Exciting new releases!

Exciting times we live in, right?

A car just drove down my street. I don’t live in a high traffic area, so cars don’t drive down from the top of the hill often, but it made me realize how few cars I’ve seen when I’ve been out and about lately.

Like a lot of people, I’m staying home as much as possible. The last time I ventured out, I went to one grocery store, got there early, found most of what I needed, and came home early.  I tend to be a homebody anyway, but it’s weird staying home because I’m supposed to, not because I want to.

Although the family and I are starting to catch up on a lot of the series we’ve DVR’d. [WTF Evil?? Did you really plan to emasculate a totally great villain or what? Sheesh!]

I know some people are using the down time to catch up on their reading. If you’re like me, you have a huge TBR pile. But what if you don’t? What if you’d like something new to take your mind away from all the craziness of these “exciting” times?

Have I got a deal for you! [cue used car salesman voice]

Now, for a limited time only, Storybundle presents The Cats! Bundle!

Our furry feline friends have not only invaded memes and videos on your social media of choice, now they’ve invaded Storybundle!

[/end used car salesman voice]

Whew! I can only do that just so long.

Seriously, though—I’m really excited to be a part of this bundle. My collection Life With Cats is exclusive to this Bundle, but that’s not the only exclusive I’m in.  I have a brand new cat story in Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse, a spanking new anthology (not available elsewhere) that turns the “boy and his dog” post-apocalyptic tales on their… well, tails.  Plus, I have a story in Fiction River Presents: Cats!, also exclusive to this bundle.

I’ve been a cat person all my life. Haven’t turned into the crazy old cat lady down the street yet, but give me time. If you’re like me and harbor a love, secret or otherwise, for kitties of all flavors, grab this Storybundle today.  For as little as $5, you can get four of the books in this bundle, including Fiction River Presents: Cats!  But for as little as $15, you can get all ten books in this bundle, including not only exclusives like Life With Cats and Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse, but also exclusives by Dean Wesley Smith, Lisa Silverthorne, and Stefon Mears.  None of these books are available elsewhere.

All of the authors in this bundle have not only banded together to bring you great cat stories at a terrific low price, we’re also supporting Able Gamers. We’re stuck inside for what (hopefully) will only be a relatively short time. For most of us, we can read or play video games or otherwise distract ourselves without too much effort. Many disabled folks have to contend with much harsher conditions on a daily basis. Able Gamers helps them participate in online games by providing equipment tailored toward their needs. If you decide to purchase a bundle, I hope you’ll also add a donation to help support Able Gamers. Every dollar counts.

~~

If your reading tastes don’t trend towards cats, or if you’d like your fiction a little more on the dark side, I’ve got a brand new collection just for you!

This collection focuses on shapeshifters of all types.  Changelings. Were-creatures. Beings who live in the shadows, hiding their true selves from the world.

This six-story collection’s available in ebook form for $2.99 US from your favorite distributors.

Free Fiction Thursday – Famous

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Lots of fun stuff this week.  If you look over at the sidebar under New Releases, I’m happy to announce that the next issue of Fiction River–How to Save the World–is out, and it includes my story “The Shape of a Name.”  Cool beans!  How to Save the World is available in ebook and will be available soon in paperback and audio formats as well.  You can also subscribe to the entire Fiction River series, which is a heck of a good deal.

I also just got done listening to the audio of Fiction River #1: Unnatural Worlds.  Boy, was that fun or what?  The book was narrated by a full cast, who all did a great job.  It’s the first time I’ve heard a story of mine narrated.  Jane Kennedy did a wonderful job with my Diz & Dee story “Here, Kitty Kitty.”

This week’s free fiction is my dark fantasy story “Famous,” which has a brand spanking new cover as well as a paperback edition that’s currently on sale at Amazon.  Enjoy!

Famous cover smallweb

Famous

 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright © 2011, 2013 by Annie Reed

The cab pulled into the loading zone in front of Kitty’s Kool Kat Lounge.  The pink neon sign over the entrance promised live nude dancers.  Jeremy doubted they’d be totally nude, but that wasn’t what he was really here for.

“Seventeen-fifty,” said the cab driver.

The windshield wipers slapped a steady beat against the late night rain off the Bay as Jeremy dug out two tens from his wallet.  Enough for a tip, not enough to make an impression on the driver.  Not enough for the man to remember he was here.

Jeremy passed the money through the slot in the clear plastic shield between the driver and the back seat.  “Keep the change,” he said.

The driver grunted as he took the cash.  He was a bald guy twice Jeremy’s age.  He had a scar bisecting one eyebrow, and the kind of muscular neck Jeremy had seen on guys who worked out but never really bulked up.  The driver’s eyes were bloodshot, and he had enough scruff on his lined face to make him look like Bruce Willis after a three-day bender.  He’d driven as if he was sober, and he’d taken Jeremy to the kind of place he wanted to go.  Beyond that, Jeremy didn’t care if the guy was drunk off his ass.  In fact, that might make things easier in the long run.

“Let me give you a piece of advice,” the driver said.

Jeremy was about ready to make a run from the cab to the club.  The driver hadn’t said a word to him since Jeremy caught the cab downtown and asked the guy to take him to a nightclub, any nightclub, in The Shadows.  Jeremy kept his hand on the door handle but didn’t open the door.

“I give you a tip and now you talk to me?” he said.

The driver looked at him in the rear view mirror.  “Think you’re a smart guy, don’t you?”

Jeremy tensed.  “What did you say to me?”

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Don’t Touch

Good morning, everyone! And Happy Valentine’s Day!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, last week’s free story, “Love Among the Llamas,” will be up for another week. “Love Among the Llamas” is a traditional romance. This week we have a story about a different sort of love. I hope you enjoy “Don’t Touch”.

dont touch cover

 

Don’t Touch

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2013 by Annie Reed

You lift the curtain with the tip of one finger and peer out at the customers ringing the edge of the bar.  That’s all you can see through the glare of the stage lights.  Emma’s up now, dancing around the pole like it could rub her back and pay her mortgage and put her kids through school, and maybe it can because no man’s ever gonna do those things for her, like no one’s ever gonna do them for you, but it’s all you got, and you take what you can get.

The customers look the same as last night’s and the night before.  Middle-age losers, their mouths slack, hands cupped around their drinks, staring up at Emma with so much naked want in their faces, it makes you sick.  Cigarette smoke curls around Emma’s ankles like so many fingers pulling at her.  That’ll be you out there in five minutes once Emma’s done with her routine and she goes out on the floor so the men beyond the bar can stuff dollar bills under the elastic of her G-string and pretend that fleeting touch is enough.

How many of them would want to touch her if they knew she went home with you?  Would it matter, or would they pay more to watch?

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Changeling

Good morning, everyone! Happy Thursday the 12th, one day before Friday the 13th. Anyone going to celebrate the 13th with a horror movie marathon, or perhaps by going to see Joss Whedon’s new movie, The Cabin in the Woods? Me, I’m holding out for The Avengers. *g*

I have a new five-story collection available at Amazon and Smashwords, and soon to be available at Barnes & Noble and the iBookstore. TALES FROM THE SHADOWS collects five of my dark fantasy stories set in the Pacific Northwest city of Moretown Bay. This week’s story is “Changeling,” the lead story in the collection. Enjoy!

CHANGELING

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2012 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover art Copyright © Bblood|Dreamstime.com

Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press

The changeling reclined on her narrow bed in the squalid little room, rumpled sheets testifying to a busy night already spent on her back.  Features flowed across her face, flesh moving like liquid to thin her lips, widen her brows, sharpen her chin and the delicate shells of her ears.

“This what you want, sugar?” she asked.  Her waist narrowed, lean muscle flattening her naked belly.  Her breasts shrank from the porn queen size they’d been when Rory picked her up on the street to something he could cup in his hand. “This what you’re after?”

Most normals couldn’t watch a changeling shift.  Couldn’t witness human features rearrange themselves and know, deep in the gut, it wasn’t an illusion.  The wrongness of it hurt the eyes, made the stomach heave and the pavement tilt underfoot.  Rory didn’t have a choice.  He had to watch.

The changeling hadn’t turned on the overhead light when she let Rory in her room.  Enough watery streetlight filtered through the sheets of rain beating against the window for Rory to see her try to become what he wanted.  What he’d told her was his fantasy.

A half-full World’s Best Mom mug sat on the bedside table next to an overflowing ashtray. Lipstick smears circled the rim.  In the dim light, the lipstick looked black.  Judging by the boozy smell, the mug hadn’t seen coffee in a long time.

“You got a kid?” he asked.  No toys littered the room, but that didn’t mean anything. Not every mother was the world’s best.

She saw him looking at the mug and laughed.  “Goodwill, sugar.  Got it cheap. Someone’s momma didn’t want it no more.”  She took a drink.  “You want some?  I got a clean glass and a bottle in the closet.  Five bucks extra.”

The place stank of sweat and cigarettes and sex. “No.” A drink wasn’t what he was after. He leaned one shoulder against the wall at the foot of her bed.  Unzipped his coat.  She didn’t have a kid.  He couldn’t stay if she had a kid.  He allowed himself to hope.  Maybe she’d be the one.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Famous

Good morning, everyone!

How’s your Thursday going so far? It’s cold in my neck of the woods this morning. I guess winter wanted to remind us it really is a season, not just a memory. Brrrr! We have snow on the ground from Tuesday night, but it’s supposed to be warm today. At least according to the news.

This week’s story features a guy who really wants to make the headlines, but in a whole different way. “Famous” is one of my Tales From the Shadows stories, so it’s gritty urban fantasy. Enjoy!

Famous

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

 

The cab pulled into the loading zone in front of Kitty’s Kool Kat Lounge.  The pink neon sign over the entrance promised live nude dancers.  Jeremy doubted they’d be totally nude, but that wasn’t what he was really here for.

“Seventeen-fifty,” said the cab driver.

The windshield wipers slapped a steady beat against the late night rain off the Bay as Jeremy dug out two tens from his wallet.  Enough for a tip, not enough to make an impression on the driver.  Not enough for the man to remember he was here.

Jeremy passed the money through the slot in the clear plastic shield between the driver and the back seat.  “Keep the change,” he said.

The driver grunted as he took the cash.  He was a bald guy twice Jeremy’s age.  He had a scar bisecting one eyebrow, and the kind of muscular neck Jeremy had seen on guys who worked out but never really bulked up.  The driver’s eyes were bloodshot, and he had enough scruff on his lined face to make him look like Bruce Willis after a three-day bender.  He’d driven as if he was sober, and he’d taken Jeremy to the kind of place he wanted to go.  Beyond that, Jeremy didn’t care if the guy was drunk off his ass.  In fact, that might make things easier in the long run.

“Let me give you a piece of advice,” the driver said.

Jeremy was about ready to make a run from the cab to the club.  The driver hadn’t said a word to him since Jeremy caught the cab downtown and asked the guy to take him to a nightclub, any nightclub, in The Shadows.  Jeremy kept his hand on the door handle but didn’t open the door.

“I give you a tip and now you talk to me?” he said.

The driver looked at him in the rear view mirror.  “Think you’re a smart guy, don’t you?”

Jeremy tensed.  “What did you say to me?”

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Famous

This week’s free fiction Thursday story is another in the Tales From the Shadows series.  Stories set in The Shadows are urban fantasy noir.  This week’s story features a man who’s out to make a name for himself.  He even has one all picked out:  Lady Killer.

Unfortuntely for Jeremy, he decides to hunt for his first real victim in The Shadows.

Famous

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

 

The cab pulled into the loading zone in front of Kitty’s Kool Kat Lounge.  The pink neon sign over the entrance promised live nude dancers.  Jeremy doubted they’d be totally nude, but that wasn’t what he was really here for.

“Seventeen-fifty,” said the cab driver.

The windshield wipers slapped a steady beat against the late night rain off the Bay as Jeremy dug out two tens from his wallet.  Enough for a tip, not enough to make an impression on the driver.  Not enough for the man to remember he was here.

Jeremy passed the money through the slot in the clear plastic shield between the driver and the back seat.  “Keep the change,” he said.

The driver grunted as he took the cash.  He was a bald guy twice Jeremy’s age.  He had a scar bisecting one eyebrow, and the kind of muscular neck Jeremy had seen on guys who worked out but never really bulked up.  The driver’s eyes were bloodshot, and he had enough scruff on his lined face to make him look like Bruce Willis after a three-day bender.  He’d driven as if he was sober, and he’d taken Jeremy to the kind of place he wanted to go.  Beyond that, Jeremy didn’t care if the guy was drunk off his ass.  In fact, that might make things easier in the long run.

“Let me give you a piece of advice,” the driver said.

Jeremy was about ready to make a run from the cab to the club.  The driver hadn’t said a word to him since Jeremy caught the cab downtown and asked the guy to take him to a nightclub, any nightclub, in The Shadows.  Jeremy kept his hand on the door handle but didn’t open the door.

“I give you a tip and now you talk to me?” he said.

The driver looked at him in the rear view mirror.  “Think you’re a smart guy, don’t you?”

Jeremy tensed.  “What did you say to me?”

“Guys like you, you’re a dime a dozen.  You want to step out on the wild side, get away from your boring life in your uptown apartment with your uptown girlfriend, so you come down here to slum it up with the magic folk.  You ask me to take you to a place where the cops won’t bust your ass for paying a little too much attention to a girl who can look like anyone you ever had a wet dream about.  Am I right?”

Jeremy felt himself flush.  This guy drove a smelly, junk heap of a cab into the seamiest part of Moretown Bay, and he thought he was good enough to give someone like Jeremy advice?  What a joke.  But Jeremy made himself sit still and quiet and act like he was listening.

“Cops fish guys like you out of the Bay all the time,” the driver said.  “You don’t want to be one of them, keep your eyes open and your dick in your pants.  The girls down here, the ones that aren’t human, they’re the kind who steal more than your wallet.”

Okay, enough was enough.  Even a mild-mannered man would stick up for himself at this point.

“I can take care of myself,” Jeremy said.

“I bet all the smart guys they fish out of the Bay said that, too.”

Jeremy kept himself from touching the knife he had in its special pocket in his pants.  It wasn’t time for the world to find out about him.  He had work to do first.  A reputation to build.  Places to go, people to kill.  A small-time loser stuck driving a cab for a living wouldn’t know anything about that.

“Thanks for the advice,” Jeremy said.  He made himself smile and nod and pretend to be sincere.

The driver shook his head.  “I’m gonna read about you in the papers, aren’t I?  One of the missing, or one of the dead.”

Oh, you’ll read about me in the papers one day, Jeremy thought as he escaped the cab.  You just won’t know it’s me.

# # #

Read the rest of the story here