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Hello! Welcome to my newsletter for June/July 2021. In this issue:
Look at these dudes. This is Husband Dave (white shirt) and one of his writing partners Oliver Johnson, being interviewed on TV by Emma Freud in the mid-1980s about a gamebook series they'd just released.
That series is Dragon Warriors, and if you're of a certain generation and interest group, this cover will give you palpitations, as will its Wiki page.
Oliver and Dave are still friends. So Oliver enlisted Dave to help move furniture out of his aunt's flat.

They set off in the early afternoon. When I next hear from them, it's 10pm. True to their adventuring roots, they have turned a simple trip into a series of epic trials. 
Epic trial 1 - Hateful Vehicle. Oliver can't make the van reverse. Neither can Dave, but Dave doesn't drive so he's excused. They manage without reverse gear until they have loaded the van and need to get it out of the parking space.
Dave goes to the bonnet and pushes, but the van, stuffed with furniture, is like pushing a brick wall. So Oliver also goes to the bonnet and pushes and this is fun because - you might already have noticed - no one is steering. Epic trial 2, Use of Prayers.
Epic trial 3 - Quest for Elixir. On the route back to London, the Hateful Vehicle blares a sudden warning. Give me a substance called AdBlue in the next 15 miles, or I won't start again.
They call the van hire firm to seek advice. Get AdBlue from a garage, they're told. (Consulting The Oracle, Who Does Not Care About Their Troubles.) They stop at a garage, obtain and administer AdBlue, use prayers again and also curses.
Into the Underworld. They reach Big Yellow Storage facility at 9.30pm. Dark and spooky. Staff have gone. Mysterious instructions to gain entry through automated systems. Will it let them out again? Also, there is torrential rain (The Elements Are Punishing You).
Treasure Becomes a Burden. Storage unit is already full because Oliver wants to move house and has decluttered. Must now take vanload back home, which will not please Oliver's wife. (Returning In Disgrace.)
Hateful Vehicle won't start. It's demanding more AdBlue, several gallons now. There is a garage nearby, but the rain is biblical and the walk is unappealing.
Dave phones me. As he tells me the day's adventures, I can hear Oliver talking to a call centre, which isn't going well (Consulting the Oracle, Whose Advice Makes No Sense). Dave sounds like he's having an excellently amusing time.
Dave tells me they have discovered this AdBlue is mostly urea. (Big character moment. Do You Dare to Improvise, Especially if it Will Amuse the Other Players? Roll a D6.) 
An engineer arrives (The Elders Send Help). Hateful Vehicle is kapput. 'You shouldn't have given it Adblue. It's formed crystals in the whatnot.' (Advice from Oracle Was Wrong After All.)
Oliver and Dave abandon the Hateful Vehicle, still packed with aunt's furniture, and also an urn with the ashes of Oliver's mother. The van is parked moronically across several spaces because it wouldn't reverse. It's sagging on its axles and obviously full.
'It might get stolen,' says Oliver to Dave as they splosh away. 'And do you know what, I don't care.'
Editing... I ushered two medical magazines to press this month. I'm currently chief-subbing the July issue of the Alliance of Independent Authors magazine.
Mentoring.. This month I've worked with a writer whose memoir was featured on Litopia's Pop-Up Submissions. She's had a riproaring life, full of entertaining escapades, and she wanted help to organise it all. I've given her a plan and she's working on the manuscript. Next week I'm helping a comedy scriptwriter hone a book pitch to literary agents. After that I'm working with the author of a sports psychology book for skiers.
And here's a wave to Georgia, who is working on her manuscript, which we'll have a chat about soon. 
Ever Rest in the wilds
Ever Rest is in the wilds. Is meeting readers.
Because of the novel, I'm discovering my friends are secret musicians. A riding friend read it and told me she played Dido's Lament (which features in the novel) for a music exam when she was a teenager. I'm used to seeing her encumbered by saddles, but she's also an accomplished oboe player, so expert that she nearly turned professional.
I'm thrilled with the reviews so far. 'I've trekked twice in the Himalayas and found the details completely convincing.' (Garry Craig Powell.)
 'I used to date a bass player .... it brought back memories ... made the story real and raw.' (Brigita Orel.)
'I almost regret this is not a true story, because I believed every word.' (Leekmuncher.)
Some reviewers responded very personally to the book's theme of loss. 'An aspect of mourning few people understand unless they've lost a person who is dynamic and widely loved. Stunningly accurate, if not a bit heartbreaking.' (Davida Chazan.)
I assumed that after the launch, I'd be having a rest myself. Not a chance. I need to build its visibility, so I'm pitching more book bloggers. And if I look at other books on Amazon and Goodreads, they have hundreds of reviews, so I'm seeking more whereever I can - which means it's not too late to ask me for a review copy. Just hit 'reply' to this email.
I'm also trying to learn how to advertise on Amazon and Facebook without losing a merry fortune. So far, it is confusing and mysterious.

What is Ever Rest? Find out here. BTW, I love this picture from book blogger Gemma Roman.
28 July At the end of this month I'm reprising my back story course at Jane Friedman's webinar series. Book here.
September I'll be teaching a month-long course in self-publishing to members of the Romantic Novelists' Association. Non-members are also welcome. Book here.
A Longing Look
I've just discovered A Longing Look, a blog of love letters to song lyrics. One of its writers is a subscriber to my newsletter, so hello James!
A Longing Look is the passion project of writers Phil Adams, Tim le Roy, the aforementioned James (whose surname is Caig) and a fourth contributor known as SitDownComedian. They write movingly and thoughtfully about song lyrics they admire. Here's a sampler: David Bowie's Sound and Vision, Roxy Music's If There is Something,  Outkast's Hey Ya! and Kylie Minogue's Can't Get You Out of My Head.
They remind me of the music reviewers of my teen years. So spirited and passionate in their appreciation, so expert in making you enjoy that appreciation. I still remember the Smash Hits reviewer who described a Thompson Twins single as 'like the sound of a dinosaur walking backwards down an escalator'. The tracks often didn't live up to the reviews, but that might have been the point.
Anyway, find A Longing Look here, and also follow them on Twitter. Also find its members on Twitter: @TimLeRoyis@Phil_Adams and @JamesCaig. Oh - and in case you don't know, I also have a blog series about music and creativity - The Undercover Soundtrack.
On the blog
This month I wrote a craft post about using feedback from experts - How to use factual feedback wisely in your story and not go mad when your plot falls apart. (Voice of experience.)
I guested again at Litopia's Pop-Up Submissions - Your first pages: 5 more book openings critiqued by a literary agent, a Bookstagrammer and me!
I guested on the blog of author and creativity coach Carly Kade, who writes equestrian romances. I didn't know there was such a thing. If you're not in love with horses, there's also plenty of talk about the practicalities of writing, editing and revising and a transcript if you want to skip to the topics that most interest you. Find it here
I also had a lovely in-depth interview about Ever Rest with award-winning author Garry Craig Powell. This was a chance to delve into the book's themes and ideas, like writing an A-level essay. If you like that kind of chat, find it here.
A little horse
It's summer at last. Sleepy hot days. Perhaps too hot. Also, sheet rain, which always coincides with the Wimbledon tennis tournament.
Summer also means we can turn the horses out overnight, a full 14 hours mooching around the fields. I love this. If I wake in the night, I think of Val out there with his friends on horse business, though he's quite happy in a stable too.
There's another rhythm of summer that horse people know. The sudden lush grass. It's stuffed with sugars and all the horses have gone bonkers, like children on caffeine. One friend has been bucked off twice. Val has become much more upsettable.
I had his saddle adjusted, because the flocking developed a bulge. Val didn't care about the bulge (though I did) but he developed high anxiety when I rode him for the saddler. I circled him in trot and canter, to check the saddle balance, and Val performed with bristling sensitivity, holding his breath. There's a guy watching us. Have you seen? I can't take this today.
The bridle paths are suddenly like a jungle. On one track, the willows hung down in thick streamers, touching the saddle. I could not see, not even Val's neck. I glided through frond after frond while he moved me, invisible and solid, as if in a separate realm. A bicycle was following. Val knew. His entire skin prickled with suspicion as he walked, so it was not as dreamy as it sounds.
Til next time
R xxx
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Copyright © 2021 Roz Morris, All rights reserved.

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