SPHS Graduate Self-Publishes First Novel After Spending Two Decades Developing Storyline
Story And Photos By Meredith Thompson
She grew up in Annapolis as the only child of Italian-American parents, and unexpectedly fell in love with the boy next door after being his neighbor for over a decade. Her relationship with him strengthened during their college years, but could not withstand the meddlesome behaviors of either her parents or his. Suffocated by pressures from those she held most dear, she found herself executing a rash, unexpected decision that would ultimately change the trajectory of her life and relationship for years to come.
This is not the story of former Arnold resident and SPHS graduate Stephanie Verni, but that of one of two main characters Annabelle and Michael in her recently self-published novel, Beneath the Mimosa Tree.
Verni, a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic who has drafted poetry and short stories since childhood, grew up in Annapolis and fell in love with the citys charm, scenery and people, which together form the setting of her debut novel.
Transpiring in the 80s and 90s, Beneath the Mimosa Tree is set in Annapolis, New York City and London. Michael and Annabelle explore self-discovery and forgiveness as their lives along the Severn River carry them to and from recognizable Annapolis destinations.
After graduating from SPHS, Verni attended Towson University, where she earned her first masters degree in professional writing and where Michael and Annabelle were conceived. As a child, she frequented her grandparents home in New Jersey and befriended their neighbor, Michael. Verni transcribed an unshakable story idea inspired by those childhood visits that came to her during her grandmothers wake into a graduate school assignment, to which her professor responded, Great short story, but youve got a novel here.
Twenty years later, Verni fleshed out the characters she had carried and nurtured in her heart in the form of a novel, written as the thesis for her second masters program, during which she earned an MFA in creative writing.
Following a 13-year stint in public relations and publishing for the Baltimore Orioles baseball club, the spunky wife and mother of two transitioned into her current career as a full-time assistant professor of business communication at Stevenson University, where she teaches several writing and advertising courses.
Drawing inspiration from renowned authors including Jill Davis, Anne Tyler and Jane Austin who composed her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice Verni has always been passionate about writing, explaining that reading opens up the mind and imagination.
Its a story of forgiveness, and whether you can ever really let go of things in the past and move on, Verni elucidated of her inaugural novel, which is narrated in the interchanging perspectives of Annabelle and Michael. Using alternating voices was my biggest challenge because Im not a man! but I had my husband to help me with Michaels point of view, she laughed.
With the encouraging direction of writing expert Anne Lamott at the forefront of her authors mind, Verni relied on her extensive publishing experience to publish and format her 213-page labor of love for print and e-readers.
I got to know my characters so well that I cried when I hit the button and sent it to Kindle, Verni said of the publishing experience. Letting the book go felt like I was sending my kids into the world at graduation.
Just hours later, she downloaded the Kindle version immediately following its release. I was my first customer I wanted to see what the darn thing looked like! she chuckled, alluding to countless hours of preparation and tweaking.
For subsequent customers, Beneath the Mimosa Tree is available in print, Kindle and Nook versions, and can be found at The Blue Door at Lake Shore in Pasadena or online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. To learn more about Stephanie Verni and Michael and Annabelle or to sample her writing, visit her blog, Stephs Scribe, at www.stephsscribe.com.