#76 Planning a Facebook Live Q&A Session

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With the launch of WHEN THE WELL RUNS DRY only a day away, I am continuing to plan my launch timetable. One of the elements of my launch procedure is a live Q&A session on Facebook.

As this is my third novel, it is also my third live Q&A session. I happened to rewatch the initial portion of my first two attempts the other day and was horrified by how many ums and ers littered every single sentence. So that is my goal for this session is to speak a bit more fluently about my third novel or about whatever the public would like me to answer.

This latest live session will be on Monday 13th August 2018 on my Facebook page at 9pm GMT, 4pm EDT and 1pm PDT. If you have a question you would like to ask me, either about my current book or the previous two books, or even the next two books then send your question to me via email at mj@mjdees.comvia Twitter, or leave a comment on my Facebook page.

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#75 Preparing book three for launch

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Preparing my third novel for launch has involved making last minute changes to the manuscript, submitting the novel for book promotion sites, creating ads for Amazon, Facebook and Bookbub. I have created new banners for this website, Twitter and Facebook and loaded new versions of my previous two novels to all the online retailers.

To let my followers know the book was on its way I emailed an extract to my mailing list and I’m sharing this extract with you today.

The book will be launched on Sunday, August 12th at a special launch price of $2.99 (or equivalent worldwide).

January 28

The rain stopped, and I picked through the rubble to see whether I could salvage anything from the ruins of the house. I could still get water from the river, but I could not be sure what bacteria lurked within, so I needed a pot to boil up some water before I could drink. I had taken a lighter so could start a fire but I had to find something in which to boil the water. In the rush of leaving the house yesterday, I hadn’t thought to take any pots, and they had stolen the entire contents of the kitchen before they set fire to it. In the end, the only thing I could find that would hold water and withstand fire was the enamel bath, which, if I set it at an angle would hold some water. I had no issues getting it downstairs as it had fallen through the floor during the fire, but I had to drag it all the way to the stream to wash it, which was no small task regardless of my age, and then actually washing it was not easy without much in the way of equipment. The trucks they brought must have been large as they had taken just about everything including the Pelton wheel and the batteries. They even took the broken fridge and freezer. Perhaps they could fix them. The problem, having washed the enamel bath as best I could, was how to stand it at an angle with a fire beneath one end. The answer came in the form of rocks which I gathered from around the property to construct a base on which I could stand the bath at an angle with a gap underneath large enough for a fire. Do you remember the border I have for one of the vegetable beds, made from the bottoms of plastic two-litre drink bottles? I washed out a couple of these and used them to fill the bath. I used the kindling that I’d stuffed in my coat pocket and found some dry wood in the wood pile which remained only partially damaged. This way I was able to boil water in the bath and make some mint tea by picking fresh leaves from the garden.

I have to admit I am feeling a lot less pragmatic than yesterday and a lot more pessimistic about maintaining my life here.

January 29

It rained all day today, and I spent all day in the shed with Molly thinking about what I need to do to try to rebuild my life. It feels like this time I have lost everything. It felt like that when you left, but it feels even more so now. I have no pans to cook anything. I have no tools to tend my garden. I have to boil water in an old bath. I sleep in a shed.

I don’t know how long I can go on surviving like this. I sometimes wonder whether I should have confronted them when they came and let them kill me.

Surprisingly they left the compost toilet untouched. They didn’t even take the porcelain bowl.

I have a bar of soap, but it is too cold to strip off in the river. I saved this diary. I don’t know why. Perhaps I still harbour the hope that one day you will come back and read it. Even if I am not here.

January 30

Something amazing happened today. In fact, two amazing things happened. I was walking through the woods and found a couple of stray chickens. I managed to catch them and took them to the chicken coop. On the way, a chicken under each arm I caught sight of a goat. A doe. I hurried to the coop, locked up the chickens and was about to go back for the doe when I realised I had no fence to keep her in. The chicken coop was composed of three smaller coops with space for layers, broilers and cocks. If I kept the goat at one end and the chickens at the other, with an empty compartment in between, what could go wrong?

I got some dead branches and swept out the chicken coop as best I could and then went to get the doe. It was not an easy task, but I managed to gain its confidence and got it back down the hill and, with only a little struggle, into the coop.

I’m now saving all the goats meat for Molly. I’m on a vegetarian, raw food diet, eating whatever I can harvest. Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and carrots, mainly.

Maybe these small miracles are the start of something new. Maybe I can find a way.

January 31

Raining again today. Another day in the shed and another miracle happened. Miracle in my world, probably not in anyone else’s. Both chickens had laid an egg this morning. During a break in the showers, I managed to boil up some water in the bath and the eggs with it. I stuck some Jerusalem artichoke, parsnips and carrots in too, not forgetting to take some boiling water out before the veg went in so I could make a mint tea. It’s funny how smells evoke images. I haven’t washed in a while, and I smell of smoke, amongst other things. I caught a whiff of myself, and it took me back to my childhood at scout camp.

I don’t think that I’m going to be able to stay here. I’ve lost the seeds that were in my seed bank, so I only have what is already in the ground, two chickens and a goat. All the careful planning I had put into surviving the collapse theydestroyed in one stroke. There’s always the possibility that there might be seeds in the sheds in some of the gardens in the village. They seemed to burn the houses and take the tools, but they don’t seem to burn sheds, and I very much doubt that they are bothered about growing their food. If it’s not raining tomorrow, I’ll go on another scouting expedition, and this time I’ll be more thorough.

By this time I should have started a lot of seeds in pots and the garden. I still have what’s in the polytunnel and greenhouse, but that’s not going to see me right through the year.

Out of everything I’ve lost this week I think I miss my books and my music the most. The days seem to drag now, and I wonder whether it is worth it to exist at all cost. What do I have to live for now anyway? I do have a sense of responsibility to Molly and her unborn kittens and maybe to the chickens and the goat. I don’t have the means to butcher them now anyway.

Two eggs are just not enough to lift my spirits anymore, and I am feeling more and more despondent about my prospects of survival.

February 1

Another wet day but at least it is warming up a bit now. The nights have been cold without the stove. I’ve been wearing the same clothes for quite a while now. During a lull in the showers, I tried to have a quick wash by the river. I shivered as I undressed and got dressed again while I was still wet, not having any towels anymore.

I had boiled eggs and milk. They seem like a luxury now. Perhaps too much of a luxury given that the limited ability of the garden to feed now has to be shared between the chickens, the goat and me. Molly enjoyed having some more milk. I’m now rationing the remaining dried goat’s meat, assuming that it is going to need to last beyond her pregnancy until she can catch meat again. Never having had a pregnant cat, I’ve no idea how long all of this will take. On nice days, she’s been going out, but she constantly begs me for food, and I doubt I have enough to last.

I’ve postponed my trip to the village until tomorrow if tomorrow is dry. Not having a stove to dry myself, I don’t want to risk pneumonia.

I saw trout in the river when I was washing. I’d forgotten about the trout. I never ate fish, and so trout was not on my radar. Now, with the supply of Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and carrots getting very low, the thought of trout has become appealing. The only problem is that I have no rods or tackle and wouldn’t know how to use them if I did. If I had just a roll of fishing line and a hook, I might be able to work out a way of catching one other than leaping into the river and trying to grab one with my bare hands. An alternative might be to fashion a hook from some rose thorns and a line from my shoelace. When it stops raining, I might try.

February 2

More rain today but at least it is getting milder, so the nights are less unpleasant. Molly is becoming very annoying with her demands for food. At this rate, the goat meat will not last for very long.

I dreamt about you again last night. I wonder where you are, how you are getting on and whether he is looking after you properly.

I feel lonelier than I used to and think often about how different everything could have been.

February 3

It stopped raining today, so as soon as I had managed to boil a couple of eggs and milk the goat, I headed down into the village which looked pretty unchanged except that some of the bodies which lay in the road had been run over by trucks and were now lumps of pulp.

As fast as I could, I went from garden to garden visiting all of the sheds I could. They had broken into most of them already. Mainly I was looking for old biscuit tins, the standard receptacle for seeds. It surprised me how much I found. At first, I kept the tins, but so many of the sheds contained tins of seeds that, before long I was able to pick and choose which tins I kept and filled these with the seeds from the inferior tins. It wasn’t just tins and packets of seeds I added to my loot. I found an enamel mug and an old tin plate and some of the sheds contained receptacles of useful things like comfrey fertiliser, which I could come back for later. I found a patch of comfrey as well and took some to plant on my land. I didn’t find any pots, pans or utensils, despite checking the kitchens of some houses. They were so thorough when they came, their job was so professional that I imagine they must do this looting on an almost daily basis.

I was very pleased with what I had managed to collect. I need to sort through it all but, assuming that most of the seeds are still viable, I should have enough to keep my garden going though I have to admit I am no longer enthused at the prospect.

February 4

Rain again today. Heavy for most of the day, so I spent most of the day in the shed, sorting the seeds into a planting plan and re-planning the garden in a notebook I found in one of the sheds yesterday.

It was a good hoard of seeds, I only wish that they had left some tools behind. I am going to have to fashion tools out of sticks and twigs. I feel like a bit of a cave dweller. Albeit living in a prefabricated shed. I planned my garden along the lines of the garden I had planned before, with the same crop rotation. Only this time I adjusted the sizes of the beds in relation to my new stock of seeds. My biggest loss has been my seed potatoes. The potatoes I used to complain about all the time. I had stored my seed potatoes in the house, so they had gone up in smoke. Sometimes I have violent daydreams about what I might do if I got my hands on the bastards that did this to my property.

February 5

I got to work implementing my new plan today. First, I planted onions, leeks, lettuce, tomatoes and garlic in the greenhouse along with some marigold seeds, which I will plant out along with the tomatoes when they are ready. Some spinach and radishes in the polytunnel. Some of the lettuces cabbages and onions that I’d planted in seed trays look like they might be ready to plant out soon. I planted some spinach, turnip, and peas out into the garden and covered the pea bed with a sheet of clear plastic, which had survived the raid. I started pots of all the seeds that I had potted in the house, lost in the fire. I put them all in the greenhouse. I also planted lettuce in one of the beds and added compost to the beds according to my new planting scheme.

Tomorrow I plan to plant some peppers and aubergine in pots in the greenhouse. If it doesn’t rain, I’ll plant some radishes, spinach, carrots, peas, beets, onions, sweet corn, cucumbers and cabbages directly into the beds.

I miss the potatoes now. I’m sure I’m not getting enough carbohydrates, and I can’t seem to get rid of this permanent sensation of hunger that I have.

Molly disappeared for the day and came back looking very satisfied with herself. I’m sure she must have caught a mouse to supplement the goat’s meat with which she’s probably getting fed up.

I’m struggling to sleep now. The days and nights seem to go on forever. I keep wondering whether this price of survival is worth paying. I feel I need to look after Molly until she has her kittens. However, after that, I wonder whether there is any point struggling on like this.

February 6

Another rainy day, stuck in the shed, apart from a bit of planting in the greenhouse. I saw another drone today. It came very close to the shed, and this time I didn’t hide. I stood in the doorway of the shed and showed it the middle finger. I’ve decided that I will not run away and hide this time. I am going to stay and fight them. If they kill me, then it will be a blessing to end my suffering.

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#74 Gathering an advance reading team

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Now I have to get down to the serious business of launching my third book and you can help me.

I need your help to be part of my ‘soft’ launch where I release my book to my Advance Review Team to make sure there are already book reviews on Amazon before the ‘hard’ launch.

Sign up to my Advance Review Team and I will send you a free advance copy. I am giving away 500 advance review copies of my next novel WHEN THE WELL RUNS DRY. To qualify for a free copy all you need to do is click on the link below to give me the email address where you would like me to send the instructions on how to download it. All that I ask is that you leave me an honest review and I will send you instructions on how to leave a review – it can be as short as you like.

To join my advance review team and receive instructions on how to download your free copy, simply leave your email address here. I will only use the address to send you instructions on downloading and reviewing the book.

 

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#73 Choosing the cover for book 3

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I’ve just received the cover options for my next novel WHEN THE WELL RUNS DRY, and I thought you might like the opportunity to let me know which cover you liked the best.

Here’s what the book is about:

In a country divided by civil war, one city stands above the chaos.

Since the system collapsed, citizens are struggling to survive. Marauders are destroying what little is left. But not everyone is quite ready to surrender.

The Alder and her loyal supporters become caught in a life or death struggle to save, not only themselves but those around them. The future of the nation is at stake.

When The Well Runs Dry is the first book in M J Dees’s dystopian series set in a future where resources have all but run out.

Choose the cover of this book while there is still a future in which to read it.

 

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#72 Being interviewed

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This month I have been fortunate enough to have been interviewed by the butimbeautiful blog.

Here is where you can find the full text of the interview: Why is there always a fly in your ointment? The answer to this question will surprise you…

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#71 Watching Neymar fall over and Harry Kane score goals

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Supporters of the other home nations were very cynical about England’s victory over Tunisia. Even scoring six against might not silence the critics. We will probably have to wait until after the Belgium game on Thursday to find out what the England team is really capable of.

Meanwhile, Harry Kane was asked to choose a song to play on the Brazilian TV programme Fantastico for scoring a hat truck in the game against Panama.

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Here in Brazil attention has been unsurprisingly focused on Neymar and his ability to stand on his feet. This image shows someone securing the Neymar sticker in their Paninni album with tape so that it doesn’t fall. In Portuguese, the verb for fall off and fall down is the same.

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This image reads: Neymar is lucky he plays next to Jesus. He falls over and Jesus says: “Get up and walk.” Obviously referring to the story of Lazarus.

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Neymar’s hair has also been a focus of attention. Apparently he has taken too professionals to Russia with him. One to cut his hair and one to dye it.

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However, Neymar isn’t the only Brazilian who has been throwing himself to the ground. The coach of the national side, Tite, appeared to want to get in on the action as he tumbled head over heels while celebrating the team’s goal against Costa Rica.

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Brazilian commentators have also come under flak. The Globo pundits Ronaldo and Casa Grande looked half asleep during their coverage of the Costa Rica game. Too much revelry the night before?

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Or perhaps they are, as is being suggested by these images, genuinely able to see into the homes of viewers and are being distracted by treats.

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There are some helpful suggestions for how Neymar might be able to stay on his feet in future.

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Interesting shots from Russia. Costa Rica translates as rich back.

And some suggestions for Messi.

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This one translates as things that disappear when you need them most.

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The big three Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar even got their own cartoon.

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If education was more important than football, God would have made the world in the shape of a book, not a ball.

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The Brazil v Costs Rica game kicked off at 9am in Brazil and the bars were serving breakfast and most shops were closed until 11:30.

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Needless to say, very little has been achieved in the way of writing and probably won’t until the tournament is over.

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#70 Watching Brazil at the World Cup

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Brazilians get very excited about their football.  So much so that they suspend deliveries during Brazil games. I had to settle for an afternoon appointment this Friday with an Internet provider because Brazil are playing in the morning.

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Most of the posts doing the rounds on social media during the Brazil v Switzerland game are two rude to produce here.

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One of the few which is decent enough to be published is the one above comparing Ronaldo and Neymar with famous Brazilian cartoon characters.

Another is a clever photo making it look as though a statue of Lenin has just scored a 3 pointer at Basketball.

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I think my favourite of the day though has to be the goalkeeper exploding when he tried to pop the balloon.

Until tomorrow.

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