa, which is unfortunately not available anymore. I love, love, love its easy (basic) photo-editing and collage capabilities. If anyone has a great replacement suggestion for when my copy dies, I’d love to hear it. Sometimes I use the Microsoft Windows Paint program, Canva, or Medibang for photo/image stuff I can’t do in Picasa. For really nice stuff, including my covers, I still have to hire a graphic designer. And I resize and compress my photos on ResizeImage.

I’m still very much a novice at websites, and my most frequent tutorials are from WordPress for Beginners. It’s free and searchable. It doesn’t always have the answers I need, but it frequently does. And yes, I use WordPress. The .com version rather than .org, so that I don’t have random ads on my site.

My website is currently hosted by Siteground. I’m not an affiliate but do have a referral link, and if you sign up by using it, I might get a discount on my own bill. πŸ˜‰ They have been extremely reliable and have great customer service.

My email list is through MailerLite. I’ve been happy with them, and still haven’t reached the limits of what they can do. They have good customer service and lovely video & text tutorials. (If you want to sign up for any of my email lists, please see the sidebar).

For printing bookmarks and business cards, I use GotPrint. They’re a bit persnickety on the file, but the result is good and the price is great.

For business research and help, I tend to use the internet, my e-reader, the library, and my local Small Business Development Center. You should have versions of most of those available near you. πŸ™‚ I do include a list of my favorite business and writing business books in my Favorite Book post series.

I normally write on my desktop computer, but sometimes I do minor things on my phone, so here are my phone tools.

I use Google Docs, Sheets, and DriveΒ both for writing tasks and keeping track of my life. This allows me to coordinate between home and on-the-go.

Since my beloved Palm died from honorable old age and nobody has resurrected its supreme software, I make do with aCalendar+ for both tasks and calendaring. It doesn’t allow me to assign priorities to tasks, and its sorting capabilities are more limited than Palm’s, but it does allow me to color code, name my own categories, and use almost any repeat scheme I want. (Every 17 days? Can do! Every 9th week on Wednesday? Can do!) I think I found one rotation that Palm could do and aCalendar can’t, but now I can’t remember what it was. aCalendar also syncs with my desktop and other devices and has a widget that allows for a quick look at my schedule & tasks, and I recently learned how to make separate calendars so I can share one with my family without bothering them with my personal stuff. And it syncs with Google Calendar. πŸ˜‰

Color Note has replaced the notes on my Palm. Again, not as versatile, but it does allow my ubiquitous color-coding, with a few ways to sort the order of notes. It has a widget that allows a quick look at a chosen note, which is handy on a tablet but too small on a phone.

I’ve tried a few voice recorders, and so far, Easy Voice Recorder by Digipom is my favorite. I can even start a recording, then flip to saved text of my book to read aloud while EVR records in the background. When I’ve finished a recording, I can email or download it for further use. I use the free version, which so far has been all I need.

For speech-to-text, I currently use Speechnotes. It messes up my character names, unsurprisingly, and it isn’t as accurate as I hear Dragon is (with training), but it works fine for taking down outlining notes & brainstorming and is very portable on my phone, so I can walk or sprawl while I talk. It works better with my new lavalier microphone.

I tried several text-to-speech apps, and my current one is Librera Reader. I use it both for entertainment and for editing purposes, since a machine doesn’t automatically fill in the words I accidentally skipped over, like my brain does. It does completely muddle my character/world names, of course.

What other tools did you want to know about?

M. C. Lee