Publishing news!

Some exciting publishing news this week!

First of all, I can finally announce that my story “The Color of Guilt” has been selected as part of the YEAR’S BEST CRIME & MYSTERY STORIES 2016!!  Look at the names on this cover — Joyce Carol Oates, Mary Higgins Clark — wow!  Another one of my stories, “The Flower of the Tabernacle,” made Honorable Mention (along with a Stephen King story; color me gobsmacked!).

Mystery_Anthology_draft_ver6_8Many thanks to editors John Helfers and Kristine Kathryn Rusch for including me among such stellar writers. THE YEAR’S BEST CRIME & MYSTERY STORIES 2016 is available now at Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

The newest issue of the Uncollected Anthology is also available!

TrampsThievesReed600x900The theme this time around is Fortune Tales, and features my story “Tramps & Thieves” along with stories by guest author Stephanie Writt, and UA members Leah Cutter, Rebecca Senese, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Leslie Claire Walker.  Great urban fantasy reading!  Check it out here.

FINAL+cover+-+3200x4800And in case you missed the Fantasy in the City bundle, all twenty stories are now available in one big book for $3.99, but for a limited time only!  What a deal!  The book’s available at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks for $3.99.  FANTASY IN THE CITY includes my Diz & Dee story “Here, Kitty Kitty.”

New releases!

On this last day of November, I have a whole bunch of new releases to be thankful for.

FR16 Hidden in Crime ebook cover lighter webFirst up is the latest volume of Fiction River Hidden in Crime contains my story “The Color of Guilt,” a period piece about a crime that’s thankfully no longer a crime. At least not where the story takes place.

AQuietShelterThereCoverwebNext up is a cool anthology that’s close to my heart.  A Quiet Shelter There benefits Friends of Homeless Animals rescue in Virginia as well as other shelters and rescue organizations. My contribution to the anthology is “Life, With Cats,” a science fiction story inspired by a wonderful ginger kitty who came to live with us several years ago.

HangoverCover600x900And finally, the latest issue of the Uncollected Anthology is out! This issue’s theme is Enchanted Emporiums and features my story “All Hallows’ Hangover,” a fun little post-Halloween romance.

Free Fiction Thursday – Carl of the Bells

Carl Bells web

Carl of the Bells

Annie Reed

 

My friend Carl was born a few beers short of a six-pack, if you know what I mean. He’s one of those guys with a bucket full of great ideas you just know will never pan out. He told me once he could make a killing selling rocks in a box.

“People are stupid gullible,” he said. “They’ll buy anything if you package it right.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him Pet Rocks went out of style while we were still learning our ABCs.

Carl being Carl, I shouldn’t have been surprised when he interrupted our football watching one night to tell me about his latest money-making idea.

We were nursing beers at Big Ed’s Tavern on this particular Thursday night watching the Chargers beat the crap out of the 49ers on Big Ed’s dinky television.

Big Ed got the NFL channel, which was why we hung out there. The place was packed because the 49ers were playing this week, and Reno’s chock full of diehard Niners fans. Didn’t matter that this late in December the 49ers didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making the playoffs.

Carl and I counted ourselves lucky we got our favorite seats at the bar so we could see the tiny screen. You’d think with all the money Big Ed raked in on Thursdays, he’d shell out the bucks for a flat screen TV bigger than a postage stamp.

“You know those bell ringers they got in front of every grocery store around town?” Carl asked me.

“Yeah, the Salvation Army guys.”

Carl gave me one of his that’s what you think looks, complete with arched eyebrow and all-knowing sneer. Carl’s been losing his hair since high school graduation, and he could stand to shed those thirty or so extra pounds around his middle. His sense of fashion is lounge lizard slick. Look at him sideways, and he could have doubled for Clark Griswold’s hick cousin in that Christmas movie my wife makes me watch every year.

The arched eyebrow combined with a sneer wasn’t a particularly flattering look on my good buddy Carl.

“How do you know they’re all with the Salvation Army?” Carl asked.

(end of sample)

~~~

Carl of the Bells

Copyright © 2014 Annie Reed

First published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, January 2013 edition

This story can be purchased at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords.

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 – Firebug

Happy Thursday, everyone!

In honor of the release of a paperback edition of my five-story collection IT’S A CRIME (complete with free ebook version!), this week’s free fiction is “Firebug,” one of the five stories in the collection. Enjoy!

crime v5 ebook small

 

FIREBUG

Annie Reed

Copyright ©  Annie Reed

Me and Bobby, we started a fire yesterday in that empty house on Colfax, the one with the ugly puke-green Realty Masters “For Sale” sign in the front yard.  We got in through the patio door, real easy like.  The guys working on the inside, fixing up the place, they don’t always lock up when they leave.  I guess they think nobody notices, but I do.  Even I know better than to leave a house open like that. Just asking for trouble.

We were outside the AM-PM on Fourth and Garnett, hanging out in the shade, when I came up with the idea.  Me and Bobby, we went to AM-PM for drinks just like we always do.  I had a Mountain Dew with lots of ice.  I like lots of ice in the summer, crunch it between my teeth like candy.  Bobby was sucking down AM-PM’s lame-ass version of a sour berry Slurpee.  He stuck out his tongue every now and then just to gross me out, like a blue tongue is all that gross.  I’ve seen grosser.

I’d slipped a lighter in my jeans pocket when the AM-PM cashier wasn’t looking.  The lighter was clear orange plastic, the kind where you can see the fluid inside sloshing all around.  I almost forgot about it until I did that little jump-skip thing I do over cracks in the sidewalk, and I felt the lighter poking hard against my hip.

“Wanna see something cool?” I asked.

I took the lighter out of my pocket and showed it to Bobby, and all of a sudden, just like that, I had the idea.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Ties That Bind

Happy Thursday from the Oregon coast!

I never realize how much I miss the coast until I get here. Then I get a whiff of the ocean, surround myself with tall evergreens and the kind of flowering shrubs that the desert would suck the life right on out of, and bam — it hits me that it’s been far too long since I’ve been here. I’m even enjoying the rain.

Okay, enough nature nattering and on with this week’s free story. “Ties That Bind” is one of my urban fantasies set in the corporate world. Kind of. I hope you enjoy it.

ties cover v2

Ties That Bind

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright © 2013 by Annie Reed

The first hint of trouble came from Gris in Research and Development.

“We’re having a bit of a problem getting the enchantments to stick to the new cuffs,” he said to me in an early morning phone call.

I’ve never done mornings well, but when you’re the wizard in charge of the largest magical enhancements company in Moretown Bay, and a woman in a man’s profession to boot, whether you do mornings well or not doesn’t matter one damn bit.

I leaned back in my leather chair and gazed out my tenth floor office window at the overcast sky.  The streets below were still wet from last night’s rain. I could almost smell the wet asphalt.  It would probably rain again today.  I pinched the bridge of my nose against an impending headache that wasn’t all sinuses.

“Is it the alloy or the spell?” I asked Gris.

“Can’t tell yet,” he said.  “We’re still testing.  Just thought you should know, Nell.  Considering.”

Yeah.  Considering.

My company had a contract with the city to supply enhanced weapons and restraints to the police department.  Research and Development had been testing redesigned handcuffs.  Lighter-weight with an easy snap-close lock, the new handcuffs were supposed to address problems the cops had with the old handcuff design.  Personally, I thought any set of handcuffs that could keep a changeling in its true shape or prevent a wizard from casting a spell to escape custody were good enough, but my father built this company by supplying our customers with whatever they wanted.  And what the customer I had a meeting with later today wanted was new and better handcuffs.

(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 – Homeless

Good morning, everyone!

Boy, I don’t know how many Criminal Minds fans stop by my blog, but wow… I’m still reeling a bit from last night’s episode. The show’s been cruel in one way or another to all of its main characters over the years, so I should have figured out what was coming. Still… show, you made me want to cuddle one of your main characters and offer hot chocolate and a comfortable shoulder to cry on. Sheesh!

I think I need to go watch a superhero movie, something where the good guys kick major butt. The Avengers or maybe Thor would be good choices.

This week’s story involves heroes of a different sort. Life can be cruel to the old gods who can’t move on. Especially to one of the old gods who turned her back on her son. I hope you enjoy “Homeless.”

homeless cover v2 interior

HOMELESS

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2010 Annie Reed

Hera remembered beauty.  She remembered warm summer rain and cool evening breezes, the sweet smell of jasmine and the sweeter taste of revenge.  She remembered the power of the gods and the subservience of mortals, and she remembered her children and her husband.  All things long gone in this modern world which had forgotten her.

Chill wind buffeted her through the threadbare wool of her stained coat, whipped her matted grey hair about her deeply-lined face.  Shoulders hunched against the cold, Hera shuffled along a city street bordered not by temples of marble and granite, but by monstrous buildings of chrome and steel, brick and glass.  Monuments to money, not to ancient gods, crowded this world.  The air tasted thick and foul, and smelled of hot metal and snuffed candlewicks.  The rumbling, screeching noise of automobiles and buses made her head ache.  The sidewalk was hard and unforgiving beneath her aching feet.

She held her coat closed with numb fingers and looked for a place to rest for a while.  Just for a short while, until someone told her to leave, and then she would begin the search all over again like the rest of this city’s homeless.

(read the rest of the story here)

New Holiday Story

If you’re looking for a holiday story with a touch of crime, I have a new story in the January 2013 holiday edition of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.

Here’s what EQ says about the story:

Annie Reed’s funny but poignant “Carl of the Bells” explores the idea of charity during the bell-ringing season.

The holiday edition of Ellery Queen is available now in bookstores as well as a digital edition.

Free Fiction Thursday – A Death in Cumberland

Happy Thursday, everyone! And happy first day of November.

I’ve got a couple of cool things happening this month. The first is the release of my brand-new mystery novel, A DEATH IN CUMBERLAND, featuring rural Nevada sheriff Jill Jordan. To celebrate, this week’s free fiction is an excerpt from the novel. Enjoy!

A Death in Cumberland
Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press
Copyright © 2012 Annie Reed

 

Chapter 1

Nora Corbitt parked her car at the very edge of the dirt parking lot at Founders Park.  The lot was full, but at this time of night no one would see her back here so close to the street.  The two baseball diamonds on the far side of the lot were lit so bright it looked like the middle of the day over there, but the banks of lights were focused on the playing fields, and the parking lot didn’t have any lights of its own.  Where Nora stood next to her car, she was hidden by the long shadows thrown by the few spindly trees that separated the lot from the baseball fields, and that was just the way she liked it.

It seemed like everyone in Cumberland had turned out for the city league tournament.  Grown men playing softball like their lives depended on it.  She’d seen flyers for the tournament at the grocery store.  Nora didn’t like crowds, and she hated sports and the men who played them.  She wouldn’t have left her house at all except for the cat.

“I have this cat, it’s a stray, but my dad won’t let me keep it.  Can you take it?  I hear you do that, right?  Take in cats?”

The voice on the phone that afternoon had been young.  Nora didn’t trust the young, and she hadn’t answered right away.

“I’m afraid my dad will kill it.  He doesn’t like cats.”

Nora had stroked the calico in her lap, a beautiful cat with only one eye.  The cat was like her, a survivor.  That’s all Nora had ever wanted to do—help the cats survive.

“Yes,” she’d said to the young voice.  “I can take it.”

They’d arranged to meet in the parking lot at Founders Park.  “After the games start.  My dad will be playing and he won’t notice if I’m gone for a few minutes.”

Nora didn’t ask why the meeting had to be secret.  She’d lived in Cumberland long enough to know that people who lived in small towns had their secrets, just like the town itself had secrets.  Nora was one of them.

(read the rest of the excerpt here)