Playing With Book Covers For An Upcoming Collection

book data document education
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve started the editing process for my upcoming book entitled, The Postcard and Other Short Stories & Poetry. So far, I’ve organized the stories and made a comprehensive list of what will be included and what is getting pitched. It looks like the book will feature 15 longer short stories, 25 pieces of flash fiction, and about 20 poems. Along with the organization comes the idea of what the cover of the book might look like. As a visual person, I need to have this in my head as I work toward completion. For me, the whole creative process of putting a collection together encompasses so much—the storytelling is at the forefront, but the book packaging is so vital as well. When you are in the business of independent publishing and act as your own curator, designer, and editor, it takes time to comb through each short story and decide if it is worthy of your readers. (You all put a lot of pressure on us to deliver good stuff, and we take making you happy as a reader as the most important aspect of our writing!) Then, of course, it takes time to make it visually pleasing.

I’ve organized myself so that I will work on one story a day, at least to get myself going and not slow down this process. I’ll read each story as a reader, and then I’ll start attacking it as an editor/reviser. It’s sort of fun to look at things you’ve written a while ago and then immerse yourself in it again, but this time with a more intense approach to getting the story just right.

Below are four possible cover ideas that I have so far. If you have any input on which is floating your boat the most, please comment below to let me hear your opinions.

Have a great Monday, you all. If you need me, I’ll be right here…editing.

stephanie verniThe Postard-2thepostcardcoverThe Postcard & Other Short Stories & Poems

Remembering Venice Through Poetry

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I think of Venice often, even though it’s been many years since I’ve been there. It was the most unique and amazing place I have ever visited; Italy in general holds a special place in my heart because both my family and my husband’s family are of Italian heritage. Many people say the Grand Canal is the most beautiful street in the world; I think they may be right. Last year, in my Poetry class, we were asked to write a haibun and a haiku that flowed together. As we could choose any subject to write about, Venice was my choice. When I travel, I keep a copious journal, so it is easy for me to recall sights, sounds, people, and feelings I had at the time simply by referring to my journal, as I did when I wrote the following piece:

Haibun meets Haiku: One with Venezia

We hoist our luggage from the train. We follow the steps from Venezia Santa Lucia to meet the Vaporetto. I pause, convinced I am in a postcard. I touch my face. I am not dreaming. It looks exactly as I imagined, the history and miracle of this place. The sky above, blue, the hues of the city vibrant. In an instant, it seeps into my skin, my soul. A pigeon descends. I look at my husband; we have tears in our eyes.

Hotel Monaco delights us, Grand Canal and San Marco in sight. In minutes, I have become this place, feel its pulse, its people. Blissful pedestrians, bikers, gondoliers. The canals are clean, clear. We hear the swishing of the water—a relaxing sound. The magnificent buildings showcase their architecture. I want to absorb it, walk the streets and bridges, taste the food, see the stars and moon glisten off the canals. I want to be among its people, laugh, taste the wine. Our tummies rumble and we head for Dorsoduro. The canals echo, just us.

Heels tap streets, click, click—
gondolier sings “Volare;”
the city won’t sink tonight.

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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.

 

The Things He Cherished

Image result for photo of a cottage by the sea

***

I suppose I’ve always had a fascination for living near the water, and it shows up in my writing. Inn Significant, my latest novel, is set in an Inn on the Tred Avon River in Oxford, Maryland, and features a love story within a love story. There’s something wholly romantic about living near the water, the peacefulness of it all, and the sentimental feelings I have about it come out in my storytelling.

Today, I thought I’d feature the first poem I ever had published a few years ago. I’ve been writing poetry for ages (I think my earliest poem dates back to 6th grade), but I don’t often share my poetry with people, as it can be incredibly intimate and make me feel a little uncomfortable, because it often comes from a place deep down within your soul. However, I’m going to brave it this summer and include some of my poetry in my upcoming book that features short stories and poems called The Postcard and Other Short Stories & Poetry. Wish me luck. I am not entirely comfortable putting these personal thoughts out there, but I guess I have to get over that (which is why I prefer writing fiction–you can hide behind the make believe).

The poem I’m sharing today was featured on The Whistling Fire, which is no longer in existence, so I feel that I can post it now on this blog. It’s one of many poems that will be featured in The Postcard.

Let me know what you think. It’s a sestina poem , and this type of poem is tough to write because the words at the end of each line must remain the words at the end of each line throughout the poem, but in a different order for each stanza as you build the poem. As you will see, my repetitive words are as follows: sea, garden, children, direct, cherish, and beauty. There’s an order to it, and if you like to challenge yourself, I suggest you attempt a sestina.

In the meantime, here’s The Things He Cherished.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

T H E   T H I N G S   H E   C H E R I S H E D,  A   S E S T I N A

by Stephanie Verni

In my cottage by the sea,
hours spent admiring the garden,
I wait patiently for my children
to return home, direct
from the city to cherish
this place. Its specialness and beauty.

Flowers, surf, majestic beauty—
sharp, blue sky against the sea,
it reflects in my children’s eyes; I cherish
watching them work in the garden
my husband’s eyes in theirs, a direct
melding of our souls into those of our children.

My son, my daughter, walk the lane. My children
still seem so young, their beauty,
their clear sense of life’s direction,
wanting to pay homage to their father, ashes in the sea.
My tears water the garden—
this garden that he cherished.

And oh! He cherished
this home, his dream, and his children,
his handprints still fresh in the garden
his loving touches made it beautiful.
The wind, the water. How he loved the sea–
echoes of his voice saying they provided him direction.

Now heaven’s offering him direction
from above—a new view to cherish–
this diminutive cottage dwarfed by the sea.
Will he see our children?
Will he remember the beauty
he created, lovingly, tenderly  in the garden?

My hands are not those of a gardener,
his passion for it—teaching the children
his tricks. How to tend to nature’s beauty,
wanting something to cherish.
Grateful for them, knowing my children
will comfort me in his cottage by the sea.

Memories alive in the vibrant garden.
We’re here. Direct sun sparkles off the sea.
He, at peace. The things he cherished.

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.

For Graduates: There is Always A Place For You

The approach to campus | Stevenson University | October 27, 2015
The approach to campus | Stevenson University | October 27, 2015

* * *

At college and university graduations across the country, ceremonies will be chock full of great quotes, wonderful inspirational sentiments, and often excerpts of poetry. Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” is a popular favorite—and an amazing poem.

However, for my graduates who are about to enter the working world or continue on to graduate school, this little poem has always been one of my favorites by Anne Campbell. I share it with you now as I wish you well, hope you have wonderful successes and happiness ahead of you, and cherish the times we shared at Stevenson. Remember: there is always a place for you.

 There Is Always a Place for You
by Anne Campbell
There is always a place for you at my table,
—You never need be invited.
I’ll share every crust as long as I’m able,
—And know you will be delighted.
There is always a place for you by my fire,
—And though it may burn to embers,
If warmth and good cheer are your desire
—The friend of your heart remembers!
There is always a place for you by my side,
—And should the years tear us apart,
I will face lonely moments more satisfied
—With a place for you in my heart!
***
Congratulations, graduates!

Opening The Door to Love or Closing the Door to Love

heartartwork

* * *

In celebration of Valentine’s Day this weekend, instead of a little Friday Fiction, I’m featuring two poems I wrote. I don’t write poetry as much as I did when I was younger, but every once in a while I’m moved to write something. The first poem is about opening up to love in Dr. Seuss rhyming style, and the second is about closing the door to love and being brokenhearted in prose style. I figured I’d cover both bases. Hope yours is rather more like the former and less like the latter.  Happy Valentine’s Weekend…

If Only You Dare | by S. Verni

Love can grow from the smallest of things

From date nights and kissing to wedding rings.

It sneaks up behind you when you won’t know

That it’s time to give it one more go.

The heartbreak you weathered doesn’t stand a chance

When standing before you is a taste of romance.

For when love is ready, you must be prepared

To face it head on; there’s no time to be scared.

And when it greets you at your front door,

You cannot remember the old scars you bore.

Face it willingly, without any shame,

There’s still time for you and the romance game.

Open your heart and throw away your cares

Love is waiting for you, if only you dare.

Heart Art | Keith Haring
Heart Art | Keith Haring

I Loved You All At Once | By S. Verni

I loved you all at once—

Then nothing.

Like a hallowed pumpkin,

Or a house without walls,

Emptiness echoes in barren halls.

*

I loved you all at once—

Thrashing lava,

Hot to the core—blazing;

Fire in the souls ignite,

Killing me softly with each passing night.

*

I loved you all at once—

Powerfully charged,

Yet what was hot can still grow cold,

Withering in pain,

Swearing to never love again.

Pretty Things, Poetry, and Handmade Valentines

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Photo credit: Stephanie Verni

P R E T T Y   T H I N G S

Yesterday, after having been stuck in our home for several days due to the enormous dumping of snow we received over the weekend, the kids and I got out of the house. We ended up running a couple of errands, then stopped at Target. In their “discount” area when you first walk in, they had some pretty things in shades of turquoise, pinks, reds, golds, and it got me in the spirit for Valentine’s Day, which is coming up soon. I also bought some feminine office supplies, because typically office supplies aren’t really that attractive, but these were super cute. The folders came in packs of three and were $1 each; the two porcelain travel mugs were $3 each; and the binder clips were $1 each. The cards, pictured above, were also $1, and I purchased a collection of birthday cards to have on hand as well. So, without spending a lot and breaking the bank, I came away with some adorable accessories to start the semester.

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P O E T R Y

I found this poem among my collection of poetry and writings. I’ve never posted it before and don’t even know when I wrote it. It’s a mystery, and perhaps, shall remain that way.

WHEN I LOVED YOU

When I loved you

The world kept turning—turning

Birds would sing and dance and play,

Chirping songs.

How happiness did move along.

When I loved you

Singer’s tunes would make me swoon

The skies above were crystal blue,

Rivers flowed.

But that was oh so long ago.

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Photo credit: littleinspiration.com

H O M E M A D E   V A L E N T I N E S

I’ve always been a big fan of the homemade card, poem, or written letter. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know how much I love words from the heart. This little card is perfection, and comes from littleinspiration.com. I found it on Pinterest, and it just makes you want to put something meaningful together for someone you love. There’s nothing like homemade ingenuity and little homegrown stuff from the heart.

 

 

 

Five * Seven * Five

rainywalkFive. Seven. Five. That’s the typical length of a haiku. Five syllables make up the first line, seven make up the second, and five again make up the third. When you write novels, you have pages and pages to tell a story; in a short story, you have much less time, and in poetry, you have lines. I’m posting three haikus I’ve written that I like best. I hope you like them, and even more so, that I inspire you to write one of your own.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Haiku: Blizzard
White winter blizzard
covers moonlit landscape, still;
boots thaw by the fire.

* * *

Haiku: One with Venezia
Heels tap streets, click, click—
gondolier sings “Volare;”
charm bounces off walls.

* * *

Longing, A Haiku

Rain on the pavement,

Your feet striding down the street.

Longing to see you.

Come with Me to Touch the Sky

Touch the Sky
This print is available for purchase. Click on the image and it will take you there…by balloon…

Come with me to touch the sky,

You need not travel far and wide.

I’m here, with you, wherever you go—

Though this you probably already know.

No words are needed for you and I,

We’ve said our hellos; we’ve said our goodbyes—

But on the rare chance that you can’t fly,

Just look above, and touch the sky.

I wrote this poem a while ago. Some folks despise rhyming poetry and prefer the more free-flowing style. While I enjoy that type of poetry as well, I’m a big fan of the rhyme—it’s probably all those years I was in love with Dr. Seuss as a child and the poetry courses I took in college. When you read some of the classic poetry from Keats to Shelley to Shakespeare, they were fans of the rhyme, too.

I saw this lovely artwork on Pinterest, and it made me think of my poem, so I pulled it out of the archives.

Have a lovely Friday and long weekend, everyone!

Okay. Okay. I’ll Come.

Maya Angelou. 4/4/28 - 5/28/14.
Maya Angelou. 4/4/28 – 5/28/14.

* * *

I know what Maya Angelou meant here. There are times when you sit down to write and nothing comes. Then, there are times when your fingers can’t type as quickly as your brain is working, and the fingers have trouble keeping up with the thoughts that barrel through you.

We lost a great sage, writing influence, and someone with limitless amounts of creativity. Her influence will be missed.

* * * * * *

In Memory of Maya Angelou, A Poem

The ideas don’t flow the way they should;

Noise litters your head—

An angry word, a moment of doubt—

Insecurities pounding, wanting to come in.

Yet pushing forward is what you know.

Climbing, reaching, leaving it behind.

In times of trouble, in times of pain, marching on—

Your feet move faster than your brain.

To greener pastures, liberation unfolds,

Welcoming you to sit and stay.

Dismissed woes are far behind—

Lightness begins—endless, anchorless, limitless.

Bright and blue—vaporizing clouds clear,

Lucidity, streamlined and uncluttered.

And you are left, alone with your thoughts.

Lovely paper greets the pen.

Boundless lessons rising to the top,

Your hand records with effortless grace—

And a smile and a tear.

And the thoughts come.

And the thoughts come.

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Copyright 2014/Stephanie Verni

The Best Advice You Ever Got

JupiterThe best advice you ever got—

And over the years you’ve heard a lot—

Didn’t come in the way of a bang and pop!

Didn’t come among a fertile crop.

It didn’t call out in the dead of night

When creepy crawlers come out to bite.

It wasn’t seen among the stars—

The moon, Jupiter or dusty Mars.

It didn’t have legs and walk away,

It stayed to face interminable days.

It helped you survive the bleakest clouds,

When you wanted to quit, but then said aloud,

That what you’ve lost wasn’t meant to be,

In pain, you cry, the dichotomy.

One side, like a coin; do not to toss aside,

The other, a symbol, shouts run and hide.

The best advice you ever got—

As it quietly emerged from beneath the rot.

And from disappointing people who vanish a lot,

And dare to aim, but miss the shot—

Was to heed your heart, for it’s the glue,

What others believe may not be true.

What others say, you pay no mind,

Some things are better left behind.

 

© Stephanie Verni, April 2014

 

A Gift From the Sky

Poetry

I don’t have a problem blogging or writing stories and sharing it all. Poetry, on the other hand, is entirely different. Allen Ginsberg was right about that, for sure. Poetry forces you to bare your soul, and it often makes me uncomfortable. Today, I’m forcing myself to be a little uncomfortable by sharing a poem I wrote a few years ago. Why? Because, as I try to teach my students, sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zone and do something…different.

Gift from the Sky

Sometimes something magical happens,

And you can’t explain why.

From Heaven above

Comes a gift from the sky.

A friend all your own,

Love tried and true,

A gift comes along—

And it’s entirely for you.

~ Stephanie Verni