One Month, No Wine!

Emma Baird

A writer friend and I signed up for the One Year No Beer challenge in January. Before you think us super-saintly, I’m duty-bound to point out that One Year No Beer offers different alcohol-free options – and most of them don’t last twelve months.

Its main one is the three months no alcohol (which doesn’t scan half as well as one year no beer) as well as a yearly version and the more achievable 28 days programme. My brave friend opted for three months; I picked the one-month version.

Writing is notorious for attracting its share of hard drinkers. Most people can name a bloke, but female imbibers include Patricia Highsmith, Jean Rhys, Dorothy Parker and Elizabeth Bishop. French novelist and filmmaker Marguerite Duras wrote about being a real writer and a real alcoholic. She’d drink Cognac in the morning and then a glass of wine every hour, and she wrote afterwards, astonishing herself by how much she managed to write.

Would going teetotal for a while help with our productivity, my friend and I wondered? If you spend your evenings binge-watching Netflix (as we’ve been doing) and steering clear of Prosecco’s siren call, will that make us more creative, fingers moving over keyboards in double quick time? And concentration is supposed to get better too when you aren’t fighting the after-effects of toxins.

I’ve done the odd bit of writing accompanied by a glass of wine. It often helps with blocks. I’ve reached this bit of a book, and I’m stuck. The wine seems to fire off creative sparks. Writing without it has shown that I imagine things. The process isn’t just thanks to alcohol. As the marvellous Lee Childs once put it, truckers don’t get trucker block, do they? Stick yourself in front of a blank page and just BLEEDIN’ write.

Anyway, to keep my friend company I’ve extended my challenge to six weeks. I’ll tot up my word count then and let you know.


PS – I sincerely promise not to be evangelical and annoying about this. No prude like the reformed rake, as the saying goes. The same often applies to folks who give up smoking and/or drinking. I love wine. Just sayin’.

The Discreet Charm of Mary Maxwell-Hume

https://emmabaird.comNew in print is The Discreet Charm of Mary Maxwell-Hume by Gordon Lawrie.

Here’s the blurb – Mary Maxwell-Hume is an enigma. She earns a living as a piano teacher but also belongs to an obscure order of nuns. Their rules appear curious: although the sisters wear red habits occasionally, the order has a peculiar dress code. Nuns wear ‘only as much as is necessary to preserve due modesty’, plus liberal doses of Chanel no.5 perfume.

There’s the faintest hint that Mary might be a bit of a hustler, but she uses her sensual powers in such a way that nobody minds – except for the odious Theodore Plews of Lambert’s Auction House in Edinburgh. Anyway, who would dare suggest that a woman of God might not be all she seems?

Eventually, she engages a young police constable as her faithful assistant. Read on to see what ensues…

The book is published by Comely Bank Publishing, and you can buy directly from CBP here. There’s a limited time offer, where you can also get Gordon’s first book, Four Old Geezers and a Valkyrie for £8.99 (including postage). If you want the e-book, the storefront has links to (for Kindles) and versions (for every other e-reader).

Auld Claes and Parritch

Ah, January! Once you crawl out from under the pile of wrapping paper, empty bottles and chocolate wrappers, the Bacchanalian joy vanishes, and it’s back to auld claes and parritch*, right?

No wonder folks hate January. It’s cold, dark and no-one is going out (in the UK at least). Whisper it, I quite like January so far. There are a lot of small (and the odd big) things that are making me happy.

Scheduling. Nothing says January like plotting out your activities on an online calendar, eh? I’m THE saddo who spent a satisfying two hours adding everything to Outlook. Basically, there’s no room for anything spontaneous until the end of February.

Emma BairdFeeding the Birds. If I’d known how much joy this would give me, I’d have done it years ago! I put out a handful of nuts every day, and they’re gone an hour later. We’ve got three or four blue tits that visit the garden regularly, and this morning I managed to spot one of them and a robin swoop in for a feed.

“Birdie, are you sure you can eat that?” I wondered aloud. Half a peanut looks like the equivalent of a human trying to chow down on a double cheeseburger.

I’ve also got a jar of Flutter Butter, peanut butter, especially for small, fluttering birds. Next job is to find the cat-safe place to install it seeing as our garden is also a haven for the neighbourhood cats. As my friend said, “Wow, it’s like you’ve just put a takeaway menu for them up on the wall.”

Using Draft2Digital. The Girl Who Swapped is now out of Kindle Select so I can go wide. I used Draft2Digital, as I’ve heard and read good things about this platform for uploading e-books onto multiple places. The book is now on Kobo, iTunes, Playster and a good few I’ve never heard of, as well as Amazon.

Here’s the Universal Book Link –



Walking along beaches. Thursday was a dull, gloomy day in my neck of the woods. I took myself off to Prestwick to visit a friend. Down there, the sun shone brightly, so we took her dog Ruaridh out for a long walk along the beach front. I probably met and spoke to half of Prestwick at the same time. Dog walking is unbelievably sociable.

Emma BairdAcquiring jewellery. My mum LOVES giving gifts and this year she decided to pass on her ring collection, giving my sisters and I one each. This is mine. Isn’t it gorgeous?

How’s your January going?

*A Scottish saying meaning the humdrum, workaday world.

Artists Town – Rewrite DONE #amwriting

Artists Town by Emma Baird

Drum roll – I finished rewriting something this week. Big deal, Ms B, you say, and I don’t blame you.

But regular readers and friends might know I LOATH rewriting. When I finish a book, I go off it very quickly. In the perfect world, it would rewrite itself, magically upload itself on Amazon, Kobo et al., and then, oh I dunno, sell? And sell in enough quantities to make money.

I gave myself a ticking off. Emma, I said, the magic fairies do not come along and do this for you. In came the carrot and stick. Restructure the novel – BOOM; you get a glass of wine. Fail to rewrite for an hour or so. WHACK – you’re not allowed to write anything new. (Writing new stuff is what I love doing.)

The carrot thing, unfortunately, ran out on 1st January as I signed up for one of those Dry January thingies, so that motivated me to rewrite faster.

Rewriting Artists Town kept presenting different issues. I changed my mind numerous times about the order of some chapters. A weird and wonderful crime that took place in the 1990s was my inspiration. When I did more research, I had to change quite a few things.

And then there were the bloody comma splices. My factual writing differs a lot from my creative writing style. It turns out I am forever putting independent clauses in one sentence. I’m not keen on semi-colons, and they shouldn’t be used too frequently anyway. I rewrote a lot of sentences as a result.

I end a lot of sentences with prepositions too*. I took them out where this would improve the prose, but left in a lot of them as otherwise the sentence didn’t sound natural.

But hey, at least I know what comma splices are now!

One rewrite does not a finished novel make. Improvements are still needed. And I have some factual stuff I need to check – police procedures relating to crimes committed in different jurisdictions. But the project is a lot further on that it was two months ago.

Here’s the blurb for the book, which I hope to publish later this year:

Fifteen-year-old Daisy has been dragged along on a family holiday in a small Scottish town against her will. But then, that’s what happens when you suddenly develop a chronic health condition. Your mum and dad take away all your freedom.

Still, the holiday has its compensations. There’s Katrina, resident ‘cool’ girl who decides to take Daisy under her wing. Katrina happens to have a gorgeous, older cousin who looks at Daisy in a certain way. Is this holiday about to change Daisy’s life for the better?

Escaping from London seems to have affected Daisy’s dad. He’s got some madcap schemes in mind, but just where is all the money for this coming from?

Set in 1990, Artists Town is a coming of age tale that explores friendship, first love, learning to be cool and navigating life’s challenges.


*See the wonderful Grammar Girl’s article on ending sentences with prepositions. She also does a weekly podcast which manages to make grammar easy to understand AND interesting.