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.

Fiction River news!

Boy, do I love the folks at Fiction River or what?

First of all, coming up this year I have stories in three volumes of Fiction River.

FR-Risk-Takers-ebook-cover-CC-194x300FR-Sparks-ebook-cover-194x300“A Tale of Good Whiskey, Bad Coffee, and One Devious Woman” will be RISK TAKERS edited by Dean Wesley Smith, available later this month. “Roxie” will be in SPARKS edited by Rebecca Moesta, available in September.

FR-Recycled-Pulp-ebook-cover-194x300And in November, my story “The Flower of the Tabernacle” will be part of RECYCLED PULP, edited by John Helfers.

Cool beans, right?

But wait… I’m not done yet!

I just spent a fantastic week with the editors and publisher of Fiction River as they put together their volumes for 2016.  And guess what?  I’m going to have stories in five of them!  (Yes, I’m still over the moon about that. *g*)

Starting in January 2016, I’ll be in volumes edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith and Felicia Fredlund, Rebecca Moesta, Kevin J. Anderson, and Mark Leslie. Four of the covers are up at the Fiction River website.  Aren’t these cool?

FR17-Hidden-in-Crime-ebook-cover-web-194x300FR19-Last-Stand-ebook-cover-web-194x300

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The folks at Fiction River are awesome to work with, and they publish some of the best short fiction out there today.  I’m still amazed to be a part of all these volumes.  Each book can be purchased individually (since each volume focuses on a different genre), or subscriptions are available for either e-book or trade paperbacks.  Do I sound like an ad yet?  You’ll have to forgive me.  I’m still just so excited about being a part of this that I can’t help it. *g*

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!

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!

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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 – After

Happy Thursday, everyone!

I don’t know about you, but this has been a busy week for this writer person. I’m getting ready to head out for two back-to-back workshops. I don’t travel a whole lot, so each trip out of town is like a mini-adventure. This one should be fun. Lots of friends and writing and business talk (yes, that’s fun when it’s about the business of writing), with some imaginary characters thrown in here and there for good measure.

A few years ago I went on another adventure with a friend — a trip to a beautiful mountain lake. One day we stopped for a late lunch at a restaurant overlooking the lake. It was the middle of the week, not yet the tourist season, and we were the only customers in the place. We sat outside on a second-story deck and ate pizza in the shade of huge pine trees and just enjoyed the heck out of ourselves. A few months later, this week’s story was born. I hope you enjoy “After,” the story of an artist with one foot in the real world and one foot in a world that only exists in her imagination.

After_cover

 

After

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2013 by Annie Reed

The older Belle Creedy gets, the more she wonders about what happens.  After.

In the mornings, when dawn’s just a lick of peach in the eastern sky and she’s so far into the world of her art she only knows the sun’s coming up because the racket from the birds roosting in the thick pines around her house intrudes on her thoughts, she stops whatever she’s working on and pads out onto the deck on the second story of her place.  She watches ripples on the surface of the clear mountain lake just across the road take on the color of the pre-dawn sky, and she considers just how many coincidences go into making a world like this.  Are they really coincidences after all?  Or is there something more?

It’s quiet this morning, so early in the day the birds have barely started their chatter.  So early that Gary Weeds, another old-timer like herself, isn’t even on the lake yet.  Gary lives halfway up the mountain.  He fishes every day he can, and since he retired in 1989, he can fish almost every day the weather lets him.   He crunches down the one-lane dirt road that snakes up through the pines, rod and tackle box in his hand, and shoves off in his rowboat.  Sits out on the lake half the day, the damn fool.  One of these days she’s gonna catch Gary peeing over the edge of his boat.  Man has a cast iron bladder, but even a cast iron bladder can’t stand against the ravages of time.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Don’t Touch

Good morning, everyone! And Happy Valentine’s Day!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, last week’s free story, “Love Among the Llamas,” will be up for another week. “Love Among the Llamas” is a traditional romance. This week we have a story about a different sort of love. I hope you enjoy “Don’t Touch”.

dont touch cover

 

Don’t Touch

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2013 by Annie Reed

You lift the curtain with the tip of one finger and peer out at the customers ringing the edge of the bar.  That’s all you can see through the glare of the stage lights.  Emma’s up now, dancing around the pole like it could rub her back and pay her mortgage and put her kids through school, and maybe it can because no man’s ever gonna do those things for her, like no one’s ever gonna do them for you, but it’s all you got, and you take what you can get.

The customers look the same as last night’s and the night before.  Middle-age losers, their mouths slack, hands cupped around their drinks, staring up at Emma with so much naked want in their faces, it makes you sick.  Cigarette smoke curls around Emma’s ankles like so many fingers pulling at her.  That’ll be you out there in five minutes once Emma’s done with her routine and she goes out on the floor so the men beyond the bar can stuff dollar bills under the elastic of her G-string and pretend that fleeting touch is enough.

How many of them would want to touch her if they knew she went home with you?  Would it matter, or would they pay more to watch?

(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 – 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 – Chance of Bunnies with Occasional Toad

Good morning, everyone! Happy Thursday!

One of the things I love about where I live is the unexpected wildlife that shares our space. I’m not talking about spiders (yuck!) the cats sometimes chase or the bull snake that decided to make a kitchen cabinet his temporary home (don’t ask), but the bunnies who munch on my lawn, the little lizards who sun themselves on the deck, and the quail who scurry across the road in front of my car, because lord knows, quail will never fly when running really really fast will do. There’s a kind of quiet magic about sharing space with animals whose lives would normally have nothing to do with mine.

This week’s story is about that kind of backyard magic. “Chance of Bunnies with Occasional Toad” is now available in a brand-new paperback edition that includes a free electronic copy. Enjoy!

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Chance of Bunnies, with Occasional Toad

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2012 by Annie Reed

The house smelled dusty and abandoned.

Just like me, Cecily thought.

For a minute there, the old-fashioned lock, rusty with age, fought her.  Cecily worried the real estate agent had given her the wrong key, but eventually the doorknob turned, and she pushed the door open.

Even though Cecily was a grown woman with a place of her own, it felt odd opening this door with a key that now belonged to her, just like the house itself now belonged to her.  During all the summers when she’d been sent to live in this house with her aunt because her mother couldn’t deal with having Cecily home from school for an entire three months, Cecily had never unlocked the door herself.

She could have.  Cecily was one of a generation of “latch key” kids, a by-product of the feminist movement that saw women like her mother working nine-to-five jobs while their kids went to school from nine to three.  Cecily had worn her house key on a lanyard around her neck, and for two and a half hours every afternoon, she sat by herself at the dining room table and did her homework in an empty house.  Not because she wanted to, but because her mom would check Cecily’s work first thing, even before starting dinner, and if Cecily couldn’t show her mom two and a half hours’ worth of work, she was grounded from watching television for the night.

Her aunt didn’t place the same restrictions on Cecily as her mom had.

“Summer is a time for fun,” her aunt used to say.  “To read because you want to.  Eat in the living room, have dinner for breakfast or breakfast for dinner.  It’s not a time for kids to worry about keys.  Keys are for grownups.”

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Homeless

Good morning, everyone!

Boy, I don’t know how many Criminal Minds fans stop by my blog, but wow… I’m still reeling a bit from last night’s episode. The show’s been cruel in one way or another to all of its main characters over the years, so I should have figured out what was coming. Still… show, you made me want to cuddle one of your main characters and offer hot chocolate and a comfortable shoulder to cry on. Sheesh!

I think I need to go watch a superhero movie, something where the good guys kick major butt. The Avengers or maybe Thor would be good choices.

This week’s story involves heroes of a different sort. Life can be cruel to the old gods who can’t move on. Especially to one of the old gods who turned her back on her son. I hope you enjoy “Homeless.”

homeless cover v2 interior

HOMELESS

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2010 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.

(read the rest of the story here)