On Life

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.

 

 

On Life

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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On Life

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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On Life

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.
On Life

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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On Life

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.

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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.

On Life

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.

On Life

Coming in February: Inn Significant, A Novel

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INN SIGNIFICANT by Stephanie Verni…Coming in January.

What if three weeks after suffering a miscarriage, you faint and find yourself on the floor of your own home’s cold foyer, and as you regain consciousness, you have to acknowledge the horrible news that was relayed to you moments ago by two police officers: that your husband of ten years—the love of your life—was tragically killed by a tractor-trailer on the slick, rainy interstate?

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.

DSC_0142Set in Oxford on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, readers will experience Milly’s return to life through vivid description, lively characters and dialogue, and glimpses into the Depression-era as Milly learns more about her grandmother’s past…and that she, too, is capable of moving beyond tragedy.

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This is the premise of my new novel, Inn Significant, which will be released in a few weeks. I’m looking forward to sharing this story with you, and hope you will enjoy reading it.

As always, I thank you immensely for your support of my writing and creative endeavors. I will let you know when it launches and is available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Thanks, all! Wishing you a very happy holiday season filled with blessings.

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.

On Life

St. Michaels, Maryland: A Photo Essay & Setting For My New Novel

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I love the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Whenever I can steal away and spend time in one of the many adorable towns across the Chesapeake Bay, I jump at the opportunity. Saturday was just such a time. Additionally, I have a vested interest in getting a good “feel” for the place as my new novel is set primarily in Oxford, Maryland, with jaunts to St. Michaels and Easton as well. I’ve done my homework—this summer, I spent time in Oxford. I made two trips there to walk around and get a feel for the place and the people. On Saturday, I took a stroll…it was just my camera and me as I attempted to capture the essence of all it offers residents and visitors. I’m sharing my photos; despite that it was a grey day in St. Michaels, the weather can’t put a damper on the splendor and the beauty of the town.

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The picturesque town sits on the water; shopping, boating, inns, churches, and homes with white picket fences abound.

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I happened to be visiting on Saturday when the Antique Car Show was taking place.

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This is my favorite shot from the day. This is the patio of a homeowner in St. Michaels. The sign out back is something we all should remember: Life Is A Journey, Not A Destination.

I am very excited to launch my new novel in November. Every time I go back, I know I picked the right setting for the characters…and if I close my eyes sometimes, I can imagine them walking these beautiful streets.

On Life

Squeezing In One More Summer Read

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What I’m currently reading: In Defense of the Princess by Jerammy Fine.

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With only a couple of weeks remaining before the return to school and classes, do you have time to squeeze in one more book this summer?

I’m currently reading In Defense of the Princess, a nonfiction account of one woman’s affinity and respect for the princess culture. As a fan as well, I wanted to read something that wasn’t fiction since that’s my typical go-to type of book. I wanted to go out of my normal genre. So far, I’m really enjoying it.

But my favorite quote about summer reading is the following:

“Summer is a great time to expand our horizons as readers and to try something new, either a new genre, or a new author, or a new topic, or a new place to read.” -Pam Allyn

So, if you haven’t picked up something different this summer, why not do it before it ends?

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My two books, both contemporary romances, available on BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com.

 

xx |

signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

On Life

The Game is Always On: The Truth About Being an Indie Author

Verni BooksI don’t know about you, fellow indie authors, but there are only so many hours in the day for us to write and promote our books. However, the game is always on, and you can’t afford to slack. For me, writing is the most pleasurable and most fun part of being an independent author, just because I love the creative process so much. The marketing is by far the most challenging, and so we rely on others to help us via word-of-mouth or shares on social media.

I’m knee deep into writing my third novel, and it’s going well so far. I hope to complete this book by the end of summer. While writing projects are so much fun, we can’t let up on continuing to promote the other works we’ve crafted. It’s a struggle to juggle the sea of promotion and production.

I’ve had to become adept at social media over the years, and truthfully, sometimes I feel as if I’m failing miserably. Nevertheless, we do what we can do. We trudge forth, balancing that time to write vs. that time to market.

My advice? Though it may feel overwhelming at times (it certainly does for me), I don’t regret a single minute of the time I’ve spent on my passion. When I released Beneath the Mimosa Tree, my husband asked me what would make me happy–how many books did I want to sell? My reply was that I didn’t really have a specific number in mind, but that my overall goal was for readers to enjoy it. The same was true for Baseball Girl, which received an honorable mention in last year’s Readers’ Favorite Contest for sports fiction.

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That’s what makes me continue to write, to market, to promote, and to flounder a bit. I’ve taken to Instagram and have a lot of fun on that platform because I enjoy taking photographs; Steph’s Scribe and  Paperblog  provide bloggers with a broad audience; and the daily Facebook and Twitter posts must continue. In the end, being an independent author requires you to focus on one particular segment of the population: YOUR READERS. It’s all about those who actually read your work or intend to read your work, and who will, hopefully, enjoy it.

Marketing your books is a ton of work, but just as we become better writers, we also must strive to become better marketers.

I’m still learning.

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On Life

What I Got From Listening to Glennon Doyle Melton

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Last night, my book club friends and I went to listen to Glennon Doyle Melton speak at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park. We purchased our tickets a couple of months ago, and I was eager to hear what she had to say. Glennon is the founder of Momastery, author, speaker, and a regular person with struggles just like the rest of us.

Beyond her very funny delivery of material and the way she related to God and Jesus on a personal, colloquial, and humorous level, she made it easy for all of us gals in the room to relate to her. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic who suffers from anxiety talked straight with us about getting over hurdles in life, dealing with the day-to-day struggles of marriage, the pressures of mommyhood, the realities and hardships of friendships, and what it means to “just be there” for someone in his or her life.

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 12.27.08 PMI found myself dabbing my eyes at times, as her storytelling unfolded in the most truthful and pure of ways. But what I got most from her talk was the use of the word “brutiful,” a combination of the words “brutal” and “beautiful.” Over the years, I’ve experienced some very low moments–moments I wish could have been different and moments I wish to never participate in again. We all have, whether they have been big things or little things. What you remember is to not beat yourself up–to move on, to learn from things, and to accept that life is brutiful…it has its good moments and its bad, there is no doubt.

There are a few personal things I’m working on right now in my life–the way I feel about myself, communicating my feelings in a more helpful way, the way I handle conflict with others, forgiving things others have done to me and forgiving myself for what I have done to others. I believe this is her message, and it spoke volumes to me. It makes you realize that our journey is one of improvement, and it is a constant work in progress.

xx |

signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice