6 Secrets to Maximize Your Book Cover Design

You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of readers. Those seconds are priceless. Each cover component matters.

  1. Intriguing title

  2. Beneficial subtitle

  3. Color contrast

  4. The “Z” still matters

  5. Suitable unique image

  6. You’ve got one inch

Intriguing title

Book titles always come to me before the rest of the book. I’ve been told that is rare. At any given time I have ten titles rattling around in my head begging to be written.

Here’s the thing about a title, it has to catch the attention of a reader in a matter of seconds and hold it long enough for the rest of the cover to do its job. When I shared the title of my first book prior to having my subtitle nailed down, most people loved it and were intrigued. One person told me that no one was googling butter tubs and that I should let it go.

It turned out to be the metaphor for the entire book. It is memorable and stirs up the right amount of nostalgia. Sure, I could have filled my title with searchable key words, but hey, isn’t that what metadata is for?

My title catches the attention and makes people wonder what the book is about. The subtitle fills them in.

Beneficial subtitle

If you have a catchy or one word title, this is where you get to share the benefits. Share at least one, if not three, benefits you readers will get from reading your book. Keep it simple. Remember you only have seconds. Save the longer explanation for the back cover copy. It is also common in America to use Title Case here. If you don’t know what that is … google it. Professionalism matters.

Color contrast

This lesson, unfortunately, I learned the hard way. I was up against a deadline and didn’t print out a color copy of my cover for Save the Butter Tubs!: Discover Your Worth in a Disposable World prior to approval.

I first realized my flaw when I had a three foot by seven foot banner printed with my cover on it. The red wording in the title and the blue background suddenly looked muddy. I was so disappointed. I had actually changed it from white to red to give it more punch. Mistake!

See the difference?

See the difference?

The big mistake was not printing it in color. Instead, I trusted the backlit computer screen to determine my choice. Always, always print your cover in color before approving it. I suggest sending it to your local photo printer and getting the true results. This is what will be reflected on the book and all of the promotional materials.

It only cost me $50 to change my cover lettering back to white, but it will cost me more in promotional materials down the line. Be sure that your colors are high contrast from the start, and you will save time and money.

The “Z” still matters

Many moons ago in a marketing class, I learned that they eyes naturally scan or read from top left across to the right, down diagonally to bottom left and across to the right. This “Z” pattern is something that happens naturally.

If the components of your cover don’t follow the “Z,” it better be on purpose. Disrupting the norm can be a good thing sometimes, but be purposeful in doing so. Make sure you have a good balance in your placement of the text and images. Font sizes need to be appropriate as well.

Suitable unique image

A common mistake I’m seeing these days with covers is people using stock photos and not making any adjustments to the image. The problem with this is that anyone can use that same stock photo.

Using stock images are fine, but use a professional designer that knows how to layer images and make them personal.

Take extra care in using images that are popular or trendy. If it is associated with a book that tanks or has negative press, this could hurt you in the long run. Readers might never pick your book up thinking they’ve seen it before.

Now is the time to stand out in a good way.

Author Nicole R. Smith testifies about changing the stock image for her book, Game On, in the video below.

You’ve got one inch

Most new authors dream of how their book will look on the bookshelf at a big chain store. The problem is most new authors are blessed if they get a big chain store to carry their book, but the likelihood of them getting front facing space is rare. So in a book store you might have less than an inch. You have a spine. Use it wisely.

The inch is online. Amazon is the largest bookseller and you get a thumbnail. If the reader can’t make out your cover in the thumbnail, they might never give your book a chance. Make sure that it catches the eye enough to get the click.

Did you learn something new?

If you’ve made it this far and have learned something new, share this post with in your writer circles as well and let’s end the bad cover movement! Many thanks and happy cover designing!

Do You Need to be on all Social Media Platforms?


Different Schools of Thinking

  1. You can’t be everywhere so choose the one platform you are good at.

  2. You can’t master all platforms so don’t bother.

  3. Make your presence known.

I’m in the third school of thought. I’ll tell you why later, but first let me give you my overview of the platforms I use. I’ve been studying social media for a while now and love how everyone has their opinions about the different platforms. Here’s mine.

Facebook: Good engagement, easy ad implementation, great for reaching your friends, family, and their circles (if they will share your content), great too for conducting business in groups, and live videos, keyword driven

Instagram: Fair engagement, great for reaching a global market, use hashtags for reach.

Twitter: Decent engagement, great news source, good one-on-one conversations with people that would be otherwise unreachable, wide spectrum from professionals to trolls, use hashtags and keywords.

LinkedIn: More business focused, great global engagement, professional profile is valuable asset (use it wisely), great place to post articles, use hashtags.

Pinterest: Post it and forget it. Watch it work for you. Eyes on your content, easily searchable. Keywords in descriptions.

It’s a no brainer

Don’t be lazy. These are FREE tools. I’m a truth teller and sometimes I forget to add sugar, so I’m sorry if I’m stepping on your toes here. I know that the unknown can seem scary. I also know that I don’t know everything there is to know about all these platforms. But this is what I do know.

If I was only on one platform, my reach would we significantly smaller than being on all.

I am currently getting over 12.5k views/month on Pinterest!

Hello! Do you realize businesses pay big, and I mean big bucks to advertise. We have the opportunity to do it for FREE!

Doing it right doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing

Okay, I can hear you now. You don’t have the brain space to start learning all these platforms. I don’t either. You don’t have to be an expert in all of these. I’m not even an expert at one of these. Here is what I know about doing it right across all platforms: serve, don’t sell. People don’t want to be sold. They want to be heard, seen, and know they matter. Focus on that! Ask yourself, what can you post that will serve the people you want to reach. They create posts that do just that, rinse, and repeat.

Another reason, and what prompted me to write this post

I recently tried to tag some connections on Twitter, and on LinkedIn. I couldn’t. Why? They weren’t on those platforms! So sad they just missed out on FREE advertising! All they needed was a great profile, a few posts, and I would be driving traffic back to them. Do you see? You don’t have to have it all figured out. Just have a presence. Make sure that when I tag you, the people that then go to your profile can see what you do and why they would want to connect with you. You don’t have to know the algorithms or how many times a day to post. Just have a shiny profile that welcomes connection.

How to manage your new toys

The most important thing is to be responsive. Don’t create these accounts, and then never look back. Schedule a reminder to check them at least once per week. More frequently would be better, but start with what you can. You don’t have to invest hours scrolling through content. Just make sure you answer questions directed at you, and respond if you are tagged.

If you do want to learn more and post regularly, I recommend getting the free version of Hootsuite. For LinkedIn, I recommend connecting with Chris Borja. He has a course that walks you through how to spruce up your profile and gives you the tips and tricks to connect the right way. If you don’t want to invest, see what others are doing that works and model your profile after theirs.

It’s time to connect!

Whether you’ve been on a platform for a while or are just now setting up your account, let’s connect. When you do, drop a post letting me know you made it, and tag some friends that need to expand their social media presence. Stay connected and watch for useful tips on what to post on each platform and why.






Virtual Book Club Live with the Author

Join Brenda as she guides you through her book Save the Butter Tubs!: Discover Your Worth in a Disposable World.

Download your free discussion guide.

We are busier than we've ever been, but we're left discouraged, distracted, and defeated.

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.

  • Obesity is common, serious, and costly and affected about 93.3 million of U.S. adults in 2015-2016.

  • Stress: According to the American Psychological Association, adults are more likely to find family responsibilities stressful than they have in the past.

  • Burnout prevention programs are being instated in corporations.

  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression, according to the World Health Organization.

  • Clutter isn't just in our hearts and minds, it is spilling out of our overstuffed homes into 2.3 billion square feet of storage units across America. Storage is a $38 billion dollar industry!

We long to be fulfilled, focused, and fearless! You will learn to live in reverse—with the end in mind—leaving a legacy that makes a difference.

  • Realize how you are being influenced by your environment

  • Learn to live in reverse to leave a message and not a mess

  • Have tools that keep you focused

  • Accept the impact your lack of focus has on their influence

  • Clarify your opportunities for impact and influence

  • Understand how your start can make for an amazing finish

  • Discover your own potential and be able to identify it in others

  • Identify the lies keeping you from fulfillment

  • Reveal what self-destructive habits are holding you back

Don't allow your circumstances to snuff out your torch! You were made for more than this.

Download your free discussion guide.

Brenda will lead this Virtual book club starting June 18, 2019 for four weeks at 7:30pm CST on Tuesdays. Join her on Facebook for this free event. Invite your friends, family, sisters, and even Grandma.

If you’ve missed the live event, Download the free guide and host your own book club or use it with your small group.

Who will use you?

Isn’t it just like the enemy to use those closest to us to hurt us? Don’t allow the enemy to use you in someone else’s life.

I’m on a mission and the enemy has tried hard to attack me from every angel. I’ve stood my ground so now he is attempting to use others to get to me. Don’t be used by him!!!!

How the enemy gets in…he uses the ego. People think more about themselves than they do you. Many people have been asking for favors or giving unsolicited and untimely advice for things they’ve never even done themselves. It’s been interesting. I’m like, hello!!!! I’m in the busiest, most exciting time of my life, and you think it’s time to ask for a favor? What? Or be the critique? Nows not the time. Helpful tips are always welcome, keep the negative energy to yourself, please. Thank you.

I choose to surround myself with the encouragers. I’m more thankful for the givers in my life than I have ever been, and I am thankful that they are teaching me how to love others better. I’ve got a great support team and they are loving on me, sending me notes of encouragement, and sharing my posts. I’m thankful for these people. They have no idea how much their thoughtfulness means right now. I’m feeling the love! While the enemy is using some to nag at me, God is using others to bless my socks off!

I’m studying the behavior of others. Still trying to figure out what’s behind it. Family or friends that are avoiding me or not showing up for me in this, the biggest event of my life, it’s strange. One of my mentors says it’s because they can’t face the dreams. The dreams that are coming true for me and the ones that they are still burying. I find this very sad. It does make me wonder if I do this to others. I hope I’ve never been the one to not support your dream. If I have, please forgive me. If I’ve been the selfish one, not realizing the stress you’re under or how long your to-do list really is, I’m sorry.

I don’t think I’m that person, but I’m sure those being that person to me right now don’t realize they are either. So what can we do? We can be intentional about celebrating with others, even if it’s not our thing! Maybe books are your thing, I get it. They weren’t mine until 2003! Either way, here’s what you can do to support an author releasing their first book or maybe someone in your life is going back to school, having a baby, or starting a new career.

  1. Pray for them. Send them prayers. Send them text letting them know you are praying.

  2. Don’t ask for favors. Things will slow down again. I will have time to help you later. Right, now, I’m doing my best to get my to-do list checked off.

  3. Give helpful tips, things that will make life easier. Don’t criticize me. I don’t have time for new ideas, or to do what you’ve deemed necessary. I’m keeping things simple and focusing on what God has called me to do.

  4. Share my posts, buy a copy of the book (if you don’t read, gift it), leave reviews, show up in the audience, clap, smile, hug me…I need it!

  5. Introduce me to your contacts. Who do you know that needs a speaker for an event? Introduce me to the event planner at your library, bookstore, church, or organization.

I realize people don’t understand because they haven’t been here. Those that have been here, get it. So I’m not writing this to blame you for not getting it. I just want to help you understand a bit more. It’s a big deal. I didn’t write, Save the Butter Tubs!: Discover Your Worth in a Disposable World so it could be published. I wrote it to change lives. I wrote it so God could use it in a big way. He already is, but I have to do my part. I have to get up everyday and press on. I have to fight the voices in my head telling me I’m not enough. I have to screen the critiques and the haters. I have to trust and allow God to use me, will you do the same?

3 Books Every Creative Should Read

I haven't always loved to read. It wasn't until I was about nineteen that I read my first book by choice. Now, I am always reading something. For the longest time most of what I read was of the self-help category. That category gets a bad rap sometimes. I have heard Christians before talk about how you need to let go and let God, or you can't fix yourself. Whatever. I believe we need to take action on our part. When Jesus healed the guy at the pool, he told the guy to get up and walk. It was an action on the guy's part. Jesus did his part and the man had to do his. (John 5:1-15)

Do your part! Maybe, you don't know what your action should be? I encourage you to read everything you can get your hands on until you are fully walking in the Spirit. This includes, of course, God's Word. His Word is alive and has the power to change us. I do also believe that just as Jesus used stories to help get his points across or to help people remember them, sometimes we need to connect with a story. Gifted writers can do that.

Here are three books (in the order that I read them) that along with God's timing and prodding have really changed my life.

1.The War of Art by Steven Pressfield helped me to understand what was holding me back from living he dream God had placed in my heart and why. So many truths in this book that can be felt deep in your soul. It is a must read if you are "sitting by the pool complaining about not being well.

2.You Are A Writer, So Start Acting Like One by Jeff Goins is geared toward writers specifically but I believe you could read it and apply the insight to any dream you have. If you want to be anything, starting acting like that thing! This book pushes you over the wanting and into the doing.

3.Your Secret Name by Kary Oberbrunner was not a new concept for me but reading through it in this way helped me emmensely. We all have names, nicknames and maybe titles,  or labels that we hear in our heads. Maybe it's names we call ourselves or have been called by others. I had a book idea about this years ago. Who knows, it may still get written. I think properly identifying ourselves they way that God does is so important to our legacy. This book helped me go from still having feelings of unworthiness and not being enough to knowing that I am enough. God says that I am. Again, not something that God's word doesn't already tell me, just something I needed to hear in a different way to make the connection.

Have you read any of these? Give me your thought in the comments below.


Note: Some links lead to affiliate products or services, meaning if you buy them, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that I have personal experience with all of the following resources, which is why I recommend them.



11 Songs To Knock-Out Writer's Block


Find it hard to get in your grove? Writer's block taking over? Here are 11 songs that get me going every time! Let me know in the comments if you have any to add to the list I'd love to hear what gets your juices flowing!

1.  Watch on YouTube 3:42 am (Writer's Block) by Mercy Me

2. Watch on YouTube Something to Say by Matthew West

3. Watch on YouTube Storyteller by Morgan Harper Nichols

4. Watch on YouTube The Blessing by John Waller

5. Watch on YouTube Prodigal by Sidewalk Prophets

6. Watch on YouTube My Story by Addison Road

7. Watch on YouTube It's Your Life by Francesca Battistelli

8. Watch on YouTube Give Me Words To Speak

9. Watch on YouTube This is Your Life by Switchfoot

10. Watch on YouTube Well Done by Moriah Peters

11. Watch on YouTube Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

Note: Some links lead to affiliate products or services, meaning if you buy them, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that I have personal experience with all of the following resources, which is why I recommend them.

Customize scripture, start with Psalm 23


I saw this idea on a friend's blog and loved it! Our God is a personal god. He wants an intimate relationship with us. My friend, Melody customized the 23rd Psalm to fit what she was personally going through. We aren't changing the meaning of the Word of God only praying it over our specific needs. Just like David cried out to God, so can we. This is an awesome way to pray scripture over your life and whatever you are going through. Here is the original Psalm in the New Living Translation:

The Lord is my shepherd;I have all that I need.He lets me rest in green meadows;he leads me beside peaceful streams.He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths,bringing honor to his name.Even when I walkthrough the darkest valley,I will not be afraid,for you are close beside me.Your rod and your staffprotect and comfort me.You prepare a feast for mein the presence of my enemies.You honor me by anointing my head with oil.My cup overflows with blessings.Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,and I will live in the house of the Lordforever.

As an author, here is my custom Psalm 23:

The Lord is my publisher. I have all that I need. He lets me rest in his mighty provisions; he leads me to peaceful resources. He renews my strength. He guides me with the right words, bringing honor to his name. Even when I type and the words don't make sense, I will not be afraid for you are speaking through me. Your Holy Spirit protects and comforts me guiding me and correcting me. You prepare a platform for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with clarity. My cup overflows with blessings so that I can pour out to others in your name, Jesus. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life and for a thousand generations because of my obedience to your commands. I will live with you now in my heart and for eternity forever.

You focus may be an illness, a career, a challenging relationship or something completely different. Whatever is on your heart, He hears you. Cry out to him like David did!!

Post your custom Psalm below. Let me know if you get stuck as I'd love to help!

A Tribe is More Than a Buzzword

Just give me the knowledge

I was first introduced to this exotic community of creatives called The Igniting Souls Tribe in September of 2016. I watched a webinar sponsored by Jeff Goins, Author of Real Artists Don't Starve. He introduced some bald guy with a girl's name, and I wanted his knowledge. It was exactly what I needed for my business and my book!  I started with a program called My Book Blueprint. The value of that offer was more than I ever thought I'd receive. I not only got what I paid for  (which was extremely helpful!) but I was IN THE TRIBE!

What I wanted to know:

  • How to help others with my message?
  • How to make a difference with my book?
  • How to turn my book into a business?

What's the heck is a Tribe?

By definition, a tribe is a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.

Basically, this new buzzword is going back to the basics. Instead of just having a following, you create a community of like minded individuals. The leader sets the rules and the standards. Some do this very intentionally while others just lump anyone breathing into a group to feel better about themselves and claim a following. The Igniting Souls Tribe is very intentional. They have a strong leader that is the face and voice of the Tribe.

Kary has written several books, speaks around the world and coaches not only one-on-one but his TRIBE! Yep, he is actively coaching with phone calls twice a week, a very active private Facebook group that is kept intentional with rules for posting and any time I have personally reached out to him over the last year, he replies...and quickly! Talk about service! Kary is all about serving others and he has taught his tribe well.

Genius Marketing

Once I became part of the Igniting Souls Tribe, I couldn't believe I was rubbing shoulders with people that were where I wanted to be! I was watching their questions in the Facebook group and seeing the interaction with not only Kary, but among the tribe members themselves. Everyone serving one another.

Kary, Me and David
Kary, Me and David

I didn't even know I'd be in the tribe much less know I'd have access to Kary through the Facebook group. I quickly realized what geniuses both Kary and his business partner David are! The gave me more than I paid for up front and then allowed me to start trusting them and their tribe. I saw the interactions–the magic.

Honestly, I don't know how Kary keeps it all straight in his head, but he knows most of the tribe by name and goals! Whether that to become an author, to become a coach or speaker, he knows the stories that make up the people. I stand in awe!


I made a decision that I would attend the annual Igniting Souls Conference (ISC), which by the way, you don't have to be in the tribe yet to attend!  I was invited to speak on stage at the conference when my book is published in 2018 so I decided I'd better go to this conference to see what all the hype was about.

Donna, Me and Author  Bamidele Adenipekun

Donna, Me and Author Bamidele Adenipekun

In the Facebook group, the tribe started working out details for people that were traveling in for the event and needed roommates or rides. I needed both. I made the trip from Texas to Ohio to share a room with a woman I barely knew and trusted a complete stranger to pick me up from the airport. Why? Because of the tribe!

These people were all active in the tribe. Some more than others, but remember what I said about serving others. That's exactly what was unfolding. Three other ladies figured out through the Facebook post that we were all arriving about the same time. One, now dear new friend, Donna, was renting a car and offered to drive us all to our hotel which was just walking distance to the conference center.

Round Table Masterminds
Round Table Masterminds

The day of our trip everyone started texting each other (we exchanged numbers so we could easily find each other at the airport.) Donna texted "almost to the mothership." That word mothership summed up my entire conference experience.

It was an incredible weekend filled with like-minded creatives all moving in the same direction. It was a place were there was no competition. Instead, everyone was serving each other, answering questions, setting up round table discussions where some of the most powerful masterminds happened.

No Aliens Allowed

At the conference, Kary brought in a team of speakers that complimented the tribe. They fit right in! Some of the best experts in their field, yet they didn't just speak and leave. Nope, they stayed and shared meals with us. They spent hours in the hallways talking and coaching us. It was servant-hood at its finest. You could ask anything and they would focus like you were the only one in the room. Of course, others gathered around to gleam whatever they could from these valuable conversations. I was humbled by their humility and kindness and took notes as fast as I could!

Mike Kim, Brian J. Dixon, Kary,  Amy Schmittauer Landino , Dexter Godfrey and David

Mike Kim, Brian J. Dixon, Kary, Amy Schmittauer Landino, Dexter Godfrey and David

Amy Schmittauer Landino  and Me in the hallway

Amy Schmittauer Landino and Me in the hallway

Brian J. Dixon and  Andrew Fehr

Brian J. Dixon and Andrew Fehr

Me and Dexter Godfrey
Me and Dexter Godfrey

What I learned about a Tribe and from the ISC?

  • How to help others with my message.
  • How to make a difference with my book.
  • How to turn my book into a business.
  • Tribes are communities worth investing in.
  • Energy is contagious
  • Fill up, pour out, over flow
  • The ISC is like no conference I have ever experienced because their tribe is like no other community I've ever been a part of.

Note: Some links lead to affiliate products or services, meaning if you buy them, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that I have personal experience with all of the following resources, which is why I recommend them.

Your someday is now- How to Become the Author You're Dreaming About!

Many people think of writing a book someday. Even if they've never considered themselves a writer. Maybe you've jotted down some ideas or maybe if you're like my you have journals full of ideas and more than one book started on your laptop. The task of writing can be freeing but many find it daunting. I have felt both. When I started with an idea and no direction it was daunting. I would freely write page after page, but then I felt like I had a bunch of pages that had no order. Finding out how to structure my book was so important. I am thankful for coming across the My Book Blueprint program.

Not only did it help me with my book's structure, it opened the door to a community of authors and an amazing mentor. Now that I am writing away, I am trying not to get overwhelmed by what's to come. I want my book to be successful because I want to honor my grandmother, (it was her idea to begin with) and I want to impact the lives of my readers.

Some people just want to publish a book to see their name on Amazon or on a cover. I actually already have that. I was part of an anthology, Texas Tidbits in 2012. While it was very exciting to see my name on the back cover, and I even signed a few books, the editing was disappointing. Not all of my edits made it through to the final print. I only shared the book with immediate family. I was disappointed to say the least.

This experience taught me some great lessons in the world of writing:

  1. Make sure you have control over your final edited copy (obviously)
  2. I want to write to make an impact not just to be published
  3. I am a good writer with integrity
  4. Good writers need good editors
  5. To reach people with your book you need to learn how to market it
  6. My someday is now!

Thankfully, my mentor, believes in helping people. He has helped me tremendously and now he is offering this webinar designed to help authors and aspiring authors create more influence, impact and income from their books.

3 Author Secrets I'm excited to learn:

  1. How to get your book into Barnes & Noble and other bookstores
  2. How to spike your book sales with killer trailer and launch party
  3. How to get 50 or more Amazon reviews in 1 day

So now what? How do you get it? Simple.  1.Click the picture in the top of the post. 2. Tell me  about the book in your heart in the comments!

The best thing about this webinar besides that it's FREE, there is nothing to buy at the end! You can learn, even if your not quite ready for these steps. Keep the tools in you writer's tool box and ease you mind about what's to come. The less your mind is worrying about what's going to happen after you're done writing, the freer it is to write!


Note: Some links lead to affiliate products or services, meaning if you buy them, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that I have personal experience with all of the following resources, which is why I recommend them.

Stop Making The Biggest Grammar Mistake

Even the best writers and bloggers can make this grammar mistake. You may know the difference between there, their, and they're, but you're writing so quickly, you don't realize you just typed the wrong word for the whole world to see!

The English language is a tricky one! The most common grammar mistake is a homophone.

The #1 Writing Tool grammar mistake

ho·mo·phoneˈhäməˌfōn,ˈhōməˌfōn/ noun

noun: homophone; plural noun: homophones

each of two or more words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling, e.g., new and knew.

Commonly misused words (homophones):

write, right, rite

your, you're

bear, bare

to, too, two

flower, flour

conscious, conscience

hear, here

affect, effect

which, witch

then, than

our, are

buy, by

accept, except

weather, whether

one, won

break, brake

compliment, complement

allowed, aloud

its, it's

capital, capitol

principal, principle

no, know

new, knew

If it's been a while since you've been in an English class, you might not recall where exactly a comma goes either, or what about apostrophes?

I stumbled upon this awesome new app that everyone needs! Please, people, save the English language! This app is free to download! I have it on my Firefox browser and it is amazing!!! It even corrects my Facebook messages! Then, I installed it on my mac and it corrects anything I type!!! As a writer, it has been amazing to have my proofreading automatically done for me as I type! My editor will be so impressed!

So if you type anything, a Facebook post, a blog, a term paper, working on a book, a resume, you name it...you need to install this today!

stop making this grammar mistake, blog like a pro
stop making this grammar mistake, blog like a pro

I must confess, homophones are not my only grammar issues. I misuse punctuation, I am one of the worst spellers I know, but now thanks to this little app, no one will have to know! What is your biggest grammar mistake?

grammar mistake resume

Note: Some links lead to affiliate products or services, meaning if you buy them, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that I have personal experience with all of the following resources, which is why I recommend them.

Would you read letters from the dead?

Would you read letters from the dead?
Would you read letters from the dead?

It's been 11 weeks since I lost my grandmother. My heart still aches. Yesterday, I was watching Pearl Harbor. Or maybe I should say it was on while I was working. I hope I am not ruining it for anyone, but the after the love interest "dies" at war, the woman waiting back home still gets letters. The friend that hands them to her apologizes, and reminds her of the delay in mail.

My first response was, "that would suck."

Then, I thought about my grandmother. I would love to read new letters from her right now. I am so thankful I have her written thoughts and memories for our book. If you follow me at all, you know that I am writing a book, Save the Butter Tubs: Discover Your Worth in a Disposable World. It incorporates her writings. The whole book was her idea. She wanted me to write a book about all the good in her life.

I guess, when you get in your 90s you start reflecting on your life. She was counting her blessings. It's been an amazing journey learning her stories. I miss having our morning talks during my visits.

Last night my husband rented, Collateral Beauty with Will Smith. I knew it was going to be a heart breaker. After all, his lost his six year old daughter. I tried to distract myself with my phone so I wouldn't bawl all the way through the movie. Will Smith is a good actor. So many of the emotions I am feeling, he was acting out.

While I didn't lose a child, and pray I never do, the pain of losing someone I was so close to, someone I was working on a huge project with, someone I admired, respect and loved so dearly...it's just a lot to process.

The week before Easter I went to my grandmother's home to collect the last bits of furniture. I took her dining room table. Who would have thought that a dining room table would represent so much? First, she had it forever! When I was a child about seven or eight, she purchased it for her new house. I remember polishing the pedestal and all the chairs. Now, I have to laugh at how she made us crawl under the table. She was 50 years my elder so at 57 or 58, she was done crawling around on the floor when she had us littles that were so close to the floor. I get it and I'm not even 50 yet!

Many family meals, and game nights were shared around that table in the almost forty years she owned it. I remember clearly the last time I sat at it with her. We shared breakfast tacos. She would love that I took the table. In fact, before she even moved from her home at 92, she started giving me things. She wanted to make sure the things she valued and treasured went where they would be equally valued and treasured.

It took me a while to decide on the table. I have a beautiful table my husband and I bought in 2005 when we moved into a new house. My table has six nice chairs with it, but could fit up to twelve people around it if we pulled up odd chairs from around the house. Grandma's table actually has twelve chairs! Her table is oval. Mine is rectangle. Her table has a pedestal and mine has four legs. A few things you don't really think about until you try seating twelve.

That's what made me decide. I had a lovely group of ladies that I teach on Wednesday nights over. We squished around my rectangle with corners jabbing into the unfortunate ones that got those spots. I got up, took this picture and text my sister, "I'll take the table!"


I never really connected the fact that I am the only one in my family that entertains in our home on a regular basis. We love entertaining, sharing a good meal with friends and family. Game nights are always a plus here as well. We've only had the table a week and have entertained three times! It's been wonderful! All my ladies seemed to enjoy it as well. I should have taken an after picture. (who knew I'd be posting about a table?)

Getting the table was like reading a letter from Grandma. The flood of memories and emotions that come to me every time I sit at it, every time I entertain, and every time I dust it. What a treasure!

Writing has been different since Grandma left. I have days I could just write forever. I think I'm having one now. Then, I have days that I write about webinars because I don't want to open my heart. Pain seeping out, hurts. At the same time, it is the most precious time. I feel her. I can see the light in her blue eyes sparkling as she is telling me stories. She had a way she would hold her hands, and move them when she talked. It is so vivid in my mind. I pray I never lose that visual memory.

Well, I am going to wrap this up. I need to get ready for church this morning and I need to blow my nose from all the tears running down my red face. It's an ugly cry kind of day. Time to wash my face like my mom used to make me do after I'd cry as a kid. It always seemed to help.

I do want to leave you with a few thoughts to take into your own home:

  1. What do you treasure and why?
  2. Does anyone in your family know the answer to #1?
  3. Don't wait. Share now. Things are just things, but they represent you.
  4. How does what you treasure represent you?
  5. Would you read letters from the dead?

I'd really love to hear from you in the comments if you're brave enough to open up. Be brave.

Love leaves legacies, Brenda


Note: Some links lead to affiliate products or services, meaning if you buy them, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that I have personal experience with all of the following resources, which is why I recommend them.

You Don't Need A Big Following To Become An Author

I did not have a big following when I met with a traditional publisher a few years back. I was crushed when he told me, "you're a nobody." No one wants to hear that! It didn't sit well with me and actually hurt. I was somebody! I am somebody! A simple somebody with a message to share and how dare someone crush that dream for me!

I'm a simple somebody with a message to share! Can you relate?

It took me several years to bounce back as a writer; to even believe I could become an author with or without a following. Of course, we all want our books to be read so having a following is important. Knowing how to build one, what it really meant after all, and to find out I could borrow one...that was valuable.

My mentor, Kary has given me so much valuable information! Mostly for free! What I've learned since being part of his Tribe has not only assisted me in writing my book, but learning how to publish it. It felt so good yesterday when in Barnes & Noble talking to an employee about my book. She told me I should talk to the manager and asked who my book distributor was, when I told her, she replied with wide-eyes, "Wow, that's a big one! Be sure to talk to the manager about a book signing!"

Before finding the right mentor, I had no idea about which distributors do what and if it was really possible to get in the big stores! Now, I'll be signing books at B&N!

If you are a writer or have ever thought of writing a book, (not everyone thinks of themselves as a writer) I encourage you to join me on my journey. Start by joining my VIP Launch Group! 

Don't let someone crush your dreams and most importantly don't let that someone be you! Stop with the excuses of not having a big following or not knowing where to start. This is where you should start!

Just today, this was an actual comment on one of my posts, "Your success is inspiring! I would love to be a ghost writer. I have also desired to write about politics, but I don’t have a platform-yet."  We have it all backwards. I never thought I needed a big following until that well-meaning publisher told me I did. But you know what else he told me? He told me to go self-publish and sell 1000 books. Then to come back and see him. Really? If I don't have a big following and go sell 1000 books, by the end of that I would have my own following and wouldn't need him! What I needed was a guide! Someone to teach me how to grow my following.  Allow me to introduce you to my guide!

Do yourself a favor. Start today. I will be right here on the journey with you!


Note: Some links lead to affiliate products or services, meaning if you buy them, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that I have personal experience with all of the following resources, which is why I recommend them.

Why Jesus is Better Than Walmart

Jesus is Better than Walmart
Jesus is Better than Walmart

Remember when Walmart was first trying to take over the retail world, they would allow you to return anything no questions asked? Well, I have tried more than once to return things I’ve purchased or that were gifted to me, and it turns out their policy has changed over the years.

A few years back, my Christmas list was full of books! Well, it actually is every year, but that particular year my sweet husband surprised me with a Kindle. Immediately, I purchased several books from my list to try it out. Later that Christmas Day, we celebrated with the extended family. My dear aunt had gifted me the hardback version of the same books! I told her what I had done, and she said she bought them at Walmart and I could return them. I told her I would get a gift card to purchase more books for my Kindle. I was so excited about my new toy!

Until I got to Walmart that was…apparently they don’t want to return books because you might have read them. This was the day after Christmas, I don’t read that fast! I explained to the lady what had happened. I hadn’t even cracked open the books. They were in perfect condition. She said it was store policy. I asked for the manager. While I waited for the manager, I read the store policy on the sign behind the counter. It didn’t say a thing about books. When the manager arrived, I explained again what had happened. When she started to spout off about store policy, I pointed to the sign. I ended up getting store credit, but I had to work for it.

Recently, I found myself again at that counter with a gift that I was trying to return. It was a small appliance I just couldn’t figure out. The clerk started the return and then said, “Oh, I’m sorry, you can't return this because it cost too much.” Apparently, their “policy” had changed again! The lady told me they couldn’t return it, because it was over $50. I guess, I wasn’t up for the fight that day. I just took my item and left.

Before anyone starts commenting about how Walmart does this because of all the theft, let me just say I have a close friend that works asset protection and I am very aware of the theft that goes on daily. I still don’t believe that an honest customer should be penalized for the crime of a dishonest thief. Maybe, Walmart should get those cards like some of the grocery stores have that track all the money we spend in their stores. Then they might be nicer to the honest customers.


Where does Jesus fit into all of this? First of all, His policy never changes! He is the same today as he was 2000 years ago. His promises are the same and true for me, just as they were for the woman at the well as told in the bible. The BEST part is that He will exchange anything! Nothing is too expensive or too used! He died on the cross to exchange His life for our sin! He gladly took back my disobedience, my potty mouth, my suicidal thoughts, my selfishness, my bitterness, my divorce, my gossip…oh, the list is too long! The point is, it doesn’t matter what we’ve done. He loves us enough to take us back! To give us the full refund no questions asked.

If you haven’t fully grasped why Jesus crawled on that cross, if you haven’t taken all your returns, your sins, to Him, make this your time! If you haven’t and want to know anything about His return policy, I’d be happy to help you. We don’t have to carry around all the returns that pile up and clutter our hearts. We can let it all go, and trust in the One who has already paid for mistakes. Our sin causes separation between us and God. Jesus stands in that gap for us. Just like Walmart is the middle man between us and the manufacture of those goods. Jesus chose to be our middle man. He chose to stand in the gap for us–to take the returns upon himself and fully redeem our lives.

Remember at Walmart, how I had to work for my return with the books?  The Good News about Jesus is that we don’t have to work for our return. Scripture tells us in Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Asking Jesus to come into your life is an amazing gift. Works come in when you fully understand all that He has done for you, and you can’t help but want to honor him with your life.

The truth is NONE of us will ever be good enough for a full exchange. The Good News is we don’t have to be! It’s not based on our works, or how good we are. It is based on His policy of loving us enough to die on our behalf redeeming us fully with God the Father.



Note: Some links lead to affiliate products or services, meaning if you buy them, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that I have personal experience with all of the following resources, which is why I recommend them.

Turn Your Mess Into A Message That Makes You Money


Has anyone ever told you, "you should write a book about that?"

Have you ever felt like you have a message that needs to be heard? 

If the answer to either of those is yes, you are in the right place!

My answer was yes, too! In 2003, I managed to put together some not so good manuscripts and take them to a writer's conference where I was set to meet with a publisher. A group of aspiring authors sat around a large conference table and pitched our ideas. It was exciting and heartbreaking all at the same time. The publishing agent told me that he loved both of the concepts I submitted, but that I was basically a nobody. He told me to self-publish, and after I'd sold a thousand copies to reach out to him again.

WHAT? I thought to myself if I can sell a thousand copies on my own, what do I need you for? Of course, I have learned a ton since then and understand the reach a traditional publisher has, but I also understand the limitations and time restrictions that come with that reach.

Thinking self-publishing was my only option, I studied everything I could on the subject, but was left feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. I felt very alone and unsure of myself in regards to writing. Questioning if I should even be a writer, I knew I had a message that I had to get out, but struggled to get it written much less published.

Thankfully, God confirmed that I should write! The full story is in Save the Butter Tubs: Discover Your Worth in a Disposable World. For now, let's just say I am thrilled to be plugged into a community of fellow authors and mentors. No questions go unanswered! I feel connected and motivated like never before. The best part is that I now have the tools to do the job!

When I came across this webinar, I felt like I had finally found someone who understood where I was and where I wanted to go! Now, Save the Butter Tubs: Discover Your Worth in a Disposable World is schedule for release October 2018! Join my VIP Launch Team now!

Don't just sit back and watch me. If you have a message you need to get out, join me on the journey! The first step is simple, watch the webinar. It's free and it could change your life like it did mine!


  • Why today is the best time in history to publish a book and how to do it.
  • New publishing secrets that give you the most control, profit, and support.
  • How to make your book a 6-figure business, not just a $16 business card.
  • How to get your book attention and engagement without having a big platform.
  • PLUS another 75 minutes of insider tips, tools, and more.
Turn your mess into a message that makes you money
Turn your mess into a message that makes you money

Note: Some links lead to affiliate products or services, meaning if you buy them, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that I have personal experience with all of the following resources, which is why I recommend them.

4 Favorite Podcasts for Writers

Follow my blog with BloglovinHeadphonesWhat are you listening to? I was late to the podcast scene. I kept hearing about them and once listened to Matt Chandler's series on Habakkuk, which was great but I never started following anyone. That was before I had a smartphone with podcasts at my fingertips. Back in the day, I would listen to cassettes of Joyce Meyer that would be the equivalent of podcasts today.

Now that I've finally tried the podcast app that came installed on my smartphone, I'm hooked. You can search for podcasts by putting in keywords. Then you can listen to an individual podcast and if you like it you can subscribe. Subscribing basically downloads the latest podcasts from the castors you follow. Most castors I follow post once a week. So as I am ready to listen, I can click on my podcasts and either select one or just go down the list of unplayed. I enjoy listening to talks, sermons, etc. I usually listen while getting dressed in the morning, or working out. I especially love the longer shows for my drives to San Antonio. The worst part about listening while driving is you can't take notes!

Lately, I've been listening to all kinds of podcasts from sermons to different themes. Here are my current favs on the topic of writing. If you're not a writer, share this with someone you know that is! In my experience writing from home, it can get lonely. Having some podcastors that you listen to on a regular basis gives you that sense of connection. Not to mention the advice, ideas and inspiration are priceless...literally as well, these four podcasts are free!

  1. Kary Oberbrunner's Igniting Souls
  2. Jeff Goins' Portfolio Life
  3. The Author Hangout: Book Marketing Tips for Indie and Self-Published Authors
  4. The Creative Penn Podcast

So let me ask you again, what are you listening to? Leave the link to your favorite podcast or if your a castor leave your link! (clean material only, all others will be deleted)

4 Favorite Podcasts for Writers









Why Haven't I Heard of This? I'm in Love!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


I've never even heard of this and I have two blogs! Bloglovin is an awesome tool to get a feed from the blogs you want to follow!!! I just signed up so I don't know the ropes just yet but I am excited to have a place where the blogs I follow will all be in one place!  Like a social media platform for blogs!

I know, it's the little things in life that make me smile. This is one of them!  Do you use it? Let me know what you know!

How to get started: (if you're like me and have never heard of it!)

  1. Sign-up with your email or with Facebook.
  2. If you have a blog you can clam your blog by entering your entire URL into the search. Then it will walk you through set up.
  3. Fill your feed with your favorite blogs! Click "find blogs" and search for your favs or find new ones!
  4. Enjoy your feed! For each new blog post published – you’ll see an image, a title, and a short description of the blog post. You will see 4 choices underneath: LikeSave, Share and Mark as Read. 

I hope you will follow both of my blogs, www.brendahaire.com and www.wildhairehiking.com! Let me know if you have a blog as well that I might be interested in! Happy connecting!






Six Things New Hikers Should Know

Six Things New Hikers Should KnowAfter hiking one of the most popular trails yesterday, I thought of a few important things new hikers need to know:

  1. Hiking etiquette-when hiking on any trail stay to your right when you are passing oncoming hikers. This may mean you have to walk single file if you are with a group. Be courteous to those hiking on the cliff side. If other hikers are coming up behind you, be mindful and let them pass on the left by going single file or by stopping to the side.
  2. Trail Markers-some trails, especially in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park(GSMNP), have trail markers. At the beginning of a trail, there will be what’s called a trailhead sign. This will tell you the ONE-WAY mileage of the trail.  Some trails have brochures you can pick up, some for a donation and some free. These brochures highlight certain aspects along the trail and are denoted by numbered markers on the trail. Some people confuse these with mile markers. They are not the same thing! Usually, if a trail has mile markers, it will say M or Miles on the marker. (I will update after I snap a picture from our next hike) Below is an example of different signage you might see. The first is a trailhead sign you will usually see near the parking area at the start of the trail. This is in one-way mileage. The second picture is of handy markers that were along the trail at Bud Ogle's place. It helps guide you on the trail as it goes rocks and can be hard to tell which way the actual trail goes. The third picture below shows the same concept but in a different way. This particular trail system marks theirs by color. As you can see in the fourth picture, the Sycamore Falls Trailhead marker has a blue flashing on it. Along the trail itself, it will have flashing tacked to trees to indicate the actual trail.

    Forney Ridge Trailhead Sign

    Trail Guide Marker

    Trail Guide Marker

    Sycamore Falls Trailhead Sign

  3. Pack in-Pack out-There is nothing worse than sitting down on a rock for lunch and learning that it was someone’s potty before you got there because their soggy tissue is still on the ground! Yesterday, on the hike there was an older gentlemen actually cleaning these and other trash off the trail. It’s simple, if you are taking tissues, take a bag to discard them in and carry it out to the trash. The park is not a trash can. For a helpful list of what to pack click here.
  4. Bear proof cars- don’t leave any food in your cars if you are hiking in areas where there are bear which is all of the GSMNP area. Don’t leave your food wrappers either! Bear have a great sense of smell and will break into your vehicle. It’s not worth it. Hike with your snacks or leave them in the room. If you hike with snacks, see #3!
  5. Water-always carry water with you! If you happen to fall and break your leg, you may be waiting for help for a while. It’s better to be prepared! On most hikes, we usually carry a bottle for the way in and one for the way out. Longer hikes or hikes that we pack a full picnic for, we take more.
  6. Pets-pets are not allowed on any trail in the GSMNP. The only trail that allows them that I know of at this point is the Gatlinburg Trail. Check all trail allowances before heading out! Most visitor centers can tell you the rules long before you bring your fur-baby to the woods.

We meet new hikers all the time that aren't prepared, that don't understand the trail systems, wearing the wrong shoes and all kinds of other hiking faux pas. We were there once, too.  That's why we are sharing what we know. We are not experts by any means but we want to share what we have learned over the years. Comment below with your hiking questions!

six things new hikers should know




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Heavy Heart Lightly Dusted With Snow

Sunrise from Gatlinburg Bypass Overlook Snow was in the forecast for the overnight hours and it didn't disappoint! Darren woke me up early. I really have no idea what time since my watch said one time, my computer another and my phone yet another. We lost an hour yesterday with the time zone difference and then skipped ahead another with Daylight Savings. I am still not clear exactly what time it is. It's dark and night...lol. I believe it is 9:33pm Tennessee time.

It's been another great day. Good to be in the Smoky Mountains. They are so beautiful even in winter and even with all the devastation. We saw some of that today and it was sad. In the picture above, that fence used to stretch the length of the overlook and there was a sign with information about what you were overlooking. All gone except for that little stretch of fence.

I think God dusted everything in snow to soften the blow for my tender heart. The snow and views were beautiful. My heart grew heavier with every burned cabin we passed. It also makes me angry. Angry at the teenagers that we heard started the fires and angry at the national news stations for not doing a better job covering this story. The Great Smoky Mountain fires were the deadliest wildfires in the eastern U.S. since 1947. Over 2000 structures were lost and over 14 people died (at last report I saw) with another 134 injured.

GSMNP signAfter we stopped at the overlook, we stopped by the main park sign over by the Sugarland Visitor's Center.  So many wonderful memories at this sign alone! It was lovely along the Gatlinburg Trail as well. Some ducks came right up to Darren down by the water. They must be used to people feeding them. We didn't. We didn't even feed ourselves before we left. We wanted to capture as much of the snow as possible before it melted.

It did melt but not before we visited Bud Ogle's place over by Roaring Fork. This is another place full of memories. Darren can remember visiting as a child. We brought our kids on their first trip in 2007. It was so good to see it still standing. On the way to it there were burned cabins and charred trees on both sides of the road. We hiked the short loop so we could see if the old mill house made it. It was still standing but the trough was partially collapsed. It didn't look like it was related to the fire but maybe had rotted. We had fun playing with the snow in the trees and following animal tracks in the snow.

Bud Ogle Place-Historic Cabin

We finally headed to breakfast around lunch time. I knew it was close to lunch because the Log Cabin Pancake House we ate at has a lunch buffet and they were serving it. We opted for breakfast. Darren had his usual Pecan Pancakes and I had an omelet and some cakes that came with it. The place was packed and lined out the door but this place moves quickly.

After brunch, we both agreed a nap was in order. Between the hiking over the last few days, the traveling and the time changes we were ready for our Sunday nap! We curled up by the fire place and were out. By them time we got up, the snow was long gone. We decided to drive up Wiley Oakley Drive before heading to Pigeon Forge to visit The Island and Darren wanted to try a new place for dinner.

Wiley Oakley Drive and that entire part of the mountain were some of the worse hit in the fire. We had stayed there November 2015 so we wanted to check things out. It was heartbreaking. I went live on Facebook but not sure how much of the video you can actually see. I am still learning Facebook Live. Not that anyone wants to see all that sadness. I posted some pictures to Facebook as well of where are cabin had been.  You could tell where most cabins once stood by the remaining chimneys. Our cabin's chimney had crumbled as well. All that was left of the entire cabin was a pile of cinder blocks and the bear proof trashcan holder with melted trashcans inside. The view is still gorgeous. I can't wait to see how they rebuild.

Enough with the sadness! After our drive, we went to The Island to walk around. I bought some tea at my favorite new store, Blossom. They had a couple of hot teas out to try and I loved the turmeric one. With my achy hiking joints, I bought some to drink this week!

Darren's pick for dinner started out great. It was just a short drive from The Island. They had fried deviled eggs. They didn't sound good to me, still don't sound good but they were excellent! After, the appetizer, the service went downhill and the food was okay. I think the waitress forgot to put in our order. We split a burger and it took over forty minutes to get our food. When the table of eight got their food before us, I let the manager know something was up. The burger was okay but we've had better in the area with better service.  My recommendation for a great burger in Pigeon Forge goes to Blue Moose! We ate there last summer and love it. The service was great and you could build your own burger.

Tomorrow, we will hike to another waterfall. Can't ever get enough of those! I'll probably go live again. I am trying to get the hang of it! Again, let us know if there is anything you want to know about the area, we'd love to help you have an adventure in the Smoky Mountains!





Best Smelling Restroom, Evah!

If you're new to following us, I'll tell you that we love Tennessee! We come as often as we can and have bobbed and weaved chasing waterfalls along the way. This trip we spent two nights getting to Gatlinburg so we could see some beauties in the Monteagle area and the Fall Creek Falls State Park.
As I am writing this, we are back on I-40 heading to lunch at Full Service Barbecue in Maryville, TN.  We woke up to snow in Fall Creek Falls and hiked to the main fall which was stunning! The hike was a little steeper than I recall but short and easy. It's rocky with plenty to see.

Trail to Fall Creek Falls

Fall Creek Falls

 The water was flowing with all the rain they've had and the snow was starting to accumulate. We opted to drive to Cane's Creek Falls (<-video of falls) and park at the Nature Center so we could just hop in the car after and head out. We probably would have hiked it if we were staying another night and had more time. Either way you come out at the gorgeous Falls that cascade two levels. From the main overlook there was another fall back to the right that was tall! The lady at the Nature Center told me it was called Rockhouse Falls.

Rockhouse Creek Falls

Suspension Bridge over Cane's Creek

View from the Suspension Bridge

Darren picked up a new book at the Nature Center as well. Waterfall Walks and Drives of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee will be the source for many new hikes, I am sure!
They park staff was great sweeping the snow from the suspension bridge and the stairs. It was all so nice! It was 27 degrees out but didn't feel cold at all. Not until we got in the truck sweaty and then got out for gas a ways down the road...33 then felt like 12!  Heated seats never felt so good!
The snow stopped as we got onto I-40, when I was writing earlier. We had a clear drive into Maryville for lunch. It was about 35 degrees out so we grabbed our ribs and ate in the truck. Full Service is an old gas station and only has outdoor seating at this location. They have the best smelling bathrooms evah! I know, that's weird. The bathrooms backup to the smokehouse so it smells like smoked ribs!!! It is rather strange walking into a restroom and enjoying the smell! Leave it to us to find such a gem...

Full Service BBQ

The ribs are so good they fall off the bone. Darren said the flavor was so good they must have been smoking these since we were here in August. I have to agree! I didn't even like ribs before I tried these. (I know I shouldn't admit that since I am from Texas...I don't like chicken fried steak either now that I am confessing.) This is a must stop for all carnivores. Dry ribs rock!
As we continued on, we went through Townsend, Wears Valley, Piegon Forge and then onto the Parkway to our resort. If you have followed us on Facebook, you know that our resort caught fire in December. Thankfully, some of the cabins were spared and here we are!  We could see some of the destruction driving in but when we turned onto our property, tears filled my eyes. It was overwhelming to look up the side of the mountain and not see it how we left it last summer. I couldn't even look at the parking attendant. I was afraid I'd look like a crazy woman.
We will post some pictures tomorrow for those curious. After hiking today, the only thing I wanted to do when we got here was unpack and shower. Darren took a few pictures and we will take plenty more I am sure. Be sure to follow us on Facebook if you don't already! I posted some live videos today and will do the same as the week continues!
We'd also love to hear from you in the comments. Let us know if there is anything here you'd like to know about or see? If you have any questions about any of the hikes, we'd love to help!






How To See Six Waterfalls In One Day!

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." ~Robert Frost Yesterday, we headed out for our first parents only trip in six years. It was hard to leave our sixteen year-old, but she will have a blast with her 29 year-old sister; especially, riding around in sister's new Jeep with the top off! They've got manicures and pedicures on the schedule, as well. Sounds like great sister bonding time!

As usual, Darren planned a wonderful trip. We got out of town yesterday around 3:30pm. We wanted to make it to Memphis to maximize our day today. We did make it to the East side of Memphis which we've found is a nice area right off I-40 to stay with plenty of eating options.

We arrived late so the snacks in the car were our dinner. Which brings me to a few travel tips, pack: •    snacks within reach in the car •    drinks, think about what you'd want to drink with your snacks, water for taking medications and for staying hydrated, and whatever you'd drink for breakfast if you don't drink coffee or juice. (Are we the only rare people that don't drink either?) •    hiking boots in a plastic tote and take a pair of flip flops/crocs/slides for swapping out after a hike. The tote will keep the dirt/mud contained and makes for easy clean up. We leave the tote with the dirty boots in the car and change into and out of our boots at the car. Keeps the hotel/cabin cleaner too! •    a gallon size ziplock bag to collect all your hotel soaps. (We are collecting this time for my daughter's mission trip to Brazil this summer.) •    an old towel and some wipes to clean any mud off your legs (I usually kick myself and get mud right above my boot. Maybe I just need to learn how to walk.)

We didn't have a room reserved for the night so I drove while Darren did his magic on TripAdvisor. We stayed at a nice Hyatt Place Hotel. It had one of the best hotel free breakfasts we've ever had. Well, besides the one in San Antonio that had a breakfast taco bar. All South Texans would agree, breakfast tacos rock!

After breakfast we snagged a couple apples for our hike and loaded up for our next stop...Greeter Falls in Monteagle, Tennessee. Last summer we did this hike. Little did we know there had been a drought and it was a trickle!

When we first left Memphis headed east, the speed limit was only 65mph on the interstate. It was a nice speed trap with cops everywhere. I don't recall it being like this before but just beware if you are doing that way. Even after the speed limit changed to 70mph, the cops were still out until at least Jackson. Maybe that's why I -40 in Tennessee is better than in Arkansas? They can afford to fix the roads! Haha!

Stopped for lunch at one of our favorites, Whitts Barbecue. Doesn't look like much from the outside but the food is always great.

Free Maps!

We always like to stop at the ranger station or park headquarters before we set out on hikes. They can tell you water levels, and if there are any hazards to look out for on the trails. They usually have great maps and even a visual small scale mountain map…I am sure that has a fancy name but it escapes me at this moment. It’s 10:35pm, I hiked to six waterfalls at this point and I am beyond pooped so help me out…

When we stopped for the info, we were reminded of all the many falls that were in this area. We intended on only hiking to two that were pretty short. We decided to take on the Grundy Forest Day Loop with the extra 1.2 miles for Sycamore Falls. The water was high and the falls were full. In fact, we entered the loop to the right and passed several mini falls and cascades along the way. The trail is nice, ups, downs and flats. Don’t be fooled by the sign like the couple was that passed us on the trail. They thought the Sycamore Falls sign said 6 miles when it said .6 miles. You cross over a nice bridge to get to that trail and it is a stunning hike. A few narrow points but other than that it was great. We finished out the loop in a hurry as we wanted to make it to Greeter Falls before dark.

Again, the ranger gave us great directions along with addresses that we could put in our GPS so getting from one fall to another was a piece of cake. Greeter is in the Savage Gulf State Natural Area. The trail was muddy so we knew it would have water in the fall. It didn’t disappoint! It was worth the trek down the spiral staircase and other stairs.

Greeter Falls

After, we climbed out with shaky legs, we decided to go ahead to Boardtree Falls. That short little hike revealed my favorite of the day. The last time we were here it was completely dry. Not even a trickle. Today was amazing! Such a beautiful cascading fall.

See Darren at the bottom of Boardtree Falls!

We ended our day arriving at Fall Creek Falls State Park. We’ve been here before too. Enjoyed a nice dinner in their lodge. I had the salmon and Darren had the buffet. We are settled in for the night and will hike the falls in this park in the morning before heading on to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.