Book Giveaway – Enter to Win!

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In the world of independent authors and publishing, Amazon gives us the opportunity to give away copies of our books…

So let’s do it.

If you’re wondering what the heck Inn Significant is about and whether you may want to read it, let me share some recent reviews about the book (below you will see the summary about the novel).

In the novel, you’ll be transported to Oxford, Maryland (click here to see an lovely overview of the town form Only in Your State); one of my readers wrote to me and said, “Brilliant. Beautiful. A work of literary art. The vivid imagery of Oxford, as you did with Annapolis in Beneath the Mimosa Tree, is just outstanding. No, its not just outstanding. It is compelling. It inspires me to return to a town I have twice loved.”

Another reader wrote, Weaving in pieces of a family mystery through a found journal, the author introduces a new set of characters in a completely different time, but reminds us that some things are truly timeless.”

And, yet a third reader wrote, All I can say is AWESOME! This needs to be made into a movie and I need a sequel! I was hooked from page 1. I completely fell in love with the characters and the setting. What an amazing job Ms. Verni did to transport you to the little town of Oxford. It definitely has ignited a spark in me to make it out to the Eastern Shore this year.

Additionally, just last week, Inn Significant received a Finalist Award from the National Indie Excellence Awards as well as a 5-Star review from Readers’ Favorite.

To enter to win a book in my Amazon giveaway, just click this link and it will take you there. https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/7bf380fda4adadf1

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.

 

 


I hope you’ll enter to win and see what I’ve been up to, not just here on the blog, but in my novel-writing life.

I’d love the privilege of telling you a story.

 

Stephanie 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.

 

“Beautiful. Brilliant. A Work of Literary Art.” – Summer Book Giveaway on Amazon

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A couple of good things have happened over the last two weeks. First, Inn Significant received a Finalist Award from the National Indie Excellence Awards. Second, Inn Significant received a 5-Star review from Readers’ Favorite. I think those two honors warrant another giveaway for the book, don’t you?

To enter to win a book in my Amazon giveaway, just click this link and it will take you there. https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/7bf380fda4adadf1

And then, let me take you to Oxford, Maryland (click here to see an lovely overview of the town form Only in Your State), where one reader said, “Brilliant. Beautiful. A work of literary art. The vivid imagery of Oxford, as you did with Annapolis in Beneath the Mimosa Tree, is just outstanding. No, its not just outstanding. It is compelling. It inspires me to return to a town I have twice loved.”


I hope you’ll enter to win and see what I’ve been up to, not just here on the blog, but in my novel-writing life.

I’d love the privilege of telling you a story.

 

Stephanie 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.

 

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Two Upcoming Book Talks & Signings

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I’ll be taking Inn Significant on the road for a couple of upcoming books talks and signings.

The first, to kick off the Summer Reading Program at the Broadneck Library in Annapolis, Maryland, I’ll be doing a book talk and signing on Monday, June 19 at 7 p.m. The Broadneck Library has scheduled me for all three books I’ve published–they are so dear. A special thanks to Shirley Lord for always being so kind. And Annapolis was the setting of my first book, Beneath the Mimosa Tree. We had a good turnout for Baseball Girl; hopefully, some of you will come and join the fun in Annapolis.


The second is an exciting event! On Sunday, July 16, I’ll be part of the Plein Air painting day in Oxford. I’ll be in the Town Park provided the weather is good from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.. If not, I’ll be at Mystery Loves Company, the bookstore next to the park.


I’ll have books and giveaways and I’ll be signing copies of all three of my books, including Inn Significant.

Also–BOOK CLUBS–I am happy to visit your book club should you choose any of my books as your book club book. I can also Skype in if you don’t live in the vicinity. Contact me at stephanie.verni@gmail.com, check out my Amazon Author Page, or visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/StephanieVerni/ .

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I hope to see some of you there. If you haven’t visited Oxford, St. Michaels, or Easton, Maryland, you’re in for a treat. Make a day trip out of it and see the places that inspired my novel.

Thanks for the support!

Stephanie 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.

Overwhelmed at Work? Block Out Some Time for Yourself | Book Review

The other night when a group of ladies met to discuss my current novel, Inn Significant, for their book club, they asked me this question: “When do you find time to write? As a busy college professor with a family and other obligations, how do you find the time?” The answer is highlighted in today’s blog post: I block out time. And guess what? It’s easy to block out time to do something you love. That’s me today, just finishing writing this blog post, which I blocked out time to do. Enjoy!

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Here’s the scenario: Your inbox is overflowing. You have tons of emails to respond to, in addition to answering social media inquiries, answering texts, and making phone calls. You arrive at work and you already feel overwhelmed with what you must accomplish. You are all set to be productive, and then your balloon slowly begins to deflate as you sit sipping your morning coffee being totally reactionary and not proactive about what you need to accomplish. You know you have things you need to get done, and hope you can squeeze that in during the day.

Does this scenario sound familiar at all? If so, I’ve got some help for you, and it comes in the form of a little book called Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build You Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, edited by Jocelyn K. Glei. This book gets right at the heart of managing your daily work responsibilities, while also incorporating time for your own work pursuits. Comprised of short articles from experts in the field, you’ll find yourself nodding along and wanting to better construct your daily schedule. I’m certain of it.

While the book focuses on creative types primarily, it is perfect for anyone who feels overwhelmed by technology’s ability to creep into our lives and not leave us alone—not even for an hour or two while we work on something important.

The idea of “chunking” or “blocking out time” on your own calendar to be productive is at the heart of this book. As worker bees, we need to be productive and we need to answer emails. This is true. However, that should not come at the expense of our creative endeavors. They have to be in conjunction with each other.

The book’s brilliant suggestion is to make that morning time YOUR time. Get in early to work when you are fresh and block out the first hour or hour and a half that is YOUR time to do YOUR projects. This makes you less reactionary. Now you are working on things that make your heart sing and make you happy to get to work. Sure, some people may say you didn’t respond to their email fast enough, but you’ll respond in the afternoon (unless it’s absolutely pressing, then I’d get that one done and move on).

It’s so true that we don’t make time for our projects because our day tends to spiral out of control. We lose it to putting out fires, responding to the deluge of emails, or attending meetings that take inordinate amounts of time away from our true productive tasks.

If you’re someone who likes structure during his or her day while also being as productive as possible, I would suggest reading this book. It also has some good examples, like the one I read last night about how someone like Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, blocks out time for his creative endeavors each morning. It provided a lot of inspiration as to how to use your time wisely.

Stephanie 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.

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Inn Significant Named Finalist in National Indie Excellence Awards

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It’s what every writer dreams of — a little recognition for the work you slaved over for a year and a half. Just a little nod to let you know your work was not done in vain.

As I have chosen my own path of writing and publishing as an independent author, whereby I do all the work on the book myself—from writing it to editing it to designing the cover and laying it out for print and for digital media to uploading it and publishing it via my hub Mimosa Publishing—being a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards really means something to me. I am so grateful and thankful to those who read and reviewed Inn Significant at NIEA in order for it to earn a place in the contest. Thank you so much for this honor.

Two years ago, Beneath the Mimosa Tree was also a finalist in this same contest. I was tickled pink then, and I’m tickled pink now.

Being an independent author is not really all that glamorous, as you can surmise from the grunt work I just shared that we must do; there is no one else who does it for us. We get down and dirty. We have people help us edit. We write, revise, write some more, and revise some more. We spend hours on a book—and trust me, it’s not for the money. We do it for the sheer love of the craft: of writing, of storytelling, and of making those who read our books happy they picked it up.

That’s the very simple answer as to why I continue to write and be an independent author.

It’s not easy to break into the publishing world, and years ago, writers did not have the means by which to publish ourselves. Places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble make it easy for people like me who have the knowledge of publishing books (and magazines, as I also have the experience as editor of Orioles Magazine) and are not afraid to tackle this process. For that, I am thankful. We didn’t have this avenue 15 years ago. Just as musicians and YouTubers have independent avenues, so do we, as writers.

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The finalist medal.

To the people who actually read my books and tell me they like them, thank you. You all push me to want to tell you even better stories each time I sit down to write.

So, thank you EVERYONE. Thank you to readers of Steph’s Scribe, thank you to those who have written reviews of my books, thank you to readers of my books, and especially, today, thank you to NIEA for this recognition.

You made my weekend.

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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.

Stephanie 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.

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News, Recaps, and Congrats to Many Today on the Blog

Gosh, life is busy, isn’t it? We’re all just pushing through each day trying to accomplish all that we can during the 12+ hours we are awake.

That said, it’s been a busy April, as it often is in the university world. With three weeks remaining of the semester, the students are getting ready for their final presentations, papers, and pitches. I am excited to see what unfolds in the classroom. In the meantime, I don’t do this often, but I wanted to share some updates here on the blog.

Chip Rouse, me, Leeanne Bell McManus on the day we celebrated our textbook contract!

Congrats, Leeanne!

I want to congratulate my colleague, friend, and co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory & Practice, Dr. Leeanne Bell McManus, on her promotion last night from associate professor to full professor. She was the lead on our textbook project, and Chip and I couldn’t have done it without her guidance and expertise. She is also loved by her students, and she oversees Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Honor Society. Next year, she’ll be planning the Eastern Communication Association Conference in Pittsburgh. See you there!

Walking for Our Dear Ms. Noya

Our Business Communication department will walk for Ms. Noya (center).

Tonight, beginning at 5 p.m., we will walk for our dear colleague and friend, Chris Noya, at Relay for Life at Stevenson University for the American Cancer Society. Chris is battling cancer and is fighting her way through chemotherapy. We are all praying for her recovery, and are excited to raise some money for her team and this worthy cause.

California is Calling!

My son is off to California next week to participate in the National DECA competition. He, along with his two friends, came in first place in States in the category of Advertising (I promise, I had nothing to do with this project! They did it all themselves!), so they, along with other students will travel to California and have a ton of fun. I’m so excited for them. My son is also driving now, and got his first job working at a golf center. Now I can borrow money from him. 🙂

Dancing with My Little Star

My daughter, after a year of perseverance, lots of practice, and hard work, made the dance team at the high school. She didn’t make it her first year as a freshman, but it goes to show you that if you put your mind to something and work at it (along with taking lots of ballet classes, which she admittedly doesn’t love–jazz, hip-hop, and modern are her favorites), you have the ability to power through. I am so happy for her!

VillaFest on Sunday, April 23

I’ll be selling and signing books on Sunday at VillaFest at Stevenson University from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. The event is open to anyone who would like to help us raise money for the Cool Kids Campaign. It’s a great time to reconnect with alums, hang out with your fellow students, and dunk one of your favorite faculty or staff members in the Dunk Tank. Hope to see you there!

Book Club Visits

I’m open for Book Club visits if your Book Club decides to read Inn Significant; I am also happy to Skype into your Book Club if you live far away. I spent Monday evening with a group of lovely ladies talking about my novel, novels in general, kids, life, writing, and Joanna Gaines’s great style. If you are interested, email me at stephanie.verni@gmail.com. Also, there are some new reviews up on Amazon, so check them out to see if you’d like to read my latest!

Teaching a New Course Next Fall

I’ll be teaching a wholly different type of course this Fall in the School of Design at Stevenson University. It’s tentatively entitled “Design Center,” and the course will function as a full-service agency capable of integrated marketing communication. We will be working with an outside client, and as well, we will be responsible for formulating and branding the center with a new name, logo, and identity. I’m getting excited about it.

My husband and son love golf. My son plays on the high school team.

Summer Plans

I am looking forward to four things this summer: reading, writing, lounging by the pool, and trying my hand at golf. I figure since my son and husband love golf so much, I might as well take a swing at it. This will be interesting, ladies and gentleman. We will also take a family vacation, and I look forward to snapping lots of photos for my Instagram account this summer. I love taking photographs and playing with photography.

Until next time, thank you for reading Steph’s Scribe.

By the way, do you like the new look of the site?

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.

 

 

 

Through Books, You Can Travel

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One of my favorite aspects about reading novels is that they allow us to travel to places we may never get to experience, at least not the same way the author sees them. Books such as Adriana Trigiani’s The Shoemaker’s Wife or Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things—two books I can’t and have no desire to get out of my head—submerge us into different aspects of the world and see it through their eyes.

As another example, who reads Maeve Binchy’s novels and doesn’t want to go to Ireland? Who reads anything by Rosamunde Pilcher and doesn’t want to visit England and the villages of Cornwall?

On the flip side, as a writer myself, I welcome the opportunity to incorporate a place into my stories by offering readers the most accurate description of what that place entails. When I do my research, I take a lot of notes. I also take a lot of photographs to jog my memory when I begin to write and tell my stories. For my latest novel that is set on the Eastern Shore of Maryland—particularly in the towns of Oxford, St. Michaels, and Easton—I spent a lot of time exploring and writing impressions, anecdotes, and talking to people. Getting things right, and using places that actually exist as the storyline unfurls is important to me and offers readers that realistic feel. I take writing about places as seriously as I do developing my characters. In fact, I think of the places as characters in the story.

Additionally, I instruct a  Special Topics course at my university in Travel Writing, and I implore students to document their travels as it makes their writing come alive. Taking the time to recount what you’ve learned, seen, and experienced allows you to bring everything to life. Travel journals are awesome, and I love them, but any piece of paper will do.

If you read either my first novel called Beneath the Mimosa Tree that I set in Annapolis, Maryland or Inn Significant, my latest novel that I set on the Eastern Shore, I would love to hear your feedback.

Did I get the places right? Could you “see” them as you were reading? And, did you travel there via the novel?

I surely hope I succeeded.

Stephanie 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.

 

 

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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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).

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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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Friday Fiction: Writing the Prologue & Baseball Girl

BaseballGirlwTypewriterThere is much debate in the fictional writing world as to whether or not your story should begin with a prologue. The last three books I have read–all mainstream fictional novels–have started with a prologue. I found the prologue of Me Before You particularly effective.

The discussion of the prologue is a relatively simple one: should you include a glimpse for the reader as to what will eventually come of the characters and plot of the story? Does the prologue have a somewhat different voice? Does it intrigue the reader and offer a bit of a backstory, which will, in turn, propel the story forward?

It’s a challenging question to answer, and I wrestled with the notion of a prologue in Baseball Girl. When I examined the book in full, I decided to include one because I wanted the main character, Francesca, to tell the prologue in her own voice. The body of the book is told in third person narrator, combined with flashbacks, told in Francesca’s voice, about life with her father. The prologue does tie back to the story, because she is recounting how life working in baseball (and sharing a love of baseball with her father) helped change the course of her life. This is not a book about a girl who plays baseball; it is a story of a girl who becomes a woman, works in professional baseball, and the effects it has on her both professionally and personally. The story takes place over approximately 10 years. She grows up and learns some lessons about love and loss along the way.

I’ve decided to share the prologue of the book as part of my Friday Fiction posts. As my team, the Baltimore Orioles, for which I worked for 13 years and on which I loosely based my novel, are currently off to a 7-2 lead in the American League East, I thought I’d share my novel writing with you for today’s Fiction Friday. It took me three years to write the story, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. Baseball Girl received an honorable mention for sports fiction in the 2015 Readers Favorite Contest.

Thanks for reading; here is the prologue for Baseball Girl, available at both Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

And let me know whether you, as reader enjoy prologues, and whether you, as a writer, have dabbled in the prologue.

Have a great weekend!

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This photo is from last September at the annual Baltimore Book Festival in the Inner Harbor.

 

B A S E B A L L   G I R L   by   S T E P H A N I E   V E R N I

© Stephanie Verni, 2015

P R O LO G U E

My father was forty-four years old when we saw our last game together in person. He was weak and pale, and yet there we were at the ballpark. Despite his rapidly declining condition, he somehow managed to wear a sheepish grin as I wheeled him up the handicapped ramp and he saw the field, the white lights. There was mist in the air. I was afraid something might happen to him that night, and that I’d have to explain to my mother that God waved him home during a baseball game. My father would have joked, saying it was divine providence, that God knew—and seemed to respect—his affinity for the game; he would kneel to what he believed was a great cathedral—its patterned grass in the outfield, bleached white bases, and perfectly rounded pitcher’s mound. He often told me, especially when I was very young, that he could hear the angels sing every time he entered a ballpark.

It was tradition that the two of us would attend every home game on Sundays. Right after church, we’d sprint home, change out of our dress clothes, jump into shorts, jerseys, and sneakers, and zoom off in the car. Like children excited to see the circus for the first time, both my father and I felt its uniqueness, knowing that every time we went to the ballpark, it would be a new game, a different memory, and an experience we would share forever. The car radio dial was always set to the pregame show as we both listened to player interviews and anxiously awaited the announcement of that day’s starting lineup.

My mother rarely ventured to the ballpark with us. She didn’t care for the game too much, which I never understood. Not liking America’s pastime was a sin to me, and she never understood why I preferred to wear a numbered jersey as opposed to a tutu. She was appalled at times by my father’s insistence that his little girl must learn and like the game. Sometimes I’d hear them arguing after I went to bed at night, my mother imploring him to allow me to do other things in my spare time, like sing in the choir, join the gymnastics team, or dance ballet.

I didn’t particularly love gymnastics or ballet. My singing voice was not one that warranted an audience. I was much more in tune to watching the pros turn double plays and hit game-winning RBIs. I was vested in the team because my father was vested in the team. I was enthralled with baseball because my father was enthralled with baseball. I loved the game because my father loved the game. If people ever try to tell you that you can’t learn to love something, they’re wrong. I learned to love baseball—every fair and foul ball, every interminable rain delay, and every hot dog with mustard I could buy. I loved the way the sun would set behind the arched, brick walls, the way the grounds crew unfurled the tarp in inclement weather, and the way the music vibrated my seat when the team tied the game in the ninth inning.

Love. Pure and simple.

It’s difficult to describe love sometimes, and even more difficult to put into words a love you have for someone or something, either while you have it, or later, when it’s gone.

My father passed away on a Sunday. On that eerie late morning, as I woke to a sense of gloom and understood the inevitable was about to happen, I turned on the radio and sat with my dad as we listened to the pregame show. Yet, on that day, not even baseball could lessen the pain that would consume me as I watched that demon Leukemia suck every ounce of energy out of his still young, but tired body.

I was eighteen that afternoon in early May when he passed and was just completing my first year of college. My sister, four years older than I, had come home for the weekend, leaving her infant and husband behind to be with my mom, dad, and me. All three of my father’s girls were in the room—my mother held one hand on one side of him, and my sister and I were on the other side—as he peacefully left this world, just as the rookie Clarkson hit a lead-off homer to start the game.

After he passed, I never stopped going to those Sunday games that year. I was determined to continue with the tradition, even if it meant I had to go by myself. I wasn’t a groupie, a collector, or an autograph seeker; in fact, at that time, I cared little about the pomp and circumstance that revolved around the sport of baseball and the players. That’s not what it was about for me.

For me, baseball was about my father. About sharing the day with him. About getting to know him little by little during our chats at the ballpark when he’d tell me stories about his own father and his father’s father. I gained precious insight into my family and our traditions by spending time with him, and I wouldn’t trade one minute of those cherished moments to sing in a choir, join the gymnastics team, or perform ballet for a visiting queen.

I’d never trade it. Not for one—not one—minute.

But what I didn’t expect were the lessons the great game of baseball would teach me, and how it would affect me for all my years to come.

BaseballGirl

 

 

“Baseball Girl” Is Now Available

BaseballGirlFinalCover

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After almost three years in the making, my new novel entitled Baseball Girl, is now available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The follow-up novel to Beneath the Mimosa Tree is another contemporary romance that uses baseball as a backdrop. The story revolves around Francesca Milli, whose father passes away when she’s a freshman in college and nineteen years old; she is devastated and copes with his death by securing a job working for the Bay City Blackbirds, a big-league team, as she attempts to carry on their traditions and mutual love for the game of baseball. The residual effect of loving and losing her dad has made her cautious, until two men enter her life: a ballplayer and a sports writer. With the support of her mother and two friends, she begins to work through her grief. A dedicated employee, she successfully navigates her career, and becomes a director in the team’s organization. However, Francesca realizes that she can’t partition herself off from the world, and in time, understands that sometimes love does involve taking a risk.

I’ve immersed myself in the world of these characters for many, many months now, drawing on my own experiences working in baseball to set the scene for this story.

Publishing again as an independent author by my own choice, I have been responsible for all of what this book entails, from the cover design and concept to the writing of the story to editing the story, and then to applying technology to get it in your hands.

Now it is exactly where I want it to be. Ready for you to hold it in your hands and read it.

Thanks in advance for your support, and I look forward to hearing from you if you choose to read Baseball Girl.

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To those who helped me along the way, you have been properly thanked inside the pages. Thank you, again, for all the support and time you gave me.

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Below is the PROLOGUE for the book…to entice you to take the journey with Francesca, Joe, and Jack.

P R O L O G U E

My father was forty-four years old when we saw our last game together in person. He was weak and pale, and yet there we were at the ballpark. Despite his rapidly declining condition, he somehow managed to wear a sheepish grin as I wheeled him up the handicapped ramp and he saw the field, the white lights. There was mist in the air. I was afraid something might happen to him that night, and that I’d have to explain to my mother that God waved him home during a baseball game. My father would have joked, saying it was divine providence, that God knew—and seemed to respect—his affinity for the game; he would kneel to what he believed was a great cathedral—its patterned grass in the outfield, bleached white bases, and perfectly rounded pitcher’s mound. He often told me, especially when I was very young, that he could hear the angels sing every time he entered a ballpark.

It was tradition that the two of us would attend every home game on Sundays. Right after church, we’d sprint home, change out of our dress clothes, jump into shorts, jerseys, and sneakers, and zoom off in the car. Like children excited to see the circus for the first time, both my father and I felt its uniqueness, knowing that every time we went to the ballpark, it would be a new game, a different memory, and an experience we would share forever. The car radio dial was always set to the pregame show as we both listened to player interviews and anxiously awaited the announcement of that day’s starting lineup.

My mother rarely ventured to the ballpark with us. She didn’t care for the game too much, which I never understood. Not liking America’s pastime was a sin to me, and she never understood why I preferred to wear a numbered jersey as opposed to a tutu. She was appalled at times by my father’s insistence that his little girl must learn and like the game. Sometimes I’d hear them arguing after I went to bed at night, my mother imploring him to allow me to do other things in my spare time, like sing in the choir, join the gymnastics team, or dance ballet.

I didn’t particularly love gymnastics or ballet. My singing voice was not one that warranted an audience. I was much more in tune to watching the pros turn double plays and hit game-winning RBIs. I was vested in the team because my father was vested in the team. I was enthralled with baseball because my father was enthralled with baseball. I loved the game because my father loved the game. If people ever try to tell you that you can’t learn to love something, they’re wrong. I learned to love baseball—every fair and foul ball, every interminable rain delay, and every hot dog with mustard I could buy. I loved the way the sun would set behind the arched, brick walls, the way the grounds crew unfurled the tarp in inclement weather, and the way the music vibrated my seat when the team tied the game in the ninth inning.

Love. Pure and simple.

It’s difficult to describe love sometimes, and even more difficult to put into words a love you have for someone or something, either while you have it, or later, when it’s gone.

My father passed away on a Sunday. On that eerie late morning, as I woke to a sense of gloom and understood the inevitable was about to happen, I turned on the radio and sat with my dad as we listened to the pregame show. Yet, on that day, not even baseball could lessen the pain that would consume me as I watched that demon Leukemia suck every ounce of energy out of his still young, but tired body.

I was eighteen that afternoon in early May when he passed and was just completing my first year of college. My sister, four years older than I, had come home for the weekend, leaving her infant and husband behind to be with my mom, dad, and me. All three of my father’s girls were in the room—my mother held one hand on one side of him, and my sister and I were on the other side—as he peacefully left this world, just as the rookie Clarkson hit a lead-off homer to start the game.

After he passed, I never stopped going to those Sunday games that year. I was determined to continue with the tradition, even if it meant I had to go by myself. I wasn’t a groupie, a collector, or an autograph seeker; in fact, at that time, I cared little about the pomp and circumstance that revolved around the sport of baseball and the players. That’s not what it was about for me.

For me, baseball was about my father. About sharing the day with him. About getting to know him little by little during our chats at the ballpark when he’d tell me stories about his own father and his father’s father. I gained precious insight into my family and our traditions by spending time with him, and I wouldn’t trade one minute of those cherished moments to sing in a choir, join the gymnastics team, or perform ballet for a visiting queen.

I’d never trade it. Not for one—not one—minute.

But what I didn’t expect were the lessons the great game of baseball would teach me, and how it would affect me for all my years to come.

Why I Write, Part III, The Finale

Kate DiCamillo, Author of "Because of Winn Dixie," "The Tale of Desperaux," "The Mircaulous Journey of Edward Tulane," and "The Magician's Elephant."
Kate DiCamillo, Author of “Because of Winn Dixie,” “The Tale of Desperaux,” “The Mircaulous Journey of Edward Tulane,” and “The Magician’s Elephant.”

One of my favorite authors is Kate DiCamillo. She writes beautiful, lyrical stories that you generally find in the young adult section of book stores. Her stories are somewhat mystical, and despite that her stories are geared to children through young teens, I believe they are wonderful stories for all ages. I recently watched a video of her where she was talking about becoming a writer. She mentions that she walked around for 10 years wearing the uniform of a writer—a black turtleneck and jeans—saying she was going to be a writer, but she never did anything about it. Then, she said, she got off her duff and wrote her award-winning novel, “Because of Winn Dixie.” I laughed to myself as I listened to her talk, and then I realized it was time for me to do the same. Rule of writing: Let other writers and authors serve as inspiration for you. (As an aside, thank you, Kate.)

When I completed my MFA in 2011, I had a completed novel that was my thesis, now newly titled BENEATH THE MIMOSA TREE, but loosely based on that short story I wrote 19 years before. I spent the next year tweaking it, revising my main character Michael’s voice (I so wanted him to be a believable and likable character— a sort of Mr. Darcy with Italian genes), and editing it over and over again. Here’s a glimpse into what I penned as Michael:

“Annabelle was sobbing so violently, it was difficult to console her. She kept saying she was sorry, and I saw the letter in her hand. It was the one I had never mailed, the one I should have sent. I’d sealed it and never reopened it. The last time I was home visiting two years ago, I’d traveled with it in my briefcase and put it in my box in the desk. Call me sentimental—I couldn’t throw it away, but I didn’t want to read it again either.” —Michael, from Beneath the Mimosa Tree

When I was pleased with my characters and through with the editing process, I had two choices: publish or perish.

I chose to publish, and I chose to self-publish.

Many people ask my why I didn’t shop my book out to an agent or try to get a publisher. There are three main reasons for this: (1) I am a control freak, (2) I had the background in publications to be able to confidently do it myself, and (3) I knew how to create public relations, marketing, and advertising pieces and strategies from my previous professional careers. Additionally, I teach the topics at Stevenson University, so it was time to see if I could put into practice what I preach to students.

Besides, the book was done, and I wanted to see what would happen to it.

Self-publishing through KDP and Create Space via Amazon.
Self-publishing through KDP and Create Space via Amazon.

After choosing Amazon and Barnes & Noble as my self-publishing hubs, I set out upon the journey of self-publishing. I had colleagues and close friends proof my novel one last time; I had my friend Jenny take the cover photo (which I love); I typeset the cover and the pages inside the paperback; and then I learned to publish it for the Kindle and Nook. This took time, and was not my favorite part. I prefer the creative side so much more than all those tedious details. Nevertheless, when I called upon my father as a trusted assistant to help me “beam it up” to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, we did it, my hands shaking with utter nervousness. Off it went.

I could now say that after many years, I had published a novel.

One of many book clubs that have chosen "Beneath the Mimosa Tree" as their book club book.
One of many book clubs that have chosen “Beneath the Mimosa Tree” as their book club book.

Interestingly enough, I don’t have one regret about the path I chose for BENEATH THE MIMOSA TREE. It’s had a lovely little existence. I’ve sold a good number of copies, people are still booking me for book club talks and functions, and it even won a Readers’ Favorite book award last year. It’s all been quite thrilling.

This was really fun to watch when it was first released! Such a thrill for me!!!
It was really fun to watch the book when it debuted on the “Hot New Releases” board on Amazon! Such a thrill for me!!!

I guess in the end, we all write because we want to share a story; we are all storytellers. Look at history—we know what we know from documentation and historical facts, from stories that have been passed down from generations, and from photographs and books that have stood the test of time.

There are so many reasons why I write. It’s a form of therapy. It’s an escape. It’s a calling. It’s something I do as relaxation. I love to “create.” The list goes on and on. Even as I’m sitting here writing this right now, I am happy and content.

Currently, I’m in the middle of writing my next novel, and I’m probably more excited about this project than I was about BENEATH THE MIMOSA TREE. This one is fiction, but is loosely based on my experiences working in the front office for a professional baseball team. There’s a love story (or more), and it’s about friendship, parenting, love, and keeping your heart open, even though sometimes it wants to shut down. There are lessons to be learned from this book.

And so, dear friends and fellow writers, this is why I write.

Such a beautiful cover photograph, taken by Jennifer Bumgarner. The original shot of the cover of Beneath the Mimosa Tree.
Such a beautiful cover photograph, taken by Jennifer Bumgarner. The original shot of the cover of Beneath the Mimosa Tree.