Suggestions for Helping Kids (and Adults) Enjoy Reading

booksI’ve been teaching now since 1993 when I instructed that first course in public speaking. Over the years, I’ve moved from teaching public speaking into teaching writing and other communication courses. Over this period of time, I’ve noticed a dramatic drop in the amount of outside reading done by students (I’ve also noticed, as have my colleagues, that textbook reading has decreased as well, as too many students rely on the course Powerpoints). Admittedly, we have a lot of distractions today—cell phones, social media, cable television, sports and social commitments, and family life—all of which contribute to having less time to “sit down and enjoy a good book.”

A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University found that reading lights up brain activity because it asks readers to put ourselves in the shoes of our characters, which, in turn, tends to make us more empathic people. Being able to understand how others may feel is at the core of reading; we learn to understand and ask questions, and this process allows us to learn more about ourselves as people. Would we do the same thing as that character? Would we have acted in that manner? As we read, we wonder…we are curious…and that exercise leads to being a person who can empathize with others.

The bottom line: it’s important to read. And it’s important to get our younger kids and students, reading, as well.

When I asked my feature writing students why they don’t read outside of class, one answer was because there was difficulty finding anything to read of value. Another answer was that there just isn’t time for it. And yet another was a lack of enjoyment that comes from it.

So, how can we, as parents and teachers, foster a love of reading with our children and students and with others in our lives? I have a few suggestions that may help as we move forward to tackle this meaningful endeavor.

  1. READ ALONG WITH YOUR CHILD/STUDENT — With younger kids and students, a good idea is to read along with them. This does not necessarily mean you must sit and read the books out loud with them (although with the little ones, this is imperative). It suggests that you read the same book the student is reading, almost as one does in a book club, which would enable you to have discussions about the book with your child. I did this last year with my son; we both read Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, and we had wonderful discussions about Nazi Germany, the main characters, death as the narrator, and more. This tactic works well and it opens all of us up to reading a variety of stories that we may not otherwise have read.
  2. SET AN EXAMPLE — Instead of turning on the television at night, curl up on the sofa with a good book. Fall is coming, and it’s a good time to decompress and read some of those novels or professional guidance books you’ve wanted to read. Demonstrating a love of reading yourself will set a positive example for your children.
  3. SELECT A BOOK THAT IS ALSO A MOVIE — One thing children and students love to do is to draw comparisons. Let them read the book, and then promise them that you’ll see the movie or get it OnDemand or from Red Box. Being able to see differences in the work (from book to film) engages students and allows them to think critically and analyze both works. This is also fun to do with book clubs.
  4. FIND A GENRE THAT WORKS FOR THEM — What we like to read isn’t always what a child or student might like to read. Take time to visit the library or Barnes & Noble and get suggestions from educated and passionate librarians or employees who are there to help. Be open to recommendations, and be sure to tell the librarian what types of stories usually capture your child’s or student’s attention.
  5. START SMALL — I can see it in students’ eyes when a particular piece of work I ask them to read feels overwhelming or daunting. Start small. Novels and stories come in all different lengths. Choose one that your child or student can complete easily and does not have to labor through to finish. They will get a sense of satisfaction from reading the book from cover to cover.
  6. PICK A SERIES — Lots of readers today enjoy getting caught up in a series like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. Mature readers enjoy reading a series, too. Find one that might win over your reader and may keep them wanting to know more about the characters and what their fates may be.
  7. GET TO KNOW THE AUTHOR — Many times, readers feel connected when they know a little bit about the person who wrote the story. Do a little homework. Watch the author talk about his or her book on YouTube. Read the author’s biography on his or her website. Feeling something for the author or hearing a personal story about why he or she wrote the book in the first place may pique curiosity.

With any luck, any or all of these suggestions might be helpful and can potentially encourage reading. Good readers often become good writers. They dissect books and learn technique, style, and story construction. Reading opens our minds to wonderful new worlds and implores us to use our imaginations.

Lots of good comes from reading. Let’s continue to encourage our children and students to allow themselves to get swept away into a good book.

Once they do, with any luck, there may be no turning back.

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Meeting People at Baltimore Book Festival

BaltBookFestYesterday, I spent the day in Baltimore at the annual Book Festival, which was relocated to the Inner Harbor from Mount Vernon two years ago. It’s a great place to chat with people, talk about your book, and maybe sell a few copies along the way. With my trusted assistant—my daughter Ellie—by my side, we mixed and mingled all day long. The weather was beautiful, overcast with pops of sun every now and then and a steady breeze that at times blew things off tables, made it the perfect day to be downtown exploring Book Fest. Thanks to those folks who stopped by my table and talked baseball with me. I truly never get tired of it.

Tonight, I’ll be winding down the promotion of Baseball Girl with a stop at the Broadneck Library in Annapolis at 7 p.m. We’ll talk baseball, writing, and I’ve got two tickets to the Orioles game for Thursday night I’ll be raffling off. Hope to see you there.


BOOKISH — Sunday Book Festival and Monday Book Talk on the Docket

BaseballGirlFinalCoverwithAwardsTomorrow begins Day One of the Baltimore Book Festival. Book lovers in Baltimore—there’s a lot to rejoice. The lineup of authors is terrific, and local authors and speakers will be there as well sharing stories about writing and publishing.

I’ll be in the Author’s Tent on Sunday, September 27 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. with books in hand, bookmarks, and an opportunity to win a prize. As well, I’ve been invited to speak from 1:30 – 2 p.m. in the Author’s Tent. I hope to see you there, and if you can’t make it on Sunday, please stop by whenever you can to see this well-planned and well-orchestrated Festival in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore.

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On Monday, I’ll be in my own neck of the woods at the Broadneck Library in Annapolis, and we’ll be talking about my latest novel, Baseball Girl, which was just awarded an Honorable Mention Award for Sports Fiction in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Contest. We’ll also talk other topics, such as writing, publishing, books, and baseball. Stop by from 7-8 p.m. and see if you might win a Frank Robinson replica statue and two signed copies of my books.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I hope to bump into you somewhere.

From the last visit to the Baltimore Book Festival in 2012. It's been a while, and I'm looking forward to being back!
From the last visit to the Baltimore Book Festival in 2012. It’s been a while, and I’m looking forward to being back!


Random (And I Do Mean Random) Thoughts

I haven’t blogged in over a week, and I was thinking about all the different things on which I could write a blog post. Instead of one focused topic, I decided to go the route of all the random thoughts that have come in and out of my head over the last week. They are as follows:

Random Thought #1 : James Corden is Hilarious

James CordonI first got to know James Corden when he played Keira Knightley’s best friend in “Begin Again.” I think he’s hilarious and charming. Then, this week, I saw the clip of Corden and Stevie Wonder singing in the car together, and that sent me over the edge. I love British humor, and he’s just about the most adorable British guy out there right now.

Random Thought #2 : If I Were A Political Candidate

If I were a political candidate right now, I would find a platform that many people could associate with and back and build my campaign on that. Shouting campaign slogans such as, “You’ll never have to hear about the Kardashians again,” or “I’m lowering taxes because everyone has a right to afford SJP’s new line of shoes at Bergdorf,” or “There will be no more backups ever on the Interstate, especially on the Baltimore and D.C. betlways,” might be things people could get behind. Finding some new and exciting promises might put a candidate over the top.

Random Thought #3: Weddings Bring Out the Best In People

I just got back from my cousin’s wedding in beautiful Charleston, SC. Not only was the bride stunning, the groom handsome, and the setting picture perfect, but the whole of the event brings out the best in people. Namely, it can bring out the best in long-time marriages, for it reminds you of why you married your spouse in the first place. It’s a great time to reconnect and remember.

The beautiful bride and groom.


My husband and me at the wedding.

Random Thought #4: I’ve Gotten Over My “Fear” of Flying

Recently, I’ve had to take some trips for school and have had to a travel a little bit otherwise. While I used to get very anxious being cooped up on a plane (it wasn’t the flying that bothered me as much as the claustrophobia), I’ve become a much better traveler. Bottom line: If you want to see the world, you must fly. End of story.

Random Thought #5: I’m Not Really Sure What to Say at My Upcoming Book Talk at the Baltimore Book Festival

The kind folks at the Baltimore Book Festival offered me the opportunity to speak for a half an hour on Sunday at Book Fest. I am so honored and flattered to do so. However, I am not sure how to structure my talk, so this week, I’ll be hunkering down and figuring that out. I surely don’t want to bore anyone…


Random Thought #6: I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie

My husband bought this pillow for me in Charleston. For obvious reasons, I really love it.


Random Thought #7: Charleston Is A Very Beautiful Place

My husband and I got a little time to stroll Charleston, and it’s as pretty as I remembered it being when I last visited. It boasts Southern charm, lovely scenery, good eats, and friendly people. Not too soon after our plane landed, we headed for Hominy Grill, a restaurant we had dined in when I was pregnant with our first child. I got this mug on that trip, and it was great to go back. The Fried Green Tomatoes were the best I’ve ever eaten and the Shrimp & Grits weren’t too bad, either.


Random Thought #8: My ‘Book Club Babes’ and Other Friends Rock

Last Friday I hosted book club at my house. I turned 50 back in August, and it was a total surprise when I opened the door and found my friends standing before me with roses, black balloons (yes, ha-ha, very funny), and cards, as they recited a birthday poem to me. I am very lucky to have found so many sweet and considerate new friends over the last couple of years, from my supper club friends who celebrated with me the night before my birthday, neighborhood friends, and my book club friends, not to mention my long-time friends who took me out for a night of fun. Thanks to all of you. You made turning 50 delightful.




That’s all folks. Hope you have a great week. And if you feel like it, visit me at the Baltimore Book Festival on Sunday, September 27. I’ll be raffling off some books and a pair of tickets to an Orioles game.

A Few Updates On This Rainy Saturday

TextbookHappy Saturday! It’s a rainy afternoon here in the Annapolis area. I’m a little disappointed in the weather because I was slated to watch my son’s high school golf match today, but the rain has postponed it. I’m very proud of him for making the golf team. He worked hard over this past year, practicing constantly, taking lessons, studying the game, and his hard work paid off. Way to go, Matt!

Rainy days are great days for catching up on work or doing something completely unexpected or pleasurable. As for me, I’ll be involved in the former for a while—I’m one Powerpoint away from completing my part of the Event Planning Textbook’s teacher edition that we’ve been working on over the past month. In a couple of hours, I hope to check that off my TO-DO list. My co-authors wrote all the test, quizzes, and prompts. We are on our way to proofing drafts and seeing this book in print very soon. Thanks to Kendall Hunt for publishing our work!

BaseballGirlFinalCoverwithAwardsAlso, I had time to update my cover and display the Honorable Mention Award Baseball Girl received from Readers’ Favorite. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s nice to receive a second nod from the folks at RF. I’ll keep working hard on the next book, and maybe I’ll squeak a silver or gold medal out of an upcoming project. It sure is fun to try.

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 11.48.08 AMLastly, I just found out this week that I’ll be speaking in the Author’s Tent at the Baltimore Book Festival, which takes place at the Inner Harbor in the city. I’m so excited and honored to have this opportunity to talk about baseball, writing, publishing, and whatever else people want to know about being an independent author. Thank you to my friends at the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts for extending this welcome to me.

As Porky Pig always said, “That’s all folks.” Hope you have a wonderful weekend. You may even want to curl up with a good book. :-)

Porky Pig


That First Sentence

One-True-SentenceYesterday, my students wore a few blank stares on their faces when I asked how many had started writing their profile articles. This was a viable question since the drafts are due next week. The truth was, few had begun to write.

Hence, the problem.

Writing that first sentence.

How to craft that first sentence is not an easy task. Often, whether it’s an assignment for school or work, or a creative endeavor you are trying to accomplish, that blinking cursor can be intimidating. Getting started isn’t always easy. But as Hemingway said, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” Great advice, but he was Hemingway. What about the rest of us who labor away, striving to get that first sentence down on paper expecting that what will come after it will flow like a river?

Just write it.

Half the battle is getting that piece of work started.

For example, I toiled and toiled with the first line of the novel I am currently working on, which reads as follows:

I stand before the full-length mirror in my bedroom, having just shed my last piece of clothing, and stare at my nude form in the mirror.

That’s it. That’s the first sentence. All that follows is going to hinge on the story of that person who is staring at herself in the mirror. What is her story?

Some writers must start the story at the beginning (guilty as charged). Others begin to write in chunks and then go back and write the beginning. I like to start the story at the beginning so I know where my subject is as I begin the piece. For me, it feels like an unmade bed to begin anywhere else. Joyce Carol Oates begs to differ. She believes you can’t write the first sentence until the rest is written.AP_Blog_OatesQuote

Furthermore, just because you write that “one true sentence” doesn’t mean you can’t play with it, alter it, or scrap it altogether. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

What Hemingway and others are trying to tell you is this: just start writing. Start with an initial sentence and see what happens.

You’ve got to begin at some point.

Why We Should Stop Using the Phrase “In the Real World”

John LennonWhile there are many trite (and incorrectly structured) phrases that people use constantly, i.e. phrases like “It is what it is” and “I could care less,” whereby the first just sounds silly and the latter actually means you care, there is another phrase that I’d like to see stripped from our sentence constructs.

The phrase is this: In the real world…

In the real world, your resume should be polished.

In the real world, you should secure a job you enjoy getting up for in the morning.

In the real world, you’ll be paying more taxes.

I hear people say this constantly. It is most commonly said to those in college or participating in some kind of schooling when pointing to what life will be like after school is over.

My quick quarrel asks you to consider whether or not school is part of the real world. I believe it is. It is quite real, and I can account for it being real because I participate in it every day as a teacher; it is my job in the real world (as opposed to the immitation world I’ve been living in lately). My children and my students would probably agree—they have to get up every morning and attend classes that so far, seem to be incredibly real.

What we should be saying instead is this: In the working world…

In the working world, your resume should be polished.

In the working world, you should secure a job you enjoy getting up for in the morning.

In the working world, you’ll be paying more taxes.

When you break it down, I’m not even sure what the real world is these days.

But I do have a pretty good handle on the working world, and I’m certain you do as well.

Friday Fodder | It’s Been a Good Week

AwardCertificateHonorable Mention Award | Readers’ Favorite 2015

Whenever something you’ve written garners a little recognition, it’s a good thing. Getting another nod from Readers’ Favorite made my week, as Baseball Girl was a project I worked on for three years. Seeing it earn an award in the category of Sports Fiction made me happy, too. Moreover, I’m blessed to have so many friends and family supporters who not only encourage me to write, but also share the news and are genuinely pleased for me. When you sweat over a project for as long as I did (and for some people even longer), when you pour your blood, sweat, and tears into it, and when you make other sacrifices to complete the project, there’s a quiet satisfaction that comes from it. Receiving recognition just makes it that much sweeter.

For those of you who are toiling with writing and aren’t sure if you can see it through to fruition, here’s my advice: stay the course. You may come up against some criticism or naysayers, but ultimately, it’s your work. If you believe in it, give it all you’ve got. Massage it, play with it, rework it, edit it, and then, do something with it. Whether you send your book out to agents and publishers or decide to tackle publishing on your own, you have the final say. And no one can take that away from you.

Teaching Sports Communication

It’s only Week Two, but I’m thoroughly enjoying teaching a new course in Sports Communication. At Stevenson University, the Business Communication faculty takes turns rotating the 400-level Special Topics courses that we offer. In the past, I have taught special topics courses in both Advertising (which became part of our curriculum) and Local Travel Writing (which was so much fun). This year, in both fall and spring semesters, I have the wonderful job of getting to talk about my life in baseball at the Orioles and not feel badly about it. We’re not just talking baseball in there, however; so far, we have covered sports communication in general and how communication is the integral part of sports; jobs in sports communication and how to network; and we just started talking about the history of sports, from journalism’s early Pioneer Period up through muckraking, the Penny Press, and new journalism. When you get to mention names like William Randolph Hearst and Babe Ruth in the same breath, you know you’re teaching a course that will offer a lot of meaning to these students of communication.

Plus, in what other course can view a YouTube video of Cal Ripken’s 2131 history-making evening during the 20th anniversary week, show the 18-minute standing ovation, and watch your students get a few chills as they experience for the first time what that incredible moment was all about?

EventPlanning The Postcard & Other Short Stories & Poetry & An Event Planning Textbook

ThePostcardCoverYou’re going to have to give me a little pass on The Postcard project. I know I said it would be ready by late summer, but it’s not going to be ready until right before the holidays. There is good reason for this delay, however. My colleagues and I—Dr. Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse—have been incredibly busy putting the finishing touches on our textbook that will be published later this year by Kendall-Hunt. Our textbook is entitled Event Planning: Communicating Theory & Practice. We began writing it in July of 2014 and finished editing our last chapter about a month ago. We are presently working on the Instructor’s Edition, and have a deadline of next weekend. People have asked me if I’ve enjoyed the process. I’ll admit–this is one of the most arduous projects I’ve been associated with to date (I’m not a trained researcher). However, it’s been incredibly rewarding. I can’t wait to see the textbook and hold it in my hands. We are all very proud of our work, and hope future students will enjoy reading about event planning and communication’s role in it.

As for The Postcard, I will begin the final editing process once the textbook is put to bed.

Thanks, as always, for your support and for following my writing endeavors.

Baseball = Love : Reflections on Ripken, Gehrig, and 2131; Baseball Girl Receives an Award; and Thoughts on Moments in Time

Reflections on Cal Ripken and 2131


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Twenty years ago this week Cal Ripken tied and broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games record. Twenty years ago. It seems difficult to fathom, actually.

I was proud to have been a part of such a wonderful front office — people who cared about the game of baseball and wanted it represented well both on and off the field. If I could have picked any time in history to have been with the club — including that 1983 season when the Orioles took home the World Series trophy — I would not change a thing. I started out on the ground floor as public relations assistant (who actually had to go out into the stands and sing “Happy Birthday” to fans), worked side-by-side with my mentor Julie Wagner in community relations, and was promoted to Director of Publishing where I stayed until I ended my career with the ballclub in 1998. Honestly, I wouldn’t trade one moment of my time there, even for a World Series ring (though I won’t lie–that would have been a very nice heirloom).

Readers of my blog know my incredible affinity for the ballclub. Pictured above is Cal, on the night of 2131, with his arm around his mother, Vi, Julie Wagner, the Orioles Community Relations Director, and me there in the front (Cal’s dad can be seen off to the left, barely in the photograph). As members of the event team that planned, organized, and executed 2131, we are standing on the field while the tributes and celebrations were happening, and I’ll never forget how Cal’s parents’ faces beamed. I was fortunate to have been assigned as the escort for Cal’s parents for the evening, and I was responsible for getting them where they needed to be as events began to unfold. Our team photographer, Jerry Wachter, captured this moment, and I’ll be forever grateful. Although Julie is probably mid-sentence saying something to me about what was going to happen next because she was one of the lead planners of the ceremonial events, Jerry caught us at just the right moment, and as the Whitney Houston song “One Moment in Time” was played that night, I believe we all felt suspended, relishing Cal’s amazing accomplishment, and sensing Lou Gehrig winking from the Heavens. If only for a moment.

Incidentally, one of the reasons why I hold on so dearly to memories made either at Memorial Stadium or Camden Yards is because some of my dearest friends were made there, memories that I will keep. Whether they are funny stories that make up my collection of 13 years at the ballclub or friendships that continue to grow and flourish even after we’ve moved on, the spirit that was the Orioles will remain with me forever. Cal’s remarkable evening is just one of hundreds of things I’ll always keep in my lovely, baseball memory bank.

The book we put together at the Orioles to commemorate Cal's accomplishment. I served as the editor and many of my friends and colleagues wrote chapters of the book.
The book we put together at the Orioles to commemorate Cal’s accomplishment. I served as the editor and many of my friends and colleagues wrote chapters of the book.

 I met all these women through baseball. We celebrated my birthday and 30 years of friendship on August 21. 

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Baseball Girl Takes Home An Honorable Mention in the Annual Readers’ Favorite Contest for Sports Fiction

HMAwardScreen shot 2015-08-31 at 11.19.20 PMLast night, my second novel, Baseball Girl, received an Honorable Mention Award in the Annual Readers’ Favorite Contest in the category of sports fiction. As the Readers’ Favorite Contest has become more popular over the years (its first contest year was only in 2009), the competition continues to grow. Having Baseball Girl acknowledged in the category of sports fiction is quite an honor (seeing as I haven’t ever written anything fictional that is sports-based, not even a short story). The recognition of this little story—that grew out of my overactive imagination, but is rooted in some of my own experiences working in baseball—means more to me than words can say, but I’ll try. When I set out to tell this story, all I wanted was for people to enjoy reading it. To take pleasure in it. To want to see what happens to the characters. When I receive a short note, text, or email from someone saying he or she enjoyed Baseball Girl, that’s what makes me happy. Additionally, when a little medallion of an award gets to be placed on the cover of the book in recognition for a job well done—though it may not have garnered first, second, or third place—I am so grateful for the positive feedback I have received and continue to receive. Honestly, it makes me want to be a better writer. Thank you, Jack Magnus and Readers’ Favorite for this lovely recognition. I hope your stamp of approval will encourage other folks who are on the fence about reading the book to give it a whirl and see what happens to Francesca, Archie, Joe, Jack and the rest of the crew.

Jack Magnus’ Review of Baseball Girl:

Baseball Girl: A Novel is a contemporary sports fiction novel written by Stephanie L. Verni. Francesca’s young world revolved around her dad and the baseball games they watched together, both in the stadium and at home. They loved the Bay City Blackbirds, and Francesca knew all the stats and even the team’s scoring system. From the time, she was seven until her dad’s illness and death at age 44 from leukemia, the two of them thrilled to the sounds of the bat hitting the ball and the cheers of the fans. When Francesca was a sophomore in college, a year after he died, she found a help wanted ad for a Public Relations Assistant with the Bay City Blackbirds. It seemed the perfect job for a communications major who just happened to live and breathe baseball.

Stephanie L. Verni’s contemporary fiction novel, Baseball Girl, is a marvelous novel that blends the coming of age, romance and sports fiction genres. The author’s long-term association with the Baltimore Orioles makes the novel feel like the real thing. Verni takes the reader into the inner workings of the front office of a baseball team, and it’s a fascinating look at the hard work, dedication, and stamina needed to be part of that world. While Francesca is no longer a young adult, the interwoven tales of her childhood through to her late twenties, combined with the ongoing trauma of her loss which keeps her locked up inside and unwilling to risk emotional attachments, make this story one of the more compelling coming of age tales I’ve read. Baseball Girl has a strong romantic thread, but the lack of any overtly sexual or erotic themes makes this novel eminently suitable for young adult readers as well as the target adult audience. Verni’s strong and competent Francesca is the perfect role model for young women, especially if they just happen to love sports. Baseball Girl is an awesome read, and it’s most highly recommended.

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Upcoming Book Events in the Baltimore | Annapolis Area

On Sunday, September 27, I’ll be in the Author’s Tent at the Baltimore Book Festival. Last year’s festival was held at the Inner Harbor, and this year it will also be held downtown. I’m scheduled to sell and sign books from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., so if you’re planning on attending, I hope you will stop by and say hello.

On Monday, September 28, I’ll be talking about baseball, books, and maybe even a Mimosa Tree at the Broadneck Library in Annapolis at 7 p.m. I’ll be giving away some goodies, and I’ll have lots of bookmarks and copies of my books on hand.

Screen shot 2015-09-01 at 4.52.41 PM

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Severna Park Voice Article

My local, hometown paper ran a piece on local authors and what we’re up to recently. I’ve linked to it here, and was thrilled to see that they very kindly gave my daughter a photo credit. She’s also an aspiring author, and a pretty amazing photographer as well. Thanks for making me look good, Elle.

Screen shot 2015-09-01 at 4.51.28 PM

Moments in Time

Last week we began our fall semester at Stevenson University. I couldn’t be more fortunate to work at a place with the best bunch of faculty, staff, and students. I absolutely love my job, and every day I have the opportunity to be in the classroom is yet another one of my moments in time.

Thanks for popping in today, and I hope to see some of you soon.



P.S. If you want to take a stroll down memory lane and re-live Cal’s shining moment, I’ve provided the telecast below.

Feminine, Sparkly Accessories For Fall

While summer is not quite over yet, fall merchandise is upon us. The stores are switching from summer sale items to cashmere. It’s time to think about adding some accessories to your wardrobe–and I’m feeling a little sparkly today. It’s Friday…time to shine.

I’ve always loved clothes and fashion. Part of me never stopped playing dress up. I think it’s fun to shop for and coordinate outfits—and I look forward to waking up each morning and figuring out what I will wear. I’ve been revamping my wardrobe lately—particularly adding color (trying to stay away from black a little) and attempting to dress a little more classically as I’m growing older. Accessories have the ability to add that special “pizzazz” to an outfit and make you feel fabulous.

The beautiful thing about metallics, sequins, shimmer, and the like is that they act as neutrals and can go with anything. Whether you purchase one of these or buy a knock-off, a little sparkle can certainly liven up an outfit. Play with accessories—they can change your look instantly. To read more about accessories, visit two previous blog posts: Make Accessories Matter and 5 Accessories To Help Perk Up Your Wardrobe .

Shine brightly, my friends. You deserve it.

Kate Spade Sparkle Extender Necklace, $59.19 on Amazon.
Kate Spade Sparkle Extender Necklace, $59.19 on Amazon.
Kelsi Dagger Twinkle Boots, Amazon, $44.95
Kelsi Dagger Twinkle Boots, Amazon, $44.95
Nordstrom Metallic and Silk Scarf, $98, Nordstrom
Nordstrom Metallic and Silk Scarf, $98, Nordstrom
Edie Shoulder Bag, $295, Coach
Edie Shoulder Bag, $295, Coach
Sarah Jessica Parker in her Mary Janes. LOVE THESE SO MUCH!
Sarah Jessica Parker in her Mary Janes. LOVE THESE SO MUCH!
Tartt Sparkly Mary Jane Pumps by SJP, $385, Neiman Marcus
Tartt Sparkly Mary Jane Pumps by SJP, $385, Neiman Marcus

Back To School Sunday


Back To School Sunday: A Poem

Summer vacation — gone, gone, gone —

Preparing lectures — long, long, long;

Making lunches every day —

No more splashing in the Bay;

Back to rigor and the grind —

Starbucks coffee not far behind;

Late night grading, losing sleep —

Watching my kids grow: weep, weep, weep.

So long flip-flops, hello heels —

No more winging weekday meals;

No more swimming at the pool —

Time for schedules, time for school.

Summer days grow shorter for fall —

Baseball playoffs and football;

Homecoming, Halloween, Haunted trails —

Time moves quickly, not like a snail;

Before you know it, holidays are here —

Bringing finals and essays — fun and fear.

It’s back to school time — let’s rejoice!

Because, quite frankly, we have no choice;

Time moves quickly, hang on for the ride —

Join in the fun; you cannot hide.

~ S.Verni ~

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All the best for a great semester!


My pile of texts for the semester. Bring it on!

Kissing My 40s Goodbye

image1-11All day you’ve been thinking about this blog post and what you will write. It’s your birthday, and it’s tradition that you write something snarky about aging. Some people will tell you they love growing older–maturing, growing up, watching their kids grow, maybe even becoming grandparents. It’s a lovely thought—growing old(er) naturally—as if we actually have a say in holding on to youth and beating Father Time.

We don’t.

Aging is not fun.

So your birthday looms. It’s the big 5-0. You think about it for weeks. It practically consumes you. You notice every grey hair, ever extra mile you have to walk to shed .001 pounds, and each line on your face that you never remember seeing before.

“Fifty? It’s just a number,” people tell you.

“You look great for your age!” they say.

“But you can’t possibly be turning 50! No way!”


The year you were born.

August 16.

The month and day.

You’re 50 today.

Holy shit.

The cake my husband had made for me...a take off on the two books I've written, Baseball Girl and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. It was tasty, too!
The cake my husband had made for me…a take off on the two books I’ve written, Baseball Girl and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. It was tasty, too!

You do things to help quell the anxiety that starts to grow in your head, your chest, your limbs. You think things like, “Robert Downey Jr. looks pretty damn good for 50—he’s the biggest star in Hollywood!” He was also born in 1965. “Sarah Jessica Parker looks amazing at 50.” It’s true. Another 1965 birthday. JK Rowling? Unbelievably awesome. Brooke Shields? Ridiculously gorgeous and stunning. The two of them also Vintage 1965.

But they’re all celebrities, with lots o’ money, stylists, and surgeons.

What about the rest of us?

You do what you can to stay healthy, though it’s not always easy with a demanding job, demanding family life, and demanding other stuff. You try your hardest to stay current (who the heck is Shawn Mendes?), keep up with fashion, and shave your legs every day. You honestly do the best you can.

You won’t lie. Turning 40 was the worst. Mental breakdown and all that stuff.

Turning 50 is just, well, turning 50. You’re waiting for your AARP card to arrive in the mail so you can use it to your advantage for movie discounts and other such benefits.

You feel 36.

But you’re not.

Wait! Wait! Hold on a minute there, Missy! Haven’t these past 50 years been pretty darn good?

Yes. They have, you think. In fact, there have been way too many good things as opposed to bad things that have happened to you. Too many, in fact, to write in a single blog post. Suffice to say, you’ve had a good life so far. You have loved and lost. Been loved. Given love. Been madly in love. Tried different careers. Had babies. You know the score.

You look ahead into the future.

You can almost see it dancing, shining its light in front of you.

You hope there will be 50 more.

Birthday cake from my Mom and Dad today. It's also their 51st anniversary. Yup. On the same day.
Birthday cake from my Mom and Dad today. It’s also their 51st anniversary. Yup. On the same day.

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