Stephanie Verni, Severna Park author and adjunct professor with Stevenson University Online, has released her seventh book entitled “The Letters in the Books.” Set in Annapolis, the book’s theme revolves around this singular question: Can a handwritten letter found inside a book change the course of your life?
In this novel, empath and bookstore owner Meg Ellis believes it can. One snowy evening in early December on the night of Midnight Madness, a kickoff to the holiday season in Annapolis, four downtrodden people walk into Meg’s bookstore at different times throughout the evening and become recipients of her inspirational letters. Over the course of a year, Meg’s clandestine, handwritten letters help positively change the trajectory of these vulnerable characters’ lives. Before long, Eva Levoni, Reid Jones, Lily Webster and Dimitri Vassos become connected; prior to that night, they were not.
Friendships form, romances bud and their bonds become strong. Additionally, Meg’s backstory reveals why she takes the time to write the letters of encouragement — a handwritten letter she received years prior after losing someone she loved. Meg, too, finds herself on a journey of her own.
“Honestly, this novel is the direct result of reading a lot of Brené Brown books and watching her TEDTalks about shame, vulnerability and empathy,” Verni said. “I wanted to write something uplifting with kindness at the forefront, especially after what we have endured for the last two and a half years. The novel also tackles the importance of cultivating strong friendships that lift you up instead of tear you down. One common thread in all of my novels is that they offer a sense of hope. It’s important to me. Plus, showing off our beautiful city of Annapolis is a passion of mine.”
Verni is an adjunct professor of communication with Stevenson University Online, where she instructs graduate and undergraduate communication courses. Other novels by Verni that are set in Annapolis include “Beneath the Mimosa Tree” (2012) and “Little Milestones” (2019). Verni has also written a book based on her 13 years of experience working with the Baltimore Orioles in a fictional story called “Baseball Girl” (2015). Her novel “Inn Significant” (2017) is set in St. Michaels, Maryland. “From Humbug to Humble: The Transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge,” Verni’s Christmas release, is a historical novella about the life of Ebenezer Scrooge after he saw the ghosts and pledged to change his ways. She has also penned a short novella called “Anna in Tuscany” (2021) and a collection of short stories called “The Postcard” (2018). Along with two of her colleagues, she is co-author of the textbook “Event Planning: Communicating Theory & Practice” (2019), published by Kendall-Hunt.
For more information about Verni and her work, visit www.stephanieverni.com. “The Letters in the Books” can be purchased via Amazon or Barnes & Noble in both paperback and for the e-reader, as well as at Park Books & Literacy Lab in Severna Park.