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.

5 Guiding Principles of Creative Leadership

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Last week, Dr. Leeanne Bell McManus, Chip Rouse, and I gave a three-hour presentation to an organization entitled, “Event Planning: A Seminar in Communication.” Centered around ideas from our textbook, Event Planning: Communicating Theory & Practice, we talked about communication theory, ideas, tips and case studies, and offered strategies for leaders in event planning.

Additionally, one of the aspects we talked about was creativity, and our textbook includes a chapter dedicated to leadership. I like to talk about the combination of the two: creativity & leadership.

One of my favorite articles I’ve read to date on this topic is from the Harvard Business Review and it’s entitled Creativity and the Role of Leader. It’s a terrific piece that examines leadership in creative roles, such as those at Google, IDEO, and XM and Sirius. If we can take away one thing from this article, it’s that creative leadership requires you to be a visionary.

After researching and reading about this topic for years, as well as presenting on the topic at conferences, I’d like to offer my take on creative leadership, for I believe it is the cornerstone of any successful organization or endeavor. I also come to the table a bit biased and in favor of creativity, as I have the privilege of working in two fields I believe offer tremendous opportunity to unleash your creativity—that of teaching and fictional writing.

That said, I believe creative leadership requires those in power to possess these types of characteristics.

1.  Creative leaders have open minds.

They are open to ideas and suggestions. They understand that the people they have hired or are working on their organization’s behalf are good at what they do and believe in the organization’s mission. Rarely is one person the innovator; it take a couple or more visionaries to make things go—just look at the early days of Apple. Creative leaders are able to examine a variety of ideas and appreciate the dedication that has been put forth by individuals and teams, and they always stay open to newer and better suggestions.

2. Creative leaders are not afraid to change and break habits.

In order for any organization or business to thrive, creative leaders must welcome change and not get bogged down by habits. In an event planning business, can you imagine if the leaders did not commit to this type of excellence? Events would be the same, and events of distinction would never be created. However, change for the sake of change is rarely a good idea unless it is grounded, researched, substantiated, warranted and undeniably necessary. Remember when they had to bring former CEO Howard Schultz back to his original role at Starbucks because things got out of hand?

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3. Creative leaders value their teams.

Rarely will you come across satisfied and passionate employees whereby there is no creative leadership. The stifling of creativity can prove deadly when individuals are stripped of creative measures. Workers and creative teams must be allowed to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, and removing aspects of creativity could lead to decreased motivation. Teams need to feel that their contributions to the organization’s success are vital to the organization’s continued growth, and that their input is valued.

4. Creative leaders are motivators—and it’s a team effort.

I recently watched a “60-Minutes” piece on my former O’s colleague and friend, Theo Epstein, the current GM of the Chicago Cubs and former GM of the Boston Red Sox, who broke the curse of the Bambino. In that piece, Theo talked about how he builds his team and how important the cumulative sense of the team’s character is to the team’s success. That sense of choosing the right people leads to motivation that is unsurpassed, as was witnessed by the Cubs winning the World Series in 2016. Theo’s energy spills over into all those involved in the team, and as he states, no one person is solely responsible for the success. Perhaps that is why Fortune magazine chose Theo Epstein as its #1 World Leader in the March 2017 issue. I’m proud to know him. There is no denying that team spirit has the power to win it all, as has been proven time and time again in athletics. That same energy works in organizations, as well.

With Theo at an O’s Reunion gathering.

5. Creative leaders are constantly looking to the future for the next story.

Creative leaders can’t stay in the moment for too long—they are always looking to the future for the next project, idea, or task that will prove meaningful. There’s always another story to tell, if you will, and they are ready to move on to creating something even more meaningful than the last project. If they sit still for too long, they get itchy. Creative leadership means forging ahead with the next plan, because they know what it means to build on success.

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

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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.

A Review of My Blog by The Villager

Well, I am absolutely flattered that Stevenson University’s newspaper, The Villager, reviewed Steph’s Scribe, and gave it a good review. I can honestly say, my blog has never been reviewed before, so that was exciting to see. Thank you to Chip Rouse, The Villager advisor, and writer Bri Buttner, for the great piece.

I will say that I take great pride in my blog, and I do play around with it quite a bit. I like playing with the aesthetics, photography, and content, and I always try to mix it up. I’ve been consistently blogging since 2011, when I wrote my first post, and I’ve never stopped. I truly enjoy writing, and blogging has become a part of who I am today. It’s a great outlet, and a wonderful way to stay fresh with your writing.

On that note, to anyone who wants to blog, I encourage it. The most challenging parts of blogging remain these two things: (1) coming up with what to blog about, and (2) blogging at least once to twice a week. If you can do that, you’ll get in the swing of things, and when you miss one, you’ll get that itch to get right back at it. It’s a good habit to create.

Additionally, Paperblog picks up my articles as well. For the month of April 2017, Steph’s Scribe was #12 for Entertainment bloggers.

As always, thanks for reading and supporting Steph’s Scribe!

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 ofEvent Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

Annapolis Through A Historic Lens

When I get a few hours of free time and I happen to be feeling inspired, I grab my camera and go. While I have photographed Annapolis several times (and it happens to be my hometown), most often it’s been from the viewpoint of characters in my first novel, Beneath the Mimosa Tree. When I write, I tend to use photographs to help me describe settings, places, clothing, and sometimes, even people. Yesterday, however, I wanted to capture some of the historic spots in our great little city. Just because.

Here’s what I captured.

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.

Hometown Press for Inn Significant

I’m always thankful for a little press about my novels, and today is no different. A big thank you goes to the Capital Gazette (which I still lovingly call the Annapolis Capital) for giving me a shout out yesterday on #WorldBook Day for Inn Signficant.

It’s always appreciated.

For more about my books, click here to visit my Amazon Author page. You will also be able to see some new reviews that have come in over the last few days about the book. I’m so happy for the feedback, the plugs, and that readers are enjoying it.

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.

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.

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If You’re a Reader, Sign Up and Participate on Goodreads.

I’m so glad for summertime and the always entertaining chit chat we participate in poolside. If it weren’t for those talks, I may never have signed up for Goodreads. Goodreads is an excellent way to share what you’re reading with friends and acquaintances alike.

Whether you’re a voracious, serious reader, or a casual reader, Goodreads is a site that will help you find out what other folks are reading and liking. Why? Because people can rate and comment on the books.

For those of you who’ve been on Goodreads for a while, you’re ahead of me. I decided to write about it because when I’ve  attended book club meetings to discuss “Beneath the Mimosa Tree,” and when I mention Goodreads, not everyone has been enlightened. I’m embarrassed to say that I only just got into it this summer.

For example, I just finished the book “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern. I rated it on Goodreads and wrote a review. People who are “friends” with me can see what I’ve said about it and why I liked it. Additionally, once you’ve rated 20 books, Goodreads will recommend books to you based on what you’ve read and liked, and also separates it by genre. Also, you can keep track of books you’d like to read in your own list. It’s a great way to hear about books you might not otherwise know about.

I also created my own author page on Goodreads. I can see who recommends my book, “Beneath the Mimosa Tree,” and how readers have rated it. It might sound a little scary from an author perspective, but it’s actually quite helpful to hear comments. It can only help my writing in the future.

So, if you haven’t checked out Goodreads and you like to read, do it. You may find some wonderful books you’ll enjoy and then recommend to others. For more information on the site and its value to readers around the world, click here.

Beneath The Mimosa Tree Receives Award

Dear Readers,

On Sunday morning, I learned that my novel, “Beneath the Mimosa Tree,” received a TOP 5 FINALIST AWARD for Contemporary Romance in the annual Readers Favorite contest. This is such a thrill for me, and I could hardly contain my excitement. My family can attest to it. When I read the email, we were in the car, and I think the sound of my scream startled my children, who at the time, were listening to their iPods.

“What is it?” they asked, eyes wide.

“I don’t believe it!” I said. “I placed in a contest.”

My husband’s hands remained steady as he kept the car on the road. It was a good thing he was driving.

Readers Favorite celebrates authors, both indpendent and published authors, and runs an annual contest. There were anywhere from about 50-70 entrants per category, and “Beneath the Mimosa Tree” is among the many finalists. To read more about it and see all the FINALISTS, click here.

Thank you to my faithful readers of Steph’s Scribe and to those readers of my novel. The awards for Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorable Mention will be awarded on September 1. Stay tuned.

For George & Thomas, John & Benjamin, With Thanks This 4th of July

Happy 4th of July, America!

Today, we celebrate our country’s independence. We remember our Founding Fathers, and are thankful for men such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. As I look at all the Facebook posts my friends are making this morning, I know many of us are taking a moment to realize how thankful we are to live in this great United States of America.

Parades of all sorts are happening as I write this: bikes are decorated in red, white, and blue; kids on rollerblades waving flags; floats being driven down the streets as people wave to spectators; police, firefighters, and emergency crews driving vehicles waving to proud members of the community on the side of the road. Don’t let the parade pass you by…

We’ll also probably spend some time eating good ‘ole American food. Break out the hot dogs, burgers, potato and macaroni salads. Slice up the apple pie.

My team, the Baltimore Orioles, play today. So, pile on some American baseball as an added bonus.

And, of course, there are the Fireworks. Big, bright, explosives will illuminate the sky tonight, a celebration of our life in America and this 236th birthday of our great land. A day off for Americans to pause and reflect on what it means to be free.

Happy birthday, America. Let freedom ring.

“Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people . . . This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.”
John Adams, 1818

Video Trailer #2 for Beneath the Mimosa Tree

Here’s the second video trailer for the book with the author’s overview of the novel.

Also, friends in the Severna Park, Arnold, and Annapolis areas—”Beneath the Mimosa Tree” is now available at Side Street Framers & Gift Gallery in Park Plaza.

Side Street Framers & Gift Gallery in Park Plaza, Severna Park, now carries “Beneath the Mimosa Tree.”

My Book Trailer (Again) for Beneath the Mimosa Tree

Here’s the created book trailer for “Beneath the Mimosa Tree.” It took me all day to get it right because there was a little glitch. I had posted it earlier, then took it down when I realized that GarageBand does not allow you to use a full clip of music royalty free. When I went to see how I would pay for the music I wanted to use, I couldn’t find the source and figure it out. So, I went in a new direction. I paid for the music you hear under this trailer, and that payment allows me full use of it, even commercial use.

So, it’s with tired eyes and dried up patience that I present you the new book trailer for “Beneath the Mimosa Tree.” I worked hard on it, believe me. If you feel inclined to share it with your friends, I’d be Oh-So-Appreciative.

Thank you.