Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Creative Edge Author Interview – Julie Gianelloni

May 12, 2022
mandyevebarnett


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

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – A Question Every Writer is Asked

May 5, 2022
mandyevebarnett


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 – A Chilly Easter Weekend Writer’s Retreat

April 19, 2022
mandyevebarnett


The Easter weekend saw me, Linda and the two doggies in Cold Lake, and it certainly was cold. Unseasonable weather for April was not in our plans when we booked the hotel, that’s for sure. Our last trip here was early July and it was very warm and crowded.

However, we made the best of our long weekend, with walks along the dock and day trips to explore. Funnily, a lot of the range roads and township roads we tried had no exit signs, so we went back and forth a lot. The retreat of No Exits, we have called it.

This was only my second visit to Cold Lake and I really love it there. Any large expanse of water always makes me happy. Being in landlocked Alberta, I miss the seaside of England, where a quick thirty or forty minute drive got me to salty air, waves, sand (or pebbles) and rock pools.

Sammie and I were out to walk in the early mornings and could hear the deep cracking sound of the ice echo across the lake. We also enjoyed watching the rising sun reflected on the ice. On one walk, we found a cute free library, so on my next trip I must contribute one or two of my books.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell. The dark side of family secrets, the repercussions and finding a way to deal with them. A fascinating story, of a family finding the truth of themselves in contrast to their ‘idealist’ childhood. Shadows at every turn and revelations keep you turning the pages. There is redemption, love, sadness and above all a family linked to one another.

I am currently reading The Smart One by Jennifer Close.

Both of these books involve family dynamics. It is interesting to read the different approaches by each author.

What are you reading?

Apart from reading, walking and exploring, over the weekend, I did read through my fellow novel workshop participants comments on the first thirty pages of book two of The Delphic Murders – The Tainted Search. Having four other writers read my work, gives me diverse feedback, which is so welcome and helpful. This trilogy will take some time to complete, but will be worth the effort. I hope once it is published you will enjoy it too.

Photo by George Dolgikh @ Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – The Story of My Book Cover’s and Their Illustrators

April 12, 2022
mandyevebarnett


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.

Clickety Click

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.

Rython Legacy

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.

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Multi-Genre or Hybrid Promotion

April 7, 2022
mandyevebarnett


As many of you know, I am a multi-genre author, where the story is the motivator not the genre. However, there are some obstacles to this due to the ‘business’ side of writing. Mainly, how to promote myself as opposed to the genre I have written?

Author-Branding-Book-Marketing-Plan-Author-Platform

I have read many ‘book promotion and marketing’ articles, all of which target specific audiences for genre. You can easily target one genre, such as romance, thriller, and mystery but how do you cross genre lines in promotion?

One answer is to link your name to an organic and dynamic brand that’s based on you and arouses a positive, emotional experience for your targeted readership – regardless of genre. So in essence you will need to develop a strategy to create a hybrid solution of your own.

Another option is to write a book that will appeal to the fans of your new genre and not the fans you already have. The plot, cover, and blurb should all be consistent with the genre you want to write in. This can be accomplished by adding your own flourishes to the genre.

You have the ability to create your own style, and unique voice by combining recurrent themes, character types, settings, and ideas that make up the familiar elements characteristic to your writing. You can tie a common thread between all the genres you choose to write. After delving into this I have found that love in all its forms are represented in my narratives, whether parental, friendship or lover.

It is much less about genre, and more about what readers have come to expect in your books/writing. It’s in the way you do it – as well as how it’s perceived and interpreted by your audience.
Let’s take a look at how writing in more than one genre is a benefit:
• It requires different strengths and allows you to push your limits and abilities–learn, test, experiment, polish.
• It lets you explore your wider interests without limitation.
• It allows new writers especially to explore various genres before determining the right “fit” for their style, voice and passions.
• It is often not a conscious decision–many writers are compelled to follow the Muse.

So what are the Pros and Cons?
Pros:
1. Writing what you want
It is wonderfully fulfilling to explore new ideas and create something new that challenges you in unique and exciting ways.
2. Wider audience
Writing a new genre may attract new readers, who wouldn’t have found your work otherwise. And hopefully they will check out your previous works thus cultivating a broader, wider readership.
3. Versatility
Being versatile will sharpen your skills as a writer and may attract a publisher in that genre or other new opportunities. Your ability to handle a variety of genres is always a plus.
4. Broader community
While writing in new genres and categories, you will get to know other writers in that genre and extend your writing community in the process.

Cons:
1. Losing readers
This is obviously the biggest con of switching genres. Your current readership may not pick up your new book at all as they consider you a writer in a particular genre and may be more discerning about picking up a title of yours in the future.
2. More juggling
Writing in multiple genres requires more juggling with your marketing and promotion as you need to change from one single cohesive marketing plan into two or more. And if you’re working on multiple projects at once, you’ll have to handle multiple publishing deadlines, contracts, etc.
3. Multiple brands
The worst case scenario is having to start a completely new brand for the ‘other’ genre. You may need to write under a pen-name and devote time to building that platform. It could be you start from scratch in your branding, or utilize your platform in a broader form. To do this you need to find the common ‘theme’. (Not an easy task I might add!)
4. Writing confusion
The other challenge is juggling multiple genres from a writing perspective and requires a lot of hard work and skill to accomplish successfully. Each genre has its own conventions you need to establish and refine using vastly different voices traits and tones, while meeting readers’ expectations.

More recently, many alternative genres have been created, which combine genres into a sub-genres. For example, romance readers would never go to the horror section first, but if the description was something like – romantic suspense – then maybe they would pick up your book. This has enabled authors to promote their books in one or more genres.
I have investigated what my ‘brand’ or ‘theme’ is in my writing and after quite some time realized it is a basic theme of love – be it romantic, parental, friendship or some other kind – so in essence I can use that title within the more traditional genre headings.
It is a matter of looking at your story and defining the main theme, even if it is an underlining thread throughout the narrative. My novel, Life in Slake Patch is an alternative world order but basically has a young man trying to change the ‘laws’ so he can be with the woman he loves. It can be described as speculative fiction but romantic speculative fiction is better.

My novel, The Twesome Loop is also romance but has an added reincarnation element as well as set in England and Italy, so is it romance alone or do I possibly create a sub-genre: suspense romance? As I am writing, I realized another sub-genre would fit my fantasy, The Rython Kingdom, which is set in medieval England, has a romance and a master plot by a vengeful witch so maybe it is fantasy or historical romance?

Do you write multiple genres?

How do you promote them? Separately or within a broader brand under your name?

Blog at WordPress.com.