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.”

Cool stuff!

The newest issue of the Uncollected Anthology is out!  Woohoo!  This time around we’ve got great stories by guest author Ron Collins and regulars Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Leslie Claire Walker, Leah Cutter, Dayle Dermatis, and our newest regular member Rebecca M. Senese (rhymes with menace *g*).

Oh, and I have a story in this issue too. *g*  A brand new Diz and Dee mystery, no less! Take a look at this cool cover:

Woods cover 200x300Here’s the blurb:

Private detectives Diz and Dee have worked for some pretty odd clients. Leprechauns. Fairies. The occasional Greek God.

Even Dee’s mother.

But their newest client could be the oddest yet.

Horror movie director Morte (as in death; he had it legally changed) can’t find the star of his latest B-movie flick, currently filming in the woods outside Moretown Bay. The guy’s a method actor who needs to “live the part,” and he occasionally takes off to do a little research. Only this time he’s playing a werewolf, and the full moon is right around the corner.

Hollywood invades the offices of D & D Investigations in this latest addition to the Diz & Dee mystery series!

Nifty, right?  The story’s available at the usual ebook vendors.  I had a blast writing this one. I hope you enjoy it!

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I’m participating in an upcoming bundle over at Bundle Rabbit (which my subconscious insists on referring to as Bundle Bunny).  More details to follow, but in the meantime, take a look at some of the great bundles going on right now.  Great deals on a whole lot of good fiction!

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Speaking of great deals, Dean Wesley Smith has put all six weeks of his Originality in Fiction online workshop up on YouTube for free!  Go check this one out, especially you writers out there.  I took this workshop a couple of years ago, and it’s well worth your time.

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!

New Release!

Paper Bullets webI’m thrilled to announce the release of the latest Abby Maxon mystery novel, Paper Bullets.

This novel’s been a couple of years in the making, but it’s really been a labor of love. Abby’s back, along with police detective Kyle Beecham, daughter Samantha, ex-husband Ryan, and attorney Norton Greenburger. This time around Abby’s on the trail of a stalker.  Here’s the official description:

One simple favor for her ex plunges private investigator Abby Maxon into a deadly game of cat and mouse.

The job seems easy enough: find the man who’s been stalking her ex-husband’s girlfriend. Even though the last thing Abby wants to do is spend her day tailing pretty fitness trainer Melody Hartwell, no woman should have to put up with a stalker. Not even the woman Abby’s ex dumped her for.

The easy job turns tough when Abby discovers more than one potential stalker. The tough job turns deadly when someone torches Melody’s car while she’s still inside.

With the official police investigation focusing on Abby’s ex, she sets out to track down the real killer–a deadly opponent determined to leave no loose ends behind.

The book’s currently available for purchase on Amazon and will be available shortly at other major e-book outlets.  A trade paper edition will be released in May.

Free Fiction Thursday – Hunger in Blue

Hunger in Blue webMatthew Reynolds turned himself into the perfect cop. He purchased the perfect uniform. Worked for years to get his body in perfect shape. Practiced his cop’s stare for hours in front of a mirror to master the perfect mix of intimidation and understanding. He’s finally ready for his first night on the streets.

Matthew Reynolds never applied to the police academy. He knew he wouldn’t qualify. He’s not about to let a little thing like that stop him.

He’ll do anything to protect and serve. Anything at all. He has no other choice.

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

Hunger in Blue

Annie Reed

Reynolds tucked the tail of his new uniform shirt into his pants. Deep blue, almost black in the low light of his apartment, and one hundred percent cotton, or so the tag inside the collar claimed. Just enough starch in the fabric to keep the pressed lines crisp and clean.

He almost wished he hadn’t put on a clean black T-shirt underneath. The feel of the long sleeves against his forearms as he buttoned the cuffs was exquisite. How much better to feel the slightly stiff, scratchy cotton against his chest? His newly-flattened belly?

How much better to help him play the part?

He closed his eyes and breathed in deep. He had to control himself. The T-shirt kept the vest from rubbing his skin raw. The uniform shirt was tailored to fit over the T-shirt and the bullet-proof vest and still show off his physique in a way that made him look solid and powerful.

He’d been working toward this day for over a year. Scrimping and saving and studying, checking every move he made in the mirror to make sure his body language was right, his expression suitably intimidating and kind all at the same time. Not an easy feat. How did the real cops do it? Given the cops he saw on the street every day, most of them cut out the kindness. Reynolds promised himself he never would.

He was going to be a different kind of cop. The kind the world of today needed. The kind the world deserved.

(end of sample)

# # #

“Hunger in Blue”

Copyright © 2014 by Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Free Fiction Thursday – Self Defense

Self defense webA powerful story about a single mother and her young son from award-winning author Annie Reed.

When Miriam’s son tries to defend himself against schoolyard bullies, he’s victimized a second time by a school system that punishes the victim as well as the bully.

In order to help her son learn to be strong, Miriam must overcome the trauma of her own past. For bullies exist in every walk of life, and she’s tired of being a victim.

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

Self Defense

Annie Reed

Miriam sat across the desk from her son’s middle school principal and tried not to fidget.

Her chair was as uncomfortable as all the classroom chairs she’d ever sat in when she’d been in school. Straight-backed with a hardwood seat and battered metal legs, it was an adult version of the kid-sized chairs she perched on at every parent-teacher conference she’d gone to since Mitchell had started school seven years ago. Familiarity did not breed contempt so much as fear—the old childhood fears of being called to the principal’s office. Of being noticed. Of not fitting in.

Only this time Miriam wasn’t afraid for herself. She was afraid for Mitchell.

The principal didn’t shake her hand when Miriam introduced herself after a harried-looking office assistant ushered her into his tiny office. The man didn’t even stand up from behind his neat-as-a-pin desk. His only acknowledgment of her presence was to glance away from his computer screen only long enough to give her a look that made her feel like she was a minor irritation in a lifetime filled with nothing but irritations.

Miriam had offered her hand in greeting. When the principal didn’t give her the courtesy of accepting her outstretched hand, she pulled it back and straightened her skirt as she sat down. She tried to make the movement look natural, like she’d intended to do just that all along, although she was sure she’d failed miserably.

“We have a serious situation here, Mrs. Richardson,” the principal said. “You son was caught fighting.”

(end of sample)

 

Free Fiction Thursday – Long, Slow Suicide

LS Suicide web

Eli Goshen loves his wife. He has for over fifty years. He’s always taken care of her, but when she takes an unexpected gambling trip to Reno and fails to return, he has no choice but to hire a private detective to find her.

A detective who’s been around gambling all her life.

A detective who knows how fast a big win can turn into the biggest loss of all.

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

Long, Slow Suicide

Annie Reed

I usually meet clients in my office.

It’s not much of an office, little more than a closet with a desk and file cabinet the last tenant left in lieu of rent, and a couple of chairs I rescued from a mortgage company’s going out of business sale. But I like my clients to see I’m legit. Not some schmuck working out of her apartment who cobbled together a one-page website featuring a generic shot of the downtown Reno skyline with the words Detective, Reasonable and Discrete Photoshopped on top. I have an actual office.

Okay. So my website only has two pages. I also advertise on Craigslist. Shoot me. I have to eat like everyone else.

My new client, Eli Goshen, didn’t want to come to my office. He wanted to meet me in a casino.

Reno’s lousy with casinos. Vegas gets the splash and the notoriety, but we have more than our fair share up north. From the massive Silver Legacy, with its ridiculous, huge bowling ball of a dome, to the latest trend—mini strip mall casinos nestled next to the neighborhood Subway or Payless Shoes. If you want to shovel your paycheck in the mouth of a slot machine, you don’t have to go far in this town to find one.

I never understood the allure.

Gambling aside, breathing the air in a casino is like mainlining a rancid cocktail of secondhand smoke and alcohol fumes directly into your bloodstream. The gaming areas are one huge, windowless cave lit by enough neon and flashing lights to give an epileptic seizures. Heaven forbid the gamblers might notice the sun’s come up (or gone down) while they’ve been plunking silver dollars into a slot machine’s maw.

The carpets are loud, the games are loud, and the whole thing’s tarnished with a none too subtle sense of desperation.

Casinos sell the ultimate get rich quick version of the American Dream, but I grew up here. Casinos aren’t built because they lose money. They don’t need any of mine.

I tried to talk Goshen into meeting me anywhere else. He told me he was staying at the Downtowner and would meet me in the coffee shop in a half hour.

That brief phone call told me two things about my new client. One, he was cheap.

Casino food’s the best deal in town if you can stomach the atmosphere. Casinos can afford to lose money in their restaurants because they more than make up for it with gaming revenue. Most casinos have some kind of all-you-can-eat buffet for those who want to pig out, plus a coffee shop for those who don’t. Goshen was of the non-pig out variety.

The second thing that phone call told me was that Goshen was old.

(end sample)

 

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 – 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)