Ordinary Handsome, et al.

Published works, synopses, and reviews. Thank you.

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Ordinary Handsome

Fifty-seven years ago, a young man named Euart Monroe came back home. Only two people knew what happened to him. Years later, the man responsible for Euart’s fate is paid a visit. But is it Euart’s ghost? Or is it the boy grown up seeking retribution? Welcome to Handsome, OK, population 883 and fading. It’s a place where some men bury their mistakes, a town on the edge of becoming a ghost.

“…the writing is textured, rife with precise detail, stunning imagery, and raw emotion. Baird is a master at finding the perfect word and painting a picture that shifts and clears with each new perspective.” 

“(Baird’s) writing is exquisite, the subject matter is temporally relevant, and there are characters to both pity and loathe. Ordinary Handsome, in its grit and precision, tells of extraordinary misfortune and strife.”

“Ordinary Handsome takes you through the fragmented life story of a dying town, told from the perspective of its soon-to-be ghosts. It grips you from the very beginning and stays with you long after you’ve finished reading. I absolutely recommend this book.”

Ordinary Handsome (e-book) is available here

Ordinary Handsome (oversized paperback) is available here

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A Very Tall Summer

“It was a very tall summer in 1957, and I’ll tell you why…”
And so begins the most terrible summer for Charlotte Windover.
She and husband Jeremiah began a new life together surrounded by a wide expanse of a corn and sky. After years of brutal disappointment, she finally resolves to change her life. When Jeremiah is suddenly killed at an abandoned homestead, life becomes more isolated and harrowing. And with the threat of random fires being set by a mysterious figure known only as Croy, Charlotte’s life has become even more desperate.
In a land of big skies and small dreams, A Very Tall Summer is the tale of a woman’s resolve to overcome her broken past, and at any cost.

“Baird is a master wordsmith, painting a vivid world of sound and motion, rife with feeling, and deadly in its inevitability.”

“Baird’s use of language is both elegant and gritty. It is layered and often unexpected; and it makes something striking out of an otherwise simple story. He uses his skill to pin you to the page in a way which both pleases and disturbs, creating a kind of cognitive dissonance which will both repel and compel you. A keen observer, he will activate all your senses, sometimes in ways you wish he would not. You will find you are unable to turn away from the taste of sweat and the crunch of cartilage.”

A Very Tall Summer (e-book) here

A Very Tall Summer (oversized paperback) here

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Maggie

Maggie Day is a pregnant young woman who escapes to the only place she’s ever felt safe. As she copes with past tragedies and trauma, she is guided by her grandmother, who helps her discover courage and self-respect. Maggie is a tale of love and strength, and of overcoming the wounds of a dark past.

“Baird is a master of ‘voice,’ capturing the unique beauty of each personality through their thoughts and words. In a rural world of poverty, self-sufficiency, and few prospects for change, emotions run deep and rich with insight, honesty, and love.”

Maggie (novella) is available here

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Ordinary Handsome: Angels

There were days – years, even – when you were bitter and lost. You moved around a lot, small towns, big cities, trying to find the perfect place to disappear. Your hair got long and you spent a lot of time wondering when your life was supposed to start. You panhandled, you slept in places not meant for sleeping, and you woke up in places where most men went to die. You moved on.
And what does this have to do with anything? You moved on, you went ahead, you followed your feet more than your heart and you ended up on the brink of holding up a liquor store. But you stopped yourself.
It was a biting cold night and you were camped out in a park in Milwaukee, wondering if it could get any worse. You sat on a bench and watched the sky fill up with ribbons of winter colors.
And then you saw your angels, silky tangled clouds that bore all the lightness you could handle. Your angels. You ended up tossing the handgun in a trash can.
You never drank, give yourself that. Not even a taste of beer or swallow of wine. You wanted to puke if you even smelled the stuff.

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Excerpt from Ordinary Handsome. Available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0

Free downloadable Kindle app also available.

Rebranding

I’m thinking of rebranding Ordinary Handsome… yes, I’m still flogging this tired old horse of mine. Because that’s what I do when I’m not writing something new.

When I first published it, I had to decide on a genre or category, and I honestly didn’t know what to call it. It’s part ghost story, part mystery, part desperate-men-doing-desperate-things-in-a-dying-little-town kind of a story. So I called it a ghost story. Which is accurate, but not quite complete. It has very little to do with the supernatural. I think, at its bare-bones core, it’s about love. The love of a father for his son. The mistakes he made, the disappointments he had to endure. A man doing the only thing he could to give his boy a future. And how it all went to hell.

I still believe in this little book. So I’ll keep running the excerpts until someone tells me to stop. I think of the excerpts as quilt pieces, arranged haphazardly but with a distinctive pattern.  I’ve omitted the threads. And it does all fit together.

So it’s a love story. Okay, I’m good with that.

OrdinaryHandsomeII Ordinary Handsome: Available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0

Free downloadable Kindle app also available.

Ordinary Handsome: Night sounds

The wind had picked up a little, but I didn’t feel it. It was pushing the dry leaves around, moving the workshop door back and forth without sound.

I wanted to see if the floor was still stained. I don’t know why. In all suffering, there is blood, and I wanted to see if it was still there. I knew it wouldn’t be. Men like Kincaid always cover up their stupid excesses, and then trip over their vanities.

I heard a pickup truck rumbling a couple of blocks away and almost lost my nerve. But then it faded off, its engine misfiring, its muffler full of holes.

I walked over to the workshop. The sound of the old truck managed to calm me down. There was still life in Handsome, though it was fading out like a radio signal. I wasn’t all alone.

The grass was overgrown and I heard it rub against my shoes. The ground was spongy like a soft linoleum floor. There was enough dew on the grass to leave images of my footprints behind.

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Excerpt from Ordinary Handsome. Available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0

Free downloadable Kindle app also available.

No angels

Euart wasn’t aware he was asleep until he felt the rain sliding down his back. He felt the rain, and smelled the bite of pine in his nostrils. His hands were tacky from pine tar. His hip throbbed like a heartbeat, his face pressed against the rough skin of the tree. Nothing had changed. There were no angels.
He was still two miles outside of Handsome.
OrdinaryHandsomeII
Excerpt from Ordinary Handsome. Available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0

Free downloadable Kindle app also available.

Cancelled flight

Collie tapped me on the wrist again. This time, he was a little more persistent; I was fast asleep.

Beautiful,” I said.

Say what?”

Nothing.” Pulling my feet out of a dream, gauzy mud. I put on my glasses and looked at him. He was a good-looking kid, and I still couldn’t peg his age. I thought he might be older than a teenager, but just barely. I used to have a son that age. Collie’s hair was tucked under his wool cap. His expression was earnest.

Sorry. They just announced all flights to Syracuse were cancelled. I didn’t know if, you know, that might be you.”

It is.”

Yeah, Syracuse. When isn’t it snowed in, right?” Continue reading “Cancelled flight”

The sick room

Arlene was sleeping when I got back home. It would be strange if she weren’t.

I tiptoed into the bedroom, even though a full brass band could have preceded me. It wouldn’t have mattered.

The room had a sick smell that can never be scrubbed away. It filled the house, even with the windows opened up and the wind scooting away the stale air. It was the smell of medicine and sweat and dying. Yes, dying has a smell, and I guess you can smell it on me. Continue reading “The sick room”