Q4U: Stuff We Can’t Live Without

I thought it would fun for everyone to share the things that make our lives easier. Internet resources, technological gadgets… what are some things that make your work life or personal life easier, more organized, or more secure?Here are a few of my favorite things:Jott: When I’m out and about, I call Jott from my cell phone and leave myself a message. It translates it into an email that will be in my inbox when I get back to my computer. A lifesaver!Stuffbak: You put labels on your valuable stuff (like cell phones and laptops) with an 800-number someone can call if you’ve lost your item and they’ve found it. It offers a reward for the return of your item. I signed up for this after the last time I lost my cell phone at the beach. (It was picked up by someone who just may have been motivated to return it, if there had been a reward.)Maxtor One-Touch: This is my external hard drive. It gives me a great feeling of security in case of computer crash. Easy to use. (I actually double backup, using flash drives to save documents I’m currently working on.)My phone headset: I am on the phone so much that the headset is a requirement.iPod: An everyday item, especially while running, working out, or folding laundry. Podcasts are great! I especially love my iPod docking station in the bathroom.Merriam Webster Online: For a small subscription price, you can have access to all Merriam Webster reference resources online. Crucial for my editing work.Time & Temperature: You can keep track of the time in all time zones of the world. This is a great help to me since I’m always calling people in different states and I can never remember what time it is in other cities.And of course, my Kindle!So speak up. What are some of your favorite things?

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Crystal Laine Miller on July 19, 2008 at 8:41 PM

    >Up until I moved here, which seemed reasonably modern when we moved here, I would’ve had a list close to yours, but now that I’ve been without electricity, I am changing my list.

    Electricity: Who knew how many things I relied on run by it! We now have a generator on our list of things to have since losing our electricity often in storms, ice storms or even in the middle of a clear blue sky. Indiana is far, far away from the California brownouts, but apparently in this little corner, at the end of the line I’m told, in Grant County, electricity can go off without warning.

    I also cannot live without coffee. Wait. I mean I live less well without it.

    And I miss you all when the electricity goes out.

    I want one of those Kindle things.

    I have difficulty without Maxalt for my migraines. And I need glasses now. Drat.

    By the way, I really think your new photo you have up is fabulous. Very nice.

  2. Rob Roush on July 19, 2008 at 4:26 PM

    >Favorite things to make life easier?

    1. Facebook: I love the ability to network with many people quickly, to stay up on what’s going on with friends and family who are spread all over the place.

    2. Dictionary.com: I don’t know about the rest of you but when I’m writing I think I have the right word… On second thought does it mean that? Look it up, ease the mind, and move on. Thesaurus comes in quite handy too.

    3. Google Maps: I needed a setting for my story, went to google maps and found the perfect place in Missouri–nestled between a river and a railroad. It lets me check out many areas without even needing to go there. Though I ended up going there anyway.

  3. militia207 on July 19, 2008 at 2:39 PM

    >telephone: caller id and voice mail for those times I wish to be invisible.

    television: Hands down DVR/TIV-O

    Game Station: Okay i’ll admit it i’m 47 year old female and definately don’t fit the demographics but right now a wii along with Aerosmith’s guitar hero is looking pretty allurring

    computer: flexiwork woo hoo !!!! the ability to work from home instead of going into the office
    that the Federal Government offers its employees who are recoverying from long term illnesses or disabilities.

    car: forget the GPS XM Satellite Radio Rules and you don’t have to listen to 24/7 Christmas music in November !!!!

    Hobbies: WordBiz where you can play a competitive game of scrabble 24/7. . . . ESPN Fantasy Football . . . . . . Trivia on PalTalk…. Yahoo IM for goofing around…. Food Network Recipe Database …. Ordering tickets online for the Colbert Report.

  4. Eric Dabbs on July 18, 2008 at 7:20 PM

    >Let me clear something up. I may be a little old fashion or behind the times. But one thing I am not. I am not old. I turn 35 this month. HaHaHa.
    But using the notepad is kind of my drafting process. I first write a chapter. Then I type it up on Word, which that process ends up editing the draft a little. And then I go back through it again, which gives me a good first draft of the chapter.
    I guess the notepad seems to help me get my creativity flowing. And usually once I get the first few sentences down, I’m off and running. And plus, my notepad doesn’t have a battery light that flashes low at just the wrong moment.

  5. Eric Dabbs on July 18, 2008 at 6:58 PM

    >I'm a little old fashion except for maybe my laptop and flashdrive.
    I plan on making the leap to high speed internet one day. Don't laugh. And by the way, you can get a lot of things done around the house while you're waiting for it to download. So my list would go like this:

    pencil (you can't erase with a pen)
    white notepad/clipboard(not yellow)
    an extra pack of pencils
    time to write & type it up on Word

    And finally, since my love for writing was born through reading, the most critical item I can't do without is a:

    good book at bedtime.

    Unfortunately, I haven't graduated to ipods, bluetooth and high speed internet. But, I have joined the elite crowd of HDTV owners. I can't hardly watch a low def. set without wanting to poke my eyes out. Anyway, that's my list.

  6. SLING WORDS aka Joan Reeves on July 18, 2008 at 5:03 PM

    >Just a note to thank you for the link to Jott. I signed up immediately and plan to use it a lot.

  7. Africakid on July 18, 2008 at 4:59 PM

    >Ummm…I grew up (in Africa) without a television or telephone, so in some ways it feels strange to be so technology-addicted now.

    But I have to say, I love the internet, and the way it connects me to family and friends back in the States! Thank God for message boards and blogs too. I’ve added your site to my daily reads.

    ps. Love my digital camera –it’s so easy to crop photos, turn pictures black and white, and generally play around.

  8. Christine Carey on July 18, 2008 at 2:53 PM

    >1. Caffeine, preferably in the form of loose leaf tea. I’m addicted. I realize this doesn’t really count as technology, but I sure am thankful for it.
    2. Porch swing. Because there’s nothing better than relaxing in decent weather when it comes time to edit.
    3. Google Maps. They’re just amazing.

  9. Editrix on July 18, 2008 at 2:01 PM

    >ChaCha. I’m addicted. Don’t know how long salmon will stay good in the fridge? Can’t remember who played the cross-dresser on “M*A*S*H”? Want to know the hours of an out-of-town restaurant? Text ChaCha. They’ll tell you. (They’re even pretty good at answering grammar questions: http://www.editrix.us/2008/06/as-of-this-writ.html.)

  10. Pam Halter on July 18, 2008 at 12:44 PM

    >Besides a cell phone and computer with internet (they are a given) I love fantasy name generator and an online thesaurus. See, you can get away with tiptoeing through a thesaurus when you write fantasy because you NEED strange and foreign sounding words. 🙂

    Oh, and the random letters you have to type in to be able to post on most blogs … well … sometimes they make really cool, fantasy sounding words. I got the best name for the creatures in my next novel, but I don’t remember whose blog it was.

  11. E. B. Bauman on July 18, 2008 at 12:07 PM

    >Come on… seriously. This is why the iphone exists. So people can have all these loves in one small compact place.

    Last week, the world witnessed the invention of Apple’s new app store. I have 13 versions of the bible for free on my iphone. A built in 200,000-word dictionary with English to Spanish translations. I have all the great classics on there with a built in e-reader for free. I have all things Web related on it. There is nothing that can’t be put on it and taken off and every night I attach it to charge, it creates a backup of its self on my laptop.

    I don’t have to carry anything else, and I can watch widescreen movies, too.

    It’s ridiculous to not have one and still carry a phone, ipod and bible/books.

    Any book, newspaper, blog, podcast for kindle can be put on the iphone.

  12. Lea Ann McCombs on July 18, 2008 at 11:01 AM

    >My new laptop. I’m close to having adulterous felings toward it. In case of fire, which would I rescue first? Family memebers or laptop. Hm-m-m…
    (Mostly kidding)

    And of course hi speed internet, which may not serem like a big deal to those of you living in town. But we’re outside town on an acreage and dialup used to take forever! We only got hi speed a year ago and compared, it is like heaven come to earth!

  13. sheriboeyink on July 18, 2008 at 10:16 AM

    >I’d have to say my new MacBook Pro. I’m on it all day long, every day pretty much. Writing, googling, Blogging. IPOD would be a close second. I work out six days a week road biking, mountain biking, or jogging, so I have at least one ear plugged in all the time.
    Yeah, I’d agree with Angie about the caffeine, that’s high up there on the list as well.
    Happy Friday everyone!

  14. Cheryl Barker on July 18, 2008 at 9:52 AM

    >I love my Google Reader — lets me know when something new is posted on the sites I’m interested in. Saves so much time not having to check sites all the time.

    Of course, I’m another cell phone fan, also love Tivo, and don’t forget about our good ole microwaves. I know that last one’s kind of an oldie, but I sure wouldn’t want to be without one.

  15. Mark H. on July 18, 2008 at 9:44 AM

    >I think Google Earth is the coolest thing ever. It’s revolutionized my travel planning, too. Now I can look at the area around hotels to help me choose one, or map out routes and really get a feel for wherever it is I’ll be going. Plus, it gives me substantial evidence that my neighbor’s trampoline really is too close to my yard.

  16. Anonymous on July 18, 2008 at 9:30 AM

    >My pocket pc by far- internet access, microsfoft office, calender, cell phone, instant messaging – all in the palm of my hand..

  17. Anne L.B. on July 18, 2008 at 8:57 AM

    >My computer Bible! What a way to experience God’s Word!

    I still use my dog-eared Bible (covered with my writing and fat with loose notes) for morning devotion time. But the computer Bible lets me do a million more things with God’s Word. With a scan of the mouse I get a Strong’s definition of every word in Hebrew or Greek, and with a click I can access a multitude of Bible dictionaries for more depth. Commentaries ad nauseam are available if I care to peek at either someone else’s thoughts or historical background. And searches! Google’s got nothing for info compared to all the ways I can discover what knowledge God can impart with some carefully worded searches and the Holy Spirit’s leading. Of course it’s a necessity for my writing! I even use it for home school, teaching my seven-year-old to read by zooming in for a really large-print edition.

    I received a pocket PC as a gift, and use it primarily for having multiple translations (each one with its exhaustive concordance) in the palm of my hand during sermons, Sunday School, etc. I recently downloaded Strong’s dictionary to it so I can do that cool thing of scanning a word and getting the original language definition. (When I get time to figure out how to connect my accessory file with my Bible program, it will actually work!)

    An extremely comprehensive and phenomenally easy to use Bible program is available as a FREE download at http://e-sword.net/ if anybody’s interested.

  18. Timothy Fish on July 18, 2008 at 8:31 AM

    >For writing resources, Blue Letter Bible and Bible Gateway are very near the top of the list. I have a copy of Strong’s Concordance, but I hardly ever use it because it is so much easier just look things up online.

    While it isn’t perfect, MS Word’s grammar and spell checker is invaluable. I also use the built in Dictionary and Thesaurus.

    I use the FreeMind mind mapping software for creating outlines.

  19. Angie on July 18, 2008 at 8:09 AM

    >1. Number one, by far, is my Palm Pilot. In one small device I have my calendar (with alarms), contacts, memos with pretty much every random piece of info I need (from air filter sizes to kids’ social security numbers to random ideas for humor columns…). It also has the Docs-to-Go program. I don’t use it a lot for editing, mostly for storing my writing. If my laptop were to go kaput, I’d still have my work.

    2. Jott. I’m with you on Jott, Rachelle. I’ve even dictated brief passages for a story I’m working on before the idea floated away–or if I didn’t feel like typing it out. Jott’s transcripts aren’t always super accurate, but good enough.

    3. Google Docs. Call me paranoid, but I like to have my stories and manuscripts stored in three different places: my laptop, my Palm device, and Google Docs. I upload stuff I’m working on about once a week or so. Then I can access them from any computer if needed.

    4. Audio-technica noise canceling headphones. When I’m writing, I like QUIET. These headphones do the job nicely. Add a little “Forest stream” mP3, and I’m in my own world.

    5. Thesaurus.com: handy, beneficial, helpful, useful.

    6. Pencil and paper. No, really. Sometimes I find that I am far more productive in my writing without the temptation to keep checking my e-mail, visiting thesaurus.com, blog-hopping, making a quick stop to read the news…

    7. Caffeine. Should probably be at the top of the list!

  20. Richard Mabry on July 18, 2008 at 7:28 AM

    >From a true Luddite, the only one of your clients whose yellow legal pad has crashed:

    -my Mac iBook with the Leopard operating system, including Time Machine, a utility that backs up the content of my entire computer to an external hard disk every hour. Unfortunately, I’ve had to use it once already to retrieve a file.

    -my cell phone. How did we ever get by without them?

    -Google, Yahoo, and all those sites that let me find “stuff” I need.

    -Rachelle Gardner’s blog, where I learn scads of stuff about writing and publishing, as well as being entertained by an occasional post about a query sent to “Dear Judy.”

  21. Chatty Kelly on July 18, 2008 at 6:54 AM

    >Well, the house hold item I use the most is the washing machine!

    But I do love my cell phone with my calendar, email and everything together.

    And my laptop can remote in to my desk top so if I’m traveling I can get a file off of my desktop even if I’m in Hawaii (as if.). So I think that is majorly cool.

    Finally, since its summer in Virginia, I will say the greatest invention I enjoy is air conditioning. 🙂

  22. Gwen Stewart on July 18, 2008 at 3:36 AM


    I’m truly humbled by your techno-panache. I can work our TV remote.

    No, I kid, I kid, I’m a little better than that. LOVE my new laptop and between writing, self-editing and internet-ing, that’s my most cherished techno-thingy. Also love my XM stereo, IPod, and IVoice. And though it’s not mine I love hubby’s Blackberry, cause when I want a Starbucks and we’re who-knows-where, it can find me one in no time.

    That’s what the best technology is for, right? To find a Starbucks? 😉

  23. Elizabeth on July 18, 2008 at 1:18 AM

    >sippy cups, baby-dolls…oh, sorry, wrong list.

    obviously…my computer and all the writing blogs that through this time where writing is difficult (mommy to a toddler) it still keeps in me involved in the industry.

    GPS: i have way too many other things to think about then to always keep my directions in order.

    man, it’s too late, i can’t think of anything else right now. i’m so blah!