Review: “Dreaming in Starlight” by Philip Elliott

 

Hi everyone,

Here is a short review of Philip Elliott‘s new book, “Dreaming in Starlight”. It’s so important to support new and up-and-coming writers, especially when their work is as special and as poignant as this.

 

“Dreaming in Starlight” is a book that I found myself wishing would never end, while at the same time, finding so much beauty in its brevity. The narrator, JJ, tells truths of life, love, and loss, using artful comparisons, spellbinding descriptions, and often surprising connections. The book is written in the form of letters from JJ, addressed to the people who have had an impact on his life. The unique form sets up the tone for the story, and emphasises the narrator’s loneliness, as well as his desire to belong without conforming. Philip Elliott’s prose is carefully constructed, yet exceedingly natural; unique, yet all-encompassing; and small, yet so large in scope.

I wholeheartedly recommend “Dreaming in Starlight” to any reader who also happens to be human.

For more information, and to purchase a copy of the book, head over to its Amazon page!

 

Yours sincerely,

Tamara

 

 

Spinebind Issue #4 Released

Hi everyone,

Wow, it has been a busy week, but as always, totally worth it. Issue #4 of Spinebind Magazine went out into the world today, and I feel like a mother waving good-bye to her child on the first day of school. I’ve done my job, it’s now out of my hands, and if I find a spelling mistake, there’s not much I can do about it. Scary stuff.

Today has been packed with final proofreading, final final proofreading, uploading, trying to figure out why it’s not uploading, re-uploading, blogging, and emailing emailing emailing. I’ve also just finished a couple of hours of freelance writing work, and a quick Pilates session. I definitely need to make good use of this productive mood. I’m forever trying to figure out a way to make it last for longer than a day or two!

Anyway, for now I think I’m going to give myself a break with a cup of tea, away from my email inbox. Then, hopefully still in a productive mood, I’m going to sit down and write some more.

If you’re interested in purchasing a print copy of Spinebind, follow the link below:

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1225672

If you’re a bit of a minimalist who doesn’t want any extra stuff, you can download the PDF for free here: issue-4

I hope everyone is having a great and productive day!

All the best,

Tamara

Quick Update – WIP – Twitter – Spinebind

Hi guys,

Just a quick update – today I reached the 10 thousand word mark on my current work-in-progress once again. I keep deleting thousands of words and then getting back to 10 thousand, and then deleting and then writing, but I think I may finally be over the hump. I’m excited to leave the beginning alone for a while now and just keep moving forward.

Also, I decided to go through my old Twitter account, and it was a painful experience. All the tweets were from when I was around 15 years old; they made me feel physically sick. Anyway, I’m happy to finally have a clean slate where I can focus on my writing, my blog, and on Spinebind. If you want to get even quicker updates than this, follow me at Tamara Drazic, @drazicdiaries.

The second issue of Spinebind is well underway, and I’m currently in the exceedingly difficult process of deciding on which pieces to publish. I received even more submissions this time around, which is crazy to me. Fortunately, a lot of them are quite short so I may be able to fit in more writers. There are just too many great submissions to choose from, and I’m having the most amazing time reading them. I’m maybe having a little too much fun with it, considering it is the final week of university for the semester, and my assignments are piling on top of each other.

I hope you are all having a fabulous day,

Yours truly,

Tamara

My First Reading at a Literary Salon

Hello Everybody!

I apologise for being so absent lately; it’s week 10 of the university semester and I am well and truly in over my head. Something exciting did happen last Thursday though… I did my first ever reading at a literary salon. I was chosen to read three of my poems to a small but enthusiastic crowd at the Menagerie in Kelvin Grove. I felt the nerves all day, and no matter what I did, my poems wouldn’t stop playing on repeat in my head. I tried to read, but my brain-voice reciting my poetry drowned out Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Not even music could shut the poems up.

When it finally came to the evening, I had been at uni all day, and my nerves had kind of exhausted themselves. My house mates came to watch, and the other readers were my colleagues from my uni class, so the atmosphere was so comforting and familiar. It was a great experience, and although I flinched at the sound of my voice through the microphone at first, by the third line I felt just fine. I will be sure to share the link to the YouTube video as soon as it comes out.

As you may know, I’m going on a little trip to Melbourne on Wednesday, so I’ll definitely be posting about my time there.

Until then,

Yours truly,

Tamara Drazic

P.S. Submissions for Issue#2 of Spinebind magazine close in 6 days.

My Creative Writing Playlist

Good morning everyone, I hope you’re all doing well. I’ve been doing a lot of writing on a new project this morning, and I realised how much listening to music helps me to get in the right frame of mind. It’s not just any music though – I can only write to very specific songs. I love reading about other writers’ processes, so I thought I’d share a list of my favourite songs to write to. Of course, it varies depending on the scene I’m writing, and the project I’m working on, but currently, this is what I listen to to get into the zone:

  • Good as Gold by the Apache Relay
  • Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen
  • Mission Bells by the Apache Relay (this one is perfect for sad/emotional scenes)
  • Golden Slumbers by the Beatles
  • Never Coming Down by Willamette Stone (for fast-paced, happy scenes)
  • Brand New Day by Kodaline
  • The Happiest Day of Your Life by the Apache Relay (makes me sad which makes me write sad scenes better)
  • The Only Thing by Sufjan Stevens (perfect for those character reflection moments)
  • Love Like This by Kodaline (Acoustic version)
  • Something by the Beatles

That’s it for now, but I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list as I get further into my work-in-progress. What music, if any, do you listen to while you write? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Yours truly,

Tamara

 

The Good Kind of Rejection Letter

Hi everyone,

I’m sure you’ve seen the news about J.K. Rowling posting her rejection letters to inspire writers to never stop submitting. It really does help to soften the blow of a rejection when you see concrete evidence of famous authors being rejected over and over again before making their big break. Today I woke up to another rejection letter in my inbox, but it actually put me in a great mood. This one, unlike countless others I’ve received before it, has just a tiny hint of hope–an undertone of validation. I’ve blanked out which journal sent it to me just for privacy, but it’s a journal that I’d be overjoyed to be published in one day. I thought I’d share my rejection with you to remind you to look at every step forward as a success, no matter how small. Here it is:

Dear Tamara Drazic,

Thank you so much for submitting to ************. We have read your work with interest, and although we are not accepting it, it did come close. We would love to see more work from you, so please feel free to resubmit during our next reading period.

Again, thanks for sending us your work. We hope to read more from you soon.

Assistant Editors

************

As writers I think it’s so hard to not sink into the everything-I-write-is-rubbish mindset, so it’s important to pick apart your rejection letters and find the positives inside them. Often you’ll just get a standard declined, but when you do get something more, hold on to it. Being rejected is just another thing you have in common with the writers you admire, after all.

Happy writing!

Yours Sincerely,

Tamara Drazic

Writing Quote of the Day – Chekov

My lectures at university are full of great quotes by famous writers, and I always copy them into my note book so furiously that my hand starts to cramp. There’s so much to be learned from them, and the way that these writers word things always sheds light on a new aspect of the craft that I haven’t yet thought about, or fully understood. I thought I might start a little Quote of the Day series, in which I’ll share with you my favourite of the many writing-related quotes I’ve come across, either in a lecture or in my own research. Today in class my lecturer shared this great quote by the Russian writer, Chekov:

I’m not interested in answers, I’m interested in questions.

This quote accompanied a part of the lecture that discussed novels as expansion devices. They don’t have to have the answers to everything, but they should raise questions, and discuss them. In my lecturer’s words, they should expand the universe. Literature is a part of an ever-flowing discourse, and I find it so exhilarating that, as writers, we can have our say.

I hope you enjoyed this,

Yours Sincerely,

Tamara Drazic

Book Review: “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan

a-visit-from-the-goon-squad

Think old school rock n’ roll. Think corrupt music industries, secrets, bands, friendships, family relationships, and the strange interconnectedness that music brings us. “A Visit From the Goon Squad” is best served in an off-beat laneway cafè with a side of soft electric guitar.

I haven’t read many books that have affected me quite like “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan did. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest that you go out and pick up a copy right now. If I had to say what the book is about, I’d say it’s a satire on the music industry, but there is so much more to it than that. It reads almost like a collection of short stories; I’d heard about this before I started reading it, and it kind of put me off. I love reading individual short stories, but the thought of reading a whole collection back to back kind of exhausts me. Despite this, I thought I’d give it a go, and I’m so glad I did.

Each of the segments pretty much stands alone. So much so that the opening story, “Found Objects”, was published in The New Yorker as a short story back in 2008. When you read the book all the way through however, it really does feel like a novel. The stories interweave in just the right way – not too much, not too little. The crossovers are hidden in the minor characters, as the individual stories slowly reveal each character’s backstory until you realise how they’re all connected.

The book starts out following Sasha, a kleptomaniac who works for Bennie, a music producer. The subsequent story is then told from the point of view of Bennie, and so begins an intricate web of character relationships that spans years into the past and future, all the way until the epic, spec-fic ending. I’ve never come across a novel that brings together different genres into a literary work so flawlessly.

“A Visit From the Goon Squad” has a kind of melancholic, almost doomsday mood to it, but this is balanced out by the sharp humour and truly believable and lovable characters. The characterisation is so subtle but so precise, and when I finished reading the last page I felt like I’d lost touch with my childhood friends.

If you like stories about artists, families, music, and human nature, you should definitely add “A Visit From the Good Squad” to your to-read list.

Yours Sincerely,

Tamara Drazic