Monday, June 20, 2022

Word for Writers

 The Vocabulary Habit 

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, 

book and marketing consultant, writer and,

when my life needs a dose of joy, a poet, too!

 I was in love with writing—and even grammar—long before I was in love with words. I became smitten with words about the same time I fell in love with my husband about sixty-three years ago. When we opened the door to our new one-bedroom apartment ($75. a month, I kid you not!), we found a tattered book that once belonged to a previous tenant. It was one of the early paperbacks (pocketbooks) called something like “A Word a Day” and we committed exactly that—one word a day—to memory before we went to sleep each night. We did it together. That list was spot-on, a list of words that might appear on an SAT exam or a Graduate Record Exam (GRE). 

My vocabulary-intensity rating went up and down after that, mostly down. Jobs, children, and a business interfered. But lately it crescendoed along with my interest in poetry. And then one day (it was a cloudy, uneventful day during my self-imposed isolation during the Days of Covid) an email from WordGenius appeared in my email box. I may have signed up for it. If I did, I don’t remember, and I was a bit annoyed. Spam, I thought. But I played their little games and got hooked again. Then the emails kept getting more frequent. New and even more fun features. It was a little like the internet in general, designed for addiction. 

I was especially intrigued with the words that were directly related to writing. They reminded me of a column I once wrote for a print magazine in the early 2000s for…was it Writer’s Magazine? I remembered what the column was called, so I did a search in my computer for “Affecting Words” and there they were. Every single column. Soon I was adding words I collected from my new email games that I might someday use for more “Affecting Words” columns, words I didn’t know then, some words I had never heard! 

That list is getting longer, and I started thinking about a kind of memoir based on the love of words—especially words associated with writing—and what Carolyn See, a now-deceased writing friend called “The Writing Life” in her memoir. 

And then it turned out that another auspicious email from Elizabeth Seckman, the editor of your IWSG newsletter, showed up in my email box. The "Ask Carolyn" column needed more posts. I suggested a change from writer advice, to the love of words. She, also being a lover of words, readily agreed and now, starting in June, IWSG authors and fans will have a new series from me which will allow me to continue to indulge in this newly revived addiction of mine. They will appear in IWSG’s News & Updates monthly newsletter. The last Wednesday of every month, you will get a word fix if you are signed up for the monthly newsletter. If you're not, there's no secret handshake, just sign up HERE.   

If you are wondering if an author—a wordsmithery by trade—could possibly need a word game other than The New York Times’ crossword you may already do, here are some of “my” affecting words as a little test to see if you think you might run across some you need. As you can see, most are associated with writing or publishing in some way. Some may even nourish your crossword skills! In any case, why not give it a try! And send me words you’d like to see there at HoJoNews @ AOL dot com with “The Vocabulary Habit”in the subject line. 



Semantic Narrowing 




Synecdoche (one of my favorites) 

Test yourself. Or just join and play with me. (No, I don’t get paid for inviting you!) Of course, all my IWSG words won’t have appeared there and may not have appeared in there in the past. 

Have I written the first page of that book I mentioned? Not yet. Do you want to take bets on whether I do? I believe I will if I live long enough. But here’s the thing. In the meantime, I have lots of meat and potatoes for just such a book and I have renewed and fostered an old love. And all your visitors and subscribers to ISWG will be helping me with my trek. What more could one ask from reviving an old habit (or is it a hobby?) than that?

*Be sure to check in each month to see what fun, clever words Carolyn has to challenge us with. If you're not a member of our newsletter, be sure to sign up HERE


Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, editor, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books published by Modern History Press include the third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter with more to come including The Frugal Editor which won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and the coveted Irwin award in its earlier editions. Yes, she also loves #SharingwithWriters anywhere she can. Thank you, IWSG!

                                                      CAROLYN HOWARD-JOHNSON

Celebrate International poetry month with me!! 

Deeper into the Pond, part of my multi award-winning Celebration Series coauthored with Magdalena Ball,  Artwork by Jacquie Schmall 

Self-published in the tradition of poets everywhere since the advent of the Gutenberg Press 

Web site: 


Twitter: @FrugalBookPromo


Amazon Profile:

Amazon Buy Page: Https://


PS: Learn more about my fiction and poetry at: [Use this link without the “http://“ or “https:// to access the correct page! Ahem!]


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That sounds great!

H.R. Bennett said...

Thanks for sharing. I can't say I'm 'in love with words', but I definitely find the concept of language as a whole kind of fascinating.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Unique words like those certainly make it interesting.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Carolyn, Elizabeth and all IWSG members - this sounds a great addition to the newsletter ... I'll enjoy the challenge - cheers Hilary

talklady said...

From one word nerd to another: Salute! It's a harmless and erudite hobby - and the underpinning of my elegant hobby: writing.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Glad to be with you for another year! Love your logo. I think we're "having fun yet!" (-: And, H.R. Bennett, maybe we'll convert you with some words that authors can actually use--or at least should know but probably don't! (-: Thanks to all involved, Diane, Alex, Elizabeth. Let me know if I missed anyone!
Hugs to all,