Our Writers

Brandee Brantley

Brandee' Brantly

Brandee’s expansive roots began in a small town in East Texas, where she cultivated a lifetime love for writing and photography.  Her collegiate educational pursuits include vocal performance, music theory, and business communications. Frequently visiting the Hill Country, she fell in love in more ways than one. In 2013, she reconnected with her childhood sweetheart who lives in Kyle. Brandee’ and her now fiance’ decided to close the gap. She jumped at the chance for a new start, slower pace, and stunning views. Upon relocation, she began to refine her self-taught photography skills and portfolio.  Her latest upcoming publications include a children’s book and an educational advocacy book, from a mother’s perspective. She is a mother of three uniquely gifted and twice exceptional children. Spending time with her family is most important, including her energetic and recently rescued Texas Cattle Dog. She has a serious case of Wanderlust traveling through Texas, Colorado, and abroad. Being an outdoor enthusiast, she is an avid runner, swimmer, and loves to hike. This marathon finisher, open swim competitor is training for her first triathlon. Despite her varied interests and busy lifestyle, she appreciates the simple life in the beautiful Hill Country. You can follow her photography blog at www.blancorim.com.

Crystal "Athena" Hessong

Crystal "Athena" Hessong

Crystal “Athena” Hessong is a fourth generation Houstonian and a life-long Texan, though currently living in Houston with her husband and cats, she enjoys traveling all around the state. She has been professionally writing since 2002, and has had gardening articles published on the San Francisco Examiner’s website, SFGate. She currently contributes lifestyle articles to CBSHouston.com and tutors students of all ages in math, science, logic, and grammar.

Erin Baxter

Erin Baxter, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Erin Baxter is the Chief Operating Officer of Texas Media Group, Texas Hill Country‘s and Heart of Texas Magazine‘s mother company. Erin hails from West Texas and is a proud graduate of Texas Tech University. She has written for numerous publications, including West Texas TravelHost and recently owned her own freelance writing and editing business. She has also served as the Managing Editor of Lubbock Metro Leader, a monthly micro-newspaper publication. Most recently, she was the Editor-in-Chief of Texas Hill Country and Heart of Texas Magazine. Erin’s passions include media writ large, editing, helping others refine their skills, and keeping the wheels of the company in constant motion. She loves poetry, and writes and reads poetry in her spare time. She considers herself the luckiest girl in the world to be married to her best friend, Mitchell. Her “kiddos” include Lucy, the white Pit Bull; Sookie, the Golden Retriever; and BusterCat, the grey tabby. Erin can be reached via email at Texas Media Group.

Gay N. Lewis

Gay N. Lewis

A native Texan, Gay N. Lewis lives in a small town west of Houston. Two videos she produced — “The Canadian Rockies,” English and Japanese translations, and “Psalms from the Mountains” — sold well in international markets. Graphic skills kept her busy as a portrait photographer, and for over 10 years, she used her imaginative insight in the interior design field. Gay also loves travel, writing, and reading. As a pastor’s wife, she writes Faith Features for various church periodicals. Teaching an adult Bible study every Sunday morning is Gay’s joy, and she is often called upon for speaking engagements. Gay is also a published author. Her current series in the Prism Book Group is about a dyslexic angel who comes to earth to help humans, but Sarah, the angel, is more like Lucy Ricardo with humorous antics and bumbles. Gay blogs and is active on Twitter and Facebook.

Jason Weingart

Jason Weingart

Jason Weingart began his career as a freelance photographer in the Hill Country in 2013. He graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Photography. Jason is a storm chaser and co-author of “The Anatomy of Severe Weather.” His work is used by media and educational outlets around the world. He teaches photographic workshops in Texas on subjects such as weather, the night sky, bluebonnets, and urban exploration. You can learn more about Jason and his work at www.jasonrweingart.com.

Jenny Jurica

Jenny Jurica

Jenny Webster Jurica is a born and bred Texan who grew up in Edna, Texas, did a brief stint in Corpus Christi, and a not-so-brief stint in Houston. She now calls the Texas Hill Country home where she lives with her husband, two children, and houseful of beloved, spoiled rotten pets. Jenny is a freelance writer who has written for several newspapers and on many corners of the Internet. Jenny loves all animals, some humans and considers punctuality to be her superpower. When she’s not at home writing, she’s walking her rescued (slightly neurotic) Weimaraner on her neighborhood hiking trails or exploring all that the Texas Hill Country has to offer with her family.

Jeromy Kusch

Jeromy Kusch

Jeromy Kusch moved to the Hill Country in 1992 and has lived there ever since. Now, over 20 years later, he, his wife, seven kids, dogs “Bonnie and Clyde”, a handful of chickens, and a donkey named “Job” live the Hill Country dream on 30 acres near Tarpley. Jeromy has written professionally for the Hondo Anvil Herald and a sports blog dedicated to the Spurs. He also dabbles in photography and recently jumped into the field of drone photography.

Jessica Pickett

Jessica Pickett

Jessica Pickett was born with a naturally curious soul and a love for nature. Raised on the banks of the Sabine, she was fortunate enough to be able to call both Texas and Louisiana home. Jessica saw much of the country through the windshield of her father’s 18-wheeler before she was five years old, and she’s been hitting the road ever since. She graduated from McNeese State University and married not long after. Jessica and her husband started their own farm and travel often with their two Golden Retrievers and French Bulldog. You can follow them at www.therootedgypsy.com.

John Dean

John Dean

John Dean is a native Texan who grew up in Victoria, Texas. He then relocated to Lexington, Virginia, where he attended Washington and Lee University, double majoring in Art and Geology. After leaving Virginia, John returned to Texas and settled in Houston. He began a successful Oil and Gas Investment Group in the mid-eighties. Successful in his business ventures, he returned to his first love – writing and illustrating. John has written innumerable magazine articles for both local and international publications. He currently lives in Kerrville in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

JoLisa Hoover

JoLisa Hoover

JoLisa Hoover teaches fourth grade near Austin, Texas. As a Texas history teacher and third generation Texan, she appreciates both the beauty and the history of the Texas Hill Country. Growing up in Georgetown, Texas, with grandparents in the Texas panhandle and San Angelo, JoLisa learned to appreciate drives through the Hill Country at an early age. JoLisa was selected to be a Classroom Teaching Ambassador for the US Department of Education in 2008 and again in 2014. She moved to DC for a year as a Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow in 2015, but is now back in the state she loves. In 2005, she was the H-E-B Excellence In Education Houston Regional Finalist for Leadership in Elementary. In 2012, she was honored to receive the Spirit of McMurry Award for young McMurry alumni for service to McMurry, community and achievement in career. She is a Teach Plus Texas Fellow in addition to teaching new generations of Texans to love Texas history. One thing JoLisa has learned since becoming a teacher in 1992 is that the most important lesson you teach is to inspire students to be persons of character and to love learning. JoLisa teaches students that they can either be a lifter, someone who makes those around them better, or a leaner, someone who drags others down.

Marcy Stellfox

Marcy Stellfox, Editor-in-Chief, Heart of Texas Magazine

Marcy Stellfox grew up in Norman, Oklahoma and graduated from OU. She is still trying to figure out how she landed in Austin, Texas, land of the arch rival Texas Longhorns. From school girl journals to the high school paper, corporate America to an animal hospital surgery suite, Marcy has always harbored a love for writing. She married a witty, handsome guy that won her over with his cooking skill and puts up with her animal habit (she’s mom to 3 Labrador retrievers and 3 horses). She splits her time between Austin and Lampasas County. Her hobbies include food, wine, reading, hiking, biking, yoga, and pretty much anything outdoors. When she’s not in Texas, you’ll find her hugging trees and hiking mountainsides in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

MarLee Berry

MarLee Berry

MarLee Berry grew up in the Texas Panhandle, and after a taking a couple of pit stops in Oklahoma and Florida, finally found her home in the Hill Country. A graduate of Texas Tech University, she combined her love for writing and her passion for the agricultural industry with a degree in Agricultural Communications. In 2014 she married a former firefighter turned preacher man from California and set off on a whirlwind adventure. Between 2014 and 2016 her family moved four times and welcomed a handsome baby boy. Currently, she resides in Burnet, the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas, and divides her time between chasing an ornery toddler, helping her husband with his youth ministry, and keeping the hair from their Great Pyrenees dog, Sam, from overtaking their home. In between all the crazy moments that encompass her life, she likes to enjoy a good book or express herself through the written word.

Robert Deming

Robert Deming

Robert Deming landed in Texas in high school, but as an Air Force brat, and later as an Air Force pilot, he lived in many places around the world.  He solidified his Texan status by graduating from Big Spring High School and Texas Tech University.  He lives in Fredericksburg, where his is a financial advisor and a novelist.  Robert is active in community affairs, an avid hiker, and frequent kayaker of Texas rivers.  He is the author of four novels, three of them mysteries starring a Texas Park Police Officer.  After 24 years in Fredericksburg, he is not yet considered a local,but definitely has the inside scoop on the town.

Sarah Schmidt

Sarah Schmidt

Sarah, aka the Honky Tonk Foodie, was reared in small town South Texas to a blaring Willie Nelson record, a tortilla in one hand and an eye on the horizon. Though cemented as a multi-generational Texan, temporary insanity lead her to Connecticut College, where she obtained a B.A. in English. She has traveled around the world aiming to talk to strangers and taste things she cannot pronounce. Currently residing in the bushes near Boerne with an outdoorsy husband and a cat that’s hawk bait, Honky Tonk Foodie thoroughly enjoys river sitting, star gazing and wandering road trips.

Shannon Salas

Shannon Salas, Editor-in-Chief, TexasHillCountry.com

Shannon Salas is the Editor-in-Chief of TexasHillCountry.com, contributing writer for Heart of Texas Magazine, and owner of the blog Three Peas {and a Goat}. She lives on a small homestead in North Texas with her husband and three children. She grew up enjoying the country life in Northern New York State, then later in Wisconsin. She loves to travel, and upon visiting the Texas Hill Country, she instantly fell in love. To her mother’s dismay, Shannon moved to Texas as fast as she could! She is a stay-at-home mom who spends her days homeschooling her children, blogging/editing, and taking care of the homestead. When Shannon is not busy at home, she and her family break away to travel around Texas. Her trips almost always involve camping, fishing, and hiking the trails of Texas’ beautiful state parks.

Sonia Ramirez

Sonia Ramirez

Sonia Ramirez was born and raised in Houston, Texas but she loves visiting the Hill Country and spending time with family there when she can. She holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Houston and has worked in all areas of media from print, television and radio. Her greatest joy is writing and had her first article published when she was 19. In her career she has had the pleasure to set up events with such folks as Broadcast Journalist and Author-John Quiñones, Actress and Philanthropist-Eva Longoria, and Congressman Joaquin Castro. She enjoys traveling with her daughter and taking photos as a hobby and hopes to continue writing stories that touch people’s hearts. Her long time goal is to become a full time writer and inspire others to believe that with God all things are possible and dreams can become the doors that open a world of amazing beauty waiting to bless us.

Spring Sault

Spring Sault, Senior Writer

Spring Sault is the Senior Writer for Texas Hill Country and Editor-in-Chief of her own publication, Ranch & Reserve MagazineShe has strong interests in all things country and western, and coupled with her own Mohawk lineage, that makes her the perfect contradiction (cowboys…Indians…). She grew up in small-town, northern Ontario, Canada and presently hails from a First Nation territory in southern Ontario, where she has lived for approximately 20 years – the past five of which have been spent happily married. Her favorite topics consist of wineries (anything wine-related, really), real country music and the artists that play it, and travel/tourism in the North American west.