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.”

Fantasy bundle!

Fantasy+in+the+City+-+Facebook+image+1200x628I’m thrilled to be participating in a brand new bundle over at Bundle Rabbit – Fantasy in the CityThis bundle includes stories by some of my very favorite urban fantasy authors.  I’d name them individually, but then I’d end up naming all of them, and this picture does a much better job:

Fantasy+in+the+City+-+Montage+of+all+covers+800x501

Aren’t those covers cool?

You can get this bundle of twenty different stories, including my Diz & Dee story Here, Kitty Kitty, for one amazing low price.  Well, two low prices, actually.  For a minimum cost of $2.99, you’ll get eight stories.  Pay at least $3.99, and you’ll get all twenty stories (including mine).  Plus, you can donate part of your purchase price to help two great charities:  The Humane Society of the United States and Doctors Without Borders.

The bundle’s only available until July 10th, so don’t wait. Where else can you get over $40 worth of stories for such a great price?

Free Fiction Thursday – The Case of the Missing Elf

Missing Elf webThe Case of the Missing Elf

Annie Reed

I was having a non-argument argument with my partner about whether we should get a Christmas tree for the office when the front door opened and a whole passel of elves piled in.

Up front, I should tell you that my partner is an elf. A tall one. Broad-shouldered, pointy-eared, strong-jawed, and with the most drop-dead gorgeous blue eyes I’ve ever seen. You might be thinking Legolas from those movies, but Diz is more The Rock than Orlando Bloom. He even has The Rock’s glower. The cinnamon and marshmallow-colored mullet, though—that’s all Diz’s own.

Yeah, I know. A mullet. But considering how great the rest of him looks, who am I to complain?

Together, Diz and I run a private detective agency called D & D Investigations out of a former bakery in a rundown neighborhood on the mainland side of Moretown Bay. I’m Dee, the other D in D & D. I’m not an elf. Or a dwarf. Or a fairy or any one of a hundred other kinds of magic folk who call the area around the Bay home. I’m a plain old vanilla human with curly brown hair that tends to frizz when it’s humid, which is just about all the time. I also have a touch of precognition I’ve yet to learn how to control any better than my hair.

“You find missing people?” the nearest elf in the pack said.

I looked down at him. Unlike Diz, who’s a good foot taller than my medium height, these elves were all way shorter than I am. I counted seven of the mini elves. They all wore variations of the same outfit: forest-green pants, red-and-green shirts that were more tunic than shirt, and red, green, or white scarves. The elf who asked me whether we find missing people had curly salt-and-pepper hair peeking out from beneath a red knit hat with a white pom-pom on top. They made the office look like a seasonal munchkin convention.

“Uh, yeah,” I said. I resisted the urge to point to the lettering beneath the agency name on the plate glass window of our office—Missing Persons Are Our Specialty. We’d paid extra for that, but no one ever seemed to read it.

The elf behind the guy with the red knit hat elbowed him. “I don’t care what you say, this can’t be the right place,” he said in a stage whisper I could hear fine even though his voice sounded like he’d just taken a hit of helium. “Just look at it.”

The rest of the elves nodded and muttered among themselves. Except for the elf with the red hat, they all sounded like helium addicts.

(end of sample)

 

# # #

The Case of the Missing Elf

Copyright © 2014 Annie Reed

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

If you liked The Case of the Missing Elf, check out these other Diz and Dee Mysteries!

Free Fiction Thursday – The Snow Queen

Just in time for the holidays, this story will be free to read for two weeks!

Snow Queen web

1

Gunther missed snow.

Back home when he’d been a kid, come the first of November, more often than not he’d wake to big, fat, fluffy flakes sailing down from the sky like soft little pieces of cotton candy.

Put enough of those flakes together and he could build a silly snowman, complete with his big sister’s favorite knitted scarf, because what else were little brothers for than to torment their older sisters?

By the first of December, enough snow would have fallen to turn the hillside behind his family’s farm into the perfect place for sledding. Gunther and his sister took turns swooshing down the hill on his dad’s old sled, avoiding the oak trees and rocky outcroppings that dotted the hill. They didn’t stop even when their noses turned red from the cold and their feet got numb, but just kept right on sledding until it got too dark to see.

Snow days started with steaming mugs of his mother’s hot chocolate and his father’s special omelets filled with home-smoked bacon and sharp cheddar and ended with everyone warming frosty fingers and toes before a roaring fireplace after an enthusiastic snowball fight or two. Even as he got older and strong coffee replaced hot chocolate and an apartment in the city replaced his parents’ farm, Gunther still got a thrill every morning when he’d wake up to falling snow.

Snow softened harsh noises. Snow took the rough edges off things. Snow made November feel like winter and made December feel magical, frosting strings of twinkling Christmas lights into blurry little stars of red and green and blue.

That had been December in the Midwest.

December in Moretown Bay, a coastal city smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Northwest, was nothing but dull and gray and dreary.

Icy rain pelted the shoulders of Gunther’s heavy winter coat and ran down the sides of his neck as he bent to unlock the iron security gate at Chocolatapus, a specialty candy store located in a trendy waterfront marketplace complete with cobblestone streets and an open-air craft market during the summer.

Unlike the used bookstore and curio shop next door run by a curmudgeonly old wizard who only opened the place to the public for an hour a day on the second and third Tuesdays of every other month (most of the wizard’s customers shopped by appointment only), Chocolatapus was open seven days a week, ten hours a day.

As the store’s manager, Gunther worked most of those days and hours, but to tell the truth, he didn’t mind. It wasn’t like he did much with his time off anyway, and besides, working at Chocolatapus had turned into the best job Gunther had ever had since he’d left home nearly ten years ago. Not that being the manager of a candy store was exactly where he saw himself ending up after all the time, not to mention money, he’d spent earning a college degree.

He might even like Moretown Bay if only it didn’t rain so much in the winter. Which made winter seem like spring and summer and fall, only a little colder. And which today made him miss his family and home and snow days all the more.

As for Chocolatapus, the store was pretty nearly perfect. It sold milk chocolate and exotic dark chocolate and every kind of chocolate in between, along with silky caramels and chewy taffy, salty-sweet kettle corn and crunchy almond brittle. In December, the store also stocked Gunther’s favorite: swirly peppermint sticks that reminded him of the candy canes that always appeared as if by magic on his family’s Christmas tree on Christmas morning. With long glass display cases filled with sweet treats lining both side of the narrow shop, the store felt warm and cozy and smelled like his mother’s hot chocolate mixed with all the best memories of his childhood.

After Gunther pushed the heavy iron security gate away from the front door, he murmured the words of the spell that would disable the wards around the front door.

Gunther didn’t have any magic of his own—no one in his family did—but more magic folk than Gunther had ever seen anywhere else lived in Moretown Bay. Spells that could be used by regular old humans were available for purchase from licensed witches and wizards pretty much anywhere in the city. For all he knew, the curmudgeonly old wizard who owned the shop next door sold spells on the side.

Of course, spells could also be reversed for the right price.

(end of sample)

~~~

This story is no longer available to read for free, but it can be purchased at Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

Be sure to check out the other stories in the Uncollected Anthology series!

Free Fiction Friday – The Magic of Home

This week’s free fiction story celebrates the first issue of the Uncollected Anthology with my contribution, The Magic of Home.  This story will be available to read for free right here until August 15th.  Enjoy!

Annie MM for website

THE MAGIC OF HOME

Annie Reed

The motorcycle whispered to Twig as they zoomed past the shipyards at the south end of Moretown Bay.

Home.

Tucked safely inside her helmet, the tips of Twig’s long ears quivered in response to the motorcycle’s rumbling voice. She felt its yearning not only in the subtle change in its magic, but in the throaty roar of the engine as they increased speed, racing north on I-5 toward the city that shared its name with the bay.

Twig leaned forward. “Almost there,” she said. “Almost there.”

Her words tore apart on the damp night air rushing past her, but she knew their meaning would still reach the heart of the machine that had been her friend for a decade. Not all magical beings needed ears to hear or words to understand.

As much as she wanted to get them both home, they couldn’t afford to draw the attention of any police—or wizards—who might be patrolling the freeway.

I-5 passed through the center of the city as the freeway wound its way north into Canada, a wide ribbon of asphalt and concrete hemmed in by high-rise office buildings, luxury hotels, and apartment buildings too rich for Twig’s blood. This part of the freeway had always been heavily patrolled. Twig doubted that had changed in the years she’d been gone, so she throttled back on the engine to bring their speed closer to the surrounding traffic.

The motorcycle fought her, so Twig whispered soothing words to it until it accepted her decision. She hoped it was the right one.

Under other circumstances, just seeing the city itself might have taken her breath away. Tonight the sky was clear. No fog had rolled in off the water to obscure the view, and the tall buildings in the city center gleamed like jewels against the starry sky. She could make out the spires of the Justice Center, gleaming white and silver like a monument to law and order for all, human and magic folk alike. Spotlights had turned the modern glass and steel Trexler Towers blue and green, the colors for a local sports team.

Twig wasn’t surprised that the city was still celebrating the team’s world championship, even though that particular sport wasn’t truly played on a global scale. Everyone, magic folk and humans alike, needed something outside themselves to believe in.

Hurry, the motorcycle whispered. Gillfoil approaches.

Twig tensed. As sensitive as her ears were to the currents of magic in the world around her, the motorcycle’s senses far exceeded hers. If the motorcycle felt the presence of the gang’s enforcer, that meant he was near.

“Where?” she asked.

Behind. Less than a mile.

“Can we make it?”

The motorcycle hesitated. Twig could imagine her friend calculating speed and distance, and the effect of mass and magic on both.

No.

(end of sample)

~~~

The Magic of Home is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.

If you enjoyed this story, be sure to check out the other stories in the Uncollected Anthology series!

Free Fiction Thursday – Lady of the Deep

Happy beginning of summer, everyone!

I don’t know how things are in your neck of the woods, but here in Northern Nevada it’s supposed to be hot this weekend.  Like record-setting hot.  Like hang out by a cool lake in the shade with a tall glass of iced tea and a good book, or maybe just park yourself next to the air conditioning.  With a good book.  Are you sensing a pattern? 😉

This week’s story features a hot day, a lake, and a legend that’s about to turn one guy’s fun day in the sun into something dark and dangerous.  I hope you enjoy “Lady of the Deep.”

Lady deep ebook 2013 small

 

Lady of the Deep

 Annie Reed

Copyright © 2011, 2013 by Annie Reed

A sandcastle competition.  At a man-made lake where the sand had to be carted in on dump trucks because the lake used to be a rock quarry, and the last thing those beaches had was any natural sand.  Greg had never heard of anything sillier, except maybe the fact that Sylvia wanted to watch the competition.

“It’s a hundred degrees out there,” Greg said.  “And you want to stand around and watch grown men play in the dirt.”

The two of them were sitting in Sylvia’s battered old Honda.  The parking lot at the public entrance to the lake was only half-full even though it was the second Saturday in July and the swimming was free, which meant the place should have been swarming with kids.  Even little kids had sense enough to stay inside out of the sun.

“Aw, c’mon,” Sylvia said.  “It’ll be fun.  We have sunscreen and an umbrella and a blanket in the back, and I bet they’re selling beer and hotdogs.  It’ll be just like a picnic.  Didn’t you ever go on a picnic?”

“No.”

Well, that wasn’t quite true, but Sylvia wouldn’t know that.  They’d only been dating a few weeks.  Sylvia was great in bed and easy to look at, even if she wasn’t exactly what Greg would call pretty, but she had this thing about being outdoors.  She liked to just sit outside and watch the world go by.  Sometimes she liked to go on walks.  Like on the concrete path around the outside of this particular lake.

“You need the fresh air,” she said.

Okay, sure, he worked in a cubicle farm all day, and left on his own, he’d play video games all night, but was that any reason to make him bake in the sun on the hottest day of the year?

“And if you’ve never been on a picnic…”  Sylvia let the thought hang in the air, like she wanted him to finish it.  When he didn’t, she said, “Well, we really need to go on a little picnic of our own, then.”  She leaned over the center console and kissed him.  “You can rub sunscreen all over me.”  She arched one eyebrow and kissed him again.  “And I can rub sunscreen all over you.”

Greg had a vision of Sylvia naked.  She did look pretty good with her clothes off.  And rubbing on sunscreen was a legitimate way of touching her in public without anyone raising a fuss.

“Then you can rub me more, later,” she said, her mouth up by his ear.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – My Cousin, the Rabbit

Happy Thursday, everyone!

This weekend marks the second year I’ll be spending Easter at Sakura-Con in Seattle. Last year’s con experience had a direct influence on the brand new Diz and Dee story, “Here, Kitty Kitty,”  I wrote for Fiction River # 1 – Unnatural Worlds.  Who knows what kind of mayhem this year’s con will inspire. 🙂

You’ll be able to purchase Unnatural Worlds beginning next month. I’ve seen the rest of the stories in this volume, and trust me, they’re all kickass. I’m thrilled to be a part of the Fiction River family, and I’ll have some more cool announcements along that line as the year progresses. As they used to say in television land, “stay tuned.”

In the meantime, in honor of the holiday, this week’s Free Fiction Thursday story finds Diz and Dee tracking down Dee’s missing cousin Harold, who has a unique problem with the Easter season. I hope you enjoy “My Cousin, the Rabbit.”

my cousin cover art

My Cousin, The Rabbit

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2013 by Annie Reed

I was balancing my morning coffee and a bag of donuts in one hand and fumbling with the key to my office with the other when my cell phone rang.

I’m not a morning person.  I’m also not the world’s greatest cook.  Even though I live in the apartment upstairs from my office, I go out most mornings for coffee and something my mother would not approve of as breakfast food.  So when I recognized the ring tone I’d assigned to my mother — a snazzy little number that sounded like the music from Psycho right about the time Anthony Perkins goes gonzo on Janet Leigh with a knife in the shower — my first reaction was to drop the bag of donuts like a hot potato.

What?  Donuts?  Not me, mom.  I’m going upstairs to fix myself sprouts and granola right this minute.

Not that I had sprouts and granola in my apartment.  I barely had enough food for my cat.

The bag split open when it hit the sidewalk, spilling all that sugary goodness on the wet concrete.  So much for breakfast.  At least I still had my coffee.

I managed to get the office door unlocked and my cell phone out of my pocket before the call rang over to voicemail.

“Your cousin’s missing,” my mother said before I could even croak out a hello.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Just My Luck

Happy Thursday, everyone!

I’m back home after a marvelous — and productive — week on the Oregon coast. Lots of fun with writer and editor friends, I discovered exactly how awesome the BBC’s Sherlock is, and I even have some exciting publishing news that I can’t really talk about yet, some of which involves our intrepid heroes from this week’s story. Woot!

In honor of the upcoming Saint Patrick’s Day holiday, this week’s Free Fiction Thursday story features my urban fantasy detectives Diz and Dee, a leprechaun, a pot of gold, and the missing love of the wee man’s life. I hope you enjoy “Just My Luck.”

just my luck cover

 

Just My Luck

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright © 2013 by Annie Reed

I’d just kicked back in my chair with my feet up on my desk, the first cup of coffee of the morning steaming a wonderful, fresh-brewed aroma, when a snazzy little man in a kelly green suit opened the door to my office.

When I say little, I mean this guy was little.  No more than three feet tall, he was perfectly proportioned, from tiny feet encased in black leather loafers to the top of his wee, curly-haired head.  He had chubby cheeks and coppery red hair, and a full beard to match.  Brilliant green eyes peered out at me from behind wire-rimmed, rectangular spectacles.

He shut the door firmly behind him then turned to face me.  He held a green fedora that matched his suit in hands that looked far stronger than their diminutive size implied.

“I’m wondering,” he said, his voice surprisingly deep for someone so small.  “Do you think you can help me, miss?  I’ve come about someone gone missing.”

That’s what I do.  I help people find other people.  I’m Dee, one half of D & D Investigations, and as the sign says on the glass window in the front office, Missing Persons Are Our Specialty.

However, just because someone’s polite enough to call me “Miss” doesn’t mean I’m a pushover.

I dropped my feet on the floor, sat up straight, and narrowed my eyes at my potential client.  Except for his size and his red hair, this guy bore more than a passing resemblance to Cupid… er, Eros.  I’ve already helped one member of the God of Love’s huge family, and instead of a “thank you” for my trouble, I got a box of bad-tasting Valentine’s Day chocolates and a tantalizing yet all too brief glimpse of my partner’s towel-clad physique.

“You’re not related to Eros, are you?” I asked.

The little man blinked.  “Not that I’m aware of.”

“And you’re not an elf?”

He blinked again.  “No.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I have nothing against elves.  My partner’s an elf.  A tall one.  Diz, the other half of D & D, is built like The Rock back when The Rock was still The Rock and not Dwayne Johnson, movie star.  Trust me.  I’ve seen nearly all of Diz, and when I say he’s built, he’s really built.  Diz also has The Rock’s glower, without the raised eyebrow thing The Rock used to do, and about as much patience as I can fit in the tip of my little finger.   But Diz and I had a whole passel of dinky little elves for clients right before Christmas, and let me tell you, I’d give just about anything for a normal client right about now.

Not that I was going to get it.

“I’m a leprechaun,” the little man said.

(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 – After

Happy Thursday, everyone!

I don’t know about you, but this has been a busy week for this writer person. I’m getting ready to head out for two back-to-back workshops. I don’t travel a whole lot, so each trip out of town is like a mini-adventure. This one should be fun. Lots of friends and writing and business talk (yes, that’s fun when it’s about the business of writing), with some imaginary characters thrown in here and there for good measure.

A few years ago I went on another adventure with a friend — a trip to a beautiful mountain lake. One day we stopped for a late lunch at a restaurant overlooking the lake. It was the middle of the week, not yet the tourist season, and we were the only customers in the place. We sat outside on a second-story deck and ate pizza in the shade of huge pine trees and just enjoyed the heck out of ourselves. A few months later, this week’s story was born. I hope you enjoy “After,” the story of an artist with one foot in the real world and one foot in a world that only exists in her imagination.

After_cover

 

After

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2013 by Annie Reed

The older Belle Creedy gets, the more she wonders about what happens.  After.

In the mornings, when dawn’s just a lick of peach in the eastern sky and she’s so far into the world of her art she only knows the sun’s coming up because the racket from the birds roosting in the thick pines around her house intrudes on her thoughts, she stops whatever she’s working on and pads out onto the deck on the second story of her place.  She watches ripples on the surface of the clear mountain lake just across the road take on the color of the pre-dawn sky, and she considers just how many coincidences go into making a world like this.  Are they really coincidences after all?  Or is there something more?

It’s quiet this morning, so early in the day the birds have barely started their chatter.  So early that Gary Weeds, another old-timer like herself, isn’t even on the lake yet.  Gary lives halfway up the mountain.  He fishes every day he can, and since he retired in 1989, he can fish almost every day the weather lets him.   He crunches down the one-lane dirt road that snakes up through the pines, rod and tackle box in his hand, and shoves off in his rowboat.  Sits out on the lake half the day, the damn fool.  One of these days she’s gonna catch Gary peeing over the edge of his boat.  Man has a cast iron bladder, but even a cast iron bladder can’t stand against the ravages of time.

(read the rest of the story here)