On Life

A 5-Star Review for Inn Significant from Readers’ Favorite

First, the review:

https://readersfavorite.com/images/5star-shiny-web.pngReviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite

“Inn Significant: A Novel by Stephanie Lynn Verni is a beautiful story that looks at the heart of depression. Milly Foster lost the will to live the moment she learned about her husband’s tragic death. And that was two years ago. Asking her to look after their business while they are away to help a friend in a startup bed and breakfast in Ireland, her parents couldn’t imagine what this would do to her. While at the inn, Milly’s colleague, John, discovers a diary   to her grandma. Read on to find out how an old journey changes everything in the life of a woman who is just as ready for the grave as a corpse, sending her on a personal odyssey to find answers to her own pain.

At the beginning of the story, we meet the protagonist, a grief-stricken woman who has just learned about the death of her husband. Only one thought occupies her mind: “I don’t want the paramedics. I don’t want my mother. I want Gil!” The drama, the emotional intensity of the story is evidenced by the opening pages and readers who love emotionally charged stories will be gripped by the heart from the very start. Stephanie Lynn Verni’s writing is exceptional and I enjoyed the way it captures the powerful emotions, especially those of the protagonist. Milly’s journey towards healing is realistic, one that readers can connect with easily. What made this story stand out for me was the depth of the characters and the gorgeous writing. It was hard for me to let Milly alone, even if I found her headstrong and stubborn from the start. As the story progresses, she learns to shift her gaze onto reality and matures far more quickly than I could have imagined. Inn Significant: A Novel is entertaining, inspiring, and outright delightful, one of the stories I won’t hesitate to recommend to readers seeking a fun read.”

 

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Yesterday, I received a powerful, 5-star review from Readers’ Favorite for my latest book, Inn Significant. Readers’ Favorite is a contest I have entered my three books in, and you may recall Beneath the Mimosa Tree received a Bronze Medal in Miami for it, and Baseball Girl received an Honorable Mention Award. While the awards won’t be named until September 1, 2017, this review is the best that I’ve received on any of my books, and I wanted to share it with you today. It is also posted on my Amazon page where you can purchase all of my books.

I wanted to take a moment to tell you why I do this and why this is important to me. As a kid, I used to sit at school and write short stories and then come home and finish them. My favorite class in high school by far was Creative Writing. I wrote poetry (mostly really mushy stuff that I shared with boys and probably shouldn’t have), and I always thought somewhere in the back of my mind that I would write a book.

Being an independent author is one of the most rewarding and hardest things I have ever done. It’s rewarding because I am doing exactly what I wanted to be doing as a teenager—telling stories on paper. It’s the hardest thing because having to promote my books constantly to get my name out there is a daunting task, and one that someone only with nerves of steel should be doing.

Admittedly, I don’t always have nerves of steel, but I keep on doing my thing because that’s what I have to do to hope someone will pick up my book and read it. There’s a lot of competition out there, and I know people are selective. Therefore, I am truly appreciative when you stop what you’re doing and read what I’ve written. It means so much to me, and I thank all of you who have read Inn Significant or any of my other books.

If you haven’t, maybe, just maybe this review will inspire you.

I know it has inspired me to keep on writing…

to keep on doing my thing.

 

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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On Life

Book Promotion with a Little Help From My Friends—and a Contest

As a university professor who primarily teaches writing courses, one of the best things about connecting my life as a teacher and my life as a writer is just how many times the two intertwine. Whether that intersection means writing a textbook or a book of fiction, I get the opportunity to show students that I indeed do practice what I preach.

Today  is another such opportunity. Having placed as a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards book contest for 2017 with Inn Significant, I get the opportunity to use the skills students learn in public relations writing and produce and promote a press release about the award. Promoting ourselves as independent authors is no easy endeavor–just ask any independent artist, whether that includes art, music, writing, acting, film, or dancing. Having to “sell” ourselves and our work or product or capability every day is a job in itself.

The NIEA provided us with a press release catered to our own specific book and genre as a contest finalist. Therefore, I am sharing that here today. It takes perseverance and a lot of tenacity to continue to write and promote a book. This is the third promotion of a novel I’ve worked on, and trust me, you get better at it, but it never gets any easier.

If you know an independent author, the best way to help is to write a review and recommend the book on social media. It’s the most significant way to get that book title into people’s minds, and a positive review certainly helps sell it. On Monday, a local book club came to my home to discuss Inn Significant, as that was their chosen book. They have helped me in more ways than you can imagine, by recommending it and helping me connect with people in Oxford, Maryland, where the story is set. I’m now scheduled to sign books on July 16 at the local bookstore, Mystery Loves Company.

As always, thanks for your support.

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.

On Life

Through Books, You Can Travel

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One of my favorite aspects about reading novels is that they allow us to travel to places we may never get to experience, at least not the same way the author sees them. Books such as Adriana Trigiani’s The Shoemaker’s Wife or Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things—two books I can’t and have no desire to get out of my head—submerge us into different aspects of the world and see it through their eyes.

As another example, who reads Maeve Binchy’s novels and doesn’t want to go to Ireland? Who reads anything by Rosamunde Pilcher and doesn’t want to visit England and the villages of Cornwall?

On the flip side, as a writer myself, I welcome the opportunity to incorporate a place into my stories by offering readers the most accurate description of what that place entails. When I do my research, I take a lot of notes. I also take a lot of photographs to jog my memory when I begin to write and tell my stories. For my latest novel that is set on the Eastern Shore of Maryland—particularly in the towns of Oxford, St. Michaels, and Easton—I spent a lot of time exploring and writing impressions, anecdotes, and talking to people. Getting things right, and using places that actually exist as the storyline unfurls is important to me and offers readers that realistic feel. I take writing about places as seriously as I do developing my characters. In fact, I think of the places as characters in the story.

Additionally, I instruct a  Special Topics course at my university in Travel Writing, and I implore students to document their travels as it makes their writing come alive. Taking the time to recount what you’ve learned, seen, and experienced allows you to bring everything to life. Travel journals are awesome, and I love them, but any piece of paper will do.

If you read either my first novel called Beneath the Mimosa Tree that I set in Annapolis, Maryland or Inn Significant, my latest novel that I set on the Eastern Shore, I would love to hear your feedback.

Did I get the places right? Could you “see” them as you were reading? And, did you travel there via the novel?

I surely hope I succeeded.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn SignificantBaseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree.  Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.  To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

 

 

On Life

A Little Gift Book Basket

A book basket for a friend.

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The best part about giving someone a book as a gift as that it can be the gift that keeps on giving. People love to lend a book to someone when they love it. Therefore, that particular book may have many readers, as it lovingly gets passed from friend to friend to enjoy.

I’ve always loved giving books as gifts because you can write a nice message inside it–even if you are not the author. While it’s lovely to get a signed book from an author, it’s even more special to receive a book from a dear friend and to inscribe the book with a sentimental message.

Just yesterday, a friend of mine was packing her home to move, and she found The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom inscribed to her a few years ago by her late father. It was a touching moment when she found that book and what her father had written to her inside of it.

It’s also fun to make a little gift basket with books. I’m planning on giving this one to a friend of mine. You can pack the basket with things the people like. In my basket is tea, hot chocolate, Blue Crab munchies, and homemade chocolate chip cookies in a Mason jar, along with the three books I’ve written. Yes—signed, of course, with a message in each.

Books are a sweet gift, because when the person is done reading, it warrants a get-together over wine, coffee, or tea to talk about the book.


15781589_865992106837911_1585157622209528074_nStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn SignificantBaseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree.  Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt. 
To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

On Life

Book Promotion Wrap Up Week One –Thanks for Entering To Win!

isflowers

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Week one of book promotion for Inn Significant has come to an end, and I wanted to thank all 594 people who entered to win on Amazon for doing so! We had three winners this week–Thelma, Kendra, and Jessica. I hope you all enjoy Inn Significant…I really do.

I’ll be giving away some signed copies this week on my author Facebook page thanks to some good ideas from my savvy students in public relations class. So stay tuned…

I also wanted to thank the Star-Democrat newspaper on Maryland’s Eastern Shore for featuring the story about the book this week. Hopefully, some folks who either live on the Eastern Shore or love visiting Oxford, St. Michaels, and Easton (like I do) will enjoy the story of Milly Foster and her life at the Inn.

If you’ve finished reading the book, you might enjoy my recap of that includes photos and places that inspired the setting of my book that I posted. Check it out and see if it’s what you imagined as you read the story.

The dining room of the Edgewood Manor House in Providence, RI
The dining room of the Edgewood Manor House in Providence, RI

Thanks, as always, for reading, following, and caring! Have a great weekend, everyone!

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imageStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released 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.  To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.
On Life

Book Giveaways for Inn Significant

innsignificantanovelThere’s a first time for everything, ladies and gentleman. I’m still learning all the ropes for succeeding as an independent author, and it’s a constant learning curve.

That said, I’ve set up my first BOOK GIVEAWAY ON AMAZON. If you follow the link below, you can enter to win by the 28th of February; I’m giving away 3 copies of my newest novel entitled Inn Significant.

Good luck, you guys!

Follow the link below to enter to win a copy of Inn Significant!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/aa533a36d37b846b

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imageStephanie 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 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.

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On Life

7 Gifts Under $50 for Your Lady Book Lover

So many people enjoy reading, and many of your friends may be serious readers. If you are on the hunt for an affordable (under $50 gift that is NOT a gift card) for a book lover, allow me to assist you in your search. Below I have found 7 perfect gifts that suit both your budget and that special bibliophile. Happy shopping!

Personalized Book Lover Unisex Watch
Personalized Book Lover Unisex Watch | Gadget Bargains | $39.99
book lover gift, Christmas gift for best friend, personalized jewelry gift, gift for girlfriend, birthstone jewelry, initial jewelry
Book Lover Bracelet | HopeisHipJewelry | Etsy | $26.50
Weekend Booked Tshirt, Book Lover Gift, Men's Clothing, Women's Clothing, Mens, Womens, Ladies, Guys, Youth, Kids.
ElephanTees | Etsy | $14.93
Harry Potter bookmark, Platform 9 3/4 gift literary gifts Librarian gift Resin bookmark Book lovers gift unique metal bookmark BM008
Harry Potter 9 3/4 Bookmark | LoveIngredients | Etsy | $8.99
Barnes & Noble Olive Utility Book Tote with Pockets (12.75
Utility Book Tote | Barnes & Noble | $39.99
Sherlock Holmes Book Scarf - Literary Scarf - Storiarts - 1
Sherlock Holmes Books Scarf | Toriarts | $48.00
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Gray A-Z Bookends | Pottery Barn Kids | $49.00

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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.

 

On Life

Books That Make You Cry

220px-'Me_Before_You'About two months ago, on a nice day in March, I sat on my back porch and cried my eyes out as I finished Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. My friend, Shawna, and I were talking about both the novel and the upcoming movie on Saturday at the pool. She hated feeling so sad at the end of the story, and I didn’t mind it; she also doesn’t want to see the movie, and I get that. It is terribly tragic, but it’s also so touching. I’m ready to face it in the theatre with a box of Kleenex. I’ve been waiting a couple of months to see how it transitions from book to film, one of my favorite pastimes.

This got me thinking about the different books that have made me cry over the years. Another particular book that caused waterworks was Dickens’s classic Great Expectations. I remembered reading it as a high school student, and it had little affect on me emotionally. As an grown up with two small kids who was pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing, I read it again in my forties for my class. That one, I finished on the porch or our former home in Ellicott City, again, tears streaming down my face as I finished it. What a different perspective I had with regard to Great Expectations as an adult than I had as a teenager. I highly recommend reading it for pleasure if you don’t remember it well. Also, Dickens always manages to make me cry with A Christmas Carol, a novel I’ve written about many times before on Steph’s Scribe.

Mitch Albom, no matter what book he writes, typically has the power to make me cry. Whether it’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Tuesdays with Morrie, or Have a Little Faith, I find his stories sentimental and often tear-jerking, with profound lessons in between the lines.

markus zusak holding The Book ThiefI can’t even think about The Book Thief without getting goosebumps. I loved every page, every word, every ounce of creativity Markus Zusak put into that book. He’s inspired me to be a better writer and to write the way your gut tells you to write. The Book Thief is one of my favorite books ever. Tears and all.

Another book that had me crying on the beach–only this time they were tears of laughter–was Jill Davis’s book Girls’ Poker Night. My family watched as I went into hysterics, laughing uncontrollably at this hilarious book. Jill Davis’s sense of humor is right up my alley, and I giggled the whole way through it.

513JVTZT07L._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_Also, if you’re looking for sentimental books to read with your kids, I highly recommend Kate DiCamillo. Two of my favorites by her are The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and The Magician’s Elephant. During that mega snowstorm in 2010, my kids and I read The Magician’s Elephant curled up together in bed. I was reading aloud when I got to a part that choked me up. My daughter reached over, grabbed my arm, and said, “Mommy, I can read for a little bit if you want.” Bless her heart. She was so little then, but she understood that it was sentimental and touching.

On the flip side, as a writer, I’ve had quite a few readers of Baseball Girl, my most recent novel, tell me that they got a little choked up and even shed a tear while reading it. I’m glad to hear that it had that affect, because I meant it for it to delve into that deep love people have for their fathers, and I used the relationship of Francesca and her dad to illustrate the power of that type of love.

BaseballGirlwTypewriter

For a list of some of my favorite books, click here to visit the page BOOKS I’VE ENJOYED, and don’t forget to tell me what you’ve enjoyed reading, whether they’ve caused tears or not.

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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

 

On Life

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

On Life

A Good Book Will Never Let You Down

theshoemaker'swifeI’m about to finish Adriana Trigiani’s touching and inspiring novel entitled The Shoemaker’s Wife. I’ve enjoyed reading this sweeping story of Italian immigrants loosely based on the history of the author’s own grandparents. From the mountains of the Italian Alps to New York City to a small town in Minnesota, the characters and sights covered in this novel will allow you to become a part of a different time and place when the world was a different place, America was growing, and World War I loomed. The truth of the matter is this: a good book will never let you down.

As I’ve become older, wiser, and more finicky about how I spend my free time, I find getting lost in a good book some of the best therapy around. My knowledge about various topics has grown immensely by reading the works of others, and I don’t just mean as a writer. Sure, as a writer, we learn things from other writers such as technique, style, tone, and scope of work, but we also learn about people, places, and things.

Reading allows us to be entertained, to escape, and to challenge ourselves. It requires us to tap into our own imaginations as we read the words the writer put on the page. I keep trying to tell my students to pick up some of the classics that they might otherwise not read because they think the work may be too difficult. However, upon closer inspection, my students have found Dickens and Austen fun to read. They tell me they are glad I pushed them to pick up a book they may not have chosen for themselves.

When you spend time with a good book, it becomes etched in your mind. You may not remember every detail of it or all the things that happened along the way after you are through, but you will be left with an impression, insight, and new information that you did not have prior to making the commitment to it.

When I find an author I love, I try to read everything she or he has written; however, the worst part comes when you realize that you HAVE read all that he or she has written and start to twiddle your thumbs until the next one is released. Nevertheless, the truth of the matter is this: a good book is one to cherish and love, recommend, and encourage others to read.

I am probably going to cry when I finish The Shoemaker’s Wife. It will be as if I am saying farewell to my own Italian family as I kiss them goodbye.

Schilpario Italy
Schilpario, Italy. One of the settings in The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani.  Photo credit: sell-arts.com
NYC_During_World_War_One
New York City during World War I. Photo credit: oldmagazinearticles.com. Ciro, one of the characters in the novel, leaves his NYC to become a soldier.

 

 

 

On Life

Some Quick Book Recommendations

I may not be writing and working on my next novel and collection of short stories as much as I should be, but I sure have read some pretty good books lately. It’s been nice to read other people’s works as opposed to worrying about my own stories right now. Books are piling up on my nightstand, and I’m hoping to read a lot of them this summer as I sit by the pool. It’s one of the great perks of being a professor–summers are made for catching up on writing and reading.

Of late, I can recommend three books that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

Book Shop of Dreams

The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag

This quirky fantasy was a fun, light, and creative read. I loved the quirkiness of each of the characters, the bit of magic thrown in, and the way the story neatly ties together, because guess what? Sometimes we like a neat little package that makes us happy.

Museum of Extraordinary things

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

I’m not going to lie about this one–I was on the fence for many chapters while reading this book. Hoffman’s prose is extremely detailed and descriptive, and the book is low on dialogue between the characters. However, that being said, the melding of history and fiction is always exciting, especially in this drama. I found myself constantly looking things up to see what was real and what wasn’t. The story is interesting, and is definitely creative. I enjoyed being taken back to Coney Island in 1911 to an unusual museum with a cast of characters that includes a conniving and manipulative professor, the professor’s daughter who doubles as a mermaid, and a Jewish boy who is conflicted about his father.

MeBeforeYou

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes has quickly become one of my favorite authors. Her ability to tell a meaningful story is masterful, and she sucks you into the plot right away. This bestselling book is being made into a movie that is slated for release this summer, so if you want to read the book before it hits theatres, I suggest you get to it right away. You’ll follow the romantic story of Louisa and Will…and you will need your tissues nearby as you read this tearjerker. But it’s all worth it. (I also highly recommend The Girl You Left Behind.)

Here’s the trailer for the movie that’s due this summer.

 

 

 

 

On Life

Box Stores and the Internet Killing the Local Bookstores? Not So Fast.

Longfellow Books, Portland, Maine. Photo: BuzzFeed
Longfellow Books, Portland, Maine. Photo: BuzzFeed

There is good news today, and as soon as I saw the piece in The New York Times by Francis X. Clines, I knew I wanted to write a post about it. In the editorial notebook of the paper entitled Indie Bookstores Are Back, With a Passion, we read there is hope for smaller bookstores that offer a sense of community and social activity along with an extensive collection of books as a retailer. So the encouraging news is this: there is room for indie bookstores in a world of full of internet purchases and large retailers.

In 2008, sales of e-books skyrocketed and the publishing industry went into a bit of a panic as they wondered whether print books will survive or if they will go the way of CDs. However, over the last few years, publishers have seen sales level a bit. Readers have more choices now than ever before of how to read a book—they can purchase the hardback or paperback, download it from the internet to their Kindle, Nook, iPad or computer, or listen to it as an audio file or CD.

As someone who worked in the field of publishing for a baseball team whereby everything we produced at that time was in print, I admit to being a lover of the book or magazine made of paper. I like to hold books in my hand (although these days, I do “read” a lot of books on CD during my 45-minute commute to work each day). However, for me, nothing can replace a bound book and the ability to turn the pages, see the words in print, and yes, inhale the smell of a book. Some of you dedicated e-reader lovers will beg to differ, and that’s okay.

But what’s even more okay is the notion that bookstores are alive and well and are experiencing a comeback in our communities. As more and more people become less social as they stick their noses into their cellphones, it is hopeful to hear that communities are supporting their local bookstores in search of camaraderie and personal connection. Folks want to frequent a place that offers warmth, friendly interpersonal connections, a place to sit and chat or read over a cup of coffee, and even a venue to attend a book talk, poetry reading, or social event. And, most importantly, these bookstores offer a local place where customers can buy a book.

Book lovers should be thrilled this morning (as should authors and communication professionals!) that we are seeing a need for places that offer human interaction. Even I have romanticized about one day owning a charming bookstore. I can visualize it now—it would be dreamy with a vintage coffee bar, rows and rows of books from the floor to the ceiling, comfortable sofas and chairs, tables for discussions and work, and lots and lots of crystal chandeliers.

The Ninth Street Book Shop. Photo: The Examiner
The Ninth Street Book Shop, Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: The Examiner

Indie bookstores offer so much; they are a celebration of creativity, a gathering place for people to talk and connect, a collection of knowledge waiting for you to open it, and a little place where imagination can soar. Welcoming these retailers into our neighborhoods should be something we do with open arms.

The word on the street is we are doing just that.

BookSigningG&S
Yours truly promoting Beneath the Mimosa Tree at Maryland’s largest independent bookstore, Greetings and Readings in Hunt Valley.