We all know the importance of reading to our children. Not only does it build a parental connection with them and give them their first introduction into letters and words, but also how they can become part of a story’s characters world with their imagination. In a world flooded with visual images and games that do the work for them, a book is a treasure for their mind. This week we celebrate: National Tell a Story Day on 27th April.
Can you remember the first story you fell in love with?
I loved Hiawatha, Wind in the Willows, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
We also celebrate this week the end of poetry month with Poem in Your Pocket Day on 30th April.
As many of you know poetry isn’t my thing, however I do indulge on occasion and have submitted a couple for my writing groups annual poetry challenge this year. If my poems are approved they will be included in an anthology later this year.
Do you have a favourite poem?
When I was young I remember my mother reciting these two. The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear and Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll. When I grew older this one was recited in my English class. I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth.
We have three literary celebrations this week and they all have children in mind. The first is International Children’s Book Day. As we are all acutely aware, reading is the foundation of all learning and is, therefore, the most important skill for every child.
4/2 – International Children’s Book Day (Founded 1967)
4/2 – Hans Christian Anderson’s Birthday (1805-1875)
Andersen was a prolific writer and wrote two hundred and ten fairy tales in all, which were published over the course of his life. The tales were translated across Europe, then made their way around the world, making him the best-known Scandinavian writer of his age.
His most famous stories are: The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, The Nightingale” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Red Shoes, The Princess and the Pea, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl, and Thumbelina. I think most children know these stories, I certainly remember having them read to me initially and then reading them for myself later on. There is an inherent magic to these stories that makes them timeless.
4/4 – National School Librarian Day.
To honor all school librarians, who serve young students in the local school libraries. These heroes of the school system ensure children find the joy of a story and encourage them to read.
. 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.