Inspirational Writings

What’s in Your Book of Life?

NOTE: I wrote this originally in July of 2016 on my other blog site, The Rambling Quilter, and thought it was interesting that it is still relevant today. This isn’t meant to be a religious discussion—more of something for you to ponder as you live your life. What is in your Book of Life? How can you make your Book of Life more of what you’d like your life to be? Are you waiting until “the right time” to do something or see something or go somewhere you’ve always wanted?

If so, this post may make you rethink that decision to wait. We aren’t guaranteed the next minute, let alone “the right time”. Make sure your Book of Life is full of everything you’ve wanted to experience.

What would your Book of Life be like?

From The Rambling Quilter, July 2016

Recently I saw a show about how the Smithsonian Museum is restoring the Jefferson Bible. I had not heard of the Jefferson Bible, and I found this program completely fascinating. Jefferson painstakingly cut apart bibles in several different languages to create his version of Jesus’ life without all the miracles and his ascension.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Book of Life were like that—only in reverse? We could keep all the happy and wonderful parts and discard all the bad.

I had a chance meeting with my aunt and uncle at Panera for breakfast. I’ll never forget the huge hug she gave me or her telling me that she wanted all her nieces and nephews to connect. It never crossed our mind that she’d pass away after a tragic car accident a couple of weeks later.

She got her wish. For two days we gathered, reminiscing about growing up with our beloved aunt and catching up on what our families were doing. Many of us realized that we hadn’t seen each other in twenty years or more. We all had families of our own and time really got away from us. It was so nice reconnecting and remembering that my family was so much bigger than just those I spent the most time with. That part I would keep in my Book of Life.

At the same time, though, we were saying goodbye to an aunt we all truly loved. I saw my mom, aunt, and uncle say goodbye to their baby sister. I saw my three cousins say goodbye to their mom. And I saw my uncle say goodbye to the love of his life of forty years. I would love to cut this part out of my Book of Life.

There are so many good things going on in the world that are too often overshadowed by events we have absolutely no control over.

I realize that it is totally unrealistic to have a Book of Life that is only happy, wonderful events. We’ve all heard that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. Well, right now I’d say he must think we are some pretty strong people because he’s giving us a lot.

Even though my Book of Life is still overflowing with wonderful moments, these are the occasional events that God thinks I can handle that really test me.

My aunt’s family’s wish in lieu of flowers was that we hug our loved ones every day. As we witnessed, life is short and you just don’t know when it will be the last page of your own personal Book of Life.

As I said before, I wrote this back in 2016 right after my beloved aunt’s funeral. Since then, I’ve written six novels, and many blog posts, and my husband and I have sold our home and begun traveling the country in our RV. We work from the road and do, see, and go everywhere we can to experience as much as we can. We chose NOT to wait until “the right time.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts. My hope is this post inspires you to experience something new, even if it’s right outside your front door.

How will your Book of Life read? Make it amazing!

Palm Shores RV Resort Mystery Series

Death by Golf Cart, A Palm Shores RV Resort Mystery

Death by Golf Cart is now available on Amazon. Click here to purchase on Amazon in eBook, Kindle Unlimited, and Paperback.

Welcome to Palm Shores RV Resort! Fun and sun with a small-town atmosphere.

At least until a murder happens!

Maggie Dunham is the activities director at Palm Shores RV Resort. She enjoys living here with her parents, Jim and Connie. They’ve owned the 55 & over resort set in central Florida for years and have brought it from a campground to a first-class resort.

When one of the residents is murdered using Maggie’s golf cart, she takes it upon herself to solve the crime.

Deputy Sheriff Kyle Wilson lives at the resort and is the unofficial security detail there. He tries to tell Maggie to leave the investigation up to the professionals, but she doesn’t listen.

Besides, Maggie has a couple of investigative tools Kyle doesn’t have:

  • A gossipy group of ladies known as the Palm Shores Walkers; and
  • Mitzi, the psychic wonder dog.

Can Kyle solve the murder before Maggie becomes the next victim? Can he really believe that a dog can solve the case? And do the Palm Shores Walkers see a budding romance between Maggie and Kyle?

Take a seat at the Tiki Bar, have a Snowbird Sunrise, and watch the action unfold in Death by Golf Cart.

Inspirational Writings

Time for A Change

Sometimes you just have to admit when it’s time for a change. Age and limitations are factors that come into play when deciding if it’s time. These two things played a big role in the decision I recently made. I’d been kicking this change around for a while, and I finally decided it was time.

New career? New phone? New husband?

No, not a new husband! I’m talking about a new bike.

My Trusty Pearl

My beloved Pearl. She’s a Trek FX-4

I’ve had my Pearl for years (and over 2,000 memorable miles), and while she has served me well, I just wasn’t able to ride her for as long or keep up with my husband on our rides.

We would start out together, but then he’d start coasting as I was struggling to keep up. His bike made this clicking sound when he was coasting, and when I was trying hard to keep up, this was the “most annoying sound in the world.”

Eventually, I would send him off to ride on his own so he could get in a good workout while I kept my own pace.

This was fine for trails we rode a lot, but once we would move to a new location in our RV, I didn’t want to ride unfamiliar trails alone. I wanted to ride with him so we could experience new places together.

My Hesitation

I’m going to confess that for many years I was one of those people who said that anyone with an e-bike was cheating. I would see these people go past me coasting while I was struggling.

Then I started investigating the different types of e-bikes. There are basically two types:

  • Pedal-assist requires that you actually pedal in order for the bike to move and you have different speeds to help you along (I’ll get into those in a minute.); or
  • the other kind (where you have a throttle that you can turn and the bike will start moving even if you aren’t peddling).

Don’t get me wrong—both of these are great options depending on your needs. I needed to be able to get a good workout in, burn some serious calories, and keep up with my husband.

My New Bike

Ellie the e-bike. My Trek Verve+ 3

I chose to go with the pedal-assist model. As I said, I still have to pedal this bike, but I do have four “speeds” to help me.

  • Eco – I use this the most because it saves battery, and so far we’ve been on relatively flat trails
  • Touring – When I have a small incline, I switch to this mode. We were on a trail that had switchbacks and this mode worked great.
  • Sport – When the incline is a little longer, and when Mike is pulling away from me, I switch to this and catch up quickly
  • Turbo – I’m going to call this “getting away from the chasing dog” mode because that is when I used it and it worked great!

My Wins

For a 25-mile ride, I’ve burned over 800 calories, so I call that a win. (I’ve already logged over 80 miles in 3 rides)

I can ride longer and more comfortably, so I call that a win.

The biggest win is that I can keep up with Mike, he gets his good workout in, and we enjoy riding together.


No matter what type of exercise you choose, the important thing is to choose something you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Kudos to the team at three different Bike World locations in San Antonio who helped me get the right bike for me. Also, thank you Trek for designing such a great line of e-bikes for every rider.

Jennifer Skinnell
Jennifer Skinnell

Jennifer Skinnell is the author of the Hope Springs Romance Series available on Amazon. When she’s not writing novels, Jennifer is documenting her travels around the country with her husband in their RV. Her travel blog, The Rambling Quilter, can be found at

10 Questions With . . .

10 Questions with John Mancini, Author of Immigrant Secrets – The Search for My Grandparents

Immigrant Secrets – The Search for My Grandparents by John Mancini

We all have skeletons in our proverbial family closet and some are buried deeper than others. John Mancini’s search for his skeletons took years of digging. What he found out was not what anyone in his family expected. Immigrant Secrets – The Search for My Grandparents is the true story of one man’s quest to find out what really happened to his grandparents.

I had the opportunity to interview John and I asked him these ten questions.

1. What was your motivation for writing Immigrant Secrets?

JM: After a bit of prodding and poking by beta readers, I finally realized that what I was trying to do was something more than just solving the mystery of my grandparents. I realized that what I was really trying to do was understand my father and his origins story.

2. How long did it take for you to do your research?

JM: I started researching the story over five years ago. As I went along, I began to do blog posts documenting my research. These were pretty straightforward posts describing how and where I went about the process of finding out about my mystery grandparents. This was a good exercise for me because it got me thinking about more than the facts of my grandparents’ lives—it got me thinking about their story and bringing them and their story to life.

3. How long did it take to write the manuscript?

JM: As I got into the research, I became intrigued with telling the story of my grandparents along two tracks. The first track—the story of the search itself—is a rather typical family history journey, albeit one that revealed things I never could have imagined about our family. One thing I have found along this journey is that genealogy people are incredibly helpful. I spent a good portion of the last 20+ years of my career hanging about with records managers and archivists. I will admit that in the rush to embrace the latest and greatest technology and shiny gadgets, I didn’t always understand or appreciate them. But I do now.

The second track—given that documentation about my grandparents was incredibly difficult to find—was a bit of historical reconstruction. The story of my Italian grandparents in the book is, in fact, a story. But it is, as they say in movie previews, “based on a true story.” The facts that surround the story of Elizabeth and Frank are true, but obviously the texture that surrounds those facts and the story incorporating the facts are my own creations to give them life.

Once I really understood the two tracks of my story—I always love books that flip back and forth in perspective—it took me about two years to bring it all together. It was a long time before I even admitted to anyone that I was trying to do this.

4. Without giving away too much, what was the biggest surprise?

JM: The biggest surprise—and there were many along the way—was actually the first one. The only thing my father ever said about his Italian immigrant family was that his parents died in the 1930s, shortly after arriving at Ellis Island. Except they didn’t. Once I began the search for my grandparents, I mostly ran into dead-ends. Until the 1940 Census. My grandparents magically appeared in the Census, but as inmates at the Rockland Insane Asylum.

5. Was there anything you expected to find that you didn’t?

JM: I was not prepared for how unreasonable privacy policies are with regards to access to the health records of those long dead. New York State is among the worst in the nation. I still find it amazing that being the nearest living relative of my dead grandparents is not sufficient to get access to their health records. These records are basically being kept for no useful purpose, with access denied to the only people who would care about viewing them.

6. Where did you do your most informative research?

JM: For all of the basic facts, was critical. The work that and the LDS Church have done in digitizing paper and microfilm records is just incredible. Without digitization, finding and accessing information about ancestors is a monumentally more time-consuming task, if not an impossible one.

As I encountered more and more “access denied” responses to my requests for health records, I got lucky. I came across a terrific book by Steve Luxenberg, a former Washington Post writer. Annie’s Ghost describes his somewhat similar journey across the psychiatric commitment landscape. When his mother died, Luxenberg discovered he’d had an aunt, warehoused for many years in a Detroit mental hospital. Why? Why hadn’t he and his siblings been told? He launched an investigation into his aunt’s history, which led to an investigation into the asylum system itself. Each discovery raised more questions.

I contacted Steve and asked him if he had any ideas on how to proceed. He suggested that I go down the path of finding the original commitment papers. His point was that legal documents have a different set of privacy restrictions associated with them than do health documents. So that’s what I did.

7. When there were frustrating moments, and I’m sure there were many, did you think you wouldn’t be able to find the answers you were seeking?

JM: Without giving away too much, I had a key record in my hand that told an important part of my grandmother’s story—but I could not open it because the record had been sealed by the court. I thought for a long time that that part of the story would just be an unknown, until an unexpected source entered the story at the last minute, like a death row pardon from the governor. But I shouldn’t say more than that.

8. If so, how instrumental was your family in helping you continue?

JM: Once I got rolling with this project, my brother, Joe, was the most interested in helping. We made a good team—he cares much more about the pure facts and figures, and I care more about the story that the facts imply. My sister, June, is a child therapist, and her insights on the nature of childhood trauma were key to helping me understand the impact of trauma on a young child.

9. What advice would you give to others starting their ancestry research journey?

JM: First, carefully document early and often. I spent more time than I needed going back and “re-finding” things that I had already discovered because I wasn’t careful enough early on. Second, be prepared for surprises. Not every origins story has a happy ending. Third, remember that every family—every family—has secrets. Most families are convinced that all other families are far more normal than their own. They’re not. And lastly, view genealogy not just as a way to collect facts and figures, but as a way to shed light on the stories and lives of those who came before.

10. And finally, what do you hope your readers take away from reading this book?

JM: I think our origin stories are so important in discovering who we are. I hope readers will embrace the origins story perspective of the late Rachel Held Evans:

“…we look to the stories of our origins to make sense of things, to remember who we are. The role of origin stories…is to enlighten the present by recalling the past. Origin stories are rarely straightforward history. Over the years, they morph into a colorful amalgam of truth and myth, nostalgia and cautionary tale, the shades of their significance brought out by the particular light of a particular moment.”

Bonus Question: How can readers purchase your book?

Immigrant Secrets is available on Amazon here: A lot of the background documents that form the basis for the book can be found on my blog, The Search for My Grandparents.


John weaves an almost unbelievable ancestral tale combining fact and his version of what his grandparents’ lives had been like to tell this incredible story.

If you are interested in ancestry and genealogy, you have to read this book.

Jennifer Skinnell
Jennifer Skinnell

In addition to playing 10 Questions with fellow authors, Jennifer writes contemporary romance novels. Her work can be found on Amazon following the link below. Also check out her travel blog, The Rambling Quilter.

christmas tree with baubles
Inspirational Writings

Christmas Memories & That Little Silver Tree

Grandma Myrt’s Silver Tree
Photo Cred Ani Fete

What holiday memory do you cherish most? At this time of year, more than at any other time, we reach for those memories like a lifeline to the past, to bring us joy, comfort, and peace. This is the story of one of my favorite memories.

My cousin, Ani, recently posted this picture of one of my Grandma Myrt’s trees. Grandma Myrt had two Christmas trees—a traditional one and a definitely non-traditional tree.

She collected many blue and silver beer cans from my relatives, and along with some ribbon, decorated a tree that was quite memorable.

For many years, this metallic silver tree stood proudly in the corner of her small kitchen decorated with these beer cans, large pretzels, and at times red ribbon for a touch of color.

While it wasn’t the “normal” tree, it was uniquely Grandma Myrt.

It wasn’t the tree that we all gathered around to sing Christmas carols while Grandma played her organ, and it wasn’t the tree under which we put all our gift exchange presents. But this little tree was as unique and memorable as Grandma herself. It was one of a kind.

And while the tree itself was memorable, it was what happened one Christmas that I remember most.

One of the grandchildren, I’m not sure which, but it was one of the younger ones, decided to get a closer look at one of the ornaments on the tree. Of course, the tree wasn’t giving up its decoration easily, and the entire tree toppled over. The force of the fall caused the aluminum cans to fall off and go rolling across Grandma’s old linoleum floor.

Quite the noise, to be sure!

And quite memorable.

Decades have passed, and I can’t even remember what gifts I received that year, but this memory is still vivid, just like it was yesterday.

I hope you make a special memory this holiday season that you’ll remember for years to come.

frozen wave against sunlight
Inspirational Writings

Don’t Ignore God’s Nudge

We’ve all had them. You know the ones. Those times we feel compelled to do something or call someone, and we don’t understand why. I call them “God’s Nudges,” and I never took them seriously until five years ago this week.

This particular nudge was one of the most significant nudges I’d ever received, and it made me see life in a whole new way. All because God nudged me to go to Panera for a free bagel. This may sound inconsequential, but trust me, it was a pretty big nudge in my life.

I was so moved about all that had happened in that short two-week span in July five years ago that I wrote a post about it. Once again, I feel the nudge to share this post so that others may act when God nudges them.

Read on, and you’ll see what I mean.

We’ve all heard about intuition and “just having that feeling.” Sometimes we act on this, but more often than not, we ignore it. Then later, we realize we should not have done that because God was trying to tell us something.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I were visiting our family in Ohio. Our extended family lives in Northeast Ohio, so we stopped to see them for a few days before heading down to Columbus to see our daughter and son-in-law. Our parents live about forty-five minutes apart, so we usually spent time with each of them individually.

While I was staying with my parents, I woke up Friday morning to find an email from Panera Bread that I could get a free bagel every day for the entire month of July.  Awesome!  I’d have to take advantage of that when I got back home.

However, as I was getting ready for the day, I kept having “the feeling” that I needed to go to Panera that morning.  My mom had Cheerios and other things I could have had for breakfast, but I felt God “nudging” me toward coffee and my free bagel.  My mom put in an order for a bear claw and cinnamon roll, and off I went to Panera.

I walked into the restaurant and was wonderfully surprised to see my aunt and uncle standing there ordering their breakfast. (I must say here that when we make our quick trips to Ohio, we don’t have the time to see everyone, and this was one of those times.) I called my mom and told her that their breakfast delivery would be a little late because I was going to stay and have breakfast with my aunt and uncle. I hadn’t seen them since my daughter’s wedding in February 2015.

We had a wonderful hour of catching up on how everyone was and what everyone was doing. My uncle has been researching our genealogy and told me we actually had relatives in Canada and Scotland. They talked of how they would like to make a trip to Scotland to meet them someday.  

My aunt had worked for Avon Book Publishing, so I told her how I’ve started writing my first novel. She said most of her contacts were probably retired, but if I needed an editor, she’d be happy to take a look at my book. We talked about how self-publishing was the way to go now, and again she offered her assistance in any way she could to make my dream a reality.

After we finished our breakfast, we had hugs all around and promised to see each other again when we went up to Ohio, or they came down our way.

Fast forward to yesterday, and I didn’t know how much God’s nudge meant until the phone call I received from my mom last night. My aunt passed away yesterday in a car accident.  As I am writing this, I still cannot believe it. We will soon be heading back to Ohio to say goodbye to my aunt and to support my uncle and three cousins left behind. No amount of comfort and words can ease their pain, but we will all gather around them and support them as best we can.

My aunt was the youngest of six children. Two of my uncles had already passed, and she said to me on that Friday that she felt it would be her responsibility to look after all of us cousins and keep us in contact with each other as her older siblings began to pass. I know that most of us will be together to say goodbye to her this week, but I’m sure this “contact” is not what she had in mind.

So, for now, I hold on to the fact that if God had not “nudged” me to go to Panera that day, I would not have had a wonderful breakfast with my aunt and uncle. Rest in Peace, Aunt Jetta, until we meet again.

As you can see, this was a huge nudge that God gave me, even though it didn’t feel like it at the time. If I hadn’t followed through, I would have missed out on that special breakfast with my aunt and uncle.

July 12, 2021, will mark five years since her passing. On the day of her funeral, twenty of the twenty-one cousins were there. She met her goal, just not in the way she’d planned.

I have since gone to complete my Hope Springs Romance Series, and I am now experiencing the nudge from God to alter my plan once again. I’m feeling called to help other up-and-coming authors realize their dream of becoming an indie author through my business, JLSkinnell Editing & Proofing.

Don’t ignore God’s nudges. He does this for a reason.

Inspirational Writings

What Children Can Teach Us About Diversity

NOTE: I published this blog in June 2016 on my other site, The Rambling Quilter, before I began writing travel blogs, and five years later it’s still relevant.

Lessons Adults Can Learn From Children

Another year of preschool is over for many children.  It brought me back to last year when I finished my last year of teaching after nine years.  I let my mind wander over those nine years and what I learned.  I’m sure I learned more from the kids than they learned from me.  I taught three-year-olds.  This was their first experience with school, and for many, it was their first experience away from their parents.

Our school was very diverse in cultures, backgrounds, and languages spoken.  I often wondered how a child must feel leaving their parent(s) for the first time to come to an often unfamiliar place.  And if they couldn’t understand a word the teacher was saying, no matter how comforting, it must have been even scarier.  But I was humbled that the parents thought enough of us to trust us with their little one.

The speech I gave the parents at the beginning of the year was that we would be teaching their children life skills like how to walk in a line, be responsible for their own area, sit and listen to a story quietly, and be respectful of others’ property and feelings.  We also introduced the academics through play and our daily projects.  By the end of the year, most children knew some, if not all letters, could count, could cut with scissors, and were working on writing their own name.

However, some of the most important skills the children learned didn’t come from me or my assistant.  They came from each other.  They learned to tolerate each other’s differences.  Here are some examples.

There Are No Language Barriers With Children

One year we had two little girls who just happened to be the smallest in our class by about a foot!  We called them our little peanuts.  One little girl spoke English and the other spoke Spanish.  They couldn’t understand the other’s language.  But somehow, over the course of the year, they were able to communicate with each other through drawing, playing, and other cues only they understood.  We, and the other children, had no idea what they were communicating to each other, but they did.

Handicaps Don’t Exist With Children

Another year, we had a little boy who had severe spina bifida.  He used a walker to get from class to class, but in the classroom, he was able to move around without it, although he was a little unsteady on his feet. The other children in the room had most likely not seen a child with a walker before.  But that didn’t matter to them.  They helped him if he needed something, got his walker if he needed it, and made sure there was nothing in his way as he moved around the room.  They wanted to make sure he didn’t fall.  He moved during Christmas break to another state, and when we all came back to school, they all wanted to know where he was because they missed him. The time he was in our classroom, the children all learned compassion for another who may not be like them.

Children Have Compassion

One year, on the first day, we had a little boy who was having a hard time separating from his mommy.  We tried everything we could to console him and try to take his mind off missing his mommy.  Unfortunately, there was a language barrier, so he couldn’t really understand what we were saying.  One of our little girls, who also didn’t speak his language, asked me why he was crying.  I told her he missed his mommy.  She went over to him and sat beside him.  She started rubbing his arm and quietly told him, “it’s okay, our mommies are going to come back for us.”  She stayed there rubbing his arm until he finally fell asleep on the pillow.  Compassion at its finest.

Children Don’t See Skin Color

We had two little boys in our class who both happened to be of the same skin color.  One of the boys was born here in America, but the other one had been adopted from Uganda.  They hit it off right away and played together most of the time.  One day I was putting up pictures I had taken of the children as they did different activities around the classroom.  One picture I had taken was of these two children helping each other complete a puzzle.  They looked at the picture, and then one said to the other “hey, we have the same color skin!”  They had played together for months, but it took a picture for them to realize this!

The Lesson From The Kids

People are people, no matter what.  Kids get that.  Something we should all think about.

Hope Springs Romance Series, Uncategorized

A Grandmother’s Wish

I’m excited to announce that the final book in my Hope Springs Romance Series, A Grandmother’s Wish, is available on Amazon! Click on the link below to purchase, or go to my Amazon Author Page for all the details.

College graduate Missy Macintire is ready to advance her career from store manager to store owner. When her current employer presents her with the opportunity to become a partner in her consignment business, Missy is ecstatic, especially since it will mean having a store of her own in the historic Baxter building.

Cooper Landers is a recent transplant from the city to the small town of Hope Springs. His employer, Frederick Development Inc., has relocated to this sleepy town in the country, and Cooper is happy for the chance to move out of the city. When his boss puts him in charge of the Baxter building project, Cooper is happy to do it. During the renovation, however, he realizes there is more to his move to Hope Springs than he ever bargained for.

Missy is falling hard and fast for Cooper, but she has this nagging feeling that he is keeping something from her. While trying to sort out a series of mysterious events happening at his condo and the Baxter building, Cooper realizes he has fallen in love with Missy.

With the threat of betrayal and the project (and romance) falling apart, it’s up to Rosie Macintire and the Advice Quilting Bee to bring this latest couple together in A Grandmother’s Wish.

I truly enjoyed creating this series, and while I will miss the characters I’ve given life to, they will forever be in my heart. I hope you enjoy this final book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Love and Happy Reading,


Jennifer Skinnell is the author of the Hope Springs Romance Series available on Amazon. She is also a travel blogger, and you can find out about her travels on The Rambling Quilter


COMING SOON! A Grandmother’s Wish

I’m excited to announce the 5th, and final, book in my Hope Springs Romance Series will soon be available on Amazon in Kindle Unlimited, eBook, and paperback! Here’s a little preview of the story of Missy and Cooper.

As Cooper Landers entered the law offices representing his late grandmother’s estate, he wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. Priscilla Bordan had lived a comfortable life, with a house too large for one person, a staff to take care of every detail, and a full social calendar. She even had a driver to take her wherever she needed to go. His grandmother also had a bit of an eccentric personality, so Cooper was fully expecting to find out that she’d left her entire estate to some oddball organization.

Cooper was okay with that option. He’d made his own way as an architect with Frederick Development Inc., or FDI, and didn’t really need his family’s money. His grandmother had outlived her only child, his late mother, leaving Cooper the sole heir to her estate.

“Good morning,” he said, smiling to the receptionist sitting at the small desk just inside the door. “I’m Cooper Landers. I believe I have a meeting this morning with Mr. Smithson.” Cooper had accompanied his grandmother to her lawyer’s office several times, but he didn’t ever remember this particular receptionist.

“Yes, sir,” the young woman answered. As she rose from behind her desk, he watched her brushed her left hand over her dress, straightening out non-existent wrinkles. “Right this way,” she said as she escorted Cooper down a long corridor to a corner office. Entering the room, the receptionist flashed a huge smile. “Mr. Smithson will be with you shortly. Can I get you something to drink while you wait?” she asked, her voice dripping with sweetness.

Cooper wasn’t a vain man, but he could have sworn she was coming on to him. “No, thank you,” he replied politely.

“Very well,” the young receptionist answered, seemingly disappointed to be leaving him alone.

How odd, Cooper thought as he walked over to look at the expansive view Mr. Smithson had of the city below. Prime real estate. He knew several of the attorney’s clients, having gone to prep school with their children. One did not hire this lawyer unless one had an extensive portfolio.

Cooper turned just as Mr. Smithson entered the office. “Cooper, how nice to see you again.” The older man extended his hand, and added, “I just wish it were under more cheerful circumstances.”

“Thank you,” Cooper replied as he shook the lawyer’s hand. “Yes, Grandmother lived a long, active life. I think we were all a bit shocked to hear she’d passed in her sleep.” Cooper was happy to hear she hadn’t suffered in any way.

“Please have a seat and we’ll get started with the reading of the will,” Mr. Smithson said, walking around to sit at his desk. He opened a legal-size folder and looked at the will before him. “Now, before I get started, please know that this will contains your grandmother’s wishes. She revised it only a few weeks ago. She wanted me to give you this letter to read after you leave here.” At the questioning look Cooper gave him as he handed the letter over, Mr. Smithson added, “I’m guessing it’s personal in nature and she didn’t want it included in the will.”

Cooper took the letter from the lawyer and thought how strange it was. His grandmother had been quite vocal with her opinions when she’d been alive, so he found it odd that she’d felt the need to write him a letter to be opened after he’d heard the contents of her will. “Is it a good thing I’m sitting down for this?” he asked curiously.

Mr. Smithson just smiled. Of course, he thinks this is entertaining, Cooper thought. He knows what’s in the will. “Okay, let me hear what strangeness my grandmother has in store for me,” Cooper said, sitting back in the comfortable high-back leather chair and crossing his right leg over his left.

Mr. Smithson began, “I, Priscilla Marie Bordan, being of sound mind and body, do hereby decree this to be my final will and testament . . . .”


While lounging on his brown leather sofa nursing a bourbon on the rocks later that evening, Cooper stared at the letter sitting on the coffee table in front of him. He was still in disbelief at the contents of his grandmother’s will. He’d never heard of such a request, but then again, his grandmother was not your normal cookie-baking grandmother. Cooper was actually afraid to open the letter. God only knew what other demands she might have placed on him. “I think I’ve had enough fun for one day,” Cooper said out loud. “This can wait for another time.”

Finishing his drink and getting up to take his glass to the kitchen, Cooper stood looking at his well-appointed condo in one of the high-rise buildings overlooking the river. He thought about his grandmother’s request, and decided maybe part of it wasn’t so strange after all. He walked back into the living room and picked up his cellphone, dialing the one number he knew could be the answer to a fresh start.

“Hello, Cooper,” Peter Frederick answered cheerfully. “How’s life in the big city?”

Cooper grunted and asked, “Are the Cotton Mill Condos ready for occupancy?” Cooper had designed them, but hadn’t expressed an interest in buying one, until now.

“The corner unit on the second floor has your name on it,” Peter assured him. “We’d love to have you move to our humble little town.”

“Good. Give me a few weeks to take care of things here, and I’ll be down,” Cooper told him. “This small town better be as relaxing as you say it is, Peter.” All Cooper had heard from Peter and some of the other employees was how wonderful Hope Springs was. He sure hoped that was true.

“Come on down and see for yourself,” Peter said. “I’ll have office space for you as well.”

“Sounds good,” Cooper answered. “See you in a few weeks.”


Peter hung up the phone and turned to his wife, Chandler. “Looks like another eligible bachelor is moving to Hope Springs.”

“Really?” Chandler Frederick asked, surprised.

“Yes, Cooper Landers has decided to move to Hope Springs,” Peter answered. “He said he’s ready for some relaxation.”

Chandler moved to readjust the pillow she’d been leaning on. As comfortable as her sofa was, her newly-growing baby bump was already making it more difficult to be in a comfortable position for too long. “Well, I think Hope Springs is definitely relaxing. And who knows, he may meet someone here he can relax with.” Silently she already knew there was a woman who would be perfect for him.

Peter gave his wife a sideways glance and laughed. “Yes, dear,” he said, leaning in to kiss Chandler on the cheek. “I’m sure you already have someone in mind.” Peter wasn’t sure if Cooper was ready for the women of Hope Springs.

Hope Springs Romance Series, Uncategorized

The Inn at Hope Springs

So thrilled to announce that the fourth book in my Hope Springs Romance Series, The Inn at Hope Springs is now available for purchase on Amazon! Click here for all the details or the link below to purchase!

What’s it about?!

Luann Freeman’s dream of moving back to her hometown of Hope Springs and opening her own bed and breakfast is finally coming to fruition. However, the dilapidated Victorian she and her partners purchased needs a major overhaul.

Joshua Burke has been tasked with overseeing the work of transforming the Victorian into The Inn at Hope Springs. He has never lived in a small town and is only in Hope Springs because he works for Frederick Development Inc.

While working to transform the inn, Luann and Joshua are not on the same page about anything. Joshua was raised with a domineering father, and cannot get past the idea of a woman on his job site, let alone owning her own business. Luann was raised, like most of the women of Hope Springs, to be an independent, strong, successful businesswoman. This is hardly a match made in heaven!

As the two continue to work on the inn, however, their relationship begins to grow. When a secret from Joshua’s past threatens to wreck everything, it’s up to the ladies of the Advice Quilting Bee, along with a nosy spirit, to bring this couple together in The Inn at Hope Springs.

I hope you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Love and Happy Reading,


Jennifer Skinnell is the author of the Hope Springs Romance Series available on Amazon. She is also a travel blogger, and you can find out about her travels on The Rambling Quilter