A Writer’s Chest of Tools

Word Nerd Day! TOOL is the word!


Have you ever wondered what kind of tools a writer might use? 

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It seems obvious that we would use the standard writing tools and dictionary but wait there’s more!

Here are some of my favorite tools.

cup with a cross

There’s no writing to be done if this isn’t filled with Chi Spice Black tea, my favorite brand is STASH.

from the inside out

Using from the Inside…Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you! by Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck helps me grow my characters from a name to almost real.

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timelife women timelife

Research takes time. When I’m writing about the 1800s, I like to go through my collection The Old West series by Time Life. I love the embossed leather covers.

pink notebook

My favorite notebook–yes, it’s pink, but that isn’t the only reason I love it. It has six pockets to hold all the extra things I find.

postit board

My homemade POST IT board helps me keep me on track.

Read my POST IT post to see how I made it and make your own.


I use a program named Scrivener to write. It’s a grand program that allows me to move scenes around or look at photos I’m using to describe my character and settings. Sometimes I need the Scrivener for Dummies book to figure out what I’m doing.


If you’ve read many of my posts you might have noticed I have a comma problem. I write the way I talk so sometimes I go really fast and forget to put in a comma or I drop off

….in thought…

and come back. That’s why this book is good for me.

I’ve shared some of my favorite tools with you. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what you do along with a few of your favorite tools.


Word Nerd blog hop at Patterings.


woman with blonde hair
Gwen Hernandez
I’m a total Scrivener fan-girl, so I was more than a little excited when I saw that the programmers had included a recipe template in a recent upgrade (both Mac and Windows) of this popular writing software.

I was even more excited when Diana asked me to share a little about it here. (Thanks for having me!)

The template is set up so that you can label each recipe with a cook time (e.g. 0-30 mins, 30-60 mins), and a ranking (from “Untried” up to five stars). Of course, you can change these fields. I could see tracking difficulty level, recipe source, number of servings, or best season to make.

Anything you can’t put into those two fields can go in the Synopsis section, the Document Notes, or Keywords. In fact, keywords are already in place for things like allergens, cooking method, cuisine type, holiday, and season.

If you copy a recipe from the web, you can jot down the address in the Synopsis or Notes, or you could add it in the document References. If you have the Mac version, check out the Custom Meta-Data tab. It’s set up for things like Source, Calories, Fat, etc.

You don’t have to be writing a cookbook to apply all the great features of Scrivener—organization, labeling, easy searches, a place for notes and research—to your recipe box. But, when you’re done getting it all sorted out, it’ll be a cinch to share with friends and family.

And speaking of recipes, here’s one that I love to whip up on a busy evening when I don’t have a lot of time. This family favorite is easily adapted for many types of diets, including our transition to plant-based meals last year. Enjoy!

Taco Soup

Servings: ~ 8 cups

Time: 20 minutes


½ c chopped onion
1 can corn, undrained
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can diced green chiles, undrained
1 can Ranch Style beans, undrained (or an extra can of pinto beans)
1 can Pinto beans, undrained
2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
1 lb browned ground beef or chicken strips (optional)

Seasoning mix (see below) or 1 packet taco seasoning and 1 packet ranch dressing mix

Seasoning mix:

2 tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried dill
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp black pepper


1. If desired, sauté the onion in a large pot before adding the other ingredients.

2. Mix all ingredients together in the pot and simmer until heated through. If it’s thicker than you’d like, add water ¼ cup at a time. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes.

3. Serve with tortilla chips or torn up corn tortillas.

NOTE: Can also be made in a crockpot on high setting for four hours or low setting for eight hours.

                This is how it looks in the Scrivener program.
Taco Soup in Scrivener 
Thank you Gwen, for the recipe and instructions on how to use the recepie funtion in Scrivener. I’ll be making this soup soon.
If you have Scrivener, will you use this feature?
Gwen Hernandez uses Scrivener to write romantic suspense, while avoiding cleaning, cooking, and laundry. She is the author of Scrivener For Dummies (Aug 2012, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.), and the teacher of popular online classes on Scrivener for Mac and Windows. A 2011 Golden Heart® finalist, Gwen lives in northern Virginia with her Air Force hero, two teenage boys, and a lazy golden retriever. She likes to travel, jog, try new things, eat food cooked by someone else, and read. Find her online at www.gwenhernandez.com.