MAXINE BILLINGS, Photographer & Author

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



CADES COVE 24My husband Tony and I may have to relocate to the mountains!  Just kidding–sort of.  I’ll explain later in this post.  Tony has been on vacation from work this week, and since having cut back on our expenses, we have found some very clever ways to vacation on a budget.

Monday after dropping off his car to have it serviced, we just drove around locally through areas we had not been to in a while or not at all.  We stopped at a lake where I got out and took several pictures of some geese who were enjoying themselves nearby.

GEESE 5GEESE 2Early Wednesday morning, we drove to Cherokee, NC, to the area of the Indian reservation for a day trip.  After we passed over the North Carolina line, we stopped by this extremely nice rest area!  Believe me when I tell you the restrooms looked like spa bathrooms!  There was really ornate-looking tile on the walls outside and inside the restrooms which were equipped with shiny, stainless steel sinks and stall doors!  I came real close to snapping some photos to share with you but held back because I didn’t want people wondering what neck of the woods I had come from.  However, I did get some shots of these bushes adorned with beautiful, dainty, red berries outside the building.

REST AREA NCOnce we reached Cherokee, I took the pictures below.

CHEROKEE NC 2CHEROKEE NCThen we decided since we were so close to our favorite place to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains, Cades Cove (near Townsend, TN), that we might as well go there.  Along the way, we caught sight of these six little cuties letting the current of the water glide them along.

GEESE 7I’ve been suffering for a couple of weeks with what feels like another sinus infection.  As we rode through the mountains, I suddenly realized that I had started to feel better and was no longer congested.  Now, back to what I said in the beginning of this post about Tony and I moving to the mountains–the reason for my sudden health improvement obviously was the mountain air!

Anyway, along the way to Cades Cove, we came across this dazzling, miniature waterfall.

WATERFALLOnce we got to Cades Cove, we felt like we had stepped back in time to an era where life, even though it was hard, was simple and peaceful.

CADES COVE 22CADES COVE 23CADES COVE 26DEER 8There were several people outside of their vehicles taking pictures of this handsome guy above.  He was inside a partially enclosed fence with wire, so he could have gotten out if he’d wanted to.  I got as close as I could and zoomed in on him with my digital camera.  Behind me, I heard Tony telling me repeatedly, “That’s close enough.  That’s close enough.”

CADES COVE 25Whenever we drive through Cades Cove, I always look for natural art (which isn’t hard to find because it’s literally everywhere) to take pictures of.  And on this trip, not only did I have my cell phone camera, but I also brought along my Kodak digital camera, and my new Kindle Fire which also has a camera.  I tell you, I was in a picture-taking frenzy!  The picture below I took with my Kindle Fire.  When I asked Tony to pull over so I could capture it, I forgot briefly that whenever people see a car pulled off to the side and people standing around with their cameras, it’s a sure sign that some extraordinary type of wildlife like deer (but especially bears) are close by.

CADES COVE 27A really nice lady approached me and whispered, “Do you see a buck?”  I answered, “Oh, no, I’m just taking a picture of these trees with the moss on them.  It’s art to me.”  She replied that it was good that I saw it as art.  Then she mentioned that in the past, she had seen a buck in the area and thought I had seen it.  By the way, the photo of the buck above is probably the one she was looking for, which Tony, I, and several more people did see a little further down the loop.  That’s when I got several pictures of him.  I don’t know whether or not she got to see him though.  I sure hope so!

WATER 3All in all, we had one of the best vacations we’ve ever experienced, and we did not even have to spend a lot of money!  And now that gasoline is so cheap, this is an excellent time to go on a road trip.  We left home Wednesday morning about 7:15, arrived in Cherokee, NC around 11:30 a.m., spent some time there, and then drove approximately the hour and a half to two hours it takes to get from there to Cades Cove.  After spending the remainder of the day there, we headed back home around 5:00 p.m. and arrived home before 9:30 p.m. the same day!

Most all of these pictures plus lots more have been added to my Nature’s Finest website.  Also, I have some awesome news about my photo prints which are available for sale there.  You can now order your prints wall- or frame-ready if you like.  This is a great option for those of you who don’t want the hassle of having to do them yourself.  Isn’t that great!!!  I also hope to soon have some pictures of samples to show you of the various types of prints you can get.  However, in the meantime, below are some pictures I just got in the mail today.  These are my first prints for sale.  The tree and leaf patterns belong to a very dear friend of mine.  The hydrangea, I  got as a sample to frame and show off to potential customers.  Don’t they look awesome!!!  Now, just imagine them or any of my other photos in your own or customized frames and various prints such as metal, canvas, and acrylic!




Have an awesome day!  As always, this is from my heart ❤ to yours <3!

Maxine 🙂

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CADES COVE 7Cades Cove is an 11-mile loop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  My husband Tony (that’s him in the picture on the left) and I love going there and went this past weekend.  I was able to get a lot of great shots with my cell phone camera which I’ll share more of at the end of this post.

When photographer Tim McClain took my author photos a couple of years ago, he shared with me that one of the tricks to getting great head shots is to take several poses from various angles.  Therefore, when I recently developed an interest in digital photography, I kept that concept in mind and thanks to him, I now have a massive library of awesome photos which I love sharing on my blog.

Something else I enjoy doing when I write my novels is to add flavors of some of the places I love to visit.  In my first young adult novel, LIFE AFTER MOMMA, some of my characters go to Cades Cove.LAM REVISED COVER (DRAFT)

I hope you enjoy the rest of the pictures I’ve posted here at the bottom.  Have an awesome day!

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

Maxine 🙂





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. 











CHANGES is my first sequel in the MEASURE OF FAITH series.  Yes, you guessed it.  I love sequels 🙂 !  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)






























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.































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.






























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.