Don’t Be That Person

I stole this post off Facebook this morning, as it encapsulates my thinking on certain folk. The people who you consider friends. Or rather, considered friends. The people who, when you talk passionately about your pursuits or dreams, suddenly change the subject or look away in mild embarrassment. You tell them you want to beContinue reading “Don’t Be That Person”

Hedgehog 1 Charlie 0

I sat up way past my bedtime last night to watch the Manchester United match which means I’m an extra sleepy Stephen this morning. But at least they won. By the time I was nodding off, however, it was nearing midnight. It was also a very muggy night which made drifting off to sleep evenContinue reading “Hedgehog 1 Charlie 0”

Dawn Run

Via a combination of the alarm clock and ‘gentle encouragement’ from Fionnuala I got up at 5:30 this morning and ran 10K. My running mojo has been virtually nonexistent of late which has done nothing to help my eating choices and anxiety levels. Lunchtime running is no longer an option now in Belfast and IContinue reading “Dawn Run”

Let The Pain Drive You On

There is always a reason for pain, be it physical or mental. It doesn’t just magically pop out of the ether, determined to ruin your day, year or life. There is a cause, something lurking behind. It can be anything – a pulled muscle, strained ligament or faltering organ. That’s the physical side of it,Continue reading “Let The Pain Drive You On”

No Need For Need

I woke in a bubble of calm. It’s the weekend so I don’t have to face the daily commute to Belfast, I don’t have any office drama to deal with. I don’t have to worry about masks and social distancing and work colleagues spluttering and coughing. The world with all its incessant drama can waitContinue reading “No Need For Need”

Are You Anxious Today?

I was interviewed last night for a podcast hosted by a fellow Irish writer. All day the thought of it lurked at the back of my mind, a ball of anxiety and worry growing with each passing hour. I started to regret agreeing to take part, convinced I was going to make a mess ofContinue reading “Are You Anxious Today?”

Have You A Tom Bombadil In Your Life?

Maybe it was an act of subconscious self-preservation but I had completely forgotten about the character of Tom Bombadil in ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ I’m now 150 pages into my re-read of the classic fantasy trilogy at a staggering pace of seven pages a day. Frodo, Samwise, Pippin & Merry should already have beenContinue reading “Have You A Tom Bombadil In Your Life?”

Writing Matters – People Need Words

After a lengthy hiatus, I started work on Book 3 of the ‘Kirkwood Scott Chronicles,’ last week, tentatively titled ‘No Longer Forsaken.’ It’s been some time since I delved back into this fantasy world I’ve created, so was anxious as to whether I had another instalment in me. This is a fear I face in […]

Let’s Not Laugh At OCD

The selection of ‘humorous’ memes posted below are the tip of the comedic iceberg when it comes to trivialisation and misunderstanding of this horrific and debilitating mental illness. It ruins lives, it takes lives, it strips it’s victims of every last shred of pride and self-respect they ever possessed. It’s a constant, tormenting voice. TheContinue reading “Let’s Not Laugh At OCD”

Writing Matters – Fighting A War On Many Fronts

All the great generals frowned upon fighting a war on more than one front. Resources were stretched and supply lines made vulnerable to attack. Better to focus on a single goal and not bite off more than you could chew. Yet, as I’ve currently been submerged by a wave of writing creativity, I’ve found myselfContinue reading “Writing Matters – Fighting A War On Many Fronts”

A New Jerusalem – It’s Here

Good Morning from sunny Northern Ireland and what an exciting day it is. You can now pre-order my second novel, ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: A New Jerusalem,’ in e-book format from your local Amazon site. The book goes on general release on e-book and paperback format on 06 October. Thank you to my publishers, Potter’sContinue reading “A New Jerusalem – It’s Here”

Causeway Coast Road Trip

We took a drive along the Causeway Coastal route today all the way to Portrush. Fionnuala took around a zillion photographs and here are some of them. Special guest appearances from Hannah, Rebecca & Charlie the border terrier. I hope they capture the beauty of Northern Ireland, this wee country we call home. Hope youContinue reading “Causeway Coast Road Trip”

Read Us & Weep

Writing is about emotion. It’s about creating something substantial from the whirling eddy of hopes, fears and dreams rattling about an author’s skull at any given time. We are creatures of extremes, all of us, and the writer’s role is to connect, to bridge the gap, to let others know that they are not aloneContinue reading “Read Us & Weep”

Two Days To Go!

The next instalment in the ‘Kirkwood Scott Chronicles’ series – ‘A New Jerusalem’ will be available for pre-order in two days time, prior to going on sale in October. I’m very excited and hope you are as well. If you haven’t read ‘Skelly’s Square,’ the first book in the series yet, it’s available to buyContinue reading “Two Days To Go!”

Defining OCD

Lily Bailey is one of the leading advocates in the mental health community when it comes to promoting understanding and awareness of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This is one of the best definitions of OCD I’ve seen and there’s nothing I can add to it. I’d highly recommend Lily’s memoir, ‘Because We Are Bad,’ ifContinue reading “Defining OCD”

Thoughts From The Prancing Pony – Be A Hero Today

When I write, I write of heroes and villains. Creatures of extremes, in respect of both their abilities and personalities. J.R.R. Tolkien was no different, not that I would compare myself in any other way to such a literary giant. Yet, in my re-reading of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy I’ve reached the stageContinue reading “Thoughts From The Prancing Pony – Be A Hero Today”

Writing Matters – Six Days

Good Morning from Northern Ireland. It’s only SIX days until you can order this bad boy. I’m very excited as I feel this is the best book I’ve ever written and can’t wait for people to read it and share their thoughts with me. It’s released in October and the first book in the series,Continue reading “Writing Matters – Six Days”

Do We Ever Truly Recover?

We’ve all been through difficult times in our lives. It could be anything – sickness, injury, bereavement, financial or family turmoil, addiction or mental health issues. The list is as long as your arm and then some. Such struggles might be in your past, you may be battling them now, or they might be justContinue reading “Do We Ever Truly Recover?”

Thoughts From The Prancing Pony – Life Begins At Fifty?

I turned fifty a couple of months ago. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, I don’t look a day over 40. At first, I was dreading the event, thinking I was effectively signing my own death warrant. It was all downhill from there and I’d nothing to look forward to bar my bodyContinue reading “Thoughts From The Prancing Pony – Life Begins At Fifty?”

Writing Matters – When You Phone It In

I have an admission to make. I have, on occasion, these past few months been going through the motions with my blog posts. In our office it’s known as ‘phoning it in.’ It’s a half hearted effort, I’ve done the minimum and little more. I’ve been posting because I felt I had to as opposedContinue reading “Writing Matters – When You Phone It In”

OCD – The Silent Killer

I have OCD and I’m not in control. There, I’ve said it, that wasn’t so hard was it? Even a few years ago, I would have veered clear of ‘outing’ myself and identifying with the mental illness. It was embarrassing, shameful and humiliating. But the longer I’ve walked this path, I’ve realised I have aContinue reading “OCD – The Silent Killer”

Writing Matters – My Safe Haven

Have you ever been hurt by the words and actions of another and they’ve been completely oblivious to the damage caused? They are so wrapped up in their own affairs the offence they have caused fails to register? It happened me the other day and I must admit it stung. I can have a lessContinue reading “Writing Matters – My Safe Haven”

I’ve Lost My Wife To The Hallmark Channel

During the current pandemic there has been unprecedented boxset watching. Oh, to own shares in Netflix. Many of us have escaped the sad reality of the spiralling global death toll by seeking escapist refuge in our television sets, tablets or phones. We have dropped anchor on our sofas, disengaged our brains and floated off intoContinue reading “I’ve Lost My Wife To The Hallmark Channel”

Me, My Mask & I

Yes, I know I need a haircut. My return to post lockdown society has not included a visit to the barbers yet. I hope to fit it in soon. Or allow Fionnuala and Adam to do it, seeing as they did such a good job last time. But today’s post is about my mask wearingContinue reading “Me, My Mask & I”

Will You Be My Coffee Buddy?

My love-hate relationship with coffee took another unexpected twist the other week when I discovered I quite like the espressos our new office coffee machine makes. I’ve even taught myself how to make one. Okay, this involves little more than pressing a few buttons and setting a cup under a nozzle but it’s an achievementContinue reading “Will You Be My Coffee Buddy?”

Thoughts From The Prancing Pony – I Don’t Like Hobbits

Hobbits annoy me. There, I’ve said it. Apologies to all you Elijah Woods fanatics out there but they do. Sir Ian Holm will no doubt be turning in his grave and Sean Astin will be…well, doing whatever Sean Astin does these days. Didn’t he pop up in the last season of ‘Stranger Things’ or something?Continue reading “Thoughts From The Prancing Pony – I Don’t Like Hobbits”

Writing Matters – New Cover Art

Good Afternoon fellow bloggers from Northern Ireland. Here’s the cover art for my new book, ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: A New Jerusalem,’ which is being released this October by Potter’s Grove Press. It’s the sequel to ‘Skelly’s Square’ and I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Feel free to comment below and thankContinue reading “Writing Matters – New Cover Art”

Coming To Fractured Faith Soon

I’m always looking at ways to freshen up the blog and keep it relevant. There are times when the creative juices dry up and you feel you’ve taken one too many trips to the well. On other occasions, you pour your heart and soul into a post, only for it to sink without trace. ThenContinue reading “Coming To Fractured Faith Soon”

How Is Your Mental Health Today?

Now and again I ask this question on the blog, and I thought now was as important a time as any, given the current world we live in. As we emerge from lockdown at various paces and with varied levels of success, many of us bear the mental as well as the physical scars. SomeContinue reading “How Is Your Mental Health Today?”

Happy/Unhappy 12th July

Good Morning from Northern Ireland. Happy 12th July. Or Unhappy 12th July. You see, it depends on what part of the community you originate from in this fair land that I call home. Anyway, it’s a big deal whatever way you look at it. For this day 330 years ago the Protestant army of KingContinue reading “Happy/Unhappy 12th July”

Bloggers Don’t Wear Masks

I wrote yesterday about compulsory mask wearing and how it was an issue for some people. I watched a video the other night of a mature American lady screaming like a chastised toddler because she was asked to wear a face covering in a store. I don’t know what was more shocking – the seismicContinue reading “Bloggers Don’t Wear Masks”

A New Jerusalem – Coming Soon

Good Morning. It’s an exciting day for me as I reveal the cover art for my new book, ‘A New Jerusalem.’ It will be released in October 2020 by Potter’s Grove Press but is available for pre-order from 01 August in e-book and paperback format. Please feel free to comment below and let me knowContinue reading “A New Jerusalem – Coming Soon”

Do As We Say, Not As We Do

Face coverings became mandatory on public transport in Northern Ireland today. It has been widely publicised and staff at bus and train stations have been handing out free masks to commuters throughout the week. So, model citizen that I am, I duly boarded the train this morning with my mask on. This is no easyContinue reading “Do As We Say, Not As We Do”

Happy Birthday To My Book

Here are the latest reviews for my book, ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square,’ which will be a year old tomorrow. Thank you to those who continue to take a chance on an unknown Northern Irish writer and the fantastic reviews you take the time to post. They keep me motivated through the good timesContinue reading “Happy Birthday To My Book”

Expose Your Scars

Good Morning from Northern Ireland. I saw this on Twitter last night and shamelessly pilfered it. Apologies to all concerned but this is OCD in a nutshell. OCD is voracious, forever hungry and on the prowl for its next meal. It will suck you dry, bleed you out. It is cruel, merciless and without pity.Continue reading “Expose Your Scars”

Happy 18th Birthday Adam

Fionnuala and I feel very old today as our eldest child, Adam, turns 18. He’s taller than me, stronger than me, he has facial hair! We are very proud of the witty, intelligent, kind young man he has turned into. Fionnuala takes 99% of the credit for that. I’m looking forward to what a bigContinue reading “Happy 18th Birthday Adam”

Don’t Suffer In Silence

I fear I’m getting old. For everything hurts. A lot. Take last Saturday for example. I bent over in the kitchen to put some rubbish in the bin, only to discover I couldn’t stand up straight again. A sharp pain in the base of my back ensured that. Hobbling over to a nearby chair myContinue reading “Don’t Suffer In Silence”

Down The Rabbit Hole We Go

I’m easily distracted at the best of times but when the OCD hits it’s hard to maintain focus and concentration when it’s seductive, velvety, barbed wire tones insist you drop everything and succumb to the latest intrusive thought fluttering onto your mindscape. As innocent as an autumn leaf drifting in the breeze, as deadly asContinue reading “Down The Rabbit Hole We Go”

More Kind Words

The positive reviews for ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square’ keep coming in. Hard to believe that it will be a year old later this month. But, worry not, for Book 2 in the series, ‘A New Jerusalem,’ is out in October 2020, published exclusively by the good people at Potters Grove Press. Thank youContinue reading “More Kind Words”

What Is Wrong With America?

The Northern Ireland Executive announced on Thursday a raft of lockdown easing measures over the coming weeks. These include the opening of bars, restaurants and cafes; competitive sport to return; gyms, museums and galleries to reopen; and a halving of the two metre social distancing rule. Deaths and infection rates have fallen markedly. There isContinue reading “What Is Wrong With America?”

More Praise For ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square’

Some recent reviews of my novel, ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square,’ which is fast approaching it’s first birthday next month. The sequel, ‘A New Jerusalem’ will be published this October by Potters Grove Press. ‘Skelly’s Square’ and the linked novella, ‘Bomb Girl,’ are both still available in paperback and e-book format via your localContinue reading “More Praise For ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square’”

Enjoy The Good Times

Another cheesy shot of me, I’m afraid, but our Hannah worked so hard creating this unbelievable treat containing all my favourite chocolate and sweets. I will have to be winched off the sofa when I finish eating all my birthday gifts. Although I’m sure I will have plenty of help if required. I’ve had aContinue reading “Enjoy The Good Times”

The Largest Sausage Roll In The Land

This bad boy arrived in the post for me yesterday afternoon. Imagine my delight as I unwrapped it, an early Fathers Day present from Fionnuala and the kids. For if there’s one thing I love more than honeycomb ice cream, it’s sausage rolls. Cold sausage rolls, none of that heating them up in an ovenContinue reading “The Largest Sausage Roll In The Land”

Fionnuala’s Photos – Part 2

Some more photos taken by Fionnuala on her phone the other evening. I was driving. This is the road that leads into our village. These are all natural shots with no filter or special effects added. Isn’t she a talented one? The sunsets are amazing in Ireland at present. I’m off to work later andContinue reading “Fionnuala’s Photos – Part 2”

Fionnuala’s Photos – Part 1

Amongst her many other skills, my wife is also a talented photographer. These are some shots that she took as we drove through Belfast on Sunday night, on our way home from watching ‘Back To The Future’ at the drive-in cinema. Sometimes we take for granted how beautiful our immediate surroundings are. Amazingly, Fionnuala tookContinue reading “Fionnuala’s Photos – Part 1”

My Latest Author Interview

I was interviewed by GKJ Publishing yesterday about my writing past, present and future. The link is attached below. I hope it offers some insight into my work and the Northern Irish accent isn’t too difficult to decipher. Stephen’s Interview with GKJ Publishing

Start The World, I Need To Get Back On Again

I’m back to work on Monday. Well, I’m dipping my toe in the water, anyway, returning to the office on a part time basis. Our workplace is not officially back to normal but I’m returning in order to break the ice and help prepare for when all the staff are back. It’s been 12 weeksContinue reading “Start The World, I Need To Get Back On Again”

Don’t Forget To Be Silly

I’m currently wading through the final edits for my second novel, ‘A New Jerusalem.’ It’s been a slog but I’m finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. My family have kept spirits high and yesterday’s work was broken up by several Tik Tok videos involving dance routines, silly voices and airContinue reading “Don’t Forget To Be Silly”

Signs Of Life

I’m not saying life in lockdown is dull. For if I did then I’m sure Fionnuala could find plenty of household chores to occupy my time. But the days do tend to drag. I had to ask this morning what day of the week it was. By necessity, we find ourselves staring out of ourContinue reading “Signs Of Life”

Don’t Give Up

My first novel, ‘Skelly’s Square,’ received its 60th five star review in the USA last night. When you add up the totals world wide it has around 150 such reviews. I’m very proud of this achievement as it encourages me that people like my writing and the stories and characters I’ve created. The point ofContinue reading “Don’t Give Up”

Why Did God Create Covidiots?

This pandemic has certainly brought out the best and worst in humanity. There have been incredible displays of bravery, kindness and selflessness. Communities have come together as never before, neighbours helping each other when previously they were barely on nodding terms. We have become more considerate and caring. Rifts have been sealed, feuds forgotten andContinue reading “Why Did God Create Covidiots?”

Nothing Is Normal Anymore

What would we do without Netflix? That’s been the joyous cry from many households in recent months as millions have battled through the lockdown experience by binging on their favourite movies and TV shows. Old favourites, new gems and those series you’ve always meant to finish but never quite had the time. Time is allContinue reading “Nothing Is Normal Anymore”

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

On my rural runs on the roads outside our village I pass a lot of cows and horses, grazing in fields. Ireland has an abundance of grass. We are on nodding terms and I like to think they look forward to seeing the funny looking man in brightly coloured running attire as much as IContinue reading “All That Glitters Is Not Gold”

Social Media Blackout

See you all tomorrow.

Say Yes To The Voice That Says No

There’s always been a darkness within me for as long as I can remember to choose the wrong path, make the bad decision which will lead us down the rabbit hole into a world of pain. I’m not sure if we are born with it but the person who plumps for the morally correct alternativeContinue reading “Say Yes To The Voice That Says No”

I Picked Up A Bible The Other Day

I started reading the Bible again a few days ago. I’ve been thinking of doing so for quite some time, but always holding back. Yet, here I was, staring at Romans Chapter 1. That was then. I’ve reached Chapter 5 now. Hardly setting the world alight but I’ve read a little every day. About graceContinue reading “I Picked Up A Bible The Other Day”

Social Distancing – Here To Stay? – Part One

I visited our local fish and chip shop yesterday, a pay day treat for the Black clan. And while you might think society is returning to normal, walk into any shop or business and you can see that this is clearly not the case. Social distancing is here and it’s here to stay. Be thatContinue reading “Social Distancing – Here To Stay? – Part One”

OCD – Don’t Suffer In Silence

Thrilled to be sending a copy of ‘Skelly’s Square’ to Lily Bailey, author of ‘Because We Are Bad,’ the best memoir on OCD I have read. Lily is one of a number of talented mental health advocates who inspired me to write about my own experiences with this vicious, relentless, yet very misunderstood mental illness.Continue reading “OCD – Don’t Suffer In Silence”

Happy Birthday Fractured Faith

Seems like no time but the blog is now three years old. That’s a lot of posts. Some of you have been there from the start, some have joined along the journey, others have disappeared into the ether. We are grateful for everyone who continues to read and comment. As long as that continues IContinue reading “Happy Birthday Fractured Faith”

Too Tired To Care

Tiredness. It’s a by product of this pandemic. A lot of us are tired a lot of the time. Tired of the rising death toll, the deceitful, treacherous politicians. Tired of the relentless trickle of bad news. Really bad news you couldn’t make up in a million years if it wasn’t for the fact itContinue reading “Too Tired To Care”

OCD Tales – Repeat Ad Nauseum

I’ve been on my phone a lot during lockdown. I’m aware of this and it annoys me. I try to curtail my checks but the little voice in my head often wins out. Just one more scroll through my social media accounts, another glance at book sales, a quick nosey at the news headlines orContinue reading “OCD Tales – Repeat Ad Nauseum”

Researching Book Three

Another day in paradise. Or lockdown hell, whichever way you wish to look at it. I woke up to more five star reviews for ‘Skelly’s Square’ on Amazon. The USA and UK are now tied at 56 five star reviews each. These mean so much to me as they bolster my ever fragile confidence. TheyContinue reading “Researching Book Three”

The Day After…

So, after yesterday’s marathon ‘heroics’ I feel like I was my beaten up in my sleep last night. My thighs are like lead and I’m still dehydrated, despite drinking loads yesterday. The height of my exercise today will be a short walk to the park to watch Adam train. The lethargy after a marathon normallyContinue reading “The Day After…”

My 10th And Final Marathon

The Belfast Marathon, which I was training for, was unfortunately cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. But they offered a virtual alternative which you could run any time in May or June. I hadn’t really trained for it but went for it this morning with a target of anything under 4:30:00 in mind.Continue reading “My 10th And Final Marathon”

My 10th And Final Marathon

The Belfast Marathon, which I was training for, was unfortunately cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. But they offered a virtual alternative which you could run any time in May or June. I hadn’t really trained for it but went for it this morning with a target of anything under 4:30:00 in mind.Continue reading “My 10th And Final Marathon”

Social Distancing – Northern Ireland Style

Rebecca, Charlie and I made some new friends on our walk this morning. Apparently the cows of Aghalee don’t believe in social distancing, preferring the…ahem…herd immunity approach to combating coronavirus. They were a friendly and curious bunch but a left a lot to be desired with regards their personal hygiene and toilet training. Rebecca lovesContinue reading “Social Distancing – Northern Ireland Style”

Are You Proud Of Yourself?

For a long time I wasn’t proud of myself, how I looked, how I spoke. I wasn’t proud of my thoughts and actions. I became embarrassed and awkward when people complimented me, because I believed I didn’t deserve it. I was unworthy of their praise. And yet, I sought the limelight and attention, I pushedContinue reading “Are You Proud Of Yourself?”

Should I Blog More?

Eight miles yesterday, out to the shores of Lough Neagh and back. The sun continues to shine in Northern Ireland although a cool breeze was most welcome on the return journey. The country roads were quiet apart from the occasional fellow runner, cyclist or dog walker. Dogs must be loving lockdown, they’ve never been walkedContinue reading “Should I Blog More?”

Back To Work…For A While

I returned to Belfast this morning for the first time in almost two months. I had volunteered to work a four hour supervisory shift in the office where a skeleton staff are performing key duties. While my own team have been closed down for now, I offered to help another team who are still operatingContinue reading “Back To Work…For A While”

Woke up…Ran A Half Marathon

Five loops of the village this morning in bright sunshine amounted to a half marathon. I haven’t run this far in some months now, so was quite anxious at the prospect. I actually tried to talk my way out of yesterday until Fionnuala gave me a pep talk, ‘encouraging’ me to lace my trainers upContinue reading “Woke up…Ran A Half Marathon”

They Sicken Me

The weekend has brought more sunshine to the United Kingdom. Yet, dark clouds are gathering. Thousands breached rules on social distancing to hold street parties to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Some of these scenes were screened on television news outlets to almost universal dismay. Many others flocked to parks to picnic, partyContinue reading “They Sicken Me”

Seven Years Ago

Tomorrow will mark the seventh anniversary of when I decided to pack in alcohol. I thought I was Oscar Wilde when I was drinking, an irrepressible wit and the life and soul of the party. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I was, on the contrary, an idiot of epic proportions, putting my ownContinue reading “Seven Years Ago”

Painting Away The Pain

I was on painting duties in the bedroom today, as our enforced home improvement programme continued. Fionnuala had chosen a lovely shade of dark blue and my job was to paint an awkward high section of the wall behind our wardrobes. My DIY skills are ‘limited’ to say the least so I approached the taskContinue reading “Painting Away The Pain”

We Will Slay Them

Last night I got an e-mail from my publisher containing the latest edits for the new book. I had expected a literary bloodbath, as my inadequate grammar and punctuation were torn apart by expert eyes, attuned to high quality prose. I envisioned the red pen being wielded like a bloody blade, glistening in a murderousContinue reading “We Will Slay Them”

The Internet – A Double Edged Sword

Since we went into lockdown six months ago, grocery shopping has been quite a stressful business. Maintaining social distancing, one way systems around supermarkets, the handling of items that maybe a dozen people have already handled. Your mind is in overdrive and you’re on constant alert. Even Fionnuala, a veteran at this new way, admittedContinue reading “The Internet – A Double Edged Sword”

Are You Wasting Away?

I’m in a queue. The council have arranged a rubbish collection in an adjoining village and we’ve seized the opportunity as our wheelie bin is full to the brim. Being in lockdown means more food consumption and general waste. The queue itself is very orderly. Us Northern Irish are good at waiting in line. EverybodyContinue reading “Are You Wasting Away?”

Country Folk Are Friendly

I’ve been regularly running the country roads around our village since the lockdown of six weeks ago. Yes, it’s that long since I’ve been in Belfast as my office remains closed. Running during my lunch breaks is a dim, distant memory as I’ve embraced the rolling, rural terrain for my daily exercise. This has meantContinue reading “Country Folk Are Friendly”

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

Never let it be said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. For lockdown has provided me with an unexpected opportunity to expand my household repertoire under the careful, often bewildered, supervision of Fionnuala. She’s had me painting fences, assisting with wallpapering, baking flapjacks. But more than all that, she’s taught me theContinue reading “Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks”

Reaching That Age

Thank you for all the birthday wishes yesterday. Despite dreading hitting ‘that age’, my wonderful family spoilt me with lots of wonderful gifts and food. Just check out that cake! We had a birthday treat from the chip shop, followed by a 70’s themed quiz. I awoke with a food hangover so this is aContinue reading “Reaching That Age”

Some Good News

Thank you for all the birthday wishes. I thought today would be a good day to announce I have signed an exclusive contract with Arizona based Potter’s Grove Press to publish my second novel, ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: A New Jerusalem.’ This is the sequel to last year’s ‘Skelly’s Square.’ I’m delighted to be workingContinue reading “Some Good News”

I Want To Stay In

As the lockdown in the United Kingdom enters its sixth week there is evidence that the public resolve to adhere to government guidance to stay at home is wavering. Footfall and traffic figures are steadily creeping up again. At a time when the number of hospital deaths from COVID-19 passed 20,000 yesterday. That’s not includingContinue reading “I Want To Stay In”

Hannah’s Experience of a Lifetime

Our Hannah recently wrote an essay for her English homework. She worked very hard all week on it and Fionnuala and I were so impressed with the end product that we decided to post it on the blog. Well done Hannah, we are all very proud of you 😊😍 It was the day that ShawnContinue reading “Hannah’s Experience of a Lifetime”

OCD In A Time Of Plague

Yesterday was a struggle. It dragged interminably and a restlessness descended upon the house; a sense of boredom and frustration. There was plenty to do, chore wise, but we lacked the motivation and desire to launch into any new tasks. Personally, I could sense obsessive thoughts circling my carefully constructed defences like vultures hovering overContinue reading “OCD In A Time Of Plague”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #19

It’s our sixth week in isolation. In some ways it has flown by, in others an excruciating drag. The lockdown will continue for at least another two weeks, as the U.K. death toll now sits at over 16,000. There have been 207 confirmed deaths in Northern Ireland although current figures don’t include deaths within careContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #19”

Q&A Facebook With Me Today

https://facebook.com/events/s/live-qa/680406602758779/?ti=ia I will be taking part in a live Q&A session over on my Facebook page (StephenBlackAuthor) today at 18:00 hours (GMT). As well as taking your questions I’ll also be reading a section from ‘Skelly’s Square’, in addition to talking about my writing process and future projects. So, feel free to pop along andContinue reading “Q&A Facebook With Me Today”

A Trip To The Supermarket

Today I ventured out to the supermarket for the first time since the lockdown and introduction of social distancing measures. Fionnuala suggested this would be ‘good experience’ and handed me a list of items to purchase. I’m anxious when tasked by my wife at the best of times so this was a particularly challenging event.Continue reading “A Trip To The Supermarket”

Thank You

Really pleased to announce the blog has passed 12,500 followers. If you add up the Twitter and Facebook accounts that means over 25,000 people now follow us online. Mind blown. Fionnuala, the kids and myself are forever grateful for your support and encouragement during these testing times. I’ll keep blogging as long as people keepContinue reading “Thank You”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #18

Yesterday we were told the lockdown was to be extended until 08 May, when it would be reviewed again. This didn’t come as a surprise to anyone as only the most foolhardy would want to revert to normal at this critical time. The experts say the U.K. is nearing its peak as deaths are expectedContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #18”

Toxic Positivity – What Is It?

I stumbled across this image earlier on Facebook and it got me thinking; or rather accelerated something I had already been mulling over in my head. It was a hammer that nailed a series of loose thoughts into a cogent steam. Toxic positivity. It exists, it’s a real thing, not just the product of myContinue reading “Toxic Positivity – What Is It?”

Today I Want To Hear From You

Over the last few weeks I’ve been blogging about our experiences as a family during lockdown in Northern Ireland as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the world. I’ve been encouraged and heartened by the response these posts have received. I’ve felt a real sense of community on WordPress that has been lacking for some time.Continue reading “Today I Want To Hear From You”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #17

Yesterday evening we sat outside in the back garden as a family. It’s rare to get the five of us in the one room at the same time but we listened to some music, played by DJ Fionnuala, before retiring inside when it started to get dark and chilly. Before that, it had been anotherContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #17”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #16

Good Morning to you all from a grey and damp Northern Ireland. The lockdown continues here as the U.K. death total neared 9,000 yesterday. The experts say the curve is starting to flatten but almost 1000 people died yesterday, which does little to raise hopes or offer light at the end of the tunnel. 10Continue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #16”

Something To Do During Lockdown

Haven’t done this in a while, as not sure if it was appropriate, but here’s a little plug for my debut novel, ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square.’ It was released last summer and has done rather well with over 150 five star reviews to date on Amazon and Goodreads. More people are apparently readingContinue reading “Something To Do During Lockdown”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #15

We woke up to another bright, sunny day. The best weather of the year and the whole nation is on lockdown. Typical. Even better weather is predicted for the Easter weekend and the government are warning people of the need to stay at home in order to save lives. Over 900 people died in theContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #15”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #14

The U.K. death total passed 6000 yesterday, an increase of over 800, which showed how premature the calls of some had been for a relaxation of the lockdown rules. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but this is a very long tunnel. There were three deaths in Northern Ireland, bringing ourContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #14”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #13

People. Sheesh. We are in our third week of lockdown in Northern Ireland, yet some are already asking when the restrictions will be relaxed. Three weeks! Look around, there are still thousands of people dying across the globe every day from this relentless pandemic. Yet, you’re playing the martyr because you’re being asked to stayContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #13”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #12

My 12th lockdown blog. In a way the time has flown by, in other ways it drags interminably. Today is grey and chilly. The weather forecasters predicted a warm weekend and there were fears people would leave their homes and flaunt government instructions to stay at home. Hopefully the cooler conditions will dissuade anyone fromContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #12”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #11

The forecast for the weekend remains good but the furthest we are going is our back garden. We are digging in for the long haul. Adam and I are power hosing the yard today, Rebecca is on weeding duties and tomorrow we are fence and furniture painting. The pandemic does give you the time toContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #11”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #10

Another sunny day in Northern Ireland, but another 12 deaths bringing our country’s total to 48. Over 3600 dead in the United Kingdom as a whole. It’s getting to the point where the numbers are almost irrelevant, they lose their meaning and impact the more they rise. Every day is worse than the one before,Continue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #10”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #9

Fionnuala was out early this morning to the supermarket where she picked up our pre ordered shop at the ‘click & collect’ point outside the store. Lots of treats including pizza for lunch. The kids have been crying out for a ‘games day’ so the Monopoly board will be coming out afterwards. Hopefully, the fiveContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #9”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #8

Today marked the end of our 14 day self isolation. Adam and I ‘celebrated’ by going for a 5K run along the towpath out of the village towards the Broadwater reservoir and back. We met about a dozen people but made sure to adhere to social distancing guidelines. It was great to get out intoContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #8”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #7

Today is our last day in self isolation. Hurrah! We are all well, it’s a lovely spring morning and I can hear a wood pigeon cooing outside as I write this. Tomorrow Adam and I are going to celebrate our newfound freedom with a run along the towpath which stretches from our village to theContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #7”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #5

I will never take anything for granted again. During this lockdown I have become increasingly fixated on sales of my first book and finishing the edits on my second. This is what I do. When stuff gets real and scary I tend to hide in fantasy land. I struggle to cope with the situation soContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #5”

Coronavirus Northern Ireland #4

Day 11/14 in self isolation begins. I miss running. Before the craziness of this kicked in, I was struggling with my running, half heartedly training for a marathon that has now been cancelled. I chose not to run more often than not when I had a choice. Now when I don’t have a choice, allContinue reading “Coronavirus Northern Ireland #4”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #3

It’s Day 7/14 of our enforced self isolation. Fionnuala and Hannah are recovering well while Adam, Rebecca and myself continue to display no symptoms. As the schools have closed, our kitchen has turned into an online classroom, where the girls busy themselves with coursework forwarded by their teachers. Adam has been busy in our garage,Continue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #3”

Happy Mothers Day Fionnuala

It’s not the Mothers Day we would have hoped to give her, as we enter our fifth day of self isolation, but nobody deserves this post more than Fionnuala. She puts our kids before everything and, although worried by recent events, continues to do everything within her power to keep them safe and healthy. SheContinue reading “Happy Mothers Day Fionnuala”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #2

So, we are a household in self-isolation. Hannah had a cough and high temperature last week and we were advised to self isolate her for seven days. Following that, the government advice changed to if any of your family displayed symptoms then the whole household had to go into self-isolation for two weeks. Yesterday FionnualaContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #2”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #1

It’s a worrying time for us all and no different in Northern Ireland regarding the coronavirus. At present, government are adhering to the mantra of improved personal hygiene. Our Prime Minister has told us to regularly wash our hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds; the time it would take to sing ‘HappyContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #1”

The Heavy Load

Some days my head feels like this. I’m a born worrier and my OCD means I fret and pick at small things, magnifying them to a point where they utterly consume my every waking thought. An OCD head is an unbearably heavy head. Lessen the load if your head is heavy today. Set down theContinue reading “The Heavy Load”

Happy Birthday Fionnuala

Happy Birthday to a wonderful wife and mother today. Fionnuala is the reason I took up my pen and started writing. She is constantly supporting and encouraging me, putting up with all my quirks and oddness. She is the kindest, strongest person I know and the love she pours into our family on a dailyContinue reading “Happy Birthday Fionnuala”

Are You Weird?

Yes, I’m weird, I’m awkward, I’m a geek, but I’m me. I spent a large part of my life trying to be somebody else, trying to fit in, to please people. It didn’t get me anywhere. You can’t force people to like you any more than you can control the tides. It took me aContinue reading “Are You Weird?”

Book Review – Skelly’s Square

Here’s today’s five star review for my fantasy novel, ‘Skelly’s Square.’ I’m now nearing 150 five star reviews world wide which I’m led to believe is quite good. Thank you to the people supporting my writing with their time and money. It’s available to buy in e book and paperback format via your local AmazonContinue reading “Book Review – Skelly’s Square”

What Mental Illness Looks Like

I think I’ve ticked every one of these boxes at some point in my life but, thankfully, not for a while now. But I’ve been there and I know I could return there, we all could. Nobody is immune from mental illness, we are all vulnerable and few will live their lives untouched by it.Continue reading “What Mental Illness Looks Like”

Try This Book, You Will Like It

I was delighted to wake up to this review of ‘Skelly’s Square,’ from a fellow blogger. I poured everything I had into this book so it’s heartening to know that people are enjoying it. The book is now nearing 150 five star reviews worldwide which I’m told is pretty good. Thank you to those ofContinue reading “Try This Book, You Will Like It”

Things I Do At Work

I’m on the train as another week in the office looms ahead of me. I’m not quite representative of the diagram below but I’ve certainly had my moments. I’m grateful to have my job though. Much as I detest Monday mornings it pays the bills and affords me the financial stability to pursue other interests.Continue reading “Things I Do At Work”

Thank you River

I was delighted to wake up to this review of ‘Skelly’s Square,’ this morning from River Dixon, a blogger, poet & writer who I hold in high esteem. When times are tough and you’re doubting your own ability, reviews like this encourage and motivate an author that they are headed in the right direction. ThankContinue reading “Thank you River”

Walk Away

No words needed. Walk away.

100 Five Star Reviews

‘Skelly’s Square’ is now nearing 100 five star Amazon reviews worldwide. Not bad for a little story I wrote largely on my daily train commute in and out of Belfast. I want to thank again those of you on WordPress who, not only bought the book, but took the time to pen and post aContinue reading “100 Five Star Reviews”

We All Need A Log Cabin

Now, I’m not talking UnaBomber isolation. But sometimes we all want to pull down the shutters and take a break from the relentless babble of life. Which is okay. Society doesn’t require you 24/7. The world will keep rotating on its axis. But if you don’t take care of yourself you might not be spinningContinue reading “We All Need A Log Cabin”

Skelly’s Square – Out Now

Hello new followers. My name is Stephen and as well as being a blogger I also released my first novel last year. It’s called the ‘Kirkwood Scott Scott Chronicles- Skelly’s Square’, an Irish urban fantasy which has been receiving great reviews. It’s currently available to purchase via your local Amazon site in e book andContinue reading “Skelly’s Square – Out Now”

I Don’t Like You Very Much

I don’t like you very much. You’re hard work. An acquired taste. You make me cringe, retch, squirm. With your words, your actions, your thoughts. We’ll never see eye to eye. Yet here we are. Staring at each other in the mirror. Eye to eye. Stuck with one another. I don’t like you very much.

Is Your Future Exciting?

I woke up this morning and groaned as I faced another wet and windy Monday morning. But after the initial shock I realised I’m incredibly fortunate and have so much to look forward to in the coming days, weeks and months. My default setting is ‘glass half empty’ but I’m making a real effort nowContinue reading “Is Your Future Exciting?”

Bomb Girl – Out Now

Thank you to everyone who has been reading and posting such great reviews for my new novella, ‘Bomb Girl.’ It’s a psychological thriller set in modern day Northern Ireland with a smattering of the supernatural. It’s available to buy now on your local Amazon site or free on Kindle Unlimited. Like my writing? Then checkContinue reading “Bomb Girl – Out Now”

Care Enough To Look

No words needed. People with mental illnesses may not have broken bones but they have broken dreams, broken minds and broken hearts. Their illnesses may be invisible but the signs are there if you take the time to look for them. The onus is on you to reach out to them, not for them toContinue reading “Care Enough To Look”

Don’t Be Afraid To Start Over

When I started this blog, I started all over again. Turned my back on the past and threw my energy into new passions. Almost three years later, I’ve published two books and completed a third. I’m training for my tenth marathon and been promoted at work. I’ve living the happiest & healthiest life I can.Continue reading “Don’t Be Afraid To Start Over”

Adam’s Comeback Run

Very proud of Adam this morning who accompanied me on a short run, his first since knee reconstruction surgery last November to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. This was a big moment in his rehabilitation programme and he passed with flying colours. experiencing no pain or reaction to the session. He’s been working hardContinue reading “Adam’s Comeback Run”

Churches Are Funny Places…

This quote pretty much sums up why I stopped going to church. People who talked a good fight on a Sunday morning but then disappeared for the remainder of the week. Especially when you really needed them. It’s sad in a sense but I actually feel more settled and safe since I left the churchContinue reading “Churches Are Funny Places…”

I Refuse To Give Up

I’ve been beavering away on the second draft of ‘A New Jerusalem,’ this last week and am pleased to report I’m well ahead of schedule. I must be getting better at this writing lark as there seem to be less typos & structural/plot changes this time around. Fionnuala has been a great help, as ever,Continue reading “I Refuse To Give Up”

Bomb Girl – Would You Read This?

Thank you to everyone who has been reading and posting such great reviews for my new novella, ‘Bomb Girl.’ It’s a psychological thriller set in modern day Northern Ireland with a smattering of the supernatural. It’s available to buy now on your local Amazon site or free on Kindle Unlimited. Like my writing? Then checkContinue reading “Bomb Girl – Would You Read This?”

Reach Out

Skelly’s Square – Out Now

Hello new followers. My name is Stephen and as well as being a blogger I also released my first novel last year. It’s called the ‘Kirkwood Scott Scott Chronicles- Skelly’s Square’, an Irish urban fantasy which has been receiving great reviews. It’s currently available to purchase via your local Amazon site in e book andContinue reading “Skelly’s Square – Out Now”

Today I Will Win

Today, I will not let OCD win. I will get up, wash, shave and go to work. I will not give in to it’s urges. I will work hard, run and eat healthy. I will be the best father and husband I can possibly be. I will come home. I will Dad taxi and editContinue reading “Today I Will Win”

Bomb Girl – Out Now

Thank you to everyone who has been reading and posting such great reviews for my new novella, ‘Bomb Girl.’ It’s a psychological thriller set in modern day Northern Ireland with a smattering of the supernatural. It’s available to buy now on your local Amazon site or free on Kindle Unlimited. Like my writing? Then checkContinue reading “Bomb Girl – Out Now”

The Right Ones Will Always Stay

Good Morning WordPress. A short word today. It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but learn it I did. Have you?

Bomb Girl – Out Now

Thank you to everyone who has been reading and posting such great reviews for my new novella, ‘Bomb Girl.’ It’s a psychological thriller set in modern day Northern Ireland with a smattering of the supernatural. It’s available to buy now on your local Amazon site or free on Kindle Unlimited. Like my writing? Then checkContinue reading “Bomb Girl – Out Now”

Starting All Over Again

Last night I started the second draft of ‘A New Jerusalem,’ Book 2 in the ‘Kirkwood Scott Chronicles.’ I finished the first draft about a month ago and decided to take a break so I could tackle the story afresh. Writing is a draining business and sometimes you have to set a story aside andContinue reading “Starting All Over Again”

Skelly’s Square – Out Now

Hello new followers. My name is Stephen and as well as being a blogger I also released my first novel last year. It’s called the ‘Kirkwood Scott Scott Chronicles- Skelly’s Square’, an Irish urban fantasy which has been receiving great reviews. It’s currently available to purchase via your local Amazon site in e book andContinue reading “Skelly’s Square – Out Now”

The End Of Your World

I missed the early train by about thirty seconds this morning. It was so early the ticket office, which provides a modicum of shelter, was closed so I cut a sorry sight on the platform. The wind picked up, the temperature dropped and wicked blasts of snow cut across me as I faced an interminableContinue reading “The End Of Your World”

Bomb Girl – Out Now

Thank you to everyone who has been reading and posting such great reviews for my new novella, ‘Bomb Girl.’ It’s a psychological thriller set in modern day Northern Ireland with a smattering of the supernatural. It’s available to buy now on your local Amazon site or free on Kindle Unlimited. Like my writing? Then checkContinue reading “Bomb Girl – Out Now”

My Thoughts On The Oscars

Good Morning. I hope you all enjoyed the Oscars. But, has anyone actually seen ‘Parasite’? Fionnuala and I get to the cinema about once a decade. The last film we saw was ‘Bad Boys For Life,’ and before that I think it was ‘Gone With The Wind.’ Yes, that’s how bad it is. We stillContinue reading “My Thoughts On The Oscars”

Hannah Wins The Cup

We have cause to be very proud of our Hannah this weekend. Firstly she has started attending Slimming World classes with Fionnuala in recent weeks and between them have lost almost a stone in weight. I’ve been very impressed with their dedication and willpower, not to mention the many delicious sin free meals they haveContinue reading “Hannah Wins The Cup”

I Must Survive

There are days I feel a failure. A failure as a husband, father, son, colleague, runner, writer, you name it. Where it’s one step forward, ten steps back. Yet, here I am. Still hanging on. Surviving, somehow. Doing it for my family, for the people who believed in me when I was at my lowestContinue reading “I Must Survive”

Hello

Hello new followers. So very pleased to make your acquaintance. If you like the blog and my writing style, please check out my debut novel, ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square.’ It’s a supernatural fantasy set in modern day Belfast which tackles the very real issues of mental health, addiction, homelessness and disability. All sprinkledContinue reading “Hello”

I Am A Man….

You may or may not know this, but I am a man. A supposedly fully grown, mature one at that, although my family may beg to differ. Yet, for years, I neglected my mental health to the point where it was having a detrimental effect not only on myself but also those around me. ItContinue reading “I Am A Man….”

R.I.P The Flowers of Manchester

Remembering today the 23 souls who died in the Munich Air Disaster on 06 February 1958. The dead included 11 players and staff of the famous Manchester United football team, who were returning from a European Cup quarter final in Belgrade. Nicknamed the ‘Busby Babes’ after their manager, Sir Matt Busby, who survived the crash,Continue reading “R.I.P The Flowers of Manchester”

Bomb Girl – Out Now

Thank you to everyone who has been reading and posting such great reviews for my new novella, ‘Bomb Girl.’ It’s a psychological thriller set in modern day Northern Ireland with a smattering of the supernatural. It’s available to buy now on your local Amazon site or free on Kindle Unlimited. Like my writing? Then checkContinue reading “Bomb Girl – Out Now”

I Hope You Understand….

If I’ve been a bit quiet of late I hope you understand it has been due to the hectic nature of life. We are a busy family and Fionnuala and I are dragged in various directions with competing demands and priorities. One of us is out every night performing taxi duties for the kids asContinue reading “I Hope You Understand….”

What Was Your Last 5 Star Read?

Just finished ‘In The Woods,’ the first book in the ‘Dublin Murder Squad’ series by Tana French. This book had been on my radar for some time after watching the excellent BBC television adaptation. And I wasn’t disappointed. A gripping, rattling, rollercoaster of a book which leaves you turning the pages at a frenetic pace.Continue reading “What Was Your Last 5 Star Read?”