What You Owe Yourself? Authentic Writing



Yesterday, I finished doing my first thorough edit of my new collection of short stories and poetry. Today, I am beginning the final review process.

I look at these two things differently.

During the editing process, you are still diligently working on the stories. You are editing, changing, rearranging, adding, subtracting, fixing mistakes and making corrections, using a thesaurus, and playing with the “sound” of the prose.

During the review process, I try to wear a “reader” hat.

This is difficult, especially when you are reviewing your own work.

But, you have to do it, you guys. You have to be willing to look at it through the lens of one of your readers.

Who are your best readers? I think of some of my closest friends—my mom—her friends—my aunt—and even some of my students who enjoy my books. Think of them…actually, picture them holding your completed book.

Then ask yourself this question: WILL THEY BE HAPPY WITH IT?

That’s what I mean when I say you have to review it as a reader. You have to imagine it’s not your own work, and it’s your chance to further question your storytelling.

That said, the one thing I don’t want you to do is to second-guess your authenticity–your own voice. Your voice and your authenticity are what make you YOU as a writer. Don’t do what I did a few years ago and begin a novel, show it to someone, and have that someone say, “This doesn’t sound like you.”

“Who does it sound like?” I asked.

“Someone else, but not you. I can’t ‘hear’ you in this writing.”

I stopped writing then and there and went back to the drawing board.

The best compliment I can get—and I’ve had many people tell me this (so thank you to all the people who have said it to me)—is that when they read my books, they can almost “hear my voice” telling them the story, as if I am there with them reading it aloud. Of course, these people know me personally or through my blog, but let me tell you, that’s the kind of thing you want to hear from your readers.

So don’t ever compromise your authenticity.

Remember, that’s why some people enjoy reading your work in the first place.




Compare Yourself to a Hopeless Romantic

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 5.38.04 PM.pngDo you believe this?

This is the prompt I got handed today.


But I AM a bloody hopeless romantic, so I can’t compare myself to myself!

Look—some people know they are certain ways. For example, someone who’s a realist looks at the world through that lens—the lens of realism. He won’t allow any mushiness or extremely flowery notions seep into his pores. He just puts all his marbles into things that are real, nothing too touchy-feely, nothing too fantastical, nothing too intangible. Period. End of sentence. Have you ever tried to argue with a realist when you’re not one? You know it’s hard. Don’t ever say, “Well, but I FEEL this way.”

He might tell you feelings are not facts.

Nevertheless, I’ve found it to be a losing game.

Realists will tell hopeless romantics that they’re living in a dreamworld, in a magazine, in a fantasy land.

If you are wondering if you are a hopeless romantic, see if you have a tendency toward any of the following…

1. You can find the beauty or magical aspect of things. If you believe things will work out, that life truly is beautiful, that things come together for a reason, that we love who we love because our heart tells us to, you are a hopeless romantic.


2. You understand others and can imagine what it feels like to be them. The word for this is empathy-that we have the ability to feel empathy for others. We can comprehend what they’re going through even though it’s not happening to us. People with empathy are hopeless romantics, because they have a sense of understanding. I know plenty of people who think they are hopeless romantics, but the bottom line is, they are not. They don’t have the capacity to feel another’s pleasures or pains.


3. You are spirited and have a mad sense of passion. Passion comes in all forms…for your family, your career, your friends, your hobbies, your children, and so on. If you come wired with passion, you are, indeed, a hopeless romantic.


4. You cry not just at Hallmark movies but at Hallmark commercials. You actually become weepy.


5. You believe that love conquers all. That there is nothing that compares to love. If this is so, you are someone who loves to be in love with love.


I believe all those five things above, and I make no bones about it. Do you?

When people say to me, “Oh, you’re just a hopeless romantic!” I say, “Why, thank you!”

I need a shirt that says, “Proud Hopeless Romantic.”

You see, I would wear it proudly.


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.


What To Do With A Broken Heart

LoveLetterWe walk around in a daze. We make up lies and we tell them to ourselves. We go over and over it again in our minds as we attempt to decipher exactly what went wrong and who is to blame. We wonder if there’s any way possible we can fix it. We agonize, stop eating, agonize some more, find we cannot concentrate on work, pull away from people, and go through an intense mourning period. Some folks even go as far as to want to give up.

If we’re not careful, we can give up on ourselves.

That’s the way it works when we have a broken heart and we don’t know how to fix it—when we don’t know how to make someone we love more than life itself love us.

As the speaker in the Ted Talk below notes, we have all probably been there at one time or another…or another. Perhaps we’ve been there several times. We become like a broken record playing it over and over again in our minds. Sometimes the pain is so intense, we don’t know how to tend to it.

I wish this Ted Talk had been around when I’d been through a few doozies. I may have actually listened to Guy Winch because he makes so much sense. He tells it like it is, and as we listen, his ideas sink in. I thought I’d share this today for anyone who may need a little push to find himself or herself again.

As Valentine’s Day is around the corner and tons of people are celebrating the somewhat ridiculous holiday, there are many who will be sad and broken-hearted. There are some folks who are trying to get over a lost love or broken relationship. Patience is advised to those of us who act as friends during these trying times as you will see. Patience and understanding.

Remember how it felt when you went through it, and promise yourself to be there for someone who needs you.

It’s true–we can’t make people love us. But we do have the power to be there for people who have lost love and their hearts are breaking.



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.

In Celebration of Valentine’s Day — Book Giveaways This Week

LoveCardHappy Super Bowl Sunday!

After the BIG GAME is over, I figured it may be time to hunker down with some reading as we wait for winter to get the hell out of town. Plus, VALENTINE’S DAY is coming up, and I wanted to give away some love in the form of my contemporary fiction novels. I’ve completed reading four terrific books since January, and am presently reading numbers 5 & 6. I’m posting my reading list on the blog for you as it’s always nice to see what others are reading. Likewise, I’d love for you to share what you’ve read that you’ve enjoyed.


I’ll be posting my book giveaways this week, as I’m giving away one of each of my books to some random winners. When they go live, I’ll share the information on how to enter.

In the meantime, below are some excerpts from each of my three novels in print and they are available on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

To order my books…

For more information on AMAZON, click here.

For more information on BARNES & NOBLE, click here.

Enjoy the game tonight and keep reading!


Love leaves a memory that no one else can steal, but sometimes leaves a heartache that no one else can heal.

I looked around one last time and heard the voices that I sometimes heard when the world was quiet_ You're okay, Milly; you're okay, they said.The door blew open, and then, I was gone.


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

Reconnecting with Simple Pleasures

There are only a few weeks left of summer, and I made an agreement with myself when I decided to pause for a bit from book promotion that I would reconnect with the simple pleasures of life for a few weeks. There’s something to be said for being able to do this, and to do it in a meaningful way. Taking the time to enjoy your favorite things is important to your psyche. This idea was reinforced on Saturday morning when we lost a pet.

She wasn’t a dog or cat, she was our parakeet, Holly, and we brought her home on Christmas Eve in 2010. She was white with blue feathers and she had a sweet disposition for a parakeet. Moreover, she was my daughter’s bird. My son’s parakeet, Poe, lived to see Holly passed away at the bottom of the cage. My daughter and I gasped when we saw her. She had been ill a couple of months ago and had made a miraculous recovery. We’d seen no signs she was sick again, except for a little labored breathing sometimes.

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 8.59.10 AM.png

That little parakeet brought us joy. We always marveled when, as soon as you would turn the water on in the sink, the pair of them would begin to sing. If you put music on in the house or you played the piano, they would chime right in. She was the one of the two who would let you pet her tummy and she’d step onto your finger. She would also eat food from your hand, a Cheerio or piece of spray millet seed.

My daughter has never lost a pet she loved. Tears came as soon as she saw Holly, lifeless, her eyes closed, at the bottom of the cage that morning. I was sort of in shock, too.

My son and husband were at my son’s golf tournament that morning, so we had to execute the burial ourselves. In an “ode to coffee” moment, we placed her in a little coffee box and buried her among the big trees in the back yard. May that sweet little bird rest in peace. We will certainly miss her sweet songs.

Listening to her sing was one of the simple pleasures of life, something that made us happy. But there are so many more. If you had to list your top 10 simple pleasures, what would they be? It’s probably worth attempting to write your own list to see if you can identify those things that make you the happiest. Just jot down simple, everyday things that bring you joy.


I’d love to see your lists. Today, I’ll share mine (in no particular order). Remember, these are simple pleasures we do OUTSIDE of work, no matter how much we love our jobs (and I do love mine!). No working items are allowed here.

  • Sitting on my porch writing or reading or relaxing.
  • Watching my son enjoy the game of golf.
  • Watching my daughter dance in her dance company.
  • Eating crabs on date night with my husband.
  • Hanging out at my parents’ house, walking in their neighborhood, or sitting by their pool.
  • Shopping by myself.
  • Taking long walks in the neighborhood.
  • Getting completely lost in a really good book.
  • Eating a good dessert and watching a movie or series on television with my family.
  • Drinking a perfect cup of coffee and writing a blog post for you.

Hope your day is full of lots of simple pleasures. See you next time.


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.




When Did You First Fall in Love…with someone & with reading?

The Bowie Branch Library – where my mom would take us to check out books when we were little.


My mother recalls my disconnect as a young kid with books.

“You were too busy doing other things–you were a doer.” This statement comes despite my mother’s genuine love for books and reading and the library. If ever there is a role model for someone who likes to read, it’s my mother. She’s been a voracious reader since she was a kid. There’s always a book open at her house; she conquers, on average, a book a week or two, I would guess.

I remember my mother taking my brother and me to the Bowie Public Library as a kid, where I’d check out books and bring them home. Don’t get me wrong—I did read. I remember reading lots of books as a kid and enjoying them.

But it was not love yet.

I remember that I was active and hard to pin down. I was busy playing, being involved, taking some sort of lesson or another, practicing the piano, cheering on teams in high school, and finding any excuse not to sit down with a good book and take a load off.

I fell in love with reading the same year I fell in love with my first boyfriend. I was 16 going on 17. And maybe that’s what made me fall head over heels in love with reading—I could finally relate to love and a love story on a more intellectual level; I could connect with first loves and breaking hearts. I understood unrequited love. And then I understood a much deeper, meaningful, selfless love.

I started out reading Lucky by Jackie Collins (she was the rage back then), and I couldn’t put her stuff down. I wanted to read more, and I did. I was bitten. But perhaps the most poignant book I read that thoroughly transformed me happened in 1987, when I realized what the combination of masterful storytelling and strong writing was. It came in the form of The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher.

That book sealed the deal for me. I’d already fallen in love with reading, but that was the turning point. There was no going back after that. It was also the moment when I thought to myself, someday I want to tell a good story. Someday I will write one.

I’ve done that now, three times.

And while my first boyfriend and I didn’t make it past my first year of college, my affinity for reading did. However, my relationship with him made everything I read much more meaningful and deeper.

It’s funny how that happens, how things become relatable though the magic of books, and how relationships force you to see the world from new perspectives. I’ll always be grateful for that.

Can you recall the moment you fell in love with reading?


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.



Saturday Sonnet: Cracking

Breaking heartI wrote this poem years ago and thought I would share it here today. I’m putting together a collection of short stories and poetry that will be in book form soon.

Here’s a sample.


Cracking, A Sonnet

By Stephanie Verni

Forlorn, the faltering heart has no reason
to fill you with false hope and pay mind to your sanity;
whether there is heat or cold, it disregards season,
and pays no attention to matters of formality.
It breaks nonetheless whether anyone can hear
the silent scream, the muted moan—
inside, aching, but on the outside appears
calm; the whisper of a desperate groan.
Why is it a breaking heart makes no noise?
Unfathomable, really, that the ear can’t detect
the sinking, shattering, cracking, crippling lack of joy;
it used to be intact and you never expect
that a breakage like this won’t repair with glue
and that the red of the sunset has lost its hue.

© Stephanie Verni, 2017

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.


FRIDAY FICTION – A Short Story from a Collection


They can’t all be happy endings.

While my novels always tend to have a happy ending, my short stories do not. I don’t know why they go down this way. It seems to me like short stories—writing in the short form—allows you to write more pointedly, and that, in turn leads sometimes to unhappy little vignettes.

This piece is loosely based on a dream I had. I will say nothing else about it, and I change things around, of course, because it’s fiction as opposed to non-fiction.

This will end up being the first half or third of a short story which I hope to include in my collection of short stories I will publish later this summer.

I hope you enjoy it. And if you twist my arm, maybe it will eventually have a happy ending.

To be continued…

F R I D A Y   F I C T I O N  — R E G R E T

It was cold and rainy for an April day in the south. The trees were swaying as the rain belted down and gusts of wind caused them to become heavy and bend. The dark clouds moved swiftly across they sky, and Sunny jumped back into her car after dropping her four-year-old at preschool. She sat for a second at the wheel chuckling as she thought about Susie who was dressed in her red raincoat with black polka-dots and matching red boots. Sunny made sure she had put her hood up as they walked into the school. Susie, however, insisted on carrying her ladybug umbrella, despite the fight against the wind. Sunny, on the other hand, didn’t even bother with an umbrella because what was the point? She was about to squeeze a workout in and get sweaty anyway, so what harm would a little more moisture do to her?

The intense gym workouts had become an obsession since Jerry left. If she didn’t get one in each day, she felt as if she would go insane, because, quite frankly, a thirty-seven-year-old woman whose husband just left her and her daughter might actually go stark raving mad over the feeling of utter rejection, not to mention the self-loathing that came along with it. Working out to excess simply made her feel better, at least it had won out over yoga and meditation, and she had tried them too.

The gym was just a few minutes down the road from the school, and Sunny put her signal on and turned right into the parking lot. She took a deep breath, grabbed her towel, ear buds, and cellphone, and got out of the car. The rain had turned to a bit of a mist, and she walked through the door. At the check-in, she swiped her card, and began to walk toward the aerobics studio.

“Sunny?” she heard a male voice call from behind her. She recognized the sound of it, but in the second it took for her to turn around, she quickly hoped it wasn’t him.

She turned and saw him standing before her. It had been just over ten years.

“Nick,” she said, more as a statement and less as a question.

“I thought that was you,” he said. There was only a slight smile as he said it, but it was there. Examining his face in that moment, she was able to recall the old expression he wore for months as she looked at him: the way he felt about her then was the way she felt about Jerry now. “How are you?”

“Good,” she lied. For a moment, she considered telling the truth, that she was anything but good, and rather merely surviving. However, she knew better than to do that and quickly focused on how she looked in her cropped, black exercise bottoms, tight top, and sneakers that looked a little ratty. Her hair was pulled up in a high ponytail, and she was without makeup. She thought about the darkness of the circles under her eyes and that the lines around her eyes must have deepened over the years. Of course she had to run into him when she was not looking her best—or rather more like her worst. After all these years, seeing him now in this manner was part of her punishment. “How are you?” she asked him.

“Very well, yes,” Nick said. “I’ve had a lot of professional success, so I can’t complain.”

She noted the emphasis on “professional” success. She glanced slyly at his left hand. It was without a wedding ring, but that didn’t mean anything anymore. Lots of men didn’t wear wedding bands on their fingers. Still, she wondered.

“So what are you doing in town?” she asked.

“Doing double duty. I’ve got a work engagement, and I’m visiting my mom,” he said.

“That’s convenient,” she said. “Double duty.”

“I suppose,” he said.

He stared at her with his intense brown eyes. There was always something about Nick’s stare that made Sunny feel as if she were completely naked in front of him, as if he could see right through her and down to her soul. Perhaps that’s why he wrote about such things. About broken love and the seeming lack of forgiveness. About people who kill each other’s dreams slowly by making the wrong choices. About love gone wrong.

The thought of it all—even after so many years—made Sunny suddenly not care about her workout. She searched his eyes to see if anything remained. He had never forgiven her. They had said it all so many years ago, and yet it still felt unfinished. The truth was, she would never know. She would never be brave enough to ask him.

He was still looking at her, still staring, and with nothing more to say but those few words exchanged. Ten years of words left unsaid.

“Well, I’ve got to run, Nick. Good to see you,” she said, beginning to walk away.

“But you haven’t even worked out,” he said.

“Wrong class time,” she yelled back, heading for the glass double doors, trying to keep it together, her escape route just steps away.

She got in the car and could feel herself begin to pant. Her hand trembled as she put the key into the ignition. Tears fell onto the steering wheel. It was becoming clearer now—now that she had been through the same. She felt his pain wholeheartedly now and understood why he was so bitter and angry and vengeful for a while. She got why someone incredibly like her in all aspects showed up in his stories sometimes. The names were always changed, but she could see herself in the characters.

Sunny looked at her watch and knew she had time before she had to pick up Susie, so she drove straight home and into the driveway like a maniac. She ran into the house and turned into the study where for years she had kept them all—every single one of his books. Did he know she had read them all a thousand times? Out of her favorite book spilled the letters, the postcards, and the scribbled but never said wedding vows. She gathered up all of Nick’s works in her arms. She loved the scent of the books—especially his books—for in some miraculous way they seemed to smell like him. The titles were all there and she placed them on the floor, stretched out on top of them. Regret was a powerful thing. She cried the entire hour until she had to pick up Susie.

Some broken hearts don’t mend. Won’t mend.

(End part 1; Stephanie Verni/2017)

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.


Second-Guessing Ourselves: A Mother’s Day Reflection

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 9.50.48 PM***

I always knew I wanted to have children, and I think at one point, I thought I’d have a lot of them.

That was until my daughter almost killed me during delivery, and as well as from the aftereffects of said delivery. Honestly, if she had been born before my son, I would only have one kid. What happened during that delivery scared the living daylights out of me. I knew I’d never have another child after that. (Which actually, was quite convenient, as my husband was content with two kids: a boy and a girl.)

And yet that incident left me second-guessing, which starts to become the mantra of a mother. You’ve heard your friends and family members tell a story about their child and then add on, “I should have done this….” It’s true. We do it.  It’s easy to continually second-guess yourself about how you’ve raised (and continue to raise) your kids. Did I do enough? Have I been supportive enough? Honest enough? Loving enough? Understanding enough? Tough enough?

You get it, right moms? The list goes on and on. The truth is, we’re not perfect. No one is.

We can second-guess ourselves until the cows come home. (And I’m told, eventually, the cows do come home, but it could take a while).

So my thought for this Mother’s Day is a simple one: we have to stop questioning ourselves.

Hear me clearly:

You have done enough. You are doing enough. You are enough. Your kids love you despite your mistakes, your occasional bad moods, your tendency to say “no” sometimes for their own good, your chaotic schedules and long work hours, your incapacity to ride the big rollercoaster at the theme park, and your ability to always rise above any nonsense and always be able to hug them and tell them that you love them.

When I read what my kids wrote in my card today for Mother’s Day, I realized a couple of things: (1) they say sweet things—and they mean them, and (2) no second-guessing is going to stop me from being the best damn mother I can be, even when it’s hard, even when I don’t always agree with them, even when I see things differently than they do, and even when they say they don’t need help with something, but they really do.

Being a mother means we have that “mom radar”—we know when guidance is needed, when a hug is needed, and when lending an ear and really listening can make all the difference.

I’m not a perfect mom, and I don’t pretend to be one. I’ve lost my cool. I’ve yelled (I’m Italian—what the hell do you expect?) I say stupid stuff sometimes when they want to hear something else.

Nevertheless, I am a mother, and I know I am learning right along with them as we all continue to grow together.

And second-guessing our past decisions, tactics, and methodologies won’t do anyone any good. We do the best we can. Each. And. Every. Day.

Trust me: the kids are alright.

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.





Thoughts on Missing Working in Baseball

Orioles friends from our reunion a few years ago.

It’s a question I get asked a lot.

“Do you miss working in baseball?”

Students ask me this often; then they ask what it was like to work in baseball, in sports, for a Major League baseball team.

I have often blogged about how working in baseball changed my life in so many ways. I became a serious student when I got my job with the Orioles as a sophomore in college. I learned how to budget my time and work long hours. I loved every minute of it. I even roped my best friend and college roommate into working there during my second year when I supervised a small staff and someone quit before Opening Day. She was supposed to be a fill-in and ended up staying the entire season…and then some. I grew up there and stayed for 13 total seasons. My best friends are from there. I met my husband there. I learned valuable skills that I now teach my students. I learned about the game, its history, and its pomp and circumstance—all of which I treasure.

Then I wrote a fictional novel about working in baseball entitled Baseball Girl, summoning my recollections and stories about working in the game.

On Friday night, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with my mentor and dear friend, Dr. Charles Steinberg, in Boston. Our students and faculty were in town for a communication convention, and Charles, who now works for the Red Sox and Pawtucket Paw Sox, took us out to dinner. It’s funny how things come around full circle—I learned so much of what I know from Charles and Julie Wagner, and both are still my dear friends and mentors. Both Charles and Julie also wrote a case study for a textbook my colleagues and I wrote about event planning. Sitting at that table with Charles made me realize a couple of things: (1) how thankful I am that I had the job I had for all those years and that it helps me in my current job today, and (2) that strong friendships sustain themselves even when you don’t see each other as often as you would like.

Charles and me from Saturday night in Boston at Pico Niccolo.

Today is Opening Day, and I will not be there at Camden Yards to celebrate its 25th season at the ballpark. I have to teach my classes.

I was there on Opening Day 1992 when Camden Yards took center stage, and I helped coordinate the opening ceremonies. I value all of my time there—first as assistant director of community relations and then as director of publishing. For fun, and at Charles’s request, I even spent time as the ballpark deejay for a while, spinning tunes and getting the crowd fired up.

So the question remains: “Do you miss working in baseball?”

On days like today, with a fresh season upon us, a new team, and a clean slate with 162 games to go and a chance to win a World Series ring as a member of the front office, the answer is simply…


Sometimes I do.

Good friends…

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly releasedInn 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.

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


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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a love-ly day.



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

Twice Bitten by La La Land, Love & Regret

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m not so sure what I’d call it.

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

We all make choices in life.

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

xx |

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