I Wrote a Novel

elaina m avalos, chasing hope, beaufort nc

I wrote a novel. In June of 2017, my novel Chasing Hope was published. As I approach the four-year anniversary, I thought I would share a bit about the book. You can find it here in Kindle and print format. There is a preview available on Amazon. You can also sign up for my newsletter to read the first chapter for free! You can do that, by clicking here or here. You can also view what some of my readers have written about the book, here.

Here is the book blurb, from the back of the book:

Dr. Ava Cooper has it all. Scratch that – she had it all. The day she buried her daughter was the beginning of the end. With one fell swoop her ex-husband took what was left of the life they created together. All that is left is a demanding boxer, her worldly possessions, and the SUV she bought as a first year resident. With nothing left of the old life, Ava heads south to help out and old friend. In the small and quirky coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina – a tiny hamlet situated on the Southern Outer Banks – Ava quickly learns that her plan to quietly fade into the background to find some semblance of normalcy is not on her new neighbor’s and staff’s agenda for her. As she settles into southern small-town living, she meets a family and a baby in the foster care system that threaten to break through her grief-stricken and heart. Will Ava be able to let hope in long enough to get back the life she desperately longs for?

This book holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons – mainly because it’s the first complete novel I’ve written. It’s also one that took me way too long to write. The process was daunting, to be honest. I let so many things distract me and get in the way (like my day job). Rather than be single-minded in my focus on accomplishing my dreams and using the gifts God has given me, I focused far too much on the job that paid the bills. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself. However, I didn’t put enough emphasis on my dreams or writing what I believe I’m meant to write. I let work take over my life. I mean, take over.

I worried too much about what people would think. I shied away from writing content on my blog (I had a different blog that had a larger audience and community at one time). Overall, I just let my writing wither away under the weight of what other people would think. That’s just dumb. In years past, I was part of multiple writer communities online. Many of the people I have known in these circles over the years have gotten literary agents, publishing deals, and are cranking out books with traditional publishing houses.

It’s not arrogant to say I think that I could be in their shoes too. The only difference is, I didn’t work for it. Phew, what a sucky realization that was when I first woke up to it. It was all my fault and all of my own choosing. But one day I came to terms with this and decided I wouldn’t let my life go unlived. I wouldn’t let the books go unwritten. And I certainly wouldn’t ignore the dreams I’ve long held in my heart.

Today isn’t Monday Motivation – but we’ll call it Tuesday Truths. The only thing standing in the way of you accomplishing your dreams and goals? It’s you. It’s me. We can make all the excuses we want. But at the end of the day, we are own worst enemy when it comes to going after what we want. I just refuse to live that way anymore. So whatever it is . . . go get it, friends.

You can check out a few excerpts here, here, here, and here. To read a bit about Beaufort, North Carolina – the Southern Outer Banks town where the book is set, here are a few posts about my Beaufort adventures (I lived there for a bit, too!):
https://elaina-avalos.com/2017/08/17/beaufort-by-the-sea/
https://elaina-avalos.com/2016/04/28/beaufort-wine-food-weekend-wine-bread-and-cheese-seminar/
https://elaina-avalos.com/2017/09/03/more-from-beaufort-north-carolina/

Sea Glass Hearts

elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos, sea glass, sea glass hearts

~ One ~

“She reminded me of the sea; the way she came dancing towards you, wild and beautiful, and just when she was almost
close enough to touch she’d rush away again.”

―Glenda Millard

I am made of salt and sand and the deep jade green of the Atlantic. The salt air courses through my veins. This place, these waves, the sea glass, and shells with rounded edges, beaten constantly in the surf, are the pieces and places of my very soul. The heady scent of the ocean air tells me I’m finally home, though I’m not at all conscious of having lived near this shore. In the setting sun of a July evening, the billowing thunderheads in the distance play with the sun. Shadows and light dance on the surface of the ocean at once bringing out the sparkle, and then moments later shrouding the light in darkness. “So this is it?” I ask no one. Home. The word and all of its implications fill me with competing emotions. I look back toward the car, parked a hundred yards away, in the parking lot of the town’s traffic circle. It’s the center of this beach town, on the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina.

I turn back to the ocean and breathe deeply, taking it all in. Just up the road is the house I bought, sight unseen, sitting first row, pointed towards the sea. I have spent a lifetime, nearly forty years, dreaming of what it would be like to find the place where I began, to return to my beginnings. To the place where I had been knit together in my mother’s womb. When I was a child, before I had been adopted and floated between countless foster and group homes, I made day trips to the beaches of Southern California. In the course sand of those crowded beaches, I convinced myself that I might as well have been a mermaid for all I really knew. One thing I knew for sure, in the deepest part of my being? I belonged to the sea. Somehow, as I would stand there, as a kid, wearing my church charity last year’s style bathing suit, I knew that the sea called me, and would continue to call me . . . home.

Written by Elaina M. Avalos

**This is from my new work in progress – waiting for me once I’m finished with A Thousand Years. I’m currently doing a little work on it this week, while I take a mini-vacay from A Thousand Years.**

Sea Glass Hearts

elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos, sea glass, sea glass hearts

~ One ~

“She reminded me of the sea; the way she came dancing towards you, wild and beautiful, and just when she was almost
close enough to touch she’d rush away again.”

―Glenda Millard

I am made of salt and sand and the deep jade green of the Atlantic. The salt air courses through my veins. This place, these waves, the sea glass, and shells with rounded edges, beaten constantly in the surf, are the pieces and places of my very soul. The heady scent of the ocean air tells me I’m finally home, though I’m not at all conscious of having lived near this shore. In the setting sun of a July evening, the billowing thunderheads in the distance play with the sun. Shadows and light dance on the surface of the ocean at once bringing out the sparkle, and then moments later shrouding the light in darkness. “So this is it?” I ask no one. Home. The word and all of its implications fill me with competing emotions. I look back toward the car, parked a hundred yards away, in the parking lot of the town’s traffic circle. It’s the center of this beach town, on the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina.

I turn back to the ocean and breathe deeply, taking it all in. Just up the road is the house I bought, sight unseen, sitting first row, pointed towards the sea. I have spent a lifetime, nearly forty years, dreaming of what it would be like to find the place where I began, to return to my beginnings. To the place where I had been knit together in my mother’s womb. When I was a child, before I had been adopted and floated between countless foster and group homes, I made day trips to the beaches of Southern California. In the course sand of those crowded beaches, I convinced myself that I might as well have been a mermaid for all I really knew. One thing I knew for sure, in the deepest part of my being? I belonged to the sea. Somehow, as I would stand there, as a kid, wearing my church charity last year’s style bathing suit, I knew that the sea called me, and would continue to call me . . . home.

Written by Elaina M. Avalos

**This is from my new work in progress – waiting for me once I’m finished with A Thousand Years. I’m currently doing a little work on it this week, while I take a mini-vacay from A Thousand Years.**

Naming Novel Characters & Editing

In November, I wrote 50,000 words of a novel, that I’ve titled A Thousand Years. The novel needs another 30,000-ish more words but I’m still proud of myself for getting out the first 50,000 in 30 days. Here on my blog, I’ve shared some short fiction or vignettes from the novel here. These little bits & pieces will appear in the novel as reflections or letters, that my protagonist writes to her long lost love. Now that I’ve written the bulk of the novel, I’ve had to take some steps back and work on naming novel characters and editing.

I’ve written a novel and parts of others, but this has been a unique experience from the beginning. Not only have I struggled with naming the characters, but I’ve now drastically adjusted the plot too. From the beginning, this novel has been unlike any other I’ve worked on.

I’ve named the characters several times now. Eek. I wrote a short story about the characters and picked names that sounded southern to me. Then I wasn’t sure I wanted both of them to be from the south. The male character’s name sounds too much like a character in another novel I’ve started. Then I asked for folks on Facebook to pick a name for me! I picked one of those names and was comfortable with his name at the time. I wrote the entire novel using that name.

And then lo and behold . . . I realized it’s much too contemporary. It’s more like a name the characters would name their son versus a name of a man that’s 40 or older. Oy vey. I wanted my protagonist’s name to be southern and finally settled on Carolina – with the newly popular {in the south} again – Birdie, as her nickname. But it wasn’t just Graham and Carolina I struggled with. I struggled with allllll of the characters. This is one thing I never have an issue with. Character names come to me very easily. Weird. I think I’ve finally settled into the names now, however. In my experience, a name can come to you and it’s not until later that you realize you don’t want to name a certain character that, because it’s the name of someone you know and it’s your villain. Oops. Totally an accident.

The other issue with the novel is some very shaky plot points and concerns pointed out by my first two beta readers {thanks, Jackie & Mom}. Thankfully, after thinking and talking through where the story was struggling, I think I have a great plan for getting back on track. As of this evening, I won’t be back in the office until after the New Year, so besides cleaning up my spare room to set up a nursery/toddler room {I’m getting re-licensed as a foster parent}, I’m also looking forward to writing and editing.

I’m excited to get working on it – now that I’ve got some time off. By the way, the photos are part of my inspiration as the central coast of California is part of Carolina & Graham’s story.

My Heart is a Liar

tyler knott gregson, elaina avalos, twin souls, a thousand years

My heart is a liar. Sometimes. Sometimes she’s just a little confused. I run through every moment. I relive what has been said, what has been left unspoken, and the little things that mean more to me than they probably should. Someday, when I look back on this time in my life, I know it will be without you.

I woke today with a memory of us standing in a room – your eyes on me. The question you asked, the tone of your voice, the way you looked at me – and then your response – it all spun this comfortable little web of hopes around me. Spider webs are quite lovely when you take a good long look at them. They’re lacey art – spun & wound and when the dew and rain hit just right, they sparkle in the light. These shiny sparkling moments, especially in the early morning hours, eventually give way to reality once again.

As the day has worn on, the warm memory from this morning, is replaced – because my heart is a liar. I may be here because you opened the door, but I stayed because sometimes I don’t know what’s best for me. Where does waiting get me?

I will wake up five years from now – with you there & me here, wishing it was you with your arms around me.