Julie Gianelloni Connor began to think of herself as a writer, took a detour into the US State Department, and after retiring returned to a career as a writer. She is the owner and editor of Bayou City Press in Houston, TX, which specializes in travel, Houston, history, and international affairs.
Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Julie completed preparatory studies at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts, before moving to Houston to attend Rice University. She graduated with a BA in English and History, followed by a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. She also studied journalism at Louisiana State University, during which time she interned at the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate.
Among her careers in her twenties, Julie taught English as a foreign language in Lisbon (Portugal), Barcelona (Spain) and Wimberly (England); served as a faculty member at the University of Houston; and worked in the private sector for a law firm and an audio firm.
In 1981, Julie Gianelloni Connor began her diplomatic career at the United States Information Agency, mainly working abroad at embassies on press, cultural and exchange affairs. In 1999, USIA was included in the US Department of State and Julie continued her diplomatic career there until her retirement. Over 33 years of career, Julie has become a senior foreign service agent having served abroad nine times in seven different countries: Israel (twice), Paraguay, Guatemala, Indonesia, Colombia (twice), Malaysia and Chile. She has worked in areas as diverse as anti-narcotics, nuclear non-proliferation and women’s issues.
Julie received her Master of National Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, DC, in 1995, and has been a diplomat in residence at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin since that year. 2012-2014.
She has received numerous USIA and State Department awards, including four Senior Honors Awards and the USIA Equal Employment Opportunity Award. She is the co-founder and first president of Executive Women in State (EW@S), an organization that began promoting the advancement of women’s careers in the State Department.
Julie writes travel columns for the website Bayou City Press and has published two books to date: “Savouring the Camino de Santiago: It`s the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike” and “The Baby with Three Family, Two Country, and One Promise: The Story of International Adoption.” Two of his books have won several awards.
Julie Gianelloni Connor has a son and two cats. She is active in the writing and publishing community in Houston.
Here is an interview with Julie Gianelloni Connor:
Julie Gianelloni Connor, Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in the country, very much a ranch girl, but ended up having an international career with the U.S. Department of State, serving as a diplomat for 33 years. I retired in 2014, and in 2019 I launched my writing and publishing second career.
How many hours a day do you write?
I spend many hours each day on my computer, but much of that time is devoted to running my micro-press rather than writing a book or essay.
Julie Gianelloni Connor How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I am working on two books, and have several others in mind.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I Julie Gianelloni Connor am a quick writer, once I focus on doing the writing. I usually take my time, though, interspersing writing the book with many other tasks. So, I’d say it takes me about six months to finish a manuscript.
Where did you get the idea for your most recent book “The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise”?
Many years ago, I wrote a small book for my adopted son about his adoption because I couldn’t find anything suitable on the market. During the pandemic, when I couldn’t travel to research my next book, I checked Amazon to see if there was any suitable book available in 2020. There still wasn’t, so I decided to write one.
Julie Gianelloni Connor, How did you develop your plots? How do you select the names of your characters?
I mainly write nonfiction, so I don’t have plots so much as organizational challenges: how to order the chapters to be most appealing. My second book is fictional, but based on a nonfiction process (adoption), so the order was established. As for names, I pull them out of the air.
Julie Gianelloni Connor If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
For 33 years I was a U.S. diplomat. I had to write every day on that job, but it was writing for the job—memoranda, briefing notes, speeches for the ambassador, reports to Washington, and so forth. So, my work, both then and now, has been written as a major element of what I do.
How did you get inspired to write “The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise”?
When I found out that there still, after some 30 years, was no book that adoptive parents could read to their children to explain what adoption was about, I decided to write one. My goal was to help adoptive families.
Julie Gianelloni Connor, What is your favorite childhood book?
All of the Nancy Drew mysteries.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
I Julie Gianelloni Connor love reading fiction, but I mainly write nonfiction. I think a lot of “literary fiction” is overrated.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a second book about the Camino de Santiago, this time about doing a horseback pilgrimage.
Julie Gianelloni Connor Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I Julie Gianelloni Connor read them all. The good ones give me a boost and encourage me to keep writing. As for the bad ones, I try to think about whether the criticism has merit or not. Sometimes the criticism is not actually a criticism at all, or is so off the mark I wonder if the reviewer actually read the book. For example, one recent reviewer on Amazon gave my book one star and said she was “very disappointed” because I didn’t exclusively walk the Camino. Duh, correct! The subtitle, “It’s the Pilgrimage, Not the Walk,” tells readers that information before they even read one page.
One of the messages of my book is that pilgrims should not feel obliged to walk every step. So, the review might actually serve a positive purpose in telling readers who are focused on the mechanics (walking) and not the experience (the pilgrimage) that this is not the book for them.
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What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I know and am friends with a lot of authors here in Texas, including a critique group of writers. My critique group is extremely helpful in giving me feedback on drafts.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Just do it. We all talk ourselves out of writing by thinking of many reasons why we should write—no one will like the book, no one will buy the book, it’s a niche book, etc. An author has to self-encourage.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Any money I spend on buying books is money well spent.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Getting my ideas and thoughts out to the world.
Julie Gianelloni Connor Will you have a new book coming out soon?
I hope to have my third book out this year.
I Julie Gianelloni Connor have two websites, one an author website and one a publisher website, plus seven social media accounts. The best and most direct way to get in touch with me is just to email me at my publishing house: [email protected]
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