Book Giveaway – Enter to Win!

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In the world of independent authors and publishing, Amazon gives us the opportunity to give away copies of our books…

So let’s do it.

If you’re wondering what the heck Inn Significant is about and whether you may want to read it, let me share some recent reviews about the book (below you will see the summary about the novel).

In the novel, you’ll be transported to Oxford, Maryland (click here to see an lovely overview of the town form Only in Your State); one of my readers wrote to me and 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.”

Another reader wrote, Weaving in pieces of a family mystery through a found journal, the author introduces a new set of characters in a completely different time, but reminds us that some things are truly timeless.”

And, yet a third reader wrote, All I can say is AWESOME! This needs to be made into a movie and I need a sequel! I was hooked from page 1. I completely fell in love with the characters and the setting. What an amazing job Ms. Verni did to transport you to the little town of Oxford. It definitely has ignited a spark in me to make it out to the Eastern Shore this year.

Additionally, just last week, Inn Significant received a Finalist Award from the National Indie Excellence Awards as well as a 5-Star review from Readers’ Favorite.

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

About Inn Significant:

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

 

 


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.

 

Porch Sitting & Writing, A Winning Combination

image3My summer break is finally here. As a college professor, we love our teaching, but sometimes a little down time is important. For months, people have been asking me what I’ll be doing this summer.

My answer? Reading, writing, relaxing.

There you have it in a nutshell.

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And yes, I have some things to accomplish, but they will get done on my schedule.

I’m still editing “Postcards and Other Short Stories,” and I’m writing my third novel. But the beauty is, I feel no pressure. I’m on my own timetable.

Our porch at home is my little sanctuary. I love my office, its space, and the new chandelier, but in the summertime, I like to be outside as much as possible, and so my little laptop and I venture to the table on the porch where I listen to the birds chirping, the airplanes fly overhead, and the sounds of silence while I write. It’s a great time to collect my thoughts, get creative, and let things unfold as they may.

My pile of books to read is long. I’m finishing up The House on Primrose Pond by Yona Zeldis McDonough. Next up: After You by JoJo Moyes.

I hope you get to indulge and enjoy some quality time that’s all yours, too. Let me know what you’re reading; I always love a good book suggestion.

In the meantime, if you need me, you can find me on the porch. I’ve got a cold glass of iced tea waiting for you.

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xx |

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

Writing Can’t Be ‘Thin Love’

Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all. ~ Toni Morrison

TMorrisonAuthorI admire writer Toni Morrison. She is smart, insightful, and willing to write for herself. Her books are powerful and influential…and from the heart. After sitting here reading many of her quotes, I keep coming back to the one above along with this one:

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it. ~ Toni Morrison

You have to love to write in order to take an idea and watch it come to fruition. Anyone who has the fortitude to do it and publish it deserves at least a little pat on the back, don’t you think? In a couple of pieces I’ve previously published on the blog entitled “Why I Write Part I,” “Why I Write Part II,” and “Why I Write Part III,” I did my best to articulate my passion for it. As Ms. Morrison says, it ain’t thin love. Writing has got to be part of who you are and what you want to do.

I’ve taken a little time away from writing this holiday season, but I’m ready to get back to it. I’ve got a collection of short stories that I’d like to publish soon, and I’ve been working on another novel as well. With a full-time job and a busy family, it’s challenging to find the time to sit and tell a story.

But I know one is brewing, and soon, I’ll be ready to fully engage.

Those of you who are writers on the side like me, how do you balance writing, blogging, work, and your social life? I’d love to hear how you do it. That’s what a writing community is for–to share ideas.

In the meantime, I haven’t plugged my work in a while, so below are my latest books.

I’ll see you on the flip side…and let me in on your secrets.

HOT OFF THE PRESS…

E V E N T   P L A N N I N G:  C O M M U N I C A T I N G   T H E O R Y   A N D   P R A C T I C E 

by Leanne Bell McManus, Chip Rouse, and Stephanie Verni

In this textbook, readers will learn the “why” behind the practice of event planning. Chapters include topics such as interpersonal relationships, nonverbal communication, conflict and negotiation, integrated marketing communication, and entrepreneurship. Special thanks to all our wonderful contributors who wrote case studies for each chapter. Published by Kendall Hunt Publishing, January 2016.

To learn more about the book, visit Kendall Hunt Publishing by clicking here.

Event Planning Text

BRONZE MEDAL WINNER, READERS’ FAVORITE CONTEST, CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE, 2012

FINALIST, NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCE AWARDS, ROMANCE, 2013

B E N E A T H   T H E   M I M O S A   T R E E  by Stephanie Verni

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Annabelle Marco and Michael Contelli are both only children of Italian-Americans. Next door neighbors since they were both five years old, they both receive their parents’ constant attention and are regularly subjected to their meddlesome behavior. In high school and then in college, as their relationship moves from friendship to love, Annabelle finds herself battling her parents, his parents, and even Michael. She feels smothered by them all and seeks independence through an unplanned and unexpected decision that she comes to regret and that ultimately alters the course of her life, Michael’s life, and the lives of both of their parents.

Set in Annapolis, Maryland, New York City, and London, England, in the 1980s and 1990s, Beneath the Mimosa Tree examines both Annabelle’s and Michael’s journeys over the span of ten years as we hear their alternating voices tell the story of self-discoveries, the nature of well-meaning families, and the sense of renewal that can take place when forgiveness is permitted.

To order your copy of Beneath the Mimosa Tree, click here for Amazon  or here for Barnes & Noble.

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HONORABLE MENTION WINNER, READERS’ FAVORITE CONTEST, SPORTS FICTION, 2015

B A S E B A L L    G I R L  by Stephanie Verni

HMAwardFrancesca Milli’s father passes away when she’s a freshman in college and nineteen years old; she is devastated and copes with his death by securing a job working for the Bay City Blackbirds, a big-league team, as she attempts to carry on their traditions and mutual love for the game of baseball. The residual effect of loving and losing her dad has made her cautious, until two men enter her life: a ballplayer and a sports writer. With the encouragement of her mother and two friends, she begins to work through her grief. A dedicated employee, she successfully navigates her career, and becomes a director in the front office. However, Francesca realizes that she can’t partition herself off from the world, and in time, understands that sometimes loving someone does involve taking a risk.

To order your copy of Baseball Girl, click here for Amazon, or here for Barnes & Noble.

Some Quick Facts About Independently Publishing Your Book

SelfPub
Photo credit: b2b.com

 

Those of us who write books can all see it clearly: the world of publishing is in a state of flux. Independent authors are popping up ever more frequently, and there are numerous reasons for it. Why? Because writers want to maintain control over their own projects. Because writers want to immerse themselves into all aspects of the publishing process, from conception of story to editing to designing the cover to marketing and promoting their novels themselves. And, because writers write as a hobby, something they do on the side and not as their sole livelihood; perhaps they don’t want the hassle of everything that can come with traditional publishing.

There are many reasons independent authors choose to be independent.

As of October 9, 2013, in the United States alone, data by ProQuest and Bawker reported that the number of self-published titles jumped 59% from 2011, with up to 391,000 self-published titles released.

E-books comprised 40% of the market in 2012, and continue to gain on print, though print saw a rise of 33%.

Many self-published authors like myself find the process of seeking a traditional publisher as an obstacle to getting our stories out there. We write, therefore, we want someone to read what we write. We need an audience, even if the audience is smaller.

Those of us who are independently/self-published authors see ourselves as “managers” of the entire project, and become vested in our work. Sometimes, we need help with parts, and we turn to friends or colleagues to assist with aspects we might not know too much about. In my own case, I had friends edit my book. I also had my friend shoot the cover of Beneath the Mimosa Tree, my first book. Additionally, she photographed me for my author head shot for the novel as well. Likewise, I will have her do the same with Baseball Girl, the novel I will soon release.

Photo credit: fanpop.com
Photo credit: fanpop.com

When your sole income does not come from the sale of books, it is easy to have fun with self-publishing. It’s a great side hobby where you can put all your talents to work. As someone who worked in public relations and publishing for years, I wrote all my own press releases and media alerts; I’ve contacted book stores to see if they are interested in selling my book; I’ve booked my own book talks; I’ve entered indie author contests and placed; and I’ve even coached other people as to how to do it. It’s really quite fun, and something I’ve never been afraid of doing. Why? Because I love it.

Many self-published authors get picked up by big publishing houses, so even if you publish something yourself, if you still desire that “larger” audience, you can certainly continue to try.

The numbers are pretty staggering, though. The world of publishing has changed, continues to change, and I don’t see this trend ending anytime soon.

The Right Perspective

“Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.” ~ Truman Capote

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I think I’ve been heeding this advice subconsciously for years. When a reviewer tells me, as an independent writer, to “take something out,” I always consider it. I’m actually pretty open to suggestions where my writing is concerned.

However, when one thinks of creative writing as an “art,” which it falls under when considering academic Masters of Fine Arts programs, it makes me wonder about artists like painters and sculptors and graphic artists. Do they take a line out, re-sculpt an object, or alter their craft because someone tells them it’s not working for him?

The thing about perspective is simple: everyone’s perspective is different. We come at words and art from different backgrounds and experiences. What is wonderful and fabulous to one person may not resonate the same way for another. This is true whether it’s a book, a film, art on a canvas, or other types of artistic work.

Being able to dissect these perspectives requires a serious backbone. You can’t get rattled as a writer if someone doesn’t like your work or deems it “unpublishable.” Ultimately, the work is yours, and you have to feel good about it. If you do, then you’ve achieved the right (write) perspective.

Why I Write, Part III, The Finale

Kate DiCamillo, Author of "Because of Winn Dixie," "The Tale of Desperaux," "The Mircaulous Journey of Edward Tulane," and "The Magician's Elephant."
Kate DiCamillo, Author of “Because of Winn Dixie,” “The Tale of Desperaux,” “The Mircaulous Journey of Edward Tulane,” and “The Magician’s Elephant.”

One of my favorite authors is Kate DiCamillo. She writes beautiful, lyrical stories that you generally find in the young adult section of book stores. Her stories are somewhat mystical, and despite that her stories are geared to children through young teens, I believe they are wonderful stories for all ages. I recently watched a video of her where she was talking about becoming a writer. She mentions that she walked around for 10 years wearing the uniform of a writer—a black turtleneck and jeans—saying she was going to be a writer, but she never did anything about it. Then, she said, she got off her duff and wrote her award-winning novel, “Because of Winn Dixie.” I laughed to myself as I listened to her talk, and then I realized it was time for me to do the same. Rule of writing: Let other writers and authors serve as inspiration for you. (As an aside, thank you, Kate.)

When I completed my MFA in 2011, I had a completed novel that was my thesis, now newly titled BENEATH THE MIMOSA TREE, but loosely based on that short story I wrote 19 years before. I spent the next year tweaking it, revising my main character Michael’s voice (I so wanted him to be a believable and likable character— a sort of Mr. Darcy with Italian genes), and editing it over and over again. Here’s a glimpse into what I penned as Michael:

“Annabelle was sobbing so violently, it was difficult to console her. She kept saying she was sorry, and I saw the letter in her hand. It was the one I had never mailed, the one I should have sent. I’d sealed it and never reopened it. The last time I was home visiting two years ago, I’d traveled with it in my briefcase and put it in my box in the desk. Call me sentimental—I couldn’t throw it away, but I didn’t want to read it again either.” —Michael, from Beneath the Mimosa Tree

When I was pleased with my characters and through with the editing process, I had two choices: publish or perish.

I chose to publish, and I chose to self-publish.

Many people ask my why I didn’t shop my book out to an agent or try to get a publisher. There are three main reasons for this: (1) I am a control freak, (2) I had the background in publications to be able to confidently do it myself, and (3) I knew how to create public relations, marketing, and advertising pieces and strategies from my previous professional careers. Additionally, I teach the topics at Stevenson University, so it was time to see if I could put into practice what I preach to students.

Besides, the book was done, and I wanted to see what would happen to it.

Self-publishing through KDP and Create Space via Amazon.
Self-publishing through KDP and Create Space via Amazon.

After choosing Amazon and Barnes & Noble as my self-publishing hubs, I set out upon the journey of self-publishing. I had colleagues and close friends proof my novel one last time; I had my friend Jenny take the cover photo (which I love); I typeset the cover and the pages inside the paperback; and then I learned to publish it for the Kindle and Nook. This took time, and was not my favorite part. I prefer the creative side so much more than all those tedious details. Nevertheless, when I called upon my father as a trusted assistant to help me “beam it up” to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, we did it, my hands shaking with utter nervousness. Off it went.

I could now say that after many years, I had published a novel.

One of many book clubs that have chosen "Beneath the Mimosa Tree" as their book club book.
One of many book clubs that have chosen “Beneath the Mimosa Tree” as their book club book.

Interestingly enough, I don’t have one regret about the path I chose for BENEATH THE MIMOSA TREE. It’s had a lovely little existence. I’ve sold a good number of copies, people are still booking me for book club talks and functions, and it even won a Readers’ Favorite book award last year. It’s all been quite thrilling.

This was really fun to watch when it was first released! Such a thrill for me!!!
It was really fun to watch the book when it debuted on the “Hot New Releases” board on Amazon! Such a thrill for me!!!

I guess in the end, we all write because we want to share a story; we are all storytellers. Look at history—we know what we know from documentation and historical facts, from stories that have been passed down from generations, and from photographs and books that have stood the test of time.

There are so many reasons why I write. It’s a form of therapy. It’s an escape. It’s a calling. It’s something I do as relaxation. I love to “create.” The list goes on and on. Even as I’m sitting here writing this right now, I am happy and content.

Currently, I’m in the middle of writing my next novel, and I’m probably more excited about this project than I was about BENEATH THE MIMOSA TREE. This one is fiction, but is loosely based on my experiences working in the front office for a professional baseball team. There’s a love story (or more), and it’s about friendship, parenting, love, and keeping your heart open, even though sometimes it wants to shut down. There are lessons to be learned from this book.

And so, dear friends and fellow writers, this is why I write.

Such a beautiful cover photograph, taken by Jennifer Bumgarner. The original shot of the cover of Beneath the Mimosa Tree.
Such a beautiful cover photograph, taken by Jennifer Bumgarner. The original shot of the cover of Beneath the Mimosa Tree.