Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Creative Edge Author Interview – Julie Gianelloni

May 12, 2022
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What affect has your extensive travel made to your writing?

. A large part of my adult life has been spent overseas, and that of course informs my writing. Both my books have international settings, and I feel comfortable writing about international affairs.

·      When did you begin your hiking adventures?

I am not a hiker normally, and I didn’t really train to hike the Camino de Santiago. Still, I had no problem doing the long-distance walking; I just didn’t love it. I set off from St. Jean Pied-de-Port in France on May 3, 2016.

·      What made you want to write your book Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike?

In my early 20s, I read James Mitchener’s book Iberia. In it, his last chapter is on the Camino de Santiago. So, in about 1972, I put traveling the Camino de Santiago on my “someday” travel list. I just didn’t know that “someday” would take 45 years.

·      Do you have a message within the hiking narrative for your readers?

Yes, I do have a message, and it makes me a heretic as far as many Camino purists are concerned. A culture has grown up around the Camino that if one doesn’t walk every step one is not a “true” pilgrim. I totally disagree with that philosophy, as the subtitle of my book announces. I think the pilgrimage aspects of the book are much more important than how the journey is accomplished. My mother and handicapped sister made a pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1956, and my sister walked essentially no steps, yet that was a true pilgrimage. Some people get spiritual thoughts while walking; I don’t. I have those thoughts in cathedrals and while gazing in amazement at incredible architecture and art.

·      Has the access to nature impacted your life?

Very much so. I grew up in the country and was active in 4-H through my teen years. I rode horses and showed livestock (cattle, sheep, horses) competitively. As an adult, I have been largely divorced from that closeness to animals and nature due to my job. Being on the Camino gave me time to slow down, look at the wild flowers along the way, see the birds twittering in the trees. I loved that part of walking the Camino.

·      How did writing the hiking book differ from your process for your short story collections and the children’s book?

I don’t think my book is a hiking book. It is a pilgrimage book and a book about the history, art, and architecture of the Camino. It is most suited to those who are thinking of journeying on the Camino since it offers suggestions and tips, including a list of questions to help readers determine if walking the Camino is really what they want to do. It also is suited for those who will never walk the Camino but who want to be “armchair travelers” as they read my memoir passages about my experiences along the Camino.

·      Is adoption a subject close to your heart and the reason you wrote your children’s book?

Yes, it is. When I adopted my son back in 1992, I looked for a book I could read to him about being adopted. I couldn’t find anything suitable. During the pandemic, I couldn’t travel and so couldn’t work on my planned next book. More or less on a whim I looked on Amazon to find out what was available for children on adoption. Amazingly to me, there are very few books on the subject for children, and most of those books are limited in what they cover. For example, the books only focus  on the adopting mother and the adopted child, whereas in reality many, many more people are involved in an adoption. So, I decided to write a book that adopting families could use to talk to their child about being adopted.

·      Do you consider yourself a nomad rather than a homebody?

I consider myself not a nomad, but a citizen of the world. To quote St. Augustine, “The world is a book, and those who do  not travel read only one  page.” Having said that, I am an introvert, and I am quite content to be alone and read a book—I just like to read that book while seated at a café in Lisbon or Santiago de Compostela.

·      What are you writing now?

I have two projects underway. One is a second book about the Camino, and the other is a family memoir. My family, for a lot of reasons, is not a typical American family, and I think readers would enjoy learning about our history.

·      Where can readers find you and your books?

My books are available on Amazon. Savoring the Camino de Santiago is available in four formats: hardback, paperback, ebook, and audiobook. The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise is also available from Amazon in hardback, paperback, and ebook. Readers can also order my books from my website, Bayou City Press.com, or from their local bookstores. As for me, readers can contact me through either of my websites, BayouCityPress.com or JulieConnorAuthor.com

Bio

Julie Gianelloni Connor is an award-winning author and retired senior Foreign Service Officer. Her first book, Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, not the Hike, garnered no. 1 status on Amazon in both the category for new books on hiking and walking and the category for Spain and Portugal. It subsequently went on to win a silver medal in the eLit national competition as well as being selected as a finalist by Self-Publishing Review (SPR). She released her second title, a children’s book, in 2021. It has just won first place in
the children’s book category at the North Texas Book Festival. The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise tells an international adoption story. Her short stories have appeared in four anthologies. Julie is the owner and publisher of Bayou City Press (BCP) in Houston, Texas, which focuses on travel writing, Houston, history, and international affairs. Julie writes a weekly newsletter for BCP updating subscribers about activities. She founded BCP after spending 33 years as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, first with the U.S. Information Agency and later with the U.S. Department of State. She had nine overseas assignments in seven different countries: Israel (twice), Paraguay, Guatemala, Indonesia, Colombia (twice), Malaysia, and Chile. In Washington, DC, Julie worked on a variety of matters, ranging from nuclear non-proliferation to narcotics control
to women’s issues. She has one son, James, and two cats, Halloween and Charles Augustus V. Her books can be ordered from her publishing website (BayouCityPress.com), from her author website (JulieConnorAuthor.com), or from Amazon.com.

Website Bayou City Press: https://bayoucitypress.com

Newsletter Bayou City Press: https://bayoucitypress.com/recent-bcp-newsletters/

Website Julie Connor: https://JulieConnorAuthor.com

Facebook: https://facebook.com/JulieConnorAuthor

Facebook: https://facebook.com/BCPHouston

Instagram: https://instagram.com/JulieConnorAuthor

Instagram: https://instagram.com/bayoucitypress

LinkedIn: https://Linkedin.com/in/JulieConnor

Twitter: https://Twitter.com/@JulConnorAuth

Twitter: https://Twitter.com/@Bayou_CityPress

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Two Mother’s Days!

May 10, 2022
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Photo by George Dolgikh @ Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

I’m in the unusual position of having the potential to celebrate two Mother’s Day’s. In England the day is celebrated in March, however in Canada it is celebrated in May.

I wondered why this was the case, so did some research to find out why there are two dates. The Mother’s day in the America’s is a 20th century invention by a woman called Anna Jarvis. Her mother organized women’s groups to promote friendship and health, and was also a human rights activist during the Civil War of 1861. Anna wanted to celebrate her mother in a memorial service and did so on 12th May 1907. This was her late mother’s birthday. Within five years virtually every state was observing the day.

In England, Mothering Sunday was not originally to celebrate mother’s per se, but began as an explicitly religious event of the 16th Century, with no connection to mothers at all. The word “mothering” referred to the “mother church”, which is to say the main church or cathedral of the region. Thus the date falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent three weeks before Easter Sunday.

I was treated to supper and received this lovely calla lily.

The rest of my weekend was spent walking Sammie, editing book two of The Delphic Murders and reading.

What did you get up to?

What are you reading?

My current read is The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser. Blurb: Mary Swan Middleton has always taken for granted the advantages of her family’s wealth. But a tragedy that touches all of Atlanta sends her reeling in grief. When the family maid challenges her to reach out to the less fortunate as a way to ease her own pain, Mary Swan meets Carl-and everything changes. For although Carl is her opposite in nearly every way, he has something her privileged life could not give her. And when she seeks his help to uncover a mystery, she learns far more than she ever could have imagined.

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – A Question Every Writer is Asked

May 5, 2022
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As writers, we are used to being asked why do we write. Our answers are as diverse as we are as individuals and the many genres we write. There is no catch all answer, our reasons are as many as there are stories. No matter if there are similarities in upbringing, location, class, education or a plethora of other influences, how we perceive our world, and the experiences we encounter on our life’s path, make us unique. Therefore, our stories are unique to us. How we tell them, creative them, construct them is ours alone.

So, I will endeavour to answer that question in my own unique way. And hopefully, it will give you an insight into my creativity.

I write because I enjoy creating imaginary worlds, its characters and their stories. To weave a story around characters that I have conjured up in my mind, gives me not only satisfaction but also allows me to be creative. It is a kind of escape really. I become immersed in another world, where everything is possible through my fingertips. As a naturally creative person, who has tried many forms of creative expression, writing has given me the ultimate power. I am omnipotent. I can place characters in different eras, on other planets, in magical kingdoms – wherever I want. After saying that, a lot of my characters do dictate their story lines and propel me into new unexpected directions on occasion. This is part of the enjoyment and magic of writing. I hope to continue writing for as long as I can see and type and even then, maybe I can utilize modern technology to continue!

To another commonly asked question: what do I really want, my answer is – I want my stories to be my legacy. To be read and enjoyed for future generations and hopefully give a glimpse into my personality when I am gone. Instead of just the ‘dash’ on the gravestone there will be a pile of books to note my contribution to literature. It is a way of paying it forward into the future.

How do you answer these questions?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Love a Local Bookstore – Sherwood Park Bookworm

April 26, 2022
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It is my pleasure to promote this bookstore and interview it’s owner, Leanne. She is very knowledgeable and will find ‘that’ book for you! I will be at the store this coming Saturday 30th April (1:30 – 2:30 pm) for Independent Bookstore Day. Come and say “Hello” to me & Leanne.

What made you buy a bricks & mortar bookstore?

1. I grew up loving to read, and of course don’t we all want to be our own boss. So when I discovered that the owners of The Bookworm were going to close the store I decided I would buy it and hopefully save it for other bibliophiles to enjoy.

Has the store always been in its current location?

2. The Sherwood Park Bookworm, formally The Bookworm is currently in its fourth location. The store has now been in business for about 34 years and I am the fourth owner. The previous locations were on Athabaskan Ave.  and I moved the store to Wye Rd, three and a half years ago. I love our new spot.

Do you have a special place to read?

3. I love to read, and don’t really have a favourite genre. Owning a bookstore means I need to step out of my comfort zone and read a broader book genre. But, when I want something easy it is usually romantic suspense or cozy mysteries. I don’t really have a favourite spot to read, but I do have two very comfy chairs at the store that get the warm bright sun in the afternoons. And sometimes I can sit for a bit and enjoy some reading time.

Which book began your reading journey as a child?

5. My book journey began so long ago I don’t really remember which book would have started it all. But I do remember devouring Little House on the Prairie. As well as the Trixie Beldon and The Bobbsey Twin series.

What are your plans for the future of the store?

6. I don’t know what the future of the store will be. I am always looking at ways to help it grow. I recently hired a very talented and ambitious lady to help me with all things technology related. So we have created a new website with and E- Commerce store. And she has really stepped up my social media presence.

We are also looking at creating a Bibliophile Boutique! Which will feature locally sourced book lover gifts.

What is your view of print versus digital books?

7. The age old argument of print vs. digital books is an interesting one. Both versions or reading each have a special place or purpose. Traveling with a device definitely has advantages, you can take many more books with you. So it saves space, and weighs far less. But, you are at the mercy of technology. Will it run out of battery, what do I do with it at the beach. Will it work, or leave you stranded without something to read. On the other hand a great print book is always there for you, but you may only be able to pack 3-4 or more, if you put some in your spouses suit case…

Printed books though are here to stay. People like the feel and texture. Some say they like the smell of ink and paper. Publishers have also reported an increase in sale of printed materials. Though I don’t know the exact reasons why, perhaps people thought digital books should cost substantially less. But, are disappointed that many cost the same as a printed book.

Regardless The SHPK Bookworm is thriving, despite the two year pandemic and digital devices.

What makes the Sherwood Park Bookworm unique?

8. The Sherwood Park Bookworm is a local gem. We have an amazing selection of paperback fiction in all of the genres. Many of them older or out of print. But that doesn’t affect the quality. We try very hard to have only the best condition of books available. And best of all if you aren’t a book hoarder, we offer you credit for the books you bring in to exchange for your next enjoyable reads.

We also carry a small assortment of local authors that may, or may not, be available in larger bookstores. We offer book signings as well as book launches. 

Can you tell us about the Independent Bookstore event?

9. Canadian Independent Bookstore Day, is an annual day celebrating readers, writers, illustrators, publishers as well as other industry supporters to celebrate Indie Bookstores. Check out CIBA books.ca for even more details. The SHPK Bookworm has been participating in CIBD for at least the last five years. It is a great day to be an indie bookstore, and I look forward to planning this event every year. And each year gets better and better.

How can book lovers find you?

10. Book lovers can find us on most social media. 

Facebook and Instagram @parkbookworm  The Sherwood Park Bookworm

Website parkbookworm.ca 

Yelp, and of course good old Google.

Is there a message you would like to relay about the store?

11. The Bookworm is a wonderful place to visit, the selection is great, and the company is inviting. Great conversations happen between strangers drawn together by their love of books. We even host a monthly Book Club and everyone is welcome.

Independent Bookstore Day 30th April

Wordsmithsmith’s Thursday Collective – Benefit of Writing for Kids

February 10, 2022
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Many of my writing community contemporaries have written from a young age, unlike me. It was a skill and craft they found early on and found it to be beneficial in a multitude of ways. Whether for social, academic, and emotional well-being. It is a useful tool, especially for a child struggling to express themselves, their thoughts, or feelings. Through creative writing they can channel their emotions and harness their imaginations.

Other benefits include, problem solving through the creation of plots, alternative solutions, and seeking ways to identify, assess and tackle problems. Their inquisitiveness will, in turn, improve their research skills as they find information about specific things within their stories. This also brings about increased self-confidence, discipline and persistence, after all it takes time to create a story.

My writing group holds monthly creative writing workshops for children. These are free and no membership is required. An easy RSVP form can be filled in on the website and a Zoom link will be emailed prior to the meeting. http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com

It is know that benefits of these type of workshops include improvement in writing quality. An increase in writing engagement and confidence, and better planning and creation of ideas.

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