Laura Schroff realized pretty early on that her first book would form a natural bridge to her second.
Her debut, “An Invisible Thread,” told the true, inspiring story of her friendship with Maurice, an 11-year-old panhandler she met in 1986 while working as a sales executive.
The two, despite their differences, bonded and helped enrich each other’s lives. They remain friends to this day.
Schroff, who will visit here on Dec. 2 as the focal point of the Junior League of Lancaster’s Author’s Luncheon, included a note in the book asking readers to send their own “invisible thread” stories.
Schroff says she received the first story in December 2011, about a month after “An Invisible Thread,” which became a New York Times best-seller, was published.
It was from a man named Angel Perez, who had moved from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn, New York, and was befriended by a high school guidance counselor who helped him chart a path to success.
“That was the first story I received,” Schroff says during a telephone interview from her New York home, “so I wrote him back and thanked him for sharing his story, and then I created a folder, ‘Beautiful Invisible Thread Stories.’ ” And before I knew it I started to get these stories. Probably about two years into it I thought this would really make a great book.”
That book, “Angels on Earth,” was published just last month and features 29 stories inspired by submissions from her readers. Angel Perez’s story, the first one she received, is included in the book.
“What I love about the book,” Schroff says, “is that there are all these really very unique, special stories, but really the theme of the book is how there is a power in fate, friendship and human connections, and how we can live happier, more purposeful lives by reaching out and sharing kindness.”
Schroff — who worked in advertising sales for several media companies, including Time Inc. and Conde Nast, before she became an author and in-demand speaker — devotes the 30th and final chapter of the book to her own story.
The chapter, titled “The Rainbow,” is about her relationship with her mother.
“I really do believe that my mother, who passed away at the very young age of 47 — when I was 25 — has been by my side every step of the way, and it’s amazing because I really do believe it.”
As an example of that, she points to the title of “An Invisible Thread,” which like “Angels on Earth” she wrote with Alex Tresniowski, who formerly worked for People magazine. (She and Tresniowski also collaborated on a children’s book, “An Invisible Thread Christmas Story,” based on a chapter in the original book.
Schroff says she and Tresniowski were stumped for a title until she had a revelation while in a store.
“I called Alex and said, ‘O my God, I have the name of the book: Google ‘Invisible Thread.’ He said, ‘Oh my gosh Laura, you’re brilliant.’ I said, ‘Alex, I’m looking at an American Greetings card.’
“Do I believe my mother put that card in my hand? Without a doubt. Yeah, I totally do.”
Though she didn’t plan it, Schroff says she believes the timing of the book is especially fortuitous, because it was published near the end of the fractious political campaign.
“I think the country really needs at this point these kinds of stories about how people are making a difference,” she says during an interview that happened before President-elect Donald J. Trump won the Nov. 8 election. “There is so much goodness in our country and we kind of need to bring that to the forefront.”