Chasing Dreams – Book Anniversary

Chasing Hope, Elaina M. Avalos, novel, indie author, fiction, novel, Beaufort NC

One year ago today, my novel was published. It was a long time coming. I started writing this book so long ago. Like all of us, as we grow and change over the years, it changed too.

But it was always about family, adoption, and love. To celebrate the anniversary of finally chasing my dreams . . . the book will be on sale, starting June 12th!

You can read an excerpt, here & here. You can find it on Goodreads, here. You can find the Amazon reviews, here.

What dreams have you been chasing lately, friend?

Newsletter

elaina m. avalosauthor _ dream chaser (1)

Sign up for my for my monthly (okay, monthly-ish) newsletter where I shall talk about chasing dreams, book news, inspiration, and where I’ll share contest and giveaway news.

When you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll receive the first chapter of my novel Chasing Hope as well as an excerpt of my second novel!

Go here!

More from Beaufort North Carolina!

Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center, Beaufort, Beaufort NC, NC Maritime Museum, Beaufort Food & Wine

I recently started a series about Beaufort, NC. You can catch up on the first couple of posts here & here. I haven’t written in a couple of weeks because I have quite literally spent nearly all of my free time working on an update to my book, Chasing Hope.

I switched the way my book will be printed & distributed. When I did, the old cover of the book would no longer work due to a variety of requirements from Amazon. But the process of updating was much harder than I anticipated.

So . . . I am behind. But back to post three in my series with more from Beaufort, North Carolina! The last two years I’ve attended the Beaufort Wine & Food Festival. I had said for a while that I wanted to go. I have a bad habit of talking and not doing.

Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center, Beaufort, Beaufort NC, NC Maritime Museum, Beaufort Food & Wine

As my 40th birthday approached {yes, I’m admitting how old I am} in 2016, I knew that I had to start making changes. So rather than just talk about going someday, I needed to do it.

The first event I bought tickets for in 2016 & 2017, was the Wine, Bread, Cheese & More seminar. I know! What could possibly be better? Not much, I tell you. Not much. If you’re a wine person, my guess is . . . you’re probably a food person, too.

This year’s seminar was even better than last years. The setting for the seminar is the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center. It’s on the water, just across the street from the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Though held in late April, the humidity has already started to seep in. But even still, it could not be a more beautiful setting. I mean . . . look at this . . .

Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center, Beaufort, Beaufort NC, NC Maritime Museum, Beaufort Food & Wine

I also attended the Vin de Mer Epicurean Village both years. There is a lot of wine and food happening up in there and it’s awesome! They describe it as organized chaos which is a great description.

Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center, Beaufort, Beaufort NC, NC Maritime Museum, Beaufort Food & Wine

Beaufort, Beaufort NC, NC Maritime Museum, Beaufort Food & Wine Festival, Vin de Mear Epicurean Village

Beaufort, Beaufort NC, NC Maritime Museum, Beaufort Food & Wine Festival, Vin de Mear Epicurean Village

Along with all of the food and wine, there are also cooking demonstrations. My first year, Clarke Merrell, the Chef and owner of Circa 81, did a live cooking demo. I saw most of the live cooking demos in 2017, too.

It even prompted me to try oysters with cucumber sake. I was proud of myself because that has not exactly ever been high on my list of must-try foods.

Though Beaufort is a tiny town on the southern Outer Banks, this event has not disappointed. Next year, my goal is to attend a wine dinner along with my favorite seminar and the Vin de Mer.

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.