Cringeworthy Defined

cringeworthy

Cringeworthy/adjective/informal.

Definition:

causing feelings of embarrassment or awkwardness.

“the movie was fair because the dialogue was quite cringeworthy”

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The end of last night’s Oscars was cringeworthy. I didn’t subject myself to the show at all, but I had to watch the recap of the fiasco this morning on YouTube. What a gaffe!

There are many things we encounter in life that are cringeworthy. Reading my old poetry from high school would definitely be high on my list.

The time I asked a college boy(friend) to go to my sorority formal with me and he said no probably ranks high on that cringeworthy list.

And for sure, the time I couldn’t finish a speech on the topic of speech anxiety (ironically) in my Communication Process class during the spring semester of my sophomore year at Towson University left me almost incapacitated and mortified for the entire summer.

These aforementioned cringeworthy moments in my life never defined me. I write decent poetry and fiction now; I married someone who would never say no to something that mattered to me; and I taught public speaking for nine years. I got over my blunders that made me cringe just as you have done the same (or indeed, have the power to do the same). Remember: they don’t define you.

But do you know what those cringeworthy moments give us?

Great stories.

Everything that happens to you–good or bad–has the potential to help someone else by sharing your stories. I tell tons of personal stories in my college classroom. They are meant to be helpful. I also incorporate some of life’s experiences into my writing, as I did a lot with my second novel, Baseball Girl (which was loosely based on my life working for a Major League baseball team, the Orioles). It was therapeutic to translate reality into fiction to share a lesson.

These life experiences do eventually teach us something.

Let’s hope the Academy Awards learn from its mistake.

And let’s hope we learn from things that have made us cringe in the past and are able to find a way to help us move forward.

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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.

 

 

Inn-spiration in Inn Significant | Photo Inspiration When Writing Description

The dining room of the Edgewood Manor House in Providence, RI. This is sort of what I picture the dining room at Inn Signficiant would look like. No rug, though. Just hardwoods. But I love the windows and the chandelier. There are lots of chandeliers in the Inn.

The dining room of the Edgewood Manor House in Providence, RI. This is sort of what I picture the dining room in Inn Signficiant would look like. No rug, though. Just hardwoods. But I love the windows and the chandelier. There are lots of chandeliers hanging from ceilings in Inn Significant. Wonder why?

The students in both sections of my Magazine Writing classes can tell attest to what we worked on this week: (1) writing description and detail, (2) storytelling, and (3) finding your voice in your writing. I think about these three things constantly when I write, and as you read in my previous post about being inspired by actual places, the same is true when writing description—you have to “see” in your own imagination what things look like in order to relay them properly to your readers.

I work hard at this every time I write something. I never want readers to feel as if they cannot imagine the setting themselves. It’s our responsibility as writers to leave little grey area where that is concerned.

Writers have different techniques when crafting a story, and we all go about putting it to paper in various ways. When I sit down to write, I have to be fully inspired. Sometimes that means taking copious notes; it may mean being inspired by nature; it may involve conversations I’ve had with folks; and still other times, it may involve the photographs I have taken or have researched online.

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This is the Sandaway Inn in Oxford, MD. Its property is beautiful and inspired the setting of Inn Significant.

Inn Significant takes place in lovely Oxford, Maryland. The Inn is perched upon the Tred Avon River, much the same way a real Inn is there (the Sandaway Inn); however, I took the liberty to create an Inn through what I imagined in my head, including the cottages on site where the main character lives. I used lots of photographs from research, and what follows are some of the images that inn-spired Inn Significant. 🙂 (Yes, I know I spelled inspired incorrectly there.)

If you choose to read the novel, I’ll be interested to see if what inspired me and what I wrote was similar to what you pictured in your imagination.

There’s no telling–what your imagination conjures up may be even better than what I had in my mind.

This is sort of what I picture Milly and John's cottages to look like on the grounds of Inn Significant. It's not exact, but it's pretty darn close.

This is sort of what I picture Milly and John’s cottages to look like on the grounds of Inn Significant. It’s not exact, but it’s pretty darn close. I imagine there would be more hydrangeas, lavender, and roses brightening up the landscape along with a stone walkway. Maybe even a pink bike with a basket parked out front.

There is no doubt in my head that Inn Significant's library would look like this. OMG. Gorgeous.

There is no doubt in my head that Inn Significant’s library would look like this. OMG. Gorgeous. Sorry, but once again, I have to point out the chandelier. And the books. Oh…the books.

I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that Inn Significant's foyer looks something like this.

I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that Inn Significant’s foyer would look something like this.

This might be what one of the guest rooms looks like. I described the sheer curtains and chandeliers in every room.

This might be what one of the guest rooms looks like. I described the sheer curtains and chandeliers in every room.

The place where the muffin-making takes place...and where Colette does her thing. I picture it looking similar to this.

The place where the muffin-making takes place…and where Colette does her thing. I picture it looking similar to this.

The outdoor celebration probably looked similar to this. I just love the idea of dining al fresco at an Inn on a river, don't you?

The outdoor celebration probably looked similar to this. I just love the idea of dining al fresco at an Inn on a river, don’t you?

My husband and I stayed at the Carneros Resort in Napa Valley last April. I picture Milly and John's cottages having a patio like this. Being in Napa truly inspired what the cottages in the novel looked like in the novel.

My husband and I stayed at the Carneros Resort in Napa Valley last April. I picture Milly and John’s cottages having a patio like this. Being in Napa truly inspired what the cottages in the novel looked like.

This is Two Meeting House in Charleston, SC. In my head, the exterior of the Inn looks similar to this.

This is Two Meeting House Inn in Charleston, SC. In my head, the exterior of the Inn looks like a combination of this and the two to follow.

This is the White Doe in in North Carolina. This one inspired me too. Love the flowers and white picket fence.

This is the White Doe Inn in North Carolina. This one inspired me too. Love the flowers and white picket fence. And the bike.

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This is the White Hart in Connecticut. You might say this one is inspirational, as well. Gorgeous.

I hope you enjoy Inn Significant, and as well, this little photo-essay of the places that inn-spired my writing.

To purchase via Amazon for Kindle, click here.

To purchase via Amazon in paperback, click here.

To purchase via Barnes & Noble for the Nook, click here.

Have a good weekend, everybody!

***

imageStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of 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.

 

Book Giveaways for Inn Significant

innsignificantanovelThere’s a first time for everything, ladies and gentleman. I’m still learning all the ropes for succeeding as an independent author, and it’s a constant learning curve.

That said, I’ve set up my first BOOK GIVEAWAY ON AMAZON. If you follow the link below, you can enter to win by the 28th of February; I’m giving away 3 copies of my newest novel entitled Inn Significant.

Good luck, you guys!

Follow the link below to enter to win a copy of Inn Significant!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/aa533a36d37b846b

***

imageStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of 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.

About Inn Significant: A Novel

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 late 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.

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Writing About Places in Fiction – Maryland’s Eastern Shore in Inn Significant

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As a writer, it’s important to research the places you may feature in your writing. I spent a ton of time walking around Annapolis, Maryland, for my first novel, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and I did the same with the novel I launched yesterday, Inn Significant. It’s part of the fun, really. As my students in travel writing class can attest from last semester, it’s envigorating to write about a place, but there’s a trick. You have to allow yourself to be completely immersed in the place. Your writing won’t be as vibrant if you’re just a spectator. You have to become one with the place…become a local while you are there and learn what you can from observation, conversation, and getting involved.

The main character in my novel, Milly Foster, has been summoned by her parents to run their Inn on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in Oxford out of desperation—a desperate attempt to help their daughter move past the tragic death of her beloved husband. It’s a last-ditch effort to bring her back to life.

I wanted to set the story in a small and picturesque town, so my mother and I spent time there, and I went back a couple of other times to just walk the streets and talk to people.

Come on–how great is that type of research? It’s simply the best.

I gave it my all to make this work of fiction feel realistic, and I wanted to stay as true to the setting and feel of Oxford as possible. There are also jaunts to neighboring towns St. Michaels and Easton.

To help you visualize the place if you have not been, I thought I’d share some of the photographs I took this summer as I did that dastardly and taxing (ha ha) research.

I hope you enjoy Inn Significant, and as well, this little photo-essay of the places the characters visit in the novel. I’m looking forward to going back for a visit very soon.

To purchase via Amazon for Kindle, click here.

To purchase via Amazon in paperback, click here.

To purchase via Barnes & Noble for the Nook, click here (paperback version should be available later tonight).

***

imageStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of 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.

 

About the Inn Significant: A Novel

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 late 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.

OXFORD, MARYLAND

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EASTON, MARYLAND

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ST. MICHAELS, MARYLAND

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Wickersham

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My Third Novel, Inn Significant, Is Now Available !!!

B I G   N E W S   T O D A Y ! ! !

INN SIGNIFICANT IS NOW AVAILABLE !


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***

A few weeks ago I likened birthing a novel to birthing a baby, except without the physical pain and need for drugs.

I still think it’s true.

I’m happy to report that my third novel, Inn Significant, is now available via Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both paperback and for the e-readers.

As those of us who are independent authors know, this is when the marketing work begins, and it ain’t easy. Plus, it requires me to do something that I’m not used to doing, and that’s to ask for help. How can you help, you may ask? I’ve got a couple of ideas.

innsignificantanovel

If you happen to purchase and like my novel, there are three things you can do that can make a big difference for authors like me. First, you can post a positive review on Amazon or B&N. Your reviews do matter, and it helps cast an author’s work in a positive light for potential readers. Second, you can share it and talk it up on social media. And, third, you can just help spread the word the old-fashioned way—by verbally recommending it. Any or all would be greatly appreciated.

I’ve spent hours upon hours on this novel, and to say I became weepy today as I hit the “publish” button is an understatement. I think this book is my personal favorite of the three novels I’ve written. I became very attached to these characters, and hope you will feel the same way. But more than that, my itch to live in a small town on the water has grown exponentially.

Below you will find the description of the novel that is on the back cover. Please let me know what you think, and I humbly thank you for all of your support.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to three incredible people without whom I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do: my husband, Anthony; my mother, Leni; and my father, Doug. They are always there cheering me on every step of the way.

I hope you enjoy my third baby, Inn Significant. It’s time to celebrate.

To purchase via Amazon for Kindle, click here.

To purchase via Amazon in paperback, click here.

To purchase via Barnes & Noble for the Nook, click here (paperback version should be available later tonight).

With great appreciation,

xx |

15781589_865992106837911_1585157622209528074_nStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of 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.

About the Inn Significant: A Novel

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 late 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.

Do You Make Notes and Scribble in Your Books? I Do. With Pleasure.

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Do You Make Notes and Scribble in Your Books? I Do. With Pleasure.

As a writer, reader, and educator, I am always reading. I read constantly. I am rarely without a magazine, book, or academic article. Often, I am reading a book or two simultaneously, whether they are nonfiction or fiction. Sometimes I am also writing at the same time. People often ask me if I write in books that I own. They ask me if I make notes in them, scribble words, highlight passages, and otherwise put my own markings on the sacred pages.

The answer to all these questions is—yes.

I do not find it sacrilegious to write in books in this manner, unless of course, you plan on lending them to many friends after you have read them. In that case, your notes may not make sense and may interfere with their enjoyment of the work. Readers make connections with the printed word and find meaning among the pages that heightens their understanding of the messages or passages or insight. The highest compliment one can get as a writer is if someone quotes back to you what you wrote or posts the passage in an article or blog. If this happens, you should consider yourself lucky because that means that someone connected with the material (or perhaps, disagreed with the material) on such a level that it became ingrained in his memory.

I typically have a highlighter and pencil in my hands, armed to make notes when I am reading good stuff. This simple act furthers my engagement in the text. When students read books or printed works for comprehension, they can often be found highlighting passages and segments. It helps bolster students’ comprehension and furthers the involvement in the work.

Sticky tabs on my new novel.

Sticky tabs on my new novel.

I love my books, and cherish many of them. The ones I love most are filled with underlines, highlights, and words in the margins that spark or recap ideas. I also do this sometimes when reading one of my book club books, so I can refer to those passages that left impressions on me. Another idea is to use sticky tabs to mark the pages if you are intent to not damage the book with your own scribbles.

There have been studies conducted in academia recently that show a direct correlation between handwritten note taking and success in college, and that students who take notes on computers do not retain the information in the same way that those who hand write their notes do.

If you are so inclined, I encourage you to write in your books as they become a part of you.

My mother's copy of Pride and Prejudice.

My mother’s copy of Pride and Prejudice.

I love that I have my mother’s copy of Pride and Prejudice with her notes in it. I also picture Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient writing and collecting things in his book and journal.

It’s just a very cool idea.

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xx |

Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the upcoming novel Inn Significant. She is also a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

A Word of Love—And Thanks—This Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my faithful followers and supporters!

I wanted to just take a moment to thank you for being loyal, checking in periodically, and indulging me in my silly, sentimental, and inspirational writing posts. I love writing and sharing things with you, and I am incredibly excited to publish my third work of fiction in a matter of days.

innsignificantanovelInn Significant will be out NEXT WEEK, and I’ll be posting updates throughout the weekend of exactly when it will become available.

I know I couldn’t and wouldn’t be a writer if it weren’t for all of you encouraging me to continue down the path of pursing my passion for storytelling.

So, on this Valentine’s Day, I hope you will stop, smell the roses (seriously), spread love, give love, receive love, and tell stories of love to those who mean the most to you.

Wishing you a love-ly day.

xx,

Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the upcoming novel Inn Significant. She is also a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

Book Promotion for Inn Significant

It’s looking like my new novel will be available in two weeks. I am down to the last few changes, and soon, my friends, it will be in your hands. I wish the process could be a quicker one (for all of us, believe me!), but producing a novel takes time, especially when you write, edit, design, and market it yourself. That’s why it’s called independent or/or self-publishing. We are jack of all trades when it comes to this hobby.

So today, I’m sharing a promo piece I put together for the book that I’ll be using to help promote it. I got the idea from an advertisement for a grand opening of a flower shop and bakery, and I liked it so much, I thought I’d attempt to produce one that had a feeling of nostalgia. Part of Inn Significant takes place during the Great Depression, so I wanted to invoke a feeling of then and now by using a black and white promo piece.

As always, I’ll keep you posted. And as I try to remember to say every time I get to this point, thank you so much for your continued support and encouragement of my writing projects. I really appreciate it.

🙂

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xx |

Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the upcoming novel Inn Significant. She is also a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

Sting, a Piano, And Me

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Years ago when I would eat lunch with some of my dearest friends in the lunchroom at Camden Yards during my time working for the Orioles, we would often play games. Sometimes we’d play a game of cards (Hearts was our favorite), sometimes we’d play word association games, and sometimes we’d play “If I could,” a game that was pretty outlandish and far-fetched, but you had to answer the question that began with those words.

One day the question was: If I could spend time with any one celebrity, who would it be and why? We’d go around the table answering the question.

My answer on that particular day was easy. If I could spend time with any one celebrity, it would be Sting, I said. All I needed was Sting, a piano, and me. I just wanted to sit and listen to him sing and play and compose. That’s it. That was the wild celebrity wish I had back in the 1990s. In fact, according to Sting’s website, he says this about his ability to write songs: “…there are no rules with songwriting. I can write a song on piano, and I can write one walking down the street or at the computer. I try to explore as many different ways to write as I can.”

You may recall that Sting was a huge heartthrob, and still is. As a teenager, I had a poster of Sting from his days in The Police hanging over my bed. Literally, every little thing he did was magic to me. (You got that reference, right?)

In 1999, a couple of years after I was married and my husband was working for a radio station in Baltimore, he called me from work with some exciting news. We were going to see Sting in concert at Constitution Hall, but I had no idea why he was calling me to say we had to leave early. What I didn’t know then was that I was in for one of the biggest treats of my life.

image1-1The two of us, along with about seven others, had been invited to attend Sting’s sound check. In that big auditorium, it was only Sting’s band and us in the room. My eyes were bugging out of my head — Sting walked out onto the stage. We sat in the seats and watched him perform several songs from his set list. Mind you, I was used to being around famous people. Working in baseball afforded me the opportunity to see and interact with many celebrities during my thirteen years there, including having President Ronald Reagan wave to me and say hello as he walked by the copier room. You get used to seeing them around when you work in sports. But this was Sting, the musician I had loved since I was a teenager. And he was singing right in front of me.

He paused and asked if anyone wanted to come up on stage with him and sing. My heart went pitter-patter and my husband urged me to go, as he long knew my affinity for Sting and his music, but I was too frightened I would scare Sting away with my voice (it’s decent, but not one worth putting a mic in front of, trust me, and my friends who have sung Karaoke with me know of what I speak). Suffice to say, I opted not to take Sting up on his offer, and instead enjoyed watching the couple of the other folks who did go up and stage and sing with him.

image2-1When the sound check was over, Sting came down from the stage and said hello to each of us. He was sweet and personable (as I expected he would be), and he chatted and sat among us in the seats. I told him my husband and I had just come back from England (“Did it rain the whole time?” he asked), that I loved his country, and he asked me where we went while we were there. We spent several minutes discussing our trip and he offered some stories of his own. When my husband asked him if he could take a photo of the two of us, he was more than happy to do so, even teasing me as we got ourselves situated. He put his arm on mine, leaned in, and said softly in my ear, “We can pretend like we’re at the movies together.” I laughed. Totally charming.

He spent about a half hour just gabbing with the group of us, signed a guitar for an auction benefitting the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, and when it was time for him to leave and get ready for the concert, he shook our hands and said what a pleasure it had been to meet us. Likewise, Sting. Likewise.

I often think about how lucky I was to have met one of my favorite musicians and to have been given the opportunity to chat with him like that. Seeing him sing during the sound check reminded me of the old “Unplugged” show on MTV, except there were only a handful of us in the room, and we had the added bonus of sharing some moments of conversation with him, too.

It wasn’t just Sting, me, and a piano, but it was damn close. Pretty damn close.

__________

* Special thanks to my husband who knew he made my day with that particular meet and greet.

xx |

Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the upcoming novel Inn Significant. She is also a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

Twice Bitten by La La Land, Love & Regret

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land. Photo credit: imagewire.com

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land. Photo credit: imagewire.com

Forget the singing, the dancing, the sets, the terrific, catchy music, and the fantasy of La La Land. What remains at the core of this award-winning film is character development and a love story that viewers are intentionally swept into from the opening scene of this boy-meets-girl movie romp that harkens back to old-time musical storytelling. If you haven’t seen the film yet, first of all, shame on you, and second of all, stop reading here, because I’m going to dissect the guts of the plot and meaning as opposed to an overall review. I honestly don’t want to spoil it for you, so if you haven’t watched it, close your browser now.

For those of you who are still with me, I’ve been bitten by this film twice, as I just returned from taking my 14-year-old daughter to see it. A couple of weeks ago, I saw it with my friend, Elizabeth, and we both loved it.

I may love it even more now the second time around.

Because seriously, amid the dancing and singing and suspension of reality, I fully immersed myself into this musical. The story is as old as time, but it’s told well, and the questions we are left asking ourselves when the film ends are these: What did the characters have to give up to follow their dreams? And, if they could go back in time and do something differently, would they?

And then we ask ourselves the same questions about our own choices in life.

When we reach the end, the characters are faced with seeing each other after five years have passed and they were embroiled in a windswept and intense love affair that was replete with genuine love and affection and encouragement for the other. Mia’s dream was to become a serious and successful actress; Sebastian wanted to open his own jazz club. When she finally landed a role in a film, she moved to Paris away from him at the end of the movie, and he was left to follow his own dream of starting up his club in Los Angeles.

The characters of Mia and Sebastian from La La Land.

The characters of Mia and Sebastian from La La Land.

Life changes for them both, and we accept that their relationship did not survive the distance and circumstances. Mia became a movie star, married, and had a baby with a new man we believe to be her husband. Sebastian did what he wanted and opened his club.

Moviegoers are left struggling and asking themselves at the end of the film the following: How could it be that two people who loved each other so much lost touch and did not continue their romance when so much love was involved?

Could it be that long-distance relationships just don’t work? That love cannot withstand the demands of their careers in entertainment? That there really is no such thing as a Hollywood ending? Or, perhaps, that in real life, all of these challenges come with a price, and it often takes its toll on relationships.

Even sadder, can it be that we love some people wholeheartedly and yet we know we cannot be with them or we lost our chance with them or that something else interrupted a relationship that we had with them?

While it wasn’t a Hollywood moment, I remember bumping into an old boyfriend whom I would say I had loved very much after I married. The camera didn’t stay on either of us for too long because there wasn’t a camera and we weren’t in a film, but it felt movie-like because the moment seemed to pass in slow motion, and I remember feeling the pangs of sadness that life moved on and the relationship we had shared was nothing but a memory—a thing of the past.

Some people might call that loss, growing pains, moving on, or regret.

I’m not so sure what I’d call it.

And I’m not so sure any of those words describe what the characters in La La Land felt, either. Was it regret that Mia felt at the end sitting there watching Sebastian at the piano? Or was it an acknowledgement that they had loved, but their dreams and goals were more important than the survival of their relationship?

We all make choices in life.

Their choices in the film just reminded some of us of our own, for better or for worse.

xx |

Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the upcoming novel Inn Significant. She is also a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

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Seeing Sinatra Sing

Frank Sinatra the crooner and swinger.

Frank Sinatra, the crooner and swinger.

I think I was about 10 years old when I saw Sinatra sing. I knew it was a big deal, because my mom and dad got tickets to the show at an arena in Largo, Maryland, and our whole family went to see him. Our seats were outstanding, as we were only a couple of rows from the stage. I could see Sinatra plain as day, and though I didn’t understand at that time that I was witnessing the performance of an iconic singer, actor, and legendary entertainer, I do remember being in awe as I watched him do his thing: Sinatra knew how to light up a stage.

Today, my magazine class read and discussed the most notable profile article ever written entitled Frank Sinatra Has A Cold. Its author is Gay Talese, and he wrote the piece for Esquire without ever personally interviewing Frank Sinatra. The article spawned what was termed New Journalism, where writers took their time telling longer stories that covered a lot of bases using fictional techniques.

mi0003240732As an American whose heritage is Italian, I’m thrilled that I can say I saw Sinatra sing. I wish I’d seen him a couple of more times before he died. His collection of music permeates our house constantly. His Christmas album is a classic. My husband is a huge fan, as are his father and my parents, and there are very few weeks that go by where Sinatra—in some fashion—doesn’t croon from our stereo.

Sinatra’s voice is good, but more than that, he is a master of cadence and timing in his songs, which add to his emotional delivery and set him apart from other artists. He had charisma, dressed in suits and tuxedos, and exuded a bad-boy image mixed in with that classic Italian-American charm. The ladies loved him and men thought he was cool. His talent on the screen was impressive as well, and some of his dance numbers with Gene Kelly are legendary. His serious acting got noticed as well.

He was an all-around talent, that’s for sure. People like Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Buble help keep those of us who yearn for those traditional standards and swinging songs happy. I’ve seen Buble in concert, too, and he is certainly cut from the same mold as Sinatra where showmanship is concerned.

But there will only ever be one Sinatra.

xx |

Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the upcoming novel Inn Significant. She is also a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

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Handling the Insecurities of Publishing A Novel

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It’s a challenging endeavor. I’ve done it twice now with fiction, and twice with nonfiction books. And I’m about to do it again when I release my latest, third fictional novel.

There will always be anxieties that manifest themselves into insecurities about putting our work out there. The tendency to feel nervous about it is normal. We’ve invested a lot of time and energy into our stories, and we hope people will appreciate that time and energy regarding our work, too.

But there are no guarantees. Some people will love it, some will think it’s just okay, and some will downright dislike it.

It’s the way of the world, people. We all can’t like everything.

Nevertheless, I have to quell my fears. I’m more nervous about this book than I have been about the other two simply because it is my third. And as a natural course of progression and as someone who puts undue pressure on herself, I hope this one will be received as well, if not better than, the previous two I’ve written. “Whether you think you’re brilliant or think you’re a loser, just make whatever you need to make and toss it out there,” Elizabeth Gilbert tells us in Big Magic. “And always remember that people’s judgments about you are none of your business.” It’s great in theory, but tough to put into practice.

However, I think it’s important to adhere to this advice when you are making any kind of art.

Gilbert further goes on to say this:

“If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest—as politely as you possibly can—that they go and make their own f—ing art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.”

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Recently, I watched the Oprah one-hour interview with J.K. Rowling that was filmed during Oprah’s last year of her show. I have to admit, I’m sort of obsessed with this interview. In it, we hear Jo Rowling tell stories of the backlash she took from writing Harry Potter, from those who thought writing about Black Magic was horrible for children, and from those who think children’s imaginations should be limited. It made me further understand what someone told me months ago, and honestly, I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. She said,

People are entitled to their own opinions, but that doesn’t make them right.

And so, I’ve decided that despite my nervousness about reaction to my own storytelling, it’s what I have always wanted to do, and so I do it. I’ve always had this passion deep down inside of me. Ever since I was in middle school, I knew I wanted to write and tell stories. So all I can offer readers is my authentic self as I tell these stories that brew in my head. That’s what I’ve got.

As Gilbert says, “Just say what you want to say, then, and say it with all your heart. Share what you want to share. If it’s authentic enough, believe me—it will feel original.”

And so it goes.

Originally yours,

xx |

Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the upcoming novel Inn Significant. She is also a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.