Local Appearance!

Yes, I’m actually doing a public appearance!

This Saturday, my friends Jennifer Rachel Baumer and Louisa Swann (kickass writers, both of them!) and Brandon Swann (kickass artist!) are going to appear with me at the North Valleys Library in Reno for an hour of fun, fiction, and free food!

I’m going to be reading one of my stories–“Queen of the Mouse Riders”–and giving away a bunch of my books as door prizes.  We have other giveaways planned, other readings, and Brandon’s going to show off some of his digital art.

I don’t do these types of things often, so if you’re in the area, stop by the North Valleys Library in the Raley’s shopping center at the Golden Valley exit off 395 North at 2:00 p.m. this Saturday, May 18th, and have some fun with a few crazy writers and one very tolerant artist.  The event is free and open to the public.

~~~

This program has been funded, in part, by the Nevada Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

poster background art copyright SergeyNivens@depositphotos.com

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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 – 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 – 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 – Bait

Good morning, everyone!

How about we get Free Fiction Thursday back on track this week with a zombie story? I’ve been biting my nails as this season of The Walking Dead powers toward the inevitable all-out war between Rick and The Governor. Only two episodes left! Yikes. I have a feeling those next couple of episodes are going to be intense.

So in honor of The Walking Dead, this week’s free fiction is “Bait,” a story about what happens to a mismatched group of survivors when they try to do the right thing. Enjoy!

cover2 bait interior

BAIT

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2013 Annie Reed

Sarah saw the little girl first.

“Stop the truck!  Oh, George, please stop the truck!”

George didn’t want to stop.  He was still too freaked by the run out of Reno.  Half a tank of gas was all we managed to get at the last Arco station on 395 before the locals sniffed us out.  Most of them don’t come out into the sunlight, but every gas station in Nevada has a helpful tin roof over the pumps to keep the tourists from burning their tender scalps crispy red in the high altitude desert sun.

Not that Nevada has tourists anymore.

Not that anyplace does.

Doesn’t matter that we’re not from here.  We’re survivors, not tourists.  Everyone else are locals, as George calls them.

George doesn’t like to use the Z word.  Sarah and I don’t either.  Makes it sound like we’re in the middle of some low-rent horror movie.  We’re not.  And calling them The Infected makes it sound like they’ve just got a bad case of the flu, no big deal.  Trust me when I say, it’s a Very Big Deal.  End of the world, Big Deal.  I keep expecting to see an avenging angel sweep down out of the sky, Hollywood blockbuster style, and rip us to shreds for fucking up God’s grand plan.

Not that Sarah and George and I were responsible for this whole mess.  We were never responsible for much of anything, which makes the whole last three people on earth thing kind of ironic, you know what I mean?

“George, stop the fucking truck!”

Sarah yanked on the wheel before George or I could stop her.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Love Among the Llamas

Good morning, everyone!  How’s your Thursday going so far?

I’m having a hard time believing that’s its February already.  I shouldn’t.  I mean, we just watched the Superbowl on Sunday, and this coming Sunday is the long-anticipated (at least in my house) return of The Walking Dead.  Next Thursday is Valentine’s Day, and in a couple of weeks I’ll be on the Oregon coast for writing workshops with a lot of friends I haven’t seen in far too long.

But really, February?  Already?

Since we’re racing along towards Valentine’s Day, how about a little romance?  This week’s free story features a woman who decides to chuck her boring life out the window one morning (along with her cell phone) and go on an adventure.  I hope you enjoy “Love Among the Llamas.”

llama ebook cover small

Love Among the Llamas

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright © 2013 by Annie Reed

Yesterday morning, I got in my car at seven twenty-five, same as always.  I popped in a CD – The Best of the Doobie Brothers this time – and cranked up the volume to keep me awake, same as always.  I stopped by Starbucks for a grande decaf latte, same as always.  Took the freeway to where I-80 merges with Interstate 395, that grand old mess of looped interchanges and exits Reno locals call the Spaghetti Bowl.  Same as always.

Only not quite.

Instead of veering right and taking the next off ramp, a left at the light three blocks down, and a right two blocks over into the parking garage, I stayed in the left lane and kept on driving east on the interstate.

And just like that, I quit my job.

Crazy, huh?  Maybe I always was crazy and nobody ever noticed.

I had plenty of time after that to think about what I was doing.  Once you get past Sparks going east on I-80, there’s a whole lot of nothing but empty road since all the early morning traffic’s going the other way.  All those cars carrying commuters to their jobs, and none of them was me.

My heart hammered in my chest there for a while, let me tell you.  I almost turned around at the next two off ramps I passed.  But what was I leaving behind, really?  An almost-empty apartment.  A barren love life.  A dead-end job for someone who’d only notice me by my absence.

I giggled a little about that.  I could just imagine my boss’s face when I didn’t show at eight.  At five after, he’d be checking his watch.  By ten after, he’d be growing frantic.

At eight-fifteen, my cell phone rang.

I threw the phone out my car window – I didn’t have  an iPhone, just some cheap thing I got at Walmart – which only made me giggle harder.  Bye-bye old life, hello you wide new wonderful world full of possibilities, you.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Actual Darkness

Happy first Thursday in 2013, everyone!

I don’t know about you, but I had a very nice, mellow New Year’s Eve. In fact, I didn’t even notice the new year had arrived until about three minutes after midnight. At least I was awake this year. My family likes to tease me about the fact that most years I’m asleep by midnight even though I try not to be.

This week free fiction returns to Thursday with a science fiction story that’s definitely on the noir side. The title for “Actual Darkness” came from my friend Marcelle Dubé, a marvelous writer. Enjoy!

actual darkness ebook large

 

Actual Darkness

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2012 by Annie Reed

When the naked woman fell on the hood of Jefty’s cab, at first I thought she was one of them End Times partiers jumping off the top floor of The Wynn.

People can’t take it, you see. End of the world’s not just a Bible thumper story, not no more. People see that dull light in the sky that used to be the sun and they get scared. So the rich ones throw parties to make themselves feel better. The hangers-on and party girls, they show up too, and when they all get drunk enough and stoned enough they think they can fly, well, they up and step off the roof. Guess it eases the pain, but it sure makes a godawful mess for those of us trying to get by best we can.

Most times the sun’s still got enough juice left you can see those damn fools plummeting down soon enough to avoid ’em, but once it gets to be about four in the afternoon, even the headlights on the cab ain’t enough to cut through the gloom, not now that half the damn neon on The Strip’s all busted up and nobody cares to fix it.

Now, if the cab was mine, I wouldn’t be driving it all hours like Jefty does. He says driving a cab up and down The Strip’s all he knows how to do, and that even in end times people still got places to go. I guess that’s true enough, but the end times we’re living in robs people of their good sense, just like them partiers falling from the sky. Some people who get in Jefty’s cab don’t want to pay him for their ride, or they might think about taking Jefty’s cab for themselves. That’s where I come in. Me and my gun.

(read the rest of the story here)

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)

Free Fiction Thursday – Love Among the Llamas

Good morning, everyone!

Are we all ready for the season premiere of The Big Bang Theory tonight?  I know I am!  I want to know all about Howard’s adventures in space, how Raj and Bernadette are coping in Howard’s absence, the further quasi-romantic misadventures of Shamy, and how my favorite couple, Leonard and Penny, are doing.

I’m a romantic at heart.  I love happily-ever-afters, and every now and then I write about them.  Since I’m in a romantic frame of mind thanks to how the last season of The Big Bang Theory ended, I hope you’re in the mood for a little romance, too, with this week’s free story, “Love Among the Llamas.”

Love Among the Llamas

 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover illustration Copyright Sly5800|Dreamstime.com

Yesterday morning, I got in my car at seven twenty-five, same as always.  I popped in a CD — The Best of the Doobie Brothers this time — and cranked up the volume to keep me awake, same as always.  I stopped by Starbucks for a grande decaf latte, same as always.  Took the freeway to where I-80 merges with Interstate 395, that grand old mess of looped interchanges and exits Reno locals call the Spaghetti Bowl.  Same as always.

Only not quite.

Instead of veering right and taking the next off ramp, a left at the light three blocks down, and a right two blocks over into the parking garage, I stayed in the left lane and kept on driving east on the interstate.

And just like that, I quit my job.

Crazy, huh?  Maybe I always was crazy and nobody ever noticed.

I had plenty of time after that to think about what I was doing.  Once you get past Sparks going east on I-80, there’s a whole lot of nothing but empty road since all the early morning traffic’s going the other way.  All those cars carrying commuters to their jobs, and none of them was me.

My heart hammered in my chest there for a while, let me tell you.  I almost turned around at the next two off ramps I passed.  But what was I leaving behind, really?  An almost-empty apartment.  A barren love life.  A dead-end job for someone who’d only notice me by my absence.

I giggled a little about that.  I could just imagine my boss’s face when I didn’t show at eight.  At five after, he’d be checking his watch.  By ten after, he’d be growing frantic.

At eight-fifteen, my cell phone rang.

I threw the phone out my car window — I didn’t have  an iPhone, just some cheap thing I got at Walmart — which only made me giggle harder.  Bye-bye old life, hello you wide new wonderful world full of possibilities, you.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Strike Two

Good morning, everyone! Happy Thursday!

When I was a kid, I had a love/hate relationship with September. I was a bit of a television junkie, and September meant the start of the new season for my favorite television shows. That was a cause for celebration. The hate part? Well, September was also back-to-school time, and that I didn’t like so much.

September also means the start of the NFL pro-football season, a reason for hubby to celebrate, and the winding down of the season — playoffs and the World Series — for baseball fans. This week’s story features a hardcore baseball fan who also happens to be a pickpocket in Las Vegas. Only in Las Vegas, a thief has to be careful who he steals from, because strikes mean a whole different thing when you’re playing on the other side of the law.

I hope you enjoy “Strike Two.”

 

STRIKE TWO

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2011 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press

Lenny Masterson knew better than to ply his trade with kids in groups, but sometimes life threw a curve ball so sweet it would have been criminal not to take a swing.

These kids, three girls barely legal enough for the round of drinks lined up on the casino bar in front of them, never spared Lenny a second glance as he brushed by behind them.  Women usually didn’t.  Most men would mind being treated like that.  They’d run out and spend a fortune on hair plugs and a personal trainer, but blending in was part of what made Lightfinger Lenny so good at what he did.

The other part?  Practice.

Lenny’d lived in Las Vegas for a couple of years now.  The place was thick with tourists and southern California transplants who walked around The Strip all googly-eyed, trying to take in the sights and sounds all at once.  Most of them never gave a second thought to the scrawny guy who bumped into them by accident, especially not if Lenny gave them the glassy-eyed stare of a lifelong alcoholic on a serious bender.  When he was working, Lenny drank only enough to put the smell of alcohol on his breath.  He could fake the look of a true souse when he needed it.  He’d spent years of his life drowning his sorrows in a bottle.  All that practice had to come in handy sometime, right?

Thanks to the school of hard knocks, Lenny had two rules he never broke.

One: No working kids in packs.

(read the rest of the story here)