October 18, 2015

Falling in Love with Tennessee by Jaden Terrell

I fell in love with Tennessee when I was nine years old. My father had taken a new job in Nashville, and we passed through downtown late at night, when all I could see was a tapestry of sparkling lights. Even now when I fly into the night city, I’m struck by its random beauty. No straight-lined grids for us. Instead, it’s as if God had scattered fistfuls of stars into the darkness.
My feelings haven’t changed. I love it for its natural beauty, its versatility, and for the kindness of its people. I love it because it’s a study in contradictions. Where else can you find a classical-style bronze statue on one corner and a giant fiberglass catfish in a cowboy hat on the next?

Its capital, Nashville, has long been known as the Athens of the South, a title the city celebrated during Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition in 1897 by building a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Centennial Park, complete with sculptures and friezes cast from the originals. The arts are big here, and Nashvillians can enjoy a visit to the First Museum of Art, followed by a Friday night “art crawl.” Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art offers indoor and outdoor exhibits along with special evening events with live music. Other musical venues include symphonies at the Schermerhorn, blues at B.B. King’s, jazz at the Nashville Jazz Workshop, and country, pop, and rock virtually anywhere, including on the street corners. Karaoke in Nashville is a wonder. Yes, you get a few of the usual “had-too-many-beers-and-can’t-carry-a-tune” participants, but then some guy who works days at the local auto shop gets up and belts out a
rendition of “Moon River” that is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
With its many historic homes and battlefields (many of which are rumored to be haunted), Tennessee has much to offer history buffs, while those who prefer more festive pursuits can attend one of its many street fairs and festivals, like Mule Day, the Molasses Festival, and the RC and Moon Pie Festival, just to name a few. 

Just want to relax with a drink?
Vineyards and microbreweries dot the state. Note, though, that while Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg gives tours, it’s in a dry county, so you can’t actually buy liquor there. You can, however, sign up for a sampling tour.
But the jewels in Tennessee’s crown are its parks and forests.

Just a few miles from downtown Nashville, the Percy Warner and Edwin Warner Parks offer more than 2,600 acres of forest, including trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Not far out of town is Radnor Lake, another hiking hot spot where you can see deer, hawks, barred owls, great blue herons, and other local wildlife. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of an elusive beaver or otter.

The rest of the state is home to thousands of hiking trails, in areas with names like Fiery Gizzard, Honey Creek, Buggy Top, and Grandfather Mountain. From the Memphis flatlands to the Great Smoky Mountains, you can explore lush forests, waterfalls, rivers, creeks, and hidden swimming holes, each more gorgeous than the one before.
Is it any wonder so many of us spend a lifetime falling in love with Tennessee?
Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of the Jared McKean novel of your choice.

Jaden Terrell is the internationally published author of the Jared McKean mystery series. She is a contributor to Now Write! Mysteries, a collection of exercises published by Tarcher/Penguin for writers of crime fiction. She writes a regular column for the Killer Nashville Magazine http://www.killernashville.com/killer-nashville-magazine  and has a short story, “Peace, Sometimes,” in Killer Nashville Noir: Coldblooded. (It launches Oct. 27!) Learn more at http://www.jadenterrell.com
Annette’s Note:  After stopping at http://www.jadenterrell.com to learn about the great work of this author, do stop here https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikerhicks to check out the talent of this photographer.  Well worth the visit to both.
(Photos provided by Michael R. Hicks. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikerhicks all info provided by author)


  1. Hi Jaden, I, too, love Tennessee, having lived there off and on several times. My two children live there now. And many of my books, including my Civil War novel, This Time Forever, is set there. I wish you continued success with all of your projects and happiness in your chosen state. Your Kentucky neighbor, Linda Swift

  2. I'm a Memphis lover, especially the barbecue, but Nashville with its wonderful music will do in a pinch. Of course, the rest of the state is gorgeous, but I'm partial to cities.

  3. Linda, Kentucky is a beautiful state too. We pass through it on the way to my mom's home state of West Virginia. I always wanted to buy "the Castle" and set up a year-round ren-faire there.

    Ken, I'm not as familiar with Memphis as I should be, but yes, there's some terrific music and barbecue there!

    Thank you both for stopping by.

    By the way, the photos are by my husband. Very proud of his gorgeous work!

  4. I learned about some of the wonders of Tennessee as a child. Only much later in life when a friend lived there for a couple of years did it all come back to life for me as he told of his time there and all he had experienced. I'd long heard about the natural wonders of the state and he brought it all to live once again, as did your descriptions.Your pictures are wonderful. Makes me, once again, wish to visit.

  5. Mary, Tennessee would love to have you come and visit!

  6. Great portrait of your state, Jaden. Lots to see and do.

  7. Thank you, John. I enjoyed your post as well. I hope we'll see you back for another Killer Nashville one of these days!

  8. I've had the pleasure of meeting Jaden at Killer Nashville events and she's outstanding in every way! As a neighbor of Tennessee (I live in North Carolina), I head westward whenever I can. It has now been far too long and this post makes me want to pack a bag and go for a while.

  9. Hi Jaden, Thanks for your Tennessee sharing and for your husband's photos. We were introduced to Nashville by "Killer Nashville" and attended the conference first in Franklin (we really loved the convenience and ambiance of that area) and later moved to downtown Nashville. I signed a book contract at KN (Journey to Die For) one year, and met my current publisher, Billie Johnson of Oak Tree Books, a couple of years later.

  10. Susan and Radine, you know we miss you at KN and hope to see you back again soon! It looks to me like both of you have had a lot of success with your books. I'm hoping to get over North Carolina way after the first of the year.

  11. I've visited TN a couple of times in different areas and it truly is a beautiful state.

    Good luck and God's Blessings.
    Pamela S Thibodeaux

  12. Thank you (on behalf of Tennessee), Pamela. I hope you'll plan a trip back soon.

  13. Annette, thank you for the link to Mike's photos. He has some truly exquisite work.


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