Hold Fast to Your Dreams

chasing hope, elaina avalos, fiction, novel, hold fast to your dreams

A year ago today, I posted this photo on Instagram & Facebook. I had finally finished editing my novel, Chasing Hope. This novel, set in beautiful Beaufort, NC, had taken me far too long to write. Over the years, as I grew and changed, the novel did too. In many ways I’m thankful for that.

However, there is one primary way I would change things if I could. It is this . . .

I would not have let anything stop me from writing every day (or starting the foster care/adoption process sooner). I take on too much. I put things off in the name of my job. It was always, “Later. I’ll get to it later,” with me. I am sensitive – sometimes too sensitive. The way people treat me deeply impacts me. I take those burdens home.

chasing hope, elaina avalos, beaufort nc, fiction, novel

Or, I am burdened by other’s hurt, trials, etc. On one hand, this is not a bad thing. I don’t want to change who I am. However, I didn’t do such a great job separating out my own life from my career or the organization that employed me.

When you’re weighed down by the extras, it tends to hold you back from what it is you actually want to be doing. At least that’s true of me. I’m sure there are many others out there like me, however. Especially those of you that are sensitive, artists, or just generally don’t believe in yourself.

Even after publishing Chasing Hope (read an excerpt by clicking the link) last summer, I have done what I did for so many years – I put off writing the second book and stopped working on promotion of the first one.

There is an extra person in my house that impacts when I can write. But that’s really not the biggest impediment to me holding fast to and pursuing my dreams.

It’s the way I let my day job impact my personal life. Here’s the thing. I love what I do. I love the people that I have been working with since 2010. I truly do. I wouldn’t trade these 8 years.

What was so badly needed, was for me to learn sooner, how to leave work at work. The truth is, after all this time, the Marine Corps has made major changes to the program I love. And though I won’t lose my job (this time), in an instant, they’ll part ways with me, without a second thought.

chasing hope, elaina avalos, chasing hope by elaina avalos, fiction, novel, beaufort nc, pamlico county nc

A wise man, who knows this organization so well, once told me that it will do what is best for itself. No matter what. So . . . I probably should just go ahead and do what’s best for me and be who God has called me to be, right? Why silence, hide, or put other things first?

I do not regret for one second the two units I have invested so much of my heart in. Not even for a second. What I do regret is that I forgot to do that at home. That was my choice. No one else’s.

In the last two weeks, I’ve come to face some hard truths about myself and the organization I love. I’ve come to realize how patient God is with me as I put off the me He created me to be.

elaina avalos, chasing hope by elaina avalos, maya angelou, writer

Waking up this morning to that post was a reminder of what I want so badly for my life. In the book “Draw the Circle,” Mark Batterson talks about “circling” people, situations, dreams, etc., in prayer. Essentially that just means pray without giving up. I have a 3×5 card of the main things I want to circle in prayer.

On that card is my dream to write full time. Now that I have a little guy living in my house, this has grown in importance. Every time I pick him up from childcare and I’m reminded of what I wanted to be true of my life, I know that I need to throw everything I have at being home full time with him and whomever else joins our little family.

This is the dream. It may not be your dream, but it has always been mine.

For those of you sitting on your dreams, don’t do it any longer. Maybe that dream is your side hustle right now. Maybe you can’t begin to imagine how you’ll make it all come together. I understand.

You know what they say? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Here’s the thing, I can pray until I’m blue in the face. But if I’m not out there doing my part, how exactly do I think doors are going to open for me and my family? If I’m not hustling, how exactly do I expect this dream to happen?

So, my friends . . . hold fast to your dreams. If you’re a pray-er, pray.

But get to work.

I’ll get to work with you.

What dream of yours has been languishing, as you put other things first? Care to share? Maybe it’s time to share and speak that dream out loud?

Where I Work

#writerslife, #whereiwrite, #amwriting, Writer's Life, Where I Work, Indie Author, Writing Space

If I can be outside, I’m going to be outside. Thankfully, the weather has turned just slightly here in the south. It’s still humid. But our days have cooled just enough that being outside isn’t torture anymore. That is always good for my soul. Now to get back to work on book two of Macon & Ava’s story…

You can find Chasing Hope, which begins their story, here. To read excerpts, go here & here. To read what some of my readers have said about Chasing Hope, you can go here.

Beaufort’s Beautiful Homes

Beaufort NC Homes, Beaufort Waterfront Homes, Beaufort NC, Beaufort NC real estate, Front Street Beaufort NC

In my last post, I mentioned that I’d share more Beaufort, NC inspiration. I’m back today to share a handful of homes from Front Street. Beaufort’s beautiful homes can be found throughout the old town area.

But I do have to admit that I’m partial to the homes that face Taylor’s Creek and Carrot Island. Chasing Hope is set in Beaufort {as I’ve mentioned approximately 435,000 times}. Ava Cooper, the protagonist in Chasing Hopelives on Front Street in what she calls a “southern slice of heaven.”

Grayden Paul Park Beaufort NC, Beaufort NC, Beaufort NC waterfront, Front Street Beaufort NC
Grayden Paul Park on Front Street

When I first started writing this novel, I pictured several different homes along Front Street, for Ava. If you read the book you know that Ava’s family is wealthy – as is her interesting ex-husband. As the story took shape over the years, so did my vision for her home. The moving to a small town to escape/heal/grow, thing is not new in fiction. Heck, I did it in real life. 😉

What I didn’t want was for Ava’s life to take a complete departure from the life she once had. So . . . I kept her in a big, old rambling house. Not only was that what she had always known, but deep in her heart, she longed to have her stepchildren with her. Her dream to have a house full of kids and life was the real reason she purchased that particular Beaufort house.

Before I share a few more photos, I thought I’d show you a satellite view of Beaufort itself.

Beaufort Satellite View, Shackleford Banks Satellite View, Carrot Island Satellite View

This first photo gives you a view of Beaufort in the background from the Atlantic. Shackleford Banks is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore {includes the Cape Lookout lighthouse} and is home to 100 of the areas wild poniesCarrot Island, which can be seen from Front Street, is also home to wild ponies.

Taylor's Creek Beaufort NC, Taylor's Creek, Carrot Island NC,

This is a view from one of the docks that looks out at Taylor’s Creek and Carrot Island. Most of the docks on this side of Front Street are private, belonging to the homes across the street.

Beaufort Satellite View, Beaufort NC, Carrot Island NC

Beaufort Satellite View, Front Street Beaufort NC

This third view shows you not only the docks in relation to Front Street, but gives you a good sense of the size of the homes. My favorite is next to the Beaufort Town Hall. Interestingly enough, that home was built by a doctor around 1905 {Dr. Charles Duncan House}.

Here are a few more of Beaufort’s beautiful homes:

Beaufort NC Homes, Front Street Beaufort NC, Front Street Homes Beaufort NC, Beaufort NC Waterfront Homes

Beaufort NC Homes, Front Street Beaufort NC, Front Street Homes Beaufort NC, Beaufort NC Waterfront Homes

Beaufort NC Homes, Front Street Beaufort NC, Front Street Homes Beaufort NC, Beaufort NC Waterfront Homes

Beaufort NC Homes, Front Street Beaufort NC, Front Street Homes Beaufort NC, Beaufort NC Waterfront Homes

Beaufort NC Homes, Front Street Beaufort NC, Front Street Homes Beaufort NC, Beaufort NC Waterfront Homes

Beautiful, right? If you enjoy info on architecture in towns like Beaufort, this blog has some interesting info about the mix of styles you can find in town.

All of them share the gorgeous view Ava spends a lot of time looking out at, as she fights her way through her grief to healing and hope. It’s a good town to sit for a while and do just that.

Beaufort Docks, Beaufort NC, Carrot Island,Beaufort Docks, Beaufort NC, Carrot Island,

I’ll be back next Sunday to share one of my all-time favorite Beaufort experiences!

P.S. I took all of these photos during some of my many walks around Beaufort.

Beaufort-by-the-Sea

Beaufort NC, Beaufort NC waterfront, Clawson's 1905 restaurant

In June, I released my first novel, Chasing HopeYou can enter to win a copy of the book, here. My favorite novels draw you into the setting – not just the story itself. Southern Writers do this better than anyone. While I am not sure I’m up to par with some of my favorite writers, I do hope that when my readers have read the book, they can imagine the beauty of the area and the charm of the town.

Chasing Hope is set in the small coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina {aka Beaufort by the Sea}. I thought I’d do a quick series on a few of my favorite things about Beaufort. Before getting to that, Beaufort shares a name with Beaufort, South Carolina – home to one of those Southern Writers I mentioned above. Beaufort-by-the-Sea is pronounced like Bow-fert, whereas Beaufort in South Carolina is BYOO-fert.

Beaufort NC, Beaufort NC waterfront, Beaufort NC boardwalk

Beaufort is one of my favorite places. I spent more time than I’d like to admit sitting at a table, at the now closed Taylor’s Big Mug, drinking coffee, looking out at Front Street, and writing. Besides the charm that’s clear when you drive over the draw bridge into town, it’s also a great place for people watching.

My view one afternoon while writing . . .

Beaufort NC, Beaufort waterfront, The Dock House Beaufort NC

Here are a few of my favorite spots in Beaufort . . .

The Dock House

The Dock House, The Dock House Beaufort NC

I can’t say they have the best food. But it’s an awesome view and a great place to eat, sip a drink, and sit a spell. There are a few more photos on Foursquare. I also did some writing there, too! After all, Ava lives just a quick walk from The Dock House. 🙂

Clawson’s 1905 Restaurant

Clawson's 1905, Clawson's 1905 Restaurant & Pub,

The Fudge Factory

1908142_979543275390810_6365120016868212097_n R-SomerSetSquareExterior-2-XL-uai-1032x461

Rocking Chair Book Store

Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could sell my books in this store?

Olde Beaufort Farmer’s Market – If it was closer, I’d be at this farmer’s market every Saturday! You can find their Facebook page, here.

farmer's market, Beaufort Farmer's Market, Beaufort NC

The Old Burying Ground

The Burying Ground highlights 300 years of history. It’s an incredible spot to visit – not only because of the history but it’s a beautiful location that reminds me so much of what I love about my coastal North Carolina home. The photos below are some that I’ve taken on my many trips to the Burying Ground.

Beaufort NC, Beaufort, Old Burying Ground

Beaufort NC, Beaufort, Old Burying GroundBeaufort NC, Beaufort, Old Burying GroundBeaufort NC, Beaufort, Old Burying GroundBeaufort NC, Beaufort, Old Burying Ground,

If there’s any chance you’re making your way to the Outer Banks or Cape Lookout on the Southern Outer Banks, make sure you stop in Beaufort. Next time, I’ll share a few of my favorite homes on Front Street, including the handful that inspired Ava’s house.