The Holiday Season as You Have Experienced It
But Rarely Read About It

Blooming Red
Christmas Poetry for the Rational

Co-authored by award-winning poets
Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Blooming Red is an e-chapbook and paperback
published in the time-honored tradition of poets everywhere.

  • A USA Book News finalist
    A Military Writers Society of America Silver Award Winner

Order in paperback or e-book.

This year please consider sending holiday-themed poetry to
American Soldier
c/o Walter Reid Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Ave.
NW Washington DC 20307-5001

Blooming Red is an holiday book for soldiers because there is something in it for most everyone, including lots of American holiday nostalgia including humor (see the Santa poem on this page!). There is something to please all, with an awareness that all who celebrate the holidays may not be Christian.


Quick Links on This Page..
About the Authors Reviews
About the Cover Artist Buy Links
Sample Poems Readings
Special Chapbook Greeting Card Offer


Quick Links Learn More About Other Chapbooks in the Celebration Series
She Wore Emerald Then Imagining the Future
Cherished Pulse Deeper into the Pond
Sublime Planet
Carolyn's Poetry In General
 Carolyn's First Chapbook Tracings Most Recent Book of Poetry
Carolyn's Newest Full Book of Poetry, Imperfect Echoes
Endorsements for Carolyn's Poetry Chapbooks Overview of Carolyn's Poetry and Literary Work

" Both Blooming Red poets write with authority and skill, and the language throughout the collection is stunning. Reading this collection made me hungry to pick up the pen and write. Each poem took me outside of myself, lifted me to another place, and made me think while I relished the language. "
~Kathleen M. Rodgers, reviewer

"I like very much the words in 'Arizona's Christmas Card.' I need to
look up some of them to know exactly what they mean, but I like the strange,
exotic words bunched together."
~ Trippe Callahan, student at Trinity College at Cambridge University

I love BookBuzzr as a way to promote!


Special Greeting Card/Chapbook Offer

My poetry partner Magdalena Ball and I figure there is no holiday greeting more meaningful than a poem—a real poem, not sing-songy impersonal verse from the shelves of card shops. With that in mind, we have created the Celebration Series of chapbooks and have released  a chapbook titled Blooming Red: Christmas Poetry for the Rational just in time for the holiday season.

Now, here’s the exciting part. Literature lovers everywhere can order these chapbooks with full-color covers by prize-winning water colorist Vicki Thomas for only $3. each. That’s only $75 for 25 of the most memorable holiday greetings you’ve ever sent to your friends and relatives. Each booklet is a card and gift in one.

Blooming Red includes Maggie’s science-inspired and Carolyn’s nostalgic poetry. It also includes some humorous poems for fair measure.

Magdalena Ball runs the highly respected review site. She is the author of the poetry book Repulsion Thrust, which was published to unanimous five-star reviews. Her novel Sleep Before Evening was a Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist

Carolyn Howard-Johnson's poetry appears frequently in review journals. She was accepted for the Poets & Writers prestigious list of poets. Her chapbook of poetry, Tracings (, was given the Award of Excellence by the Military Writers Society of America and She Wore Emerald Then won its highest honor of gold. One of her poems recently won the Franklin Christoph Poetry Prize. She is also an award-winning novelist and short story writer and was an instructor for UCLA Extension Writers' Program for nearly a decade.

To Order

The chapbooks in the Celebration Series include Cherished Pulse (for anyone you love), also with artwork from California artist Vicki Thomas (; She Wore Emerald Then (for mothers on your gift list) with photographs by May Lattanzio (; Imagining the Future: For Fathers and Other Masculine Apparitions (for the men in your life) ( And now Blooming Red for the special folks on your holiday list! ( Sublime Planet is the entry for Earth Day and Deeper into the Pond is a gift for feminists or Women's Day.  All are available individually at only $6.95 on Amazon but are only $3. each when ordered in quantities of 25 or more directly from the poets. Put QUANTITY POETRY ORDER in the subject line and send an e-mail to me at I will make payment arrangements with you and give you the small shipping cost for the number you order.

For more information on any of the chapbooks in this poetry series, contact either of the authors or visit media rooms at or

Here are two audios of Maggie reading some poems from her section of this chapbook. She has amazing British/Aussie diction.

About the Authors

Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader. Her short stories, editorials, poetry, reviews and articles have appeared in a wide number of printed anthologies and journals, and have won local and international awards for poetry (including the Roland Robinson literary  award), and fiction. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel Sleep Before Evening, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything and two other poetry chapbooks Quark Soup, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Cherished Pulse and the other books in the Celebration Series.  She runs a monthly radio program podcast

Carolyn Howard-Johnson's first novel, This is the Place, and Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered are both award-winners. Her fiction, nonfiction and poems appear in national magazines, anthologies and review journals. She speaks on culture, tolerance, writing and promotion and has appeared on TV and hundreds of radio stations nationwide. She is an instructor for UCLA Extension's Writers' Program and has shared her expertise at venues like San Diego State's world renowned Writers' Conference, Dayton University's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop and SPAN's (Small Publishers Association of North America) annual conference. Carolyn  was recently awarded Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment by the California Legislature; her home town's Character and Ethics Commission honored her for her work on promoting tolerance and the Pasadena Weekly named her to their list of "San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen" for literary activism. Her nitty-gritty how-to book, The Frugal Book Promoter won USA Book News' Best Professional Book 2004 and her chapbook of poetry, Tracings, was honored by the Military Writers' Society of America  for excellence. Published by Finishing Line Press it is available on Amazon 's new and used feature. 

About the Cover Artist

   Watercolor artist Vicki D. Thomas received her B.F.A. from Minneapolis College of Art and Design, including a year of study in Amsterdam, Holland. She was a freelance fashion illustrator in Los Angeles for 17 years before she found her love for fine art. Since then, Vicki has enjoyed painting bright, colorful watercolors in a multitude of subjects, each designed to bring pleasure and joy to the viewer. Her favorite subjects are children and whimsical themes as well as floral gardens and bouquets, but she also draws and paints outdoor scenes. She is a published artist with limited edition prints/giclee prints on paper and canvas as well as greeting cards and many gift items in the marketplace.

She has participated in numerous art shows, exhibits, and various galleries in Southern California. Now living in Northern CA. near Yosemite National Park, Vicki is active in several local art clubs and she teaches watercolor classes to young people. A new area of writing a series of fantasy novels has entered Vicki’s busy life. Visit her website at:

The artwork on the cover of Blooming Red are from Vicki's painting of Red Clematis.

Reviews for Blooming Red

Reviewed by Joyce White

Award winning and happily espoused poets, Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball, have teamed up once again, to help celebrate their love of the holidays with their new book of poetry, Blooming Red. Carolyn is the Frugal Book Promoter and the Frugal Editor. You can find Maggie at the popular Compulsive Reader.

Carolyn and Maggie work together virtually as Carolyn lives in California and Maggie lives in Australia. It fascinates me how these two poets team up and get the best out of each other. Each contributed 13 individual poems to this festive holiday collection of wit, family charm, and myth. If you’re wondering, they also collaborated on Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future in the same way.  All can be found at Both of these women enjoy a common interest in celebrating their sexuality and sensuality in poetry during the holidays. 

Carolyn experimented with abstract and form in her poetry, and some of her one-liners, are:

“Christmas is always a surprise package…no one wants to decorate a tree pushing a star to the top of a 14-foot high vaulted ceiling…”

“Christmases all to soon pass us by as others laid claim to our progeny…”

“we have more time to think…to write…to remember while “all the gremlins and ants…cleverly disappear until it is Christmas time again…”

Carolyn turned to Google to help her find an anteater to adopt or rent out for the holiday…Google’s keyword elf gave [her] the best gift of all Christmas gifts…the idea of making-dinner-reservations…out!

Carolyn writes “Natures best gifts and ours never silent…blessed by no human sound.”

Reading these two award winners is like partaking in their womanhood, tasting their femininity, and meeting their past head on. Their poems cry out for their inner child who still wants Santa to come visit them, you know…equality for all; and, I agree with Carolyn who says  “[in] Einstein’s less than balanced world…we would be less than dead.”

Maggie writes of abundance and waste, of gluttonous dyspepsia…of the inability to digest joy when others are hungry, what cannot be created or destroyed…a huge database of Christmas past (found in the attic)…random messy knowledge curse of recall becoming parcels he could leap…with only one present leading him to greatness…with anticipation turning to memory before weeping eyes…a house full of dreams, visions and desires, each glass ball becoming a wish, taken from the tree of life we decorate at Christmas…super connections pulsing, through the anti-matter of your tired brain, wrought with nostalgia and wrung through time’s dryer…Once the paper’s gone, it’s just us again, tired, spent, remembering life…one tap of the keyboard a newbie springs forth…no sacrifices in blood here…this is a rational zone so many years on fertile. 

Make your holiday great and read your family Blooming Red. It is a great holiday stuffer! Fun and Informal. Five Stars from me. Merry Christmas to everyone!

Reviewed by Joyce White, Sculpting the Heart Book Reviews
Author of Sculpting the Heart’s Poetry and Sculpting the Heart: Surviving Depression with Art Therapy

Reviewed by Margaret Fieland

A Blooming Good Holiday Poetry Book

Looking for a holiday stocking stuffer? Want something to read aloud at holiday dinners, something the whole family can enjoy? Then treat yourself to is delightful collection by poetic collaborators Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball. This is a delightful little volume, 58 pages consisting of thirteen poems by each poet. I love reading poetry aloud, and this volume is full of delight. A couple of favorites: 

Christmas Magic Wrought by Google’s Keyword Elves 
by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. 

which begins with 

At the stroke of dawn on November first 
gremlins tired from their Halloween 

and ends with 

That’s when Google’s 
keyword elves gave me the best gift

of all Christmas gifts. It’s called 
the make-dinner-reservations 

system of revenge. 

.You’re sure to recognize yourself in this holiday tale of woe. The poor narrator is having a hard time at the holidays.. Ants attack her turkey, the oven thermometers are on the fritz and the Kitchen Aid has died just as its warranty runs out. And are more disasters to come. I laughed but, like the narrator, we, too, have contemplated just chucking the whole thing and going out to a restaurant. 

And another, this one by Magdalena Ball – fond memories, Six Million Years Ago, from six million years ago, when we were kids. 

Six million years ago 
when we were just kids 
upright in thin desert air 
bi-pedaling in anticipation 
of holiday seasons yet to come. 
Time was different then. 

and ends 

the first law of thermodynamics 
what cannot be created or destroyed 
your burning 

Do yourself a favor, and create some memories of your own by buying this book and then sharing it with the whole family over the holidays. 

Sample Poems
Blooming Red

Christmas Haiku (c)

Ducking  flying mess
the greedy bacchinalia
ends in dark, fitful, sleep

 In the rusty morn
quick hit anticipation
shimmers round the gifts

 Beyond the pile’s draw
need, pain, joy, disappointment
no shallow sugar pops here

It’s all tightly bound
marketer and purchaser
symbiotic dance

Once the paper’s gone
it’s just us again – tired, spent
remembering life.

     ~Magdalena Ball (c) 2010

Christmas Magic Wrought by Google’s Keyword Elves

At the stroke of dawn on November first
tired gremlins tired from their Halloween

shenanigans crawl into the cracks
between my baseboards and floorboards

to hibernate with the grease ants
and cobweb generators that also go

unseen until I say the (or even think!)
the word “guests.” I suspect

that’s where they’re hiding.
Or in the attic. Or the flue. I know

I don’t see them again till Thanksgiving
when they reappear to fortify

themselves on bread crumbs
from the dressing (that’s turkey “stuffing”

where I come from) and sticky fingerprints
left by cousins made rowdy by the sight

of black olives that fit on their fingers
like puppets. Thus energized, these pests

(the gremlin and ants—not the cousins)
cleverly disappear again until Christmas

 when the ants attack my Big Bird
thawing in the kitchen sink. I’ve tried

banishing  them with diatomaceous
, trails of salt and bicarbonate, innocuous

traps that enrich both the folks who make chemicals
and the ants who find them more nutritious

than deadly. If they’re feeling frisky,
the gremlins tackle both the upper

and lower oven thermostats, guzzle
freon from the fridge , assault

my Kitchen Aid just as the warrantee
runs out,  kill my car battery to prevent

a last-minute run to pick up
more Jell-O for the molded salad

that didn’t mold, or those fun
little fried-onion-thingys-in-a-tin

the family thinks essential for the green
bean dish I make by wielding a can.

opener.  I’ve tried incantations,
affirmations and the Rhonda Byrnes version

of the law of attraction. Last year
sometime before October’s witching  hour,

I turned to Google to help me find an anteater
to adopt—or rent out—for the holiday

 season. As for the gremlins, I looked up herbs
(artemesia wormwood?) or chemicals (arsenic?)

to do them in and surfed for vendors
of hoodoo or voodoo symbols or wood stakes

imported from Haiti. What is noxious
to werewolves, zombies, and Dracula himself

must deter gremlins. That’s when Google’s
keyword elves gave me the gift of all

Christmas gifts. It’s called
the make-dinner-reservations

of revenge.

        ~Carolyn Howard-Johnson (c) 2010

From the Front Page of the Journal
Creative Wisconsin

Buy Links for Carolyn's Books

Great Fiction
HARKENING at Amazon in their new and used feature.
Both of these books are out of print. They are available only on Amazon's New and Used feature for about $1.

Great Poetry
Purchase TRACINGS (Finishing Line Press) at Amazon.
IMPERFECT ECHOES: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters,
lie and oppression with Small

Give the gift of poetry with a chapbook from Magdalena Ball's
My Celebration Series

CHERISHED PULSE: Unconventional Love Poetry
IMAGINING THE FUTURE: Ruminations on Fathers and Other Masculine Apparitions
SHE WORE EMERALD THEN: Reflections on Motherhood
BLOOMING RED: Christmas Poetry for the Rational
DEEPER INTO THE POND: Celebration of Femininity
SUBLIME PLANET: Celebrating Earth and the Universe

HowToDoItFrugally Series for Writers
Second Edition

Survive and Thrive Series of HowToDoItFrugally Books for Retailers

Most of Carolyn's books are also available for the Kindle reader.
Did you know that with the Free app, Kindle can be adapted to any reader--even your PC!

Careers that are not fed die as readily as
any living organism given no sustenance." 
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Studio photography by Uriah Carr
3 Dimensional Book Cover Images by iFOGO
Logo by Lloyd King


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Kindle E-Books Aren't
Just for Kindle Anymore

Did you know that Amazon’s Kindle e-books are a low-cost/no-cost way to access books even if you don’t have a dedicated Kindle reader? You can read Kindle's e-books on smartphones, desktop computers and any e-device in between. You can even store the books on the Amazon cloud.

~ Quote from Diana Schneidman author of Real Skills, Real Income: A Proven Marketing System to Land Well-Paid Freelance and Consulting Work in 30 Days or Less

All Carolyn's Frugal Books Are Available on Kindle
As Well as Paperback


Other Links


Carolyn's Commercial Acting


 Celebration Series of Poetry Chapbooks


This is the Place, a novel



Tracings, a chapbook and memoir in one

Harkening, true short stories

Carolyn's Poetry

Helps For Retailers

Helps For Writers

Full Published Works Almanac

Travels and Poetry

Published Books

Subscribe to
Carolyn Howard-Johnson's Sharing with Writers Newsletter

and get a FREE copy of
Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers

"I have been a professional writer 40 years, and am also a tenured full professor of journalism. Carolyn's Sharing with Writers newsletter is  most useful for me--and for my students. I emphasize to them that while research is 90% of writing, and the actual writing is about 10%, there's another 100% out there called promotion. Carolyn shows numerous ways to get the message to the mass media."
~Walter Brasch, author and educator

Find Carolyn on the Web

  writers retailers

Carolyn's Blogs

Sharing with Writers
All things publishing with
an emphasis on book
promotion. Named to
Writer's Digest
101 Best Website list.

The New Book Review
Great way for readers, authors, reviewers and publicists to get more
mileage out of
a great review.

The Frugal Editor Blog
This is the Frugal, Smart
and Tuned-In Editor blog.
Covers editing, grammar, formatting and more.
Get the answers you need.

Proud to Support

World Wild Life

with Sublime Planet
book of poetry
Earth Day

Featured in
Pasadena Weekly
Arts and Entertainment Section

All Proceeds to be donated to the World Wildlife Fund

Published Works Almanac

Other Interests



Carolyn's Poetry

Imperfect Echoes
Celebration Series

Carolyn's Literary Works

This is the Place
Published Shorter Works

Carolyn's How to Do it Frugally Series

For Writers
For Retailers

Carolyn's Awards

Awards for Carolyn's Books, Blogs and More

The New Book Review
Named to
Online Universities'

101 Book Blogs
You Need to Read

Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites
Sharing with Writers blog.


Best Book Award for The Frugal Book Promoter (2004) and The Frugal Editor (2008) and the Second Edition of The Frugal Book Promoter (2011).


Reader Views Literary Award for The Frugal Editor

New Generation Award for Marketing and Finalist for The Frugal Editor

Book Publicists of Southern California's Irwin Award

Military Writers Award of Excellence for
Tracings, A Chapbook of Poetry.

A Retailer's Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotion wins author Military Writers Society of America's Author of the Month award for March, 2010


Gold Medal Award from Military Writers Society of America, 2010. MWSA also gave a nod to She Wore Emerald Then, a chapbook of poetry honoring mothers.

The Frugal Editor Named #! on Top Ten Editing Books list.

Finalist New Generation Book Awards 2012, The Frugal Book Promoter, Finalist 2010 The Frugal Editor,
Winner 2010 Marketing Campaign for the Frugal Editor

The Oxford Award
the alumna who exemplifies the Delta Gamma precept of service to her community and who, through the years, devotes her talents to improve the quality of life around her.

The Frugal Book Promoter is runner-up in the how-to category for the Los Angeles Book Festival 2012 awards.

Glendale City Seal
Winner Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts
Glendale California's Arts and Culture Commission and the City of Glendale Library.

And more than a dozen other awards for Carolyn's novel, short story collection and poetry. See the awards page on this site.

Give Poetry for the Holidays

Cover art by Vicki Thomas, Poetry by Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson

"Cherished Pulse is full of poems that describe love from the eyes and hearts of young and old. We see love in its youthful stage, stirring the hearts of man and woman alike and tying a bond that even death cannot break. As we continue reading, we understand that love deepens into an awesome, but quiet joy as the couple grows older. These poems renew our faith in love as they remind us of our own experience with this most sought after emotion."
~ Lucille P Robinson for


Third in the Celebration of Chapbooks with Magdalena Ball, Imagining the Future is written expressly for fathers "and other masculine apparitions."

She Wore Emerald Then is a book of Moods of Motherhood: thirty poems by award-winning poets Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson, with original photography by May Lattanzio. A beautifully presented, tender and strikingly original gift book, ideal for Mother's Day or any day when you want to celebrate the notion of motherhood in its broadest sense.  Share this collection with someone you love.

More on Blooming Red: Christmas Poetry for the Rational on this Web site.

Sublime Planet is an e-chapbook and paperback published in the time-honored tradition of poets everywhere. This collection of ecologically oriented poems traverses a wide terrain, moving from the loss of species to the beauty of the natural world, from drought to the exploration of alternative planets. It's an exhilarating collection that breaks boundaries and leads the reader deep into the personal heart of perception. Released by award winning poets Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball to celebrate Earth Day, this is a collection of poetry that weaves the personal with the universal. Photograpy by Ann Howley.

“Whatever your age these poems celebrating women will speak to you of times to look forward to or to remember. These are not poems to be read once. They will stay with you forever.” ~ Nancy Famolari, author.

Also by Carolyn:

Tracings is winner of the Military Society of America's Award of Excellence and named to the Compulsive Reader's Ten Best Reads of 2005

Imperfect Echoes is Carolyn's newest poetry book. Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small. 

Cover and interior art by Richard Conway Jackson
All proceeds go to Amnesty International

A Selection of Carolyn's Past Speaking Engagements

National Stationery Show May 17-20, 2009 Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, NY Consider this a business essential.

Presenter 2009, 2010

Presenter, 2008, 09, 10, 11

Panel moderator, 2007

National Span College
presenter 2002

Fellows presenter, 2007, 08

Co-sponsor and presenter,
2007, 08, 09, 10, 11

University of Dayton Erma Bombeck Writers' Conference, 2006, 2008

Sisters in Crime,
Pasadena, 2009

On the Los Angeles Valley College Campus 2012, Rancho Library 2013,
Valley College Spring 2014

Wisconsin Regional Writers Association
Presenter, Keynote 2010

Book 'Em, NC,
Three Panels 2013

Presenter, 2013

Seminar Speaker, 2014

Keynote, 2013; 2014

Secrets of Great
Dialogue, 2015

Learn of more about Carolyn's conferences.