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Hello! Welcome to my newsletter for January/February 2020. In this issue:
It's been a head-down, edit-hard month. Necessary work, often eye-watering, but not a spectator sport, so I'll tell you about two people who've had a much more colourful time.

Dramatis personae: longtime friends Aaron and Drew. Drew is also my hairdresser.
Aaron, staying with family at Christmas, and not with Drew, worries his beard is too grey. Buys dye from pharmacy. Puts plenty on. No, I don't know why he doesn't wait until Drew can sort him out properly.
Reunited with Drew, there is a thing to explain.

Shamefaced revealing of packets.
'I might be able to fix it,' says Drew. 'With something I got for Roz.'
(You see? I am instrumental, in a tiny way.)
'Red?' says Aaron. 'I don't want to be red!!'
'No, it's blue.'

Reader, I did a brief blue period. Just a little streak. Drew had leftovers.
'Can't you put brown on?'
'That won't get rid of the orange,' said Drew. 'But blue should neutralise it. Though,' he added with a snigger, 'it might not.'
'You mean...???'

'Quite so.'
Back at my desk, the month goes:
Repeat to fade.
Email inbox brings a few rum propositions, as usual. Once in a while, they're crazy-good. A few years ago, an editor at Spanish publisher Ediciones Urano wanted to talk about a translation deal of My Memories of a Future Life. Then he abruptly left the company.
So it's worth taking some of these approaches seriously. This month I searched the mouths of the following gift-horses.
#1 An invitation to a network that would help me reach new readers. I learned enough to know it wouldn't. They replied telling me, rather testily, that I was so, so wrong.
#2 A guy who saw my spots on Joanna Penn's podcast, keen to book me for podcasts he had contacts with. Tell me more, I said, including any costs. He dodged this question for several emails, then said he wanted a few thousand $$$ to join his list, which seemed unsporting.
#3 A Chinese company who was keen on my novels for a serialisation service and possible translation. I'm always interested in translations, but a contract expert warned me their deal was full of vaguenesses and danger areas... so no thanks.
But lots of work done on Ever Rest. Small, significant and satisfying transformations.
And Aaron? Here he is, also satisfyingly transformed back to brown, via a big blue secret.
(At this point, I feel I should link to the product whose pic I was creatively naughty with, so here it is. Where to buy an orange beard.)
Work in progress
Noveling... I'm surprised how much I've changed in this draft. It feels like a new, richer interpretation. There will be much to check. Welcome to Draft 18.
Editing and mentoring... My ghostwriting client has, for now, gone quiet as the grave. Meanwhile I've been advising a client on developing her novel. She was despairing because she was on the third draft of her outline, had storyline ideas she'd completely removed, scenes written in umpteen versions. Am I making a mess of it, she said, with so much dithering? Not at all, I said. This is normal.
Teaching... Publishing guru Jane Friedman has invited me to teach a writing craft webinar as part of her 2020 series. Watch this space.
Lend me your ears
My novels are on audio! I thought I'd mention it in case you've recently switched on to audiobooks. Also, you might like to know that Audible will let you try for one month, free of charge.
My Memories of a Future Life
Lifeform Three

How does an audiobook get made? Here's the full story. And this is my narrator, Sandy Spangler, who expressed every nuance better than I could ever imagine.
Out and about
I did Pop-Up Submissions! This is a miracle because I spent the first 15 minutes marooned in an empty chatroom, throwing messages at the ether, tweeting the organisers, all the while knowing I was supposed to be live on air. We got ourselves sorted in the end.
The host was literary agent Peter Cox and it was a real education to see how he assesses a manuscript. Agents have different sensibilities from editors - and maybe even readers. Highly recommended if you're thinking of seeking representation.
So here's our episode. YouTube also had a bad hair day as the recording started an hour before we did. (What? Why?) Anyway, you'll find we start talking at 1hr 8mins. The link should hop there automatically, but if not, scroll until you see humans appear.
And I'm thrilled to report they want me as a regular guest. My next show is 8th March. If you want to submit a synopsis and the opening of your book, click here.
I'm settling down to read...
... Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It has a few of my favourite things. Made-up legendary bands. The stories behind their songs. Studios and gigs.
So far, it's a devilishly easy read, as if it's cut together from a series of interviews, and there's fun from the different perspectives.
It also comes with a helluva strapline - 'the hit novel everyone's talking about'. Will it live up to this? Stay tuned. If you've read it, let me know what you liked ... and didn't.
On the blog
It's been a busy blogging month. A post about ghostwriting (Is it cheating to use a ghostwriter?), an interview with Ann Napolitano about her novel Dear Edward, which you might remember I praised a few months ago, and my spot in the critique chair at Litopia - Hit the ground running with your first pages.
A little horse
Last month we were restoring harmony, with a change of bit, a magnesium love potion and, as always, refined riding techniques.
Harmony continues to improve this month, with the kind of discovery that makes me want to bang my head on a spade.
I decided I'd try riding him in fleecy rugs. Not just one, which you've seen in a recent picture. Several rugs at once.
For most horses, several rugs would be overkill. They don't like to be too hot.
I put the rugs on and he melted with gratitude.
He was cold!
It's tricky to figure out how warm a horse likes to be when you ride him. One I used to ride, who was clipped out like Val, never needed rugs for exercise.
I had additional reasons to believe Val was hardy. I bought him from tough hunting folk. When I tried him, we hacked in wind and rain without even waterproofs (at home I'd always put one on). I thought he preferred that, so I did the same this winter. Well, either their county is not as cold as mine, or my poor beast has always been cold.
Why didn't I realise before? Good intentions, bad assumptions. And the horse can't talk.
I finally figured it out on New Year's Day, when visiting friends whose house was cold. They didn't feel it, but I became increasingly miserable and immobilised until they loaned me a sweater. This, I suddenly thought as I warmed back to human temperature, is exactly how Val sometimes feels.
Rugs it is.
Over the month, he has relaxed. Perhaps he was associating exercise with being tense and cold, poor thing, though he was always patient with whatever I asked and never naughty to catch. Not for the first time, I'm humbled at his trusting nature. It takes so long to work out what they need.
Til next time
R xxx
Thanks for reading. If you enjoy this newsletter and want to support it, you can forward it to a friend, buy a book or send me an email. If you're seeing this for the first time and would like to subscribe, step this way.
Copyright © 2020 Roz Morris, All rights reserved.

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