MAXINE BILLINGS, Photographer & Author

Fine Art Photography Inspired By Natural Creation & Wholesome Reading For Your Family's Entertainment


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A MEASURE OF FAITH

AMOFMy first published novel A MEASURE OF FAITH was released by BET Books in April, 2004. It is now out of print. However, you can still purchase a new or used copy through Amazon. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy for yourself or someone else, just click on the links in this post.

I am currently working on my sequel to it which is titled CHANGES.CHANGES COVER-Rev. Sept '14.jpg
Also, if you enjoy any of my books, please post reviews of them on Goodreads and/or Amazon. For those of you who already have accounts with Goodreads and Amazon, in case you don’t know, if you post your reviews first to Goodreads, they will also automatically post to Amazon. I like that! ūüôā So now, whenever I write reviews on the books I read, I post them first to Goodreads. Not only does it save me time, but the authors also get a broader range of reviews! ūüôā
 
HAPPY READING! And as always, this is from my heart ‚̧ to yours ‚̧!
Maxine ūüôā


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CLASSICS–A STEP BACK IN TIME

ROBERT & CARI love classic cars!  The picture here is of my late uncle Robert.  I think the car is a Dodge Charger.  Uncle Robert was one of my favorite uncles because he always took time to try to help me in whatever way he could.  When I was in school, I had a really hard time learning division.  I recall him spending many hours trying to help me, and with his patient assistance, I finally did!

Then when I got older and had graduated from technical school, he was the one who encouraged me to apply for a job with the State of Georgia.  And that is how my nearly 34-year career as a secretary with the State began!

His wife Angela was also very encouraging to me as well.  I recall one time I either wanted to go to Brunswick, GA, to visit my author cousin Jacquelin Thomas during our summer break from school or to annual staff camp.  Of course, I wanted some extra spending money, but my mama and stepdad did not have the funds available to give me as much as I wanted.  Even though I was babysitting for my uncle and aunt at the time and it would have meant that they would have to find a replacement babysitter in my absence, Aunt Angela did not hesitate to offer me an advance for babysitting so that I would have the money I wanted.

Even though this post started out about classic cars, talking about them made me think of my uncle and aunt and how supportive they were of me and my family.  As many of you know, I love writing stories about family and relationships.  And I also like to add flavors of things that I enjoy, and classic cars are included among those things.  For instance, in my first published fictional novel A MEASURE OF FAITH, AMOFI had Lynn take her husband Robert to a classic car show in the parking lot of a nearby grocery store.  That idea came to me because where I live, these car shows are sometimes held in such locations.  Also, in my novels ONE OF A KIND and DH COVER 4_8.25.14DESPERATE HEARTS, Brad is the proud owner of a classic car.

My husband, son, and I love classic cars, and often when we travel, weOOAK stop by muscle car museums to see them.¬† One of our favorite ones is Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum in Sevierville, TN.¬† Also, if we’re visiting the area around July 4th or Labor Day, we can usually come across car shows along both sides of Tennessee Highway 441 in Pigeon Forge.¬† Of course, these are free, and you just walk around and look at the ones you want to see.¬† During all of these times, I have taken many pictures and would like to take this time to share some with you.¬† Enjoy, and have an awesome day!

From my heart to yours,

Maxine

http://www.maxinebillings.com

http://www.maxinebillings.wordpress.com

http://www.askeevie.wordpress.com

http://www.pearlspearlsofwisdom.wordpress.com

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SO WHAT’S NEXT?

WOMAN THINKINGWell, now that I’ve finished DESPERATE HEARTS and will be releasing it soon, I’ve been trying to decide which book to publish next.¬† Some of you probably know that I currently have two in progress, FOR RICHER OR FOR POORER and CHANGES.

FOR RICHER OR FOR POORER ¬†is my second sequel in THE BREAKING POINT series.¬† It will be Justin and Shayna’s story.¬† Justin is Estelle and Roger’s son, and Shayna is his wife.¬† For a brief overview of what this story will be about, please visit¬†the BOOKS page of my website.¬†

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CHANGES is my first sequel in the MEASURE OF FAITH series.¬† Yes, you guessed it.¬† I love sequels ūüôā !¬† Anyway, in it, Lynn and Robert are now empty-nesters.¬† But instead of living and enjoying the life they dreamed they would during this time, they are both experiencing a whole lot of unexpected¬†changes.¬† In this story, I will be taking the reader to a part of Tennessee that my husband and I have come to love–Wears Valley–in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains!¬† We visited this area for the first time several years ago when one of my then co-workers told me about it.¬† Ever since, we have been visiting the area (which includes Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Townsend, and Cades Cove) at least two or three times a year.¬† Our son loves it, too, and we have even made it our family vacation getaway spot.

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Here are a few pictures I took last weekend when my husband and I visited.¬† My idea of paradise is to live on top of the mountains in Wears Valley in a modern-day styled tent–with plumbing and electricity, of course :).¬†¬† I’m sure that compared to a lot of places in the world, there are¬†many¬†that some would consider more beautiful than this area, but to me, the scenery and landscape here¬†are simply breathtaking.¬†¬†They¬†remind me of some of the pictures I used to see on calendars as a child.¬† The town is so picturesque, and even though¬†it is¬†small and quaint, I love it because I am a simple girl.¬† But I also like it because I am¬†extremely fascinated with¬†and intrigued by¬†the wonder, beauty, and awesomeness of God’s¬†creation!¬†¬†(Psalm 104)

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Below are a few photos of some tents or yurts that I can just picture myself and my family living in if we had our own little piece of paradise in the mountains of Wears Valley.

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Pigeon Forge is also known for its classic car shows.  And since my husband, son, and I love classic cars, I just could not resist snapping some pictures.  Check out some of the ones I took last weekend up and down U. S. Highway 441.  These are only a few drops in the bucket of the numerous ones lined up and down the highway.

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So have you figured out which book I’m planning to¬†publish next?¬† If you guessed CHANGES, you’re right!¬† In addition, my mama and I are also working on a book together.¬† As a child, I loved hearing Mama tell stories about how life was when she was coming up and when she got older.¬† I still enjoy listening to them.¬† At the moment, I have not a clue what the title of our book will be, but it will be fictional based on real-life issues.¬† So stay tuned for updates!

Well, that’s all for now.¬† I hope you’ve had an awesome day, and remember–HAPPY READING!¬† And as always, this is from my heart to yours.

Maxine

http://www.maxinebillings.com


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TEAMWORK MAKES DREAMS WORK!

“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their hard work.¬†¬†For if one of them falls, the other can help his partner up. But what will happen to the one who falls with no one to help him up?”¬† (Ecclesiastes 4:9 & 10 — New World Translation)

 

Well, now that I’ve finally introduced Eevie to the world, I wanted to share with everyone some of the work that went into bringing her to life.¬† I chose the above Scripture as my caption because most of us have heard of the familiar saying, “Two heads are better than one.”¬† So if two are better, can you imagine what¬†four can accomplish?

In this blog, I want to share with you how¬†three particular¬†individuals helped me to reach my goal of bringing Eevie to life.¬† Whether she realizes it or not, it all began with my dear cousin and friend, Jacquelin Thomas, who is also an author. JACQUIHere’s her picture.¬† Isn’t she lovely?¬† When¬†she became a published author in the late 1990s, I was so inspired by her wonderfully creative way of writing that I decided that I wanted to attempt to write and publish my own novel.¬† And to make a long story short, thanks to all of the support and encouragement she extended to me, my first fiction inspirational novel, A MEASURE OF FAITH, was¬†published by BET BOOKS in April of 2004.

But what Jacquelin did for me did not stop with my writing.¬† She had also introduced me to her friend, J. Hale Turner, who is also an author.¬† And now, Ms. Turner and I are not only¬†close¬†friends but also spiritual sisters.¬† JOANNHere she is, dancing.¬† Isn’t she beautiful, too?¬† Well, just like my cousin Jacquelin, this lady has a wealth of remarkable talents, which includes drawing.¬† Some years ago, she had allowed me to see some of her artwork, and I was extremely impressed.¬† So when I decided a while back that I wanted to bring Eevie to life, I asked her if she would¬†sketch her for me.¬† And to make another long story short, she hesitantly agreed but after a while, advised me that it had been so long since she had drawn anything that she did not feel she could do it.¬† I was disappointed, but as her friend, I did not want to put any pressure on her.

CAITSo, I eventually learned of a very talented illustrator named Cait Maloney via a blog that my friend Ms. Turner had shared with me.¬† After I visited¬†Ms. Maloney’s¬†Web site and saw more of her incredible work, I started corresponding with her via e-mail.¬† Here she is.¬† Hi, Cait!¬† Isn’t she cute?¬† Anyway, in the meantime, unbeknownst to me, JoAnn (Ms. Turner) had changed her mind and started on Eevie’s sketch.¬† And to make this last long story short, I submitted it to Cait who added the fabulous colors which helped to accentuate her appearance, and the finished product is what you see above and what I revealed recently in another blog during my interview with Eevie.

I am so excited about Eevie and the launch of her Web site, ASK EEVIE!¬† And I wanted everyone to know that even though I created her in my wild and crazy imagination, giving her extra life, charm, and personality was a team effort–and I could not have done it without the help of these three wonderful ladies.¬† Sometimes, we may not want to admit that we need help , and some find it hard to give credit where credit is due.¬† But I am a firm believer that we don’t have to be hoarders when it comes to giving others their proper and deserving honor, praise, and recognition.¬† I greatly appreciate these ladies for being my team players and helping me to make my dream come true!¬† So¬†may¬†we all remember that¬†teamwork makes dreams work!

Before I go, I want to thank¬†two more ladies¬†who have also been a tremendous source of support and encouragement to me–Ms. Sonia Moore, owner of Keighley’s Salon, Day Spa & Boutique,¬†and my hair stylist, Ms.¬†Michelle Patton.¬† FRONT ENTRANCEHere’s¬†a picture of the entrance of Sonia’s salon.¬† The¬†photo on the¬†right is one¬†of her many extravagant and comfortable sitting areas.FIREPLACE (BIG)¬† Isn’t¬†her salon¬†gorgeous?¬† Michelle has been my stylist for years.¬† Sonia and I just met recently¬†when she and Michelle¬†went into business together.¬† Sonia’s incredibly awesome business is located¬†near the historic district of downtown Douglasville, GA.¬† She always shares with me inspirational thoughts that I can¬†write about¬†on my blog.¬† As a matter of fact, I got the title of this one from her.¬† Thank you, Sonia and Michelle!¬† Love you both!¬† Both¬†of these ladies¬†are great at what they do.¬† Please show them your support.

Well, that’s all for now.¬† HAPPY READING!¬† And as always, this is from my heart to yours.

Maxine

http://www.maxinebillings.com

 


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DO YOU REMEMBER THE TIME WHEN . . . ?

THOUGHT BUBBLEAre you kidding?  I can barely remember what happened a few minutes ago!  I decided to write this blog because it seems that more and more, I am forgetting things.  Here are a few that immediately come to mind.

One day recently, I kept my then five-year-old nephew for my sister and her husband and let him drink orange juice all day long and could not understand why he was so wired up and bouncing off the walls.¬† Hey, it was an honest mistake.¬† I mean, my kids are now 34 and 27 so I had forgotten that you can’t give young children a lot of products that contain sugar.¬† But you better believe that whenever I keep him now, I remember.

Then some years back, I was talking with a friend and her son.¬† During our conversation, I kept digging around in my pocketbook, and her son finally asked what I was looking for.¬† When I said, “My car keys,” he asked, “What’s that in your hands?”¬† I could not help but laugh at myself.

I’ll share one more with¬†you and then get on with this blog.¬† I was really craving a¬†vanilla soft-serve ice cream cone from¬†McDonald’s one day, but first, I stopped to put $7.00 worth of gas in my car and also¬†to¬†take it through the drive-thru car wash.¬† On my way home as I¬†savored my delicious¬†ice cream cone, I kept glancing at my gas gauge and thinking to myself, “It doesn’t even look like the gas hand moved.¬† It’s like I didn’t even put any gas in the car.”

Finally, it dawned on me that the gauge hadn’t moved because I had actually¬†forgotten to pump the¬†gas.¬† Because¬†the only thing that had been on my mind at the time was getting my ice cream, I had gone into the store, paid for my gas and car wash, jumped back¬†into my¬†car,¬†drove through the car wash, got my ice cream at McDonald’s, and headed back home.¬† That was when I noticed the gas gauge.¬† Since I was on the Interstate and the next exit was the one for me to go home, I could not turn around.¬† When I got to my exit, instead of going home, I had to return to the gas station and¬†explain to the cashier what I had done.¬† He said, “So that’s why that customer¬†said the¬†pump only gave him $7.00 worth of gas and then stopped.”¬† As usual, I laughed at myself and just had to share my funny experience with¬†some of my family and friends.¬† My husband simply grinned and shook his head.¬† Hey, there’s no shame in my game!

I’ve been thinking about how our ability to remember things is a divine gift from God.¬† Of course, it’s not perfect because we’re not perfect; Adam and Eve messed that up for us, along with everything else.¬† Anyway, when my brain is working properly, it’s nice to be able to retrieve bits of information that has been stored there.¬† And I can only imagine how awesome it will be when we are able to use our brains to the extent that God originally intended.¬† The human brain is like a reservoir that can never be filled.¬† No wonder Psalm 139:14 says that we are wonderfully made!

AMOFThere are times when I love reminiscing about the good ole days.¬† I also love looking through photo albums at some of myTFH and my family’s pictures from that era.¬† I think that sometimes it’s good to reflect on the past, especially when we focus on the good memories that we cherish.¬† Oftentimes, I have some of my characters do the same.¬† Rose does it in A MEASURE OF FAITH, and so do Myah and¬†one of her sons¬†in TIME FOR HOPE.

One of the things I enjoy most about writing is that I get to put my characters onto the center stage of¬†my reader’s mind’s eye, and in the process,¬†the characters perform for their audience (the readers.)¬† Yes, I know,¬†some of them¬†get on your nerves, making you angry at them; some of you may even shout at them. Other characters may make you laugh, and some may cause you to cry.¬† That’s because even though they and their stories are fictional, the issues they face are true-to-life.

Well, that’s all for this post.¬† I just had to share some more laughter with you–more of my crazy, hilarious experiences.¬† And remember–whether you’re reading my books¬†or someone else’s, READING IS FUNDAMENTAL.¬† So HAPPY READING!

And as always, this is from my heart to yours,

Maxine

http://www.maxinebillings.com

(Emoticon With Thought Bubble Courtesy Of Office.com Clip Art)

 

 


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THAT’S NOT HOW NAH-NAH DOES IT!

CRYING BABYRecently, my sister’s husband, their six-year-old son, and I were at my mama’s house.¬† My nephew wanted his dad to fix him something to eat (what in particular it was, I don’t know.)¬† I was sitting at the kitchen table while my brother-in-law prepared whatever it was.¬† When he was done and gave it to his son, he abruptly cried out, “That’s not how Nah-Nah does it.”¬† As his father tried to appease him, he kept repeating over and over, “That’s not how Nah-Nah does it.”¬† Finally, my brother-in-law politely replied, “I’m not Nah-Nah.”¬† I did not say a word during the entire ordeal, but inside, I was crumbling with laughter.

Anyway, it made me think about how even some of us adults (me being one of them) are creatures of habit, and anything that is not within our normal routine simply throws us off course–like a runaway train that ends up¬†reeling off the tracks.¬† Sometimes it seems as though I’m on auto-pilot; some things become so routine that I do them without even thinking about them.¬† In the past, I had my comfort zones, and¬†that was¬†where I wanted to stay.¬† And If anyone¬†so much as came¬†within an inch of me, I would immediately want to start crying like a baby and warn them to get out of my way and leave me alone!

AMOFOne of the things that has helped me to be more adventurous and¬†outgoing is my writing.¬† In 1999, I began writing my first manuscript.¬† By 2000, it was complete.¬† Thereby began my search for a publisher, and all the while, I’m thinking to myself, “I’ve never been on an airplane in my life, and I know that at some point, my publisher will expect me to get on one and travel to a book signing.”¬† But I wanted to write so badly that I did not let it stop me from pursuing my goal.¬† In April of 2004, my first novel, A MEASURE OF FAITH, was released.

Finally, the time came for me to board an airplane from Atlanta to my first book signing in New Orleans.¬† And would you believe that it was during hurricane season in the pouring rain!¬† I was thinking, Of all the times for me to go on my first flight, it would have to be during hurricane season!¬† And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when¬†the flight attendant informed¬†us that whoever had an aisle seat near an exit sign would be expected¬†to¬†assist¬†others in the event of an emergency, guess who one of the passengers in that category was!¬† You guessed it–me!¬† She then added that if anyone did not feel comfortable being in the position of having that responsibility that we could request to be moved to a different seat.¬† Now, I was already nervous about flying for the first time, and on top of it, they expected me to help my fellow passengers if the plane crashed!¬† I came really, really¬†close to raising my hand and asking to be moved.¬† But I braved it, and both the flight there and back home went good.¬† I still don’t care for flying, and I haven’t flown again since.¬† Of course, if I had to, I would do it again, but I’m in no hurry.

Writing has opened up so many doors for me that may not otherwise have been opened.¬† I have met so many wonderful and interesting people.¬† I get to share pieces of my many thoughts with people all over the world.¬† One of the things I asked God when I learned that I had gotten my first two-book contract was to please keep me humble because no matter what I accomplish in life, I never want to feel that I am better than anyone else–because frankly, I’m not.¬† To this day, I still pray for humility.¬† I also continue to¬†tell everyone (including my family and close friends) that I am still Maxine and that I’m no better than anyone else.¬† We are all God’s children, and only¬†He can read our hearts.¬† (1 Samuel 16:7)

Because of my relationship with God, I have been able to¬†go outside of my comfort zones and¬†accomplish things that I never imagined I would do.¬† However, I am simply dust, and¬†any little¬†speck of¬†good that¬†may be¬†in me¬†and everything good that I have is because of Him.¬† Yes, I have grown, but I still have a lot more growing to do–and even if I live forever, I shall never know all there is to know.¬† But because¬†He has helped me to step into the deep part of the water, my horizons have¬†been broadened.¬† But more importantly, it has given me the strength, courage, and fortitude to¬†not cry¬†about things that are beyond my control but, instead, to lean upon Him instead of myself.¬† (Proverbs 3:5 & 6)

HAPPY READING!  And as always, this is from my heart to yours.

Maxine

http://www.maxinebillings.com


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MY FOUR MAMAs

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Without a doubt, mothers are some of the most wonderful creatures God has ever made!  They have an honored role within the family arrangement, and we should find ways everyday to show them our gratitude for their loving care, regardless of how young or old we are.

As many of you are already aware, I love writing stories about family.¬† In all of my books, I focus on family relationships.¬† Yet, I don’t always reflect on the good things that families share because that is simply not reality.¬† I also touch on their faults and imperfections because¬†as much as we love our family, if we’re honest, we have to admit that there are times when we get on each other’s nerves and rub each other the wrong way.¬† However, because we¬†truly love one another, we continue putting up with one another in love.¬† (Eph. 4:2)

I am blessed to have four Mamas in my life.¬† Four! you say.¬† Yes, four!¬† First, there is my biological mother who will soon be 79.¬† Second, I have my mother-in-law who is 77.¬† Next is a spiritual sister in my congregation who just turned 92!¬† And last is another spiritual sister who recently turned 90!¬† This post would be quite lengthy if I wrote of the many ways in which they are a blessing to me.¬† Therefore, I’ll simply say that they help me to better appreciate why God tells us to treat the older women as mothers.¬† (1 Tim. 5:2)

Whether we have our biological mother in our life or not, there¬†is, more than likely, someone in our life who fills that role.¬† Perhaps it’s a grandmother, an aunt, or someone else.¬† Whatever area we¬†are lacking in, God always comes up with a beautiful way to make up for it.

To place your order for copies of any of my books, please click on the appropriate cover(s) below. HAPPY READING!

And as always, this is from my heart to yours,

Maxine

http://www.maxinebillings.com

AMOF

ATOF

TTW

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TFH

ISAIH

OOAK

LAM