My Writing Toolbox by J Vincent

My first books in the late 1970’s were all written in longhand and then typed on a manual typewriter.  My first computer was an IBM PCjr which my husband gave to me for Christmas the year I went back to teaching--along with the payment schedule. It took him 24 hours during Christmas vacation to figure out the software he also bought so I could do my grades. Have we come a long way baby since then! I’ve had a variety of computers over time.  It took me awhile before I could compose on the computer but teaching got me over that.  When I was building the computer lab at school as well as teaching in it I often had to compose lessons, assignments, and quizzes on the fly.  Suddenly it didn’t seem so strange to do everything on the keyboard! I hated Word Perfect which I had to learn to teach the school secretary but it saved my bacon when it came to teaching my students word processing on Apple IIe’s.  When what you saw wasn’t what printed I knew exactly how to fix it due to WP. When I built a networked Windows lab I switched everyone to Microsoft Word which seemed easier in comparison.  So many versions of Windows and Word since then.  I’m on Word 13 now.  I also occasionally use Dragon Naturallyspeaking.  If I were more industrious in training my “dragon”--actually me--I’d use it much more. My present laptop (no more desktops since the last one died) is an HP Envy 17”. I bought this one a couple of years ago because of ongoing vision problems--simply needed a bigger screen although I did not like the increase in size and weight at first.  

Besides Word and Dragon I have other software that assists me in my writing.
·       Family Tree Maker helps me keep all my characters ages etc. straight in the series I am writing.  Quick Verse is what I use to find or refine all the bibilical quotes one of my character’s is well known to spout as well as vicars and other characters. 
·       Webster’s Ninth New (it really was new in 1989) Collegiate Dictionary is the only one I know of that included original date of use.  This is very helpful for a historical author! 
·       I have several “name” books both first and surname.  I especially use A Dictionary of English Surnames and wish I had a French one, too.
·       Roget’s Thesaurus which I originally found extremely frustrating to use and my well-worn Reader’s Digest Family Word Finder--a layman’ thesaurus if you will.
·       A to Z Georgian London and A to Z Regency London with large detailed street maps of the times.

Many of my resources are online these days.
· gives me insight into Nobility and Titles in France
· is for English Lovers and all things English
· lest me search archives of over 250 institutions across England
·       I access the London Times 1785-1825 and other historical London papers online is good for word use, thesaurus source etc.  An OED site would also be useful but free access to OED is difficult to find.  If you can't access the Oxford English Dictionary, you can search Google Books and limit the Search Tools time to whatever date you need. 
· is an interesting site for basic battle information as well as a birds-eye-view of the timeline
· is a more serious broader information source founded on a Napoleonic magazine for the Napoleonic times from the French Revolution onwards

I could go on and on--after all I have over 2000 books in my sister and my Georgian and Napoleonic research library. Internet sources are also endless.  If I had to pick one tool as the best writing tool I’d have to say myself.  My brain and all the processes within it that I don’t understand but which result in story ideas, characters, where to find the information I need and settings and all the rest amazes me still. When I read, be it fiction or nonfiction, I marvel at how diverse our minds are and what wonders to behold they all produce. Many items in our toolkits will be the same or very similar but what comes out in the written word will always be different.  Isn’t that a marvel as well as marvelous!?