Lacey Mays

written by elaina m. avalos

When Lacey Mays was five-years old, just days before she started Kindergarten, her father killed himself. If anyone in the county had been asked, they would have said it was only a matter of time that either Bob or Donna Mays would have ended up dead. They fed more than one of each other’s addictions and spent years on a downward spiral of hopelessness. On that summer evening in 1988, Bob Mays had finally had enough. Lacey’s daddy lay crumbled in a heap of blood and brain matter, just inside the kitchen. Lacey saw the whole thing from start to finish. And when her mama flew past her, out the front door, instead of staying there with her only daughter, somehow, in all of her too grown up-ness, Lacey knew she had lost both parents.

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Moments before running home, she’d heard her mama’s voice, high and floating on the late afternoon wind. She thought it was nap time. And yesterday, her daddy had taken the paddle out and beat her bottom until she couldn’t sit, because she’d ignored her mama. She wouldn’t make that mistake again. Her white sandals carried her as fast as her little feet could run – toward the peeling paint of their two bedroom clapboard house. A house as deep into Pamlico County, North Carolina as a house could be. It wasn’t until she was in the doorway, one foot on the hardwood floor of the living room, the other still on the porch that she’d realized that Donna Mays wasn’t calling for her. She was screaming. She was screaming in a way Lacey had never heard before. Her daddy pointed a gun at her mama. She yelled out, “Don’t. Don’t do this!” And then, before Lacey’s mother could finish her sentence, a crack-pop filled Lacey’s ears and the room.

Her father fell to the floor. In one split instant, Lacey tried to believe, as her innocent-self commanded her to believe, he would be okay. And then, when her mama turned to see her in the doorway, her wild eyes filled with that thing that overtook her when she was high, she knew. She knew what her innocent-self could not. Her daddy was gone. Donna Mays stood paralyzed for a moment in the doorway between the living room and the dining room, tears running down her face. She started to move towards the front door and her daughter. But she ran past Lacey – out the door and toward the woods at the edge of the property.

Lacey, too grown for five and yet not, steeled herself in the way Donna Mays was not capable. She ran to her daddy and dropped to her knees. It wasn’t really him anymore, his face unrecognizable and distorted. The screaming came from deep inside her five-year old self. She turned to the door to see the bright pink of her mama’s shirt slip into the woods. Every last ounce of child left in Lacey’s heart and mind, slipped right out of her then. In her newfound adulthood, she stood and picked up the phone from a side table.

She dialed 9-1-1 like her Grandma and Grandpa had taught her, like she was supposed to do when her parents were hurting each other or when she couldn’t wake her mama as had happened on more than one occasion in the past. She dialed and waited for the person on the other end to answer. And just like that, when the helper answered, Lacey packed up her heart in a box and buried it deep into the dark soil of her mind where it would remain hidden from sight. Her reply to the calm woman on the other end of the phone line, “My daddy is dead.” By the time the paramedics, sheriff, and her grandparents arrived, Lacey Mays had become someone else entirely, someone she had never been created to become. It took the local sheriff’s four hours to find Donna Mays. She lay in a heap of her own vomit, deep into the woods. But it didn’t matter that she’d been found, as far as Lacey was concerned.

Hope When We Least Expect It

Beaufort NC, Beaufort, Crystal Coast, Hope, Fear, Grief, Southern Fiction, Women's Fiction

My novel, Chasing Hope, is about . . . hope, light, and healing after fighting your way through grief. It’s about loss and renewal. It’s about finding a family where and when you least expect it.

I’m hoping to return back to my Sample Sunday tradition to end 2018 & head into a new & BIG year for my little family. So in keeping with that, here are some of the first words I wrote for this novel that holds a special place in my heart.

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?

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.

Books, Babies, & Change

stylefinest.co

A couple weeks ago, on June 10th, I released my first novel on Amazon {and CreateSpace}. It’s technically not the first book I’ve written, but it is the one I most needed to publish first.

Earlier this spring, some things happened in my life that put everything in perspective for me. I won’t rehash all of that but, I needed to face my own mortality. In other words, I ain’t gettin’ any younger, ya’ll.

The push to take a few leaps of faith catapulted me headlong into this new determination to adopt an infant and to publish my books. What do I want to do with my life? What have I always wanted for my life? I want to write novels and raise kids. It’s all pretty simple.

And yet, my life has been lived in such a way that I have literally had nothing left to give to the two things I most wanted. Why dude? Why do we do this to ourselves? I know I’m not the only one.

We aren’t all meant to write books or screenplays or open small businesses. But some of us? We are actually meant to do those things! We live in fear of taking the next step. Or we become distracted by others’ expectations. Sometimes we’re distracted by our own expectations.

I have loved my job with as much of my heart as I have to give. But I also know it has come at a cost. I personally have paid a heavy, heavy price. This is not unique to me. There are many others in my profession who feel the same way. But this spring was my crossroads. This reality has been driven home in more specific ways, as spring has turned into summer.

actual cover chasing hope

And now here I am. I have been overwhelmed, in the best way possible, by the feedback people have given me so far about my book. I have reviews/ratings on Amazon and GoodReads. But I also have had messages and e-mails, too. They have touched me in a way I just wasn’t expecting.

The biggest compliment any fiction writer can receive {maybe I should just speak for myself, here?} is to have readers fall in love with your characters and to feel they’re right there in midst of it all as it’s happening in the book. For those who have shared your thoughts with me, thank you. It has encouraged me to take some additional leaps of faith.

inside chasing hope
Seeing your words in print is awesome, dudes!

Sometimes people make jokes about “following dreams.” I actually do get it – it sounds kind of silly. But sometimes our dreams are set deep – way down deep in our hearts because they are our calling. They’re what we were meant to do with our lives. It may look very different for you than it does for me. Nonetheless, the dream that’s written in our soul, is where we need to start living.

I am starting a new journey down another road. What does this mean exactly? It means that nothing can get in the way of this dream and hope on my heart – to write full time and to be a mom. Nothing. I have poured my life into a job I have loved.

But now it’s time to pour my life into this dream.

“The things that excite you are not random, they are connected to your purpose. Follow them.” – Unknown

Changes are always hard. Transition isn’t easy. In fact, times of change and transition often open the door to great stress. However, when we reach the point when we know that without change and transition, our greatest dreams aren’t possible, nothing in all the world matters.

It’s time to pour my life in this dream.

Eastern NC is my Muse

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I once wrote a blog post about how my fiction writing abilities dried up when I moved back to California, from North Carolina. When I finally got back to NC in 2012, my muse? Totally revisited me. P.S. If you’re a writer and haven’t seen “The Muse” with Albert Brooks & Sharon Stone . . . you MUST.

Chasing Hope  is set in the small coastal town of Beaufort. Beaufort won my heart in 2001 when I moved to Eastern Carolina the first time. In 2012, Beaufort won a little contest which named it the “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel. Read a feature here.

It’s a special place and I still dream of owning a house downtown. Someday . . . maybe I will!

Here are a few photos of this gorgeous little town.

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