9 Schmoozing Techniques for Networking

pexels-photo.jpg

In the world of business communication, we do a lot of schmoozing. It’s not a bad word; it’s not taboo—it’s what we do. We have to know how to mingle with finesse. It’s the art of schmoozing, and I think Urban Dictionary defines it best as: Talk that is business oriented, designed to both provide and solicit personal information but avoids overt pitching. Most often an artifact of ‘networking.’

So there you have it.

Now, how do you execute the schmooze like a pro?

I’ve done enough schmoozing over the years to offer a few pointers, especially for recent graduates, soon-to-be graduates, or those coming back in the game or switching careers. Overall, these would be my top nine recommendations…

  1. Have a firm handshake (but not too hard) and look people in the eyes. Staying engaged during the few minutes that you converse can make a big impression.
  2. Stay abreast of current news and issues so that should someone make a comment about world or national events, you are up on the issues. With today’s access to Twitter (most of my students say they get their news their first and then click to read stories) and online news site, you can scan the headlines and continue reading stories that may be conversation starters.
  3. Don’t be too serious. When you are schmoozing at functions, meet-and-greets, business mixers, or any type of events, be sure not to talk solely about business. Sometimes the last thing people want to talk about at functions involve actual business issues. The most important thing is to be likeable.
  4. Be genuine. No one likes a phony. You don’t need to try too hard. Just be yourself. People typically like the real thing.
  5. Remember people’s names. One of the great tricks to remembering people’s names is, after you have been introduced, say the person’s name back to them. For example, the person may put out his hand for a shake and say, “Hi, I’m Bob.” You reply, “Hi Bob, nice to meet you. I’m Brian.” This is a good habit to get into and may help you remember people when you are meeting many new faces in one setting. Also, try to zone in on one thing you might have in common–it can help you remember people after the event is done.
  6. Don’t be too pushy. If you have a card, you can offer it. “May I give you my card in case you need anything?” Or, if you’d like to get that person’s card, ask in the same manner. “May I get a business card from you?” This is not the time to pitch too hard.
  7. Be positive. Don’t use the opportunity to meet new people as a therapy session to dump on your current employer, job, or rank. No one likes to mingle with Debbie Downer. Stay upbeat and light. Not too much heaviness.
  8. Ask people questions. Don’t monopolize the conversation, and be sure to pick people’s brains about various subjects. Stay curious–you’ll learn a lot more that way.
  9. Keep conversations brief and try not to linger too long. One of the great things about an event worthy of schmoozing is that you want to talk to as many people as possible. Making connections—sometimes lasting ones that can turn into meaningful jobs or friendships—is the goal, after all.

pexels-photo-551657.jpeg

Flash Fiction from a Writing Prompt

pexels-photo-607013.jpeg**

In the classes I teach at Stevenson University, students know that I have the propensity to use writing prompts in class to get them writing creatively and telling little stories. Their purpose? Simply to practice writing.

Often, when I have the inclination to write something but am in-between novels, I use writing prompts a lot. There are three main reasons to use a writing prompt:

  1. It gets you writing (as stated above) and thinking creatively.
  2. It gets you thinking in way you may not have been thinking when you started staring at the blinking cursor and allows you to take a writing journey.
  3. It can turn into something wonderful.

Years ago, I wrote a prompt that I loved so much, I used portions of it in my first novel. You can click here to see that particular piece writing if you would like.

I like the idea of someone giving me an idea to write about because it pushes me, just as those I give the students push them. It’s also fun to see where students take the prompts. For example, Student X might take the story one way, Student Y might take it another way, and Student Z might take it in an entirely different direction. That’s the beauty of prompts and of writing: we imagine things differently, and sharing that journey is exciting.

A website I use to garner writing prompts comes from Writing Exercises UK.

Today, I got the first line for the prompt from that site, and I’m going to share what I did with it. It’s totally rough, because that’s what writing prompts should be. They are a launching pad to see if you want to explore it further when you are done.

I hope you take the time utilize writing prompts to see where your creativity may take you.

Enjoy the writing journey.

***
The first line generator gave me this first line:

There was a legend about the well in the garden…

Here’s the story.
pexels-photo-943700.jpeg
There was a legend about the well in the garden. Groundskeepers said the well held a secret to the old home and its matron, Cynthia LaMontagne, who lived on the property for all 100 years of her life. Born on the second floor to her own mother, Cynthia inherited the home upon her parents’ deaths and raised all eight of her own children on the property. The secret of the well was not a pretty one, and it reflected a haunting tale that left me searching for answers after spending time on the grounds of the old estate, set in the hills of France.
You see, I was not personally acquainted with Cynthia LaMontagne until she was eighty, and I was a college graduate back in 1998, the youngest of three children of Cynthia’s son, Martin, who had met an American woman, my mother, and moved to the United States in his early thirties. My father and his mother spoke only rarely and upon occasions when it was mandatory. However, it had been promised to me for ten years that upon my college graduation and at my grandmother’s urging that I would get to spend a month with her on the large estate in France so that I could see a little bit of Europe before I began a career in advertising in New York City.
I did not speak French, which would make conversations with Cynthia challenging, but my father had very nicely hired a local French woman who was bilingual as a translator to help with that. Despite turning eighty the summer I visited, she didn’t look much like eighty at all. She was a thin woman, with a strong nose and inset blue eyes. Her hair was white, but long, and she wore it in a bun on the top of her hair.
When I first arrived to Vue Sur Le Jardin, I was in awe of the expansive balcony on the second floor with vistas of the gardens—wildflowers everywhere—and of course, a small vineyard on the left side of the property. The house itself was not massive, but the grounds were. New York City has its skyscrapers and glittery skyline, but the view from that balcony was one to be envied.
“Bien?” my grandmother asked, smiling, seeing me taking in the scenery. It was an awkward initial greeting, hugging each other gently, the two of us having never met in person.
“Oui.”
On that first day, the translator had not yet arrived, and so Cynthia and I were content with lots of smiling and gesturing. Thankfully, the next morning, Helen arrived to take over on day two and to help me communicate with Cynthia. We sipped our coffees on the veranda, and she seemed like a nice person.
“Aimeriez-vous vous promener dans les jardins pour que je puisse vous connaître?” Helen asked. I looked at her squarely.
“I’m sorry, Madamoiselle. Would you like to stroll that gardens so that I may get to know you?” she asked in very broken English.
“Yes,” I said.
We began our descent to the main lawn, a rolling hill, with trees atop blowing in the wind. We came upon the wishing well, covered in ivy, wildflowers growing in all directions around it.
“C’est charmant,” I said, trying to practice my French so as to not disappoint.
“Yes,” Helen said. “It is charming, but there is a story, you see. One we don’t speak of.”
I looked at her puzzled. It always felt like something had been missing from my father’s stories, and there were not many. When I asked about his youth, he always dismissed them as good, with little elaboration. It was apparent standing among these gardens that I knew nothing about my father’s younger days. How could he not have told me all about the estate of Vue Sur Le Jardin?
“But you have to tell me. I’ve come all this way to understand my father’s upbringing and get to know my own grandmother who I’ve only just met in person yesterday.”
“I cannot speak it,” Helen said.
“But you must now,” I said.
Helen looked away with fear. Something had rattled her very core, as we stood among the beauty, a picturesque paradise annointed with flowers and stone paths highlighted by an abundance of sunlight.
“Your father’s sister, you see,” Helen said pointing to the well.
“My father’s sister is in the well?”
“I’m afraid the sad story is that your father’s sister was pushed and died in the well…”
***
To be continued…maybe.purple-grapes-vineyard-napa-valley-napa-vineyard-39351.jpeg

Wednesday Wardrobe – The Floral Maxi Dress

AdamireI’m getting spring fever, you guys.

I want to wear pretty things that feel like summertime. I’m ready to be in flip flops, flouncy dresses, big hats, and sunglasses.

So today, I’m featuring a dress from Express that I got at a consignment store–in perfect condition. There’s a lot to be said for quality consignment stores. I pop into our local shop a couple of times a month just to see what great finds may be waiting just for me.

I shop everywhere, though. Nordstrom. Ann Taylor Loft. Kohl’s. Target. Macy’s. Boden. Sundance. I’m all over the place, because I like to try different things.

So here’s one of two maxi dresses I’ve picked up so far this season–I’ll be wearing them both all summer and on our two vacations.

The hat is from Marshall’s.

Orange mules are from DSW by Kelly & Katie.

Sunglasses are Foster Grant.

Summer. We are waiting.


Friday Fiction: Dr. DeCarlo’s Patient

pexels-photo-263402.jpegHappy Friday, readers!

I’ve been working on some additional short stories that I’ll be adding to my collection I’m putting together for a summer release.

For years, I’ve been envious of Stephenie Meyer, who wrote the novel Twilight. Apparently, the story goes that she dreamed it and turned it into a novel. How does she get so lucky to have a story come into her subconscious like that, I’ve wondered. What a stroke of brilliance.

Well, it finally happened to me the other night. This story was a dream, as if I were watching it on the big screen. I woke up the next morning and wrote it, sent it off to my friend Elizabeth who gave it a blessing, spruced it up a little, and I’m sharing it today.

It’s a WIP (work in progress), so there is still more to be done, but as I am never too afraid to show my writing or talk about the process of writing, I thought I’d post it today for Friday Fiction.

Here’s my newest short story, Dr. DeCarlo’s Patient (and yes, his name was actually in my dream).

***

doctor-medical-medicine-health-42273.jpeg

DR. DeCARLO’S PATIENT (copyright April 6, 2018 | Stephanie Verni

Dr. DeCarlo checks into the hospital at four o’clock in the afternoon. By seven that night, he has seen numerous patients with injuries and ailments ranging from an elderly woman who has fallen and broken her hip to a child with an asthmatic reaction to a teenager who has been hit in the face with a baseball by a batter during a local high school game. On any given day, Dr. DeCarlo sees to patients, caring for them all the same way: with a direct, warm approach and comprehensive analysis to try to heal their traumas that have brought them to the emergency room at all hours of the day or night.

At exactly ten thirty-five, Dr. DeCarlo runs his fingers through his dark hair and scratches his chin. His skin is tanned from playing golf, a benefit of living in the south, his one recreational activity he plays frequently that relaxes and revives him. It’s by far his favorite de-stressor from work, and he squeezes in a round or two of at least 9-holes a couple of days a week. A car accident victim is arriving in the ambulance and his associate gives him a head’s up having heard the ambulance call. He finishes up with the woman who has broken her hip as she is being prepped for surgery with another doctor—the poor lady, scared to death and worried—and begins his walk to where he will meet the accident victim. He needs a cup of coffee, but it must wait. His back is tired from bending over for the majority of the afternoon, and he is burdened by the fact that he must return Sophia’s call, which popped up on his cellphone over three hours ago. Dialing her number doesn’t interest him at all, but he knows it’s something he will eventually have to do.

The woman being wheeled out of the ambulance is semi-conscious, and he sees her face is bruised, her nose bleeding. There’s a gash over her left eye. Her hand is wrapped in gauze to stop the bleeding and she’s moaning slightly; a little wet tear slides down her unaffected cheek. He reads the quick report—she was hit on the driver’s side by what appears to have been an intoxicated driver. Glass shattered. The car was totaled. The paramedics report that she may have broken ribs and other parts, and they found her fainted in the vehicle upon their arrival. Dr. DeCarlo looks at his patient and begins to examine her in a hurried manner, the nurses quickly dulling her pain at his order. He reads the name on her chart so that he can call her by name, a habit some of his other colleagues do not do so well. He remembers the tip his father, a doctor himself, had given him years ago: patients are people, not numbers. They are people with emotions and pain, sadness and worry. They are often scared. Dr. DeCarlo prides himself that he regards his patients as individuals, and it’s been one of his long-standing doctor goals: to remember their names. It is something he regularly works to do with each face he meets.

As the patient begins to feel the effects of the pain medication, he reaches for her hand—the one not bandaged—and speaks gently to her. “You will be okay, Emelie. We’re going to take care of you.”

Her eyes close, and she drifts off. Dr. DeCarlo begins to get to work.

*

Emelie awakens hours later to a nurse telling her to drink some Ginger Ale. The nurse is trying to bring her to full consciousness, and she slowly begins to focus her eyes to see her surroundings. She is not dead. At least she doesn’t think so. She is alive and surrounded by people in hospital garbs, the smell of formaldehyde taking over her senses. She sees her bandaged left arm and looks down to see her left leg in a cast. Her chest hurts; it aches to breathe. The thought of drinking anything at this very moment is not appealing.

“Let’s see if we can begin to get you hydrated,” the nurse with the big breasts says as she leans over her. “We want to get you off the IV if we can.” It takes a few minutes for her to come around, and at the nurse’s urging, she takes some sips from a straw.

“Which hospital am I in?” she asks.

Just then, a man walks through the door in a white coat. He looks familiar. The nurse greets him, and he says hello back to her. They seem to know each other. The doctor’s face is friendly, and he looks at Emelie and begins to speak.

“Good morning, Emelie,” he says kindly. “I’m Dr. DeCarlo, and I worked to stabilize you last night. How are you feeling?”

“Like I’ve been hit by a car,” Emelie says, knowing full well what she is saying, the corners of her mouth turning into a little bit of a smile.

The doctor is pleased by her response and smiles at her. “I see you have a good sense of humor,” he replies. “I don’t often get that after an accident, but you seem to know what happened.”

She nods. His presence is comforting.

“Then, you can probably guess by the looks of things that your your arm is broken and that your leg is fractured. Your face was scratched by the shattered glass, with one cut above the left eye, and you have a couple of broken ribs. You fainted in the car and went into a bit of shock, but we’ve taken good care of you since you arrived, and you’re getting stabilized. The good news is there’s no broken nose despite that it was bleeding a little when you arrived. You’re actually looking very well despite it all. The nurses have done their jobs.”

“And you, I would guess,” Emelie says. She offers a slight grin, giving him the best she can under the circumstances. There is something about his demeanor and the sound of his voice that is so pleasing. She is grateful for him and to him—and she feels the need to express it.

“I cannot thank you enough, Doctor. I appreciate all the great care you all have given me. Thank you for what you did.”

The nurse excuses herself from the room to get some additional supplies while Dr. DeCarlo continues to stand next to Emelie.

“Is there anything we can get you to make you more comfortable? Is there someone we can contact for you?”

Emelie shakes her head from side to side. “No,” she says, “I will just wait to get discharged. How many days will I be here?”

“Probably just overnight again. Most likely, you will be released tomorrow in the afternoon, but someone will need to take you home.”

“Right,” Emelie says.

*

It’s six in the morning, and Dr. DeCarlo’s shift ended at midnight, but things were hectic, and he stayed on to help the overflow. It’s one of the perks of being an unwed doctor—no one is waiting for him to come home. His hours are his own.

The nurse re-enters the room with some food and a few supplies. She will need to help Emelie to the bathroom once the catheter comes out. Not to embarrass the patient, the nurse speaks gently to Dr. DeCarlo.

“I’ll just need to help her out in a minute. You have been here far longer than you ought to have been, Dr. DeCarlo. How sweet of you. You should have punched out hours ago.”

The doctor’s face brightens a little, showcasing a little bit of redness on the cheeks. “Of course, of course. I just wanted to make sure our patient was okay,” he says, looking at Emelie.

“A little broken physically,” Emelie says, “but I think my spirit will be fine. I’m sorry for passing out. I don’t have a high level of tolerance for pain or blood. Do the police know who hit me?”

“They do. She was identified and charged, and walked away from it amazingly unharmed. Apparently, she had a little too much fun at the local bar, it would seem,” the nurse says. Dr. DeCarlo continues to look at Emelie. There is something about her that compels him to be standing here talking to her. There’s something about her face—those eyes—the cheekbones that are scratched up a bit. The sense of humor and humility. The nurse begins to shoo him away and he feels the phone vibrate in his pocket. He still hasn’t called Sophia back.

“I guess I must be on my way to let Nurse Shay take care of you. I’ll check back to check on you later.”

Nurse Shay shoots him a look of surprise, for in her five years working with Dr. DeCarlo, she has never seen him go the extra mile for patients as he has with this one. To be sure, he is a kind and caring emergency doctor, but there’s something different about the way he’s treating this case, and she furrows her brow with puzzlement.

Meanwhile, he can hear Emelie say sweetly as he exits the door to her room, “Thank you.”

pexels-photo-127873.jpeg

*

Dr. DeCarlo heads to the locker room to collect his things. He is not due back until later tonight. As he places his coat on the hook of his locker and closes the door to it, he feels his phone vibrate again in his pocket. He grabs it and looks at the screen, sees her name again, and realizes that he really should clean his screen that’s full of fingerprints.

He exits the locker room, thinks about Emelie and wonders how she’s doing and why he’s thinking about her so much, and runs into Dr. Hickson, who is on call at the emergency room during the day. They share a passing greeting, and Dr. DeCarlo says he will see her later when he returns.

He walks outside into the warm morning sunshine, the blue sky cloudless, and sees her standing on the curb. He gingerly walks over to her.

“Hello, Sophia,” he says. At eight in the morning, she is coiffed and poised for action, and looks more like she is ready to go to a club than to go to her law office. Her severely highlighted blonde hair is piled on top of her head, her red lipstick never out of place.

“Do you have any idea how many times I’ve called you?” she demands.

“Yes,” he says. “I believe it was 12.”

“That sounds about right. So why haven’t you called me back?” she says indignantly.

“I was working.”

“In the past, you’ve found time to call me while you’re working. What’s going on, Hugh?”

“This isn’t the place to have this discussion, Sophia. I’m on hospital grounds.”

“I know that. So am I.”

“Yes, but you don’t work here. I don’t discuss personal matters at work.”

“What matters?”

He places his sunglasses on his face, the sun’s brightness blinding his eyes as it rises over the hospital’s facade. He looks at her. It is safer to have this uncomfortable and inevitable conversation from behind dark shades.

“This isn’t working for me, Sophia. I don’t want to be in this relationship, especially when it doesn’t feel right.”

“Doesn’t feel right? What’s not right about it? I’m a professional. You’re a professional. We have the same circle of friends. We both want the same things out of life. How does this not feel right?”

“Call me crazy, but I just think there should be something more than a convenient group of friends and ambition as the factors that would bind us together. I’m sorry, Sophia. I just don’t want to be in this relationship any longer.”

“It was hardly a relationship to begin with,” she snips. “I’ve been the one driving the thing from the beginning. Your heart was never in it.”

“And perhaps that’s been the problem all along,” he says. “This hasn’t been a two-way street. You deserve better.”

“You’re absolutely right I deserve better! Look at me! I’m a catch! And you’re just too ignorant to see it,” she says, turning on her heels as she begins to take long strides toward her silver, convertible BMW, her shoes clicking on the asphalt. Dr. DeCarlo can’t help but chuckle at her silly antics, as he’s witnessed them before, and whispers a soft ‘bye-bye’ as she climbs into her car. He hears his mother’s voice in his head, the one that always offered reasoning during times when decisions must be made—you will know when you’ve found the right person, Hugh. You will feel it in here, she would say, patting the area on his chest where his heart is. He should have known better than to waste his time on something that never felt right. He certainly has never experienced anything like what his mother refers to as a “magical feeling” when meeting the person who may be a potential companion for life. It’s not that he didn’t want a life-long partner, he did, it’s just that no one had ever felt right before. He should never have allowed Eddie to set him up with Sophia in the first place. Set-ups never worked for him. Not in all of his thirty-eight years.

*

At eleven-thirty that night, Emelie is wide awake. She slept most of the day, as she tried to remember how the accident happened. Could she have prevented being hit by that woman? Could five more seconds of acceleration have avoided the crash? She’s beaten herself up all day about it, and now she stares at the television from her hospital bed as she watches The Jimmy Fallon Show, the volume turned down low.

Nurse Shay left hours ago, and Nurse Jones who is on duty now helped her clean herself up, offered her a brush, and helped her put her long, dark hair in a long ponytail. Nurse Jones also refreshed her water and helped her get to the bathroom about an hour ago, and is now making her way along the corridor to visit patients. The thought of returning to her apartment without any help is giving Emelie anxiety. The thought of being without a car is doubling that anxiety. There will be calls to the insurance company to sort out in addition to needing a car to get to work. She’s learned to become much more independent since Evan left, but she is worried about dealing with the effects of the car accident alone and contemplates calling her mother to see if she can come and stay with her for a while. What an inconvenience to her mother who lives all the way across the country. She hated the idea of doing that to her.

pexels-photo-433267.jpeg

When Emelie first came to Atlanta last year, she came because of Evan. They met after graduate school—he working in sales, she finding employment as a teacher—and lived together for many years in Washington state. When Evan’s company transferred him back to his home state of Georgia, he jumped at the opportunity, and Emelie followed at his urging. Emelie found a teaching job locally, and Evan loved his new surroundings and environment, and especially loved his new assistant, Shannon. In a matter of months, he loved her more than he loved Emelie. So when the good doctor asked her earlier if there was anyone to call, the answer was an emphatic “no,” as there was no family or good friends local for her, only her teacher acquaintances from school that she hadn’t known for very long.

In her dreamlike state, half paying attention to Jimmy Fallon and half thinking about her present, unfortunate situation, she hears a knock on the door, and the door pushes open.

“Emelie?” the pleasant male voice says. She recognizes it right away as the Doctor’s.

“Hi,” she says. He is wearing his white coat again, and it shows off his deep tan and dark eyes. He walks closer and looks at her. “I wanted to see how you are doing before I begin my shift.”

“That’s very sweet of you,” she says. “I’m okay. Unable to sleep.”

“We can help you with that if you need some rest,” he says.

“No, thank you,” she says. “I slept most of the day. I’m just thinking and mindlessly watching the television.”

“That’s a good word for it–mindless,” he smirks, taking a peek at the television. “If I didn’t have to work, I would challenge you to game of Scrabble or cards.”

“It might be kind of a challenge to hold cards in my hands or shuffle,” she said.

He grinned.

“What can we get you?”

“I’m good, thank you. Honestly, the care here has been top-notch. Thank you for checking up on me.”

They both look at each other for a second, and the doctor slides over the guest chair to sit beside her.

“I hope you don’t think this is too forward of me, because trust me, what I’m about to say is completely out of character for me, especially when it comes to my patients, but I was wondering, seeing as how you seem to be without a car, if you need a ride home when you are discharged, it’s my day off and I’d be happy to help you get home.” Dr. DeCarlo has officially surprised himself by saying these words. She must think he’s weird … or worse, creepy. He hasn’t been able to shake her from his mind ever since he cared for her last night, but truly, what is he thinking? Does he have some sort of fever? Emelie is a patient, for God’s sake.

And then he hears his mother’s words echo in his head—you will feel it in here. There is something undeniable going on, at least from his perspective. Something extraordinary is happening to him, and he feels awkward, as it takes what seems like an eternity before Emelie responds to his offer.

“Do you cook, too?” she replies, smiling.

*

BooksStephanie Verni is a hopeless romantic, Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University, and 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. Follow her on Twitter at stephverni or on Instagram at stephanie.verni.

 

Giving Thanks To You

Yes, it’s that time of the year.

Time to be thankful for people and blessings.

As it’s officially Thanksgiving holiday break for me, I’d like to take a moment to thank you, the readers and supporters of Steph’s Scribe. If it weren’t for readers, we bloggers wouldn’t be doing what we do. From the days when we wrote in journals and didn’t have the vehicle to share our thoughts or ideas, it’s wonderful to have that access through this platform; I’m thankful for the opportunity and take my responsibility of writing for you seriously. It’s an outlet for me, I take great pride in it, and I never want to let anyone down. I’m always open to input and suggestions, so feel free to drop me a line on the blog or at my email, stephanie.verni@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading my Steph’s Scribe, my books, and offering me encouragement throughout the year.

I’m very thankful to know you here.

Thank you, readers!

* * *

Stephanie Verni | Author, Blogger & Professor — Visit my Amazon page for more information about my three contemporary fiction novels and textbook on Event Planning.

 

 

Prompt and Podcast – Day 2 #nanowrimo

Yesterday, I published my first PODCAST. You can check it out here [Podcast 1].

Admittedly, I was pretty proud of myself. I am not too technically savvy, but I watched some YouTube videos and was able to finagle it all by my lonesome.

17630035_10155078335483954_7668816881241960001_n
With Charles in Boston in March. .

I texted my former boss, mentor, and dear friend from my days at the Orioles, Charles Steinberg, and said: “See what that internship in Orioles Productions helped me produce?”

LOL.

I had worked at the Orioles for two years when I needed an internship for credit at Towson University. I had never worked with audio or video equipment before, and Charles agreed to take me on as an intern, as he knew my work ethic from my time in public relations with the ballclub. That little stint in Orioles Productions was pretty helpful for all that has happened in my life since then, most specifically gaining a stronger understanding of storytelling from a mass media perspective (and now a social media perspective).

But alas, I digress, and I’m telling YOU a story when it’s really time for YOU to tell ME a story as it’s time for TODAY’S #NANOWRIMO WRITING PROMPT.

TODAY’S PROMPT

Write 400-500 words | #nanowrimo | Choose one of the prompts below

For non-fiction writers:

Write about a place you have been to or visited that you can’t wait to get back to as soon as possible; or, write about a place you have been to or visited that you never want to go back to ever again.

For fiction writers:

Two people meet in a place they have frequented together often. However, the relationship is strained and they picked this place to meet because it’s on neutral ground. Describe the place and write the conversation and tell the story that ensues as they reconnect in this location or spot.

BGC-podcast-word

Podcast 2: More on Finding Inspiration

Steph’s Scribe

QUESTIONS FOR THE BLOG?

I can guarantee you, I don’t have all the answers, but I’m happy to share my own experiences with writing, crafting fiction, writing dialogue, building characters, writing description, or whatever else you care to ask me. I’ll do my best to answer the best way I can.

Thanks for popping in, you guys!

 

The Truth About Burnout, Steps to Rejuvenation, and A Cup of Candor

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 11.07.11 AMI know this post is coming sooner than you or I expected it to come, so let me explain.

Earlier this week, I experienced something unfamiliar. It came out of nowhere and yet came from everywhere. I imagined myself in the image of an old wind-up toy that had hit a wall; I was marching along, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was swimming in “noise,” as we communication folks like to call it. It was filling up my head and causing me not to think clearly.

Some people might call it burnout.

Burn•out (noun) /ˈbərnˌout/  def. physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. “high levels of professionalism that may result in burnout”

It was an emotional reaction that, quite frankly, had my friend Elizabeth puzzled when we talked on Tuesday.

“What happened?” she asked. “What happened after our lovely visit to Oxford?”

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 1.19.54 PMShe had sweetly volunteered to come with me and my daughter to the Plein Air event in Oxford where I was signing my latest book, Inn Significant, at the bookstore, Mystery Loves Company. I had been excited to go for weeks as my novel happens to be set in that sweet, picturesque and welcoming town.

“Nothing happened because of Oxford,” I told her. “It just happened after Oxford. I woke up in the morning the next day and didn’t know if I could write one more post about the book. I was becoming exhausted by the idea of book promotion.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 1.26.04 PM

When I told her more about it, she completely understood. So let me try to articulate it here. Forgive me if I don’t do it perfectly, but here are my thoughts on last Monday’s meltdown.

If you are not an independent author or an author with a small press, you may not understand fully the trials and tribulations of book promotion, but I know that these folks will get it — completely — so here’s the way it goes. Every morning you wake up with the thought, “How can I sell some books today?” For the last six years, that has been my relentless task, in addition to being a full-time professor, wife, mother, writer, blogger, and member of society who also likes to spend time with family and friends. That one, singular thought became an obsession for me, and here’s why: we care about our work, the stories we are producing as authors, but what good are they if no one reads them? The only way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to chip away at book promotion little by little, day after day. We write press releases. We enter book contests. We attend book talks, festivals, and signings. We are omnipresent on social media. We take photographs and come up with tidbits about our books to share on social media sites. We check our blog stats and our Amazon and Barnes & Noble pages to see how many books we have sold daily. We follow other people who are doing the same and see if we can learn from them. We see where we need to improve. We examine peak points on social media and try to post at those times that yield the biggest results. Then, we wake up each day and start over. And over. And over.

We drink a helluva lot of coffee.

And then we hit a wall.

Just like that.

Boom.

And the worst part is, I LOVE creativity. I love it so much, you guys. I love to talk about it, research it, read books about it, and just be creative through my writing and blogging and teaching, and yet, guess what was being zapped?

My friggin’ creativity.

Sucked away like Potter’s Dementors.

And so I had a knee-jerk reaction.

Stop writing. Stop blogging. Stop book promotion.

The problem came two days later when I realized that I didn’t want to stop blogging or writing, I just needed a sabbatical from book promotion.

I also realized that I needed to change my blog. It has been on my mind for a couple of years to rebrand it a bit, while still keeping the Steph’s Scribe flavor. As anyone in business knows, things can’t always stay the same, and change is good.  I’m one of the top Entertainment bloggers on Paperblog, and I have over 10,000 blog followers, so the last thing I wanted to do was start over.

ACupofCandor

So you can see I’ve compromised. It’s got a new title, with Steph’s Scribe as a subtitle so I don’t lose my followers; it has topics that I would like to cover regularly; and my goal is for it to have a little more spirit and candor.

Not everything in life is roses and caviar, and I believe I didn’t always allow myself to be as candid as I would like. So, we’ve got a new approach and a new focus.

And now to you, my dear readers: I would love to hear from you about what you would like to see in the new revamping of the blog. I need some input. Creativity takes brainstorming and often can’t be done alone, so if you have some ideas for me, I am open and in need of them.

To those of you who wrote to me, people like Danielle, Jack F. and Jack G., Deborah, Elizabeth, Whitney, Heather, Linda, Leeanne, Chip, Laurie, and so many others, your words made me examine this much more quickly than I thought was possible. So thank you. Thank you so very much.

And while the “noise” may not be completely cleared and sent to Mars, it’s getting better. And while I cannot fully stop book promotion if I want my books to be read, I can still take a breather from it and perhaps manage the chaos in a different way. And while I may not be ready to write another novel, at some point, I will probably do it again.

And if I love blogging, well then, damn it, I’m just going to keep on blogging.

Was this candid enough for you? If so, I look forward to a cup of candor each week with you as we progress.

Love to you all.  Have a wonderful weekend…

Stephanie

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!

***

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.

Save

A Review of My Blog by The Villager

Well, I am absolutely flattered that Stevenson University’s newspaper, The Villager, reviewed Steph’s Scribe, and gave it a good review. I can honestly say, my blog has never been reviewed before, so that was exciting to see. Thank you to Chip Rouse, The Villager advisor, and writer Bri Buttner, for the great piece.

I will say that I take great pride in my blog, and I do play around with it quite a bit. I like playing with the aesthetics, photography, and content, and I always try to mix it up. I’ve been consistently blogging since 2011, when I wrote my first post, and I’ve never stopped. I truly enjoy writing, and blogging has become a part of who I am today. It’s a great outlet, and a wonderful way to stay fresh with your writing.

On that note, to anyone who wants to blog, I encourage it. The most challenging parts of blogging remain these two things: (1) coming up with what to blog about, and (2) blogging at least once to twice a week. If you can do that, you’ll get in the swing of things, and when you miss one, you’ll get that itch to get right back at it. It’s a good habit to create.

Additionally, Paperblog picks up my articles as well. For the month of April 2017, Steph’s Scribe was #12 for Entertainment bloggers.

As always, thanks for reading and supporting Steph’s Scribe!

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 ofEvent Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

Celebrating 6 Years of Blogging with “The Best of” Steph’s Scribe

* * *

We all say it.

Time flies.

Before you know it, my kids will be done with high school and college and I’ll be retired, sitting alongside my husband on a beach somewhere sipping something with an umbrella in it and attempting to play golf.

Well, that’s the dream, at least.

Yesterday marked six (6) years of blogging. Six years. It kind of blew me away this morning, but it reminds us what a love for something and a little discipline can do for us. At the minimum, I blog one day a week; most weeks, I blog twice. It’s not always easy coming up with things to write about, but the bottom line is, we do. As bloggers, we always have something in mind that makes us think or that we want to share with others.

As such, to commemorate these past six years, I decided to pull together the posts that get the most hits as sort of a “Best Of” celebration.

Thank you for following, commenting, and sharing Steph’s Scribe with others. I can’t wait to see what the next six years have in store.

BLOGGING has become part of who I am. I cannot imagine my life without it now.

Best of Steph’s Scribe

Birth – The Very First Post on Steph’s Scribe

A Little Game of No Repeat Fashion

Most Attractive Names

How Pinterest Helped with Our Home Renovation

Inn Significant Released

Beneath the Mimosa Tree Wins Readers’ Favorite Award

Instructions for Writing a Love Letter

Lessons from “The Holiday” and James Cameron

Political Opinion Posts and Friends

You Can’t Get There From Here

Learning from Conflict and Experiences & Oprah

Don’t Bring Negativity to My Doorstep

Baseball

Travel

Storytelling

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.

 

 

Recounting Five Years of My Life As a Blogger

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 10.50.15 AM

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 11.14.01 AM

On April 6, the notice above popped up in my notifications on my blogging platform, WordPress. I was thankful for the reminder because I wouldn’t have remembered the anniversary of the first day I began the blogging journey. I am too busy tackling the challenge of deciding on what I will write about next. What will the next post reveal? Will I write about writing, fashion, teaching, decorating, films, or books? Or, will I choose to tell a story?

In some ways, I’m amazed that five years have passed since I first began this endeavor. I’ve logged 707 posts to date on Steph’s Scribe. During some months, I turn out a lot of pieces, while there are other months when work and/or family life interfere and I only get to publish so many. It’s always less than I would like, because the truth is, I love writing. Blogging allows writers to write–to constantly communicate through the written word, which in turn, helps us hone and practice our craft. And, it’s executed in a much different way than fictional writing (and you know how much I love that, as well).


Coming up with post ideas can be the most challenging, I won’t lie about that. Years ago my husband told me that my blog was too general, that it needed to be more specific to gain readership. Why not just write about books and blogging, he suggested? It may help you gain followers, he said, pointing in particular to sports bloggers he enjoys. While this is a good idea and has worked for many successful bloggers, I couldn’t imagine myself saddled with just one or two topics. My interests are too varied, as I enjoy talking about so many different subjects. I need the space to be creative. In the end, I just decided to keep it general. And it works for me.

A Royal Lesson: Typing Class Came In Handy was one of the top articles of the month on Paperblog.
A Royal Lesson: Typing Class Came In Handy was one of the top articles of the month on Paperblog.

That said, I would probably say that the most noteworthy ingredient to being a successful blogger is commitment. Of course, bloggers need to have solid writing skills, but even more so, it takes commitment to doing it in order for it to succeed. Today, I have over 8,100 followers, Steph’s Scribe has consistently been in the Top 25 on Paperblog in Entertainment since September (thank you, PAPERBLOG and PAPERBLOG READERS), and I receive feedback both here on the blog and through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from followers when I post something. I was also nominated for a couple of blog awards. But the best part about blogging is receiving comments and feedback. I love that part of it, too.

A Royal Lesson: Typing Class Came in Handy and All The Books We Want to Read | Building Your Summer Reading List were two posts I wrote that were popular on Paperblog this month in the category of Books.
A Royal Lesson: Typing Class Came in Handy and All The Books We Want to Read | Building Your Summer Reading List were two posts I wrote that were popular on Paperblog this month in the category of Books.

The ability to reach people and the ability to write and share information and stories is what keeps me connected to this blogging world. I’ve enjoyed every minute of the past several years, and I look forward to the topic of the next blog post…whatever that may be.
IMG_4270
 

And Then Inspiration Comes: Start Writing | Hints and Tips for Writers and Bloggers

AltStudios Inspiration

You want to write. Writing is in your blood. You bloggers know this is true. You novelists know this is true. Magazine writers, newspaper writers, nonfiction writers, script writers—it’s part of who you are; it makes up your very existence. You can’t imagine life without it.

And yet, some days it’s difficult to find inspiration.

Some weeks, it’s difficult to find inspiration.

Some years, well, you get the point.

The problem is, if it’s part of who you are, you can’t let inspiration fall by the wayside. You need constant inspiration. These little pieces of inspiration are vital to your success; they help you nurture your creative side, but that creative side yearns to be inspired.

So how do we find inspiration? When does the epiphany hit us and tell us what to do?

I wish I had a stock answer for you that would help make your life easier. I wish I could tell you that at exactly 9 p.m. your creative genius is going to wake up and tell you it has a brilliant idea for you and you will smile and shake its hand and be ready for a new adventure with your writing. But it doesn’t work that way. In fact, that’s exactly the word we are searching for: work. Inspiration takes work.

You become a seeker…someone who needs to seek out ideas and foster them and help them grow. You have a responsibility to nurture them and use your intelligence to make sense of it all.

And, fellow writers, while I may not have the answers—no one does—all I can do is share what’s been working for me lately. These few ideas have helped me get out of the weeds and blow up a project I was working on and start all over again with it.

Open Your Mind appearing behind torn brown paper.

 

  1. Don’t do negative talk. The intrapersonal communication we have going on inside our head should be positive. We do not need to bash ourselves, speak negatively internally, or question our creativity. We are supposed to be our own biggest supporters, and in doing so, tell yourself you can do it. You can write something meaningful. You will come up with something good to write about…it will come soon. I recently showed my sports communication students a Ted Talk by Brett Ledbetter called Finding Your Inner Coach. While it is geared a bit toward athletics, there are good ideas from which we can all learn. One of his ideas involves your innermost thoughts. He asks the audience to consider this: what if you’re an athlete playing in a game and your innermost thoughts scrolled across a scoreboard for everyone to see? Would they be positive thoughts or negative thoughts?  Consider this notion with your writing. If your innermost thoughts were to scroll across the top of your blog or the Paperblog site, would they be positive ones or negative ones?
  2. Find inspiration in the little things. Sometimes it’s just a phrase or sentence someone says to me; other times it’s a quote I see or the way a child holds her mother’s hand. Sometimes innocent things make me stop and wonder and yearn for simpler things. If someone tells you a story, you may be inclined to talk about it or research it for your blog or book. When I mentioned that the character I am writing in my new novel suffers from depression brought on by a traumatic event in her life, a friend of mine said she was glad I was tackling depression. We can’t deny there are stories all around us if we just open our eyes.tumblr_static_pink-typewriter-hi-res-header
  3. Let a photograph take you away. Sometimes when I see exotic photos, pictures of beautiful scenery or cities, or homes and home improvements that people post on Instagram or Pinterest, I am immediately drawn to a particular subject. Let that photograph take you places, expand your imagination, and give you wings to fly.
  4. Don’t allow yourself to feel stifled. One of the criticisms I have received regarding my blog is that it “is not focused enough”—that I don’t just write about one subject area such as writing or decorating or relationships. I have intended my blog to be more of a lifestyle blog, despite the fact that I write books. I am a teacher who teaches writing; I also have a lot of interests. If I had to teach writing during the day and then only write about writing at night, I could possibly go insane. I want to write about things I am interested in—books, movies, writing, fashion, television shows, relationships, children, etc. By expanding your creativity and subject matter base, you may feel more liberated.
  5. Find inspiration in other writer’s work. I just finished The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag. It was fun, creative, and a little magical. Presently, I am reading The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. Both of these books are well written and both authors have vivid imaginations. Reading books helps you consider your own storytelling and makes you want to write better. I am always energized after reading a book, dissecting the techniques used, and paying attention to style, diction, description and dialogue. As Jack Nicholson said in As Good As It Gets, “You make me want to be a better man.” As for me, other writers make me want to be a better writer.
  6. Put yourself in the shoes of your readers. What would entertain them? Would a short blog post do for the day, or should it be longer? What type of novel are you ready to attack next, and what type of novel do you think your best friend would want to read? Asking yourself direct questions about your reader and their demographics may help pull you toward a subject matter.Inspiration
  7. Find the prettiest or most attractive journal you can and carry it with you always. There is nothing worse than finding inspiration and not knowing what to do with it. At the very least, you should write it down. Immediately. Before you forget—before that brilliant idea your creative genius helped you think up drifts back up into the sky looking for another creative genius to pass it off to. Cultivate your ideas. Foster them. They are yours, and you owe it to yourself to act upon them.
  8. Keep up with current events, entertainment news, social media, and bestseller lists. Do your homework. What are the hottest topics? What’s trending? What seems to be most interesting to folks? Can you find an interesting story and then put your own spin on it? Can you make something that seems like old news become new again?

I hope I’ve helped a little bit. Maybe the biggest help of all is knowing we all go through it. We all have those moments where nothing is coming. And then—BOOM—the best idea comes to you and you’re off and running.

Or, you could adopt the Tina Fey attitude.

Whatever works.

bitches

After writing a textbook for the last couple of years and promoting Baseball Girl since last March, I had to take a break from writing for a bit (besides the blog) and refocus my energy. The novel I was working on wasn't moving in the direction I wanted it to go. I paused for a long while. Today, I was inspired. It came from somewhere, and I am thankful. I wrote. I got two chapters written, and I'm loving where this story is going. Hearing from other writers is inspirational, but the real motivation for any project comes from a source that only you can hear...it comes from inside you. And it's up to you to foster and nurture it. It's not always easy to believe in yourself, but that belief is what can make you persevere. As Somerset Maugham said: If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
After writing a textbook for the last couple of years and promoting Baseball Girl since last March, I had to take a break from writing for a bit (besides the blog) and refocus my energy. The novel I was working on wasn’t moving in the direction I wanted it to go. I paused for a long while. Today, I was inspired. It came from somewhere, and I am thankful. I wrote. I got two chapters written, and I’m loving where this story is going. Hearing from other writers is inspirational, but the real motivation for any project comes from a source that only you can hear…it comes from inside you. And it’s up to you to foster and nurture it.