As I relay in the article, as writers we should invest in our craft, to become better equipped not only to write, but to understand the complexities of this art form. There are as many methods, genres and avenues to choose from as there are individual writers. We can learn a new genre, research a new topic or gain insights into another writing style. It is a lifelong learning journey.
To gain new knowledge we can access workshops, writing coaches, buy (or borrow – a library is a great resource) relevant books and discuss methods and outlets for our writing within a writing group.
What new aspect of writing have you learnt recently?
. 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
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.
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
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.
With a multiple of genres in my repertoire, I have utilized several book cover illustrators to achieve the best cover for each book. All of them have a unique style and process for creating the images. As an author the book cover is a vital tool to attract our readers. It needs to reflect in a quick and simple way the genre of the story and entice our readers to take a look.
Which cover(s) do you like?
Rumble’s First Scare
This cute little monster was the result of a mental image of mine. I asked Matthew McClatchie to bring him to life. This was achieved with my writing down a description of Rumble, as best I could and of the images for each page within the picture book. It took multiple emails back and forth until Rumble emerged. This is the excitement of working with a great illustrator, a mind meld as it were.
Ockleberries to the Rescue
I commissioned J.E. McKnight, a fellow author and artist to help me with this project as I required ‘real’ sketches of animals and Joe’s pencil and ink drawings were perfect for the chapter headers. We used nature photography for the majority of the images, as a basis for the images and a couple were a collaboration of my poor attempts at sketches and Joe’s interpretation of the subject.
Again, most of the images were in my mind’s eye but the protagonist was a ‘real’ girl, so I asked Linda J. Pedley of Wildhorse Creative Arts & Photography to help with the chapter header images. I described what each scene should incorporate and then Linda drew them in pencil and ink. Again, it is the worth of a great illustrator to draw what an author’s mind envisions.
Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria
I had such fun with this project as it was open to my imagination to create an alien world and who better to use than Matthew McClatchie’s unique technique? From my previous experience with Matty, I knew he would interpret my ‘mental images’ and badly constructed collages to make them come to life.
The Rython Kingdom
I found the illustrator for this novella via a Facebook friend. At the time, Winter Bayne utilized an online program for images and models. While working together we created the book cover from several different images I felt were important to the cover. Alas Winter no longer offers her services, so I am glad I got to work with her.
Unable to use Winter Bayne on this sequel, I was at a loss as who to turn to in order to achieve a similar cover. Luckily, through a Facebook contact I was able to connect with Wren Taylor Cover Design, who knew Winter. She utilizes the same sort of program and we collaborated well on the image to tie it to the first book with an orb shape.
The Twesome Loop
This image was again a collaboration with Winter Bayne, where I wanted several images merged. An olive tree, an old stone well and the lovers. She was able to find models dressed in period costume for the original couple in this reincarnation based romance.
Life in Slake Patch
I was vacationing in England when the original book cover was finalized for this novel, so emails were numerous. Linda J Pedley of Wildhorse Creative Arts & Photography managed to create a scene using multiple images I sent. Subsequently the cover was changed to the current one by Wren Taylor Cover Design to align with my other adult novel covers.
The Commodore’s Gift
Knowing the process and our mutual understanding I once again used Wren Taylor Cover Design to create the cover. It is the culmination of numerous images merged into my vision. There are many items within the cover that required closer inspection. Can you find them? A clockwork bird, a clock, a propulsion device, deep sea divers helmet/octopus, and a heart.
My current detective series has covers already designed by Wren Taylor Cover Design, but they will only be revealed once the trilogy is finalized and published. Yes, I know I’m teasing.
Last Saturday, was the first time my writing group, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County attended an in-person event since the pandemic started. In conjunction with Recreation, Parks & Culture the event gave residents the opportunity to try sports and discover the multiple cultural organizations within the county.
As a writing group, we always encourage all ages to delve into the delights of the written word and explore their imaginations. We promoted our annual children’s writing contest, which has a deadline of 30th April, 2022. It is a great opportunity for young people to enter their stories and have it published in a ‘real’ book.
We had many visitors to our table and several took the contest details home with them to begin their story entries. I’m looking forward to reading all the entries and the expressions of imagination from the clues.
I also attended the AGM for the Arts and Culture Council last night. Meeting with other people passionate about the creative arts and exchanging ideas and views is always a treat.
The next big event on my calendar is a Spring writers conference (virtual) on 23rd April. Registration is required via the website: http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com Details so far are: