The land

The land takes hold and humbles and diminishes. It punishes a soul for the vainglorious hope of harnessing it. Rich brown, powder gray, it makes no difference; it overwhelms and chokes a man’s thoughts. It lodges itself upon the skin, under the fingernails, inside work boots and carburetors, it’s always there, at the foot of the bed, in the washing machine, behind the ears, laying claim to you, reminding you it’s there and soon you won’t be. You will be buried in it in time, and even if a hard wind comes and pulls your bones out of the ground, it will mock you, mock your arrogance.

This was our life, and we expected no more than a decent crop, grocery money, medicine money, repair-the-tin-roof money. Warmth in winter, clean water in summer, the haunting fragrance of corn to placate our shabby mortality.

Excerpt from A Very Tall Summer – Available from Amazon for Kindle devices and in paperback.

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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

Shackles


N1407P51003H copyIt ain’t the land that’s ruined,” I said. I softened my voice some, and I sat in one of the chairs beside where he was slumped. “The land can’t be commanded. You should know that by now. The corn is decent, the rain has been curious enough to visit, and the weather has tried to be kind. But honey, nothing will grow faster just because you’re drinking faster, and it won’t stop growing because you’re feeling bad about it. It’s just… a hard life. You chose it like your father chose it. It’s part of the land and it’s part of you, you have no say in it.” I wanted to tell him – it was on the tip of my tongue, since he was now such close friends with the dirt on the porch – that
he was the one ruined, and it was on account of the drink. But that would be unkind, and I didn’t feel unkind at the moment. I felt adrift and understood what he said. The land did have us in shackles.

Excerpt from A Very Tall SummerComing soon

Waiting for patience – An excerpt

I could smell the rot from the rain, the decay of old wood, the black mold that festered on the hay bales. What light I could see inside the barn was hooded by beams and watery shadows. It was a shabby radiance, a transparent film. Each step I took felt spongy. I could hear the softness of the ground, the slop-slosh of mud. The rain was softer, a half-seen mist that swayed with each exhalation from the wind. The barn was blurred gray, but inside, that immutable light was waiting for me, and I for it.

Jeremiah stood with his back to the sun, and stood and waited. A moment. Waiting for courage, waiting for patience, waiting for the blackness, the blackness inside of me. A moment, the moment. He did not move. His eyes scanned the ruins of the fire. My eyes scanned the ruins of our marriage. My cowardice, my bitterness, my pride, they rushed like a filthy wind in my head. I lifted the shotgun. And I pulled the trigger when that wind finished blowing….

Excerpt from A Very Tall Summer… coming soon.

Temper

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I try to be good,” he said. His droopy eyes were almost closed, and I decided to leave him there for the night. The sky was wide and bruised with stars, and a cool breeze was curling its tail around the porch. I would bring him a blanket and a pillow for his head; he was too big to coax into a bed. “I got a temper,” he said, and it almost turned into a snore. His eyes snapped open for a moment. “I don’t know where it comes from. My old man, probably, he had a temper. I tamp it down best I can, but the stove fills up with smoke too quick….”

Excerpt from A Very Tall Summer – Coming Soon

A Very Tall Summer cover reveal

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In the dry summer of 1957, Charlotte and Jeremiah Windover took a short drive to a neighbor’s old homestead to investigate a fire. Only one of them came back.

***

… I stand up every morning, make myself a cup of coffee, eat a few scraps of bread, and step outside to face the dust. And the foolish part of me thinks it will get better. Or easier. But it hasn’t yet. I don’t expect a shiny man in a shiny car to come along and pay me for this land, or pay me for my work. I don’t expect any man to come along and rescue me, or a preacher to come along and save me. I know what I did, and I know this is my punishment, and I will abide by it because I don’t know how to do anything else.

***

Coming soon….

Liar road

The road is a flat gray sheet, leading to nothing. It is a wet illusion. I see fresh, flat rain above the pavement. It’s a trick of the eyes, I know that. Miles of road, and clean oscillating puddles that disappear when you approach. The heat, Lord, the heat, it pours down the way that rain should pour. There’s grimness in such a hard wide sky. You wouldn’t think so when you’re sitting on your porch and watching the day tramp through the front yard. But miles of a liar road, and a person can hardly see themselves; they’re hidden in their own life. There is my grief.

From the forthcoming novel, A Very Tall Summer — coming soon.

First draft

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Writing almost all day, and the first draft of A Very Tall Summer is finally complete. Time to set it aside for a while and give it some distance before the major edit. I feel good about it.

So now what do I do?

Wynn

Please stay with me awhile,” I said. “I have to wait for the rain. The fire man only worked in the rain.”

Wynn smiled. “Just for a while,” she said.

Sit beside me, then. Let me see you. The sun is too bright to see all your features.”

She shook her head solemnly, like a little girl. “I can’t. You know that.”

I sighed. “I know that. Then just stand there and talk with me. It’s been a terrible summer and I need some light.”

The same wistful smile stayed on her face, and she said nothing.

I nodded. This was how it would be.

Excerpt from the forthcoming novel  A Very Tall Summer