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

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

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

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

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

But it was not love yet.

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

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

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

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

I’ve done that now, three times.

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

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

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

Stephanie

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Reflections & Reasons for Writing

GoDogGoMy first recollection of reading and enjoying reading came in the form of Dr. Seuss and the book entitled “Go, Dog. Go!” I loved all the colorful dogs, the male and female dogs who were interspersed talking about hats, and the idea of a big party in a tree. I’m a big fan of parties and socializing, and I think the idea of being a party planner was instilled in me from reading the pages of that book. (Therefore it is no surprise that this year, my friends Jen, Kelly, and I are the social directors for our neighborhood pool and all its events.)PartyintheTree

During my early years growing up, I was a busy kid and didn’t have a lot of time to sit and absorb a book. In my tween years, I read the “Little House on the Prairie” series and dabbled in the Nancy Drew mysteries. I also sunk my teeth into “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” and “Deenie” by Judy Blume. However, my true love of reading came in my late teens when I got sucked into books like Jackie Collins’s tales of “Chances” and “Lovers and Gamblers.” From there I moved into novels with more guts like Rosamunde Pilcher’s “The Shell Seekers” and “Coming Home.”

I can recall sunbathing at my family’s beach condo in Ocean City by the pool and not wanting to go in for dinner because I was making my way through the last pages of a novel. I hated letting go of the characters, especially the ones I met in college in a book by Susan Richards Shreve called “Daughters of the New World.” I didn’t want to put that away, and when it was over, I mourned the end of those characters and their stories.

Daughters of New WorldPeople always ask me if I prefer reading fiction or non-fiction. I actually enjoy both, though my book preference would be fiction. (I teach a magazine writing class where we read lots of longer non-fiction pieces, all of which I enjoy). I believe that in every fiction story there are elements of truth: of someone’s life that has been transformed into fiction, otherwise, how could an author really sink his or her teeth into it? Whether we’ve been to the moon or fought a deadly dragon, at some point in our lives, we’ve faced something that might have been seen as insurmountable, and we draw from that and put it in our work.

I wouldn’t be writing about a girl who worked in baseball if I hadn’t had that type of experience. I worked in baseball for a while, so I can paint the picture of the setting and the people and the game itself, even if the character isn’t me. Who is she, then? She is a conglomeration of many of my friends and colleagues.

Over the last several years, I’ve realized how much writing is a part of me. Whether I write for my blog or write fiction or short stories, there’s an innate desire to do it. If someone told me I wasn’t allowed to do it any longer, I’d probably shrivel up and die.

I certainly don’t do it for the money or the possibility of fame. Those things are low down on my rationale. I actually write for me, because I enjoy it, and because I like to push myself to see what I can create. Much like a painter paints, a writer writes to create as well.

My love of it is so strong, I find myself pushing my students to work harder to write from their own voice, to see where it takes them, and to concentrate on sentence structure and grammar. You can’t move someone if you can’t tell the story properly; you’ve got to have a handle on the mechanics in order to let the creativity fly.

I’m going to finish my novel soon, and I’m going to continue to write pieces for my blog.

Why?

One word: Passion.WritingToSay

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To see a list of some of my favorite and most memorable books, check out the RECOMMENDED READS area on my blog by clicking here or to read some of my short fiction (I’m writing one piece of flash fiction a week based on a reader’s photograph called Fictography…click here to go to that section.)

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This post is part of the WordPress Weekly Challenge…this challenge was entitled “Writerly Reflections.”