Writers Deserve Respect

I’ve been doing a little editing this morning. Tinkering with structure and content, adding, removing, moving words around until I have them just where I want them. Where they can make the maximum impact, allowing the characters and story to pop off the page like popcorn from the pan. Edging ever nearer the perfect sentence,Continue reading “Writers Deserve Respect”

The Day I Thought WordPress Hated Me

My WordPress app has been ‘playing up’ of late. That’s the technical term I believe. As a result, I didn’t receive any notifications for almost a week. So if you’re reading this wondering why I haven’t replied to you then, I’m very sorry, but that’s the reason. I spent yesterday evening getting caught up onContinue reading “The Day I Thought WordPress Hated Me”

Better Times Ahead?

It’s been a busy, busy week and I’ve been in the office battling to make a deadline that was thrust upon me at the 11th hour. Thankfully I made it but something has had to give so my blogging schedule has sadly gone awry. I don’t like neglecting the WordPress community as it’s where IContinue reading “Better Times Ahead?”

Wrestling With My Inner Muse

After a dry day on the writing front yesterday I woke up and blasted out 1000 words on my latest writing project this morning. After the apathy and indifference of Friday, I awakened on Saturday to find that the mental fog had cleared and I saw the next chapter of the story laid out inContinue reading “Wrestling With My Inner Muse”

Don’t Send In The Clowns

Our power-sharing executive, which have hardly covered themselves in glory in recent weeks, plunged to new depths last night when they announced further tighter restrictions for Northern Ireland, starting for two weeks on 27 November. Despite having voted against lesser restrictions a week ago when the seven day rolling average of infections was notably higherContinue reading “Don’t Send In The Clowns”

Getting Clean Can Be A Messy Business

Good Morning from Northern Ireland. I’m taking Charlie the border terrier on an epic 10K walk this morning to the shores of Lough Neagh and back. Unlike most of us, Charlie is loving lockdown as he’s never been walked as much in his life. Especially as I’m at home more now and am focusing moreContinue reading “Getting Clean Can Be A Messy Business”

What Is Your Escape?

I’ve been busy building up my TBR (To Be Read) list for the months to come. I have about ten books sitting on my Kindle Fire waiting to dive into, mostly penned by independent authors who I’ve discovered via the #writingcommunity on Twitter. I’ve also found myself returning to my first love, fantasy fiction, perhapsContinue reading “What Is Your Escape?”

Believing In Myself

I’m out of the office this week, as my workplace continues to maintain 50/50 staffing in order to allow social distancing guidelines to be adhered to. I made the most of the opportunity this morning, taking the first draft of my third full length novel past the 100,000 word mark. I’m planning the finished productContinue reading “Believing In Myself”

We Live In Draining Times

What with COVID and elections I had become a bit of a news junkie in recent months whereas, prior to that, I really only paid passing interest to the headlines. What has struck me in recent weeks is the draining effect of watching the news on a regular basis. I’ve found it has had aContinue reading “We Live In Draining Times”

They’d Argue A Black Crow White

I’m working from home today, attending a training course online via the wonders of technology. Don’t ask me how, though, I leave all the gadget stuff to Fionnuala who sighs, rolls her eyes and has the patience of a saint. Anyway, it saves me a commute into Belfast and seems to be the way thingsContinue reading “They’d Argue A Black Crow White”

Don’t Let The Past Eat You Whole

Now that the dust has settled and the election is over, isn’t it time we all took a deep breath and reflected on our behaviour in recent days and weeks. Did we all conduct ourselves in a fair and balanced manner? Did we display kindness and respect to our fellow humans, no matter what theirContinue reading “Don’t Let The Past Eat You Whole”

Good Morning From Northern Ireland

Good Morning from Northern Ireland. How are you all today and what are you up to? This is how I normally start my tweeting day. It’s a great way to engage with regular followers and initiate conversations with new people. It’s a gateway to new online friendships and fascinating discussions as I learn more aboutContinue reading “Good Morning From Northern Ireland”

What Counts In Your Life?

There’s a lot of counting going on this week. We have been told to keep counting and stop counting, sometimes in capital letters. Numbers are being scrutinised in painstaking detail, with hundreds of hours of airtime being devoted to counting, recounting, and then counting some more. My very average mathematical brain has struggled to keepContinue reading “What Counts In Your Life?”

Cake, Chinese Food & Careers

I tweeted yesterday about food and the book I’ve written. The former, primarily relating to Chinese food and cake, obtained over 200 likes. Wow! Brilliant! There were loads of replies, the overwhelming majority from fellow tweeters who now wanted to eat Chinese food or cake. Preferably both…at the same time. Although the prospect of dippingContinue reading “Cake, Chinese Food & Careers”

Would You Walk Down This Road?

I posted the above photo on Twitter earlier and asked people would they walk down this road. The response was mixed. Some thrill seekers didn’t have the slightest problem while others were less brave, saying they would only chance it during daylight hours. Some said they would run a million miles in the opposite direction.Continue reading “Would You Walk Down This Road?”

Happy Halloween…Or Not

It’s Halloween, a time of year that tends to divide opinion. There are those who view it as harmless family fun, a time for costumes, candy and colourful chaos. Carving pumpkins, trick or treating, it’s the official start of the holiday season leading to Christmas via Thanksgiving. Throw in the odd spooky movie and it’sContinue reading “Happy Halloween…Or Not”

Can I Tempt You?

Good Morning from Northern Ireland. Did you know that I write books as well as blog? Hmmm…you did because I never shut up about it? Er, okay then, I’ll stop, but not before I ask one favour from those of you who have invested your time in ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles.’ If you haven’t already,Continue reading “Can I Tempt You?”

Stay In Control

‘Control’ seems to be a buzz word at the moment, both in the media and on the lips of many. It’s a double edged sword. Some view control as necessary in order to prevent chaos and anarchy from holding sway. Others view it as a means of restricting individual liberties and freedoms. I’m somewhere inContinue reading “Stay In Control”

Standing Alone Is Hard

Fionnuala loves her soaps. She was watching one the other evening (Emmerdale if you must know) where a scene was taking place inside a cafe. All the actors were wearing masks and socially distancing. There is no longer any kissing in soaps. Or fist fights for that matter. What is the world coming to, isContinue reading “Standing Alone Is Hard”

How Messy Is Your Life?

After two days of incessant downpour, I woke up to drier conditions this morning so laced up my running shoes and hit the country roads around our village. The route was 4.3 miles on paper but I think I ran nearer 5 in the end due to the number of cow pats I had toContinue reading “How Messy Is Your Life?”

Breaking The Circuit

Northern Ireland is under new restrictions again in an effort to combat rising coronavirus levels. They will last for four weeks after which time they will be reviewed again. Our government is referring to the period as a ‘circuit breaker.’ In neighbouring Wales, their government has ordered similar measures although they are referring to theContinue reading “Breaking The Circuit”

Talking To Demons

When the demons talk it’s important that you also talk. Not to them, for that feeds their fury, but to those around who are willing to listen and support you through these awful times. For years I tried to fight back, waging a lone battle against the incessant, draining voice in my head that soughtContinue reading “Talking To Demons”

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”

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?”

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”

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”

Clear Skies, Clear Head

I’m not a fan of early runs but, such is my schedule at the minute, it’s realistically the only opportunity I have to do so at present. Even then, I’ve been a bit hit and miss at getting out on the roads first thing. Today, however, I was awake before my alarm went off andContinue reading “Clear Skies, Clear Head”

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”

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”

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”

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”

Walking Towards Normality

After five long months, Adam and Hannah return to school tomorrow. Rebecca starts back the following week. It feels like forever since we have seen them in their school uniforms but tomorrow morning the alarm clock will be set for 6 a.m. and organised chaos will again descend upon the Black household. No more lyingContinue reading “Walking Towards Normality”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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?”

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?”

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”

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”

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”

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?”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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 #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”

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?”

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”

Walk Away

No words needed. Walk away.

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”

You Matter

Good Morning WordPress. This spoke to me today. Sometimes I feel useless, not as much as I used to, but it’s still there occasionally. Yet I know I matter to my family. They are the reason I keep going, the reason I get up and show up. I’m an idiot but I’m their idiot. That’sContinue reading “You Matter”

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”