Tools of the Trade

One of the best things I’ve done as a writer is to reach out to other writers. I’ve built a network of like-minded folks. I’ve joined writing groups online, sites where you can post your writing and have peer reviews. In every case, I learn something valuable with each critique.

These fellow travelers are an essential part of my writing world. Whether they come from my friend list on the NaNoWriMo site or Facebook groups, we are all passionate about writing, reading, and learning how to be the best we can be at what we do.

My ‘village’ of friends, acquaintances, and mentors allows me to explore new ideas, read their books on Kindle, and find my place in the writing world.

Since I’ve published two novels and several collections of short stories, I get occasional questions about the tools I use during my writing process. I’m ashamed to say I intended to get a list of these books on my website with detailed information about each one, but I’m too busy writing books and articles.

To partially redeem myself, I’m presenting a set of tools and resources I think are invaluable to be nearby while you’re writing.

  • An excellent dictionary – I prefer Webster’s. I have a small paperback copy on my desk and a rather large hardcover on my resource shelf. (Remember: Spellcheck is fallible, and it’s hardly an excuse to tell a would-be editor or agent, well, I used Spellcheck, and it was fine.)
  • A thesaurus – most of us find as we begin the editing process that we use the same words over and over. Synonyms allow your work to shine.
  • A grammar book – I have two favorites. ‘Elements of Style 2017’ was the book I recommended for over two years. That was until I found, ‘The best punctuation book, period.’ Either of these books is an excellent resource. I think I liked ‘Elements’ early on because I found it organized in a way I could understand. But the ‘best book’ helped me take my writing to the next level.
  • Style Guides – I own several because, as a professional proofreader, I need to understand which guide a writer is using to ensure their work meets the guidelines.  For your shelf, the handbook used by most publishing houses is the Chicago Manual of Style, BUT always, ALWAYS check the submission guidelines for any publisher before you send them a manuscript.
  • My shelves also have books on different techniques. For instance, I have several books on character creation, creating conflict and suspense, and crafting the plot.
  • The Power of Point of View, by Alicia Rasley – from Writer’s Digest books (available on Amazon.)
  • Several excellent books by James Scott Bell – from Writer’s Digest books (available on Amazon.) They are:
  • Conflict & Suspense
  • Characters & Viewpoint
  • Beginnings, Middles & Ends

I have several books on editing. Partly because I need them for proofreading, and partly because I think the editing process is vitally important to making my work shine.

Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors by Kathy Ide.

The McGraw-Hill Desk Reference for Editors, Writers, and Proofreaders by Sullivan and Eggleston.

I invested in several books on writing five years ago when I retired, and started to write full-time. Though they offer little technical expertise, I did find a lot of good advice on how to set myself up for success. I highly recommend these for anyone who wants to take their writing to the next level.

  • Melissa Donovan has an excellent trio of books: ‘10 Core Practices for Better Writing,’ ‘101 Creative Writing Exercises,’ and ‘Ready, Set, Write.’
  • Anne Lamont’s ‘Bird by Bird.’ This enjoyable read gives you a sense of the writing life.
  • Stephen King’s ‘On Writing.’ (A great read by my favorite author.)
  • Margaret Atwood’s ‘On Writers and Writing.’

Check out my Facebook page, ‘Mustang Patty Talks Writing,’ where I occasionally have a book give-away. I only give away books I’ve found extremely helpful.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Published by Mustang Patty

I am finally a full-time author, who writes legal thrillers, how-to- books, short stories, flash fiction, a tiny bit of poetry, and Blog posts. My published works include 'Guilty until Proven Innocent,' 'Innocent for the Moment,' and 'Moment by Moment.' This is a trilogy called the Jill Adair Series. Additionally, I've written a collection of short stories about my dogs, Howie and Bernie - with a 2nd Collection coming in late 2021. I'm also coordinating an Anthology of Short Stories called, '2021 Indie Authors Short Story Anthology.' This book will be available on on August 1st of 2021. (The 2020 Indie Authors Short Story Anthology is currently available on - the collection includes 30 stories, written by 18 different Authors from three continents.) I am married to my wonderful hubby of over 37 years, and I have two grown children, named Heather and Gregory. I've been blessed with two beautiful grandbabies, Heather Rose and Logan Ernest.

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