Baby Boomer Woman: Carolyn Howard-Johnson

by Anne Holmes on June 8, 2010

Produce at least one book a year, plus E-books, travel the globe, speak publicly about writing and promoting, offer an international newsletter for writers/authors and retailers, and you have just met NABBW Member Carolyn Howard-Johnson.

  • Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself? I was raised by a depression mom. That makes me very, very frugal. We stayed at home evening reading. That made me very, very interested in books. (-:
  • Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc. You really don’t want to know how long I’ve been married. Long enough to have had some really bad years and some really good ones. Long enough to tell other women to consider carefully before giving up! Once men leave their terrible change-of-life years, there is hope for them. Great hope.
  • What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s? Mmmm. I have a whole book of them. It’s Harkening.   A lot of them aren’t Cup-of-Comfort-Happy but sometimes I think those kind only make those of us whose childhoods weren’t perfect, feel as if there was something really wrong, rather than understand that most everyone’s been through the same thing, or something similar. I did love 50s fashion, though. And later, well, Jacqueline Kennedy KNEW how to dress!
  • What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women? Actually, I think of myself as being on the leading edge of the boomer group. In fact I’ve written a poem about it. It will probably be published in a coming feminist chapbook I’m writing with my poetry partner, Magdalena Ball—a true boomer if there ever was one.

Booming Ahead of Boomers

I Newwoman. I push weights,
manage moguls I never foresaw.

I the blurred outer edge
of your generation, your glimpse

of the future. I start new projects
knowing time will be enough

to finish, ski though I
now return to the bunny hill,

max at four runs, slow
my treadmill to 3.7, climb

to Everest’s base camp
(though check with my good

doctor about that altitude thing
of 17,000 feet), sit by the fire

with afghan and book.
Here I am, a filament

stretched past hope, a new career
at 60, rejuvenated marriage, orgasmic

subtext, and there, over the ridge
at 70! Perhaps a poem

to be memorized
by those coming after.

  • What inspires you? I’m inspired by people. And I only gather around me the ones who inspire. That makes the list very long indeed.
  • What brings you the most pleasure in midlife? I read that women tend to enjoy being alone more often as they grow older. I do. And I like quiet times. Movies and theater with my husband. Dinner with my daughter and her boyfriend. Ice cream with my grandkids—even the grown ones. And New York!
  • Do you have any interesting hobbies? The one my friends find most interesting is travel. I love to travel and have been so many places I never thought I’d be fortunate enough to see. Almost every continent and so many countries I’ve lost count.
  • Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite. To Kill a Mockingbird and Anna Karenina have influenced me most in my writing (translate that as “life”). I was also influenced by Chekhov’s “A Dolls House.”
  • Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate. OMG, I should send you a picture of my herb cabinet! And my exercise room. “I want to live forever,” she sings.
  • What do you stress about? Truly, not much.
  • Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go? Sad to say, though a feminist, I am still part of this culture. Yes. I want to maintain. For me, it’s a balance between what will work and how much it will cost. (-: I told you I am frugal.
  • Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how? Yes, so many times. You know Sinatra’s sings, “I’ve been a prince, a pauper . . . ”  That’s my song. I’ve been a student, a journalist, a fashion publicist, a mother, a retailer, a novelist, a poet, a writer of nonfiction, a teacher … did I forget anything? Not sure.
  • Do you plan to retire? If you love what you are doing, you are retired. So, no.
  • Are you doing anything to GO Green? Absolutely everything I can.
  • Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife? Yes, cancer. Once I faced death, it became an intimate companion and friend. I make decisions differently now than then. BTW, I’m cured. Have been for at least a decade and credit that health with making decision to care for my health and my passions.
  • Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them? Oh, sure!
  • How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, your world? In general, I think this is a day-to-day process. It all comes down to how you relate to people every day.

For more information on Carolyn and her books, and to sign up for her newsletter, “Sharing with Writers,” visit her website. Or send her an email at You can also visit Carolyn at her blog!

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