#106 Giving books away – I need your help


In the same way that companies launching a new product will offer free samples, I offer free samples and sometimes full copies of my books in the hope that readers will like my books and then go on to buy future releases.

In fact, at the moment I give away many more books than I sell.

So far, I have given away over 3,000 copies of my first novel, LIVING WITH SACI, over 2,000 copies of my dystopian novel WHEN THE WELL RUNS DRY, over 1,000 copies of my humourous romp through the 70s, 80s and 90s, THE ASTONISHING ANNIVERSARIES OF JAMES AND DAVID, almost 1,500 samples of my Second World War drama, FRED AND LEAH and I am also giving away samples of my latest novel, LIVING WITH THE HEADLESS MULE.

One of the best tactics that many independent authors use is to have one of their novels permanently free in the hope that those who like the book will go on to buy the author’s other books.

It is quite simple to set the price to zero at online stores like Kobo, Barnes & Noble and iBooks. However, Amazon will not let a publisher set their price at zero but they will price match books which are offered for free at the above stores, in theory.

In practice it doesn’t always work making life problematic for authors like myself who would like to run a promotion. Because FRED & LEAH is a Second World War novel, I decided I would like to offer the full novel for free from September 12th to 25th. However, Amazon has had other ideas, which is why I need your help.

I need you to go to the FRED & LEAH page on Amazon and click the link where you report a cheaper price elsewhere. You need to click on the ‘website’ option, set the price nd shipping to 0 and then paste one of the links below into the box where they ask you to report where you saw the lower price.




Hopefully, if enough of you do this then Amazon will get the message and make the book free on their site as well.

If, in the meantime, you would like your own free copy of the book then you can download it here.





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#105 The 80th Anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two

Polish kid in the ruins of Warsaw September 1939

Polish boy in the ruins of Warsaw September 1939. Julien Bryan caption of the image from 1958:

A BOY’S WEARINESS: Ryszard Pajewski was a study in dejection when I saw him sitting on a pile of rubble. Only nine, he had suddenly been made the family breadwinner – and there was no bread to be had. Now a truck driver, he remembers that when he saw me last, I was carrying two “boxes”-my cameras. [1]

In September 1959 Julien Bryan wrote more about it in Look magazine:

The spot where nine-year-old Ryszard Pajewski sat atop a pile of rubble in 1939 is now a smooth lawn. But a friend saw my picture of this scene and told Pajewski. He came to see me. The rubble pile had been near his home, and he had taken time out from a search for food, for his mother and brother, to rest. His father was later taken away by the Nazis, and he never returned. Pajewski, who is divorced, now lives alone outside Warsaw.

At the beginning of September 1939, the German Army invaded Poland. The British Government gave the German government an ultimatum which was ignored and, as a result, on the 3rd of September 1939 Britain was at war with Germany.

My grandfather, Fred Wooll, a Platoon Sergeant Major in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, was stationed at Dover Castle when war was announced. His wife, Leah, was three months pregnant with my mother. A chain of events had been set in motion which would irrevocably alter their lives and the lives of millions of others in Europe and around the world.

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two, I have decided to offer the ebook of my novelised version of their story, Fred & Leah, for free from September 12th until September 25th.

In lieu of paying me for the book, I hope that you will consider donating to one or both of the following charities, the value you would have paid.

The International Committee of the Red Cross were lifesavers for prisoners of war, delivering care packages and messages from home. There were times when the contents of these care packages were the only things the POWs had to eat.

MIND is a UK based mental health charity. Had Leah, my grandmother, had the support of a charity like Mind then the resolution of my grandparents life stories might have been very different.

You can see me reading the opening chapter of Fred & Leah here.

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#104 Coping with cats


While clearly adorable, cats do make life more interesting and sometimes more challenging for the people they own.

In a recent post, I shared the obsession  that one the cats who has shared ownership over me had developed with my bow tie. I can now report that this activity has reached olympic sport levels where every day I hide the bow tie in different, seemingly secure, location and Cat finds it, liberates it from its captivity and drags it to his food bowl. For example, yesterday I left it in a zipped bag and somehow Cat managed to unzip the bag and retrieve the tie. Hiding it in a cupboard no longer works as this only results in a lot of annoying cat related cupboard scratching.

I tried giving up and leaving it in his bowl but he brought it back for me to hide again. It was damp.

One of Cat’s other obsessions is drinking water, not from the expensive water filter we bought, from the tap. The other cat who owns the house, Kit, has decided to join him so that now both of them drink at the sink making ablutions more difficult and subject to lengthy delays.


When he isn’t finding bow ties or drinking out of taps, he’s trying to sit on my laptop. The laptop in the photo died, I think it was due to the volume of hair which had slipped through the keyboard and clogged up the inside.

Such is life with cats. They entertain and they’re an excellent distraction from writing.

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#103 Sitting around while they cut down the Amazon

bird s eye view of woodpile

Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

This week, the BBC reported that heavily armed miners had invaded a remote indigenous reserve in the North of Brazil and stabbed one of its leaders to death. The tensions in the Amazon region have heightened after the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has stated that he is against the reserves and has vowed to open some of them to miners. He says the reserves are too large and his critics have accused him of encouraging the violence. He announced his intention to forcibly integrate indigenous peoples and said it was “a shame that the Brazilian cavalry wasn’t as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians”.

The news comes just days after The Guardian newspaper reported that deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has surged above three football fields a minute, according to the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (Inpe). Bolsonaro criticised the NGO for publishing the data saying that it “prejudices” the country complaining that he should be able to review the data before it is released so that he doesn’t get caught with his pants down. July was the first month for several years in which Brazil lost an area of forest bigger than Greater London.

According to The Guardian article, during a recent G20 meeting, Bolsonaro told the German chancellor Angela Merkel that she had no right to criticise because Brazil’s conservation record was superior to that of Europe’s. This is a dubious claim, according to Climate Observatory, which cites World Bank data that shows Germany has given protected status to a bigger share of its land than Brazil.

The ex-coordinator of the Brazilian Forum of Climate Change, Alfredo Sirkis, has said that President Bolsonaro is stimulating environmental crime, saying that Bolsonaro’s words are like viagra to those deforesting the Amazon. And this in the same week when the BBC reported that the speed and extent of current global warming exceeds any similar event in the past 2,000 years.

A petition to the UK Parliament is calling for the EU & UN to impose sanctions on Brazil unless it halts increased deforestation of the Amazon. It says: “The government of Brazil led by Bolsonaro favour the development of the Amazon rainforest over conservation, escalating deforestation. Deforestation threatens indigenous populations who live in the forest, loss of a precious and complex ecosystem and a vital carbon store that slows global warming. Indigenous people have called for the EU to impose trade sanctions on Brazil to halt the deforestation because they fear genocide. Also, the UK parliament has recognised a climate emergency. Since the Amazon rainforest is an important carbon store, absorbing huge volumes of CO2 each year, it’s deforestation is of global significance. The intrinsic value of the rainforest should also be recognised.
Trade sanctions are used elsewhere for important issues as an effective means to force action.”





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#102 Choosing book covers for a series

cover options 1000 x 754

One of the most important aspects of marketing a book is the cover but before the cover is designed, the blurb must be written.

Writing a couple of hundred words for a blurb is a completely different skill than those required for writing an 80,000 word novel so it’s no surprise that so many independent authors struggle with the task.

This was my attempt for Living with the Headless Mule:

A car crash and an encounter with a priest turns Teresa’s reunion with her daughter into a life changing struggle.

Teresa is a drink dependent, middle aged Brazilian who just wants to be reunited with her daughter but her ex-husband’s accidental death leads to a fight for custody of their child.

Bob is a pastor with secrets. He makes Teresa an offer which seems too good to refuse until the truth about him is revealed. Teresa must choose between her daughter, the pastor, or her life.

Book two in the Teresa Da Silva series,  Living with the Headless Mule is an occassionally spicy psychological suspense novel which can be read before or after M J Dees’ debut novel, Living with Saci, for which this is a prequel/sequel.

The next step is for my cover designer, Jackie from Salt & Unicorns to create cover illustrations based on aspects of the story.

Here are the three concepts which I shared with the members of my email list to choose their favourite.


The London Eye option was the most popular but there still remains the issue of the font which will need to work with both of the current books in the series.

If you would like to help me choose the font you can do so by completing this short form.


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#101 Putting shelves up


Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I have recently moved house again, hopefully for the last time in a while.  The move was almost three months ago and yet most of my clothes are still in suitcases and many of my other belongings still in boxes.

However, this week we managed to make a major leap forward when we got a guy from the insurance company round to put some shelves up.  Now, I know what you are thinking, you are thinking: ‘What kind of a man are you Dees? To need a stranger from an insurance company to come round and put up a bunch of shelves that you, as a 47, soon to be 48, year old male should be completely capable of putting up their own shelves.’

Well, my answer to you is to stop being so sexist and ageist. There is absolutely no reason why a woman of my age or indeed a person of any gender of any age above, let’s say, 13 shouldn’t be able to knock up a few shelves with the right tools.

And therein lies the problem. I am well aware of the old adage ‘a bad workman blames his tools’, and it is true I do have a spirit level, screwdriver and drill, however, the problem is this: Our apartment building seems to have been constructed with a material not of this world.

Whatever intergalactic space travellers descended to earth and constructed our building seem to have used a material so durable and impenetrable that even the insurance man with his industrial mega blaster state of the art f**k off drill managed to break one of his bits (if you know what I mean). Never in his long career of drilling small holes in walls had he encountered a wall so impervious to being drilled into.

The poor bugger must have spent an hour and a half putting up nine shelves, most of which were simply to facilitate the cats having a better view of the street in front but some of which were to house my growing collection of the world’s greatest, and some of its worst, literature.

With my library now in place, I have been able to recommence my occasional readings of my own body of work. You can hear me reading sections from all of my books on my YouTube channel here. Happy listening.

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#100 Writing a blog


It seemed apt that the 100th post on my blog should be about writing a blog and what better way to celebrate than by taking a tour of the most popular posts of the last five years.

Although we are not even half way throigh 2019, the most popular post of this years looks set to be the most popular post of all time. It’s a recent post of me complaining about my cat hiding my bow tie.

The cat post has already had twice as many views as the second most popular post of this year, a post encouraging readers to not sweat the small stuff. This post was just as popular as the one informing readers that I was moving house (again).

A post that I imagined would have been more popular than those above was a post that had been very popular on my previous blog, Our Man in Sao Paulo, which still receives a steady numbers of views. It’s a post about the ten best things about Sao Paulo.

Last year, the most popular post was one in which I described the process of preparing a book for launch.  This was followed in popularity by a post wondering what will happen when the world’s resources become scarce, the subject of my third novel, WHEN THE WELL RUNS DRY. Just as popular was a post about testing Amazon giveaways.

The most popular posts in 2017 were a post about the re-writing process and onecabout getting stuck in Zurich for three days during which time I chose the cover for my first novel, LIVING WITH SACI.

The most popular post in 2016 was about getting my first rejection letter from an agent followed by one about getting married. And finally, the most popular post of 2015, when the blog began, was, appropriately, starting a blog.

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