Road Trip & Book Signing in Oxford, MD

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As P.T. Barnum used to say, “Let’s get this show on the road.”

This Sunday, July 16, I’ll be doing that thing I love to do–driving over the Bay Bridge to reach the “other side.” The Eastern Shore of Maryland is beckoning me to come for a visit, and I cannot wait.

I’ll be joining in the fun and festivities of Plein Air Paint Day in Oxford, Maryland, and will be signing my books at Mystery Loves Company on S. Morris Street from 1-3 p.m. Owner Kathy Harig has invited me to be a part of the event, and I enthusiastically accepted. Being able to spend the day in Oxford where my latest novel is set is just what the doctor ordered. And, as an added bonus, it will afford me time to do additional research for the sequel to Inn Significant. I love chatting with those who live in the town. There’s always a need to investigate a place and hear stories from the best sources. As a writer, the more stories you hear, the more material you gain.

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The charm of the Eastern Shore has hypnotized me. As someone who commutes 40-minutes to work and sits on the Baltimore Beltway in more traffic than I wish to recall, taking a trip across the bridge means total decompression. As my character Milly states from my novel when she crosses the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, “As the Bay Bridge meets the land on the Eastern Shore, it’s as if you landed in a different world. Immediately, I felt the slower pace of life.” Milly and I think alike.

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That feeling is real. Ask anyone who has the privilege of spending time on the Eastern Shore. It’s the best place to unwind and relax.

If you’re in the area and are looking for a day away and to feel the slower pace of life, I encourage you to come visit Oxford on Sunday. Have lunch at a local establishment. Picnic in the park. Take a Ferry ride to St. Michaels. Bring your bikes and ride the open road. Get an ice cream cone at The Scottish Highland Creamery. Pick crabs on the water. See the Sandaway Inn, the place that inspired the entire setting of Inn Significant.

I think you’ll see why I decided to set my novel in this sweet, friendly, and vibrant little town. And I hope you fall in love with it, too, as I have.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

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

B I G   N E W S   T O D A Y ! ! !

INN SIGNIFICANT IS NOW AVAILABLE !


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

I still think it’s true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To purchase via Amazon for Kindle, click here.

To purchase via Amazon in paperback, click here.

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

With great appreciation,

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15781589_865992106837911_1585157622209528074_nStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

About the Inn Significant: A Novel

Two years after receiving the horrifying news of her husband Gil’s death, Milly Foster continues to struggle to find her way out of a state of depression. As a last-ditch effort and means of intervention, Milly’s parents convince her to run their successful Inn during their absence as they help a friend establish a new bed and breakfast in Ireland. Milly reluctantly agrees; when she arrives at the picturesque, waterfront Inn Significant, her colleague, John, discovers a journal written by her late grandmother that contains a secret her grandmother kept from the family. Reading her grandmother’s words, and being able to identify with her Nana’s own feelings of loss, sparks the beginning of Milly’s climb out of the darkness and back to the land of the living.

Annapolis Sparkles For The Holidays

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Apparently, my hometown knows how to do Christmas right, and I’m here to tell you that I think the judges from two of my favorite publications have gotten it right.

Country Living magazine ranked Annapolis at No. 10 in its list of America’s 20 Best Small Towns for Christmas. Additionally, Travel and Leisure magazine ranked Annapolis No. 15 on its list of America’s Best Towns for the Holidays. We’ll take it.

15380416_10154717573158954_1900079665721376027_nWith wonderful events such as last night’s Parade of Lights sponsored by the Eastport Yacht Club, residents and visitors can stroll the streets of Annapolis, shop, eat, and watch the boats parade into the Harbor. Families, friends, and couples arm in arm strolled the streets of Annapolis as the city was in the holiday spirit. The boats moved in and out of Spa Creek near the Eastport Bridge and into the City Dock area where boaters waved, sang carols, and tooted their horns at the spectators.

This Thursday, three of my friends and I will get into the holiday spirit as we fa-la-la in the historic area for Midnight Madness. The shops stay open until midnight, and we’ll dine and get presents for our dearest friends and families. Many of the stores will be offering discounts and specials to those shopping on Thursday.

If you haven’t visited Annapolis, you should plan to come and visit. It is a charming little city with a lot of spirit—Christmas or otherwise.

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

An Eastern Shore Treasure: Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay

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As a Marylander who sometimes enjoys a quick getaway to the Eastern Shore, I recently had the privilege of once again staying at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina. Situated on the banks of the Choptank River, the resort boasts 342 acres in Cambridge, Maryland. As this was my third visit as a guest—having gone once before with my husband and then again for a girls’ getaway weekend—I always forget just how large, well-maintained, and picturesque it is. Unlike some resorts, it does not have an air of superiority to it; instead, it welcomes guests with open arms and invites them to walk the trails, spend time along the waterfront at the beach area or two pools, get pampered at the spa, or play a round of golf or two at the well-designed course on site. The restaurants are lovely, and we enjoyed a delectable breakfast as we sat in a terrace room that overlooks the water. Quite simply, the resort offers guests the perfect opportunity to unwind and enjoy the splendor that surrounds them.

One special touch the resort offers guests: their own bag of neatly packed s’mores to roast by the outdoor fire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day Trip to Oxford and Easton, Maryland (where my new novel is set)

DSC_0143My mom and I typically spend a day together before my kids get out of school for the summer, and today, our day trip took us to Oxford, Maryland. This trip was for fun, but it was also for another reason: we had to do a little research because my new novel takes place there. I like to use the names of real places in my settings to make the fiction feel as real as possible. Therefore, it was up to us to do some legwork so I can finish writing this novel and keep it as true to the setting and feel of Oxford as possible.

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As I have been hunkered down writing for the last couple of weeks, and as I still have much more to go, I will stop blogging and let the photographs speak to the sweetness of the places. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Oxford is located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland near St. Michaels and Easton. All three towns have beauty and charm all their own, and while we didn’t spend time in St. Michaels today, we did have lunch in Easton and shopped in a few of the boutiques.

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I can’t wait to finish writing this novel. I’m excited by the storyline, characters, and even the cover, which I recently designed. Now for the photos, as I get back to writing…

P.S. That’s my mom standing near the harbor area where the ferry comes in in Oxford.

OXFORD, MARYLAND

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EASTON, MARYLAND

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

 

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Springtime in Annapolis

This morning I decided to do a little research for the novel I’m working on—yes, I’m writing again, and I’ve got two chapters under my belt thus far. However, despite the fact that I’ve lived in the Annapolis area for quite a while, I wanted to take a stroll along some of the streets I don’t normally walk around when my daughter and I shop down there. We typically hit Main Street and the Annapolis Dock, get an ice cream or coffee, and wander around the shops. Today, I stayed up by St. John’s College and Maryland Avenue, popping in and out of Prince George Street, King George Street, East Street, and College Avenue. I was looking for some inspiration. When I write about something, I need to have a good image in my head of the setting–of exactly where my characters will live and breathe. With help from a lovely woman I met this morning named Jenny, who offered up some history of the area and some people with whom she thought I should meet, I’m getting really excited about this novel.

So with my Nikon in hand and the quiet streets of a weekday morning in Annapolis at my feet, I’m sharing the photographs I took from a morning’s walking tour of Annapolis…

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My first book was set in Annapolis. I guess the old adage is true: write what you know.

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Beneath the Mimosa Tree, my first novel, is set in Annapolis.

The Unending Appeal of The Book Store & Wine Bar

Photo credit: Capital-Gazette
Photo credit: Capital-Gazette

In today’s world of hustle and bustle, working late hours and weekends, barely finding time to do our laundry or run to the grocery store, there is something that is still appealing: the thought of plunking our butts in a chair at a local bookstore, enjoying some down time, and drinking a cup of coffee. The idea of the local, independent bookstore harkens back to a simpler time when there was a place to gather and provided a sense of community. While the large national bookstores are great and definitely serve a purpose, there has been something lacking from our cities and towns: a place to gather and share a sense of culture. The good news is, these indie bookstores are popping up; to read more about their resurgence, click here to see a previous post I wrote recently about this particular subject.

The Annapolis Book Store on Maryland Avenue
The Annapolis Book Store on Maryland Avenue

In Annapolis, we have The Annapolis Bookstore on Maryland Avenue in the historic area. If you are planning a trip to our lovely city, I suggest stopping in to browse some books and have a cup of coffee. While this is one example, it is the only one in Annapolis. Our outlying suburbs could use more of these types of places, and I long for one in Severna Park. If only I didn’t have a really good job and kids to get through college, I might consider opening up one of my own…

Likewise, the appeal of the wine bar—a relaxing place to hang out with your friends and eat small plates, drink a glass of wine, and enjoy an intimate atmosphere—continues to develop. As an alternate to a traditional bar, independent wine bars tend to be popular with ladies and couples, and offer another type of night out, especially for people like me who may not want to listen to hammering music or a live band, but prefer softer music or an acoustic performer which allows conversation to take place without shouting over the music.

In my hometown of Annapolis, there are three very good wine bars: Red Red Wine Bar on Main Street in Annapolis, Vin 909 in Eastport on Bay Ridge Avenue, and Grapes Wine Bar of Annapolis on Forest Drive. Each of these places offers customers a place to gather, drink wine, and share an evening together.

Red Red Wine | Annapolis
Red Red Wine | Annapolis
Grapes Wine Bar | Annapolis
Grapes Wine Bar | Annapolis
Vin 909 | Eastport | Annapolis
Vin 909 | Eastport | Annapolis

For those of us who live in the suburbs but don’t mind going out in our cities, we are thankful for the bookstores and coffee houses that are there for us and act as a source of entertainment. Sometimes we just want to get out of the house, and the only thing I’m hoping for is that this trend will continue to grow and offer us even more options, even in the suburbs.

 

 

#Annapolis with #nofilter

CapitalToday’s blog post is a photo essay of the afternoon spent with my daughter in Annapolis. Even in this near 100 degree weather, the photos—all taken with my iPhone and with no filter—represent this city well…one of my favorite places on the planet. Annapolis is so near and dear to my heart, and my first novel entitled Beneath the Mimosa Tree, pays homage to my hometown. Many readers of the novel have told me that they felt as if Annapolis was another character in the novel, which is quite flattering, I have to say. My goal was to make you fall it love with it on the written page as much as if you got the chance to visit it yourself.

I hope you enjoy strolling the streets of Annapolis in this photo essay as much as I enjoyed my day with my daughter that included lunch, ice cream, shopping, and snapping some photos.

The locals call it Naptown, but I’ll always refer to it as my home.

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Snow, Spring and The Dad in Baseball Girl

March 20, 2015. My backyard in Maryland.
March 20, 2015. My backyard in Maryland.

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This picture above was taken minutes ago in my backyard in Maryland. It’s the first day of spring, and Maryland is “supposedly” in the South. Sometimes you wouldn’t know it. Like today, when the birds should be chirping and tulips should be starting to come to life.

This weather is for the birds. And by “the birds,” I mean the Bay City Blackbirds in Baseball Girl. Won’t you consider hunkering down with a book written by a struggling independent author and see what happens in the love triangle among a ballplayer, a sports writer, and a woman who works in baseball before the official start of this season? I promise that you don’t have to love baseball to like the story…perhaps just have a dad you love(d) a lot. It’s the most important relationship in Baseball Girl, and the driving force in Francesca’s ability to grow.

JessicaThis pretty photo was sent to me by a former student who also happened to work in baseball.

Have a great weekend, all. Think Spring.

And baseball.

Overworked? Overweary? Overstressed? Take A Day Trip. It Does Wonders.

St. Michael's HarborThere are a plethora of reasons why we need to get away from it all, if only for a few hours. We are overworked, overstressed, overweary, overextended, overtaxed, overstimulated—just plain over it. And thus, the good “doctor,” whomever that may be—a friend, a spouse, a mother, a father, a child, a healthcare provider—tells us to step away from the demanding rigors of our lives and take a day for ourselves. Coincidentally, it also happens that I showed my feature writing class the film “Roman Holiday,” a film in which Audrey Hepburn, playing a princess from a nameless country, decides she’s had enough, and takes her chances as she goes incognito for a play day in Rome. Luckily for her, Gregory Peck is there to help her secure her wishes of being a “regular person” for one 24-hour period. Ah…love and romance in Rome. The problem is, I couldn’t get to Rome. Not for a day over the weekend.

But there are nearby places to go where you can get away. St. Michael’s may not be Rome, but it is the perfect spot to let go of your cares for a few hours. Nestled on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, it is approximately one hour from Annapolis. On a weekend in the fall or spring when Marylanders are typically not heading to the Ocean City, Bethany, Rehoboth, or Lewes beaches, it’s a delightful ride on a pretty stretch of Rt. 50, especially in the fall as the leaves are turning. I could feel my worries and cares lift as soon as we crossed the Bay Bridge. Seeing the mainland of Maryland become more and more distant as the journey continued, I knew I was going to spend an enjoyable afternoon with my family as we shopped, ate, walked the streets, and talked to locals. I am never disappointed in my day trips to St. Michael’s: the town somehow has the power to welcome you with open arms and make you not want to leave.

WickershamThe drive in is absolutely darling. The store-lined streets reflect a sense of care that the people of St. Michael’s feel for their town, replete with merchants and townspeople decorated for the Halloween season. There were witches on brooms hung high in the air propped up into telephone poles, hay bails with pumpkin displays outside the stores, mums and other seasonal flowers adding color and personality to the town, and doors opened wide insisting that patrons come in and peruse the goods.Witch

My daughter and I had a great time going in and out of eclectic shops that boasted jewelry, handbags, scarves, towels, and household goods, while my son and husband shopped in some of the apparel and poster stores. There is something for everyone, including antiques, home goods, artistic boutiques, and candy shops.

Restaurants are in and about the main area, with many receiving four and five-star reviews. From classic American cuisine like that featured at Town Dock restaurant located on the water in the harbor (where we ate on the deck), to Simpatico, an Italian restaurant across from the community center, to the Crab Claw for seafood, there is something for every palate. Justine’s Ice Cream was voted best in town, and St. Michael’s Candy and Gifts is sure to satisfy every sweet tooth.Gazebo

The St. Michael’s Harbor area boasts the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, which charges an entrance fee, but is a working museum that kids will love exploring. Additionally, Patriot Cruises, which launches from the dock adjacent to the museum, takes guests on hourly cruises from the Harbor to the Miles River. These are all great suggestions you can do with your significant other or your family.

BeeHiveJackOLanternHowever, the highlight of our trip yesterday wasn’t anything nautical or historic: it was attending the Pumpkin Carving Contest at the St. Michael’s Community Center. Merchants sponsored enormous pumpkins (and I mean ENORMOUS), and talented individuals showed up between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to carve their pumpkins, each one numbered and then presented for voting. Selected judges awarded prizes, and then it was up to the people to vote. My husband, children and I scoured the place trying to pick the best one, but it was not an easy decision. The magnitude of the talent we witnessed was tremendous—and for someone who preaches to her students about the importance of creativity—I was overwhelmed by the innovation that took place in that room. In the end, I voted for the two women who carved “The Bee Hive,” and we all chatted with them about the event.leaves

It was the first time my children had stepped foot on St. Michael’s soil, and they both enjoyed their day there. My daughter wants to know when we can go back and do some “serious shopping.” My husband and I strolled the streets and recalled sentimental times when we had been there before. I’ve already marked my calendar for “Christmas in St. Michael’s,” an event I’ve wanted to attend for over 20 years.

JohnSmithPart of the fun of St. Michael’s is just strolling the back streets and sneaking peeks at some of the historic homes, the white picket fences, the flowers and landscaping, and the people who reside in picturesque homes that sit on streets lined with brick sidewalks. As someone who loves the water and being near it, the notion of living in a town like St. Michael’s has a great deal of appeal to me. In fact, in my novel, “Beneath the Mimosa Tree,” the grandmother, named Vivi, resides in St. Michael’s and is an active member of the town. I put her in that location because she exuded as much warmth as the town itself does.town

Perhaps when I wrote my novel I was projecting a possible future for myself down the road, imagining that I might someday be a sweet grandmother who would welcome her children and grandchildren for visits. I could certainly see St. Michael’s as a place to live in my retirement; it pretty much has everything I would need. It’s an enchantingly genial community that seems to smile at you and alleviate your over-extended self as soon as you get out of your car.