Monday, April 15, 2019

10 Questions with multi-genre author Kathy Steinemann (@KathySteinemann)

Author Spotlight
Kathy Steinemann
author of
The Writer's Lexicon

Today I’m interviewing Kathy Steinemann. Kathy is a multi-genre author who has loved words for as long as she can remember—“especially when the words are frightening or futuristic or funny.”

Her career has taken varying directions, including positions as editor of a small-town paper, computer-network administrator, and webmaster. She has also worked on projects in commercial art and cartooning.

Her Writer’s Lexicon series and award-winning blog have inspired many writers, who have left comments such as:

“Thank you for the amazingness of these books. I can’t wait for the next one.”

“I read and use them religiously to expand my vocabulary and phrases, deepen my descriptions, and learn how to improve every single day.”

“My rating standard is 1 to 5 stars. But The Writer’s Lexicon … is a 10-star read.”

“… thank you SO much for publishing the Writer’s Lexicons! You have made me see writing in a new light …”

“As someone who reads a lot of books about how to write books, The Writer’s Lexicon may be one of the most in depth I’ve ever read.”

“I am amazed at the wealth of material contained in this blog. Thank you.”

“Your posts are invaluable!”

“Your website is like no other!”

“Thanks so much for your invaluable posts, Kathy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referred to your lists to help me portray character expression.”

Now to the question-and-answer portion of the interview:

1. How did you get into writing?
I started writing as a child. At eleven years of age, I won a writing contest. Decades later I can still remember the opening lines of my entry: “Calling all cars, calling all cars.” It was about the weed police—the dandelion kind, not the MJ variety. [Kathy winks.]

2. What do you like best about writing?
Writing offers an escape from the world, and it’s better than dreaming, because I can share my dreams with others.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc.?
Although my husband would call me uber-organized, I’m a pantser who doesn’t adhere to a strict regimen. Sometimes I need a break from writing, especially when it requires intensive research.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
An author I discovered recently is Marc Remus. He writes YA fiction and designs his own covers. Marc is talented and personable. I’m also a fan of Ray Bradbury, Pearl S. Buck, Diana Gabaldon, Lois Lowry, and Fredric Brown.

And I could go on for pages.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
Punctuation rules vary a bit for American and British English, but I would put the question mark outside the quotes. Ditto for semicolons, colons, and exclamation points. Periods and commas would precede the quotation mark. Then there are quotes within quotes … but I don’t think your readers want an extensive grammar lesson, right?

If so, they can (and should) buy your books!

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
You can wrench it from my frozen fists when I die. Too many sentences can be misinterpreted because of a missing serial comma; and if a writer follows the Oxford convention some of the time but not consistently, readers don’t know what to expect.

Ooh, I used a semicolon. Sorry, Kurt Vonnegut. Or maybe I’m not sorry. Everyone forgets the second part of your semicolon prohibition: “And there, I’ve just used a semicolon, which at the outset I told you never to use. It is to make a point that I did it. The point is: Rules only take us so far, even good rules.”

7. What is your book The Writer’s Lexicon: Descriptions, Overused Words, and Taboos about and how did it come to fruition?

As an editor and critiquer, I often encounter annoying quirks, redundancies, and repetitions. I wrote a series of blog posts based on them. Several of my followers asked me to include them in a book. In March, 2017, the first volume was published.

A year later, I released its sequel, The Writer’s Lexicon Volume II: More Descriptions, Overused Words, and Taboos.

8. What’s your current writing project?
I’m working on The Writer’s Body Lexicon, which will include ways for writers to incorporate the body in their narrative: emotion beats, adjectives, similes and metaphors, colors, scents, shapes, verbs, nouns, props, et al.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
The Magora YA fantasy series by Marc Remus.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
Everything and everyone: I’m constantly jotting down ideas on sticky notes or texting them to myself. Whenever I have time, I transfer the ideas to a burgeoning file on my computer.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
You can read about my published books and stories on my website's "About" page.

Advice for the discouraged writer: Don’t give up. Take an occasional break (without feeling guilty) but hold onto your dreams. Today’s words are tomorrow’s legacy.

And if you need help, visit my website or try my books.

You’ll also find me at the following sites:

Thanks, Ryan, for inviting me to interact with your blog followers!
Uh-oh, an exclamation point. Mark Twain is tsk-tsking in his grave.

You're most welcome, Kathy. Thank you for helping to make the world a more literate place and for helping writers everywhere hone their craft.

Be sure to check out Kathy's books at any of the links above. You'll be glad you did!


  1. Thanks, Ryan. It was a pleasure talking with you.

  2. Thank you Ryan and Kathy. I enjoyed my time reading this interesting, informative interview ;)

  3. Great interview Kathy!

  4. Thank you, everyone, for coming by. Please come again. And thank you, Kathy, for making the world a more literate place.