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.


Season’s Greetings

Season’s Greetings, y’all! Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing my posts (and occasionally my books). May your holiday be fun and food-packed.

I’m a big fan of Prosecco and butterscotch chocolate, so with any luck there will be plenty of both tomorrow. The perfect Christmas dinner – 50 pigs in blankets, a mound of stuffing, some Parmesan-roasted parsnips, and then a head-long dive into the Quality Street tin. (Minus the strawberry and orange creams.)

All the best to you for 2018. I hope the year brings you health, happiness and success in your endeavours.

A Week in the Life of a Blogger

This week I have been…

Writing about sewing machines, keeping your dog safe when it’s Bonfire Night, the changes to Facebook and how they affect businesses, inheritance and virtual reality’s impact on the sport of bodybuilding. Such is the varied life of a blogger. And sending out invoices while wondering about the viability of writing for a living*.

Over-estimating children’s appetite for sweeties. The very well-behaved guisers who called at our house only wanted one or two sweets. Or maybe my offerings (see above) were rubbish. Anyway, as they have a use-by date sometime in the 2020s (ahem), they’ll last another few Halloweens.

Reflecting on the genius of the Duffer Brothers. Seriously, is there anyone who doesn’t love Stranger Things? The second series is even better than the first, and I binge watched my way through it this week.

Avoiding Twitter because I was too busy binge-watching Stranger Things to tune in for the Great British Bake Off final, and saved it up for another night instead. Apparently, I needed to avoid Twitter anyway because judge Prue Leith gave the game away 12 hours ahead of the show being aired.

Wishing my great aunt a happy birthday, her 103rd anniversary… Bodes well for my genes, I suppose.

Trying out new recipes. Like most people, I recycle the same old favourites repeatedly. I bought the Sainsbury’s and Good Food magazines for October and tried out the Budget-friendly Pot Roast, Szechwan Chicken Wings, Egg-fried Rice, Steamed Seabass, and Broccoli, Pea and Mint Soup.

Applying for jobs. My conversion rate is about one in ten. I really need to up the number of applications I make (I do ten a week), but I live in fear that one day all ten (or even five) potential clients will come back at once, and need delivery at the same time.

Looking into BookBub as a promotional tool. More promising than Facebook or Amazon ads, apparently, as your audience are purely voracious readers.

Running. I’ve rediscovered a love for pounding the pavements. When you’ve been inside all day, a run in the dark, rainy weather works wonders.

Writing about vampires, friendship and betrayal. Once the paid work is dealt with, I do what I love – creative writing. (And you can read my stories on Wattpad here – One day, one day, perhaps the stars will align, and the creative work will become the paid work, earning me enough money to make a small income. Nothing greedy. If blogging for a living has taught me anything, it’s how to make do with a lot, lot less.



*Don’t do it, folks!

The Right Hand DOES Know What The Left Is Doing…

hands landscape

When I was debating the decision to leave my office job and try to make it in the scary world of freelancing/novel writing, I undertook a session of NLP.

NLP – or to give its formal title, neural linguistic programming – looks at the ways our minds work. A lot of people use NLP for issues such as overeating as many of us are guilty of reaching for the choccie when times are tough. Realistically, that rather scrumptious bar of fruit and nut isn’t going to bring your ex-boyfriend back, make your boss nicer to you or result in your kiddiewinkles suddenly developing well-behaved tendencies*.

I did it because I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision, especially as I finally made the decision on a Monday. I mean, office workers don’t routinely arrive at work on a Monday morning and feel the urge to quit, hmm?! There have been plenty of dodgy decisions in my past often fuelled by excessive wine consumption. I tell myself mistakes are the best way to learn…** Anyhoos, I met up with the trainer (Steven Terris at Synapse Personal Performance) and we did an exercise called Parts Integration.

[SPOILER ALERT!! If you plan to use NLP yourself, look away now.]

Parts Integration involves you holding out your hands, closing your eyes and picturing a person, say in one hand (usually the less dominant hand) and using the other hand as a ‘voice’ telling the right hand why your decision is the right one. My pesky right hand kept coming up with reasons not to quit my job. Money reasons mainly.

My NLP practitioner kept badgering away at me – come on, come on what does your right hand need to know? The left voice almost shouted: “I DON’T KNOW!!! Flip’s sake, I just want to never work in an office again and spend my summers typing away on my laptop, mooching around in the garden and baking high-sugar items!”

But then the left voice thought up more valid reasons; reasons that made sense and sounded well-thought out.

Gradually – and without me really being aware of it – my hands drifted together until they were touching. And voila, the left hand had persuaded the right that leaving my secure (ish), comfortably-paid job was the right thing to do.

*I know; I was gutted when I found out the deluxe family bar of Dairy Milk fruit and nut can’t do this.

**These days, my policy is to hide my credit card from myself when looking at skincare websites online.

Ah, the thrill of the blank page...

Ah, the thrill of the blank page…

Ooh, phone the boss; it’s Thursday morning and I’m pulling a sickie…

That’ll be a quick phone call to myself then. Yup, I am now the boss of me having waved a fond, slightly manic farewell to almost 20 years of office employment, regular wages and financial security. The paid sickie day (and the paid holiday for that matter) no longer exists.

As it is early days yet in the world of self-employment, I greeted the arrival of this morning with delight (before rolling over for another small snooze, as the tyranny of the daily commute no longer applies).

Hello brave new world – another writer wishes to join you and wonders what to do next. As I am a top procrastinator, I’ve come up with the following list of the best things to do to delay real work:

  1. Write to do lists (oh joy, updating my blog after a long absence was on the list so there’s one item ticked off already
  2. Start up a Twitter account – hey, Twitter is awash with procrastinating writers
  3. Tidy up the spare room and turn it into an office, complete with a proper filing system
  4. Do wedding-related stuff (actually, this isn’t procrastinating seeing as I am getting married in exactly four weeks’ time eeks, eeks where did all the time go and why have I yet to make a decision on the cake, my hair, what I wear on my head..?)
  5. Update social media profiles – hey I’m at home and I’m available for all kinds of writing, proofing, editing work and the odd voiceover…
  6. Plan what to have for lunch and dinner, admittedly this can take up as lot more time than it should and can involve several detours through bakery websites and blogs
  7. Put the washing out/iron shirts/clean the bathroom (insert your household chore of choice).
  8. Write another list of luxury items you can no longer buy (magazines, premium skincare, a foundation to add to the collection of eight or so I already possess and blasted DIET COKE).
  9. Phone a friend or two with angst-related ‘what am I doing, will this work out, do you think I’m insane…?’ woes.
  10. And finally – read other people’s blogs! There are marvellous examples out there and if you look to the right you’ll see just some of them!

Writing What Your Readers Want…

This is my end goal...

This is my end goal…

Oh my goodness – Sunday was an exciting day for me. I blogged about my decision to leave work and attempt to carve out a writing career for me and I seemed to strike a chord with fellow bloggers.

In blogging land, I am a teeny-weeny person with a small group of followers (I love you all and am at this very moment blowing you virtual kisses, promise) and therefore when my wordpress app kept bleeping away with new likes, I practically leapt out of my seat in fever-pitched joy. Oh you lovely, lovely likers…*

I recently read a post by igamesmom and she talked about what she has learned from blogging – a most useful piece which urges people to read the blogs they follow and tailor their own writing accordingly. Good point madam!

I initially set out to write a blog about my forthcoming nuptials** and managed to bore myself. I also drifted off topic on a regular basis. A crime surely, if one is trying to establish a loyal fan base with a niche interest?

“Emma,” I said sternly to myself, “loyal follower number 1 and number 2 are cake fans and here you are boring them to tears ranting on about your predilection for expensive skincare. And what about poor loyal follower number two? She’s an excellent exerciser, and she surely does not give two finicky figs that you drink far too much diet coke***?”

From the many wonderful blogs I read, I note that life-changing is often a theme – people giving up jobs, taking up baking, starting their own businesses or charting weight loss/getting fit journeys – which is maybe why the Sunday blog received the number of likes it did? So, I thinks to myself, folks want to read about life changing and how that works out.

On the plus side, getting married is life-changing so I can continue the odd post about that, but my dears I think I shall continue my blog on the theme of how chucking in your office job and giving up financial security and a pension can be, ahem, very good for you…


*I think I am tearing up. Losing. It.

**Nuptials – I love that word. Along with splendid, gracious and eloquence – words which deserve much wider usage, surely?

***Crap. Despite the NLP session and regular nagging by concerned fiancé I am a coke addict once more. Bah.


Life Changing? Let’s Go the Whole Hog

ImageAnd so…less than ten weeks before I’m due to get married, an event not known for its positive effects on a couple’s finances, I drop a bombshell on beloved.

“I want to give up work.”

I want to write, read, blog and bake – and find a way of making it pay. Blame it on too many years reading women’s magazines (especially the kind that feature all those women jacking in jobs to create their own businesses/work for themselves), blame it on too much time spent on blogs which all promote the idea of Living Your Dream…

…blame it on too many self-help books, but yes I’m Feeling the Fear and Doing it Anyway, Ending the Struggle and Dancing with Life (!) and Stopping Talking Starting Doing*. Leaps of faith aplenty.

Those who urge caution might point out that writing on the side is do-able with a career and a far less risky strategy to take, but with enough savings put by to see me through several months I’ve decided I might as well try this properly.

My initial thoughts are – Yay! No more commute! Yay! I’ll go for a run or walk every morning (and be super fit in time for the wedding hey hey)! Yay! I’ll bake my way through every single cake recipe I own! Yay! I will buy a fitness ball and sit in front of my laptop tapping away on a keyboard and exercising my abs at the same time! Yay! I can see my mum and sisters so often!

You will note, dear reader, the thoughts focus more on not working, than working. Hmm.

The book that is in me may be half-way written, but there are an awful lots of stages between writing a book and seeing it in WH Smith (oh, if only). The path to obscurity (littered with the bodies of many) beckons…but I finally decided that fear of not trying outweighed fear of failure so here goes.


*Apologies. I have rendered these titles incorrectly to fit.

**I also apportion blame to Susan Cain. Her book encourages those of an introverted nature to think they can do just about anything, instead of worrying that natural shyness and lack of pushiness will hold them back.

***Re the picture of Freddie above, no reason for it. I just fancied adding a pic of my pampered pet.