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Hello! Welcome to my newsletter for March/April 2021. In this issue:
'Not ANOTHER lockdown birthday,' said the butcher as we arrived.
We were back in the village of Chiddingfold, to walk in the countryside, to picnic on the green and buy dry-aged steaks for a birthday feast.
The village has just three shops and last year they saw us on all our important outings - birthday, birthday and wedding anniversary. 
Here we are at birthday again (Dave's).
 
We've just had our first vaccinations.
Dave was mildly ill afterwards. I was a feverish heap. I lay on the sofa reading Siegfried Sassoon's Memoirs of An Infantry Officer, which made me feel as though I was inside its pages, recovering in a country house from a war wound, traumatised to smithereens. All was right again the following day.
First jabs done. The future beckons.
Editing and mentoring... In March I ushered three medical magazines to press. I now haven't set foot in central London for more than a year. A magazine colleague made a rare trip last week to the offices, which are near St Paul's Cathedral. The city looks abandoned, he says. The coffee bars are shuttered. All the shops selling sports gear, clothes, luggage and gifts are dark. Dust sheets cover the displays. Clothes dummies lie on the floor, stripped or in pieces, as if everyone left in a hurry.
Back in my study, bookish editing continues. Georgia and I have made more progress with her novel.
I've had emails from people who've used the lockdown year to write memoirs. Many are about deep personal trauma. A life coach has asked me to guide her through the process of writing a book. This seems to be the year when people did nothing and everything.
Noveling... is still on hold. Launching Ever Rest needs all my attention.
'Excellent' - Foreword Reviews
The literary journal Foreword Reviews has chosen Ever Rest for one of its reviews next month.
I told Dave. He misheard. ‘You’ve got a four-word review?’
Oh, and what did Foreword say? They liked it.
'In 1994, Ashten Geddard, front man of the UK band Ashbirds, disappeared while attempting to climb Mount Everest. That’s how Roz Morris’s excellent novel Ever Rest begins...'
I have a few other advance reviews on Goodreads (take a look here).
A hot new release!
Ever Rest has been in the charts! For a few days, it had the top spot in its Amazon category. The rankings can change within the space of a few hours, so to keep that position for a few days is very cheering, though these charts are probably not so meaningful to readers as they are to anxious authors and publishers. But it's another sign that Ever Rest is out in the world, making its way. Much (astonished) screenshotting was done.
Teaching
15, 22, 29 April Intensive novel revision course at Jane Friedman's webinar series. It'll be held in three segments over three days in April. The sessions will be recorded so you can catch up later if the actual teaching times aren't convenient for your schedule. Bookings are now open.
25 April I'm giving a talk at the online Surrey New Writers Festival on the shady life of a ghostwriter. Psst... if that's your bag, I have
a professional ghostwriting course.
28 July I'll be reprising my back story course at Jane Friedman's webinar series.
September I'll be teaching a month-long course in self-publishing to members of the Romantic Novelists' Association. (If you're a member, do say hello!) Non-members are also welcome. Book here.
The defining moment
Meet my friend Fran Monks. I've known Fran since the early years after college when we all did conventional jobs while we searched for our true paths.
Fran's true path was portrait photography. I remember when she began her first project, How To Make A Difference (which she's still adding to). I love her portraits. They have such a sense of a defining moment in a person's life, full of character and destiny.
One of Fran's enduring themes is how we live and how we might change the world. During lockdown, she's been making portraits over Zoom, telling the stories of homeschooling mothers and volunteers in vaccine trials.
Fran sings with a choir in her home town of Oxford. 'During the autumn months,' she says, 'the meetings on Zoom coincided with sunset and I noticed many of us were bathed in beautiful light. I quietly pinned their screens and made portraits. I loved that my friends had no awareness of my presence. I could capture them uninhibited.' Find the full ensemble on her website.
This is a surprise shot she sent me from my Zoom birthday party last year (not singing).
And here's another of her ongoing projects; the elemental, unguarded faces of cold-water swimmers.
Follow her adventures and exhibitions on Twitter @FranMonks and on her website.
All pics in this section copyright Fran Monks
On the blog
Memoir was a theme on my blog this month. I interviewed short story writer and novelist Scott Gould about his memoir Things That Crash, Things That Fly - Shades of the Truth: Talking Memoir and Fiction-Writing. (My review is here.)  I wrote a piece for all the people who've contacted me for advice on memoirs they've been writing - I wrote a trauma recovery memoir in lockdown - what now?
And on an optimistic note, I was happy to share this episode of the radio show I made with bookseller Peter Snell in 2015 - How to organise events to sell your books.
A little horse
On our best days, Val and I glide along in a strong, sure stride. I can feel more power in his movement and a sense of confidence. Even when there are mammoth snoring drills attacking the walls of the school. Or builders working on rooftops, who look to him like predators. When we lose our form (which inevitably happens) I can restore it with gentle adjustments. Our language with each other is subtler, quieter.
This month we had our own defining experience, involving a spooky obstacle on a hack. It was an electricity generator by a farmhouse, with a cable lying across the path, covered by a yellow ramp.
To a horse, this was two monsters in one. The generator, which was rattling, and the yellow ramp, which was alien and had to be crossed. Val spun round to run away.
I repositioned and rode him at the ramp. Usually I would have to kick strongly, but he agreed to walk on a gentle aid, so I stayed patient, though I could feel he was uncertain. And I held tight, in case he leaped the ramp in stressy protest, which is what they often do.
But there was no stress. No panicky leaping. Val stepped over the ramp, one careful foot at a time, and walked on calmly. (You may now cheer.)
A few days later, I managed to take a video of our schooling session to post on the Art2Ride group for feedback. I was bursting with pride, hoping they'd remark on the considerable miracles I can see and feel, but ... no. It's a great start, they said, but you're still at the absolute beginning.
Thank goodness they didn't see what we were like a year ago.
Til next time
R xxx
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