It’s Irish Book Week

Did you know I’m Irish? And I write books? Three to be precise, and I’m working on the fourth. This week is Irish Book Week so I’m asking a big favour. Many of you already do/have but if you’re a reader and looking up try out a new author, then please have a look atContinue reading “It’s Irish Book Week”

Good Morning From Northern Ireland

Good Morning from Northern Ireland. These are the words I always start my day with on Twitter so I thought, why not start doing the same on WordPress. It’s a great way to initiate conversations and create new online friendships. You get to meet folk from all corners of the world and learn more aboutContinue reading “Good Morning From Northern Ireland”

COVID-19 In Northern Ireland

As expected, new COVID-19 restrictions were announced in Northern Ireland yesterday in an effort to combat the rising infection rates. On Wednesday, over 1200 people tested positive, a record high. This time last month we were averaging around 120 a month. Tragically, four people also died taking the death total in our little country toContinue reading “COVID-19 In Northern Ireland”

Breathe Kindness Into The Lives Of Others

Whenever I’m doubting myself, something or someone tends to come along to bolster my crumbling confidence. Take this morning for example. A review landed on my Twitter feed at just the right time, cheering me up no end. Words like these are oxygen to a writer, they erase the doubting voice that is a frequentContinue reading “Breathe Kindness Into The Lives Of Others”

I Needed To Hear That

I’ve been a bit hit and miss with my blog posts in recent months. I’ve been focused on editing and publishing my second book and starting to write the third instalment. Blogging has taken a back seat at times and I’ve got out of the habit of posting on a daily basis. You could argueContinue reading “I Needed To Hear That”

On The Brink Again

When the first wave of COVID struck little Northern Ireland in March and the country entered full lockdown, it was a surreal experience. We huddled around our television sets and watched the story unfold as cases, hospitalisations and deaths rose. It impacted massively upon our lives and lifestyles as schools and offices closed, the economyContinue reading “On The Brink Again”

Happy World Mental Health Day?

Happy World Mental Health Day! Well, maybe happy isn’t the adjective I should be using. When people think about happy they normally don’t associate it with such a taboo subject. Think mental health and most of us conjure up dark, negative images. It’s something we shy away from and are reluctant to think about, letContinue reading “Happy World Mental Health Day?”

Win A Signed Copy of An New Jerusalem’

Good Morning from Northern Ireland. It’s Day 2 of the launch for my new book, ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: A New Jerusalem,’ and I have a competition for you all that is also being run on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The winner, drawn randomly on Friday, will receive a signed paperback copy of the bookContinue reading “Win A Signed Copy of An New Jerusalem’”

Even Wise Men Need A Star

I was out running at 05:45 this morning and was pleased to find dry conditions after a couple of soakings earlier in the week. Chilly, but dry. In fact as I left the street lit village I looked upwards to discover there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, my path illuminated by the harvest moonContinue reading “Even Wise Men Need A Star”

I’m Excited But Nervous

Good Morning. I’m an excited, but nervous, blogger today which finally sees the release in all formats of my second book, ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: A New Jerusalem.’ Excited because it’s the culmination of over a year’s hard work and nervous in case it sinks like a stone. The first book did so well thatContinue reading “I’m Excited But Nervous”

It Is What It Is…Is It?

I hear this phrase on my travels quite a bit, particularly in recent times. It is what it is. It is delivered in a stoic manner, conjuring images of plucky resolve and British stiff upper lipness. Yes, times are tough but we just need to roll up our sleeves and get on with it. TheContinue reading “It Is What It Is…Is It?”

I Don’t Want To Face The World Today

It’s wet and wild outside and I don’t want to get up. Thankfully it’s Sunday so I don’t have to, well not yet anyway. I’m not budging, content to stay under the covers and write some words instead. It’s still dark, very dark, so I can’t see what is going on outside. But I canContinue reading “I Don’t Want To Face The World Today”

Today Is The Day

I was more than a little surprised yesterday evening when I got an email from my publisher to say that the new book was now available to buy as a paperback, ten days ahead of schedule. The culmination of a years work, a year of writing, editing, promoting and the million other things that aContinue reading “Today Is The Day”

A Good News Story

My publisher e-mailed me earlier this evening with some good news. My new book, ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: A New Jerusalem,’ is now available to buy as a paperback from your local Amazon site. You can also pre-order it in e-book format. This is a huge day for me and I just want thank everyoneContinue reading “A Good News Story”

10 Days To Go…

My new book, ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: A New Jerusalem,’ is released in ten days time on 06 October and I’ve been writing about my thoughts and feelings as we near the big day. Two days ago I blogged about my anxiety over the release but today I want to focus on a more positiveContinue reading “10 Days To Go…”

In 12 Days Time…

I’m a nervous soul at the best of times, I get anxious about minor things and let them snowball until they take up my every waking thought. I don’t want to be this way and I’m sure it can be frustrating for the people around me. I used to keep it all bottled up insideContinue reading “In 12 Days Time…”

Death Keeps Me Alive

Death keeps me alive. Let me rephrase that, the thought of death inspires me to live. I hit the ‘big 50’ in April, a total game changer in more ways than one. It was difficult not to react by thinking time was running out, as opposed to I have all the time in the world.Continue reading “Death Keeps Me Alive”

Belfast In September

Irish weather is renowned for its schizophrenic nature and today was no exception. The evenings are getting darker and the leaves are starting to fall, giving the place a distinctly autumnal feel. Christmas is a mere three months away (there, I said it) and there have already been some heavy handed hints in the BlackContinue reading “Belfast In September”

Quietly Happy

I’ve been writing consistently all week and my current work in progress (wip) now sits at 46,000 words. It’s a challenge as I’m juggling multiple storylines, locations and characters but one I’m relishing all the same. I’m ahead of schedule and able to write 1000 words a day fairly comfortably without it eating too muchContinue reading “Quietly Happy”

Draw Back The Curtains

Another dawn run today, thanks to Fionnuala who makes sure I get up when the alarm goes off under this new regime. It was mild and dry this morning but very dark as I headed out off the village on a 5K route I know well. The occasional field of curious cows were my onlyContinue reading “Draw Back The Curtains”

What If We Could See Coronavirus?

Living in the midst of a pandemic has heightened levels of personal hygiene to unprecedented levels. We are (meant to be) forever washing or sanitising our hands, cleaning work surfaces and wiping down communal areas. We catch and bin our sneezes and sniffles and follow many other catchy slogans in order to keep ourselves andContinue reading “What If We Could See Coronavirus?”

Wear A Mask

Wear a mask people!

Today I Wrote

The alarm woke me this morning at 05:20, or rather the snooze function after I had ignored the initial 05:15 summons. I stumbled out of bed and into my running gear, determined to keep to my promise to run before work, where possible. As I said yesterday, not that most pleasant prospect but an essentialContinue reading “Today I Wrote”

Be Consistent Today

I got up at 5:15 this morning, my first night run in many months. What with the ongoing pandemic I can’t run at lunchtime in Belfast so this is really the only time I have to fit some exercise in. I don’t like running first thing but I’ve made a resolution to suck it up,Continue reading “Be Consistent Today”

Even Sheep Have Feelings

Meet the most captive audience I’ve had yet. Charlie and I met these woolly wanderers on our morning walk today and it got me thinking about a word I’ve seen popping up on social media a lot recently. Sheeple. It seems to describe people who mindlessly go along with the majority on an issue, withoutContinue reading “Even Sheep Have Feelings”

Demons And The Dull

It’s rained all week. Dank, dull and dreary. The rain has descended in icy sheets across the Northern Irish landscape and I battle through it on the daily commute to and from work. My head is down, shoulders clenched, I think of nothing but making it to the dry, warm confines of the office. ThisContinue reading “Demons And The Dull”

A New Jerusalem – Trailer

My very talented wife, Fionnuala, has created this brilliant trailer for the launch of my new book ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: A New Jerusalem.’ It’s released by Potter’s Grove Press on 06 October and the e-book is currently available to pre-order on Amazon. I’m very excited by the book which I believe is my bestContinue reading “A New Jerusalem – Trailer”

Muddling Through The Storm

I woke up to the sound of Storm Frances battering against our bedroom window this morning. We have been told to expect heavy rain and high winds all of today and into tomorrow. It was dark, cold and I really didn’t want to get out of bed. But needs must so when the alarm clockContinue reading “Muddling Through The Storm”

Every Day Is One Of Those Days

Pursuing a dream can be a nightmare. There are days when nothing goes right. Every direction you take leads to a dead end. Everywhere you turn you run into a brick wall. You find yourself racing in ever decreasing circles and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. The tankContinue reading “Every Day Is One Of Those Days”

The Stardust Of Ability

I’ve hit a purple writing vein of late, averaging around 1,000 a day on my latest book. I’m hoping to pass the 25,000 mark today and have decided to work at it on my lunch break at work. If the weather is decent I will head out into the square opposite my office, appropriately namedContinue reading “The Stardust Of Ability”

OCD 101 – Kill The Stereotypes

This One Is For You

I was up early this morning running. 5.1 miles at an unspectacular pace but I got out and did it which was the main objective. I’ve recovered from a back injury but my motivation levels were at a low ebb for a variety of reasons. I needed several kicks up the backside to get outContinue reading “This One Is For You”

The Elephants In Our Rooms – OCD 101

Would you trivialise or joke about someone with cancer? About a friend or relative who had suffered a stroke or had a heart attack? Debilitating, life threatening physical illnesses? Well the same goes about mental health and, in particular, the horrors of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It destroys lives. Don’t belittle those afflicted by it.Continue reading “The Elephants In Our Rooms – OCD 101”

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?”

How Has Quarantine Been For You?

When they vote for the most frequently used words of 2020, surely quarantine must be a front runner. The pandemic sweeping the globe has meant that it has jumped onto our lips and out of our mouths on a regular basis. Most of us have experienced lockdown from behind closed doors, watching our television setsContinue reading “How Has Quarantine Been For You?”

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”

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”

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”

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 […]

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”

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!”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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…”

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?”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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?”

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”

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”