MAXINE BILLINGS, Photographer & Author

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


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ANOTHER BOOK CONTEST

TBPHello, everyone! I’m adding another book contest to my current ones, so this means that I now have a total of four (4) contests.  This will give you an even greater opportunity to be a winner!  The title of this one is “Name the Flower Shop.”

In my book THE BREAKING POINT, one of my main characters, Estelle Brickman, owns a flower shop. The first person to correctly answer what the name of her shop is will receive a free, autographed copy of my newest release DESPERATE HEARTS.DH COVER 4_8.25.14

You can e-mail your answers to me at maxinebillings@yahoo.com, and don’t forget to include your mailing address so I’ll know where to send your book.

To enter any of the other three (3) contests, please click the links below:

(1) Taylor’s First Dance

(2) Paula’s Weekend Getaway

(3) Name That Child

Thanks for playing, 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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MY LITTLE HELPER

WASH DISHES 7This is my niece Avery.  She was my little helper today, and WASH DISHES 6she got extremely upset with me when I finally got her down from the sink.  Aren’t children so funny and cute?  I remember when my daughter and son were little–they always wanted to help do cleaning around the house.  Then when they got big enough to really help, I practically had to beg them for their assistance :).

Children bring so much extra joy to our lives.  That’s why I often include them in my stories.  Here are the names of some of the youngest ones you’ll meet in five (5) of my books:

Kayla (5 years old)

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Janae (5 years old)

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Misha (Mee Mee) (1 year old)

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Misha (Mee Mee) (3 years old)

Jaydon (Jay) (1 year old)

Camra (Cammie) (1 year old)

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Name ? (Age ?)

DH COVER 4_8.25.14WASH DISHESPerhaps you noticed that I omitted the name and age of the child from my book DESPERATE HEARTS.  This is because for a limited time, I am offering free, autographed book giveaways of my first five (5) published novels to the first person who correctly answers this two-part question.

But that’s not all.  The giveaway also includes a mass-market paperback copy (a smaller, less expensive version) of A MEASURE OF FAITH, so that’s six (6) free books in all.

Please submit your answers to me at maxinebillings@yahoo.com, and remember to include your mailing address so I’ll know where to ship your books.

And in case you don’t know, I’m still running two (2) book quiz contests on Goodreads.  To participate, please click here to go to my Books page.  Then scroll down until you see CONTESTS (GOODREADS BOOK QUIZZES).

Well, that’s all for now.  HAPPY READING!  And as always, this is 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 🙂 !  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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LOVEBIRD QUIZ

LOVEBIRDSToday, I read an article, What type of “lovebird” are you?, in the February 17, 2014 issue of First for women magazine that I found to be extremely interesting.  And since I love writing stories about relationships, I decided to write this blog.  The article was based on the book, Lovebirds, by couples therapist and avid bird-watcher Trevor Silvester who explains some ways that humans show love by comparing them with how birds interact with their mates.

The article included a six-question, multiple-choice quiz for readers to see what makes their own hearts soar.  Answers revealed if you are a nightingale, an owl, a peacock, or a swan.  I’m a swan.  The article pointed out that this bird is happiest when it is amicably swimming for hours next to its mate (which it has for life!).

Some traits of a person who falls under this category are:  (1) he/she is a conveyor of affection by going out of the way to show emotional support and make others feel comfortable, (2) great harmony is found in simply spending one-on-one time with his/her loved one in a relaxed setting, and (3) he/she doesn’t need their partner to do anything extravagant to prove their love–they just need to be there for them.

In every relationship, there is going to be friction because no matter how compatible two people TBPare, they are both still two imperfect human beings who will sometimes rub each other the wrong way.  (Romans 3:23)  Therefore, none of us can truthfully say that we have never in word or deed hurt someone we dearly love.  Oftentimes, getting too wrapped up in our own emotions can cause us to overlook how the other person may be feeling.  Communication is key in any relationship; however, there is a right way and a right time in which to carry it out.  For example, it needs to be done respectfully and not when we are angry.  Otherwise, it will only add more fuel to the fire.  This is what happens with Estelle and Roger in THE BREAKING POINT.

Being in love and being loved are two of the best feelings in the world.  Our capacity to love is a gift from our Creator–so whether you’re a nightingale, an owl, a peacock, a swan, or something else, love with all your heart because love never fails.  (1 Corinthians 13:8)

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

Maxine

http://www.maxinebillings.com

(Lovebirds Photo-Courtesy of Office.com Clip Art)


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MALE MENOPAUSE?

manDo men go through menopause?  Unlike their female counterparts, some men are less likely to go to a doctor when they are sick or to seek preventive health care.  But is there such a thing as male menopause?  Hormone changes are a natural part of aging regardless of the person’s gender.  While the changes that women experience during menopause are more dramatic and occur during a relatively short period of time, sex hormone changes in men appear more gradually over a period of many years.  And while there are also other terms to refer to so-called male menopause, many doctors call it “andropause.”  So, what are some of the symptoms a man going through this stage of life might experience?

  • Sexual Function Changes which might include reduced sexual desire and erectile dysfunction.
  • Sleep Pattern Changes such as insomnia or increased sleepiness.
  • Various Physical Changes consisting of increased body fat, reduced muscle bulk and strength, and loss of body hair.  Although rare, might also include having less energy and experiencing hot flashes.
  • Emotional Changes like feeling sad or depressed and having trouble concentrating or remembering things.

Women are usually more apt to openly discuss with their doctors exactly what they are feeling and the changes their bodies are undergoing in any given situation.  We like to talk about what is bothering us.  Some men, on the other hand, tend to internalize their emotions and may be reluctant to seek medical help, let alone to actually be honest with their doctor (or perhaps anyone else) regarding what they are experiencing.  In THE BREAKING POINT, Roger refused to communicate with his wife Estelle about some of his deeply-rooted feelings.  Darryl, of IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH, did speak with his wife Catina about how he felt but in ways that were dogmatic and pessimistic .  ISAIHBoth men had to learn to overcome their own idiosyncrasies in order regain a sense of peace and normalcy in their lives.

TBPThe Scriptures say at Genesis 2:24 that when a man and a woman marry, they become one flesh.  Yet 1 Peter 3:7 and Ephesians 5:21-33 help us to appreciate that both are unique in their own special ways and are still considered as individuals.  Therefore, while they are extremely different, they should also be united in their efforts to keep their marriage honorable, to be each other’s rock (even when they don’t always understand what the other is going through), and to maintain harmony to the extent possible.

So as women, may we keep in mind that we are not the only ones who experience changes in life–the men we love do so as well–and it is up to both genders to help pave the way so that the transition is not more turbulent than it has to be.

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

Maxine

http://www.maxinebillings.com

(Photo Of Man Courtesy Of Office.com Clip Art)

 


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LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE

I’ve had a lot going on this week with my mama.  Earlier, my baby sister had called to tell me she hadLAUGHTER to contact 911 for her.  So I jumped in my car and flew to Mama’s house.  My sister, the fire truck, and the ambulance were already there when I arrived.  The ambulance was parked in the driveway so I pulled up onto the front lawn out of the way of the vehicle.  In doing so, I had forgotten about a small wire garden fence there around Mama’s daylilies.

I suddenly heard a noise underneath the front of my car and realized that I had driven over something.  It was dark (almost eleven o’clock at night.)  I immediately backed up a little, and that’s when I remembered the fence.

But since I did not have time to worry about it at the moment, I rushed into Mama’s house where she was being assisted by the emergency medical technicians.  My husband arrived in his car.  After everything was situated and Mama was taken to the hospital, I stayed behind for a few minutes to tidy up the house while my sister and her family went to the hospital.  I told my husband about the fence.  He then moved my car to the driveway and straightened the fence.

At the hospital as we were waiting for Mama’s test results, I could not help but laugh to myself every time I thought about running over the fence.  I told Mama what happened as she laid there in her hospital bed.  She, my sister, and I got us a good laugh from it.  I still chuckle inwardly when I think about it.  It reminds me of another time when Mama was in the hospital and my kids and I were going one Sunday morning to visit her.

It was raining slightly, and my children (who were much younger then) were on either side of me as I tried to hold my umbrella in one hand and keys in the other.  I had given one of them my pocketbook to carry.  The next thing I knew, I was going down and could not stop.  I went down so fast that neither of them were able to try to help stop my fall.  The umbrella went one way and the keys, another.  I fell flat on my “boom-boom” onto a huge clay pot of begonias that I had recently planted.  The cool part about the fall was that when I went down onto the pot, it was as though I had just plopped down onto a chair–a flower-pot chair!  I never hit the ground.  It looked like someone had just picked me up off the ground and set me onto the flower pot.  Since the only thing that was hurt was my pride (just kidding–only my children saw me), all I could do was laugh at myself.  To this day, I continue to tell others about it as I’m doubled over with laughter.  It was so funny to me that I ended up putting it in one of my stories, IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH, which is my sequel to THE BREAKING POINTISAIHTBP

I love writing stories, and I love adding humor to them.  Many of us have heard of the age-old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.”  And although many things in life are certainly no joke, there are times when having a sense of humor about them helps us to cope.  I often ponder God’s and his son Jesus’ sense of humor.

When Jesus was on earth, although he was serious-minded when it came to his ministry and way of life, he was not a tight-lipped disciplinarian.  He was kind, warm, and friendly. The Bible says at Matthew 11:28 that he brought refreshment to others.  At the same time though, many of us might sense a touch of humor in some of the things he said and taught.

Although his teachings were mainly for the purpose of spreading the good news about God’s Kingdom, one might also find amusing the idea of a camel attempting to pass through the eye of a literal sewing needle.  (Matthew 19:23 & 24)  Of course, this was just one example of Jesus’ way of teaching in order to get people to open up their minds and really think.

Since Jesus is the perfect reflection of his Father (John 14:9 ), it goes without saying that God also has a sense of humor.  Let’s look at just one example–his animal creation.  Have you ever stopped to take the time to watch them?  Some of them perform many humorous antics which bring a smile to our lips, laughter bubbling from within us, and extra joy to our lives.

Humor is a delightful gift from God and when used in moderation and with sound judgment, adds flavor, zest, and sparkle to our everyday lives.  So , yes, life will get us down now and then–but sometimes, laughter really is the best medicine!

Good-bye for now.  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

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