close-up of a spider's web on bushes by Emma Baird

Beetroot, Books and Escapes to the Country

This week I’m…

white bowl containing borsht soup by Emma BairdEating Borsht. This year’s gardening triumphs include beetroot, which is darn decent roasted and eaten with a drizzle of sour cream and dill, but also makes a fab soup brim-bursting with veggie goodness.

I used the Hairy Bikers recipe minus the cabbage. Warning—peel beetroot with gloves on if possible, unless you want pink-tipped fingers and palms for a long time afterwards. For the same reasons, cut it on a wooden chopping board you aren’t too attached to.

a screenshot of The Art Guy by Emma BairdVOWING TO FINISH AN EDITING JOB. See the caps there? I put them in because this job has been on the to-do list for three weeks now, FFS. My typical editing and revising process when writing books goes like this…

 

  • Switches on laptop. Goes to email inbox and searches out an online chum who deserves a long, chatty email.
  • Finishes email and checks Twitter briefly. Looks for cute cat videos. Gets lost in a conversational thread or that day’s top trend.
  • Checks the weather forecast. Vital for walk planning (see below) and domestic scheduling—i.e. can I put the washing out today?
  • Buckles down to editing and revising book chapters. Re-writes a sentence into perfect prose before reading exactly the same sentence and word order three paragraphs down.
  • One chapter in, looks up something on the internet. It’s crucial to the editing process, oh yes it is.
  • Decides another chapter is needed which means abandoning the editing process altogether and doing a fresh piece of writing. (Hooray! Much more fun!)
  • Segues into despair and loathing. What once seemed like a half-decent book is now embarrassing, crass, cliché-ridden and fit only for the bin.
  • Repeats ad nauseum.

Cycle path and the old railway bridge photo by Emma BairdEnjoying country walks. You know my favourite bit of being a freelancer* (albeit one with a part-time job these days)? Going for walk whenever I feel like it. Near me, there’s a cycle path much used by dog walkers, cyclists, joggers and freelance writers escaping their editing responsibilities.

 

 

 

*Did I mention the afternoon naps? The lie-ins when necessary? The working from home wardrobe of trackie bottoms and a hoodie? That every day is take your cat to work day? The outside working when it’s sunny?

 

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Artists Town – Coming Soon!

Artists Town by Emma Baird coverAnd here it is – the almost finished version of Artists Town, my next book…

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.

Fifteen-year-old Daisy has been dragged along on a family holiday in a small Scottish town against her will. But that’s what happens when you suddenly develop a chronic health condition. Your freedom disappears.

Still, the holiday has its compensations. There’s Katrina, resident ‘cool’ girl who takes Daisy under her wing. And Katrina has a gorgeous, older cousin who sends smouldering looks in Daisy’s direction. Is this holiday about to change her life for the better?

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

Artists Town goes on sale this autumn.

Book Covers, Fish and Chips and More…

This week in pictures…

Three runners cross the start line at the Paisley 10k

Put your hands in the air just like you just don’t care… (I’m on the right).

Completed the Paisley 10k. With a slower time than I did for the 10k I ran at the start of June (1.03 as opposed to 1 hour 58 seconds), HOW, HOW, HOW? (#Emails organisers to double check they measured the route right#) Weirdly, I felt much more comfortable than I did back in June as the day was a lot cooler and the course flatter. Hey ho!

And still a feeling at the end of it akin to “Feck! For the half-marathon next month, I’ll have to do all this again and then some…”

fish and chips McMAte fish and chips to celebrate. Well, battered fish and mushy peas, anyway. My Fitbit told me the run used up 590 calories. Usually, I’m a low-carb gal, but my glycogen-starved muscles shrieked carbs loudly by the end of my run. And battered fish expertly cooked and doused in salt and malt vinegar is a glorious thing. McMonagles claims to be the world’s first sail-thru fish and chip restaurant.

AT VERSIONSSorted out the cover for Artists Town, my forthcoming book. It’s beautiful, hmm? Jennifer Underwood did the cover for me. Now, to decide on a release date and hope it recoups its costs. And persuades people to buy some of my other books.

fruit and nutBought some fruit and nut. Not that I’m going to eat it…* This week marked the eighth anniversary of my dad’s death and one of his favourite things to eat was Cadbury’s fruit and nut.

As food is often one of the things that brings us together – as family, as couples, as friends, as neighbours – it has always seemed appropriate for my family and I to mark the occasion this way. My sister and her kids did it with sausages, beans and mash.

a ginger and white cat sitting on a window sill Welcomed a new part-time resident. Meet Mr Biggles, whose ‘home’ if you can ever call one place a cat’s home, is two doors up from us. Of late, he’s taken to spending increasing amounts of time Chez Baird-Birnie.

His official residence contains two adults, one other cat, three kids and a dog, so perhaps he likes the peace and quiet of our house?

How’s your week been? And where the best place for fish and chips near you?

 

*Well, a weak moment might happen at some point later next week…

 

The Girl Who Swapped summer sale

The Girl Who Swapped – 99p or 99c

 

The Girl Who Swapped Kindle cover

Bespoke book cover art example from coverness.com

For one week only, you can buy The Girl Who Swapped for a mere 99p on Amazon.co.uk or 99 cents* on Amazon.com

Do you love chick lit or humorous fiction that makes you chuckle? The Girl Who Swapped introduces you to Lottie and Charlotte who’ve woken up in the wrong bodies and miles away from home.

How do they get back to their ‘real’ lives, and where those real lives so fantastic in the first place?

The Girl Who Swapped – Sale

Via champagne-soaked parties, tempting tall, dark and handsome strangers and an ego-maniac Hollywood star, join the rollercoaster ride as our heroines hurtle through their new lives as they try to find their ways home.

If you like your reading light, frothy and fun, The Girl Who Swapped is a great summer read** and the Kindle version won’t take up precious room in your suitcase.

A fabulous read. Couldn’t put it down
Great story, well written with engaging characters
A real page turner

feebee on Amazon

Buy the book on Amazon.com here, or Amazon.co.uk here. It’s on sale at the discounted price from 8-15th August. 

*Seven or eight years ago, 99 cents would have been a bargain compared to the 99p price, but the pound’s so weak these days, there’s not much in it.

**Bleurgh. Blowing my own trumpet makes me feel like I need to take hot shower and scrub everything HARD.

Finishing books and making cakes

This week I’ve…

a golf-themed birthday cake made by Emma BairdMade cakes! The man in my life turned 50 this week, so I made him a golf themed cake—mainly because the decoration didn’t seem too complicated. Green icing*, a golf figurine and some golf ball wafers equals job done.

I’m not a talented baker. It requires precision whereas my first instinct when I look at any recipe is to wonder what would happen if I switch one ingredient for another and double up the cheese quantity specified.

Cake tins

Then there’s that whole cake tin thing, where every single recipe for cake appears to use a different-sized tin. True. Do proper bakers have room in their kitchens for a dedicated cake tin cupboard stacked from top to bottom with tins of varying sizes? Luckily, I found this handy conversion calculator on CakeBaker which gives you ingredient quantities for your size of tin.

I made a Madeira cake as that’s one recommendation for celebration cakes—sturdy and minimal crumble, apparently. The filling inside is home-made lemon curd (see this super easy microwave recipe here) and the cake’s iced with lemon butter cream and topped with green fondant paste.

Taking to the hills

Did my first trail run. Pounding the pavements can get awfy boring after a while, so I ventured up into the hills behind my house this week. It’s seriously hilly, but the deal was I could walk in places just like proper trail runners do. Another added bonus is that you don’t take in lungfuls of exhaust fumes.

Trail running is supposed to benefit your training regime as you use different muscles and it gives your brain more of a challenge as you tackle varying terrain.

Moved out of my comfort zone. On my list of ‘to do’s’ this year was to do a book event. As an introvert, I prefer hiding behind my laptop when book promoting. The arguments in favour include the ability to reach far more people and it’s much less time consuming/a better return on investment. Nevertheless, you don’t grow as a human unless you venture out of the places you find safe, so I approached my local library and asked if they’d be willing to run a Q&A event where I and another writer talk about our books, our writing processes and self-publishing.

And they said… YES.

Times and dates are still to be confirmed, but the event will take place during Scottish Book Week, 19-25th November. Yike-sy. More details to follow.

Beautiful biters

beautiful biters Finished a book—or the first draft of it, anyway. I’ve finally written ‘THE END’ (among the world’s most satisfying sentences to write) of Beautiful Biters. It started life as Beauty and the Vampires and then got a name change half-way through. It’s a story about a 16-year-old living side by side with vampires and doing make-up tutorials for them on YouTube as I wanted to give it a modern feel.

Now my least favourite part of writing begins; the rewriting bit. Ker-ist. I’d rather pluck my own eyeballs out. Or start another story so Beautiful Biters can meet the fate of all my other books—rusting away, forgotten and neglected, in the back of my hard drive.

Ate delicious Indian food. Sandy and I went out with his family to celebrate his half-century. The Dining Room is a local restaurant you’d be within your rights to describe as a “wee gem”. It’s tiny, so we were the biggest party in there and everyone joined in when we sang Happy Birthday. My go-to with Indian restaurants is saag paneer and Tarka dhal. Indian and Pakistani cuisines do amazing things to vegetables, and make the prospect of full-time vegetarianism do-able.

Tomorrow, to continue the birthday celebrations, we’re off to Edinburgh to see Brexit and eat in Sylvester’s. As it’s August, the place will be heaving. Unfortunately, I booked this excursion before realising the Scottish Premiership season starts this weekend and Rangers FC is to play Aberdeen on Sunday. I married a fervent footie fan and I fear my wee surprise won’t be greeted enthusiastically…

Ah well!

What highlights has your week brought? And what’s your favourite dish in an Indian restaurant?

*I say ‘not complicated’ but the air around me turned blue as I tried to fit that f*****g fondant paste on the cake.