Win-A-Book Wednesday: Doing Max Vinyl by Fredrick Lee Brooke


Welcome back to Win-A-Book Wednesday! Come up with a caption for our featured book cover and leave it as a comment in this post. The winner will receive an e-copy of this very book from the author.

Today’s is Frederick Lee Brooke’s mystery  Doing Max Vinyl.  People are always asking, “Doing Max Vinyl”, what does that mean? So now, over to you.

Fred wants to know what you think could it mean?

 He’ll choose the most creative submission and send the winner a signed copy of the book. FrederickLeeBrooke_DoingMaxVinyl1-200x300

Monday Musings: The Winners Are…


Announcing the September Giveaway Winners!

What a lot of goodies we have to give away this time, and all stuff readers love the most: Books, books, and more books! Eight runner-up winners each won the paperback book of their choice, signed by the Bestselling Reads author, plus a $10 Amazon gift card with which to buy more books. The authors are now busy signing books, packing them up and sending them to these ten winners. All the winners are enjoying having a little cash in the Amazon bank.

Would you like to be one of the lucky ones next time? In a few days Bestselling Reads will launch its October giveaway with even more prizes. Don’t miss it!

The paperback winners and their book choices, are:


Todd T.

Paperback winner Todd T.

Todd T. from Canada – A Walk in the Snark, by Rachel Thompson

Leah G. from Manila – Dark Water, by Shannon Mayer

LL from California – Dark Pool, by Helen Hanson

Sebella from North Carolina – Forbidden Call, by Martha Bourke

Lisa from Florida – 3 Lies, by Helen Hanson

Donna F. – still thinking it over

Anni P. – still thinking it over

Stuart F. from the U.K. – 3 Lies, by Helen Hanson

Paperback winner Stuart F.

Paperback winner Stuart F.

We also had a 2nd winner of paperbacks by BSR authors plus a $20 Amazon gift card. Congratulations to Becki from Canada, who chose the following books:

Nevermore, by Shannon Mayer

The Mancode: Exposed, by Rachel Thompson

Jaguar Sun, by Martha Bourke

And finally our Grand Prize Winner … DRUMROLL please! Congrats to Jennifer W. from West Virginia, who won a virtual boxed set of 5 books plus a $50 Amazon gift


Grand Prize Winner Jennifer W. from W. Virginia.

Grand Prize Winner Jennifer W.

Jennifer W. is set for reading material for the next six months.

Here are her choices:

3 Lies, by Helen Hanson

Zombie Candy, by Frederick Lee Brooke

The Ninth District, by Douglas Dorow

Blood Orchids, by Toby Neal

Priceless, by Shannon Mayer

Please note we are not able to send signed paperbacks overseas, so winners from locations other than the U.S. and Canada are receiving e-books signed via Authorgraph.


Monday Musings: An Author’s Autograph


open books FReds (5)I (Fred Lee Brooke) went to college with the well known writer David Foster Wallace. We were friends in the early days when he was starting to write fiction. When I visited him in Arizona, he took us out into the Sonora Desert to see the saguaro cactus. In 1987, long before he became famous for books like Infinite Jest and Girl with the Curious Hair, he wrote me a personal message as he signed his first book, Broom of the System.

That copy, along with all personally signed books, occupies a special place on my bookshelf. I have books signed by James Welch and David Foster Wallace, both of whom are now gone. They live on through their stories, but also through their autographs and kind words. I’m more inclined to continue following the career of the authors of whom I own signed books.

With a signed copy, you feel as though you’re holding in your hand something the author also held in his hand. Of course it goes much deeper than that – the author gave birth to the book you’re holding, and worked on it till it became the masterpiece you enjoyed so much. There’s a feeling of author and reader sharing something intimate.

Some authors write a personal message that goes beyond merely signing their name. All authors love to know their readers, and know that you’ve bonded with the characters they created.

That’s why Bestselling Reads, in our giveaways, plan to make it possible for you to win signed copies of any of the books written by members of the group. See below for details of the September giveaway. Enter today, because the drawing closes on  September 30th.

The grand prize winner gets to choose a total of five titles, choosing from all the books available by BSR member authors. Five titles from one author, or mix and match with one title each from five different authors. Plus a $50 Amazon gift card to add even more titles to your shelf!

Second prize is a virtual boxed set of 3 signed paperbacks plus a $20 Amazon gift card.

8 runner-up winners will receive 1 signed paperback of their choice by any BSR member author plus a $10 Amazon gift card.

With prizes like this, all you avid readers can get your fill of books to read, and discover new genres, new series, and new authors. And the books you receive in the mail will be personally signed by the author. Enter today!

You never know if you might end up connecting with a literary light.


EXCERPT: Collateral Damage by Frederick Lee Brooke


collateral damage hi res cover (2)I heard June’s voice, far in the distance. Far, far above me, obviously. How deep did these things go, anyway? I had no idea what she was saying.
“I’m fine,” I yelled. “Never better!”
I yelled with all my strength. But it must not have been loud enough, because she kept yelling for a while longer. I didn’t answer. The carpet muffled any sound I could produce. I had to conserve my energy.
No way was I going to get myself out of this carpet. This sinkhole would shift again and swallow me up. I must be a long way down now. With luck, I would drown and die quickly. I would breathe the water in and let it happen. I wasn’t going to fight it. How could I fight it? I couldn’t move a muscle, and my head was killing me anyway.
If June could get herself out of here somehow, that would be miracle enough. She could tell them all what happened to us. First Sharona’s body, then going back to Arnica’s house, and those men hiding in there…where was Arnica anyway? June would make it. June was tough, practical and battle hardened, and she’d gotten out of her carpet. A little thing like a broken arm never stopped June.
If I survived this, I could tackle the calculus of sinkholes. Make them a little more logical and comprehensible for folks in the future. What did I know about sinkholes? Something eroded underneath, removing support. The earth imploded into the hollow space, creating a hole. There had to be an equation for that sequence. Calculate the amount of upward force needed to prevent a break in the crust. Add the erosive force of water dissolving the material underneath. It all seemed a bit complex, come to think of it. What the hell, I wasn’t going to make it out of here anyway.
Salvatore would cry when they told him. If only he wouldn’t feel guilty. He would probably get a case of the guilts for not coming down and helping me. But I’m the one who got us into this mess, trying to get Michael out of jail, chasing after Arnica. It was too much. These killers were too vicious. Salvatore would beat himself up for a long time. He would retreat into his shell, live alone, run his PI school, and do his investigations. He was going to suffer. We really did have something, we had a good future ahead of us, and I screwed it up.
Michael would react differently. I knew he would miss me, but Michael after all got by just fine for 523 days without me. He would drink a few shots of Jack and smoke some weed. Maybe he’d do that for a few days in a row, and then he would get on with whatever he’d been doing before he came to Chicago.fredbrooke
Salvatore I was sorry for. He’d suffered so much with his previous partners. He didn’t deserve to suffer any more with me. Not like this. But I couldn’t do anything about it.
I guess it’s the living that suffer the most, because once you’re dead you don’t give a damn. I was almost there, and I could already feel my own indifference growing. Good to know that if my time had to run out, it ran out equally on all things, including feeling sorry for all the mistakes I’d made.

§ § § § § § §

About Collateral Damage:

A love story.

When Annie Ogden’s ex-boyfriend Michael Garcia reappears, she has to confront a lie dating back to her time in Iraq. Will she go back to hot, passionate Michael, who has developed a disturbing interest in meth, or will she stick with her pudgy PI partner and fiancé, Salvatore?

A murder.

The calculus changes when Michael is arrested for murder. When Salvatore refuses to help investigate, Annie is forced to try to find the killer herself. Meanwhile her sister’s creepy husband, Todd, is making more of an ass of himself than usual.

An obsession.

Annie’s problems with three obsessive men suddenly pale in significance when she realizes the killer has set his sights on her.

§ § § § § § §

Frederick Lee Brooke is the author of the widely-acclaimed Annie Ogden mystery series, which includes Doing Max Vinyl, Zombie Candy, and Collateral Damage, available now. The books do not have to be read in order.

Having lived in Switzerland for the past two decades, Brooke has taught English, run a business and learned French, German and Italian. You can find him online at Sign up for his newsletter and read all about his travels, recipes, and upcoming works!


BestSellingReads Summer of EXCERPTS: Collateral Damage by Frederick Lee Brooke


KICKING OFF our BestSellingReads Summer of Excerpts with a slice of Collateral Damage by Frederick Lee Brooke.  In addition to reading a chapter a day, you can follow Fred on his blog tour and Win a $25 Amazon gift card AND a signed paperback edition of any book by Frederick Lee Brooke!

To win, all you have to do is visit every blog on the 26-day Collateral Damage Excerpt Tour and leave a comment showing that you read the excerpt. That’s it! See the blog list and join the tour …

Mon –  June 24 Shannon Mayer ~ Ch 1
Tues –  June 25 Scott Bury ~ Ch 2
Wed –  June 26 Raine Thomas ~ Ch 3
Thur –  June 27 Emily Walker ~ Ch 4
Fri –  June 28 Simon Jenner ~ Ch 5
Sat –  June 29 Amberr Meadows ~ Ch 6
Sun –  June 30 Anne Chaconas ~ Ch 7
Mon –  July 1 BestsellingReads ~ Ch 8
Tues –  July 2 Tyler-Rose Neath ~ Ch 9
Wed –  July 3 Naomi Leadbeater ~ Ch 10
Thur –  July 4 Mohana Rajakumar ~ Ch 11
Fri –  July 5 Martha Bourke  ~ Ch 12
Sat –  July 6 Marilou George ~ Ch 13
Sun –  July 7 J.C. Martin ~ Ch 14
Mon –  July 8 Corinne O’Flynn ~ Ch 15
Tues –  July 9 Tawdra Kandle ~ Ch 16
Wed –  July 10 Helen Hanson ~ Ch 17
Thur –  July 11 Connie M. Chyle ~ Ch 18
Fri –  July 12 Cyndi ~ Ch 19
Sat –  July 13 Kenneth Hoss ~ Ch 20
Sun –  July 14 Andrea Kurian ~ Ch 21
Mon –  July 15 Andy Holloman ~ Ch 22
Tues –  July 16 Marilyn Diekman ~ Ch 23
Wed –  July 17 Christine Nolfi ~ Ch 24
Thur –  July 18 Patricia Sands ~ Ch 25
Fri –  July 19 Fred Brooke ~ Ch 26


collateral damage hi res cover (2)

Chapter 8—Annie


The meeting with Todd had been so creepy I needed time alone. There had been something suspicious about the whole chat, something slimier than usual about Todd, but I couldn’t decide what bothered me most. Why had Michael contacted my estranged brother-in-law? Why was Todd interested in what had happened between Michael and me?

I couldn’t go home to Salvatore. It was too messy and confused, and I needed to figure it out on my own. I didn’t want to go back to my sister’s, either. Michael might show up again.

I drove to my forest refuge near the airport and parked in the east lot. From there I took the path to my cabin. The forest at this time of year was a tangle of bare branches, wet leaves, and fallen trees. In three short months, it would be a whole year since my honorable discharge.

Honorable was about the only positive label you could put on it. The truth was I’d stumbled home half catatonic, frozen with grief. I hadn’t been with Michael for thirteen months by the time I came home, but all the time I was still in Iraq I’d continued seeing him around, at a distance. Leaving Iraq deprived me of the possibility of seeing his face even from afar. It gave our split a whole new shiny finality. Once home, the only place I would ever again see Michael was in the dark corners of my own mind.

My parents had been at their wits’ end after ten days, with me pinned to my bed. I always kept my bedroom window open, imagining in late-night fantasies that Michael would find me. He would leave Iraq, and embark on a herculean round-the-world odyssey that would first bring him to Chicago, then, using some innate homing system that had been forged in our brains through all our passion, he would find his way directly to this sleepy suburb twenty-five miles outside the city, one of over two hundred towns that ring the city. He would journey toward me swiftly, never making a wrong turn, finally arriving at the half-hidden cul-de-sac where my parents lived. He would scale the side of the house, dive into my bed, and ravish me for the next eleven years without stopping.

The mind constructs wild scenarios, taking liberties with dreams and fantasies. It all seemed plausible late at night, as long as I stayed in bed. And as long as I kept my window open. The only missing part was the scene where he’d broken up with me and then, of course, the incident where he hurt me so badly afterward, and, finally, surrounded by his friends, laughed about it as if I was nothing more than some kind of burlesque show for the troops.

I longed for the noise of truck traffic, planes, convoys, all of which reminded me of Michael, but this was a bedroom community. My parents’ street never had any traffic more noisy than the UPS truck. In the afternoons, when I sometimes emerged to find my worried mother paying bills at her kitchen table, I would spend hours crying on the living room couch. I couldn’t tell her what made me so sad. She just held me, not demanding answers.

Two weeks of this and I had gotten in my car and driven around the city for days, at first just drinking in my escape, then looking for a place in which I could find peace. That quiet street was killing me. Michael was never coming back. My rational brain won out over the late-night fantasies, but it was a fierce battle, and sometimes I wondered if it was ever truly over.

I’d driven for hours at a time, all around the city and suburbs, never knowing where I was going or what I was looking for, like an orphan with amnesia. One day I got lucky. I drove up River Road near the airport, amazed to find one street without chain restaurants. On the right, for miles, just this forest. Off to the left, beyond a row of colossal hotels, lay the airport. Checking the map, I discovered Chicago had a forest preserve.

I’d stumbled on an old one-room cabin at the southern end of the woods. The lock was broken. Bare planks showed through decades-old paint. Alison and Todd thought I was crazy. To me it looked like home. I tried for three days to find someone in charge. Then said the hell with it, and started cleaning it up. Even if they kicked me out, hard work beat lying in bed back at my parents’ house. Beer cans, condoms, Twinkie wrappings, magazines and other trash went into bags. I scrubbed and disinfected the floor, the walls and every other surface, installed a new lock on the door, replaced broken panes, slathered a new coat of dark green paint on the exterior, and hung an American flag from a flagstaff over the front door. It was the flag my superior officer gave me when I left.

I let myself into my cabin now, and closed the door behind me. This was a good place to think. These days I came back every couple of weeks or so, just to make sure everything was still here. You’re asking for trouble when you leave a place unoccupied, and this place was isolated.

My bed was still shipshape, and the teakettle still sat on the stove where I’d left it. I put water on for tea. Nobody had disturbed anything. I went and sat down in one of my two chairs and put my elbows on the table.

Todd had always been more than just a little peculiar, one of the reasons why he and my sister always argued. He had this collection of old dusty cell phones, and he insisted on building shelves that went the whole length of their living room to display them. Other people would have a couch and an armchair, a coffee table, and a TV. With Todd, the TV had to be squeezed into a far corner of the room with a couple of chairs. There was no room left for a couch. He’d put in the shelves without asking Alison. When she objected he’d gone on building anyway.

It was wrong for a man to abandon his wife after a miscarriage. No matter what else went wrong between two people, that was the wrong time to make a move like that. He could have waited a few months. Alison would never forgive him for that, and I didn’t see why I should either.

Today his behavior had been more odd than usual. Was it just that he looked so different? Or was I still just angry over the way he left Alison? I had a weird feeling it was more than that. Something about the way he looked at me, the way he talked.

It bothered me that Michael had seen Todd. Todd wasn’t exactly a trustworthy source of information about me. I was still getting used to the idea that Michael existed, and he had already gone and made friends with Todd. Two men who had no reason at all to meet. And the things Michael had told him floored me.

Part of me felt flattered. In the isolation of this cabin, I admitted it to myself. No one else had to know. I simply couldn’t believe that Michael Garcia wanted me back. For the longest time, getting back together had been the only thing I had wished for. Every cell in my body, every nerve ending, every speck of my being had aligned and pulled together for a happy ending with Michael.

Michael himself had given me no reason for hope. Slowly, with months turning to years, I’d given up hope. Having withstood thirteen months of separation from him, I’d left Iraq and come home, and made a big step toward accepting the loss.

When things blossomed unexpectedly with Salvatore half a year ago, I’d been ready to put Michael in the past forever. Salvatore was completely smitten. I knew he would want to marry me, and he’d given me time to get used to the idea.

And now Michael showed up with this poem, this declaration of love.

A knock on the door startled me. I didn’t get many visitors.

“Who is it?” I said without unlocking.

“Hallelujah, you’re there.”

I opened up to the smiling face of my sister. She stood there in her designer jeans, black North Face jacket, Ray-Ban shades. She had only been here twice before, ever. I was so surprised I just stared. It was a miracle she even found the place.

  § § § § § § §

fredbrookeFrederick Lee Brooke is the author of the widely-acclaimed Annie Ogden mystery series, which includes Doing Max Vinyl, Zombie Candy, and Collateral Damage. The books do not have to be read in order.

Having lived in Switzerland for the past two decades, Brooke has taught English, run a business and learned French, German and Italian. You can find him online at Sign up for his newsletter and read all about his travels, recipes, and upcoming works!


Genre Wars by Frederick Lee Brooke and Scott Bury


collateral damage hi res cover (2)


You’re an author who has written in four or five different genres, isn’t that right?


I don’t feel constrained by genre. While my first book, The Bones of the Earth, is often called “epic fantasy,” I wrote it to break a lot of the conventions of epic fantasy. My second book, One Shade of Red, is a spoof of 50 Shades of Grey and is unabashedly erotic. I have also published some short stories that could be called “urban paranormal,” but are ultimately love stories. And there’s the children’s story, Sam, the Strawb Part.  My work-in-progress is a novelization of my father-in-law’s time in the Red Army from 1941 to 1946.


Do you feel as though you have a different set of readers for each of your books, or do your readers cross over right along with you?


I don’t think that my readers cross with me. I don’t have a huge following, yet, and those who liked my first book, I don’t think have read the second. So from a marketing perspective, it’s probably not smart to hop across the genre boundaries that way.


Yet you feel compelled to do it anyway? Why is that?


Bones of the Earth   by Scott Bury

I just have ideas for stories and characters that I want to write down. Part of what drove The Bones of the Earth was my frustration with the repetitive fantasy genre, with the same tropes being invoked to the point of cliché. But most of the inspiration was a desire to write a story about dragons for my two boys and to incorporate both of them in it.

Sam, the Strawb Part was inspired by my younger son when he reached that stage where kids mumble and slur their words, and he also became very rough on things like bicycles.

Whether those stories fit into one genre or another just isn’t part of my writing process.

So Fred, what genre do you feel you write in, if any? When you’re asked “what kind of books do you write, in five words or less,” how do you respond?


I have a lot of trouble with the whole concept of genres. Take some of those old classics you read in high school or college — like The Great Gatsby. Murder mystery? Why not? What makes it literary fiction? What about Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? It’s a mystery, it’s a thriller, it’s a love story, it’s a saga, it’s literary fiction.

As a reader, I’m looking for a good story, good writing, interesting characters. This can happen in a Stephen King horror novel like Insomnia just as well as it can happen in Christine Nolfi’s Treasure Me. That being said, it’s helpful to me as a reader to know from the book blurb (or the cover design) what the main genre of the book is. But I like to be surprised and discover hints of other genres within the main one.


You didn’t answer the question.


FrederickLeeBrooke_DoingMaxVinyl1-200x300Sorry! My three books – Doing Max Vinyl, Zombie Candy, and Collateral Damage are mysteries. A case gets solved in each of them, although they are unconventional stories, to say the least. People who are expecting a hard-boiled PI or a mirthless police procedural are not going to be satisfied with my books. I am going for humor as well, the kind that arises from absurd situations and people betraying each other. My new release, Collateral Damage, comes closest to a traditional mystery since there is a murder. But even in this book, the love triangle is more the essence of the book than the mystery.


I also dislike genre definitions. Who came up with them, anyway? And then, it seems that if you choose to write within one, the conventions of the genre can be limiting to the writer — especially if you listen too closely to the “beta reader” critics. When I posted a sample of my first book to one reading circle online, I got responses like “This is very well written, but it doesn’t ‘feel’ like YA fantasy to me.” Well, it wasn’t supposed to — I consciously tried to break the boundaries of genres.

When it comes to crossing genres, I hope to bring readers with me — to expose people who read strictly in one field to ideas from others.


Who are some authors who have changed genres and brought readers with them? Stephen King comes to mind, but I’m guessing he had lots more readers for his horror classics than for the more recent books.


Ray Bradbury never stayed within the science fiction genre, but redefined it to fit his stories. And one of my favorite Bradbury books is Dandelion Wine, which is definitely NOT s/f.


That’s interesting. Afraid the only Bradbury I’ve read is Fahrenheit 451. But for me the question is: would the same readers read his sci-fi books and then go and read Dandelion Wine as well?


I think they did. Bradbury had a unique and strong style, and that, I think, was part of the appeal. His readers were loyal. So when they saw another Ray Bradbury book — back in the days when publishers promoted their authors — readers reached for it.


I think we’ve hit on a core question for readers of the blog, Scott, namely: can they think of any author they love whom they have followed into a different genre? Carl Hiassen also writes children’s books, but I said to myself, why bother? I don’t want to read children’s books by Carl Hiassen.


You might, though, read one to your kids. That may have been Hiassen’s strategy, but I suspect that he just felt like writing a children’s story. And writers who do things like that may be the key to breaking down those artificial barriers between genres.

Let’s turn this discussion over to the readers, particularly those who prefer one or two genres over others: what would tempt you to read outside your favorite genre?

§ § § § § § §

UseThisScott Bury is an editor, journalist and author based in Ottawa, Canada. His books include One Shade of Red and The Bones of the Earth — both of which break the rules of two very different genres.