New Release!

Happy New Year, everyone!

To kick off 2015 with a bang, the third issue of the Uncollected Anthology releases today, and this time around the anthology welcomes its first totally awesome guest author — USA Today bestseller Kristine Kathryn Rusch!!  Woot!  (Can you tell I’m excited? *g*)

This issue’s theme is Heartspells, and my contribution is “Love Stinks, Inc.,” featuring none other than Dyte, the immortal daughter of Cupid and Psyche, who made her first appearance in my Diz & Dee story “Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My.”

Annie HS cover webIf you’re unfamiliar with the Uncollected Anthology, here’s the deal:

Each quarter all of the UA authors pick a theme and write stories to that theme.  This quarter’s theme is Heartspells.  Each story is published individually, so it’s kind of like going to a buffet–you only buy the stories you like.  Of course, we hope you’ll buy them all, and I think you’ll want to–they’re just that good.

Who are the other authors participating in the Uncollected Anthology, you ask?  Here’s this issue’s lineup:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Dayle A. Dermatis

Leah Cutter

Michelle Lang

Leslie Claire Walker

Phaedra Weldon

They’re fabulous writers, each and every one of them, and I’m a big fan.  In fact, that’s how the Uncollected Anthology started.  We’re all fans of each other’s work, and we wanted to read more of it.  I hope you will too.

Free Fiction Thursday – Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My

Happy Thursday, everyone!

You should know by now that I’m a big fan of The Big Bang Theory. A couple of years back when they introduced Amy Farrah Fowler as Sheldon’s girlfriend, I was skeptical. Sheldon Cooper with a girl? Sheldon was, as the characters themselves sometimes put it, a man of science, only unlike the other characters, he had absolutely no interest in girls.

Well, as it turns out, I think Amy was a great addition to the cast, as was Bernadette. The show is, at heart, a romantic comedy. Romantic comedies come complete with romantic entanglements of one version or another for their characters.  While Sheldon is still a man of science, now he has an equally odd woman of science to spend his time with, complete with relationship agreement.

All this talk about relationships leads me to this week’s free story, which finds Cupid, the God of Love, hiring our intrepid detectives Diz and Dee to find his missing daughter. I hope you enjoy “Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My.”

omens cover

Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My

Annie Reed

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

It’s not every day a Greek god walks through a girl’s front door.

My partner and I run a detective agency out of an old storefront half a mile from the ferry landing on the mainland side of Moretown Bay.  The neighborhood is rundown urban with a touch of whimsical eclectic.  The shop next door sells everything Asian, from manga to anime to imported CD soundtracks side by side with things like shrimp chips and lichee jellies.  The masseuse across the street has her front door decorated with purple glitter and glow in the dark stars.  Every time one of her customers opens that door, enough aromatherapy candle smoke escapes to engulf the neighborhood in a cloud of calm.  Or passion.  I’m pretty sure on those days she provides more than a simple massage.  I don’t intend to find out.  She seems like a nice enough woman, but I’m not that starved for affection.  Not yet.

I didn’t recognize the guy who walked in my office like he owned the place, not right away, anyway.  Who’d have thought you’d find a god wandering around a neighborhood like this?  The sidewalk in front of our office looks like concrete accordion pleats, and I’m pretty sure a family of four is living in the panel van permanently parked at the back of the municipal lot at the end of the block.

Plus, the guy wasn’t dressed in a diaper and carting a bow and arrows. Even a detective needs at least a couple clues.

“You find lost people?” he asked, his tone more than a little upper crust.

“We do.”  I resisted the urge to look at the plate glass window at the front of the office.  The name on that window was D & D Investigations, and underneath:  Missing Persons Are Our Specialty.

I’m Dee, one half of D & D.  Diz, short for Dizzy G, is the other half.  Diz is an elf.  I’m not.  I get along with most people.  He glowers.  He’s also built like The Rock, and that makes him more than a little intimidating.  Which is why I’m the one who meets with potential clients.  If I let Diz do the meet and greet, we’d both be begging the police department for our old jobs back.

“I need you to find someone,” the guy said.

I smiled my most competent, professional detective smile.  “Have a seat.”

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Homeless

Happy Thursday, Internets!

How’s January treating everyone so far?  I don’t know about you guys, but I’m set to make 2012 a much better year than 2011.  You with me?

To kick off the year in free fiction, this week’s story is “Homeless,” a contemporary fantasy I wrote for HAGS, SIRENS, AND OTHER BAD GIRLS OF FANTASY (Daw, 2006).  Enjoy!

Homeless

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2010 by 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.

Hera avoided brightly-lit places, just as she avoided staring at the people who crowded the pathways of unforgiving concrete in this city of modern man.  People never looked at her, not anymore. She was just another in an endless stream of dirty, unwanted street people, unpleasant reminders of what could happen if the fates were less than kind.  She avoided looking in the windows of the buildings she passed, afraid she might catch a glimpse of her reflection in the glass.  Only by avoiding the reality of her ravaged face could the memory of her own beauty be enough.

Sometimes Hera wondered if other ancient gods walked the streets of this world as she did.  No longer worshiped, the gods had faded like the titans before them.  Some found their place among the stars in the night sky, as Zeus had.  Others had fled to the depths of the ocean or to deep caverns beneath the earth.  In time even the gods of this modern age would fade as man found new gods to deify. Gods without believers could not exist.

Yet Hera had stayed.  She had grown old and bent and haggard with the passage of time, and she had been powerless to prevent it.  She waited to fade completely, to take her place with Zeus and her children in the night sky, but something kept her here.  Some power had cursed her with this shadow existence, neither mortal nor immortal, neither woman nor goddess, and utterly alone.

Hera heard sniggering laughter behind her.  Rough hands pushed at her back, shoved her hard until she stumbled.  Hera cried out as she tried to keep her balance.  Behind her the laughter grew louder, grew cruel and self-indulgent.

“Got anything on you, grandma?”

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Cleo and the Scout

Good morning, Internets!  Time for a little Free Fiction Thursday, road trip edition.

I’m spending the week on the Oregon coast, soaking up the scenery and absorbing more business of writing knowledge than one overloaded brain can handle.   Am I having fun?  You betcha!

Enough yammering, on with the story. *g*

Cleo and the Scout

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

www.annie-reed.com

Cover art copyright Dvarg Vasiliy at Dreamstime.com and

copyright Anna Velichkovsky at Dreamstime.com

Cover layout by Thunder Valley Press

 

Cleo’s neighbors thought she was a witch.  She thought that was rather ironic.

She did look a bit like the witches of old, what with her hunched shoulders, humped back, and long, stringy gray hair, not to mention the black shawl she always wore wrapped around her shoulders.  She never wore designer jeans or fashionable boots like some of the other neighborhood women old enough to be grandmothers, and therefore old enough to know better.  Cleo wore long, voluminous skirts and used a cane, more for affect than need.  She’d learned long ago that people saw what they expected to see, and their expectations were always based on first impressions.  If the neighbors thought she was a witch, so be it.  She could live with a few evil eyes being cast her way whenever she made her way down the street to the corner grocer’s or the bank where that nice young man with the nice young smile spent far more time than necessary explaining to Cleo how to use her ATM card properly so she wouldn’t have to always come to the teller window to withdraw cash from her account.

It wasn’t that Cleo was too old to understand how to use such a thing as an ATM card.  She understood perfectly well.  She just preferred not to.  When a person got to be as old as she was, that person earned the right to be cranky.

She especially earned the right to be cranky with the Cub Scout who insisted on helping Cleo cross the street whether she needed help or not, which she most certainly did not.

“Can I carry your bags for you?” he asked as she made her slow way back home from the grocer’s.  He held out his pudgy hand for her bag of bread and cheese and olives and wine.

He was little more than a babe, though he spoke with the solemnity of a man.  The buttons on his uniform strained against his rotund little body, and his chubby legs looked like fat little sausages sticking out of his shorts.  His cheeks were round and altogether too rosy for a boy.  His hair, what little Cleo could see of it beneath his Cub Scout cap, was coppery red and poorly cut.

Cleo snatched her bag in closer to her body.  “I can do this myself, young man,” she said.

His arm dropped back to his side.  “I’m just trying to be nice.  Why do you have to be so mean about it?”

“No one’s nice just to be nice.”  They never had been, and they never would be, not in Cleo’s long experience.  Everyone, from babe in arms to the most powerful men in the land, had always wanted something from her, and she’d grown tired of it.  She thumped her cane against the concrete sidewalk.  “So tell me, my persistent young man, what do you really want from me?”

He’d looked crestfallen before.  Now he positively deflated.  “I get a citizen pin for helping old people,” he said.  “You’re the only old person I know.”

She blinked at him.  “I have seen grandmothers who live in this neighborhood.”  She could identify four or five that lived in her block of row houses alone, although not by name.  Cleo had no desire to know anyone in this neighborhood by name.

“But they’re not old,” the boy said.  “They don’t need me.”

Perception.  This boy saw what everyone else saw — a helpless old woman.

For a moment, Cleo thought about throwing off the disguise.  She could never regain her youth or her beauty, but she was far from helpless.

“Don’t you know what they say about me?” she asked.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free fiction Thursday – Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My!

Happy Thursday before Valentine’s Day!

Just in time for the big day, private detectives Diz and Dee are back with a case involving the God of Love himself, Cupid. Here’s a sample. Follow the link at the bottom to read the whole story, which will be available for free for a week.

Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My
Annie Reed
Published by Thunder Valley Press
Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed
http://www.annie-reed.com

It’s not every day a Greek god walks through a girl’s front door.

My partner and I run a detective agency out of an old storefront half a mile from the ferry landing on the mainland side of Moretown Bay. The neighborhood is rundown urban with a touch of whimsical eclectic. The shop next door sells everything Asian, from manga to anime to imported CD soundtracks side by side with things like shrimp chips and lichee jellies. The masseuse across the street has her front door decorated with purple glitter and glow in the dark stars. Every time one of her customers opens that door, enough aromatherapy candle smoke escapes to engulf the neighborhood in a cloud of calm. Or passion. I’m pretty sure on those days she provides more than a simple massage. I don’t intend to find out. She seems like a nice enough woman, but I’m not that starved for affection. Not yet.

I didn’t recognize the guy who walked in my office like he owned the place, not right away, anyway. Who’d have thought you’d find a god wandering around a neighborhood like this? The sidewalk in front of our office looks like concrete accordion pleats, and I’m pretty sure a family of four is living in the panel van permanently parked at the back of the municipal lot at the end of the block.

Plus, the guy wasn’t dressed in a diaper and carting a bow and arrows. Even a detective needs at least a couple clues.

“You find lost people?” he asked, his tone more than a little upper crust.

“We do.” I resisted the urge to look at the plate glass window at the front of the office. The name on that window was D & D Investigations, and underneath: Missing Persons Are Our Specialty.

I’m Dee, one half of D & D. Diz, short for Dizzy G, is the other half. Diz is an elf. I’m not. I get along with most people. He glowers. He’s also built like The Rock, and that makes him more than a little intimidating. Which is why I’m the one who meets with potential clients. If I let Diz do the meet and greet, we’d both be begging the police department for our old jobs back.

“I need you to find someone,” the guy said.

I smiled my most competent, professional detective smile. “Have a seat.”

The guy sat, rather gingerly, in one of the two client chairs in front of my desk. The chairs were straight back, fake leather armchairs, comfortable but definitely not high rent. Nothing in our office was high rent. I had no doubt the guy’s tailored suit cost more than the monthly rent on my office-slash-apartment, and I could have eaten for a couple of weeks at the best restaurants Moretown Bay has to offer on what he must have spent on his shoes.

“Who’s missing?” I asked him.

“My youngest daughter,” he said. “Dyte.” He pronounced it DIE-tee. “She’s named after her grandmother.”

Dyte. Unusual name. Really unusual name.

Wait a minute.

I’m not a detective for nothing. The guy in my client chair had the kind of ethereal beauty that marked him as something other than a mere mortal like me. He had an angelic face, and tight little ringlet curls hugged his head. Strip away the fancy suit, slap the guy in a diaper, hand him a bow and some heart-tipped arrows, and oh yeah — he was the absolute personification of every cheesy Valentine’s Day card I’d ever gotten as a kid.

So when he said his daughter was named after her grandmother, did that mean Dyte as in Aphrodite?

Holy shit. I had an actual Greek god sitting in my client chair. I wondered where he stowed his wings.

“You’re Cupid?” I managed to choke out.

He sniffed. “Eros. I prefer Eros. Cupid is so–” He made a vague gesture with one hand. “–common.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Free Fiction Thursday!

This week’s story is one of my favorites. A few years ago, I got an assignment to write a story for the themed anthology Hags, Sirens, and Other Bad Girls of Fantasy, so off I went to do a little boning up on mythology. I stumbled across the story of Hera and her lame son, Hephaestos. To fit with the theme of the anthology, I turned Hera into a modern-day hag, the last of the old gods wandering the world among people who no longer believed in her. Homeless was the result. I hope you enjoy it.

Homeless

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2010 by 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.

Hera avoided brightly-lit places, just as she avoided staring at the people who crowded the pathways of unforgiving concrete in this city of modern man. People never looked at her, not anymore. She was just another in an endless stream of dirty, unwanted street people, unpleasant reminders of what could happen if the fates were less than kind. She avoided looking in the windows of the buildings she passed, afraid she might catch a glimpse of her reflection in the glass. Only by avoiding the reality of her ravaged face could the memory of her own beauty be enough.

Sometimes Hera wondered if other ancient gods walked the streets of this world as she did. No longer worshiped, the gods had faded like the titans before them. Some found their place among the stars in the night sky, as Zeus had. Others had fled to the depths of the ocean or to deep caverns beneath the earth. In time even the gods of this modern age would fade as man found new gods to deify. Gods without believers could not exist.

Yet Hera had stayed. She had grown old and bent and haggard with the passage of time, and she had been powerless to prevent it. She waited to fade completely, to take her place with Zeus and her children in the night sky, but something kept her here. Some power had cursed her with this shadow existence, neither mortal nor immortal, neither woman nor goddess, and utterly alone.

Hera heard sniggering laughter behind her. Rough hands pushed at her back, shoved her hard until she stumbled. Hera cried out as she tried to keep her balance. Behind her the laughter grew louder, grew cruel and self-indulgent.

“Got anything on you, grandma?”

(read the rest of the story here)

# # #

This story can be purchased for Kindle on Amazon and for a variety of e-readers on Smashwords.

Homeless was previously published by Daw in the anthology Hags, Sirens, and Other Bad Girls of Fantasy (2006).