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.

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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 – 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 Friday – Night of the Cruisers

Good morning, everyone!

I’ve messed with the space/time continuum once again this week, morphing Free Fiction Thursday into Free Fiction Friday. Evil me. 😉

Last week, the Reno area was inundated with classic cars for Hot August Nights, an annual bragging-rights festival for classic car owners and eye candy overload for classic car enthusiasts. So what better story to feature this week than “Night of the Cruisers,” a disturbing tale about a whole different kind of wannabe classic car that just won’t leave a former hitman for the mob alone. Enjoy!

 

Night of the Cruisers

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover Design by Thunder Valley Press

Vince saw the first Cruiser on the way home after a grueling day flipping burgers at the DQ on West Fourth.

He didn’t normally notice cars.  He noticed the people in the cars, a longtime habit leftover from his former occupation.  But cars?  They were nothing more than a way to get from here to there that wasn’t a truck.  Then again, Vince was a product of the city.  Out here in the west, everybody had a car.  Or a big-ass truck.  In his old neighborhood back east, only the rich could afford to own a car.  Working stiffs like Vince took the subway.  The only time he drove himself was when the boss sent Vince on a job and Vince had to steal some wheels to get the job done.  The only criteria then was a big trunk.

P.T. Cruisers, now them Vince noticed.   Little Tommy, one of JoJo’s boys, used to say Cruisers were the yuppie version of an old-fashioned gangster car.  Like Little Tommy would know what an old-fashioned gangster car looked like even if one came up and bit him on the ass.  But you hang around a guy like Little Tommy long enough, some of what he said was bound to sink in.  Vince half expected Little Tommy to keep right on yammering about gangster cars even after Vince popped him one in the middle of his forehead.

Bullets tended to shut a guy’s mouth up good.  Vince should know.  He’d popped so many guys over the years he’d lost count.  Then one day the boss started looking at him funny, like the boss thought maybe Vince had run his mouth too much around the wrong people.  Vince decided the wise thing to do was make a deal before someone popped him for knowing stuff he shouldn’t.

He might not have made the deal if he’d known he’d be stuck behind a grill in a Dairy Queen in goddamn Reno eight hours a day.  Some wiseass in the Witness Protection Program must have had a sick sense of humor, or maybe they were just tired of guys like Vince using the system to keep their own butts out of prison.  Why else would they stick a shooter like him in Nevada?  At least it wasn’t Vegas.  He would have been made in Vegas within a week.  In Reno it might take a month, six weeks tops.  Vince had been flipping burgers at DQ going on five weeks.  The only thing keeping his ass in place was knowing that no self-respecting wiseguy would walk around sucking on an ice cream cone that had a little curlicue on top, so Vince felt pretty safe.

Right up until the Cruisers started tailing him.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Thief

Good morning, everyone!  Happy July 5th.  For those in the U.S., I hope you (and your pets) survived the holiday and all the associated fireworks.

On this first Thursday in July, I’m happy to announce that my publisher Thunder Valley Press is participating in a month-long promotion over at Smashwords.  What does that mean for my readers?  Half-price novels and story collections!

To celebrate, this week’s free fiction Thursday story is from my brand new collection IT’S A CRIME.  “Thief” marks the first appearance of private detective Abby Maxon back when she was still Abby Preston, college student.  If you enjoy “Thief,” you might also enjoy my novel PRETTY LITTLE HORSES, the first in my Abby Maxon Mystery series.

Happy reading!

THIEF

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover art Copyright © Gualtiero Boffi |Dreamstime.com

Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press

The Frisbee missed the top of Abby Preston’s head by a mere inch, if that.  She ducked, even though by the time her head moved, the Frisbee was already skimming the green grass of the quad behind where she sat trying to concentrate on her Sociology 101 assignment.

“Hey!”  She looked up at Ryan in mock annoyance.  “Watch where you’re throwing that thing.”

Ryan leaned down and kissed the top of Abby’s head.  “That’s not what you said last night,” he murmured just loud enough for her to hear.

Abby felt the heat rise in her cheeks.  She’d only been dating Ryan for a month and sleeping with him for two weeks, and she wasn’t quite comfortable yet with the newness of their relationship.  College life was tough enough without complicating it by throwing a boyfriend into the mix.  Then, of course, there was the whole “don’t worry, dear, you’ll find someone to settle down with in college” thing from her mother.  That, more than anything else, was why she’d resisted Ryan Maxon’s attempts to flirt with her for as long as she had.  The last thing Abby wanted to do was fulfill her mother’s expectations.

“Are you going to make out with your girlfriend or play Frisbee?”

The question came from Jimmy Fisher, Ryan’s best friend.  Abby’s cheeks grew warmer.  That was another thing.  Dating Ryan didn’t mean just hanging out with Ryan.  It meant tagging along with Ryan and Jimmy while they did their ex-high school jock thing.  In their case, it meant watching them try to beat each other at whatever sport happened to catch their fancy. Today it was tossing a Frisbee around the University of Nevada – Reno quad.  The afternoon before, it had been killer tennis on the university courts.  The day before that, touch football with some guys from one of the frats.

“Both, of course,” Ryan said.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – First Steps

Good morning, everyone! It’s time for Free Fiction Thursday, which means it’s also one more day closer to Friday. Yippee!

This week’s story is “First Steps,” a blend of contemporary fantasy and women’s fiction. Fifty years ago Callie fell in love with her best friend. High-school sweethearts who spent their lives together, Callie still loves her husband, but most days Jed doesn’t even know who she is. Frustrated with her life and worried about her future, things look bleak for Callie until one magical night when everything changes.

Enjoy!

 

FIRST STEPS

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2012 Annie Reed

 Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press

The first steps were the hardest.

Jed used to tell her that back when they were both in junior high and she complained to him about having to walk the balance beam in gym class.  Callie didn’t have the world’s greatest balance on land, much less on a four-inch wide beam of wood three feet off the ground.

“I’m going to break my neck,” she’d said over a tray full of cafeteria food.  “You just wait and see.”

Jed had smiled at her.  “Not your neck.  Your arm, maybe, or your ankle.  You know… stuff you don’t need.”

He’d stuffed a piece of french bread pizza into his mouth, pleased with himself.  Callie would have smacked him a good one if Mr. Thedes hadn’t been on lunchroom duty.  Mr. Thedes had no sense of humor.  He was almost as bad as Callie’s dad, who would break her neck if she got herself suspended for fighting with her best friend in the cafeteria.

The first steps are the hardest.

Jed had been right, but he’d also been wrong.  Second steps weren’t any easier.  Sometimes all you could do was take one step after the next and let your body walk on automatic while your mind drifted away somewhere else.  Some place pleasant.

Wherever you needed to go to get yourself through what lay ahead.

Callie parked in an empty space in the back row of the nursing home’s lot.  Monday evening, only an hour left for visiting, no wonder the lot was only half full.  Callie could have parked her car closer, but she needed the time—the extra steps—to prepare herself, especially tonight.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Love Among the Llamas

Happy Thursday, everyone!

How about a little romance this week? Today’s story is “Love Among the Llamas,” part of my Nevada collection EIGHT FROM THE SILVER STATE. Enjoy!

Love Among the Llamas

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press at Smashwords

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover illustration Copyright Sly5800|Dreamstime.com

Cover layout by Thunder Valley Press

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.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Thief

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

This year I have lots to be thankful for, not the least of which is the publication of my novel PRETTY LITTLE HORSES, an Abby Maxon mystery.  Woot!   PRETTY LITTLE HORSES is currently available at Amazon and Smashwords, and will be available shortly at B&N and the Apple iBookstore.

As a special treat to celebrate, this week’s free story is all about Abby’s very first investigation.  I hope you enjoy THIEF.

THIEF

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover Art Copyright Esterio | Dreamstime.com

 

The Frisbee missed the top of Abby Preston’s head by a mere inch, if that.  She ducked, even though by the time her head moved, the Frisbee was already skimming the green grass of the quad behind where she sat trying to concentrate on her Sociology 101 assignment.

“Hey!”  She looked up at Ryan in mock annoyance.  “Watch where you’re throwing that thing.”

Ryan leaned down and kissed the top of Abby’s head.  “That’s not what you said last night,” he murmured just loud enough for her to hear.

Abby felt the heat rise in her cheeks.  She’d only been dating Ryan for a month and sleeping with him for two weeks, and she wasn’t quite comfortable yet with the newness of their relationship.  College life was tough enough without complicating it by throwing a boyfriend into the mix.  Then, of course, there was the whole “don’t worry, dear, you’ll find someone to settle down with in college” thing from her mother.  That, more than anything else, was why she’d resisted Ryan Maxon’s attempts to flirt with her for as long as she had.  The last thing Abby wanted to do was fulfill her mother’s expectations.

“Are you going to make out with your girlfriend or play Frisbee?”

The question came from Jimmy Fisher, Ryan’s best friend.  Abby’s cheeks grew warmer.  That was another thing.  Dating Ryan didn’t mean just hanging out with Ryan.  It meant tagging along with Ryan and Jimmy while they did their ex-high school jock thing.  In their case, it meant watching them try to beat each other in whatever sport happened to catch their fancy. Today it was tossing a Frisbee around the University of Nevada – Reno quad.  The afternoon before, it had been killer tennis on the university courts.  The day before that, touch football with some guys from one of the frats.

“Both, of course,” Ryan said.  He kissed Abby again, this time on the lips, then jogged over to pick up the Frisbee.  “See if you can catch this one,” he said to Jimmy.

Abby tried to refocus on her textbook.  Her Sociology text was thick and boring as hell, and she had sixty pages to read by tomorrow.  She should have stayed in her dorm room, but the first warm snap of early spring had drawn her outside along with what looked like half the student body.  The quad was loaded with students sprawled out on blankets or simply sprawled out on the grass, backpacks overloaded with books by their sides, out enjoying the bright northern Nevada sunshine.  It was a wonder that Ryan and Jimmy weren’t tripping over people and books with every throw of the Frisbee.  Lucky for both of them, they had the kind of natural charm that together with their competitive natures and striking good looks equaled charisma out the wazoo.  Why someone like Ryan would be interested in someone like Abby was beyond her.  She knew she wasn’t ugly, although like most of the women in her dorm, she would have changed parts of her body in an instant if she could.  She’d just never dated anyone like Ryan before, and he really seemed to like her.  They had a spark, or a connection, or whatever you wanted to call it, but it was something special.  Abby didn’t want to mess whatever it was up before it got a real chance to grow, so when Ryan suggested she take her studying outside, she said yes.

Only Sociology wasn’t nearly as fun as watching Ryan enjoying himself.

Abby closed her book and crossed her legs, yoga style, and let herself enjoy watching her boyfriend.

She never even saw the guy who lifted her purse from the blanket behind her until he was halfway down the sidewalk leading to the engineering building.

(read the rest of the story here)