Photography for Book Promotion

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Promoting a book isn’t easy, as I have previously discussed in many posts. Sometimes you have to take a different route or take some lovely pictures of your book or stand on your head for hours and hope someone notices. I’ve seen a lot of interesting photos on Instagram of books and have been inspired by them.

Inn Significant takes place at a fictional inn on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The inn sits on the Tred Avon River, and descriptions of flowers and gardens are described throughout the book. So, some of the photos I took are inspired by flowers.

I love using picturesque places in my novels and taking on the challenge of using words to describe them.

However, for now, we will let the images of the book do the talking.

That’s enough writing for today.



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Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory & Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt. To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

A Little Gift Book Basket

A book basket for a friend.

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The best part about giving someone a book as a gift as that it can be the gift that keeps on giving. People love to lend a book to someone when they love it. Therefore, that particular book may have many readers, as it lovingly gets passed from friend to friend to enjoy.

I’ve always loved giving books as gifts because you can write a nice message inside it–even if you are not the author. While it’s lovely to get a signed book from an author, it’s even more special to receive a book from a dear friend and to inscribe the book with a sentimental message.

Just yesterday, a friend of mine was packing her home to move, and she found The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom inscribed to her a few years ago by her late father. It was a touching moment when she found that book and what her father had written to her inside of it.

It’s also fun to make a little gift basket with books. I’m planning on giving this one to a friend of mine. You can pack the basket with things the people like. In my basket is tea, hot chocolate, Blue Crab munchies, and homemade chocolate chip cookies in a Mason jar, along with the three books I’ve written. Yes—signed, of course, with a message in each.

Books are a sweet gift, because when the person is done reading, it warrants a get-together over wine, coffee, or tea to talk about the book.


15781589_865992106837911_1585157622209528074_nStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn SignificantBaseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree.  Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt. 
To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

Bridges of Madison County Author Dies: A Tribute

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The year was 1992. I picked up a copy of best-selling author Robert James Waller’s The Bridges of Madison County and couldn’t put it down. I knew it was a love story, and I was riveted. Like many other readers, I was intrigued by Francesca and Robert Kincaid’s 4-day, intense love story set among the landscape of rural farmland in Iowa. Kincaid is a photographer, out to shoot the covered bridges in the area; Francesca is an Italian war-bride whose husband and two children go off to the state fair for the weekend. When Kincaid stops to ask Francesca for directions, a whirlwind affair begins that changes forever the lives of these two souls.

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While literary snobs panned this novel, claiming, as the New York Times writes, that the characters were “unconvincing, the sentiments sappy and the writing overripe,” I found the novel charming, sad, relatable, and refreshing. It’s a stark reminder of the choices we make in life and why we make them, despite the overwhelming passions we may feel.

Waller’s ability to paint Francesca as a dutiful wife and mother with a deep-seeded passion, along with his depiction of Kincaid’s tough-guy image with a soft and endearing heart, are at the forefront of his writing. The tenderness that ensues makes you both like the characters and feel sorry for them all the way to the end when you understand Francesca’s request she makes to her own children when they learn the truth.

Another reason why I regard this book so fondly is because I was nearing the end of earning my first master’s degree in professional writing and was taking a class in writing short fiction. Waller’s style is one I admired and tried to imitate; he may have written in dramatic fashion, but he knew how to tug at a reader’s emotions. He is definitely someone who influenced me as a writer.

Waller was 52 when he wrote The Bridges of Madison County, yet another reason to admire the man. After years as a business professor, he got the idea of the story after visiting the covered bridges in Iowa and, as a musician who had written a song about a woman named Francesca, brought the two notions together into his novel. The rest, they say, is history.

The Bridges of Madison County was a best-seller for three years, outselling Gone with the Wind. Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the film version along with Meryl Streep in 1995. Mr. Waller died on March 10 at the age of 77 of multiple myeloma.


15781589_865992106837911_1585157622209528074_nStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn SignificantBaseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree.  Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt. 
To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

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Writing Prompt Challenge

So, last night I posed a writing challenge to see who wanted to try and write a short piece of flash fiction (300-400 words) around a prompt. I posted three. I got no takers. But I did it.

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I chose the third. I love writing prompts because they force you to immerse yourself in a scene, setting, or situation right away. They force you to be creative, and to use your creative juices in the best possible way. The challenge was to write approximately 300-400 words.

Here’s my result of Prompt #3.

The Young King

The young King’s hair was a rumpled mess, his clothes strewn across the floor, his crown askew and hanging off of the chair. The lingering smell of liquor plagued the room as the gold goblet next to his bed sat empty. He had banished everyone from the castle after an evening of dancing and celebrating at two in the morning—rather earlier than his typical four o’clock dismissal. It was nearly eleven, and the sun had risen high in the sky, the morning dew long dissipated from the lawn.

His mother had married his father, the former King, when she was younger than he was now. She had not been pleased with his antics last night. She publicly reprimanded him in front of a few of the guests, and he in turn, had caused a scene. He was twenty-three, and he had become King two years prior upon his father’s passing. She blamed him for the current state of affairs in the Kingdom, for his lack of leadership and foresight, and for his relentless pursuit of young women. She had fought him privately, but last night she could no longer hold her tongue, and she had, in his estimation, embarrassed him beyond reproach.

She stood looking at him now, he squinting at her through the hazel eyes that so often had reminded her of her dear, departed husband. The blinding sunlight, which she had allowed to stream into the room after pulling open the heavy curtains, was causing him to sit up in bed and acknowledge her presence.

“There were vial words said between us last night, most of which, I would like not to remember or repeat,” she said in a tone he fully recognized as one in which you do not offer a response. She was his mother, after all, and while he was by all means a man, she would always be his most trusted advisor and confidante. He felt a sense of regret at what he must have said last evening, but he offered no reply at present. “It’s your choice,” she shrugged. “You can continue with your worthless life, or you can become someone who matters.”

With that, she turned on her heels and began the walk toward the gilded double doors that shielded and separated his room from the rest of the castle. He was not one to apologize freely as his pride and defensive demeanor almost always got in the way of salvaging his relations, but as she crossed the threshold, she heard him call, “Mother—“

Flash Fiction | Stephanie Verni | 410 words


15781589_865992106837911_1585157622209528074_nStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn SignificantBaseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree.  Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt. 
To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

Flash Fiction: Katie’s Snowwoman

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The view out my front door of snow. It certainly is pretty, but I’d prefer daffodils in March.

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In honor of the snow that is upon us in Maryland in mid-March (yuck), I’m posting this bit of flash fiction for all those folks who are going to build a snowman, or snowwomanm, today. Ultimately, the story is about friendship. And it’s flash fiction—a short story told in 532 words.

Katie’s Snowwoman

Snow pants. Check.

Coat. Check.

Hat. Check.

Mittens. Check.

Boots. Check.

Scarf. Check.

Susie was ready. It was the first snowfall of the year, and she was ready to take it on. She had everything planned out, because that’s the kind of kid she was. Organized. Methodical. Determined.

She had seen a picture of a snowwoman on her mother’s Pinterest site, and she vowed she would make it with Katie.

Katie had never seen snow—would never see snow. But she could feel it and touch it and taste it. Katie had lost her eyesight at the age of three, her mother told Susie when they moved in the house on their street, and Susie had more compassion for Katie than she even understood.

“I can’t wait for it to snow,” Katie had said to Susie. “I want to play in it.”

“We will play in it,” Susie said. “You are going to help me build this snowwoman.”

“What snowwoman?” Katie asked.

Susie thought for a second, as she was holding the picture of the snowwoman in her hand that her mother had printed for her on the color printer. She realized Katie could not see it, so she took great care to tell her what she was going to look like. “She is going to have a round body, a round middle, and a round head,” she said. “But not too round. We don’t want people to think she eats too much.” Katie giggled.

Katie’s mother was helping her put on her snow clothing as Susie stood in the foyer, feeling quite warm with all her layers on. At the age of nine, the two girls had quickly become good friends over the course of the last six months.

“What is the snowwoman going to wear?” Katie asked Susie.

“I have it all outside,” she said. “My mother gave me a box of old clothes we can put on her. I have a pink scarf with glitter, old clip on earrings, a very pretty hat, and some colorful buttons. I even have a pair of high-heeled old boots she can wear!”

Katie clapped in delight. “Can I put the buttons on?” she asked Susie.

“Of course…you are going to help me with everything. I can’t do it by myself.”

Katie’s mother zipped up the last zip and helped her walk outside the door. “Have fun, girls,” she called.

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Photo credit: Snow Lady, Betsy Bennett,1996, Egg Tempera Published courtesy of CCMOA

For two hours, the girls rolled and sculpted and created their own version of the printed snowwoman.

When it came time for the finishing touches, Susie’s mother came outside to put the hat on top of the snowwoman’s head, as the two were too petite to reach.

“I wish you could see her,” Susie said, breathless and delighted at their creation. She was beaming with pride.

“I can see her,” Katie said. “Because of you I can see it in my imagination. And I know she’s beautiful.”

Susie gave Katie a little squeeze.

“And now the last item gets added,” Susie said, as she handed something to her mother. “Mom, put these sunglasses on her face. We’re going to name her Katie.”

Flash Fiction by Stephanie Verni


15781589_865992106837911_1585157622209528074_nStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn SignificantBaseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree.  Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt. 
To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

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Sharing The Prologue Because Book Promotion Ain’t Easy

 

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Today, I’d like to invite you Inn.

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Getting people interested in your book ain’t easy. I know. I’ve begun the everyday challenge of marketing a novel I’ve written. Don’t feel too badly for me, though. I’ve chosen to take this on myself; I’ve chosen the path of an independent author mainly because I’m extraordinarily controlling. When I write, it’s from the heart, and I very much enjoy making sure that every word on the page comes directly from me.

Plus, this is the third time around for me. Third time’s a charm, maybe.

I guess you could say, as a controlling artist, that I’ve utilized my collective skills to be able to do this. As the former Director of Publishing for the Baltimore Orioles, I wrote, edited, and designed all sorts of printed pieces. Additionally, having worked in public relations, and as someone who currently teaches the topic, I would hope I know how to spread the word, at least to garner a bit of publicity. And finally, with two master’s degrees in writing, along with the fact that I teach writing at a university, I feel strongly that it is my duty to write and show what folks who call themselves writers are capable of producing. For all these reasons, I continue to “go for it.”

As I publish directly through Amazon via Mimosa Publishing, there are certain recommendations Amazon suggests, and one is to share an excerpt of the book to perhaps entice readers. The prologue is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but I thought I would also share it here to see if I can whet your appetite and get you to consider reading Inn Significant.

I can promise you one thing: I poured my heart and soul into it.

 

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ABOUT INN SIGNIFICANT

Two years after receiving the horrifying news of her husband Gil’s death, Milly Foster continues to struggle to find her way out of a state of depression. As a last-ditch effort and means of intervention, Milly’s parents convince her to run their successful Inn during their absence as they help a friend establish a new bed and breakfast in Ireland. Milly reluctantly agrees; when she arrives at the picturesque, waterfront Inn Significant, her colleague, John, discovers a journal written by her deceased grandmother that contains a secret her grandmother kept from the family. Reading her grandmother’s words, and being able to identify with her Nana’s own feelings of loss, sparks the beginning of Milly’s climb out of the darkness and back to the land of the living.


15781589_865992106837911_1585157622209528074_nStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn Significant,Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt. 
To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

 

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12 Things To Do If You’re Not Going Someplace Exotic During Spring Break

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The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge, Maryland, is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Baltimore/Washington area. Great getaway place for a weekend…or a full day.

This afternoon begins our university’s spring break, and while I know some students and faculty will be taking a vacation during that week and perhaps even going somewhere exotic, others of us will not be going somewhere exciting. My spring break never falls at the same time as my children’s break, so it’s difficult to get away. Therefore, if you’re like me, we must find ways to make the week special–so think about things you’ve wanted to do but haven’t had time for due to busy schedules or not enough “me” time.

There are plenty of activities to keep you feeling as if you’ve gotten away, even if you haven’t gone that far.

I’ve put together a list for you to help spark some creative ideas. Please let me know if you have any additional ones to share with all of us who are in the same boat. We’d love to hear from you!

  1. Go get a facial, massage, or pedicure at a spa. Treat yourself to a little pampering and indulge just a little bit in a spa service of some sort. It’s amazing what an hour away can do for the psyche…and the skin.
  2. While I’ve never done it and some of my friends have, a spray tan will help you feel the glow without having to hurt your skin in a tanning bed.
  3. Pick up that book you’ve been dying to read that you’ve heard so much about. It doesn’t matter what genre it is—allow yourself to be taken away into the storyline.If you’re struggling for suggestions, I’ve written three that you can get from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and likewise, I keep a list of my favorite books I’ve read and recommend here on the blog. Just click here.
  4. Catch up on some good flicks or TV series. If you love British history, Victoria on PBS was fantastic. I’m also enjoying 24 Legacy if you were a fan of the original 24 Series. These series require time, and this is a week when you’ve got some time to hunker down.

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    The Washington Street Pub in Easton, MD. Great place to have lunch or happy hour with some friends.

  5. Go have lunch with someone you miss. Maybe you don’t see her or him regularly…now is the time to catch up and enjoy something savory.
  6. Whether the weather is warm or happens to be cold outside, visit your favorite city that’s within driving distance. Day trips are THE BEST! Stroll the shops, grab a coffee, hot chocolate, or gelato, and sit and peruse a magazine.

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    Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, Maryland – Great day trip!

  7. Head to your local nursery and get inspired by some of the spring plantings, shrubbery, and decorations for your home. Get some ideas for flowers for the spring. Or, if you want a suggestion in the Pennsylvania area, go visit Longwood Gardens. It was a treat beyond measure.
  8. Pick a museum you’ve wanted to visit and make it a plan to get there. Bring a friend or your mom. Make it fun. Eat in the cafe and talk about art.

    The Hippodrome in Baltimore.

    The Hippodrome in Baltimore.

  9. Organize an outing with your friends—go bowling, hit the driving range, grab some wine and paint some pottery, head to a book talk or poetry reading, or just get together for dinner and drinks. There are lots of things to do, you just have to check your area’s calendar for some things that are scheduled.
  10. See a show at a theatre, whether it’s your local community theatre or a larger one in your city. Broadway Across America comes to the Hippodrome in Baltimore, where we are blessed with many great shows. See what’s coming to your area.
  11. Do a “Kids Day Out” on the weekend. Ask your kids what they’d like to do for the day (within reason), and do it. Don’t make excuses.
  12. Plan your summer vacation. After all, it takes time to make time. We’re planning on going back to Hilton Head with a stop in Charleston along the way for a few days. I know I need to get on that now, so it’s a good time to plan for that REAL getaway.

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    Early evening on Hilton Head Island…planning the next vacation.

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15781589_865992106837911_1585157622209528074_nStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn Significant,Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt. 
To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

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Where Book Ideas Come From & Some Local Press

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This bench in Oxford invites you to sit and read a story…

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The idea for Inn Significant has been in my head for several years. Before I wrote Baseball Girl, a story about a woman who works in professional baseball, I was toying with Inn Significant. However, something wasn’t quite coming together. One problem I faced was that I originally set the novel in Annapolis, but I had already done that in my first book, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and I decided that I didn’t want to write about the same city again in Inn Significant.

That’s when the idea of setting the novel on the Eastern Shore of Maryland came to mind.

I love the three towns featured in Inn Significant—Oxford, St. Michaels, and Easton. I frequently take day trips there, and when I knew my character, Milly, was facing the tough job of continuing to live after the death of her husband, I wanted her to be in a peaceful setting, a place where recovery could take place. There’s something very quiet and serene, yet incredibly magical, about Oxford.

My magazine class reads a piece each year that I love called Russell and Mary by Michael Donohue. In that magazine article, which was published in The Georgia Review, the writer is a tenant in an apartment in Park Slope, NY. His landlord, Mary, is an old, crotchety woman who most likely suffers from dementia. Within months, she dies and has no heirs, so the state comes and repossesses her things. A large, old microwave box is left behind which contains intimate, personal poetry, notes, sketches, receipts, and photographs that belonged to her late husband, Russell, who had died in 1965. Donohue feels badly leaving the box behind, so he takes it. He becomes so obsessed with the items in the box that depict Russell’s life that he tries to piece together the lives of Russell and Mary, what brought them together, and the trials and tribulations they faced. The story is far from a fairy tale; Russell drew pornographic images, wrote bad poetry, and was admitted to psychiatric hospitals. Mary, it seems, was not a nice person. They did, however, share some heartache. But what is amazing about this piece of writing is how Donohue has his own epiphany as he believes he can connect these two people’s lives and know exactly who they were.

Think about it this way: if someone found a box of your stuff, would they really know who you were as a person?

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Donohue’s revelations about what we leave behind left quite an impression on me about what legacy I may bequeath to my own children. He further estimates that we die twice: once, physically, and a second time when no one is left to remember us.

The reason I’m telling you about this piece of nonfiction writing is because it inspired so much of what I did with Inn Significant. Milly finds a journal that belonged to her grandmother and it contains family history that no one in the family knew anything about. This was the hook I was missing in my early draft of Inn Significant, and it was what propelled me to finish writing the book.

I tried to impress upon my students yesterday that ideas for writing come from so many places, but a lot of times, they come from reading and hearing the stories of others. One little nuance can offer a writer a world of material. And just like that, you have a book idea.

Keep reading, keep writing, and keep asking questions. That’s how the stories begin to grow.

Also, I got a little HOMETOWN PRESS today from the Severna Park Voice. Thank you to Judy Tacyn for writing the story.

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15781589_865992106837911_1585157622209528074_nStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn Significant,Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author ofEvent Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt. 
To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

 

 

When Are You The Happiest? Part Two

131821-cartoon-character-quotes-and-sayingsOn Monday, I asked the question of what makes you happy—and when are you the happiest. My first answer was that spending time with family, often on vacation when I am completely relaxed and decompressed, certainly ranks high on my list of when I am most happy. Do you feel the same?

But there are other things that can push the happy meter into the 10 range (with, of course, 10 being the highest). Watching my children grow into good people and do well in their respective studies and activities makes me happy—and proud. Even more so, watching my children try hard at anything, whether they achieve greatness in that endeavor or not, makes me happy. I’m always going to feel joy when I know they are giving something all they’ve got. As my husband and I always say, it’s less about results and more about effort. If something wonderful comes their way because of a terrific effort, well then, more power to them. I’m happy knowing they tried their best.

To be perfectly honest with you, today I felt a little grumpy when I woke up, clearly not a good habit to get into if you are striving to be as happy as you can be. But sometimes things get us down. For me, it’s the book promotion of my third novel. While I am merely an independent author going it alone in this world of publishing, I still relish the challenge. That doesn’t mean it isn’t without its struggles. Trying to get people to pay attention to a book you’ve worked on for years isn’t the easiest thing to do. People are busy. They have lives to live. Reading a little book I published is not high on their ranking order of things to accomplish. I get it. That said, it doesn’t make it any less daunting to continue on the promotional track of public relations, marketing, and advertising the book.

Does this mean writing a book doesn’t make me happy? It’s quite the contrary, my friends. Writing a book makes me very happy. It’s a solitary venture I do on my own, and then ask others for help reviewing, editing, and offering suggestions. I actually love the entire process of novel writing. It’s challenging, makes me think, and beckons me to put all my skills to work.

Book promotion, however, is another story.

But guess what? You can’t have one without the other, not if you want readers. So you take the happy with the challenging and realize it’s all still worth it.

We tend to become involved in things that make us feel good, whether it’s eating right, working out at the gym, going to concerts or Broadway shows, going to church, or volunteering at an organization, just to name a few. This isn’t to say that things we do to make ourselves useful or to feel good about ourselves doesn’t make us feel another way, too. For example, when I was at the Orioles, one of my favorite days of the year was when we took the team as a whole to the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and visited the children who were recovering from all types of serious illnesses and situations. Seeing the children interact with the players—the way their faces lit up—was magical. I was happy we could provide this service. When I got into my car to drive home, I would often cry my eyes out remembering the children without hair and scars along their scalps; children with arms and legs in casts, or even some children without arms and legs; and children who couldn’t move a muscle, only their eyes to say hello to the players. Doing things for the betterment of others can make us feel happy, but it can also tug strongly at our heartstrings.

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I guess what I’m trying to say in today’s installment is that sometimes happiness does come with a little bit of strife; life can’t always be easy, as has been proven again and again. But sometimes we can make others happy, and that’s a win-win situation.

Moreover, that’s just the reason why we have to continue to pursue happiness as a goal. We have to savor every moment, for sometimes those moments last a long time, and sometimes they are fleeting.

There are varying degrees of happiness, but I’m pretty sure we can all agree that making someone else feel good about themselves, offering friendship, love and support, and giving our own kids the courage to pursue their favorite activities and dreams, has the power to move mountains.

imageStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.  To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

 

 

When Are You The Happiest? Part One

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I think that we can all confirm the obvious—we work a lot. Here, in the United States, we work many, many hours, whether those hours are at work, outside work, in the classroom, outside the classroom, attending meetings and conferences, or attending other notable business-related practices as needed, when needed. I never realized how much we worked—truly—until I sat on the edge of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy, on the River Arno with my husband. We had purchased fresh Prosciutto, mozzarella, olives, roasted red peppers, and bread, and made ourselves a little picnic as we watched people close up shops for the afternoon siesta. I believe the words I said that day went something like this: “What the hell are we doing wrong? We work too much.”

In those days, I was working in baseball, and I spent as many as 80 hours a week promoting the game in Baltimore with the Orioles. The crazy thing was that I loved my job. I loved it so much that it didn’t feel like work. At all.

That was, until we went to Italy.

Since then, my perception on life has changed a great deal. My husband and I did not have children at the time of our work/life epiphany on the Arno, and now we have two who are in high school. Soon, my son will be off to college. Time flies, my friends, and we need to make sure we are leaving room to be the happiest we can be. It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? That we have to “pencil in” time to be happy?

Which leads me to my question: When are YOU the happiest?

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I have an app on my phone that I refuse to delete. It’s the Universal Studios app (and if you are on your way to Orlando, you may want to use this app—it tells you exactly how long the wait is for each attraction at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.) My kids think it’s funny that I have kept the app on my phone two months after our trip. Maybe it’s a little nutty, but I like to periodically check (in moments of pure boredom) to see how long the wait is at my favorite rides. It’s funny, but it harkens back to that idea of being happy. We were all truly happy in Florida at that park. We had fun. We had together time. We enjoyed each other’s company and made memories. And my husband and I did not think about work. We were on vacation. We “penciled it in.”

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Think about the times you have enjoyed the simple splendor of just being with those you love. Maybe it wasn’t during a vacation; maybe it was watching the Super Bowl, making cookies, or sitting by the pool in the summer. Maybe it was giving birth (if that’s so, more power to you; I love my kids, but the process of delivery…whoa…another story)…or celebrating a family milestone. Whatever it is, you are remembering the moment because it made you feel happy.

What I find, personally, when I ask myself this question, is that my happiness is often tied to being completely and unequivocally relaxed. We tend to be the happiest when there are no worries hijacking our brains.

My happiest moments have been spent with family, on vacation, being together, doing things that make life interesting and special, whether that was in the Outer Banks, Napa, Florida, Ocean City, Bethany Beach, Aruba, London, or Italy. Sometimes it may even be right there in our own back yards.

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I yearn for more of that. We all do.

Happiness may not be tied to a place, really, though some places are simply spectacular. More often, happiness is tied to the people we were with when we were at that place, at that time, surrounded by love.

Think about it. Can you answer?

When are you the happiest?

It’s not a trick question.

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imageStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.  To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

 

 

 

 

Book Promotion Wrap Up Week One –Thanks for Entering To Win!

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Week one of book promotion for Inn Significant has come to an end, and I wanted to thank all 594 people who entered to win on Amazon for doing so! We had three winners this week–Thelma, Kendra, and Jessica. I hope you all enjoy Inn Significant…I really do.

I’ll be giving away some signed copies this week on my author Facebook page thanks to some good ideas from my savvy students in public relations class. So stay tuned…

I also wanted to thank the Star-Democrat newspaper on Maryland’s Eastern Shore for featuring the story about the book this week. Hopefully, some folks who either live on the Eastern Shore or love visiting Oxford, St. Michaels, and Easton (like I do) will enjoy the story of Milly Foster and her life at the Inn.

If you’ve finished reading the book, you might enjoy my recap of that includes photos and places that inspired the setting of my book that I posted. Check it out and see if it’s what you imagined as you read the story.

The dining room of the Edgewood Manor House in Providence, RI

The dining room of the Edgewood Manor House in Providence, RI

Thanks, as always, for reading, following, and caring! Have a great weekend, everyone!

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imageStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.  To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

Take a Trip to Ladew Topiary Gardens

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Last fall, my husband and I had time all to ourselves during the week while the kids were in school; I was on fall break and my husband took a day off. We spent the day at Ladew Topiary Gardens in Maryland, just 29 miles north of Baltimore in Monkton. It’s a great way to enjoy “together” time, as you stroll the gardens and see the blossoms and collection of plants. Additionally, the topiary gardens are sculpted beautifully. We did go in early autumn, but springtime and summer must be glorious as well. And the weather was so spectacular, that we ate lunch on the patio outside the small cafe.

Harvey Ladew, who died in 1976,  was an interesting gentleman who was known as a traveler, artist, foxhunter, and gardener. He had many famous acquaintances, including Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, and Somerset Maugham, and he relished the company of all types of people. He wanted to leave his 200+ acre property for others to enjoy, and in 1971, his home became a non-profit organization for the public to enjoy. To learn more about the history of Ladew, visit the website and click here.

There’s nothing like a day trip to clear one’s head. Strolling gardens looking at nature and blooms of later summer/early autumn reminds me of days gone by when people had no connection to electronics and were able to completely de-stress and just stroll and connect the old-fashioned way—by talking and being together.

I enjoy exploring hidden treasures that are just a short distance from home, and am always looking for a nearby place to spend some time.

Do you?

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While we were there, we got to see the gardeners working on trimming the hedges.

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A very nice person took a photo of us in one of the gardens.

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Topiaries are behind me!!!

Topiaries are behind me!!!

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imageStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.  To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

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