Give the Gift of Poetry this Christmas

In keeping with the gift-giving this season, I’d like to offer a gift of poetry to all of you!

Multi award-winning poets Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball figure nothing is more meaningful at any holiday than a poem—a real poem, not sing-songy impersonal verse from the shelves of card shops. They also noticed that many folks remember many people they forgot when it may be too late.

Ta Da! We  are offering you our “rational” Christmas chapbook to procrastinators free. Enter the KDP Select free e-book feature. All you do is go to http://amzn.to/BloomingRedKind on Dec. 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 and click.

Anyone can send it free to anyone they’d like to have a thoughtful—and fast—Christmas gift with a click of a mouse (no not the same mouse that’s in “The Night Before Christmas” poem!). Blooming Red: Christmas Poetry for the Rational was honored by the Military Writers Society of America and USA Book News award.

It’s a mini gift and greeting card in one!

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

Magdalena Ball runs the highly respected CompulsiveReader.com review site.  She is the author of the poetry book Repulsion Thrust, which was published to unanimous 5-star reviews.  Her novel Sleep Before Evening was a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist. Her latest novel, Black Cow, has been called “an intelligent, deeply reflective novel of our time.”

Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s poetry appears frequently in review journals. She is listed in Poets & Writers and 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 instructor for UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.

For more information on any of the chapbooks in the Celebration series, contact either of the authors, or visit media rooms at How to do it Frugally or Magadalena Ball’s website. To learn more about artist Vicki Thomas and to see her selections of her work, go to her website.

Meet Helena Harper: Teacher, Poet, Translator

Helena Harper is a native of England, but she grew up in a household that did things somewhat differently to other English households, because her mother was German (her mother had met her father in Hamburg at the end of WWII, when as a British soldier he had been stationed there). This mixed background has had a profound influence on Helena and her understanding of so-called national divisions and whom we call an ‘enemy’ and whom we call a ‘friend’.

From an early age she loved to read and write, particularly fantasy stories, and later she enjoyed studying foreign languages. At Surrey University she studied German, Russian and International Relations and spent considerable periods of time in Germany, Austria and Russia as part of the course. After university she went into banking, but soon realised that was a big mistake. “I felt like I was being suffocated,” she says of the experience.

She then spent a year teaching languages at a private school in London, and enjoyed it so much she decided she would get properly trained. She did a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Exeter University and then started her career as a modern languages teacher, a career which has lasted twenty years. During that time she has continued to write, concentrating primarily on fantasy stories for young children. However, in the past few years she has also discovered the joys of writing poetry for adults, and her first two books are poetry collections: It’s a Teacher’s Life…! and Family and More – Enemies or Friends?, which have been inspired by her professional and personal life.

Helena is now a private tutor and translator. She is continuing to write children’s stories, and illustrations for her first children’s picture book are now being done. Her aim is to see the book in print before the year is out. Many people ask Helena why she likes to write. She feels she can best express it like this:

The blank page calls,

the heart responds,

imagination spreads wide its wings

and launches into infinity…

Fingers dance,

words flow,

the page fills,

the soul takes flight

and the spirit sings.

Copyright © Helena Harper

Have you always been interested in writing poetry?

Actually, no!  I’ve always loved to write, but my first love has always been writing fantasy stories for young children.  I wrote poetry atschool, of course, and every so often when I was on holiday, but it wasn’t a regular thing.

So, what prompted you to write your first book, It’s a Teacher’s Life…!

Well, I’ve been a teacher for 20 years and about three years ago, when I was having a lovely holiday at a beautiful place in the country, I was inspired to write some poetry, and when I came home, I then had the idea to write some more poems about my life as a teacher. Each poem would concentrate on a different aspect of school life, such as the lessons, what went on in the staffroom, school trips, exams, report writing, and so on. I also wanted to pay tribute to some of the support staff who do so much to keep a school running, but are often forgotten about e.g. the cook, the caretaker/janitor, the nurse, the school secretary – the unsung heroes of life is what I call them.

What prompted you to write your book Family and More – Enemies or Friends?

I had the idea one day whilst driving to work. I was just thinking about my family and other people in my life who’ve had a big influence on me, one way or the other, and suddenly the idea popped into my head that I could write a second collection of poems about them and the lessons I’ve learnt from them.

Why is it called Enemies or Friends?

That’s got a lot to do with the fact that my mother is German and my father was English, and I just couldn’t get my head round the fact that, had I been born a few years earlier, all my German relatives would have been my ‘enemies’. To me they could never have been ‘enemies’, just ‘family’. It got me thinking about how futile it is to talk about so-called national divisions.

What’s the attraction of writing poetry as opposed to writing children’s stories? When I write poetry, I can concentrate on the rhythm and sound of the words and use vocabulary I wouldn’t be able to use in my children’s stories. It’s a marvellous linguistic challenge – the sound of words has always been something that’s fascinated me. It’s one of the reasons I studied modern languages. When I write my children’s stories, it’s more about escaping into a wonderful world of fantasy, leaving the mundane ‘real’ world behind – I find it wonderfully exciting and liberating.

When you’re not writing, what are you doing?

Tutoring, translating, reading, walking, playing tennis or dancing, doing Pilates, spending time with my niece and nephew.

What are your future writing goals?

The illustrations for my first children’s picture book are being done at the moment and I will then get the illustrations done for my second picture book. I’m really looking forward to having my children’s books published and going into schools to talk about them. Having been a school teacher for 20 years, I’m no stranger to the school environment, although it will perhaps be a little strange that I will be going into schools first and foremost as a writer rather than a teacher, although everyone can learn something useful, I hope, from my stories.

Helena’s books are available in paperback from all major online retailers. Can be ordered through any bookstore. Stocked by Haslemere Bookshop and Weybridge Books in the UK.  It’s a Teacher’s Life is available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and through Google Products

Family and Moreis available as an ebook from Eloquent Books and is due to be published as a paperback by Pen Press Publishers soon.

Helena’s author’s website: http://www.helenaharper.com/
Authorsden website: http://www.authorsden.com/helenaharper
Blog: http://helenaharpersblog.blogspot.com/
Follow Helena on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/helenaharper

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