Rip it Up and Start Again

One of things I struggle with as a writer is revising and rewriting. When I finish something, I want to move on to another project or idea. The thought of going back to a manuscript, reading through it and working out what’s wrong never appeals.

I decided to try something different with one of my finished/unfinished projects – Two Slices of Carrot Cake. Writers tend to get wedded to their own words. It’s difficult to detach. I’m editing a book at the moment for someone else and it’s easy for me to strike that red line through unnecessary text, or see what needs to be rewritten.

Some years ago, I read an interview with the writer, Elizabeth Buchan. In it, she said when she writes a book, she writes it three times. Her first attempt gives her the ‘bones’ and from there she starts again and improves the original story. I’ve decided to try this, albeit I’ll just be writing the whole thing one more time, and not two…

The Creative Stuff

Although it seems daunting, writing the story again appeals because it’s about doing the enjoyable, creative stuff again. I know the plot, I know the characters and what they are like, how they speak and I know what happens to them afterwards, seeing as I wrote another book that featured them.

I wanted to change the angle of the story slightly too. After I wrote my first book, Katie and the Deelans, I sent it to agents. It was rejected by all of them, but I was contacted by one after I’d published it through Comely Bank Publishing, who said that he liked my ‘voice’ and was I working on anything else?

When I told him I was working on Two Slices of Carrot Cake, he said I could send it to him when I’d finished it. I did, and he rejected it, saying the ‘issues’ thing in it (eating disorders) didn’t work for him, but he did like the ‘voice’ and he thought a better idea would be to concentrate on the teenage girl using multiple personalities online and the trouble that results. Keep the eating disorder, but don’t make it the main focus.

The Flow Trap

When you try to shift the focus of a story by going back to the existing document, it’s hard. Sentences, paragraphs and chapters flow in a certain way. You get caught up in that flow – if I change this, then that won’t work, etc. If you start writing again, the existing flow isn’t an issue.

I’ve started it. I’m excited about it. I’m feeling creative once more. Keep your fingers crossed for me…


Advertising on Amazon

Katie and the DeelansHave you advertised your book on Amazon? Last night, I listened to an Amazon ads for authors webinar and decided to put the advice into practice for my book, Katie and the Deelans.

The webinar was run by Mark Dawson and Joanna Penn, both self-published success stories and users of Amazon’s Marketing Services.

Amazon Marketing Services are relatively cheap. It uses a cost-per-click, auction-based pricing model. You set the maximum cost per click. I chose the sponsored keywords option, and I chose 13 keywords:

  • Adventure fiction
  • Divergent
  • Harry Potter
  • JK Rowling
  • Juvenile fiction
  • Rick Riordan
  • Stephanie Meyer
  • Suzanne Collins
  • The Hobbit
  • The Lightning Thief
  • Twilight
  • Veronica Roth
  • Young adult

What then happens is your book appears on the related options when Amazon customers search for a particular product – in this case, JK Rowling, Twilight et al.

One of my more ‘out there’ keyword choices was cat food. As my book features people who can change into cats, I thought those searching for cat food are cat lovers. Maybe they want to read cat-related tales too?!

The maximum I’m willing to spend per day is $10, but you can go lower than that. And you only spend money if people click on your ad and never more than your budget.

The custom text for an ad should not be the same as your blurb. It can’t be anyway, as the custom text is a Twitter-like 150 characters. I went for – We all want magic powers, right? What would you do with yours? Teenager Katie Harper is about to find out in this fun-filled action adventure.

Amazon advertising is all about experimentation. My campaign will run for the next week or so. If it works and I make enough money to recoup the cost of my investment, great. If I don’t sell books, the lessons could be that I need to look at a better cover for my book. The keywords could be too competitive or perhaps the custom text needs re-doing.

I’ll report back…


E-Book Promotion – Starts Today

Katie and the DeelansSmashwords Read an Ebook Week promotion starts on Sunday 5 March and ends on 11 March.

For one week, tens of thousands of ebooks are available for free or heavily discounted – and this year, those e-books include one Katie and the Deelans by Emma Baird. Me, if that’s not clear.

Katie And The Deelans is the story of Katie Harper and her friends, ordinary teenagers who go to the worst school in the country. Life, however, takes a turn for the extraordinary when Katie and her friends take up magic lessons.

Taught by the fabulous Miss D’Azzler and the enigmatic Jazz, Katie and her friends find out that they are deelans – humans who can change into cats and who have magical powers. Katie and her friends enjoy the first few months of being deelans by practising their magical skills and trying to improve the school and life for those living in the sink housing estates nearby.

Katie, who has struggled with parental alcoholism, neglect and abandonment by her mum and dad, wants to use her magical abilities mainly to improve her life AND start a relationship with the school’s best-looking boy, Danny Finch.

But just who is Danny Finch? And what about the super-powerful deelans determined to do harm? Katie has a lot to learn, and her adventures take her from experiments with apples that turn into chocolate to mind-reading (it’s not all it’s cracked up to be), battles with wicked women and unexpected family revelations.

You can get the book from Smashwords here – and if you enjoy it, please leave me a review. For access to other discounted or free books, visit the Smashwords promotional pages


Things Never To Do

freddie in food bowlWorried that you are that stereotype – single woman with cat, drinking wine alone on a Friday? Worry no more… A Japanese company has invented a wine especially for cats, so you can both drink wine together.

Called Nyan Nyan Nouveau, the drink contains juice from Cabernet grapes, vitamin C and catnip. (It doesn’t actually contain alcohol.)

Inspired by this, I created a short story using the characters from my first book. In my first book, friends Katie, Beanie, Chloe, Struan and Matthew have all discovered the most amazing piece of magic. They are deelans, people who can change into cats and have all kinds of other powers.

It’s all very well being able to hunt mice, fall asleep anywhere at any time and being able to jump more than five times your height, but what about other things – say, something a teenager might want to find out..?

Let Matthew tell you the tale…

Continue reading


brilliant booksYes, #SuperThursday – it’s a thing… Apparently, today the market will be flooded with new books.

No doubt many of those books will have the might of the publishing industry behind them. They will have glossy covers and a big marketing budget so you will see the book or the author everywhere for a few weeks as they promote their book.

I’m self-published so I rely on kind friends and family (and they were very kind and generous indeed) and promoting myself via the medium of social media.

Anyway, as it is #SuperThursday, here is a little plug on behalf of independent artists… You can buy all of the above books via the Comely Bank Publishing website, and through Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords.

Here’s a little blurb on what each book is about:

Four Old Geezers and a Valkyrie by Gordon Lawrie is an entertaining romp set in Edinburgh. Brian, aka ‘Captain’ is a reiteed teacher who has split acrimoniously from his wife. A chance meeting with his best man encourages Captain to dig out his 40-year-old guitar and leads to a series of hilarious jam sessions in a back garden in Merchiston during which they record a couple ofptain’s own songs.

Posting these on YouTube, they prove to be surprise hits, sending the four ‘musicians’ and their lawyer into a series of encounters with a tiny manager, a boy-band and a female Polish dancer, a cigar-puffing earl and a famous rock band.

The Man from Outremer by T.D. Burke  is a swashbuckling tale of treachery and action. Set largely in Scotland at the time of the early Scottish Wars of Independence around 1300 AD, it follows Derwent, a Scottish Crusader-turned-clergyman, and his involvement first of all in the Fall of Acre in Palestine, then later as Prior of Roslin in Scotland.

Against Derwent stands his nemesis, an English spymaster who is desperate to conceal a dark secret from the Crusader days. In time, they will confront each other in battle at Roslin.

Katie and the Deelans by Emma Baird is the story of Katie Harper and her friends, ordinary teenagers who go to the worst school in the country. Life, however, takes a turn for the extraordinary when Katie and her friends take up magic lessons.

Taught by the fabulous Miss D’Azzler and the enigmatic Jazz, Katie and her friends find out that they are deelans – humans who can change into cats and who have magical powers. Katie and her friends enjoy the first few months of being deelans by practising their magical skills and trying to improve the school and life for those living in the sink housing estates nearby.

Our Best Attention by Jane Tulloch will be published in January 2016. Set in Murrays, a fictional Edinburgh department store in the 1970s, OBA tells the story of the store’s attempts to adjust itself to modern times through its various staff members and customers.




Ballingham High – the Worst School in the Country

interviewerGreetings faithful readers and thanks to you for dropping by. Here’s another excerpt from my book, Katie and the Deelans…

Adam Hartley, Central TV’s youngest broadcaster, had visited Ballingham High School many times in the two years he had worked for Central TV to report stories. Most of them had been bad news.

There had been the arson attack. Then there had been gang warfare, when rival school gangs battled it out for control of the school’s drug supplies. The worst incident, however, had been when one pupil murdered another in a fit of jealous rage.

Central TV’s newsroom boss – Sharon Watson – had stopped by Adam’s desk that morning. He had been doing his best to look busy, as Sharon was a very scary boss and liked to catch her staff out when she thought they weren’t doing enough work.

“Adam, I find this hard to believe but I’ve just had a phone call from the education boss at the council – you know, Donald Chips – and he tells me there has been a remarkable improvement at Ballingham High School. They’ve had a 50% improvement in their exam results. What are you working on at the moment?”

Adam, who had been doing nothing – there never seemed to be any new news on a Tuesday afternoon – quickly thought up something that he thought might impress Scary Sharon.

“I was looking back at some of the stories I worked on last week seeing if there were ways that I could have done them better Sharon.”

Sharon shook her head. “Really? Useful as that sounds, I need you to go out to Ballingham High straight away and do a piece about the exam results. Talk to the head teacher and see if you can find a couple of pupils to interview – ones who passed and hadn’t expected to pass, that sort of thing.

“Oh, and make sure they are good-looking pupils. Our viewers don’t want to see any fat, spotty teenagers on the six o’clock news. It’ll put them off their dinner.”  Continue reading

Katie and the Deelans – An Excerpt

Sleeping makes up a large part of a cat's life. No wonder wanting to be one is such an attractive idea...

Sleeping makes up a large part of a cat’s life. No wonder wanting to be one is such an attractive idea…

Ever wondered what life would be like if you could change into a cat? Yup, me too – and it was that wonderment that created the book, Katie and the Deelans – published earlier this year.

Here’s an excerpt from the book…

We had all thought the School of Sorcery and Spells would start to look different when we started our magic lessons – that it would stop looking like a pre-fab block (grey concrete, rattling windows and flat roofs) and more, I dunno… exotic, I suppose.



But it hadn’t changed in the three years since we’d found out about magic lessons. The only thing was that you couldn’t see in the windows although the entire school had probably tried to look in at some point. 

We stood outside the building and the door to the department swung open. One of the girls in the class screamed – oh actually I admit it, it was me – before Beanie stuck her elbow in my ribs and told me to stop embarrassing her. Inside, it was so far so bog standard school corridor.

Beanie nudged me. Coming towards us was a grey and white slightly fat cat, wearing a smart red velvet collar and tiny bell.

“I love cats! Isn’t she so sweet?” Beanie exclaimed. When the cat reached us, she bent down to stroke it as it weaved round her legs purring loudly and leaving clouds of loose fur on Beanie’s tights.

The cat sat on its back legs. There was a loud bang and all of a sudden the cat changed into a plump and friendly looking woman. She was wearing a black velvet dress with red panels and her hair was scraped into a pony tail.

By this point, all of our eyes had turned to saucers. Continue reading