New releases!

On this last day of November, I have a whole bunch of new releases to be thankful for.

FR16 Hidden in Crime ebook cover lighter webFirst up is the latest volume of Fiction River Hidden in Crime contains my story “The Color of Guilt,” a period piece about a crime that’s thankfully no longer a crime. At least not where the story takes place.

AQuietShelterThereCoverwebNext up is a cool anthology that’s close to my heart.  A Quiet Shelter There benefits Friends of Homeless Animals rescue in Virginia as well as other shelters and rescue organizations. My contribution to the anthology is “Life, With Cats,” a science fiction story inspired by a wonderful ginger kitty who came to live with us several years ago.

HangoverCover600x900And finally, the latest issue of the Uncollected Anthology is out! This issue’s theme is Enchanted Emporiums and features my story “All Hallows’ Hangover,” a fun little post-Halloween romance.

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Free Fiction Thursday – Love Stinks, Inc.

Annie HS cover webLove Stinks, Inc.

Annie Reed

1

Dyte glared at the black cat perched on the center of her desk. It couldn’t stare back at her since it was just one of the many wildly successful plush toys her company produced, but that didn’t stop her from hating its adorable little guts.

The cat held a puffy red heart in its front paws. The universal Don’t Do This symbol, a circle with a slash through the center, was printed on the red satin fabric along with the stylized logo for Dyte’s company—Love Stinks, Inc.

The plush cat was part of this year’s line of stuffed animals meant to appeal to chronically unattached women (and chronically unattached men confident enough in their masculinity to buy themselves a stuffed toy). Given her company’s more than healthy bottom line, the world contained about a bazillion single people who didn’t mind dishing out $9.95 for a fuzzy toy to cuddle with on Valentine’s Day just to make themselves feel better about being alone.

Just like Dyte was alone.

She leaned forward, planted her elbows on the smooth surface of her desk, and rested her chin in her hands so she could gaze at the cat at something approximating its eye level.

“What’s your secret?” she muttered at the cat. “Why do people love you so much?”

She should be happy the toys were so successful. A significant amount of her company’s research and development budget had gone into determining a perfect size for the plush toys (big enough to cuddle but not so big they would give a real cat or dog or skunk a run for its money), the length and thickness of their fake black fur (somewhere between shorthair and Persian, when measured in feline terms), and the color of their over-sized eyes (a washed out blue somewhat darker than the noontime sky uncluttered by clouds but not as deep as the clear blue of a high mountain lake). That still didn’t the ridiculous popularity of the things. Even the skunks.

At least the toys weren’t spelled. She’d put her foot down (metaphorically speaking) at the mere suggestion, even though both R & D and her sales department had lobbied long and hard for inclusion of a compulsion spell—a “minor” one, they had assured her—in the stuffing inside the red satin heart all the plush toys held.

As far as she was concerned, customers would either buy her company’s products because they wanted to, or they wouldn’t. The last thing she wanted to do was compel people to fall in love with a stuffed toy.

Compelling people to fall in love was her dad’s thing, not hers. It was hard enough to be taken seriously in business when you were the immortal daughter of Cupid and Psyche, and you had a ridiculous name like Dyte because your mom thought it would be a nice tribute to name you after your grandmother.

Like Aphrodite had ever given one whit about her granddaughter.

Which was fine with Dyte. From the stories she’d heard, grandmother had a vindictive streak a mile wide, just like a lot of the old gods in the family tree. Even though Dyte was an immortal like her parents, she was glad to stay off grandmother’s radar.

If only she’d managed to keep her private life off her dad’s radar.

(end of sample)

~~~

Love Stinks, Inc.

Copyright © 2015 Annie Reed

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

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

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 – 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 – 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 – Rolo the Great

Good morning, everyone!  Happy Thursday!

This week’s Free Fiction Thursday story is a brand new addition to the stories set in Moretown Bay, the Pacific Northwest town my detectives Diz and Dee call home.  “Rolo the Great” is not a Diz and Dee mystery, though.  It’s a romantic fantasy about a courtly street peddler who finally finds his one true love.  Only one problem: she’s trapped in the belly of a brass pig.

I hope you enjoy “Rolo the Great.”

Rolo the Great

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2012 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press

Cover art © 2012 Annie Reed

Rolo the Great owned the corner of Sussix and Wales.  Or at least, that’s what he called it.

In reality, Rolo’s home turf was a six-foot wide strip of concrete sidewalk on the southwest corner of Fourth Street and Madison Boulevard, just a mere two blocks from the tourist trap that was the fishermen’s and farmers market in Moretown Bay.  Rain or shine, Rolo could be found on the corner hawking his wares, which this month happened to be spiral wires enchanted to sparkle in all the colors of the rainbow, with little trinkets of gold or silver jewelry or a small feather hanging off the ends.  Given his courtly manner, not to mention more than his fair share of charm and wit and a smidgen of rugged good looks, Rolo was able to eke out a living by charming the ladies, tourists and local alike.  The spirals he sold were hair charms, which he was more than happy to show each lady how to wear, provided they bent down low enough for Rolo to reach their heads.

Rolo was only four foot tall, you see.

He wasn’t properly a dwarf or a halfling, and he was too tall to be a gnome.  Whenever a potential customer was crude enough to ask him if he was an elf, he would happily brush back his unruly brown curls to show them his perfectly human-shaped ears, which meant he was also neither fairy nor nymph nor leprechaun.  He was simply a somewhat short person who thought he was the King of England.  In a past life, of course.

So it all made a certain kind of sense when he fell in love with a princess.

An enchanted princess.

Of course.

You might think by now that I’m the headwaiter in the local looney bin, which in a way might be true.  I’m the assistant manager at Sessions, a sort of combination coffee shop/pastry shop/open mike night lounge (yes, such things really do exist), which means my customers range from the merely under-caffeinated office worker to the extremely over-caffeinated and severely depressed wannabe grunge rocker.  Sessions is located—you guessed it—on the corner of Fourth and Madison.  Since I’ve been at Sessions long enough to work my way up the non-corporate ladder from mere coffee brewer to coffee brewer with an official title, I’ve gotten to know all the regulars, including Rolo the Great.

“Matthew!” Rolo called out to me one night as he barreled in through the open front door.  “I have met the most extraordinary woman.”

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – My Cousin, the Rabbit

Good morning, everyone!

I can’t believe it’s almost Easter.  This year I’ll be spending Easter on the road while hubby stays home to take care of our high-maintenance cats.  I’ll miss hubby and the kitties while I’m gone, and I’ll also miss the cottontail bunny I see in my front yard almost every morning when I go out to start my car.

This week’s free story also has to do with bunnies and Easter, in a manner of speaking.  “My Cousin, the Rabbit” is a Diz & Dee fantasy mystery in which our intrepid heroes search for Dee’s missing cousin.  Enjoy!

My Cousin, The Rabbit

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover art Copyright 2010 by Ljupco at iStockphoto.com

 

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 – A Most Romantic Dragon

Good morning, everyone! How’s Thursday treating you so far?

Before we get to this week’s story, I’d like to take a minute to congratulate Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith on receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the prestigious Willamette Writers organization. I can’t think of two people who deserve an award like this more than Kris and Dean. Like the countless numbers of writers they’ve taught and assisted throughout the years, I owe my writing career to them. Don’t get me wrong — I was a writer before I met them. But thanks to all the invaluable things they’ve taught me and continue to teach me, not to mention their friendship, I’m not only a better writer, I’m a professional writer. Thank you, guys! And a great big ol’ WooHoo!!! from this neck of the woods!

So you might be asking yourself, what exactly do I get from Kris and Dean and their wonderful workshops (which I can’t recommend highly enough)? Well, this week’s story, for one thing. I wrote “A Most Romantic Dragon”  in response to an assignment at this year’s anthology workshop. I hope you enjoy the further adventures of Mordived, the unserious dragon, as he finds unexpected love.

A Most Romantic Dragon

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2012 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover art Copyright 10-12-10 © julien Tromeur

When love came to Mordived the dragon, it came as all things did—in a most unconventional way.

He hadn’t expected to fall in love, you see.  Quite content to live in the land ruled by his elder brother Gilgamule, Mordived spent his days soaring over his brother’s land while he perfected his patented “my wing’s broken” tuck-and-roll, first with his right wing and then his left, all the while keeping an eye out for errant knights determined to slay his more conventional brother.  When Mordived got hungry, as he often did while practicing the aerial portion of his slapstick routine, he chased wild pigs through the woods or goats up the craggy side of a mountain.  Mordived left the peasants’ sheep and cattle alone.  Not only did he think it rude to roast meat that didn’t belong to him, the wooly coats of the sheep scratched his throat going down and cattle gave him indigestion.

On one such afternoon flight, Mordived caught sight of something quite unexpected—a dragon who wasn’t his brother.

Mordived was so surprised he nearly failed to untuck his tucked right wing, which would have led to a nasty encounter with a rather tall and pointy pine tree.  While Mordived didn’t mind taking the occasional pratfall—it was, after all, his desire to make virgins laugh rather than eat them that made Mordived the black sheep, so to speak, of his family—a pratfall took timing and preparation, and Mordived was decidedly unprepared.

He was equally unprepared to discover that the unexpected dragon was a girl.

Mordived’s entire experience with dragons of the female persuasion was limited to the family he’d left behind when he moved in with his brother.  Mordived’s mother had never quite known what to make of her unconventional son.  While she laughed—politely, of course; little puffs of smoke barely escaped her nostrils—at his early attempts at humor, she also frightened him.  Perhaps it was her prized collection of knights’ helmets, complete with the skulls of the unfortunate knights still inside, that made Mordived so nervous.  It didn’t help that whenever he got into trouble, she would stare pointedly at those helmets and tap the prodigious claws of one foot, as if to say, “Don’t try my patience too much, strange child of mine.”

His younger sisters had been of no use at all in teaching Mordived how to act around girls.  They simply called him “Strange Child” and tried to breathe fire at him.  Mostly they just set fire to the tree roots that dangled from the ceiling of their cave, for which Mordived took the blame.  Such was the lot in life for an unconventional dragon with five bratty little sisters.

But this new dragon wasn’t like any of his sisters.  She was long of tail and delicate of wing, with a fine ridge of emerald green spines along her back and the largest golden eyes Mordived had ever seen.  One look, and he was smitten.

(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)