Saturday 23 February 2013

Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
         My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
         One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
         But being too happy in thine happiness,—
                That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
                        In some melodious plot
         Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
                Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
         Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
         Dance, and Proven├žal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
         Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
                With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
                        And purple-stained mouth;
         That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
                And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
         What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
         Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
         Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
                Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
                        And leaden-eyed despairs,
         Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
                Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
         Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
         Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
         And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
                Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;
                        But here there is no light,
         Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
                Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
         Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
         Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
         White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
                Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
                        And mid-May's eldest child,
         The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
                The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
         I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
         To take into the air my quiet breath;
                Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
         To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
                While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
                        In such an ecstasy!
         Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
                   To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
         No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
         In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
         Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
                She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
                        The same that oft-times hath
         Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
                Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
         To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
         As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
         Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
                Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
                        In the next valley-glades:
         Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
                Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

Wednesday 13 February 2013

The Next Big Thing!

I’ve been tagged in this blog hop thing four or five times now but it keeps getting put on the backburner. Got a lot on my mind these days and quite a few projects on the go. Too many maybes to go into it all properly so I’ll not bore you with the details. But today I took a wee bit of time to fill out this meme-type questionnaire and get rid of the vague guilt that ignoring the tags has created.

Being the rebel that I am, I’ve decided to break one of the rules. Rather than tag anybody else, I figure I’d point you towards some of the fine people who thought of me when they filled this out for themselves.

Check out Rob Kitchin, Eva Dolan, Jay Faulkner and Natasha Geary’s websites. Sorry for the tardy response guys!

And now, the Q&A:

What is the working title of your next book?

Welcome to the Octagon, a Fight Card MMA novella, due for release in April 2013 and written under the open pseudonym, Jack Tunney.

Where did the idea come from for your book?

I put out a question on Twitter one day asking for opinions. I wanted to know if people thought a new boxing novel would generate interest or if the growing sport of mixed martial arts (MMA or cage-fighting) would be more a more intriguing subject. The responses shaped the outline and consequently, the writing of this novella.

What genre does the book fall under?

Generally crime fiction. Specifically it’s an application of the Robert E Howard-esque pulp-era boxing tales to a modernized setting and sport. Does that make me sound smart? No? Nevermind.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movies rendition?

I can’t think of any martial arts action movie heroes with Northern Irish accents. I suppose I’d ask the movie folk to trawl the burgeoning Irish MMA scene for wannabe actors. But the movie folk would ignore me, I’m sure. Is there a Belfast Chuck Norris? Barry the Blender doesn’t count.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Belfast widower, Mickey ‘The Rage’ Rafferty, fights in unlicensed bouts to support his daughter, but he’s finally got a shot at competing in a real professional organization, so long as his shady past doesn’t ruin it for him.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’ll be published by Fight Card, an impressive new outfit that’s been putting out boxing novellas for a couple of years now. Mine will be one of the first in their new line of MMA novellas.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

A little over a month. I outlined and thought about the story for a few months before the start of the wordsmithing slog, though.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Anything coming out under the Fight Card label. I read most of the books before tackling my own take on the concept. Great reads. Seriously, check out their site!

Who or what inspired you write this book?

Well, Paul Bishop – one of the co-creators of Fight Card Publications – first approached me about writing it after my Twitter ruminations, so I guess he gets the first credit. I also enjoy watching MMA, have friends who train in it (shout out to G-Wat and Mark B!) and have a little bit of a martial arts background myself.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think anybody who can appreciate the complexities of the sport will get a kick out of the technical detail of the fight scenes. I sweated blood over those scenes!

Monday 4 February 2013

Amazon Reviews

This is something I struggle with. I spend way too much time thinking about the idea of reviewing other writers on Amazon. Why? I'll fire some random thoughts into a list. Let's see how many we get.

1. The sockpuppet thing (OLD NEWS, I KNOW!) bugged me in many ways. That's all I'll say about that topic.

2. It's nice to be nice. When other writers review my work on Amazon, I remember their name and if I get time, I return the favour.

3. 'Favour' is a tricky word, isn't it? Most people don't expect quid pro quo, I'm sure. I don't. But 'favour' gives the impression that some reviews may be more generous than they should be.

4. I don't finish a book I don't like unless I'm being paid to review or talk about it.

5. Sometimes I read a book, say to myself, 'That was great! I should review that on Amazon!' (especially if it's an ebook or a small press title) and then I forget to do it.

6. Forgetting to do things can stress me out.

7. I don't write well when I'm stressed.

8. I like it when people like me.

9. I don't care when people don't like me (this may be bravado).

10. Sometimes I think that I'm wasting writing time by trying to come up with smart and snappy reviews on Amazon.

11. There's some weird digital black hole that often deletes reviews written by writers for other writers who don't make money from said other writers book sales but have the potential to and then everybody gets angry. (I might not have paid much attention to that last phenomenonenomnomnom.)

12. I don't like to work for free any more than anybody else.

13. Should Amazon reviews be considered work?

14. There are more thoughts rattling about in my head but I'm starting to get worried about my time and mental health here.

The list ends now.

I've been very lucky with reviews to date on blogs and on Amazon. I may even have been reviewed a few times in newspapers and the like. Some people seem to like my writing. Some people definitely don't. What I'm interested in knowing is: Am I being a bit ridiculous here? Should I just stop reviewing on Amazon altogether? Have I just wasted another chunk of time right there? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section. Or don't. I know we're all busy.

Anybody reading this blog for the first time should know, my books are generally better written than this here post. If I'm lying, buy one of my books and read it and then post an angry review on Amazon. ABC, Always Be Closing! Tee hee.