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

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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.

Aaron & Annie – A Short Story

Washington DC, brownstone, DC, Layfette Park, The DistrictTonight, I sat at my desk in the front bedroom, facing North Carolina Avenue. This busy southeast D.C. neighborhood somehow seems busier on autumn evenings. From my perch I watch the neighbor’s walk home from the metro or Capitol Hill. And every once in a while, I laugh at the man I share this brownstone with, when he stands in the window with take-out above his head like Lloyd Dobler’s radio. We were made for each other. We are both hopeless nerds. Every night, whether it’s take-out night, cereal at the counter, or our gourmet feasts we don’t finish until the inappropriately late hour of 10:00 PM, the front door opens, the dog jumps up from her bed at my feet, and runs towards him. I am chopped liver when that Tall Drink of Water walks in the door. Her jingle-jangly tags reveal her presence long before he sees her. He told me once that when he sees me sitting in the window, hears those dog tags run towards him, and catches a whiff of the baby’s fabric softener from our always running dryer, that he knows we are where we were always meant to be. There’s this routine to our life that is somehow never the same. Ever.

Sometimes I forget how different things were just a short time ago. Basking in the glow of the life we fought for, with contentment flooding every nook and cranny, I sit back at a comfortable distance and wonder how I ever contemplated staying tied up in a corner, living half a life. But there’s a fine line between what keeps us safe and what holds us back. A safety net sounds comforting, until you get yourself tangled up inside that net, desperate for freedom. I ached back then, deep down in my bones, to be untangled from the restraints around my wrists, legs, and heart. The longer I took to make the decision, the harder it became and the more entangled I had become.

***

Aaron stood in front of me, pointing in that annoying way he did, and told me that I would never cut the ties. He said it in that tone – the one he filled to the brim with steaming hot judgement and derision. He used to say that I would never have the guts to jump headlong into the fear. He said that when I would get closer and closer to walking out the door. The closer I got to leaving the safety of the life we made by accident, the meaner he got. It’s his default. He finds my weak spot. I back down. I find his weak spot and kick it real hard. That’s my default. And by the way, I kick it hard. I mean hard. He becomes distant. We live separately, together. I say I’m leaving. And we start it all over again.

Two weeks ago, we fought like it was the end of the world. He stood at the stove, cooking me dinner, his back to me. When I walked in the door from work, he’d already had the Christmas music on. When I sit alone after we fight, I wonder how I can possibly find fault with a man that cooks me dinner after he works all day, and listens to Christmas music in the middle of July. Who does that? I don’t remember now what he made for dinner that night. It doesn’t matter, I couldn’t taste it anyway. When I walked in the door from work, I dropped my stuff in a heap behind the couch. He hated it when I did that. Just like I hated the way he left his crap in the hallway after a business trip. I’m forever stubbing my toes on his luggage. My stuff in a heap, I reached for the couch to steady myself as I slipped off my heels. I rounded the corner to his hand outstretched with a glass of red wine.

An open bottle of 667 Pinot Noir sat on the counter – my favorite. I kissed him in that way – you know what I’m talking about, right? Familiar and distant all at once. In less than ten- minutes we went from mindless conversation about the day, to World War XV. It doesn’t matter now what started the fight. It never does, because it’s always the same underlying theme. My best friend says, no matter how many times I bitch about him, that I can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig. I try to put some pretty makeup on us after we fight. But we’re still a disaster underneath it all.

I need this. He can’t give it. He wants that, I won’t back down until I get what I want. For years it has been the same argument. It’s the same argument dressed up in different clothes. Sometimes we both put on pearls and a pretty dress and make it look real pretty like, though. Two nights ago, in between the silences in our house all day, we stood in the kitchen of his boss’ house, his arm around me, polite conversation filling the hot, humid night. We looked good. Really good. But we aren’t good. We hadn’t talked for more than two-hours before we got there. We walked in the door like sunshine and light. Like laughing babies, apple pie and baseball. We are perfect dammit. Have I mentioned we look good? He doesn’t leave my side for very long on those nights. These couples around us that have been married for at least a decade, and sometimes two or more, think it’s because we adore each other so much. His boss’ wife hugged me as I walked out the door that night. She whispered quietly, tipsy from wine, inhibitions out the window, longing for the attention she thinks I have, “I wish James looked at me like that.” I took her hand in mine and said, with the only truth I’ve ever spoken to her, “No you don’t.” I’m certain it will be the last time I ever see her.

See, Aaron and I? We aren’t made for each other – we just don’t know how to function without each other. Yet. The night of World War XV (or was it XVI), Aaron’s exact words were, as I sat on the couch opposite of him, my head in my hands, “What exactly do you think you’re going to do without me? Where are you going to go?” His emphasis on “you,” is a not so subtle dig. He is pretty certain I can’t make it out there in that great big world, without him. Usually, those moments are followed by slightly disguised reminders of the house we live in (his), the dinners he cooks, and the safe way he is always there no matter what. He likes to think that the way we fight is just who we are. Kind of like Lucy and Ricky. Except he’s not Cuban and we aren’t married. Also, I don’t actually want this life we’ve made. Lucy seemed cool with what they had going on there. I should be thankful for this life he’s given me, right? That’s what he wants me to think anyway. I am, after all, that orphan of a girl, not quite anyone’s, who needed the big, safe arms he opened when I was stupid, in my early 20’s, and lost and confused. But between WW XV (or XVI), and dinner at his boss’ house, something clicked, once and for all.

Five years ago, on a hot, sultry night, when the dance of Spanish Moss in the oak tree in Aaron’s front yard, reminded me of what I’m made of (piss, vinegar, and truth – like every good southern woman) I packed up my life in duffel bags and boxes. I wrote Aaron a note, and left it on the coffee table, where he was sure to see it next to his beloved remote control. My Dearest Aaron – I know you don’t think I can do this without you. You may be right. But there was a time when I thought I could do anything. So I think I’ll go try that. I love you for all that you have been and done. But it’s time for us to try this thing out on our own. I can’t wait to hear where life takes you. I am forever grateful, and forever tied to you through these years. With love & gratitude, Annie

***

I hear from Aaron every so often. He married a sweet girl from Texas. She is nothing like me. Good news for him. They are rocking the shit out of their white-picket, 2.5 kids, and a dog, in the suburbs of Raleigh, life. Meanwhile, I’m still not brushing my hair most of the time and I don’t like pearls or lipstick. I quit my job on a regular old Tuesday. I haven’t worn heels since. Every once in a while, I call in sick to work, pack up the dog, and the baby, and wander along the Mount Vernon Trail like that’s my job. Those are the best days.

But on normal days, I wake up early, write the words that flow from my heart, pack up the kid at 7:00, and head off to the metro where I go to work at this tiny coffee place that caters to condescending millennials. I shove plates with muffins across a counter and smile as I hand them their fair-trade, coconut milk, triple-grande-latte. I smile because they think they know. But they don’t know. Someday, when they cut themselves out of the net, they’ll know. Every so often, my sweet nerdy man shows up at work in the middle of the day. He usually orders some weird Gen X thing (like coffee). When he stands with his back to me and fills his cup with cream and sugar, I wait there for the moment he turns around. Folks, there’s nothing like the moment when he turns. It flips me upside down and inside out, every time. There in that crowded room, when he searches for me, that old life was worth the work to find this one. He winks. I smile. And I’m forever grateful that I grabbed the scissors and cut myself free.