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)

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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)

 

Hey there, buddy

I’ve been watching a lot of Criminal Minds episodes lately. I blame A&E, which shows episodes at a time when hubby’s channel surfing. The stories intrigue him, and he stops to watch.

I sort of said goodbye to Criminal Minds after season 4. The focus of the show seemed to have switched from the team and how they dealt with each week’s unsub to the unsub brutalizing the victims. Ugh. The two-part season 4 ender sealed the deal for me. I read Stephen King, so I can deal with oogy; even so, those two eps were a bit too much.

But…

I missed the characters. Reid and Garcia and Morgan and JJ and Hotch, Prentiss and Rossi. Watching these episodes again is like visiting with old friends, catching up on what they’ve done with their lives, getting involved with what they’re doing now.

That’s a great thing about series characters in books, too. This weekend I curled up with a Robert Parker Jesse Stone book – Stone Cold. I’d read it a while ago, but I like the Jesse Stone books, and I felt like catching up with old friends Jesse and Molly and Suitcase (I could do without Jenn though). I read the entire book in one night, unusual for me, and enjoyed every moment of it. (It doesn’t hurt that I have Tom Selleck as a mental image for Jesse, thanks to the movies.)

A lot of the things I write have series potential. I seem to be drawn that way. It makes the writing fun. Just like rewatching Criminal Minds, I get to spend my time with old friends.

What I’m reading: Heat Wave by Richard Castle
What I’m listening to: Resolution by Robert B. Parker

The Cell Phone Snap of Doom

Last night I watched the first four eps of the fourth season of Prison Break with my daughter. We own the first three seasons on DVD, but we quit watching the show mid-way through last year. We decided to Netflix season four and then decide whether to round out the collection.

Watching those four eps reminded me why I quit watching the show in the first place, so I kinda doubt any more Prison Break is in my media shopping future. Too bad. The first two seasons were really good and taught me a lot about cliffhangers and dramatic tension.

One thing I noticed, since I tend to focus on odd little details when the story doesn’t hold my attention, was the characters’ liberal use of the Cell Phone Snap of Doom. You know, that moment when a character dramatically snaps his flip top cell phone shut, emphasizing through sight and sound that he really, really means what he just said, no back talk allowed.

The Cell Phone Snap of Doom isn’t new. Kirk did the same thing with his communicator back in the days when the idea of cell phones was still science fiction. Geeky me bought my own snap shuttable cell phone when my carrier offered them. Beam me up, Scotty, indeed.

Only now I have an iPhone. It doesn’t snap shut. It has a button on top that makes a little click when I turn it off. I can use my iPhone to check my email, my Twitter, my Facebook, the New York Times and Daily Variety, not to mention bounce a cartoon sheep into space or pet the koi in my virtual fish pond, but the iPhone Click of Doom just doesn’t have the same dramatic impact.

Of course, characters can still use flip top cell phones, but won’t that make them look one step behind, technology wise? If the good guys are using touch screen phones and Blackberries but the villain’s still snapping his cell phone shut to emphasize his bad-assedness, can we take him seriously?

The new television season starts soon. I’ll have new Castle and Fringe and NCIS and CSI (the original) and Big Bang Theory on my DVR to keep me company when I’m not writing. Along the way, I’ll be watching to see what new dramatic beat replaces the Cell Phone Snap of Doom.

Stay tuned.

I don’t really need new television addictions

I have two new television addictions these days, both surprising in their own way: ABC’s Castle and SciFi’s (or is it SyFy?) WCG Ultimate Gamer. Two shows with absolutely nothing in common. Or not.

Let me explain what I mean by surprising.

With Castle, it was pretty much a given that I’d like it unless the show totally sucked. I mean, c’mon — a detective show featuring a writer playing sleuth right alongside a NYC detective, with Nathan Fillion as the writer. Totally my cuppa tea. What’s surprising is how excellent the show is. Smart writing, smart stories, smart acting, and a whole heaping helping of chemistry between the lead characters. Castle is egotistical and a pain, but he’s got the kind of depth and charm that keeps people from punching his lights out. Beckett is smart and tough without tipping the scale over into cast iron bitch, which isn’t easy to do. The supporting cast are excellent, right down to the daughter who’s really raising her father while he does his best at being a parent. Plus, there’s that one scene where Castle dozed off with his laptop balanced on his legs (not that I’ve ever done that, not me). What’s not to love?

Plus, I want his screen saver.

On the other end of the spectrum, the surprise with Ultimate Gamer is that I like the show at all.

I hate reality shows. I don’t watch American Idol. I don’t care about Dancing With the Stars, America’s Next Top Model, Biggest Loser, Top Chef, Amazing Race, or any of a zillion other “reality” shows. Yet, I’m right there every week watching a group of twenty-something video gamers compete against each other while existing in each other’s back pockets, ala Big Brother.

Initially I just watched for the game competition. The contestants not only have to compete on video games, they have to compete in real world versions of the game of the week. That meant gamers who rocked out to Guitar Hero had to form a band, playing real instruments (with chords!), and singing (on key!) for judges who were professional musicians. They did hook-slides around a barrel course in souped up race cars the week they played Gotham Racing. (One of the players had never driven before; that was fun.) This week they faced off in paint ball before they competed on Halo 3.

The Big Brother aspect of the show — the in-fighting, the who said what about whom, the whiners and the egotists — annoyed me. At first. *sigh*

I think that’s how reality shows lure in viewers. It’s not just the competition, it’s the people in the game. Just like the characters in Castle, I’ve invited the gamers into my house on a weekly basis. I’ve gotten to know them, and you know what? I really like some of them. I find myself rooting for my favorites, speculating about how they’ll do next week. I’m looking forward to each week’s show just like the next installment of a continuing storyline.

It’s not the plot, it’s the story. It’s the characters. Both SciFi and Castle have me hooked. Good job.