Skellig Inspiration

The cover.
Skellig Testament.







The body of this post was first put up more than a year ago. That trip inspired me to write a new novella based on a question that I had then: What makes a man choose to go live on a rock on the sea? Out of that rose Skellig Testament, my latest work. It was designed to be sold in the Skellig Experience Visitors Centre on Valencia Island.

Yesterday Brigitte and I had a wonderful drive round the ring of Kerry in beautiful sunshine to deliver the first books to the centre.

The Skellig Experience.
The Skellig Experience.
John O'Sullivan
John O’Sullivan

John O’Sullivan the manager there, made us most welcome and will be offering the book exclusively in his bookshop.

The centre is well worth a visit if you are ever on the ring of Kerry or are planning the sea trip out to the island of Skellig Michael. The ancient monastic settlement is a world heritage site and is jaw-droppingly deserving of the distinction.

The original post:

It was a steamy tropical land south of the equator; swamps, mountains, high rainfall, a primal jungle teaming with the land-pioneers – insects. Amphibians came ashore to harvest the vegetation and insects and some evolved to stay on land. They were the very first vertebrates to colonise the land; lizard-like Tetrapods crawling and slithering through the mud. The high rain fall brought floods of silt from the mountains, quickly filling and burying the tracks of the Tetrapod.

Grandads foot prints.
Grandads foot prints.

Over the millennia those tracks became encased in sedimentary rocks and those rocks moved. The great planetary upheavals that saw tectonic plates pull  the land apart causing it to drift across the mantle north and east and west until the earth-shapes we know now, were created. Erosion and more upheaval revealed the place where the Tetrapod roamed. His tracks exposed to the curious eye of one of his distant evolutionary off -spring. Another vertebrate, very recently evolved upon the earth, stood and gazed in wonder at the track in the rock and saw that this was special. Experts descended and applied their science and with awe they proclaimed: These are the oldest known in-situ footprints on this earth.

Tetrapod sign
Tetrapod sign

Now on the most westerly tip of the old-world, the edge of Europe, Valencia Island, County Kerry, Ireland – I stand and gaze at these tracks and am awestruck by their significance and puzzled by the fact that on a busy holiday weekend in August, in glorious sunshine, B and I are alone. There is no line of people waiting to see this wonder. There are no others here to see the marks of our ancestor and wonder at the passage of such a vast amount of time – 385 million years!  We are always alone when we come here.


The island crawls with visitors and tourists but they are here to see much more recent marvels; the monastic building on the remote Skellig isles; the site where Saint Brendan the navigator baptised islanders; the place where the Great Eastern set sail to lay the second attempt at a transatlantic telegraph cable; the radio and metrological site where Marconi’s work bore fruit.

Blooming hedgerows.
Blooming hedgerows.

Valencia and the Skellig coast are truly beautiful and full of history. We come here to recharge out batteries every few years. It’s an easy two and half hour drive from home but we usually stay over in some friendly B&B.

View from guest house.
View from guest house.

This time it was the Calafont with it’s wonderful views over the sound from Portmagee to Valencia.

The chrdh
The Fitzgerald chuch. Knights of Kerry.
Lived and died for empire.
Lived and died for empire.

As we wandered in the old church yard, where so many who served the British Empire on the remote Valencia radio and cable station worked and died, I was struck by the thought that this island should be world famous for the awesome Tetrapod tracks. The evidence in rock of the miracle of evolution that lead to the birth of creatures that could span the earth with first their cables, then radio and now the instant medium carrying these words – is that not truly awe inspiring?  Where are the queues of keen young minds wanting to see the wonder of their distant ancestor’s tracks? They are instead marvelling at the work of monks who built a doomed edifice on a sharp rock in a hostile sea to escape earthly things and there to worship myths and legends that violently divided people then and still do.  Those monks didn’t look far enough back in time to find the majesty and awe inspiring works of creation in this place.  They couldn’t see. We can, so why do we not see? Why do we stand on the edge of the old world and gaze with wonder at the great ocean and the new world beyond and prefer myths and legends, man-made from ignorance, to the wonder and majesty of life here at our feet?

Look again at the 385 million year old foot prints.
Look again at the 385 million year old foot prints.

Continue reading

Catch the omnibus.

The West Cork Trilogy omnibus edition.
The West Cork Trilogy omnibus edition.

I have begun to create a few omnibus editions of my work. The natural place to start was the West Cork Trilogy.  Those three fit beautifully.  I’ll be interested to see how many readers take advantage of the savings and convenience of having an omnibus edition.

The next omnibus will be the Daniel series, those seven novels will need two volumes. I don’t think I can cram all seven into one file, it would take for ever to download.

I will then do an omnibus of all the novellas.

Judgement or Judgment?

Judgement or Judgment? Color or colour, gray or grey, all are correct. It depends where you are and which dictionary you use.

US or English?


I had a big dilemma when I was using the word Judgement for a title in the Daniel series. Some who see this cover will think – the fool made a typo on his cover. I hope and pray most will know that either spelling is correct. I plumped for the common English usage because that’s my language, that’s what my copy of Word for Mac is set to use.

The West Cork Trilogy used US spellings as an experiment since I believed that’s where most of the readers would be.

It is not an experiment I intend to repeat. It leads to small inconsistencies that neither myself nor my English educated editor will pick-up 100% of the time.

I think we should all stick to our own usage and try to allow for the differences.

I personally do not mind or even notice if it says gray or grey.

What do you, who read this in the US, think?

What is your judgment on my Judgement?

Striving to say more with less.


In my writing this is my Holy Grail: to paint vivid pictures with the minimum of adjective and descriptive.

I  seek to create mental pictures for the reader that use few brush strokes. Sometimes this comes easy and sometimes it needs crafting and pairing during the edit.

I’ll write a passage that makes me grin with pleasure because I know I’ve hit the note spot on.

Here is an example from Passion. It’s not a high drama moment. It seeks to give depth to characters and prepares the reader for the drama to come. It’s a very simple passage with no flowery language but it is vivid and pleasing.

I love it when I get it right like this:

The three had a night of tender passion with a little clinging melancholy upon them as they waited for sleep. Next morning Bonny roused them with tea and sunshine even though the day was grey and filled with soft wetness. She turned up the wick in herself and burned so bright that Daniel and Lauren were filled with determined optimism. They left the house feeling good, steely and unafraid of what they had to face. They knew what Bonny was doing and they loved her more for it.

This is from Passion, the third of the Daniel series. The first: Conflict is on Kindle Select now.

The first giveaway will be on Fathers day June 17th. Then on the 18th June, 11th July and finally 14th and 15th Aug.


Some readers seem wary of series so I’m hoping this giveaway will encourage a few to give it a go. Those who have read them seem to think it’s very good and enthralling work.


Beware the keystrokes!


Here is the penultimate cover design for this series. It is a little bit obvious in terms of the symbolism but I like that. Simplicity has a lot to commend it.

A lesson for those doing their own formatting for eBooks.

I’ve been tearing my hair out with the eBook conversions because a bit of HTML slipped through unseen. When I first wrote the books, I had checked a few facts, addresses, and the like on Wiki and other sources. I copied and pasted a few words and terms into the Word document. Just a street name or similar.  So what do I find when I look at the sample on  A live link lurking!  Click and I’m on Wikipedia!

It didn’t show on Word and I didn’t spot it on Calibre while formatting. Upon checking I found three other examples in other books. The result- I pulled an all nighter, checking all, correcting, and reformatting then uploading to KDP.

I can see how these Wiki links might be actually useful in some circumstances but not in a novel.

Beware of the seemingly quick and easy keystrokes to copy and paste, HTML lurks unseen.