Monday, April 25, 2022

The Writer's Body Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann – Book Review

The Writer's Body Lexicon: Body Parts, Actions, and Expressions by Kathy Steinemann in the third book in The Writer's Lexicon Series. Each book offers a wealth of information to help writers write and edit their books.

This review is loooong overdue. I read The Writer's Body Lexicon before it was published and had the honor to write its Foreword. :)

The book opens with a "Read this First" section, which explains how to use the book and where readers can find what they need.

Like many books about writing, The Writer's Body Lexicon is an encyclopedia-like volume. It will be very hard to read it all at once or as if you're reading a novel.

"Sometimes a figure of speech adds the perfect touch. Exercise caution, though. Provide enough imagery to stimulate the imagination, but not so much that you slow action or bore readers."

To get the most of The Writer's Body Lexicon, determine what area of the body you need help with and look it up.

Regardless of the book or blog post you're reading, Kathy Steinemann will always point out that you don't need to "bloat your writing with superfluous words."

"Note that a frown on one’s face can be shortened to a frown. No point in bloating your writing with superfluous words."

The Writer's Body Lexicon covers everything from opinion adjectives, stacked modifiers and how to arrange them, colors and variegations, facial expressions, body parts (and the naughty bits), and much much more!

I also like Steinemann's use of other authors' quotes in The Writer's Body Lexicon. She quotes Ovid and Stephen King and offers writing tips from them.


The Writer's Body Lexicon quote by stephen king


If you're writing a fantasy novel with muscled-warriors, you should definitely check out the "Body Build Cheat Sheet" chapter. (p. 86)

And don't forget the part about the abs, here's a tip from Steinemann:

"Abs, abdomen, stomach, waist, midsection … No matter what you call this area of the body or how you describe it, well-chosen words will strengthen your writing.

Abs often occupy center stage in romance novels. They also appear in historical fiction where scantily clad gladiators compete for their lives. And let’s not forget bikini-wearing beach beauties stalked by monsters in horror stories."

If facial expressions are your weak spot – I know they are mine – you may want to visit the relevant chapter. As an author, you don't want your reader to tire of repetition. Sometimes you don't need a facial expression where the dialogue suffices.

The Writer's Body Lexicon - Library image
The Writer's Body Lexicon and coffee in my library :)

I was recently reading a book where the main character "raised her eyebrows" over 35 times!  You can imagine how exasperated I was while reading it.

As a reader, I see lots of 'eyebrow raising' and 'nodding' and 'eyes widening.' So before you get your book published be sure to check out the chapter on Facial Expressions. Hint: It starts on p. 45.


“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man's brow.” – Ovid

Although Steinemann offers hundreds of word options and descriptive alternatives in each chapter, she also encourages writers to create their own words like "flubbery --> flabby + blubbery" or "brawnilicious à brawny + delicious."

Think of The Writer's Body Lexicon as your go-to resource for descriptions, colors, and everything related to the body. 


The Writer's Body Lexicon - book quote

Steinemann goes on to offer suggestions and indicators for writers to use when they want to create a descriptive and emotional scene. In the section "Effective Writing Agrees with Itself," Steinemann says this: 

"In real life, scowls, smiles, and curling lips reflect underlying emotions. They should do the same in fiction or creative nonfiction.

A protagonist in pain is unlikely to smile. A deceitful character probably won’t maintain eye contact with others."

A tip: You want to read the section on colors and variegations starting p. 32. 

There are soooo many useful tips in The Writer's Body Lexicon, I feel like I can quote the whole book! And it's over 500 pages - so there's a wealth of tips in there. 

I also read the first book in this series The Writer's Lexicon, where Steinemann offers tons of word replacements.

Authors: You no longer have to say 'said' every time a character says something. Steinemann has over 200 alternatives to 'said' and many other verbs in The Writer's Lexicon. 

To learn more about The Writer's Body Lexicon, check out its Table of Contents.

Discover all 3 books in the series via Kathy's blog and I highly recommend you subscribe for weekly writing tips, prompts, and her redundancy quizzes :)

Get The Writer's Body Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann via Amazon.

Overall rating for The Writer's Body Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann? 10 stars. 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Ghosts, Lore, and a House by the Shore by Nellie H. Steele - Book Review


Today, I'm featuring a book review of a new cozy mystery by a new author for me. 


A new town.

A haunting legend.

New beginnings or the beginning of the end?

After Cassie MacGuire’s husband dies in a plane crash along with her father, both her and her mother, Lily Bennett, are left as widows. Looking to make a new start, they move together to the quiet seaside town of Hideaway Bay.

But their new home, Whispering Manor, has a reputation stretching back centuries. Legends of ghosts, paranormal disturbances and pirate treasure are all associated with the former sea captain’s mansion, starting with the death of its first mistress, Henrietta Blanchard.

When Cassie stumbles upon Henrietta’s journal and Lily uncovers a more recent tragedy in the home, they begin to wonder if the stories may be fact instead of fiction. When the strange occurrences turn dangerous, Lily and Cassie will have to investigate to save their home and possibly even their very lives!

Ghosts, Lore & a House by the Shore is the charming first installment in this small, seaside town mother-daughter cozy mystery series by Nellie H. Steele.


Book Review by Nadaness In Motion  

"I'd be careful about digging too deep in the past. You might end up regretting it."

Ghosts, Lore, and a House by the Shore by Nellie H. Steele is the first installment in a new mother-and-daughter cozy mystery series.

Ghosts, Lore, and a House by the Shore opens with Cassie and her mother Lily getting very-late calls informing them of the deaths of their husbands. In other words, Cassie is stunned to learn that she'd lost both her father and her husband in a plane crash.

Chapter 1 focuses on the death and its impact on the two women. It's a very long and painful chapter.

Lily and Cassie decide to leave their city and move to the much-smaller town of Hideaway Bay, where – unbeknownst to them – they buy a reportedly haunted house overlooking the ocean.

After they settle in, the two women learn that a few tragedies had taken place in their new home. But is the new house-by-the-shore really haunted?


"On the large mirror above the dresser, in dripping red blood was the word LEAVE."


What I liked about Ghosts, Lore, and a House by the Shore 

One of the things I liked about Ghosts, Lore, and a House by the Shore was the presence of the two diaries that Cassie and Lily uncovered in the library.

We get to learn about the mystery of Black Jack's treasure and the former occupants of Whispering Manor through these detailed accounts.

"Others would say it's whispers of past souls, long since forgotten, but not yet gone."

A few of the characters in Ghosts, Lore, and a House by the Shore reminded me of characters in the Hallmark sort-of-paranormal series The Good Witch.

Even the mayor, Tinsley reminded me of Martha Tinsdale from The Good Witch. It made me want to re-watch the show.


What I didn't like about Ghosts, Lore, and a House by the Shore

One of my biggest problems with this book was the number of times characters raise their eyebrows. You'd think that from the sheer number of times the characters do this, their eyebrows would be stuck to their hairlines by the end of the novel!

There were over 70 references of 'raised eyebrows' in the book! Seriously!

Another problem was that half way through the book, the reader isn't introduced to a 'real mystery.' It's only when Cassie and Lily hear of the tragedies that took place in Whispering Manor and discover the journals of Henrietta and Susan Davis (two women who died in their house) that they begin reading into the mysteries.

I'm not sure if my copy was an uncorrected proof or not but there were many grammatical errors and phrasing problems. Plus some illogical verb usage. (Does your cat 'sigh?')

Also, halfway through the book, I began to question the coziness of the story. It's significantly different from standard cozies because

1)    It opens with a heartbreaking event (two deaths for two family members)

2)    The mystery comes in very late in the book


Review sum-up

Overall, I think Ghosts, Lore, and a House by the Shore has lots of good potential. It can act as a prequel to the series, though not book 1.

As an Instagram follower of Nellie Steele, I learnt that Ghosts, Lore, and a House by the Shore is a spin-off of another historical fiction series featuring Henrietta and her brother Clifton and some piratey tales.

That said, I think there were many redundancies in the novel that could have been crossed out. I'd have liked to see more focus on the mystery and a faster pace.


Note: I received a free Advanced Readers' Copy (ARC) of Ghosts, Lore, and a House by the Shore by Nellie H. Steele as part of a blog tour by Lori Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.


Overall rating for Ghosts, Lore, and a House by the Shore: 2.5-3 stars


About the author

An Indies Today finalist for Best Book of the Year 2020 with Cleopatra’s Tomb, Nellie H. Steele made the leap from science to art with her first book, The Secret of Dunhaven Castle.

An animal enthusiast, Nellie often features a version of one of her fourteen rescue animals in her stories, though the fictional pets are usually better behaved than her own fur-babies!  A literary split personality, Nellie’s work ranges from cozy mystery to supernatural suspense to riveting adventure.

She lives in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.  When she isn’t writing or engaging in animal care, she enjoys teaching Statistics and Data Science at a local university.

Check out all Nellie offers at  or at her blog, Nellie’s Book Nook, available at

Connect with Nellie Steele via her WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagramTikTokGoodreadsBookbub, and Amazon.


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